Amongst all the arguments on content theft and other matters, free content is often ignored. Free, you may well ask? Yes, there is actually free content out there that authors actually want you to use, and sites dedicated to helping you find it.
Would I base a blog entirely on free content? No, but I have been trialling some free content over on one of my smaller blogs just to see how it goes (and because the topic area’s been a struggle for me lately as well). Certainly the traffic hasn’t decreased, but its not gone through the roof either. I even snuck a post in here at the Blog Herald to see how it would go, wasn’t much feedback.
My thoughts on free content: if its relevant or interesting to your readers it probably doesn’t hurt to use it on occasion if you need to supplement your content due to periods away from blogging, a particular blog or mental blocks.
Most free content sites have some sort of rule on how you are to display the content. Generally speaking it will be a footer at the bottom of the article which includes information about the author and a link to their site. Indeed if you’re writing good content and don’t mind sharing it, it probably wouldn’t hurt to submit a few articles yourself to these sites. People use them in blogs, websites, ezines…lots of free opportunities to get your word out and links to your blog from other sites. I’ve not tried it myself but I’m looking at using some of my older posts this way for a experiment: stay tuned!
I’m not an SEO, so I cant pretend to know the exact downside on using free content, but I’ve read that using duplicate content from other sites can negatively affect your search engine rankings. I’ve not seen this myself, but I’ve not used free content exclusively either. Naturally contributing your items to others as free content could have the same effect. Again, I provide this only as a warning as I have no way of knowing for sure whether this is true. I suppose its like anything in life, most things in moderation aren’t going to cause you much harm.
“Free content” or similar into Google delivers a lot of different sites, but these are a few of the sites I’ve used or looked at:
Article City: not as many as others but generally a fairly good quality of article.
Ezine Articles: this would be one of the biggest sites of its type, but with the higher volume you do tend to see a a fair bit of junk as well in their articles. Lots of topics, and you can subscribe the ones you like using an RSS feed.
iSnare: decent range of content
Free Stiky: these guys have been around since I first learnt html back in the dark ages before blogging. Not just content but all sorts of plugins and bits a pieces. I’m really happy to be able to give them a plug, a lot of good memories and its still great to see them going strongly.
ArticleWorld: articles, naturally