Steal this blog: Why the economics of blogging are broken

Imagine you have composed a beautiful song. This song is a culmination of years of music lessons, performing, and experimentation. You love your song. You’re proud of your song.

Then unexpectedly, your hear your composition in a television commercial. You didn’t even know about this — let alone have compensation for it!  Then you hear your song covered by another artist — just ripped off! They won’t even acknowledge that it’s your song and THEY’RE making money from it.  Suddenly, your song is everywhere. There is no way to stop it. Your work is lost, hopelessly spread over the world forever.  It makes you feel like you never want to write a song again.

This is what life is like as a creative individual on the Internet.

Content is ripped off wholesale. There is an expectation that any type of creative output is free and should be freely distributed.

As the popularity of my blog has grown, so has the popularity of ripping it off. In the past month, my blog posts have been:

  • Reproduced in their entirety on other blogs without attribution of any kind.
  • Used as promotional content on other people’s revenue-producing websites, blogs and eNewsletters
  • Taken in their entirety to populate SEO scam sites.

This is not unusual. It happens all the time to any blogger of note. It’s sickening and depressing.  It’s the dark side of “viral.”

The economics of the Internet are broken

This “content harvesting” I’m describe occurs with art, music, movies, games, software … any creative output on the social web. So I’m not alone with this problem but that doesn’t make it right.

There is no way to stop it. I’ve tried addressing individual occurrences and it’s like playing a global game of social media Wack-a-Mole. And I’m sure for every one rip-off I learn about there are 10 that I don’t.

For more than 15 years — really since the dawn of Napster — people have been creating an Internet culture of entitlement. If it’s on the web, it is fair game for free use and distribution, no matter the implications for the creator.

There have been promises of new revenue models falling into place to support these artists but it hasn’t happened, and I don’t think it will.  Any form of protection like Creative Commons is essentially toothless.

Taking a stand

I can’t address this widespread problem, but I can take a stand in my own little piece of the web. So I am making two changes on {grow} in response to this issue.

First, I am featuring a modest amount of advertising on the side column of this blog. This will never seep into the editorial portion of the blog. You will never see affiliate links or sponsored posts. These are organizations I believe in, and in some cases, the ads (like for Amachi or Habitat for Humanity) are posted at no charge. It is a small way to support good work.

I am a consultant and teacher. The only thing I have to sell is my time. While there are indirect benefits of blogging, having some modest direct income will help justify spending more time on content and comments.  It will make it a better blog!

Ending guest post slavery

I will use advertising revenue to pay four contributing writers.  If you haven’t noticed them yet, they are:

  • Sidney Eve Matrix — Culture and technology professor at Queens University and a blogging inspiration
  • Stanford Smith — Blogging intellect and the sweetest writer on the web
  • Neicole Crepeau — Ex-Microsoft-er who sees the social web in an entirely different and humanistic way.
  • Srinivas Rao— He’s interviewed 130 bloggers. “Nuff said.

They are among the best writers and diverse thinkers on the social web. Period.

And while exposure on {grow} will undoubtedly help their own blogs and businesses, it is time to break this cycle of slave labor expectations of guest bloggers.  It is unfair and wrong to build and monetize a community or business on the free labor of others.

I’ve thought about these issues a lot and I think it is time to take a stand against this destructive “free” mentality in a positive way.  I also hope I am accomplishing this in a manner that builds on the integrity of the blog, my deep respect for this community, and an urgent desire to provide the most insanely great content on the social web.

It’s an experiment.  Let’s see if it works.

As always, I would cherish your thoughts on these issues in the comment section.

All posts

  • I applaud your courage, feel your pain and respect this community as well Mark!

  • Anonymous

    I’ll be interested to see how this model works for you, Mark. I think the idea of paying contributing writers is a grand idea. I hope you can generate the advertising revenue to do it.

    On top of that, I’ve noticed posts from these folks already and you’ve chosen a super smart bunch. Looking forward to seeing more from them here!

  • Actually, at this point I’m not generating the revenue to do it, but I am doing it any way. {grow} is in deficit spending but it will work out. I’ll make it up on volume. : )

  • Thanks for your support Dr. Rae!

  • Personally, I have no problem with you or any other blogger running ads to try to make some money. I like all the great content I get on the web, and am willing to “pay” for it through ads.

    As far as stealing your content, I’ve dealt with this, too. I think there’s rooom for a partial technical solution, here, and Google is the one to do it. I use a service called Free Copyright. I added a little code to my blog, and each post is registered with them to show that it was my original content. I also get a copyright logo to put on my site.

    Google could do a similar service, but also allow authors to say whether they have authorized any reproduction of the content, and which site they have authorized. Google could then use it’s massive search engine to comb for unauthorized reproduction and report it to you, by posting a summary of sites that might be infringing. They already crawl all the websites.

    There is still the issue of penalizing those sites, but if Google had this service, they could track which sites were getting reported repeatedly, and penalize them by blacklisting them from their Search. The only reason most of these website owners are copying content is to draw traffic, so being banned from Google search results would be a powerful disincentive.

  • Interesting post Mark,

    I have the exact same problem, with around a dozen sites (and growing) auto-scraping everything I write. One lady built a whole site from my work, without attribution:

    I think it’s great that you are monetizing your site in this way and applaud you for having the “love-spuds” to include advertising. Your content is of clear commercial value and you deserve to see a commercial reward for that.

    Go for it and the very best of luck!

  • You my as well be spitting in my face. As Editor In Chief of a community driven blog this:

    ” to break this cycle of slave labor expectations of guest bloggers. It is unfair and wrong to build a community or a business on the free labor of others.”

    is well, almost hurtful.

    To say I disagree with you would be an understatement.

    “Slave labor” every contributor (with the exception of a few) have asked if they could be a part of the community. I have never taken advantage of anyone, no one.

    I owe each of them a huge debt of gratitude for the posts they contribute to the site and I treat them that way. I have in return paid in the currency of the social web, editorial coverage, tweets, links, guest posts back, speaking engagements, training etc.

  • Amen!

  • Well … we disagree.

    People write for free because that is the expectation and there is no alternative. You personally have to give stuff away for free because that is part of the cycle too. I would challenge you to start figuring out little ways to help break the cycle too.

    I realize my blog isn’t going to stop a global view of entitlement but you and I can certainly take small steps as individuals.

    I’m not going to stop doing guest posts (for free) and I’m not going to pay every person who offers to guest on {grow} for some of the reasons you mention. Somtimes it’s not about money. But in the long run, it is.

  • As you say, maintaining control of one’s content is EXTREMELY difficult in the age of the internet. Although you can still get songs and videos for free (though usually not legally) the music and movie companies eventually developed a model where there is protection for their content and it is available for a reasonable [insert your own definition here] fee. I can imagine the potential to provide watermarking or other metadata technologies for blog posts, but I don’t think the technology is anywhere near being in place. I appreciate your content and your voice and look forward to the expanded {grow}.

  • Thanks Jim. Love spuds all around. This round is on me! : )

    PS What IS a love spud?

  • Outstanding comment, thanks Neicole!

  • I once found a site based in South Korea. It was my site, sort of. It was my template, almost my url, my posts, his picture where mine should be, and all in Korean. All of my site, reproduced, in Korean. So here’s this guy, in Korea, gaining clients off my work. Running Google searches I can find my work scraped and translated into many different languages and posted as their own work.

    It’s a bit of a double edged sword. On one side, I’m pissed. They should do their own freakin work. On the other side, I’m evidentially on the right path and people agree with what I have to say. Still, It’s my work, and I deserve the clients they are gaining from my labour.

  • Yep, it’s not the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

  • Anonymous

    “It is unfair and wrong to build a community or a business on the free labor of others.” Truer words were never spoken. I think individuals really understand this mindset. I’m always amazed at how companies with massive advertising budgets cringe at the idea of paying bloggers. I actually did a talk for the travel industry (linked below) and I really emphasized that bloggers are creating art and should be treated as artists. I hope your message spreads and I’m very honored to be part of such an amazing team of contributors.

    Link to my talk:

  • Hi Mark,
    Great initiative.
    I must admit that I do not expect it to work. I think the genie has been out of the bottle for too long. Also many bloggers use photographs, illustrations, video, and other content in their blog posts with attribution (sometimes) being the ‘exchange’ . So then why should it be different for bloggers and writers?

    That apart, even if advertising is currently an equitable (as per the time commitment) source of revenue for bloggers, the availability of easy self-publishing tools along with social media channels of distribution and the resulting abundance of free content, seems to suggest that visitor ‘loyalty’ to specific blogs will be affected. In the long-term, advertising will probably be even less of a revenue generator.

    Solutions? I cannot think of many. However, it is probably initiatives like yours that people can probably learn from and try to build something that offers better incentives for ALL (illustrators, photographers, cartoonists, video editors etc.) content producers.

    IF, that is what is really needed…not sure it is…e.g: if every writer had to pay for photographs/images to be added to their blogs, it would probably discourage many.

  • Nope, and thank goodness for that!

  • I don’t think there is any way to really control it. That cat is long out of the bag. So I have to adapt. That’s all you can do : )

  • Wow. Welcome to my world. It will probably just get worse. Makes me really mad when they are obviously just pumping content into a site for some SEO scam. Thanks, Brian!

  • Thanks Srini.

  • I try to mindful of art too, of course. I regularly buy stock photos for the blog and last week I bought a cartoon. Today’s image is simply doctored up free Microsoft clip art.

    I realize there is nothing I can do to stop the trend, but I am in control of this little space, right?

    Thanks Jacob!

  • This won’t stop it, but you could follow Ian Lurie’s method:

    You could also insert more absolute links into your posts so that, when someone scrapes and reposts your content, those links will direct back to your site and potentially improve your SEO. I was on an SEOmoz webinar just the other day where they talked about not necessarily being bothered by scrapers because of all the links back to SEOmoz content.

    Since you’re on WordPress, you could just install the plugin “SEO Smart Links” (I think that’s the name) which will auto-generate links to previous posts, tag pages, category pages, etc, etc, etc. Not really a solution, but maybe something to lessen the pain and/or get some benefit from it 😉

  • Mark, sorry to hear you’re getting ripped off by posers…fortunately, they will never be able to bring the words to life and deliver the results you bring to the table.

    Your story reminded me of an interview I sat in on for a creative director/designer. He worked for the same company I had worked for – but I was there several years before him and he wasn’t aware of my background. Eventually he pulled out his sample work and started showing us campaigns that I had been involved with long before he joined the firm.

    As you can imagine the meeting ended very soon after I saw him presenting creative that wasn’t his – but before we ended it, I got to ask lots of questions about the strategy and results and the players/personalities.

    Poor guy. 😉

  • Mark:

    I am a professional writer and blogger and I get paid for it. I don’t guest blog very much because I don’t have much extra time (busy feeding my family). However, after I read your courageous stand on content stealing and paying for good content, I would be honored to write a guest blog post for you for FREE any time. Thanks for your support.

    Michelle Bruno

  • This is really smart stuff. But you mistake me for somebody smart. : )

    I love that link you posted but I also don;t have time to chase the bad guys. This is really superb advice Eric. If we had a DNA clone of me and you we would be the Batman of blogging and wipe out all these jokers!

  • Social media is still media. And with that, media has been used for a long time to fish for paying customers. As long as writers post their thoughts freely on any widely available medium, and there is no constraint to copying it, they will copy it. The key is to work both ends – the “what you publish” and “punishment” angles. Those successful at defining monetizing their offerings during this current moment of imbalance of those two ends of this issue will thrive – economically. There are those that have no interest in thriving economically, so I fully expect there to be camps and segments of content contributors. You have already proven that you can make money with your content – you’ve written a book. I only assume you made money on that and other gigs you engage in. So, no sweat for you, right?

  • Oh I thought you were going to say that the work was yours! Thanks for passing on the great story.

    One problem I have run into — I have written a few times on {grow} about how I collect ideas all week by just writing headlines and maybe a few word in WordPress and then coming back to it later. A few times, I have thought … now WHERE did that idea come from??? Was it mine or was I inspired? I’m pretty good about saving the original links but occasionally I scrap an idea because I’m not sure it was mine!!! Thanks Pat!

  • Geez. I don’t know what to say that generous offer. But let’s at least exchange some emails with ideas and get to know each other. My email address is all over the website or DM me on Twitter. Thanks for your kind comment and offer Michelle!

  • This is a very good point Andrew. My blog is basically my marketing program. So indirectly there are enormous business benefits from blogging, which I have written about extensively. If I don’t make a dime off the blog directly, I would still do it and I would still LOVE it.

    There are other factors at play however. As my blog has soared in popularity, it has become much more time-intensive, especially nurturing community comments (like I am doing now) when I should be working! : )

    It is not unusual for me to get 50, 60 … 100 comments per post. The time spent on comments usually exceeds the time writing the post by far. I am absolutely dedicated to keeping this up but the time imbalance has become severe.

    There is no playbook for moving to the next stage and keeping this pace up so one idea is to get help with the writing (and responding to comments) through regular contributors. This is common for other blogs. However, no matter WHAT the expectation is on the social web, I simply can’t ask people to be part of this project without offering an opportunity to share in the benefit too. If the monetization strategy works, I intend to share that generously with everybody who helps.

    There is also the simple matter of attracting excellence. This blog is going to be excellent. Excellence should and must be rewarded. The four people helping me now are superior talents. I want them to be so happy writing for {grow}. I want them to feel a part of the success that is being created, not just somebody who is tossed around as needed. They simply deserve to be paid for their contribution. Maybe {grow} will get to a point where dozens of people can be paid to contribute. I don;t know what that would look like, but I love the idea of providing an economic contribution to worthy people.

    That is not thinking like a blogger. That is thinking like a good business person. WHY can’t we have blogs that run more like a business? If the social web took that approach more often, I really think the cycle of “free” would be broken.

    Thanks for patiently reading my long-winded response!

  • Mark – thanks for the thoughtful response. Perhaps your investment in this dialogue is the real value, not just the content of the post.

  • The comments are ALWAYS better than the post! I am a conversation starter, nothing more : )

  • Ha! You are far too modest & kind.

  • Pingback: Storytelling Business Social Media Marketing PR & Technology Curated Stories March 4, 2011()

  • Mark,

    The day may come when I’m not nodding my head in agreement when I read your words, but I surely hope not. Joey Strawn had a great post along similar lines this week about Blogging Zombies feeding on content and regurgitating it as their own. Both posts gave me momentary cause for concern. Was I one of those types? Mild panic set in. But then clarity of thought returned. We can gain inspiration through each of our experiences whether the mundane or extraordinary. Whether through reading a blog or watching a movie. The important thing for bloggers, marketers, etc to remember is to apply our own unique lens and perspective to the content.

    I know it may be a stretch, but I hope to one day deal with such a stickler of a situation such as the one you are currently navigating. It will hopefully be a testament to a successful career. From our conversations via Grow, Twitter, and other blogs, I have developed a great respect for you not only as a blogger and business man but as a genuinely caring and honest person. As you said, this blog is yours and it has been built not just from your time composing great content and tirelessly responding with gracious comments to your readers but through years of accumulated experience in the business world. You deserve everything that comes your way from this blog, and you should never feel the slightest regret for doing anything and everything in your power to protect it.

    I know some may say your efforts are like trying to battle shadows and ghosts, but what is worse: ignoring those that scam your content, your investment, and your time or acknowledging you are fighting a battle you cannot win but stepping out onto the battle field anyway? Sometimes we cannot win, but showing up and standing up for what is right is what separates the men from the boys (for lack of a better cliche).

    Stay strong — no matter what you choose to do with Grow, you’ve got the support of a strong community behind you. This I know without a doubt.

    All the best,


  • I like the title.

  • If you were my client Mark I would be urging you to create and sell digital products on this site instead of ad space. Ads are a good initial income stream (if they work!) but in the long run they won’t grow your brand and may even detract from it, serving as a distraction to your site.

    If you develop digital products such as a videos, ebooks, premium content, etc you could charge for this AND simultaneously continue to show yourself as the generous, thoughtful expert you are. People in the community might also be prepared to promote this material as an affiliate.

    The best example of premium blog content I know is actually a soccer blog (The Tomkins Times) which also employs guest bloggers.

    As ever, I wish you all the VERY best with the latest incarnation of Grow!

  • You know what I love about this blog community? I have people like you to around to give me straight talk.Of course this is brilliant advice. It is probably the same advice I would give myself. But here are three problems.The first problem is me. I am extremely uncomfortable promoting myself. I don’t even like to be the center of attention at birthday parties. It is an enigma I know that I am a public blogger yet shy in this way.If I was developing a stream of paid content I would feel like I would be jumping up and down all the time saying buy this! buy this! I was way out of my comfort zone even putting an ad about my book on the blog. One of the reasons I did not work through a major publisher is because I did not want to go on a book tour. I just don’t want to be in the spotlight like that.I have been approached several times about developing premium paid content. “Let’s really offer people all the secrets,” they tell me. Problem is, I don’t leave anything on the table on the blog. I’m already TELLING my “secrets.” Helping people with ideas and advice is what this all about. I’m not holding back.Finally is TIME and the trade-off with revenue. I can barely keep up with teaching, client commitments, charity work and family, let alone develop new revenue streams. Maybe that sounds lazy, but I really enjoy what I do. I know I could really blow it out by leveraging the success of the blog but would that mean less time in some of these other areas that are important to me.Look at what some of the other bloggers are doing. Brogan is starting a new online company every week. That is not an exaggeration. His blog has become an unreadable stream of affilate ads and self-promotion. My opinion is that he’s disconnected with his core fans and I can only imagine the toll it is taking on him personally.So with that as the model, I would have to say “no thanks.” : ) Your advice is sound and very much appreciated. I probably do need to stretch myself more in that direction. Thanks for the therapy session Jon!

  • What will be done? Nothing..
    Our computer generation copied programs and then moved to consume the music industry. If and when there is technology to copy movies and download economically through file sharing; that business (movie studio) will also bankrupted. Then we will say Where are all the great Big production Movies?
    Real Estate is all about local knowledge and virtual experience; yet people read something online and think they know the truth, We deal with seniors and problems, siblings at war over wills, divorcing couples and all the time fighting the online perception of You can do it for free.

    Things are changing we need to adapt.

    Earlier I was also angry at my content being “crafted away” Now I just let it go. If you are a leader and you have no followers You are just out for a walk.

    David Pylyp
    Accredited Senior Agent
    Living in Toronto

  • You’ve got a stellar team of guest bloggers and I think your ideas to monetize (especially for social good) is not something to be ashamed of. Just the other day Seth Godin and Valeri Maltoni (Conversation Age) blogged about another side effect of blogging: the asymmetrical mass favor. It just connected with me when you wrote about the “destructive free mentality.” As a new reader, I want to personally tell you that I enjoy reading your posts and insights. Credible, reliable and honest resources are hard to find. I say keep tweaking your model till you find something that works for you and your readers.

  • Ok, Mark, I take your point. But let’s look at this another way: Sign up to the 1 hour Mark Schaefer webinar on how to rock your business with Twitter – entry is 49 USD plus you get the slide deck from the webinar and a chance to ask Mark questions.

    Come on Mark, you have the teaching material already. If you don’t have time (or the want) to develop digital products just share what you do with your enormous community in a different way.

    Not everyone will read (the excellent) Tao of Twitter because they, er, don’t read. They’d prefer a potted version in a one hour webinar and would pay for it.

    Do one of these a month and kick the ads in the sidebar into touch, my friend.

    Alternatively, do a Brian Clark and partner with people you believe in to offer products aimed at growning the Grow brand. You have a vision, delegate, share and grow ! (and yes, the pun is intended).

  • Thanks Jamey. I knowing the big picture, people stealing content is not that big of a deal but I guess it’s a matter of pride. My friend Christina Kerley said it takes her 10 hours of preparation for one hour of teaching. I would agree with that. So when people rip off slides from a 2 hour lecture, it’s not just 40 or 50 slides. It’s 20 hours of my life I put into it. It’s just going to get worse. Thanks for the comment!

  • I’m not disagreeing with any of this. Maybe we should do this together. : ) You can be my marketing manager.

    The last few seminars I have done have been paid engagements (although free to participants) and they went very well.

    Might be a matter of timing. I do really appreciate the way you care about this!

  • Don’t know where you came from David, but I’m glad you’re here! Don’t recall you commenting before but this is really a well-written and appreciated contribution to the dialogue! Thank you!

  • Rosie, welcome to the community. I’m glad you’re here. Thanks you for your kind words and encouragement.

  • I’m with Jon on this – I thought about it tonight and came to these conclusions:

    1) Shy ain’t no real excuse. I’m an introvert and I still put myself out there, as much as it pains me sometimes. If I can do it, you can do it.
    2) Time management is something we all have to do. It saddens me that at some point you’ll have to cut back on all that you do for the {grow} community, but I think I’d be sadder if you got so consumed with us you become even more obsessed with your phone when you should be talking to your family (as you blogged about).
    3) I see that you don’t like the way Chris Brogan is doing it, but isn’t your very own Stanford Smith doing a bang-up job of this with his Blogger Bootcamp? And he isn’t jumping up and down at anyone from what I can see. I think that’s the model to go for, not Brogan. I’d think you of all people would try to look for better examples of how to do it right, not just see one person doing it wrong and dismiss the whole thing. C’mon, Mark.


  • Gary Cunningham

    You can protect your content and anything else on your blog from getting ripped off by simply installing this wordpress plugin WP-CopyProtect

    That should slow the buggers down

    Gary C. Cunningham

  • Gary Cunningham

    Mark, There are so many successful ways to monetize your blog that will not offend your sensibilities, or those of your many readers. The difficulty may come with determining which of many you will use. The techniques and strategies are many, and most importantly – they work.
    I am proud to share my link with you .

    Join free – take the tour – try some of the strategies. It will be worth your while.

    Gary C. Cunningham

  • Thanks, Mark. You now have me wondering about ppl registering on my blogs as “contributors.”

  • Let me know if you figure that one out! : )

  • In all due respect, I have to be dismissive of a website that promises “Turn ANY Blog Into A 24-Hour ‘Money Printing Machine’ That Sends Cold Hard Cash Profits Pouring Into Your Bank Account”

    Do you really think this is helpful? No, this is offensive except to anyone very naive or desperate.

  • Always nice to get kicked around on my own blog. : )

    It’s no so much being shy as overtly monetizing my audience. Two weeks ago I had posts about webinars I was doing and another associated with my book. I thought, I can’t wait to get back to some real content — who wants to read this?

    I haven’t talked to Stanford about whether his bootcamp is succeeding or not. Most of the premium content models are NOT working, Live webinars,yes. Subscription content, no. People don;t want more stuff to read. They want people to do this stuff for them to save time. At least that’s what I’m hearing.

    Also, to be clear, it’s not just time. It’s the value of that time. I get paid a lot to consult. So unless I can make at least that much with other content marketing I’m unlikely to do it. Here is a real example of a deal I was offered — People pay $29 for unlimited content plu an hour of my time. The math doesn’t add up. Believe me, an hour of my time is worth a lot more than $29. And by the way, where is all that content going to come from? That time isn’t free either.

    I really appreciate you guys caring for my financial freedom so much : ) Seriously, this is very cool that you’re so passionate about me monetizing. I sincerely promise to continue to explore these ideas, probably with your continued help.

  • Mark,

    Anything you need to do to keep Grow going is great! Wow, to the amazing advice and debates in this comment thread as well.

    I know you said that you don’t have time to do it, but I’m backing up Eric, Gary and Neicole here and encouraging you to try and do whatever you can (and use whatever tools you can) to get the buggers that are ripping off your content and use smart links to have the traffic sent back to your site. Do it in the name of Justice!

    I also wouldn’t be too anxious about posts re: books and the webinars that you you are working on. Your readers like to know what you are up to. 😉

    – Elyse

  • Thanks for your kind support. Always nice to see one of my most faithful readers commenting Elyse. Hope you and your family are great!

  • Mark, That was my first impression also, until I remembered that Jack Humprhey is trying to market to marketeers. If you can stomach the pitch page you’ll see the pearl in this oyster is inside. I tried to edit my previous post to warn you, but there is no edit function. This link is less abrasive .

    Gary C. Cunningham

  • I just have one problem, Mark.

    You plus Stan Smith = too much awesome on one blog.

    Please advise how I can deal with this issue.


  • Anonymous

    Stay yourself Mark!

  • Anonymous

    I hope you do. I’d hate to see you paying bloggers only for you to take a loss on it. I hope the math works.

    I love the discussion from Jenn and Jon – I think there are many different ways to monetize from a blog. While you do need to push yourself, you also need to choose the method that stays true to you and your style. I’m certain you’ll figure it out. 🙂

  • You can’t. Sorry.

  • Thanks Mark for letting me Boss Lady and sharing more info. Not that it was my business. But I’m backing off! And yes, I definitely care.

  • Copyblogger gets their content (sc)raped all the time. I asked Sonia over Twitter if that was an issue for them. Her answer was, “so long as we rank #1 for our own content, we don’t care.” Recently I’ve found people stealing my content too. I’m not too worried about it. I’m still going to rank first for it. Google’s arranged their engine so the site that first publishes the content goes to the top.

    People are always going to steal stuff that’s worth stealing. Mark, that just means you’ve made it big. 🙂 You can always have an attribution license disclaimer, which would keep the honest people honest. As someone once said, locks keep honest people from stealing.

    Don’t feel bad for not financially compensating guest bloggers. I did a guest post at Problogger for free. Instead of cash, I got nearly 1,000 uniques and a solid 100 subscribers. That’s not money in the bank, but it’s certainly social capital.

    That being said, if you have regular contributors, I’m not going to criticize breaking out the wallet.

    I’m glad to see you monetize this. That actually makes me feel better. 😉

    Thanks for a provocative post.

  • Hey Mark – you should use a plugin to add footer RSS links. When scrapers blindly steal your stuff – boom, free links! More here:

  • Thanks, Mark. The family is doing great, thanks for asking. Beware of giving a new mother segue to post baby photos 🙂 … Here is a recent pic of Avery:

  • I’m not sure of its truth, but I once heard a story of a woman who spotted Picasso at a coffee shop and rushed over to have him scribble a picture on the cafe’s napkin. When finished, he asked for a large sum of money. Taken aback, she declared that the doodle had only taken him a matter of seconds, to which he replied, “but it took me a lifetime to acquire the talent.”

    Every successful blog post, marketing pitch, and business idea that I have in the future will be built upon the ruins of dozens of those that failed. Such is true for any creator — of a business or artwork, it doesn’t matter. That is why we protect the fruits of our labor with such fervor.

    All the best to you, Mark.

  • You cant fight it. If RIAA’s dream team couldn’t put a stop to it, what chance do we have? Copyright (as Creative Commons) is indeed toothless and Im not entirely convinced that pilfering should be stopped. Punishment is ineffective means of dealing with criminals of any sort. Clearly something else is the answer. What? Eh…who knows such things 🙂

  • Content creation and copyrights are tricky things. I had an instance of this the other day. I was writing my latest post about Quora. I often use my Google reader stream for inspiration. I read part of a post from Social Media Examiner and then went to check out Quora for myself. Wrote and published my blog post. On closing my browser tabs, I came to my reader tab and noticed the SME post was still up…and I had used its title for the title of my post. I immediately changed my post, but couldn’t remember if I had inadvertently taken anything else from that article. So, I added a reference link at the bottom of my post just in case.

    However, I have from time to time written a post and later found out that someone else wrote a post with the exact same POV and I had no idea. He published first…does that mean mine comes down? Or do I have to fight off the copyright police for everything I post?

    I am all for the business aspect of blogging, but when these types of situations come up, people jump to regulation. When regulations rise freedom will begin to decrease. That makes me nervous…

    Good stuff Mark…I will make sure to reference you when I steal this post.

  • Mark

    I would expect nothing less man! Great comment!

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  • Nic Wirtz

    Mark, I’m not sure what the post is doing? Is it decrying plagiarism or is it trying to justify your ads? If it’s the former, if blogs are part of the media as I think many would agree, welcome to the media world, where journalists have had their work ripped off since journalism started as a profession. If it’s the latter, you didn’t need to, I applaud your efforts to add new voices to the blog and say a big welcome to the new writers and I appreciate you highlighting causes and products you believe in.

  • My main point is that the economics are out of whack. Even worse, everybody seems to be Ok with it and accept it as the way it is. Yes, plagiarism has always been around but I’m not sure you can imagine how rampant it is with the ease of cut and paste. That doesn’t make it right. I have read the Anderson book “Free” but do not think it is a sustainable model. Do you?

    I also have a son trying to make it in the music business and he realizes he will probably never make a dime off his music directly. Just concerned about the implications of it all.

    I also thought it was appropriate to discuss the changes in the blog. I am only successful as long as the readers support what is going on here and these are some pretty big changes.

  • Tony Bittick

    You continue to impress and inspire. Thank you. nuff said 🙂

  • Thanks Tony.

  • At Savvy we have wrestled with these same issues. Because we are ad free we are also dependent on “slave labor” for guest posts. It hasn’t hurt the quality of guest posters we have attracted – present company included 🙂

    My philosophy is similar to Jeremy’s – we pay you in exposure, tweets, links, etc.

    Honestly we don’t pay ourselves so I can’t see us paying for guest posts!

  • Why do you have a problem with people accepting whacked economics?

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  • Because it’s not sustainable.

  • Scott Hudson

    I really appreciate posts, which might be of very useful

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