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This is the seventh post in my Blogging Success Series (check out this page to see a list of links to the previous topics covered). If you’re just joining me, welcome! If you’ve been here all along, thanks for still being here. Haha… Drop me a comment below and let me know which post has been the most helpful. Also, if you have a particular question you’d like covered in my “Odds and Ends” post to wrap up the series in a few weeks, post that as well.
Today I’m going to talk about two topics that are kind of interconnected in my mind: blogging etiquette and networking. Networking with other bloggers and professional peoples is very important, but if you work with ’em, you’ve got to know how to treat them and their stuff.
I could just write the Golden Rule here (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”) and be done with it.
Put simply, it is very rude to steal other people’s information and ideas and claim them as your own. It is even rude to copy someone else’s information and ideas while fully crediting them if you didn’t first have permission. Simple rule of thumb: always ask permission and you won’t really have any problems.
The semi-annoying thing is that the rude thing isn’t always illegal. Taking recipes for example, a list of ingredients is not copyrighted. Someone can technically take your recipe, copy the ingredients, slightly modify the instructions and call it his own recipe. The instruction process is the only thing copyrighted, not the ingredients list (because ingredients are taken as just statements of fact). Just because it’s not illegal, does that mean you can do it? Well, from a Christian point of view, the answer is very clear: absolutely not. From a secular blogging standpoint: you may be able to get away with it without worrying about a lawsuit, but the general blogging population will not be impressed with you, and without the support of your fellow bloggers, you may just find yourself in a rough situation. Networking is important for success, so if you burn all your bridges…
Speaking specifically to food bloggers, when it comes to recipes and making sure I don’t step on anyone’s toes, I follow a few guidelines myself:
- If I get a brainstorm for a recipe, I go ahead and make that recipe without going out and looking to see if someone already made that recipe. Because someone already has, you can count on that. I don’t want to end up accidentally copying someone’s recipe, so I try not to go out and look at other people’s recipes before creating my own. This way I have full assurance that the recipe I made came from my own head. However, if I have a brainstorm and don’t have any idea where to start, sometimes I consult similar recipes that aren’t healthy. For example, if I wanted to make a sour cream donut recipe, I would look up regular sour cream donut recipes, not low-carb sour cream donut recipes. Mine is going to end up being low-carb, but I know I won’t be copying a regular sour cream donut recipe very closely just because I’ll be switching out so many of the ingredients for healthy ones automatically.
- If I’m inspired by someone else’s recipe to create something similar with a different twist, I try to credit the original recipe as the inspiration. It’s just the polite thing to do.
- When I’m inspired by someone else’s recipe and I want to make something similar, I try to change enough things to make it unrecognizable as the other person’s recipe. Change amounts, change ingredients, change presentation, and definitely change the instructions. Basically change enough things about the recipe that no one would be able to recognize it as the original recipe. This way you won’t have to worry about stepping on anyone’s toes.
- If you like someone else’s recipe so much that you want to share it, do so. There are certain recipes that I want to have on my site because they’re just that good, but stealing someone else’s recipe is not an option. If I don’t feel like recreating the recipe and changing enough things to make it mine, sometimes I just make the recipe, take pictures of it, and make a blog post with the pictures and a link to the other person’s site where the recipe resides. It brings the other person traffic and your readers can find another great recipe. Win-win situation, folks! I don’t do this very much, because it is slightly more inconvenient for my readers to have to click to someone else’s site to find the recipe (plus I enjoy making up my own recipes), but I do it on occasion.
- When people want to share my recipes or use them for inspiration, I ask them to use the same guidelines I follow myself (you can see my sharing guidelines here). Can I force them to do this? No, but I can ask, and that’s what I’ve done.
Just a quick fyi: pictures are always copyrighted. Stealing someone’s pictures without proper credit is a no-bones-about-it copyright offense.
Networking (getting out there and socializing with fellow bloggers and companies as well as your readers) is super important. Connections are the way to the top in any field of business, and blogging is certainly no exception. Some bloggers become big and famous because of “big breaks” with companies who spot their material, think it’s good, and share it. If that one right person spots one of your posts and likes it, he could share it, you could go viral, and your traffic will snowball from there. That doesn’t always happen (usually doesn’t, at least not for awhile), but it’s something to be aware of. Be persistent with getting your name out there, and you might see dividends quicker than you think (and not necessarily metaphorical dividends either).
Here are a few of my networking tips:
- Food bloggers, submit your recipes to sites like Foodgawker.com or other sites that bloggers and companies frequent.
- Pinterest and Facebook are great networking tools to get your name out there. Learn how to use them to their best advantages (check out this post on using social media advantageously for tips on how to catch people’s eyes).
- Facebook groups are some of the best ways to interact with people and share your recipes. Look around for groups that are centered around the same thing you blog about and request to join – or maybe start your own group! Blogging groups are a GREAT way to network.
- Follow other bloggers and comment on their stuff. That way they know you exist. They might even include you in roundups (see the next point).
- Roundups are a great way to network and get traffic outside of your normal sphere of influence. Promoting your recipes on sites like Foodgawker lets other bloggers see your material so they can include you in roundups of recipes they’re creating. You can also create roundups and then trackback to the blogs whose recipes you used. An email letting the bloggers know that you included them and requesting some shares of the roundup post can be a good way to reach traffic you wouldn’t otherwise. Participating in roundups can boost your SEO because the more links to your blog there are out there on the web, the more important Google and other search engines rank your blog.
That’s all for now…catch me next week (Monday) when I delve into how to make money blogging. I know, I know, that’s the one you’ve all been waiting for…