Tag Archives: articles

The Ethics Of Your Writing

Last summer, Peter and I noticed that one of our blogging friends seemed to be posting things that were lifted from another source. They were word for word what was on another website; we considered that a serious breach of ethics.

fountain pen
Phil Hilfiker via Compfight

I finally had the opportunity to ask him about these posts, telling him that I had noticed that they were the exact same thing is on some other websites. He told me that he had purchased some PLR (private label rights) articles and was using them because he didn’t have time to write anymore but wanted to keep new content on his website. I pointed out that it didn’t look right, and that when people usually use PLR articles that the idea was to modify them so that they would become one’s personal articles.

As some of you know I now offer writing and blog writing services as part of my business. With one of my blogging clients, I knew his industry really well, so I didn’t have to do much research with it. With most of the other writing that I’ve been doing, there has been a fair amount of research. What you start to find out is that as you read on the subject enough times, you start to get the feeling that you know it fairly well and can pretty much write totally original content more than half of the time without having to do any research at all.

But there are those times when you have to do some kind of research. On most topics, what I will do is think of what I want to write about, pull up four or five resources, read them all, and then start writing. If the majority of the resources quoted exact same information, then I would use that exact same information, but will alter the words if it’s possible.

Sometimes it’s not; if you have a list of things that have to go in a particular order, you’re pretty much stuck using what’s there. For instance, I once wrote an article regarding something called “revenue codes“, which is a health care term. I listed a whole bunch of numbers and descriptions, and no matter what resource I might have had to look at, those numbers and descriptions would have been the exact same everywhere.

I think when it comes to writing there has to be some kind of ethical standard that a writer has to have. It doesn’t do a writer any good to copy blocks of words from someone else’s articles without giving them attribution. One of the gripes I’ve written about often on this blog is seeing people on other blogs saying the same thing over and over that they got from another blog.

True, there may not be many new ways to say “create great content” when talking about ways to improve one’s blog or to encourage visitors to stop by, but that’s part of the essence of what writing is supposed to be about, that being creativity. I’m sure that someone else has probably written about ethical writing in the past, but I’m also betting that no one is ever written about it in quite the same way that I’m writing about it right now. That’s the kind of thing that makes us all unique.

There’s also the question of rewriting articles. Many people believe that’s unethical, because they’re taking one source and basically saying the exact same thing that someone else said only in a different way. I have kind of a different take on that one also. I have rewritten my own stuff from time to time, and as I am the original source for that information, I have no qualms about doing that rewrite.

I also think that it depends on what you’re writing as to whether doing a rewrite of something is ethical or not. For instance, if you’re writing something about a new story you read, and you can only find that information in one place, I don’t think there’s anything unethical in writing that in a different way; after all, that’s news, and it’s what all the major newspapers around the country do when they get those newsfeeds from places such as the AP and Reuters. I do that on my finance blog all the time, although I also didn’t comment on those stories which make them unique.

What are your thoughts on ethical writing? Do you think I’m too strict, too lenient, or something else? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂
 

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How Can You Prosper Through Publicity?

Talk about an interesting issue, at least to me.

This year I’ve probably been a part of more interviews than ever before. Some have been online live interviews. Some have been in magazines. Some have been articles I’ve written. No matter; I’ve been out there, working things as I had hoped I could.

However, when all is said and done, I’ve gotten some publicity, but haven’t figured out how to fully capitalize on it. That’s not quite true; I haven’t figured out how to capitalize on any of it. I think that’s a major issue, as I’ve been getting publicity for years and haven’t yet capitalized on it.

Part of my problem is that I haven’t fully directed myself into one arena, which makes it hard for people to figure out just what it is I do. One wouldn’t think it would matter, but it probably does. My health care crowd has no idea what social media is, just as most of you who visit this blog have no idea what a revenue cycle consultant does. Throw in leadership and SEO and some other things and one might consider themselves as being renaissance, but others might not have a clue what to think.

Even with all of that, I think it’s been interesting over all this time to learn that publicity on its own doesn’t mean anything. Yeah, you get a minute or two of a bounce from some quarters. A newspaper article I was in back in May is on the wall of one of my favorite breakfast restaurants, which is very nice. I also got a free meal out of it at a local steakhouse; loved that as well. But business; none.

In any case, this was a pretty good year, and I’d like to share the links to some of the things I did this year as far as interviews or publicity went, since some of what I did isn’t producible. I wonder how most of you would have found a way to use any of these things to generate new income; I’d love to hear your thoughts.

My most recent magazine interview, though my participation is short, in Oswego County Magazine.

A radio interview I did on a subject called Men Have Issues Too.

A radio interview I did on the subject of Reinventing Yourself.

This is only a link to my business blog talking about my first national podcast on a diversity topic, Celebrating Differences.

An interview I did that ended up on a blog called Ramama’s Musings, where I talked a lot about dealing with diabetes.

A radio interview I did on the subject of blogging.

A radio interview I did on the subjects of social media and SEO.

A newspaper interview with my picture (in my red room) on Staying Positive.

An interview I did with Murray Newlands on affiliate marketing and business in general.

A health care interview I was a part of on Persuasive Compassion.

Finally, I’m listed as one of the top Baby Boomer Men of 2010 by Boomer Diva Nation.

So, did I put myself out there enough in 2009? Nope; I need to do even better in 2010!

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Massive Traffic To Your Website/Blog?

During my surfing party this week, I came across another article on how to drive massive traffic to your website. I don’t know why I keep reading these things because they all tend to say the same thing. However, this one just made me stop and decide that I wanted to comment on all of its points.

Wind farm and greenhouse gas farm, together
<Kevin Dooley via Compfight

The article is titled 20 Simple Ways to get Massive Traffic to your Web Site (at least it was; seems the title has been changed) by Penny C. Sansevieri, and it’s not that it’s a bad article, just that, in my opinion, at this time and place it’s somewhat misleading. It’s no more misleading than all the other articles I’ve read that say the same exact thing, but she’s listed her points, and I’m going to address each point individually. I do hope you go and read her article, though, which I’m not going to quote here, only her 20 points, with my commentary on each.

Before I begin, I want to make sure I get my point across. There are many things we can do to try to increase traffic to our sites. I’ve mentioned in the past how Twitter helped me increase traffic, and how commenting on other blogs helped also.

For my main business site, I haven’t talked much about how I got that one going, but I did some of the things mentioned in this article. The thing is, I did increase in traffic, but massive traffic? I don’t know that if I go from 5 to 25 visits a day that I consider that massive traffic. Massive traffic to me is 1,000 visits a day, and I don’t mean unique visits, which I get, but real live visitors that Google Analytics tells me about, or more. Still, let’s look at this list of 20 to see what I’ve done, or my opinions on them:

1) Write articles: believe it or not this is an incredible tool for driving traffic.

I have 10 articles on Ezine Articles and Evan Carmichael, and, according to Analytics, I’ve never gotten a single person to any of my sites because of them. They’ve been used elsewhere, though, so I’ve gotten links, but traffic,… nope.

2) Social bookmark *everything* – and I do mean everything

This one can take awhile, but I’ve done two things. One, I add the majority of articles I write on my three blogs to Delicious, and I also have every new blog post I write on all of my blogs showing up on my profile on Facebook. I know that at least two people have visited this blog because of a Delicious posting, but I only know of one person who’s even seen my blog listings on Facebook, and Analytics has never shown anyone coming to my blogs from there.

3) List yourself in the best directories

In this post, she was talking about paid directories, but I’m leery of many of these really big directories to begin with. As opposed to what I tried to do with my Services & Stuff site, you could end up in a category on a directory that has nothing to do with what you really do, or want to be known for, but you’re also then competing, at times, with hundreds of other people who do the same thing. I don’t know that I’d pay for it, let alone overly worry about the non-paid ones.

My main business site is listed in over 300 directories (I checked), and I certainly didn’t ask to be listed on that many directories, and I’m listed for diversity training on almost all of them. Thing is, I tried to go in and change some of them to something else, but you can’t, and they’ll only list you under one category for the most part. Hey, I’ll take the one way link, but traffic,… nope.

4) Get yourself listed at: DMOZ.org

At this point, DMOZ is kind of a joke. It’s so big, and they don’t have enough people working on it, that if you decide to try it might take 3 or 4 years before someone got around to adding you, if they decide to add you at all. My main business site is there, though I can’t remember how to find it, but none of my other sites are there because I didn’t even try to put them there. I’m lost in the shuffle, and, of course, almost no traffic has ever come from there.

5) Review: if you can review hot new products or books within your market, head on over to Amazon.com and start positioning yourself as an expert.

I can’t say I’ve done a lot of this, but I am listed as a reviewer on Amazon, and I’ve reviewed a few things. However, no one has ever followed any of my reviews back to any of my sites.

6) Offer a freebie on Craig’s List: you’ll be amazed at how much traffic you get from a single Craig’s List ad.

This one I’ve never tried. I have listed services I offer on Craigslist, and have received very miniscule traffic to one of my sites, but otherwise I’ve been pretty much ignored.

7) Create a “recommended by” list on your Del.icio.us page

As I mentioned, I submit my articles to Delicious, but I’ll admit I haven’t done any kind of list except for my own stuff. Still, if no one is even looking at what I post there, why would I expect anyone would care about a list I create?

8) And speaking of your email signature line…do you have one? If you don’t, create one.

This is an absolute for publicity, but the truth is that most people tend to miss it when they decide they want something. I can’t believe how many people will ask me for a link to my website, or when I send business email out, a phone number, and it’s right there in the signature line. People ask me for an address from my business site, and I have my address on every single page! This is important to do, but it’s never driven “massive” traffic to me.

The Lights of Japan
Trey Ratcliff via Compfight

9) Lend a helping hand: you can be an answer person at Yahoo Answers (http://answers.yahoo.com/)

I’ve set up to do this, and I did it fairly faithfully for a week. Number of visitors to my blog; zero. Now, maybe it takes more time than that, but, oddly enough, you find that there really aren’t as many questions you can answer as you might think there are, and sometimes, when you do find one, many other people have already answered it.

10) Set up a social networking site using Facebook.com, Linkedin.com, or Squidoo.

I’ve already mentioned Facebook, but I’m also on LinkedIn, Ryze, Izania, and about 4 or 5 others, and I’ve gotten little traffic from any of them. Ryze has probably been the most productive, but I’ve invested a lot of time there, and for what I got back, “massive” wouldn’t come close to describing.

11) Make sure your blog has an RSS feed

Heck, y’all know I have a RSS feed because of that RSS contest I tried to run at the beginning of January. I have that feed on all of my blogs, though I haven’t put it on all of my sites; might have to think about that one some more. Still, I haven’t gotten massive subscribers, and I’m doubting massive would describe traffic generated from those feeds either.

12) Join relevant groups at Yahoo groups (http://groups.yahoo.com/).

This I did, and then got out of. I think Yahoo Groups had its day, but it’s on the decline now, as there’s more spam related postings than anything else. As for traffic,…

13) Podcasting is another great way to drive traffic.

This one I’ve never done; the closest is adding the Odiogo widget to my blogs. I haven’t erased podcasting off my list of things I might want to do later, including video of some sort, so I’ll have to say I’m not sure how well this one would work, and I have no real history with it.

14) Start a blog and then once you do, start commenting on other people’s blogs, linking to them from your site or adding them to your blogroll.

Goodness, isn’t this what we always talk about around here, and amongst ourselves? This is the one thing I know has created more traffic to my blogs. Massive? Well, I still wouldn’t go quite that far, but interest and visitors, definitely.

15) Inbound links: don’t squander your time (or a perfectly good link) on smaller low-traffic sites. Instead spend your time going after high traffic, high quality sites.

Nice idea, but in general how would you know? I think we’ve debated whether it’s worth commenting on a big time blog with hundreds of other comments that don’t give a dofollow link versus commenting on a blog that might not have any other comments, but is a dofollow blog. We’ve even debated whether relevance in topics has to be there or not (I tend to believe it doesn’t matter as much as dofollow).

16) Start an email newsletter

I write two newsletters for my business, along with many other newsletters, but don’t have newsletters for my blogs. Man, that would be a lot more to deal with, wouldn’t it? However, there’s always been the question of whether newsletters drive traffic or sales. I think traffic would be stretching it because, with a newsletter, a reader doesn’t really have to visit your site unless you make it a condition of reading an entire article, which I consider as being somewhat smarmy. Now, you could send out a weekly “newsletter” telling people what articles were written on your blog or site for the week, with links to all the articles, and I guess that would be okay, but is that driving massive traffic to your site or just bringing back people who are looking to read what you’ve written back for another look? And, in this day and age, aren’t more of those people probably subscribing to your RSS feed, as it pertains to your blog?

17) And speaking of offline efforts: if you’re ever quoted in a magazine or other publication, make sure and mention your URL as its appropriate to the topic.

This I’ve done, but it’s never brought massive traffic. Like when I posted on my business blog the last interview I did (which can be found by going here, or downloaded and listened to as a MP3 file here). It got a lot of hits, but mainly because I sent it to all the people in my address book and they popped over to either listen or download. That was a one and done, and all those people knew me already. Anyone who didn’t know me,… nothing massive there. Still, it’s pretty good publicity that will always be there for me.

18) If you have products to sell why not get a store on eBay?

This might be a good idea, but more for making money than driving traffic to one’s site, unless you own a commerce site. It certainly wouldn’t drive massive traffic to your blog.

19) Load a video on YouTube and 57 other video sites.

Once again, something I can’t comment on since I’ve never done it. Of course, I do put up a post that’s mainly videos here and there, but without posting something I’ve created on my own and uploaded somewhere, I don’t know how well this works or not. I think every person has the opportunity to go viral, though.

20) If you’re going to go through all the trouble of getting traffic to your site, make sure your site is converting this traffic into something. Get folks to sign up for something, your newsletter, the RSS feed on your blog.

This one’s already been addressed in other comments above, so it’s more of a wrap up of other points than something new.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on these 20 points. I’m not saying they’re not good to do anyway, because publicity is publicity, and one or more of these might do wonders for you. And if one of you gets massive traffic because of it, then you’re just magnificent. But for the rest of us, the regular folks, unless we already have a big time following this isn’t what’s going to get it done.

What will get it done? Not that I really know, since I’m not there, but the two things I’ve found that seem to work the best are, of course, commenting on other blogs, and writing posts on a consistent basis, so people know you’re not a “hit and run” poster, someone who’s not going to write much of anything with any consistency. Those two things have helped me the most, and though I don’t consider myself as having massive traffic, I do have growing traffic, last week Feedburner actually told me I had 84 subscribers (though today it’s back down into the low 70’s; I wonder what drives that).

Okay, your turn; what do you think about these 20 points, and please, go read the other article for comparison?
 

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