Pinterest and Plagiarism

I have never been a big “pinner” on Pinterest, far preferring the ease and interaction of Instagram and other social media platforms. Some people are very successful on Pinterest, with success being defined as marketing tool that draws large numbers of customers to their websites.

I have always approached Pinterest with some reservations.

When I had a Pinterest account, I pinned a total or three things, two of them motivational posters and the third, a mug rug (mini quilt used as a coaster/snack mat):

Lady of the Lake Mug Rug

Lady of the Lake Mug Rug

Here is a better pictures of it in use at work :

SFPUC Mug Rug in Action

At work, January 15, 2015

Imagine how I felt then I got the email from Pinterest this past Friday that the first picture had been repinned? Pretty stoked that someone resonated with my work.

Until I visited the board and found the pinner had posted it as her own. She even copied word for word the description that I wrote.

I have contacted her and I have contacted Pinterest. She deleted my comments asking for proper attribution. Pinterest send a standard email saying they can’t do anything about this.

I have always been leery of Pinterest for this very issue; not because I thought it would be me who was plagiarized, but because I was concerned if I pinned someone else’s work without their permission, I could end up on the receiving end of a take down notice and/or lawsuit.

(If I can find the blog post by a craft enthusiast who was sued for several thousand dollars because of images she pinned on Pinterest,  I will link to it.)

I have no recourse at this point but to turn this into an opportunity.

I have about a dozen of these mini quilts at the different offices where I work. Upon inspection of the one I had in hand when whining commiserating with a peer, it was suggested that I set up shop.

My Etsy will be open soon.

Break the Block and Get Writing

Hand holding pen over pad with question mark drawn on it

Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you new to freelance writing? Do you feel continually “blocked” (by writer’s block) from writing that first article or blog post draft? Here are some ideas I have culled from my collection of books and writer’s blogs to get us both started. It begins with an idea – honed into a topic – then crafted into a great article.

Finding Ideas

Ideas are absolutely everywhere. Are you reading this on a laptop, a desktop, on your mobile? Any one of those devices could become the topic of an article. Look down at your feet; are you wearing shoes, slippers, combat boots? Do you have a favorite food, play sports, volunteer for a charity? Ideas are all around you. You can sleuth your own personal history for ideas such as your hometown, your school, your family lineage, your job. But these are only broad ideas and to become a topic, they need a focus.

Turning Ideas into Topics

You have a great idea – but what can write about it? Ask yourself what is special, compelling or unique about it; who would want to know; and why would they want to know it? Answering these questions is crucial for you to write effectively about your topic. Of these questions, knowing your audience is the important first step. Let it frame and focus your article and here is why: your readers will want to read what you have written because it will be relevant to them. If you fail to grab and hold their attention, they will skim right by your article in favor of one that does. My advice – write to and for your reader.

Researching Your Topic

You may or may not need to research your topic to glean and support the main points you want to share about your topic. If you do need to research it, do not rely purely on Google and sites like Wikipedia: everyone can do that and you want to be unique. Consider visiting the library, art gallery, or museum, etc. – either in person or on the web. Also, interviews can be as simple as a quick conversation with an expert on the topic of your choice. If a phone call is not possible, try emailing your question, but be brief, polite and to the point. Asking one or two pointed questions is fair; asking half a dozen in vague and rambling fashion is not.

Writing Your Article

There are many ways to turn your thoughts into an article. Tried and true is the basic outline you may have learned in school. It consists of an introduction, three (or more) main points, each supported by three (not usually more) sub-points that expand on, explain and support the main point, and a conclusion.

The number of main points will depend on the complexity of the topic and the length of your article. In general, each point will become a paragraph and each paragraph will have about four sentences incorporating the sub-points. More specifically, the structure of your article is based on its intended venue. If you want to sell it to a specific magazine, read that magazine and mimic how it structures its articles. Finally (if you have not already done so), write your title. Let the text of the article create it. Catchy is key here, you want to firmly grab your reader’s attention. Asking a provocative question is one great way to do it. A clever play on words is another.

Ready…Set…Write!

Hands typing on laptop computer

Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This should get you on your way to writing your first articles or blog posts. Can see the myriad of ideas around you in things, people and places that you may have never considered worth writing about? To whittle an idea down into topic form, answer a question that your intended read would ask about it, such as what is great, different, weird, funny (etc.) and why. Research your topic by digging a little deeper than just the first page of Google hits, and draft your article using a basic outline or magazine’s article style. Adding graphics (illustrations, charts, photos), adopting a specific “voice” and selling your article are topics for later posts.

I hope you found this information useful and welcome your comments. What method(s) do you use to break the block and get writing?

Insomnia

Sunday nights rarely end on time.

There is always one last drop of the fun I want to squeeze out of the few hours between Friday and Monday known as the weekend.

The chores that never seem to get caught up.

The kitty who wants to be the center of attention when my attention is firmly centered elsewhere.

The bottomless cup of distractions the Internet is spectacularly good at sharing.

I make no excuses, nor offer any apologies. It is Sundays that have ending issues.

Perhaps they should see someone about that.

~insomNia Lorre