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BlogBurst – Should You let them Syndicate your Content?

BlogburstI’m seeing a bit of buzz around today about BlogBurst, a service that allows bloggers to submit their feeds to top tier news outlets (like Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and Houston Chronicle) for republication/syndication.

To use it you need to publish full RSS feeds, not have ads in your feeds, produce family friendly content and to be posting at least at a weekly rate.

It’s an innovative service that gives bloggers a chance to promote themselves in new avenues. They are especially looking for blogs on the topic of Travel, Women’s Issues, Technology and Gadgets, Food and Entertainment and Local Metros.

If all you want is to promote yourself and perhaps find new readers then this is a service to consider as when your content is used it will receive a byline and link.

HOWEVER you need to keep in mind that you’re not going to make any money out of it and that others are. BlogBurst charges the people that will be using your content for the privilege – but they don’t put any money into the hands of the bloggers whose content they sell.

I’d recommend bloggers consider their options and go back to thinking about their blog’s goals and objectives. If you’re blogging to raise your profile then this could be a useful service. If you’re in it for money then you might not go though. Also worth considering is the implications of your blog’s content appearing in multiple places online (consider duplicate content), especially on sites that are likely to have a higher page rank than your own.

There are both benefits and costs here (ie you’ll be getting links from highly ranked pages – but you might find that their republishing of your content actually ranks higher in search engines that your own posts do).

I’d be interested to hear whether people are going to give this a go?

Read more on Blog Burst at:

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Michele says:

    Although I haven’t had a chance to explore it yet, it sounds like it might benefit bloggers wishing to promote their expertise, as opposed to their blogs by themselves.

  2. Duncan says:

    I haven’t had a chance to look at it fully yet but do the posts used get a link from this sites, or a proper attribution (ie xyz is the publish of abcblog.com). I’d think it there was their could be some great benefit from it becaue getting some of your posts published on some of these sites would be great publicity.

  3. I think it definitely depends on your intention for blogging.

    I got into blogging on a whim. I blog to help people and to spread my ideas. Those are also the same reasons I wrote a book. I don’t currently have any advertising on my blogs so I requested an invitation for The Career Intensity Blog. If they accept me I’ll give it a shot and see if the publicity helps drive traffic. If it expands the reach of my ideas it might be worth it.

    I’ll let you know what happens.

  4. Tris says:

    I’m definately in the “wait and see” camp … I don’t like the idea of someone making money off my content and not giving me any kind of cut.

  5. ~DAwn says:

    If there is a byline, wouldn’t that give you credit and also drive people to your own site to check out more information?

  6. Chris Howard says:

    I reckon if you are using it, think differently about how you write.

    For example:
    - Cross link to other articles you’ve written on your site;
    - Have a promo footer (if they don’t already do that) eg Chris Howard is a freelance technology writer with 20 years industry experience and can be read at http://www.qwertyrash.com

    Assuming of course, the contract allows you to do these sorts of things.

    You also can put a BIG sticker on your blog “Syndicated on The Washington Post”. That’ll get you some credibility!

    The big downside is not getting paid so you’d want to know that you can pull out at any time.

    On the flipside, you can put on your resume that you are a freelance writer with your work published in/on The Washington Post.

    It’s also possible if you’re good enough, any of those publications could make a direct approach to you to write for them – for money too.

    As long as you understand the get out clause and want to appear in those publications, it’s worth looking into. But since you get no payment, exploit the opportunity!

  7. Darren Rowse says:

    Good thoughts Chris.

    The only problem would be if you were too obvious about this I suspect your posts wouldn’t get picked up much. ie it seems that they will only publish selected posts (I guess the best ones and those that they think will appeal to their readership).

    I’m suspecting footers and lots of cross linking might turn them off. You never know though.

    Your ideas of how to promote yourself once you’ve been syndicated are great.

  8. There’s actually one more element that you might want to consider, albeit it’s a minor and quite possibly farfetched notion.

    Namely, real life media exposure. I don’t know what newspaper that the feeds are going to, but here in Texas, an article was done in Houston (could have been the Houston Chronicle now that I think about it) about being a pick up artist.

    Fast forward to when I moved to the Big D from Los Angeles and I’m contacted by a reporter who wants to do a story on me. I’m going to be profiled in the city magazine, but it’s one of those things to keep in mind.

    Good publicity, but do you want your face out there for the whole world to see?

  9. TLB says:

    In the comments here:

    techcrunch.com/2006/02/18/blogburst-can-save-big-print-media/

    Someone apparently from the company says they will pay once they get out of beta.

    I don’t think the newspapers are going to take everything you write, so only some pages would become duplicate content.

    And, as long as they’re real, web-friendly links (no nofollow, no javascript), I’d imagine that would help your credibility with search engines.

    It also seems like they’re looking for shall we say “lighter” content and not, for instance, a corrosive point-by-point refutation of a WaPo article.

  10. Paul says:

    I like the idea, especially if the sites that use your content provide a link. As a freelance writer, the points Chris made above would be very attractive for me. I’m not sure if they would be interested in mine, being in Europe and looking at the newspaper sites they are currently working with, but if European newspaper outlets got involved then it would definately be worth a look.

    I guess the biggest question is, how is your work credited when it is picked up from Blogburst, and how easy is it to remove your blog if you are not happy. At the moment there is not enough information on the Blogburst site – for example the T&C don’t answer some of the questions that have already appeared in the comments section here.

    BTW – thanks Darren, even for non pro-bloggers, your blog has lots of great info for blogging in general, not just for dollars!

  11. pcunix says:

    I dunno. I’m conflicted on this.

    I’ve let webpronews and other sites in that empire republish my articles. Technically my copyright notice says that newer articles can’t be freely copied, but I’ve let them slide because they do give me some traffic.. but I keep thinking that maybe I shouldn’t.

    It’s a tough call..

  12. Well, I got a response from them just moments ago:

    Thank you for requesting an invitation to BlogBurst. At this time your blog is not a good match for our current set of publisher partners. However, our network of publishers is quickly growing and we encourage you to check back with us occasionally. We expect for many of the blogs not invited in this early period to be a part of the BlogBurst network in the future.

    Thank you for your interest in BlogBurst, and best wishes.

    Best Regards,
    The BlogBurst Team

    By the time they get around to it, I might not even need them…

  13. Tris says:

    Can’t wait to see the response to my submission!

  14. I’ve just had my travel and scuba diving related blogs accepted by BlogBurst. They’re both quite new so I could certainly use extra traffic. I’m a journalist too, so the exposure that Chris Howard writes about would be a big plus for me.

    I’ll keep you posted on how it works out. I haven’t actually gone through the acceptance procedure yet!

  15. The BlogBurst Terms are here
    http://blogburst.com/Public/Overview/ContentAgreement.aspx

    From the salient bits of the Terms I’ve pasted below, it seems like you will get attributed but only how BlogBurst decides; you might get paid, but only whatever BlogBurst decides; and BlogBurst owns “derivative work” from your Work. Can anyone clarify what exactly that means?

    On the upside, you can terminate whenever you want. So nothing really to lose, except for that ownership issue…

    3 PLUCK RESPONSIBILITIES
    3.1 Attribution. In the event that your work is published, you will receive attribution in the form of a “by-line.” The exact format and placing of the attribution is subject to Pluck’s (and the Publisher’s) discretion.

    3.2 Link to Originating Site. In the event that your work is published, the publication will include a link to the website on which your content was located (if applicable).

    4 PAYMENT
    4.1 Royalties. In Pluck’s sole discretion, you may be compensated for the Works that you have contributed subject to Pluck’s then-current policies. You acknowledge and agree that you are not entering into this Agreement with the expectation of any payment and you are entering into this Agreement solely in exchange for the benefits set forth in Section 3 above.

    4.2 Waiver of Statutory Royalties. For the avoidance of doubt, where the Work is subject to any statutory royalty provisions under applicable law, you waive your right to collect any such statutory royalties.

    7.2 Termination. Either party may terminate this Agreement for any reason upon written notice to the other party.

    7.3 Effect of Termination. In the event that this Agreement is terminated for any reason, the terms and conditions of this Agreement shall survive termination for Works provided to Pluck prior to the date of termination.

    OWNERSHIP
    8.1 By You. Pluck acknowledges and agrees that, as between the parties and subject to the license granted herein, you own all right, title and interest in and to the Work.

    8.2 By Pluck. You acknowledge and agree that, as between the parties, Pluck (or the applicable sublicense) shall own all rights, title, and interest in and to any Derivative Works created from the Work, subject to your underlying ownership of the original Work.

  16. David Ward says:

    Darren, this is one of the many reasons I read your blog each day. Anytime there are new blog tools announced, you are right on it and you dig deeper and make us think about these tools and the rewards or pitfalls before diving in.

    From what I’ve been able to decypher, it looks like BlogBurst could be good for the blogger because it gets you added exposure and the opportunity to get paid for your content if they use it. What I haven’t seen is how they will use your content. If they only print a snippet or two, then provide a link back to the blog post then it’s a win-win in my book. If they print the entire article and then post a link, how many people are going to click on the link?

    I know you’ll have more to come on BlogBurst, Darren.

  17. Aaress says:

    I just got accepted with my tennis commentary blog and as I was reading the FAQ’s, I saw some info that may be helpful to those still wondering about the copyright/publicity policy.

    Your blog, your content and your name are yours alone. There are some licensing terms you have to agree to when signing up for this opt-in service in order for your content to be displayed on partner sites, but no one has the right to change your posts, nor are your posts available for use outside of the purpose of the BlogBurst network. The BlogBurst network focuses on blog and blog post selection by publishers and filtering capabilities to find the posts on the topics that matter most to their audiences.

    and

    BlogBurst tracks your blog’s presence on any publisher partner’s site including all headline views, post views and referrals back to your site. You can use the online BlogBurst blogger work bench to track your blog’s success across the network.

  18. Tris says:

    And I’ve recieved my invite after chatting with Adam last night (e-mail). Only snafu is that they aren’t quite ready for non-US bloggers.

  19. I’ve just fallen foul of that non-US blog rule – but only after being invited in the network and wasting half an hour filling in forms, installing code etc. BlogBurst just emailed me and said they couldn’t use my blogs after all. A bit of a waste of time, then

  20. I received my invite today. I filled out all of the information and I’m waiting to see if/when my posts get picked up.

    It is an interesting proposition. I’ll report back on what happens next.

  21. David Ward says:

    I received my invite/acceptance today so I will keep you posted on how it goes.

  22. charlie says:

    Yes. Bloggers will want to reivew the rights they are giving Pluck and the publishers carefully. Pluck is giving themselves very expansive rights over your blog content. Despite the email quoted above, you are giving them the rights to change your posts and they do have the rights to use your content for whatever they want. Despite the intent also expressed on my blog by the GM of Pluck, they can do whatever they want under that contract.

  23. Gary Farber says:

    I have a post here about BlogBurst, based on many years of experience as an editor with publishing contracts, if you’re interested.

    The point seems to be being missed by most of the commenters here. You’re irrevocably signing away all rights, in perpetuity, to the content you’ve provided here. And you specifically waive all rights to future payment, and acknowledge that none is promised. No reputable publisher would ask such a thing.

    They’re selling your work upfront; no reputable publisher would not give a royalty for that. And none would not have a reversion clause.

  24. Vincenze says:

    To my knowledge Blogburst is a good thing…

    you get exposure

    you retain credit for your work

    your site is linked, so if people like what they read and they may want more, they can easily get to it

    and Gary, I very briefly read the terms and cond. … I thought it was all pretty good, when you say “signing your rights away” are you refering only to potential monetary earnings?

    Bottom line, seems great for exposure and credit…as for the whole ad/money thing, if you’re making enough money, so that losing a percentage would be substantial, then you probably never needed a service like Blogburst in the first place.

    more of my take on it here.

    cheers,

    Vincenze.

  25. Gary Farber says:

    “I thought it was all pretty good, when you say “signing your rights away” are you refering only to potential monetary earnings?”

    No, I’m referring to the fact that forever after, for the next ten thousand years, BlogBurst owns the rights to publish your words, no matter that you’ve since opted out of dealing with them.

    No professional writer in their right mind would ever sign a “perpetual” clause. Ask anyone who has ever sold a word for a living, or even as a hobby, or any professional editor, or anyone in publishing. It’s completely unethical to ask for such a thing.

    Rights are something one licenses for a limited term, with specific language about the rights reverting back to the author within a defined and limited time-span, and this automatically happens. Any other method is considered utterly unethical in publishing, and only a con-artist would ask for anything else.

    Morever, you’ve specifically agreed that you’ll never be entitled to any money: “You acknowledge and agree that you are not entering into this Agreement with the expectation of any payment and you are entering into this Agreement solely in exchange for the benefits set forth in Section 3 above.”

    That they tell you otherwise doesn’t matter: the above is the legal contract that you’ve signed. That’s all that matters.

    And this is again completely unethical. The entire concept of a “royalty” was invented as an alternative to a flat payment that a publishing company might not have the cash flow to give upfront. Instead, a royalty is a fixed percentage of the profits. BlogBurst asks you to sign away all your rights “in perpetuity” in return for nothing, and their excuse is that they don’t have the money upfront. Only the ignorant and hopeful naive will fall for that. They’re being paid by the newspapers. Since you supply the content, you deserve a share. If they’re not being paid, BlogBurst still has no problem in not giving you your rightful royalty, since they’d not have to pay you anything.

    That they are unwilling to give a royalty, and specifically make you sign away any obligation to ever be paid, they are stealing from you, and taking advantage of your ignorance of standard publishing practices for well over a century.

    That people are eager to see their name in print is precisely the hook on which con men over the past century have taken advantage of such eagerness, naivety, and ignorance, to con people out of their rights in return for nothing. And that’s precisely what BlogBurst is doing: waving a promise of “exposure” in front of you, and you think it sounds great, and you sign away all rights for nothing, and now no one else will ever want to buy those rights from you. Ever. For your entire life. And the lives of your survivors.

    Talk to anyone with the faintest experience in professional publishing; you’ve been conned.

  26. Gary Farber says:

    Pay no attention to their FAQs and cheery e-mails: those are always used by con-artists. Read the legal language of what you’ve signed:

    “you grant to Pluck and its affiliates a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual license to reproduce, distribute, make derivative works of, perform, display, disclose, and otherwise dispose of the Work (and derivative works thereof) for the purposes of (a) modifying the Work without substantially changing its original meaning, and (b) distributing the Work (and derivative works thereof) to Publisher electronic web sites or corresponding printed editions, whether now known or hereafter devised.”

    “royalty-free, perpetual license”

    You get no money: forever. And if they actually do publish your stuff, you can’t sell it elsewhere. It doesn’t matter that it’s a “non-exclusive” right, because in practice, no one else is going to pay you to buy your words and sell them to newspapers if this outfit is already do it while paying you nothing.

    If your work is worth buying, and being published by newspapers, it’s worth your being paid for it. Anyone who tells you otherwise is conning you. Don’t let eagerness to be in print and inexperience blind you.

    Moreover, if you think you’re going to get many hits back when your work is being published in full elsewhere, you’re completely fooling yourself. The only “exposure” here is your words being published for free by people making money off you. If you want links back to your blogs, even, insist that Blogburst only publish the first few paragraphs of your posts and require that the rest can only be read via the link back to your blog.

    But they won’t agree. Regardless, you should still be paid, since they’re being paid. (You think the person you’ve corresponded with, who is paid to be charming and friendly and suck you in, is also working for free? Ha!)

    I don’t say this out of any animus for anyone at BlogBurst. I say this because I’ve worked in publishing for thirty years, and seen innumerable scams like this, and how eager people are to fall for them, due to the normal desire to see one’s name in print and as widespread as possible. That’s how cons work: they take advantage of normal desires.

  27. Gary Farber says:

    Lastly: no big time blog will sign up for this; they know they can do better.

    So while BlogBurst lasts — and if they change their model to a reputable and fair one, paying a fair royalty, and including a reasonable reversion of rights clause in their contract, and otherwise cleaning up their act, fine, more power to them — it will only be providing the work of people who don’t know any better. This won’t, overall, help BlogBurst sell their package.

    And when newspaper clients start learning that BlogBurst isn’t paying their writers, and has asked for rights “in perpetuity,” they’re apt to start dropping their contracts with BlogBurst, since the publicity of working with such an unethical outfit won’t be good for them.

    And BlogBurst will either change to a reputable model, or have absconded somewhere with the profits, leaving an empty office behind in Austin.

    So in the long run, either they’ll clean up their act, and you can wait till then, or you’ll lose anyway. Just something to keep in mind.

    Beyond what I wrote here, see also what many others are saying here. Don’t take my word for it. Check it out.

  28. Vincenze says:

    Well, thanks for the heads up Gary, definately a few things to ponder.

    cheers,

    Vincenze.

  29. Thank goodness I found this post, and Gary Farber’s comments and links, before I signed up! I was so excited to be acknowledged as a blog worthy of Blogburst’s syndication… A good example of the psychology at work to Blogburst’s favor. Then I looked at the contract I was signing and saw I was basically giving up rights to my work. No thank you! I can do better.

  30. Matt says:

    I just signed up to BlogBurst, and I only afterwards thought to do some digging. I saw plenty of criticism, and I’ve been wondering if I should leave. However, I think that I’ve settled on the opinion that actually it’s not too evil. I’ll explain why, but I’m happy to be persuaded otherwise!

    I’ve licensed my blog under a Creative Commons Share-Alike License, which basically allows anyone, even commercially, to copy, reuse and make derivatives works of my blog, so long as they attribute me, and apply the same license to the copies. In effect, the BlogBurst agreement seems compatible with this. I’m not blogging to make money; that never crossed my mind. I won’t run Adsense as I don’t want to distract readers or make them wonder about my motivation for blogging. So their explicit statement that they’re not promising me a dime doesn’t bother me. I’m not going to hawk my blog around news vendors by myself, so this service seems to be doing me a favour!

    One of the major criticisms was that they can continue using the content you provided to them forever. I think they must have been listening, as when I just checked the wording of the agreement (http://www.blogburst.com/blogger/agreement.html) the wording about Termination now reads: “In the event that this Agreement is terminated for any reason, the terms and conditions of this Agreement shall survive termination for Works provided to Pluck prior to the date of termination for a period of time no longer than one (1) year”. So they can continue using the content for 1 year, not forever.

  31. shearyadi says:

    I do submitted my blog yesterday and got and invitation on the same day, quite surprising me because my blog content was about a Soccer club from English premier League club, a sport which is not too popular in United States.

    At the moment, I’m blogging more for a hobby and only concentrating on my soccer blog, although I have two other blogs to managed.

    And…who knows I can get many attention from blog readers so they will get to know Newcastle United better and be a Toon Army as the result from reading my blog ;-)

  32. Ambrosiality says:

    Pretty interesting, sad that they don’t pay their bloggers though.

  33. Sharon says:

    I was just accepted by Blogburst but have not signed the contract. Anyone gone through with it? Care to share your experience? I write my blog for the love of it, but wonder if I should protect it for future use. There really isn’t a whole protecting blog content now; I’ve seen referrals by some crazy sites now, so what is the difference?

  34. Kathryn says:

    I just signed up with Blogburst because I am trying to increase readership. I figure it might work for now but I will keep you posted.
    Best,
    Kathryn

Trackbacks

  1. [...] BlogBurst – Should You let them Syndicate your Content?: ProBlogger Blog Tips Your site gets syndicated by top news outlets and BlogBurst profits. However, you don’t… Seems a little unfair to me. (tags: blogburst blogging blogosphere pr syndication rss advertising) Bookmark on del.icio.us [...]

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  4. DoRealTime says:

    DoRealTime Invited to Join BlogBurst!

    BlogBurst sounds like a pretty cool idea. It finds blogs that are filled with interesting and informative content (like this one apparently!), and then finds major media outlets to broadcast that content, giving the participating blogs much greater vis…

  5. [...] For a more detailed analysis check out the solutionwatch.com article and for some warnings from Darren Rowse check out his review over at problogger.net. [...]