Hey, Steal This (Legally)!

Nothing invites a stolen truck like leaving the windows open and the keys in the ignition.  So don’t do that, okay?

But while you don’t want your truck swiped, you just might want to make it easy for people to swipe your content and ideas to share with the world.

So how can you encourage that kind of “hey, steal this!” to happen? I don’t have an extra set of keys to my brain that I can leave out with a virtual sign inviting others to come borrow it for a while (however it’s possible I’ve lost the original set so if you see those, be sure to let me know).

Make it Easy to Swipe & Be Clear

You’re busy.  So are other online business owners and bloggers.  If you make your valuable content easy for us to swipe, there’s a higher chance we’ll take you up on the offer.

Make it clear what content is okay to “swipe” and what’s required.

If you expect credit to be given to you (you do, right?) then make that very clear.  If you require notification that your content has been reprinted, that your link back to your site be “live” or that a particular photo be included, be sure to make that clear, too.  Remember, the more hoops you require people to jump through, the less likely they are to reprint your content (or do it according to your rules).

You could include a standard license on all your content, like a Creative Commons reprint license.  Or, if you have only certain posts or articles from your website that you want to allow reprint of, you could add a note below those specific articles.

If your ezine articles are available for reprint, include a note about it in your ezine.  I pick up several articles a month from ezines I read who include that permission.  If they didn’t put it there to remind me, I probably wouldn’t think to check if the article was available to share.

Leave a Trail of Breadcrumbs

Don’t expect everyone looking for free to reprint content to come to your website.  Instead, put breadcrumbs of your content out on other sites where it can be found!

Try these:

Go After the Content Sharers

Some websites and blogs regularly reprint content from a variety of authors and are just waiting for you to get in touch with them and share your best content.  So do it!

Two easy ways to find websites who might be interested in sharing your content are:

  1. Ask your network where they’d like to see your content.  They may be reading blogs or websites in your niche that are a perfect fit.
  2. Look at the blogs and websites you’re already reading.  Many accept guest posts or article submissions.

Here are more ways you can get your content out there: Five Ways to Find Targeted Websites to Submit Your Articles To

But a Word of Warning

No matter what you request as reprint terms, not everyone will follow them.  Consider how you’ll handle it.  I wrote about this yesterday: I Can “Borrow”a Copy of That, Right?

One of the most annoying ways that some unethical people grab content is to take your RSS feed and set it up to publish directly into their blog.  It requires barely any work on their part, and then every single post from your blog shows up on theirs right after you publish it.  This is bad for many reasons.  In my next post I’ll tell you how to stop it.

Action Steps

1.  Decide what you want to make available for reprint.  If it’s your whole blog then add visible licensing info like Creative Commons.  If it’s certain articles, setup a page on your site offering them (here’s an example on my site).

2.  Take 15-20 minutes and research a couple of sites you could submit articles to.  Choose one of your best articles and email it to each site owner with an invitation to reprint your content.

Comment, Show Me You’re Here!

You’re here, reading this, right?  Leave a comment!  Feel free to link us to your articles for reprint, tell us what you’ve got available for legal swiping, or add your ideas on how to get your content out there.

Spread the Love
  • 2


  1. Hi Michelle,

    Some great ideas here which I’ll have to think about implementing on my own site. Thanks for the brain food!


    1. You’re welcome, Ben, and thanks for commenting.

  2. An ah-ha moment for me Michelle. Thanks for the reminder. I just expect everyone to have common courtsey but I should know better.

    1. Nope, they don’t, but we can help encourage it with little reminders. :)

  3. Great advice, Michelle, and one that I think most people (including me) overlook. I hadn’t thought about encouraging people to take my work. I’ll have to look into this more. Thank you for the great resource tips, too.

    1. It’s kind of the opposite of what we usually have to deal with (people stealing our work) but it’s more fun to focus on how to get our work out there in a way we can control and that everyone benefits from. :)

  4. I hadn’t thought about encouraging people to share my work at all! Thank you for the info Michelle, and I’ll be back for tomorrow’s how-to on stopping Feed-theft!

    1. I know, we’ve got crazy long lists already, but this one’s a good one to add. :) Thankfully some of it’s so simple like adding licensing/reprint info or creating a page one time that just hangs out on our website.

  5. Great advice, Michelle! That’s an awesome way to spread the word about your site and establish yourself as the go-to expert. Not to mention building those fabulous one-way incoming links to your site.

    1. Yes, great benefits, Deb! :)

  6. These are great ideas, Michelle!! Thanks so much–I love to write articles and it’s always so fun to see all the places they’ve been shared! :-D

    1. Me, too! Watching the Google alerts is so much fun. I’ve discovered a lot of very cool websites that way.

  7. A round of applause for this one, Michelle!

    I love the concept of sharing content … but doing it the right way and staying within the appropriate guidelines.

    I believe this post is going to inspire lots of your readers (me, included) to think about all the different ways to get more eyes on the pieces of content you create.

    As always, wonderful lesson and tips!

    1. Good! I hope so. There’s so much great content out there, we’ve just got to all get it in front of those we can help. :)

  8. Great post Michelle. I’ve promptly used one of your free articles until I get my blogging mojo back.

  9. Hi Michelle,

    These are simple and actionable tips.

    Assume nothing, because many newbies – or those lacking morals – know what’s off limits. Tell people what you own, and what you’re willing to share.

    Thanks for sharing!


  10. Excellent advice, Michelle. I hadn’t really given this any thought at all. But hey—I will now! Thanks for the heads up. :)

    1. Thanks, Paula, and you’re welcome. :)

  11. Ok, I admit it, I’m green on the subject — but I don’t understand how come reprinted material does not fall into the “duplicate content” category, I mean as far as search engines are concerned?

    1. Hi Helenee, it definitely can. That’s why some sites lost so much traffic after Google’s last big update. Here’s the official Google blog’s info on it: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/google-search-and-search-engine-spam.html

      I reprint articles here from other writers, but not every post. I also have blog posts here that I’ve allowed others to reprint, but again not every post. So most of what’s here is unique content.

      The difference comes in when sites like I blogged about the other day are stealing content and scraping RSS feeds — they’re made up entirely of content from other sites — the whole thing is one big mess of content that’s already out there. That’s what will get penalized in the search engines most heavily.

      Now, for search engine traffic, when I reprint an article from another writer, that writer’s blog usually does (and should) rank higher in the search engines for it’s searches than the same article on my own blog. When I reprint stuff I’m doing it for my readers because they’ll find it helpful, not for search engines, most of the time.

      I also avoid it being straight duplicate content by adding my own thoughts to the beginning and/or end. So it’s not exactly the same as it was on another site or article directory and I’m adding a bit of my own value to it.

      Does that help make sense of it? :) I’m not terrified of duplicate content on a single page or post — I haven’t seen that hurt my site. I think quality overall is more important still.

      Aside from that there are many great ways to use content that’s unrelated to search engines. For example, you could use an article from another writer as ezine content to send out to your email list. :)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge