In my previous posts, I’ve mentioned from time to time my disdain for blogs (and ‘probloggers’) relying almost exclusively on free content from article directories. (Disclosure: I own an article directory.) Two reasons why I think public domain articles do more harm than good for our blogs:
- Free articles circulate widely on the Net, which means you’re not alone in using them. The duplicate content might merit you a penalty in the search engines, especially Google.
- It speaks ill of the blog owner if he can’t produce original entries with his own tone/voice.
However, when used judiciously (and infrequently), free articles can get you out of a rut, provide you with keyword-rich content, and can be another way to showcase your expertise in your industry. Here’s what you can do with free articles on your blogs:
- Combine the strongest/most interesting points from different related articles. You’ll be relying on quoted text here, injected with your own opinions.
- React to the article. Found the author’s points misleading or downright erroneous? Correct him in your blog. Found the article to be the most info-packed content written in 400 words you’ve seen in a while? Praise and suggest it to your readers.
- Discuss the article in the context of a previous blog post. This won’t be hard, especially if you’ve been writing tons of posts on your blog and your topic is a popular article category (e.g. internet marketing, pet care, travel destinations).
- Compare and contrast the article’s points with those of a blog post from an established blogger in your industry. Not only will you attract the attention of your fellow (and quite famous) blogger, this type of blog post might turn out to be good linkbait.
- Add images. What better way to visually spice up a blog post than by inserting an image? Since you’ll be using free articles, it won’t hurt to use free image resources, as well. (See my related Perf post, Images: Another Problogging Ace Up Your Sleeve)
Finally, if you don’t know your way yet around the article directory scene, let me point you to several great sites. EzineArticles.com and GoArticles.com are good places to start, and I’ve been submitting articles to them for nearly a year already. You can also visit ArticleCrux.com, which I own and carefully maintain.
That said, the list above can’t build you a problogging career. You’ll still need to start where all good probloggers started – with highly original and helpful content.
@Brett, yes, you hit right on — a way to escape writer’s block, while still trying to observe uniqueness. Just one of those little things that can help 😉
@1-800-HART, my point was that relying almost exclusively on free articles does harm (“evil”). Of course, it is a personal opinion. Using articles, let’s say, for 50 out of every 100 posts is way different from 100 out of 100. There are ways to dish out ‘tweaked’ article directory content yet still recognizing the expertise of the original authors, and I was hoping listing some of them here would help other bloggers.
I do see your point in the pet blog, being a pet (5 dogs and 4 cats) lover myself. Btw, the link you gave me, http://www.petlvr.com/blog/, gives up a 403 Forbidden error.
It speaks ill of the blog owner if he can’t produce original entries with his own tone/voice
I guess I’m one of these people who just don’t care what most people think. I must really not get it .. because I don’t understand why it’s OK to write ezine articles, but EVIL if you use them?
But, I have my reasons for using them. For instance, on my pet blog http://PetLvr.com/blog/ site .. I don’t pretend to know how to stop a dog from barking or a cat from meowing, but a hundred different people who write ezine articles think they do. I find as a reader myself, with many options in certain topics is helpful – for instance, if my dog always bark when Clients come to the door and barks too much – there’s bound to be some tips that are useful if I look.
So, I do not think using ezine articles are EVIL at all and will continue to use them – and I guess will take people’s criticism about not being able to voice my own opinions. (sticks and stonesI)
Now, of course when the blog is not about a topic, but about ME (like my accounting blog http://1800HART.com/blog/) it doesn’t make sense to use other ezine articles when I am trying to promote my own expertise or opionions.
I’ve never purchased or used articles from directories like this. However I have sold 3-4 articles out to these directories. Typically, I do this when I want the message to be blasted wide and far and I’m not worried about getting traffic back to my site for the message. Some things just need to be heard.
I do not really have much of a problem with the concept (especially since its prevalent offline), but I also do not have much use for it today. I do like some of the concepts you have proposed though as a way to spin these articles into something unique. I could definitely see one of those scenarios and essentially this becomes another way to avoid or escape writers block.