Blogging, Business, and Trade Secrets

These days, I don’t write about the law very much because I am no longer seeking clients for my independent practice. I’m focusing, instead, on my freelance writing business, blogging, and growing my social media platforms. But, I’m still a lawyer and I still think like one. When it comes to business and branding, I think it’s very important to protect your trade secrets. It’s not about competition; it’s about protecting what you’ve built.

In today’s online world, most content creators are influenced by one another. For example, a big trend will hit like “contouring” and the next thing you know, every beauty blogger is making videos about contouring, and all the makeup brands are coming out with contouring kits. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with giving credit to those who influence you or putting your own spin on something.

But, there is a difference between sharing ideas and giving away trade secrets. What is a trade secret? According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a “trade secret,” consists of “a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process.” “It must be used in business and give an opportunity to obtain an economic advantage over competitors who do not know or use it.”

Anastasia Beverly Hills, a makeup brand, has a popular contouring kit that many bloggers use. Although there are lots of contouring kits on the market, their formula is unique, and it’s a secret. As a brand, they have a responsibility to protect that secret formula; if they don’t, other companies can copy it, Anastasia Beverly Hills can lose business, and they may even lose protection for that intellectual property if they did not do their due diligence to protect their trade secret.

As another example, Chick-Fil-A has some type of process to cook its chicken in a timely manner, and to prepare enough for its busy times, and the company also has a process to move the line at lunch time much faster than its competitors. Chick-Fil-A is not going to share those processes with other competitors. This does not mean that the executives that run the business are insecure; it means that they are smart business people. KFC is still famous for it’s “secret recipe.”

There are also appropriate times to collaborate. For example, beauty brands will come together to hold a conference or beauty event where they will share customer information, in hopes to grow each of their brands. Several restaurants could come together to fight a certain government regulation, or to sponsor a food event. So, it’s not that competitors can’t work together, only that they must also act in their own best interests.

What does that mean for creators today?

It means that bloggers, brands, and businesses must be diligent about how and how much information they share when collaborating with other influencers and hiring help. Some ways to protect a brand are to use non-disclosure and non-compete agreements where appropriate, or to simply limit the information that is shared.

Some bloggers like Pat Flynn share lots of free information about their processes. By giving back, he has gotten so much in return. But, as his brand has grown, he has had to conceal some information like how much he pays his contractors, and how much he makes form some specific affiliate programs. His affiliate rate from Bluehost, for example, is higher than most influencers, and to protect that relationship, he must withhold some information. He also sells books and courses in addition to all the information that he provides for free.

We live an age where it seems like information should be free and readily available, but truthfully, some information must still be treated as confidential for the betterment of our brands. Don’t feel bad about protecting what you’ve built! When you run a creative business, or digital brand, ultimately your intellectual property is your most valuable asset.

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  • It's #washday - or rather wash night! I'm going back to my natural curls tonight and I could not be happier. Here are a few of my favorite products from @mauimoisture @aphogee and @clairolcolor right now that I'll be using the whip my hair back into shape! (Listed below!) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate Shea Butter Shampoo
Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate Shea Butter Hair Mask
Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate Shea Butter Raw Oil
Maui Moisture Curl Quench Coconut Oil Curl Milk 
Aphoghee Curlific Texture Treatment 
Aphogee Moisture Rich Leave-In 
Clairol Textures & Tones Hair Dy Designed for Women of Colour
Mixing Boil & Brush for Hair Dye 
What are some of your current favorite #naturalhair products?
Sent via @planoly #planoly #naturalhair #naturalhairproduct #curlygirl #curlyworld #naturalhairjourney #hairgrowth #hairgrowthjourney #hairproducts #healthyhairproducts #mauimoisture #aphoghee #apogheehaircare #teamnatural #naturallycurly #type4a #type4anatural #moisturizedhair #healthyhair #hairjourney #hotd #healthyhairjourney #productjunkie
  • I got my second meal kit box from @cookhomemade and I actually cooked salmon for the first time! I've never been big on seafood, so this was a fun way to try something new. My salmon salad turned out great! Swipe for pics! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Sent via @planoly #planoly #cookhomemade #homemademeals #homemademealkit #foodprep #mealkit #foodbox #blackhomemaker #blackcreatives #blackbloggers #lifestyleblogger #workingmoms #easymeals #mealkitsformoms #affordablemeals #simplemeals #salmon #salmonsalad #healthymeals #weightwatchers #cooking #cookingathome #millennialpink
  • Last week, I stopped in at the Paper Co. Cafe for a delish vegetarian bean burger, with sweet potato fries and a honey-flavored tea. I like how spacious the cafe was. It's a nice place to get some work done and grab a cup of coffer or tea, and some real food. If you're looking for a local #htx cafe, check it out. 👋🏾 Swipe for pictures of the food and the space! @papercohouston ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
#planoly #papercocafe #houstoncafes #paperco #houstonrestaurants #papercocafehouston #houstonbloggers #blogging #blackbloggers #htx #tourofhouston #htxrestaurants #houstoncreatives
  • This week, I signed up for a comprehensive course on copywriting for creatives. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and a JD....AND I've taught writing professionally. So, why would I invest in a writing course? There are lots of reasons, but here are a few. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
1. A good writer is always striving to get better. 
2. I've switched up my brand over the past couple of years, and I don't think I've communicated that very clearly.
3. I'm adding additional products and services that I need to write about in order to share those with people. It's easy for me to write or other people, but it's harder for me to craft my own brand message and essentially "publicize myself."
We live in a very crowded world where we are bombarded daily with lots of messages. I have a message that I want to share, but I have to write clear copy in order to convey that message. Plus, business and analytical writing is a lot different than writing content online specifically for MY audience. So, I'll be working through this course which is pretty awesome so far. 
It's also  a big time investment, but I'll still be sharing my day to day life experiences here on Insta while I work on my blog behind the scenes! What are some things you're working on to get better? 
#planoly #creative #blackcreatives #writer #writerlife #blogging #womenbloggers #blackbloggers #writingforcreatives #macbook #millennialpink #creativeculture #amwriting #houstonblogger #lifestyleblogger  #houston #htx
  • “Melange” means a mixture or medley, and there were certainly a variety of crepes at Melange Creperie. One of the fun things about @melangecreperie is that you can actually watch your crêpe being prepared! 
I love the look of this place! The aesthetic of the building outside is actually what made me go inside. I’m thinking about exploring some other restaurants in the Heights over the next few weeks. Any suggestions?
#melangecreperie #crepes #foodie #houstonfoodie #htx #houstonheights
  • Yesterday, I had a fantastic lunch @melangecreperie ! As much as  I love French culture, it was actually my FIRST TIME ever eating a #crêpe! I had the Szechuan Chicken crêpe filled with pickled carrots, cilantro, green onions, and jalapeno jelly, paired with a kale salad! 
This is a really fun spot for lunch or brunch, and a bonus is that the wifi was fast! 
#houstonfoodie #crêpes #crêperie #melangecreperie #houstoneats #htx #htxfoodie #houstonheights #houstonlunch #houstonbrunch #bydebra #bydebrajohnson ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Sent via @planoly #planoly
  • I had fun painting with my friend and Soror @sunayye ! I needed to get out of the house and away from the computer! 💙

#Repost @sunayye
Spending time with my ls #spring05 #13years #wegonholditdine #zphi
  • I just posted a new video on  my channel sharing some reasons why I'm NOT vegan (at least not yet), even though I really enjoy eating vegan foods! 🥗 You can watch by clicking the link in my profile!
This is a response to @sweetpotatosoul 🥔 and her video called, "I want to go vegan, but..." It was an excellent video addressing some reservations that people have about going vegan. I thought she responded to those reasons really well, but as someone who has not yet made the leap into veganism, I wanted to share a few of my thoughts. 
Check out my response video by clicking the link in my profile! Now, I'm about to head out and watch Acrimony! Enjoy your Friday, everyone! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Sent via @planoly #planoly #veganlife #veganism #sweetpotatosoul #responsevideo #youtube #youtuber #blackyoutube #veganvideos #blackyoutuber #blackvegans #healthyeating #veganvideos #motd
  • Earlier this week, I stopped by @greenseedvegan for lunch! This eatery has long been one of my favorite vegan restaurants in Houston. This time, I had the "tosh" for lunch, with cauliflower nuggets. The tosh is maple jerk garbanzo tempeh with grilled plantains, spinach & jerk aioli. Both were yummy, but the rockin' tacos are still my all time favorite entree from the restaurant. 
If you're looking for a great vegan restaurant, definitely check it out. It gets busy around lunch time and dinner time, so it's probably best to squeeze a visit in between those times if you want to get a parking space. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Sent via @planoly #planoly #houstonfoodie #houstoneats #greenseedvegan #veganhouston #veganrestaurants #veganeateries #cauliflower #cauliflowernuggets #cauliflowerbites #htxfoodgram #htxfoodbloggers #veganeats #vegandining #rawvegan #houstonfoodblogger #houstonfoodbloggers #houstonblackbloggers

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