I want to respond to Kristi Hines’ post entitled ‘Protecting Your Content and Your Reputation’. While she does bring up a number of very valid points, I do have a number of points to add. After all, we’ve all had different experiences, learned a variety of different things, and I think we can all learn from it.
Having Submitted Work Edited
In a recent post giving advice to site owners on hosting guest posts, I recommend site owners make writers aware of what they’re editing. Unfortunately, many of them don’t follow this advice. Now, as a writer, I have to admit it annoys the heck out of me to have work edited and cut for no reason. From a site owner’s perspective, however, I really dislike a writer freaking out when I edit their content.
Why do I do it? Several reasons, aside from spelling and grammar, there are space constraints, optimum length for my readers, to fit in with my site theme and focus, etc. It also depends if it’s my site or not. If it isn’t mine, I tend to edit out extremely controversial points for the sake of my client. Bottom line, editing is a fact of life for a writer, so if it’s vital that the content remain exactly the same, sharing content may not be for you.
Policies and Income Generation
I personally have a big beef with this one, and not Kristi’s points either. Terms and conditions are nasty if you fail to check these out before sending in work. However, there are a number of assumed laws to be aware of. For example, Australian writers hold the rights to their work even if they’ve sold it. In other countries, the rights change hands as soon as the money does. (I cover this in my contract.) You need to be just as cautious of the ‘understood’ rules as you do the printed ones. On the same hand, never assume anything. I’ve learned the hard way to always get everything in writing.
Posting your work on sites that use ad revenue are a waste of any serious writer’s time. Trust me. I’ve tried it and I’ve yet to find a method that works well with these sites save for one: mass produce a creepload of content and spread it everywhere. You’re far better off spending the time to write decent content and using it to directly market yourself via a website or blog.
So long as you’re getting something of what you consider to be equal value in return for your content, you aren’t exactly losing it. For example, links, traffic, and money are common currency in a writer’s world, and as far as I get what I agree on initially, I’m happy with that. The important thing is to make sure the tradeoff is worth it to you and that you get it in writing! Many times, I’ve traded copy for something else and not gotten it in the end. Protect yourself.
Reputation Leakage and Image
This is a huge one in some respects, but not so much in others. You are definitely judged by the company you keep. Without a doubt! However, this works in both ways. Use your access to high-end sites to your advantage, but don’t fall into the common trap of marketing to your peers either.
You gain and lose authority according to your clients, not necessarily from your peers. They pay you, and what they care about is what kind of a job you can do for them, not how many invitations you get to the next major conference or who you sit with while you’re there. Don’t underestimate the importance of complementary businesses either. These can potentially generate a large amount of profits if you play your cards right.
And while I wouldn’t get into the habit of appearing on low grade sites, I think people put a little too much emphasis on negative PR. I’ve learned there really is no such thing as bad PR so long as you deal with it the right way. The short-term damage is often far worse than the long term.
In short, treat your online business as you would a brick and mortar store. If you conduct yourself in the same way, you’ll do fine and have nothing to worry about.
March 11, 2010 at 7:14 am | For the Writer | No comment