At my recent blogging workshop in Barrie, Ontario, I heard a great question:
Can I post other people’s content on my blog, or is that plagiarism?
Some beginner bloggers are unsure about the idea of writing their own content. They may not feel confident about their writing skills or they just don’t see themselves as an expert. I can relate – sometimes I feel like a downright imposter!
Sharing other people’s valuable content is truly a win-win-win proposition. It’s also the heart of connective content – the content you don’t have to create from scratch (check out this primer about connective content).
Let’s just clear up any confusion about what you can and cannot share. NOTE: As you know, I’m not a lawyer or copyright expert. Please use common sense and if you’re not sure, ask!
As corporate blogging expert Debbie Weil says, links are the currency of blogs. People expect to find them and will be disappointed if they don’t.
You’ve got free rein to share links to other content that’s been published on the Internet. Because you’re sending your readers directly to the other site, there’s no confusion about who produced the material.
Before you send your readers away, however, here are a few things to remember:
- Leave a trail. Set external links (to someone else’s site) to open in a new browser window. That way, your readers can easily find their way back to what they were originally reading on your site.
- Label your links. Use the “Title” tag to briefly explain where you’re sending them (for example, place your mouse near this text). On social media, include the original author’s name in your update.
- Have your say. If the other person’s content is the highlight of your blog post (e.g., you’re linking to a video or an important news story on someone else’s blog), put your own slant on things by telling your readers who created the content and why you think it is beneficial information.
- Lead the way. Use the permalink (“permanent link”) for each specific post, rather than the blog’s main page (here’s a video about how to find the permalink).
Quotes can be a compelling introduction for a blog post, whether they’re inspirational, authoritative, comical, powerful or just beautifully written. Throughout your post, quotes from well-known experts can lend credibility and support for the ideas you’re presenting.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when sharing quotes:
- Keep it brief. The longer the quote, the more likely you could be found in violation of copyright laws.
- Check your source. If multiple names are attributed to the quote, do your best to confirm who said it first. Also, if you haven’t heard of the person, be sure this is someone you feel comfortable endorsing.
- Be a journalist. As Darren Rowse of ProBlogger suggests, “If you can’t find an existing quote to use from someone – create one by approaching them for a quick comment or interview on your topic.”
- Inspire yourself. If you’re stumped for new content, you can use a quotations site as an idea generator to inspire your next blog post.
Sharing entire articles
Some experts are happy for you to reprint their articles in full. Usually, the only cost for this is that you include their biographical information (also known as an author resource box) and a live link back to their site.
Check the end of their article for a copyright statement and/or reprint policy. When in doubt, ask!
Most authors will appreciate hearing when you’ve shared or linked to their content (here are a few ways to make that connection).
Now that you can confidently share other people’s content on your blog, I hope you’re feeling less pressure about being a weekly blogger. Just be sure to balance your blog with all four types of blog posts and all three types of content.