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Blog Content Ownership

License the Content - Or Work For Hire?

11:46 pm on May 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have a firm which supplies blog writing services for a large number of clients. Currently I am trying to identify if I am bucking a trend in the marketplace or if more business owners do what I do-- I license our blog content to the client's blog only.

By licensing the content to the blog, it prevents me losing income for article writing, press releases or web page content. It also prevents clients from using my writer's content supplied at typically under $20 per 200 word blog post at rates for these services well below market rates.

Just this last week I lost two clients who demanded "work for hire" for their blog writing and really did not want the blog license verbiage in their letter of agreement.

My question is on blog writing are you providing "work for hire"?

Is this routine or negotiated on a case by case basis?

Do you have any rights to the content? If so what do you specify?

Have you tried a tiered pricing approach - license is this much and unlimited license is this much?

We are currently charging about under $20 per post for 200 words. I have seen prices in India for under $10 per post, what is the range in which you are operating - just range please? Under $20, under $10, more than $20 for about 200 words of content?

Do you require a byline on your posts?

Do you brand the blog with your business name?

What have you done with the rogue client who has used blog posts to create a book without credit to your firm or taken blog posts verbatim as press releases or even migrated blog posts into main website content?

Candid input would be greatly appreciated.

[edited by: digitalghost at 8:48 pm (utc) on May 21, 2008]
[edit reason] sticky request [/edit]

5:56 pm on May 22, 2008 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Lots of questions, Nancy99!

I have occasionally purchased content writing for blogs and generally would do so only on a work for hire basis. Even if I have no current plans to repurpose the content, I don't want the hassle of dealing with an author later. The posts I have purchased were of middling quality and required editing; they served mainly as a time-saving starting point for a post and were used to fill out the post volume on lower-end sites.

If I was buying high quality editorial content from authors with a reputation in the topic area, it would be a different story - I'd want to use a byline and would expect some use restrictions.

For my own blogs, I don't outsource any writing at all.

Pricing for blog posts seems to be all over the map, from a few dollars to $20 per post (for generic writers, not expert authors), with marginal quality at the low end. It's unlikely that the cheap posts would be immediately publishable, and plagiarism would be a concern.

If you have a clear contract as far as how content you create can be used and the buyer chooses to violate that contract, your best bet is to contact your attorney. (If it's a simple case of publishing to another website, you could try your own C&D first.)

9:07 pm on May 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'd be interested to learn why you wish to license the publishing rights to the material in the first place. I mean, it sounds like an awful lot of hassle for just $20 here and 200 words there.

Don't get me wrong, I'm neither judging nor criticising, I'm interested in the logic behind your decision to choose what, on the face of it, must be a fairly time consuming pursuit.

In all the time I've commissioned editorial in a professional capacity, the content has always been provided as unique work for hire. Those seeking to restrict usage through any form of licensing have always been given short shrift.

Whether the commissioned work is 200 words or 2,000, I don't quite see what benefit those paying for it get. Surely they can only see it as a restrictive practice?


5:14 pm on May 23, 2008 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Syzygy, there really is no benefit for the buyer of the content. In fact, there is some downside since the content might pop up elsewhere in another form.

In my experience, it's primarily recognized experts/authors who can get paid for an article (usually substantial in length) and grant the buyer only limited rights. The benefit accrues to the writer, who might be able to resell it in a different market, include it in a book, etc.

I can't imagine short, cheap, ephemeral blog posts having a lot of residual value to the writer. It seems that they would be primarily useful as web content, and of course the original buyer would not want duplicate content popping up on other sites.

I guess one scenario would be some evergreen content like "house cleaning tips" - one or two paragraph tips might make dandy blog posts, but could be compiled into a book like "500 Steps to a Cleaner House." Most outsourced 200 word blog posts would hardly stand that test of time and quality, though.

9:00 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Thank you very much for your input. The reason we had decided to license content for blog use only was that we had one client take the blog posts we did and make an e-book on Internet marketing tips and sell it widely. Another client took blog posts verbatim and wrapped them a paragraph front and back and use them as a press release.

For $15 to $25 that's really way below the market for both book content and press release writing.

Based on the comments here, I am definitely thinking of changing our policy on the licensing. Some very valid points were raised.

Again thank you for your comments.


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