I am excited to have a guest post for you guys today! It is from one of my favorite bloggers, and my most favorite person in the world… My husband! I asked him to write a post for my readers about stealing content. I personally have had to deal with this far too many times and I have seen it happen to a few blogger friends as well. It is really sad to see what it does to those bloggers after they have worked so hard to be unique and create something of their own. I love how Dave has laid it out for us in this post…
Bloggers get burned out. That’s a fact. The pressure of constantly churning out creative and engaging content for our readers is likely to give us gastrointestinal problems. That’s why it’s nice to hear that if you are constantly trying to summons new ideas for blog content, then you’re blogging all wrong.
Mark Twain, one of the most prolific writers in American history, wrote in his biography, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations.”
That’s why I am in favor of stealing, but only when it is done ethically.
Using other people’s content, including actual words, images, logos, and videos without their permission is definitely wrong. In fact, it can get you into legal trouble, yourself, and can quickly get your blog or social media profile taken down from the Internet.
So, what can you steal to rejuvenate your blog and gain the attention of your readers? Content structure and topics. In fact, if you want to consistently drive traffic to your blog, you should be stealing these two things more often than not.
The way that you structure and compose your next blog post doesn’t have to be created from scratch. You can base the flow of your article on other bloggers’ content structures to leverage your voice and ideas more clearly. But, what does that mean? It means writing a “How-to” article of your own, a “Top 10” post about a topic of your choice”, a “Myth busting” post about something that your readers are interested in, or a “Failure to Success” story after reading one that inspired you on one of your favorite blogs or website.
Additionally, stealing content topics is a great way to remove the writer’s block that has turned your blog into a slow uninspired chore. One of my favorite ways to do this is to read blogs and articles from friends’ websites and other media outlets that I am personally interested in and always seem to captivate me with whatever is posted. Reading the work of bloggers that I admire is a source of inspiration that I owe a lot of my writing success to. In fact, my book If You Can’t Fail, It Doesn’t Count was inspired by the writing of one of my favorite bloggers, Seth Godin. And while my book reads a bit like many of his own, I wrote all of the content myself using my own language and expertise.
That’s where stealing content topics isn’t so much stealing anymore, when you use an idea that you are inspired by to write a blog post using your own language, voice, and personality.
Nevertheless, regardless of the ethics of the situation, if you want to be welcomed as a respected member of a blogging community, you need to follow certain blogger etiquette. While there aren’t any stone tablets with the Ten Commandments of Blogging inscribed on them, blogger etiquette can be summed up in four words: don’t be a jerk.
While stealing content topics and structures is perfectly fine to do, as long as you write your own content, stealing the content topics and structures from the same person and posting your “How-to” article about the same topic two days after their original post was published is a quick way to lose credibility and respect among the blogging community and your network of friends and readers. The same goes for Facebook status updates, Tweets, and Instagram photos and videos as well.
The reason we blog is because we enjoy sharing our ideas and passions with others by creating high value content that our readers might enjoy. And ethical stealing is a major part of producing high value content for our audience. However, it’s important to keep it ethical. Crossing the line not only puts your website at risk, it also tarnishes your reputation faster than you think, turning what was once a thriving lifestyle of blogging and connecting with others into a sequel to the movie Mean Girls.
Dave Guymon is an online middle school teacher and educational technologist from Idaho Falls, Idaho. In addition to teaching his students, Dave also hosts professional development classes to teach educators about digital citizenship and integrating technology into their own classrooms. You can read Dave’s book, If You Can’t Fail, It Doesn’t Count, here. You can also follow Dave on Twitter @DaveGuymon.