Bloggers: Your content is valuable

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time. I have been seeing an increase in bloggers giving away their content to other sites and feeling very proud and grateful that a website and/or company has shown interest in them enough to ‘feature’ their writing on another site on the web.

Whilst this is fantastic news for amateur bloggers and those with no interest in a professional writing stance, I do think there is a certain danger here. The danger being that those naive to how the web works, even those who are professional bloggers and people with writing of an excellent standard, can easily be taken advantage of.

It comes down to the simple fact: content is valuable.

What is content? Put simply, words. Your words. Relevant to your website, your blog… relevant to many others’ sites too, no doubt. Google and other search engines rank websites, blogs and other web based pages based on the ‘content’ of them.

The more contextually relevant copy (writing, content, however you wish to term it) a website has (that isn’t just spamming), the greater its chances of ranking higher in the SERP (search engine results pages), most likely to be Google based – with some interest also on Yahoo, Bing and the like.

Of course, these web sites most often use an external expert SEO to prefill the meta data (the unseen keywords, tags, page information and the like) for a site, helping to build and boost the analytical data for a site or page, tracked within the likes of Google analytics, WordPress’ Jetpack or in-house analytics system (or all of the above and more). Adword campaigns are built upon the relevant SEO for a website and money (phew – lots of money!) can be poured into a Google gambling system based on a system of keywords and phrases – much like traders ‘betting’ – buying and selling currency.

So what do companies and websites do, if they haven’t got money to spend?

A free and easy way to ‘up’ the search engine results is to add words to a web site which are to do with the site’s themes and topics (Google will dismiss obvious spamming or content which seems out of place for the site’s theme).  People working for a website often do this in the form of a blog, which you will notice many a retail shop online has, nowadays.

Organic search results from people just browsing the internet will show a website if they search for topics covered by such blog posts. Simple as.

Example. Person searches for, “can I use silicone lube with silicone toys?” Voila. A plethora of relevant content appears. Which sites show? The ones with the relevant answers, of course. (ok geeks, there is a little more to it than that but it is simply put here.)

Bear in mind that when you are providing your content to a website, you are most likely doing them a huge favour.

You will be coming at this from one of two angles.

1) You are an amateur blogger and want to get your name known on the internet and for more people to know about your blog and see it. By writing an article for another site you can get a link back to you. Hurray! Go tweet about it.

2) You’re a professional level copywriter or professional blogger hoping to monetise your skills, situation and website and by providing content to another website you are in fact giving away valuable content that could work better on your own site. In this case, either place it on your own site or charge the other site for the privilege of having your content.

In either situation, please don’t be naive about why you have been contacted for your blog post, article or review. Companies have better things to do with their money than to pay in-house writers to sit and type up articles all day – and why should they, when they can get them from you for free? Let’s face it, you’re sitting at home and writing anyway, so you may as well be writing things that are going to boost their internet visibility and increase their traffic, right?

What I want to achieve with this blog post is to help people realise the reality of this situation. Copy writers are massively underpaid as it is. It’s the worst paid internet based employment, believe me. I live with a professional graphic designer and a web developer and there’s just no comparison. </whinge>

My advice to you, fellow blogger (or writer) is this: Decide upon your mission on the web. Do you want to work towards promoting yourself, mainly, with an end result of monetising your website or blog, or do you want to blog as a side line, an unpaid hobby?

The answer to this question will be down to you alone – but it is definitely an important question to ask yourself if you’re a blogger or writer.

 

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. As a blogger myself, I’ve never had an agenda for my blog other than to have it read by people. And it is read. I’ve had 28 pageviews today (so far, considering the day’s halfway over) and the total amounted to 96 yesterday, even though I didn’t post. If I’m averaging 100+ views a day, that’s a lot for my amateur blog.

    A lot of bloggers I know (and, in come cases, like) have a lot of advertising on their blog. I don’t know if this is an effective way of monetising or not. I will review products if they are sent to me, but very rarely do I get such offers. I am on some sort of list, it seems, of people asking me if I will do inline links or even publish guest posts on my blog. That’s a real no-no.

    I’m experienced enough with SEO to know well enough that (as well as things like meta tags and slug keywording) links are perhaps the best way to get your site linked to on Google. There’s only so far that /addurl/ will get you. But I’ve never aimed to make my blog commercial. Recognition is nice, but there’s nothing there to earn me any money. I’d be compromising my standards and, besides, I think most of the logos sex toy companies provide are kind of ugly, and don’t make blog sidebars look too pretty.

    But I think that you sometimes have a need to blur the lines a little if you’ve decided upon your mission. My aim is to make people laugh and/or think (and occasionally masturbate, but that depends). I don’t see why there should be any problem with promoting yourself sans commercial links or monetisation; if you just want to get your stuff read, with no hidden agenda behind it, then there are thankfully ways to do that.

    Providing content for anyone else is tricky because it essentially places the content in the hands of another party. If you are an amateur blogger, then I think it’s easier – although if you’re a professional blogger, it should either work better on your own site or be a commissioned piece for which you’re paid a fee. Copywriters will have something specific that they have to write, but for essentially free lance e-journalism the rules aren’t so rigid, and therefore you could produce something completely off-the-wall – it’s just a matter or who will pick it up, if your aim is indeed to be picked up.

    I’ve never actually provided content for any other sites. It’s a step that I’d like to take at some point, but haven’t yet. But I have been a volunteer copywriter once – for a web design company – and I really liked writing those articles (which they printed on their blog – I didn’t have access, but sending them a Word Document did the trick). It didn’t do me any good (apart from something else to add to my CV), but it was great to see a byline… at long last!

  2. Great post Cara and I think you are spot on. I have been contacted by so many sites asking for me to provide them some content but I have chosen to refuse them…. as they all wanted it for free and if that is the case I would rather publish it myself on my own site. I even applied for a position with a company in the UK who shall remain nameless. They sent me an offer of 6 months ‘voluntary’ work… cheeky buggers. I have since written back telling them my fees but it is not surprise that I have yet to hear anything from them.

    There are too many people giving away their content for free, especially to big companies. Which is not the same as guesting on fellow blogs or for sites that are being run on a no-profit basis. The biggest problem it causes is that it basically devalues all our work.

    Mollyxxx

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