Low-Cost Content for Newsletters, Magazines,
and Web Sites
by Cheryl Woodard, Posted October 2008 [PRINT
Content is one challenge facing all publishers - how to
deliver a constant, fresh supply of compelling, readable
articles that capture and hold the attention of your readers.
Major publishing companies hire writers and editors, but
many of us cannot afford all the staff contributors we would
like to have. Here are some tips about how to supplement
what your staff writes from affordable outside sources.
Every publisher needs to understand copyright law, which
governs all creative works (articles, videos, audio recordings,
and podcasts). You should protect your own works, and be
sure to respect the work of other creators. I highly recommend
that you read Getting
Permission, by Richard Stim, and The
Copyright Handbook, by Stephen Fishman. You can
also read about copyright at Nolo.com.
As a book author myself, I can tell you that authors welcome
having small slices of their books quoted on other people's
websites or in print publications. We don't expect to be
paid when you quote from our books, but we do appreciate
some basic professional courtesies. First, always cite the
book title and author's name so that interested readers can
buy it if they want to read more. This citation also satisfies
copyright law and keeps you from inadvertently plagiarizing
protected works. Second, include a link to the author's
website. This step helps the author and readers both. Finally,
send the author an email with a link to the page on your
site, or a copy of your newsletter attached. This courtesy
begins a relationship with someone who might become a regular
contributor in the future. And it might lead to a free reciprocal
link from their site back to yours.
Syndicated Articles and RSS Feeds
RSS is one form of syndication.
Some RSS publishers require a payment, but many are free. But even if the feed is free, pick add real value to
your site by picking feeds that closely match the interests of your audience.
For example, its easy to get free stock market and political blogger
feeds but haven't we all read enough of them elsewhere?
If you find something unique and specialized, your readers
are more likely to appreciate it. You can read a history of syndication and some useful RSS tips
in a Wikipedia
article on syndication.
You can also buy one-time rights to articles, videos, and
podcasts for your site through content syndication networks
like Helium, the Copyright
Clearance Center, and StudioOneNetworks..
These services collect content from many different sources
and resell it. You will pay a fee for using this material,
but the advantage is that you can see what you're getting
before you post it to your site. And the quality of fee-based
content is generally better than the free stuff.
We talk about hiring freelancers in our book, Every
Nonprofit's Guide to Publishing. The content chapter
suggests how to find good writers and manage them well.
It also covers fees,
rights, and other business issues.
Invite readers to contribute tips or product reviews. Or have them respond to polls. This tactic adds fresh voices to a publication or website, and it helps readers develop a loyal relationship. But use caution: weed out the outrageous or self-serving submissions! Encourage more submissions by posting clear guidelines, and offering some kind of reward for those that get published.
If you are working on a publication and you need specific advice,
feel free to email
Cheryl Woodard at The Publishing Business Group. We work
with newsletter, magazine, and book publishers of every variety.
The chances are good that we can help you, too.