Don’t know what about you but I am sick and tired of this statement:
The best way of growing your blog traffic is content marketing.
Thank you, Captain Obvious, we ALL know about it!
If it was that easy we all would be top bloggers with rivers of traffic, seas of conversion, and thousands of thankful readers considering our blogs resplendent.
The problem is, too many bloggers believe great content is enough to make their blogs sparkle.
Sorry, but great content doesn’t work. Excellent does.
Hence, we should write excellent content to develop our blogs and stand out from the crowd.
Easier say than do. The greatest enemy of excellence gets in bloggers hair, which is good. Tons of good content live on the Web. Moreover, tons of great content live there too, making bloggers believe they do their best and perform “like a boss”.
The problem is, their content doesn’t leave you any room to work: once you come up with the awesome idea, it appears that someone has written about it already! Yes, their content leaves much to be desired, but you are late.
Oops… You don’t want to be a plagiarist, so you are not allowed to use the same idea and info at your blog.
Or are you?
When writing content, you don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel. Plenty of ideas out there skim the surface of greatness. All you need to do is take them and give them the awesomeness they deserve.
The idea has been using for centuries, and it’s not a new concept.
- Shakespeare supposedly did it.
- Isaac Newton bragged about it, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
- T.S. Eliot encouraged it, “Mediocre writers borrow. Great writers steal.”
- Ruth Culham wrote The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing about it.
- Even Chuck Norris stole ideas from Jean-Claude Van Damme.
To be a great blogger, you have to offer excellent content, not good or great one.
Admit you are just a dwarf standing on the shoulders of giants. You are a man building on what others have done before you.
So, what can you do?
- Write content people will link over and over again. Become an authority of the subject.
- Write content people will share and seed on the Internet.
- Write content people will reference because there will be nothing else better than what you’ve accomplished.
You do the readers a favor!
How to Use Others’ Content to Write Your Stuff
As far as you understand, I am not going to teach you how to steal or plagiarize from others. It’s all about how to recognize content worth “stealing” and make it “appealing”.
So, two steps need you to follow, Padawan:
- Find content that is worth “stealing”.
- Find ways to make it better.
You don’t want to waste time on content that may or may not be well-received, so go for what you know will succeed. (It seems, I’ll start writing poems soon…)
How to find content that has already done fairly well?
- Search Google for the topic you want to write about. Check the top results. If someone is ranking #1 for a competitive term, it has obviously done pretty well.
CopyBlogger, Convince and Convert, QuickSprout… Mother of God, these guys are gurus! But you can always try to do better, can’t you?
- Use Open Site Explorer. Enter your favorite, successful website. Check which articles have been linked to the most.
- Search Topsy. See which articles are being shared and liked.
- Buzzsumo, Quora, BuzzFeed Trending, Facebook Trending, Google+ What’s Hot – you can use any of them to search for interesting content to “steal” and make excellent.
Make it excellent
So, the content is found. It’s good… no, it’s not good, it’s great! It means you should make it excellent and publish at your blog with links to originals.
How to make good content excellent?
- Make it longer. If a post if a top 20 list, make it a list of 100.
- Take what they have done and organize or display it differently. People respond to different things, and maybe the podcast turned into the article will find more readers. You know your audience, so give them a type of content that works best of all. For example, this post provides awesome information, but it’s image-heavy to absorb. Turned into a bright infographic, it looks much better now.
- Update it. Have you found the article that was popular in times of its publishing… ten years ago? Check if its bones are still good and relevant, and update it using modern techniques, latest trends, new data, etc.
- Turn milk into meat. Instead of sharing a simple list of bullet points, expound each one. Let’s compare this post with this one. I bet the latter one wins the battle.
The truly amazing posts will reference several previously published articles and improve all the above-mentioned areas.
How to Use Others’ Content without Getting in Trouble
No one wants to be penalized by Google and gain renown for theft and dishonesty. So, we better remember and follow two unspoken rules:
Don’t infringe copyright
- Copyright fair use allows writers to use portions of copyrighted material without permission. It’s acceptable if the writer comments or criticizes the original work.
- If the writer changes the bulk of a copyrighted work, it becomes a derivative work. As the new writer shares the copyright with the original writer, permission must be granted.
- Far from all works are copyrighted. For example, copyrighted materials become public after a certain period of time (Shakespeare’s plays).
- Non-copyrighted materials can still be plagiarized.
- Cite all sources to avoid plagiarism.
“The secret of creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”
Einstein is a good fellow, but I do not encourage you to take someone’s content and publish it as if it was you who had created it. But you can always do your best and turn a great text into an excellent one, mentioning your sources.
People will thank you, they will share your content, and your blog will grow. More than that, your improved content will help your sources grow their blogs as well.
And now, let’s come clean: do you “steal” content?