Grow Your Blog: Owning Your Content

Contents of my bagI want to share with you something that I’ve had difficulty with as a craft blogger, and I think many of you might have had the same experience. The question on my mind that I pose to you is this – where should you put your blog content and who should you allow to use it? This question has actually caused me some grief in my blogging life, and I’ve actually allowed my content in some places that I’ve regretted later. You may not even know this is something you need to think about, but it’s better to consider it pre-emptively rather than have regrets later.  Let me explain.

I grew up with four brothers, and they are all younger than me.  When you have four siblings, you learn sharing quickly.  Luckily since I’m a girl they didn’t want to wear my shoes or play with my toys (rather, I played with theirs).  That attitude has continued into adulthood, and I know most of you have it too.  But I’m going to tell you something – that attitude should not apply to your blog content.  If you feel like because you write it you should have to share it, you need to open the toilet lid and flush that down.  I’m going to ask you this moment to stop saying yes to everyone that asks “Can I repost your tutorial?” without thinking about it.  Instead I’m going to give you some things to think about when you get requests.  Your blog content is yours, and you should treat it like one of your children or pet.  Don’t you take good care of those things?  You don’t let anyone have access to them without careful consideration.  You treat your blog content the same.  Here are some questions to ponder when you get requests to use your material.

  1. What is my policy on my blog content? This is the first question you need to work out in your mind at the very least – and a lot of craft bloggers have it spelled out on their sites.  There are two words here you need to understand thoroughly: “repost” and “link” have very different meanings.  Reposting is typically a republishing of the entire article/tutorial with all images.  Linking is one (maybe two) images with a small description and a link back to the host blog for the full article.  Here’s my blog policy.  Bloggers may NOT repost my blog content without my express permission, and unless it’s really special I’m likely not to give it.  I want all of my tutorials to live on my blog.  They are my intellectual property and I spent countless hours making the projects, so I don’t want them floating around in the blogosphere.  Linking is perfectly fine, in fact, I encourage it!  Those who link to a project of mine are welcome to the top photo with a link back to that specific entry.  I hold this policy for my blog Mod Podge Rocks.  MPR is a place for my projects but also a discovery tool for other crafters’ projects – therefore anyone I post gets all of the visits for their tutorials, not me.  Even if people allowed me, I would not feel comfortable taking content and posting it as it if it were my own.  Crafters should totally get the love for what they made.
  2. Do I fully understand what the destination blog is doing with my content? I mentioned this in #1, but I really want you to make sure that you understand what the destination blog is going to do.  They might say “link” and really mean “repost.”  It might require an unsolicited mention of your policy that you’ve developed to find out if you are on the same page as the other person.  I think most of us would rather work out the details at the beginning than go back and ask someone to take something down because there was a misunderstanding.
  3. Do I respect the blog/site that is asking to post my tutorial? Please consider carefully the site that you are allowing to post your content, whether it be a repost OR a link.  Sometimes you can’t control it – people link to you and didn’t ask.  However, if you get asked, don’t just say “yes” because you are trying to be nice.  Remember, treat blog content like one of your children.  Would you let one of your kids go over to a stranger’s house?  Especially if it were a weirdo?  Nope.  What I’m saying is that if you have misgivings about the destination blog or issues with the content/quality, you should say no.
  4. What will I do if someone takes my content without asking? Don’t freak out!  It’s a bummer, but you need to keep your head.  Write a polite note asking that person to take it down.  Take a peek at this interesting article about stolen blog content.  Hopefully the blogger will take down the content once you’ve asked, but if they don’t, they could be fined up to $750.  Or call me – I don’t mind placing someone under citizen’s arrest.  I also have a billy club.
  5. Are there places I can post my content that link directly to me? This was sort of a trick question, because I wanted to tell you about two sites that I LOVE: Craftgawker and IShareCrafts.  These sites provide a service by pulling a lot of craft projects from all over the internet into categories so that they can be found – but the key is that YOU submit the information with one image and a short sentence.  When visitors click on the image, it goes to YOUR site.  I know that there are some pretty big crafty community sites that will import your RSS feed, but I won’t do that.  No one needs to come to my blog if I’m posting all my content on another (bigger) site.  Plus there the issue of advertising – be careful of sites that make money off of your content.

So why did I title this post “grow your blog?”  Two reasons.  First of all, it’s inevitable that you will eventually get asked for your content as your blog grows.  You need to be prepared.  Secondly, owning your content and making sure it’s in the right places can actually help grow your blog by garnering the respect of readers.  Blogging is not all about getting a huge number of readers; it’s about acquiring an audience of loyal followers.  If your readers know that quality is important to you, then they will trust you.  I can’t tel you how important the trust of my readers is to me.

I leave you with a final question because I’m curious – what is your blog policy?

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