Using Content from Other Websites without Being Lazy (or Unethical)

When it comes to using content from other websites, you might assume the best move is to just not bother.

This mindset is understandable. You might feel like repurposing other people’s content will come across to visitors as cheap or lazy. Or perhaps you’re more concerned about the legal implications of sharing other people’s content — will doing so get you in trouble?

If you subscribe to either of these thought processes, the benefits that come from using other people’s content may surprise you.

Why you should consider using content from other websites

No matter how eloquent your writing may be, nobody wants to hear from just you all the time. Your website will benefit from a diversity of voices, and sharing other people’s content is a great way to present your website as a more complete industry resource.

Using content from other websites can also complement any content weaknesses you may have. For example, if you’re lacking in graphic design skills but great at creating in-depth articles, sourcing a relevant infographic adds dimension to the points you make while appealing to people who have different learning styles.

The key to finding success when sharing other people’s content involves practicing proper ethics, as well as positioning other people’s content in a way that doesn’t seem lazy.

How to properly share other people’s content

Before sharing other people’s content on your website, you must do your due diligence to make sure you’re legally in the right. The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides answers to FAQs about copyright that anyone involved with web content creation should know.

Even if you think you’re legally in the right when it comes to using someone else’s content, it never hurts to reach out and ask for permission. This simple act can work wonders for building relationships with content creators that you respect — they’ll appreciate that you took the time to contact them. They may even help you share your final published piece.

Once you’ve got all the legal stuff sorted out, you’ll want to turn your attention to proper implementation; specifically, how to incorporate someone else’s content without coming across as lazy or cheap.

The best defense against an allegation of laziness is to publish your own content on a regular basis — whether that’s once a week or once a month isn’t as important as being consistent with your publishing schedule. With a solid publishing foundation to work from, the rest of the process relates to how you’re positioning other people’s content on your website.

Don’t settle for the bare minimum, like sharing the hyperlinked title of an article you like. Instead, take the time to add context to any outside content you share on your website. What makes it interesting or relevant to the content you’re creating? Write a sentence, a paragraph, or even a complete blog post around the content you’re sharing — whatever it takes to get the point across.

A single-author blog can add dimension and diversity of thought by using content from other websites. Sharing different perspectives is a great way to strengthen your message.


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