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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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29 Responses to “Grow Your Blog: Owning Your Content”

  1. I love these topics! This is great information and as always, you’ve given me alot to think about. Hmmm. Need to think about my policy.

  2. Megan says:

    Great article! I had someone ask to repost my tutorial and it turned into a nightmare of them claiming it was theirs. Several emails later and one threat and it all worked out but I will be ever cautious in the future!

  3. Holly L says:

    What a great post with such useful information for new and “Old” bloggers. I have had great experiences so far, but it is good to have some opinions from really successful bloggers to fall back on when and if it does happen!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this, Amy! It really gives me a lot to think about. I keep a close eye on my StatCounter for incoming links and make sure I’m given proper credit. So far I’ve been lucky. I suppose with my blog policy I’m okay with links and reposting a tute AS LONG AS there is credit and links back to me (not to mention that they asked me first). But I can definitely see where having a tutorial in too many places can screw with your statistics.

  5. Michelle L. says:

    Thanks for all the great info, Amy! Very thoughtful post, fascinating topic.

  6. Katie says:

    So I actually had to look at the original photo because I was convinced that the rattle was actually a “peace pipe”.
    But seriously, great post, thanks so much for sharing all of your wisdom with us! May I suggest that you add a button so that people can easily subscribe to your RSS feed?

  7. Ashley | domestic fashionista says:

    This is something I have not considered before. I see now there is adifference between networking and Allowing others to take credit for their work

  8. Mandi says:

    Hey Everyone!! I loved this post!
    I actually just added a copyright policy to my blog today, I have no problem with someone linking to my posts, or using my ideas. Thats why I post tutorials, and not just “Look at my awesome project that you have to figure out yourself…”
    Anyways, the only time I have ever had someone post a full tutorial was when I gave them permission or I was guest posting. I have started watermarking my pictures because now that my blog is getting bigger I have traffic coming in from all over.

    Soap box done.

    Love your guts
    mandi

  9. Thanks for sharing! Intellectual property can be such a blurry concept in the blogging world, so knowing how you want your content to be shared is definitely a really important first step.

  10. Thank you so much for this information! It is literally exactly what I needed to read today. I’ve taken your advice and added a policy to my blog in my sidebar. I used some of your wording but reworked it into my own words. I hope that isn’t copying your content! lol. I just really was impressed with your advice and took care of it right away.

    Also there’s a site that reposts my posts continuously so I emailed her as well and asked her to rework the posts so they are actual feature posts or to please remove them from her site. I’ve been bothered that my posts are on someone else’s blog for months now, but I didn’t really know how to go about dealing with the situation. Your post inspired me to take my blog into my own hands and not allow my posts to be copied any longer. Why should she get all the hits and traffic and not me for my own posts that I spent hours putting together? Plus it just doesn’t seem right that she is earning money off my posts being on her site.

    So anyway, thank you very much. You’ve inspired me to stand up for myself!

    ~Allison @ House of Hepworths

  11. amy says:

    I’m so glad it helped all of you! Allison, I have no problem with you using any wording of mine – I’m just glad you now have a policy. Awesome!

  12. Michelle says:

    Oh, being a ‘blogger newbie’, I am discouraged by how people can steal blogs from others. Thank you for this article Amy and those that you post in MPR. I think I should compose a blog policy on mine too.
    By the way, how would you know that someone is copying your post if they dont link back? Does it just happen accidentally while you are checking on someones blog and suddenly everything is too familiar and you realize its your own? Ewe! I hope that never happens to me.
    Thanks for your article ☺

  13. amy says:

    Hi Michelle! Thanks for the nice comment! I’ve found my content reproduced in two ways. First of all, I get Mod Podge Google Alerts. Second, I search for my blog sometimes to see who has posted about it . . . so that I can say hello! A few times I’ve found my blog mentioned with entire tutorials posted and no links . . . just my blog name and then completely reproduced content. 🙁 I’m sure there have been other times I just haven’t found. But maybe not. I hope not!

  14. Condo Blues says:

    I want to give you a hug and a big plate of cookies for this article! I have had problems with other bloggers reposting my tutorials word for word. It really bothers me that some people don’t understand the difference between writing about a cool project using their own words and plagiarizing content. I’m going to add a policy to my blog right now. Thanks!

  15. Jen Clark says:

    Thank you so much, Amy – totally needed this!!! I need exactly THIS type of education about the do’s and don’t’s for growing my blog!!! <3

  16. Rachel says:

    Oh wow- where has this site been all my life? I *love* it here! Yay! Heather from Dollar Store Crafts emailed me and she’s right- there is so much wonderful advice going on here. I would love to link to some of your posts if you didn’t mind.

  17. amy says:

    Hey Rach! Of course you can!! You know I love ya. 😀

  18. [email protected] Home For a Bunny says:

    I never thought to have a policy… May I repost you policy to my blog?? Just kidding.

  19. I’ve had this in the back of my mind for a while. I think it is time for me to write a policy. I’ve also just set up a Google Alert for my blog name. It still astounds me that people will steal content, but it shouldn’t!

  20. This is the most interesting post ever! I didn’t think about the “behind the scenes” reasons of guest posting or giving people my tuturials. I don’t really understand when big bloggers ask for original tutorials not yet published on my site…..can I ask you a blunt question? Does it screw me to let them do it that way? When I DO post it on my site will no one be able to find it because the search engines will always go to the big time blog instead of mine? I LOVE how honest you are – thank you for making some of this clear to me! ALSO is it blog appropriate to ask more than one blog to guest post(or link) a project? (ha, ha, if it’s OK I want to send you in a mod podge post to “link”)

  21. Emma says:

    A very useful post 🙂 I find Creative Commons very useful (http://creativecommons.org/) because it allows you to think about how you’re happy for your content to be used, and then display that with the content, so people know right from the start.

  22. CraftyMummy says:

    Thanks for giving me food for thought.

    I agree with the idea of encouraging others to link to my content but not repost the whole lot.

    I LOVE Craftgawker and have just found IShareCrafts so will be spending some more time there.

    I hadn’t thought before about the quality of other blogs that ask to share my content, but your comments make a lot of sense.

    The other thing that rang bells for me was your comment about other blogs having my RSS feed and potentially making money off my content. Hadn’t thought of that!

  23. Carolina says:

    Great information!

    Question… how does this differ from guest posting, or “blog swapping?” When guest-posting or swapping, I’m putting content on another’s site (in exchange for link backs)

    • amy says:

      Hi Carolina! With blog swapping you and another person have mutually agreed to trade blog spaces for a certain date(s). Sometimes though, people will ask (or not ask) to use your content without a trade – they will just want to post it on their blog. I think both blog swapping and people simply using your content is fine (and can be great for your blog), as long as they ask and you are okay with how they are using your content. If both parties are in agreement, yay!

  24. Lia says:

    Amy,
    Thank you so much for this great post! I think you raise such an interesting point, particularly in light of the fact that it’s plausible for a lot of these blogs to become more than just outlets – but perhaps vehicles for small businesses or outside sources of income. Love the fact that there are people like you out there making some solid ground rules to ensure we can all be successful, no matter the area of expertise. Keep up the good work! 🙂

  25. This is a great topic. The key is in knowing the purpose of your blog and what you want it to do for you.

    I think the first thing to remember is that first and foremost, if you write it (or create it), the copyrights belong to you. You, and only you, have the right to say who can use your content (unless of course you sell those rights). If someone uses it without permission, don’t hesitate to send them a “take down” notice.

    Secondly, while I agree that original content on your blog is best, there are times when you may want to allow a reprint. The key is to not allow more than a few select people to reprint that same post online.

    Third, there is a way to handle guest posting, content swaps, and reprints, without having to effect your original content or take a lot of time away from your own blog and/or craft business.

    Write up a few tutorials and non-crafty how-tos that relate to your blog’s readership and anytime anyone asks to reprint something on your blog, that you don’t want to be shared off your blog, offer them one of those reprints instead–or simply tell them they can write up a brief intro and direct their readers to your actual post.

    For reprint options, just say something like, “I am sorry, but I don’t allow reprints of that post. However, I do have a select group of pre-written posts ready for guest posting. Would you like me to send you a list of topics?” (And always, always require a clickable link on your guest post.)

    For years, I have used article directories to bring traffic to my my eMagazine, The Dabbling Mum. What I have learned is that when using article directories, you have no control over who uses your content, or where the content shows up. Yet, it can offer a HUGE benefit in helping to build traffic. The key is to write content that your blog readers would want to read and include a byline that would cause someone to click and visit your site. Then only use that particular content off site. In other words, don’t repost that content on your own blog.

    Another thing to remember is that as the sites you’ve shared your content with grow in traffic and pageviews, your blog post may end up getting lost in the search engine results pages because the other blog will carry more weight on that particular topic. So if someone was looking for How To Create Angel Beads by Caroline, for instance, the blog that would come up first is the blog with the most traffic/page views versus the blog with less traffic/views–which may be your original blog post.”

    That is not necessarily a bad thing; especially if the post that pops up drives traffic back to your site, traffic you would have otherwise not received.

    I’ve written free e-book on the subject of article marketing, if you’re interested. http://thedabblingmum.com/ebookstore/business/marketarticles.htm

    • amy says:

      Thanks Alyice! I appreciate your perspective and I do agree with you on most of the points. Reprinting is a huge issue, and I’m glad we can all discuss it. I’ve had many people come to me after pitfalls with reprinting because they didn’t understand the implications of what they were doing. I think first and foremost, Crafterminds wants to educate – and also provide an open forum so that every blogger knows what they are getting into. Thanks for bringing up these points!! xo

  26. You are welcome Amy. 🙂 I’ve been around the block a few times, myself, and was just hoping my perspective could be educational and helpful as well.

  27. Peaches says:

    Great post. Hot topic. Similar to you, my policy is that anyone is welcome to post a single image accompanied by name credit and a link (love that!)…but anything more, like a tutorial, is not cool unless I’m getting paid upfront or in major traffic. Time = money. No one should be spending hours generating content so someone else can drive up their ad revenue. Period.
    Unfortunately, I regularly find my tutorials posted on other people’s blogs and/or scraper sites. It is both flattering and appalling. They rarely link back, so I identify them using a reverse image search on http://www.tineye.com …a public comment + a quick, terse email usually gets the job done, but the hard part is when the site is in another language and I can’t even track back to an email address. Not fun. I read that you can appeal directly to the site’s host, but that seems a little too hardass for me.
    Now, my question is; what do you do when someone creates a tutorial with their own words/images but the project/method is clearly yours. I know we are all capable of creative thoughts, and it’s great when one person is inspired by another…but sometimes “inspiration” borders a little too close to “replication”…and there is no real code of honor in that realm. What to do? Oh well. We can’t win them all, right?
    Thanks for sharing your take on things and listening to my ramble 🙂

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