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Hiring content writers? Are your ideas safe?

Will your writer use your ideas for their own websites?



1:06 am on May 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Been toying with the idea of hiring out the writing of content using the various websites out there (elance, guru, etc.)

Have those of you who have done this ever wondered if you may be giving away your ideas (say on niches you worked hard to find) to writers who may use them for their own websites?


9:01 am on May 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Your scenario doesn't just apply to writers. As ideas aren't subject to copyright, there's always a risk if you discuss them with others that someone will pinch them. If you don't want that to happen, keep 'em to yourself ;)

That said, you can take steps to protect your content. Any content created by a hired writer should be on a "work for hire" agreement which assigns copyright of anything they create while hired to you. That way, they can't republish it anywhere else.


11:02 am on May 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member essex_boy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

It could happen but hasnt happened to me yet, however someone copying my site has happened.

I think that the greatest risk is from someone after publication and not before.

However, why dont you break the projects in to chunks and give them diffrent writers?


3:19 pm on May 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


They can still copy your idea and after your contract period with them is over. There truly is nothing you can do to ensure someone doesn't use your precious idea.


6:35 pm on May 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Read both paragraphs ;)

In the first, I stated that any idea aired is one potentially pinched. In the second, I referred to preventing a writer republishing anything written for the hirer.

Indeed, the OP probably has more to worry about from scrapers and MFAs (Made for Adsense sites) than writers, as once the niche goes online, anyone can copy the idea.


9:16 pm on May 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The skillset for designing a website & optomizing it for adsense is not the same skillset as being a writer.

It's rare to find someone who is truly talented in both. Personally, while I can write (and do so for a living) I prefer to pay BETTER writers to produce content for my site and focus my efforts on design.

I doubt many of them have the knowledge to design a site; I have enough trouble getting writers to submit articles to me in ascii .txt format and not .doc files. If someone can't figure out how to save a file in ascii, I highly doubt they're up to designing websites.


Content Writer

6:15 am on May 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Good post jmorgan. I'd say whenever partnering up/sourcing out work, you gallop the risk of niche theft.

Worth the Risk?

If you're really trying to SEO, SEM the heck out of your writing, it might just be worth the risk. As easy as some of the tricks are -- namely, keyword optimization -- some writers just don't get it, or it takes them way too long to get it because they are one of the following two:

  • green
  • very un-green

    New kid on the block, or old cat who can't learn new tricks (like some journalist who whines about not getting good rankings, but refuses to use simple and obvious keywords, grrr...)

    Third choice: The SEO Writer. When it comes to keyword optimization, and even more importantly experience writing for the web, then "getting the job done right" will often involve risking your ideas with someone a lot more web savvy.

    How to Avoid the Risk

    You can't. Not completely. Just assume a certain amount of risk, and then run the cost-benefit.

    How to reduce the cost part of the equation? Hire an SEO writer you know, or who has been referred to you personally. Trust, confidence and respect gained from a personal connection can go a long way.

    Also, ask yourself: how well is the SEO writer doing? If they're writing business is doing them good, then there's naturally going to less of a worry about shady behaviour.

    Be explicit. Make it very clear that non-competition is the rule of the road before you go ahead any further.

  • Tapolyai

    5:24 pm on May 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    From my experience the writers tend not to care that much.

    Sigh :( I think it is much harder to find an writer who is reliable and delivers in a timely fashion then a writer who wants to pinch my ideas. Either they don't care, or my ideas aren't so good. :o

    If you are concerned make them sign an Non-Compete/Non-Disclosure Agreement.

    Worthy Content

    5:01 pm on May 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member

    I agree with most of these posts. Ideas cannot gain copyright, no matter how much we want to protect our "ah ha" moments.

    Finding writers who can #1 write for the web, #2 optimize for the web, #3 provide content within a decent (or designated) amount of time are all difficult to come across.

    Avoid buying syndicated content as this rarely works as well as you'd prefer.

    As an example: I write for the web, I optimize web sites, and I create original content through my SEM company. This takes time and skill that only comes with experience (but not "old cat" syndrome as noted above). I began doing this because I enjoy it and I've seen what "reputible companies" come up with, garbage. Though I will not point fingers.

    Really, if you break up your ideas for numerous writers that's one way. If you never expose your ideas to anyone, that's another. Best thing is to find a writer who sounds like she knows what's she's doing and whom you're comfortable talking to about the project.


    6:53 pm on May 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Everyone thinks their idea is awesome. There is nothing wrong with that. But if writer bit every "awesome" idea, then they'd never write for hire, and just write for themselves.

    I can think of gazillion awesome content ideas. Too bad there is no time for all this stuff.


    3:31 am on Jun 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member

    I'm a writer and I write content for myself as well as others.

    I completely agree with the OPs who said that:

    * most writers aren't into Web work and wouldn't know a keyword if it bit them; and

    * they've got too many ideas of their own to bother stealing someone else's.

    Get your writers to sign a NDA if idea-theft concerns you, but I think you'll find that no one will bother stealing your ideas because of the above. :-)


    10:00 pm on Jun 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    There is always such a kind of risk with writers,programmers etc,sign up NDA with them,thats all you can do


    5:42 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member

    There is another important factor that has not yet been mentioned, IMO.

    It takes a lot of work to create a complete website, including design, coding, writing, getting it set up with ads (if that's the idea). Most people just don't have that level of persistence. Most people would think "wow, that would be cool, my own website, making me millions in advertisement money". Then three days into the project when they have a clunky index page that doesn't look anything like what they had hoped, and they can't get it to look the same in both IE and Firefox, they'll probably drop the idea. I am not trying to say that anybody is smarter than anybody else, but building a competitive niche website requires serious dedication, and that acts as a major filter. So I wouldn't worry about the writer stealing your idea, unless you pick one who is a prolific website creator and who happens to have a lot of time on his/her hands. But even then, as has been mentioned before, you probably see your idea as being better than the way others see it. It's natural.

    One more thought: there is nothing quite like making a big deal out of how something is Uber-Top-Secret to draw extra attention to it. Approaching the writer with NDAs, legal forms, and pinky-swears is sure to make them wonder what you're up to. If you just ask them to write something, they may not think anything of it.

    Cheers, O


    7:39 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

    10+ Year Member

    I use an NDA with anyone that I am discussing some of the more intimate details of my business. At the end of the day, I think you will be hard pressed to protect your idea's absolutely, but the use of an NDA can give you some protection, and it will make people think twice before trying to steal your IP.

    Worthy Content

    7:45 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member

    there is nothing quite like making a big deal out of how something is Uber-Top-Secret to draw extra attention to it.

    Very good point, I think you answered the OP straight on with this one. It is much too difficult to create a successful web site on a whim and much more difficult to come up with a "Top Secret" idea others would agree was so brilliant.


    3:03 am on Jul 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member

    Here is the thing about "articles" and "content"...it is something journalists are taught in college--there are no original ideas when it comes to content. Magazines aren't publishing anything original-you always see the same topics, just with a different slant.

    I think what you need to prevent the writer from doing is selling the same articles they write for you, to someone else, or through an articles directory. A statement of confidentiality, and contract should also be signed by the writer. This will help protect you.

    Good luck,


    6:23 am on Jul 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

    10+ Year Member

    I use the military concept of compartmentalization. Assign writing tasks using specific parameters, and spread the job out amongst several contractors. If you're doing a whole site, find a provider for the design, a content writer, then a clerical monkey to stuff the content into the template.

    I've been using elance since 2001, and have never had a problem with idea or content theft. Most writers are just happy to get paid on time and bid on the next job, and nudge you for the straight 5 feedback. If they were as "idea-centric" as to be considering ripping off your idea, they would have done something long ago.


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