THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, BUT I DO NOT RECOMMEND PRODUCTS OR SERVICES THAT I DO NOT USE AND LOVE MYSELF. READ MORE ABOUT THIS IN OUR DISCLOSURE POLICY.
You may have seen the posts running around talking about theft in the digital world. Many designers, like myself, constantly fight against people tracing, copying, and even flat out reselling our designs for their own profit. I brought this to attention the other day in my HoopMama Facebook group by posting this:
“I got tagged in a post a little while ago by a sweet friend. The post asked “am I the only one who googles images to trace?”
My heart hurt reading SO MANY responses saying they did it too and didn’t see a reason to pay for images.
I seriously felt sick. Not just because I work MANY hours a week designing. Not just because my images are stolen. Not just because I feel like designing is a part of WHO I am and not just WHAT I do…But because this doesn’t just happen to me! It happens to my dear designer friends who also support their families with the income their designing brings in.
One of the responses said something to the effect of “if you don’t want it traced don’t put it on google.”
I wanted to share my response to the thread here in case anyone has any questions about if it’s okay to trace images off google.
“As a designer, and someone who feeds a family from designing, this thread hurts my heart to see.
Many of you are in my group. (That will change)
Many of you also support your family with your craft. Or at least help contribute to the family income in some way.
Many would also be very frustrated if your product images were stolen and others were selling based on your pictures.
We are a small, small, community of people in this world. Crafters are NOT corporations. We’re moms and wives usually. When we steal an image (yes, tracing a file is illegal and is considered theft) we’re stealing from other MOMS. If you trace an image with any type of watermark, or use a personal use file for commercial use… you are stealing.
I believe things come back around full circle.
I won’t sit here and tell you you’re going to hell for doing it, but I will say that I hope you would consider the person you’re stealing it from. Because they are just like you. And I know you wouldn’t want someone to steal from you.
Trust me, if I could hide my images off of Google so people can’t trace, I gladly would. But I’m also glad that enough honest people find me on Google and click through to my website to purchase.
For those of you who support ANY designer or small business… you’re very, very appreciated.”
Thank you all for supporting me as a designer. I may have a “large” group… but I’m still a mom… sitting here watching tv in her pj’s with her husband and kid.. planning out next week and how I can help you guys in some way.
And now I’m also praying for a hedge of protection around my business. I pray that for yours also”
Shortly after posting, I saw many comments that asked “how do we know if we’re buying from a legit seller?” So I wanted to answer that for you today. These steps of vetting are based on personal experience from Shady Shops that I’ve come across, and there seems to be a “pattern” with them.
Here are 10 Ways To Find A Trustworthy SVG Seller On Etsy.
1. Copyrights and Trademarks. I feel that is the most important and a HUGE red flag if they sell copyright protected or trademarked items. Disney, NFL (or.. any professional sport,) Minecraft, Star Wars, Nickelodeon, Jeep, etc., are all a huge red sign screaming DANGER, DANNNNNGER!!!! Licenses to sell items with brand names are VERY costly. The chances of them having rights to distribute these files, is very unlikely. Not saying it’s not possible, but it is highly unlikely. I know if I had millions of dollars to spend on licensing… I would be on a beach somewhere… not making SVG designs. Just sayin’.
2. Number Of Files: This isn’t a deal maker or breaker all the time, but it’s worth noting. If you come across a shop that sells a variety of items in different “niches,” and then suddenly, they have 9 SVG files available in the same shop? That tells me one of two things. It either tells me that they just started adding files to their shop and have been so busy with their other products that they haven’t been able to add more files. OR it tells me that these are files that they’ve traced/copied/purchased that they’ve used on their other items but now want to resell for a quick buck. Again, that isn’t always the case… just something to note and continue with the vetting process to the next step.
3. Style Consistency: This is another red flag for me. Every designer has a “style.” From the fonts and phrases they use to the way they set up their product images. Obviously, some elements of a designer will evolve over time, and we’ll talk about that in a minute, but there should still be a “oh yeah, this fits in with this person’s style” kind of feel to their shop. HoopMama Designs style is typically kids, humorous, with some adult and Jesus mixed in. If I started designing skulls on fire and girls in bikinis on model cars in my SVG’s… there may be some question as to what is going on, right? I see this a lot with the Shady Shelly’s. They’ll have a “I love my mommy” design, right next to a “GO POLITICS!” and a “I love pig farming” design. All of which have different fonts/layouts/and overall style and feel. Again, obviously you will have a variation in a designers style, but if they only have a few files AND they’re all over the board… I’d dig in a little further.
4. Watermark Consistency: Now this one is another “case by case” area. HoopMama Designs’ watermark has changed 3 times over it’s business life (growing pains.) So it’s not necessarily the “style” that I’m referencing here. Zoom in and look at the watermark and make sure it actually reflects the name of the shop you’re in and that it doesn’t belong to someone else. As “duh” as that sounds like… you would be amazed at how many No-Shame Natalie’s just copy and paste other designers’ images with no remorse. Excuse me while I throw up.
5. Reviews: This past week I had someone reselling my designs. A customer of mine messaged me saying she made a huge mistake and that the file she had just purchased from someone else was one of mine. She didn’t realize it was mine until after she got the file, opened it up, and found a horrible trace job. She proceeded to leave a 1-star review on the shop to warn others. The seller responded to the review quite rudely and said she could sell whatever she wanted to, basically. If a customer… calling the seller a THIEF…. doesn’t make people run, then her quite rude response should be a red flag warning to others. Don’t worry, I’ve reported her to Etsy and it has since been taken down. But there will always be more people out there looking to make a dollar the easy way. Read reviews. They’ll tell you a lot about the seller.
6. Facebook Group: Now, what if they’re not on Etsy and they’re on Facebook Only? That’s fishy to me. If they’re only selling in a Facebook group… why don’t they have another platform they’re selling on? Are they hiding? Did they have a Etsy shop but it got closed? Are they selling their “Google Drives” which are usually full of purchased and copyrighted designs? Actually, let me touch on Google drives for just a second. Google does not allow drives to be sold in exchange for access. There. That’s all I need to say on that.
But back to if they only have a Facebook group. Any legit business knows the value of having real estate online. Etsy is a marketplace and while it does have fees, it also reaches a HUGE market therefore making the fees justified. I mean you can get started on Etsy with 40 FREE LISTINGS to see if it’s right for you, so there’s really no excuse not to try it out. My question to the seller would be, “why wouldn’t you want to SHOW OFF your designs… unless you had something to hide?” I get sellers of physical products only having groups because they want to control workflow. But digital sellers don’t have the same restraints as physical sellers. So what gives? Facebook only? To me it’s “buyer beware.”
7. Website: Speaking of websites, typically designers will get started on Etsy and then will gradually move over to a standalone site once they can justify costs. A website says that they’ve established themselves, they have a following and the trust of their customers, and it also says they can afford the costs of marketing a website. If a designer has a website like Shopify or BigCommerce, that passes all the above criteria as well… you’re probably in a good place.
8. Google It: If there’s still cause for concern or if you have a tingling in your gut saying something doesn’t feel right, you can always type in the design name plus “SVG” on Google and search through the images. If there’s someone else with the same design… you may need to dig a bit deeper to find out who the original holder is. This may take a quick scan back through at both shops to see who really designed it. USUALLY you can tell pretty quickly though. I would love to say that established designers know better than to copy someone’s work. Obviously, that’s not always the case, but I would like to say that established and trusted designers had mama’s that taught them a little better. I have links below for trusted SVG sellers on Etsy if you need to know where to go!
9. Other Areas To Review If You Have Questions: Read shop announcements, note how long they’ve been in business, also see if they include .studio files. Silhouette does not allow .studio format to be resold. This may be lack of knowledge on the sellers part, but I personally would like to do business with someone who knows the scope of what is allowed in their market. Looking into their shop announcement and policies will give you a better understanding on how they run their business.
10. Private Convo: If you’re still concerned of have areas that are questionable, shoot them a quick convo and get a feel for how they treat you. No matter how rushed a seller is, you should always be treated with respect. I make it a point to try to be personable, kind, and real with every conversation even if I’m in a rush and can only get a few words out. If someone doesn’t appreciate you, find a business to support that does.
Remember it is ultimately up to YOU to keep yourself and your business safe. Checking phrases in the US Trademark Database, and vetting the person you’re purchasing from, are just a couple of ways you can ensure that you can sleep at night knowing you did everything right on your end.
Here is a list of trusted designers on Etsy! I will be updating the list as well!
Many of them have their own website, too! If you have someone you swear by, please let me know and I will update the list! I’m giving the owners names as they are found on Facebook <3
Whimsicality Graphics: Owned by Julie Houston Childress! She has a website AND she has a 20% off coupon code on anything! Code is: JUSTCAUSE
My Designs In The Chaos: Owned By Michelle Lea Brooks. She has a website that she’s building!
One Oak Designs: Owned by Lisa McKew. She also has a website!
Digitail Designs: Owned by Clare Wallis Dewhurst. She has a website and 25% off with no minimum purchase! Code is: SUMMERBLAST
Sweet Kate Designs: Owned by Amber Shock. She too, has a website 🙂
The Blu Hummingbird: Owned by Jennifer Pyron Doyal. Yep, she has a website!
Kut That Out: Owned by Cristy Kellum Hageman. Website, check!
So Cute Appliques: Owned By Melisa Parker. She has a website, too!
SDIVADesigns: Owned By Karin Adamczyk.
Nutsy And Me: Owned by Kelly Cramer… and I really need to know the story behind her business name, haha!