These days, lots of people need to know how to share content. Most often because they are creating websites and social media platforms for their businesses. So they need content to put up on their site to keep readers interested. But our ability to share and create websites and platforms is moving faster than our ability to learn how to do this well. And not everyone understands how to share others’ work properly (by which I mean legally and fairly). I’ve written this post to help with that.
When it comes to content that someone has written, there are rules. And ethics. To put it nicely, there are friendly ways to share and less friendly ways to share. In my experience, most of the people who share things the not-so-friendly way are lovely people who are doing so innocently. They are trying to get to grips with setting up and running their business. But there is sometimes a bit of a learning curve, and this is an important skill set to learn.
Sharing blog posts on social media…
Most of us are already used to sharing links and pictures and other content on social media, and it’s great to share blog posts and content that way. You see something on Facebook, so you click the link, and it takes you back to the original website or blog. You the reader can then read what the author has to say in full. if a Facebook post takes you to my website, you can have a wander around and look at more stuff. Maybe you’ll like what I do enough to bookmark me, or sign up to my newsletter. Maybe that means that, one day down the line, you’ll buy one of my books. So I, the website owner who creates content, am happy when people share my posts and pictures nicely, because you’ve come to read my stuff. At the end of the day, most people who blog want people to read what they create. So sharing posts on social media is great for that, and as long as you credit the original person or page and include the original link, then you can’t go too far wrong.
The take home message here: share or repost: don’t copy and paste.
Many people (unless they state otherwise, so check) are happy for you to share/repost. The Instagram ‘get repost’ app is great, because it prompts you to add the original author’s tag onto the photo. And you can copy their text, which will then be credited to them.
And remember that they deserve and are entitled to keep the credit. Otherwise it looks like you’re stealing their work and passing it off as your own. You might not intend that, but that’s how it can look. And remember that other people may share or repost from your page, site or feed, so be generous in your credit to the original author. You’ll look generous too!
Also, take a moment to make sure that you are crediting the correct original author. The person who you are sharing/reposting from may have plagiarised the original author or not properly tagged their work. I know it’s not always possible to know for sure, but if you’re reposting people who are in your field, you’ll soon get a sense of whether someone is posting original work or taking from others. It takes just a couple of minutes to ensure that you credit correctly, but it’s really worth it. You’ll become known as someone who is generous and who has integrity. Not as someone who takes others’ work – even by accident – and makes it look as it it’s their own.
Sharing blog posts on websites…
The content of blog posts and other written, filmed or recorded material (like book pages, course content and so on) is covered under copyright law. Many people – like me – will have a copyright notice on their website, books and courses. You can see my website copyright notice on every page on my site. As you can see from my notice, I’m happy for people to share links and small (one or two line) excerpts from my posts, and offering good information that others can link to is the very point of making a website like mine.
But that doesn’t mean that other people are allowed to come along and copy and paste the whole of one of my blog posts onto their website or into another format, such as a book. In fact, copyright law means they’re legally not allowed to do that. Such a practice is also seen as unfriendly because it means that the new website is potentially taking traffic away from the author of the content.
Sharing quotes and infographics
One question that I get asked a lot is this:
“I love that quote you shared. Can I put it in my own branding?”
My understanding is that, legally, it’s a bit of a grey area.
But if you want a good relationship with the content creator, or you admire their work and want them to continue, then don’t do it. It’s not worth it.
I’ve talked to a lot of content creators about this. People who, like me, take the trouble to turn their work into pictures so that others can share and benefit from them. And what I’ve learned is that any minor benefit that you get from it will likely be outweighed by the damage you’ll do to your relationship with the creator.
One creator told me, “I’m so sick of seeing my words taken from my own pictures and pasted onto somebody else’s. Some people do give credit, but they put my name in tiny font at the bottom and slap their own large logo on at the top. I can’t be bothered to send a cease and desist every time but I may block them and make a note to not work with them.”
Not everyone will feel that strongly, but I include that quote to illustrate that some people do.
It’s all about where the reader reads…
You can still direct your readers to the blog post that you like, and there’s a really friendly way of doing so which will benefit everyone.
It’s OK and very friendly to write your own brief blog post on your site that gives a quick summary and then links to the blog post that you like on the original blogger’s site. Here’s an example:
It’s even cool to quote a line or two of the original blog in your post (no more than 10% of the original). But you need to give your readers the link so that they visit the original blogger’s site to read it in full rather than posting their content onto your site.
In fact, it’s pretty much always about sharing the link but not the entirety of the actual content. If you do that, you’ll keep everybody happy.
Your customers will be happy because you’re sending them to good information. The original blogger or creator will be happy because you’re sending them readers. You’ll be happy because you’re keeping your readers up-to-date. You’re also keeping your favourite content creators in business by sending them traffic AND you’re on the right side of copyright law.
How to write a two-line blog post…
If you see a blog post that you like and you want to highlight it on your site, here’s a two-line template that you can fill out and use in under two minutes and that will make everyone happy.
“I’ve just read a great blog post by ***blogger’s name*** at ***blog website*** about ***topic/title of blog*** which has really made me pause for thought / feel hungry for more / think about what we’re currently doing / wonder what the alternatives might be [insert your own or delete as appropriate]. You can read it for yourself at ***link to original post in full***.”
I hope that helps. Those of us who write content need people to share it, but it needs to be shared in a way that will keep traffic coming back to the original site, as that’s what will help the blogger to keep going and keep generating great content for all to read 😀
Please feel free to share this post – nicely, and by providing a summary and a link back so people can read it on my site – thank you!