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Writer's Clock (Image found via Joanna D'Angelo on Facebook)

Writer's Clock (Image via Joanna D'Angelo on Facebook)

For most of you reading this, the title of this article is ludicrous because you know the answer is an emphatic no.

However, in those early, nervous weeks when a small business owner starts the process of blogging, it is tempting to look to other writers for ideas.

I had one such experience this week.

A young woman who manages a family business was scratching around, tired, at the end of some long and busy days while also trying to start creating some blogs for her website.

She stumbled across a blog written by someone in a related trade from interstate and, with a few modifications, turned the stirring testimony to skill and passion into her own.

I drew her attention to the dangers of this approach and she is mortified. I know it will never happen again.

For the rest of us, there are at least three reasons why this approach can be detrimental to our businesses.

Plagiarism by any other name

Yes, the ‘P’ word.

Whenever we copy or adapt content from someone or somewhere else, we need to give credit or have permission.

If we still go ahead and use someone else’s content, the consequences include:

  • Legal action over breach of copyright – or at least potentially ugly and embarrassing publicity ordeal if the rights owner calls you out on your plagiarism (it will lead others to wonder just how much of your product or service is flawed in someway)
  • Possible Google penalties relating to what is called ‘duplicate content’, this is where the same material appears in more than one place on the internet, watering down Google’s indexing of the content
  • Opportunity cost for failing to take the chance further develop your original material and hone your skills for communicating your company’s story

Before you risk further temptation by looking at what others have been writing for some ideas, try looking internally first.

A great source of blog content is your customer interactions and questions at networking events.

Try pausing for a few minutes to capture some of the most common and some of rarest questions you’ve faced, and turn them into individual blog posts.

You will be amazed by how much easier they are to write, compared to abstract topics, and how much more relevant and helpful they will be to customers and prospects.

Let me know how you go.

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