Is All Content Free Game or Does Original Thought Still Count for Something?

Okay so I know it’s a free for all on the web, and no idea is original…but in my mind there are some things that draw the line, like making money on other people's content.

I recently came across a tweet, “How to Turn Other People’s Content Into Your Content and Profit!” and of course there was a link. Just the title made me think, what kind of scam is this, and of course curiosity got the better of me and I had to click it. If, by the end of this post, you really think this is a groundbreaking moneymaking idea, I’ll give you the link if you ask for it.

Whenever someone starts following me on twitter, I take a look at their bio and the kinds of things they post. If they have ideas, information, or expertise that I am interested in then I’ll follow. I still don’t understand how one can weed through the content when following every Tom, Dick, or Harry. I’m really not about quantity but quality. If at some point I'm found lacking because I didn't have enough twitter followers, so be it.

I use the same quality control when it comes to travel, and life in general. I never found the need to hit every city and landmark just to check a block. If someone says, "I can't believe you got all the way to India and you didn't see the Taj Mahal! You really missed out." I'm okay with that. My encounters in places like the Sundarbans, where I met smiling villagers and through personal interactions learned they were Bangladeshi in their hearts, went far further than crossing the Taj Mahal off a list. In the Sundarbans, villages were arbitrarily divided by the British when they partitioned India in the 1940's. Today the Bengali Taka is used more prominently than Rupees, and family members live on both sides of the boarder. It was an interesting blend of tiger preserve and small friendly village meandering along the tributaries of the Bagmati River. I would never trade my experience there for a visit to an expected site.

“Where have you been?” Is a usual question in youth hostels around the world. Many travelers have rich full stories of amazing adventures and experiences, but some travelers are the “Been There, Done That’s.” These are people who pride themselves on being able to list off every name, place and monument they’ve seen. The BTDT's move through places so quickly collecting cities and activities in an attempt to establishing themselves as a travel authority. They can regurgitate names and places like the Taj Mahal, and yes they have seen them, but they don't always fully experience their surroundings in their rush to check the block and move on. I never had a checklist. To me it mattered more how my travel experiences were transforming me, giving me insight into a world that I could never have known had I not taken an interest in it and stepped outside my home, my country and my comfort zone to experience something else.

This guy’s idea about using other people’s content kind of reminds me of the BTDT's. Their lists of places to go and things to see seemed to come from all the "must sees" other travelers talked about around campfires, coal stoves and cold beers. The BTDT's then proceed to move through the list in order to become an authority on travel. But I give the BTDT's credit, they actual had the adventure. They had to be on the road experiencing it and something had to be driving them.

On the other hand, the video advice seemed a very lazy, and boarder line plagiaristic way of gaining content by doing it upon the backs of people who had a real passion for the subject or content that they originally posted. In this three minute video, the author? Filmmaker? Idea stealer? Is saying that his newest latest thing for driving free traffic to his sites is video. And the first thing he flashes up on his YouTube screen is, “How to turn other people’s words into content and profit.” He proceeds to explain his process - go off to sites, read content, pay close attention to those that are highly ranked and commented on, and then read them 3 or 4 times, paraphrase the content, and create a video. He says this is a quick way to establish “authority” on the topic.

WOW authority on the topic that you picked at random because lots of people liked it? Not because you had any interest in it? Or any original thought or idea to say about it? Or even any expertise on the topic? Again, at least the BTDT's have been to those places and something drove them. They are not lazy, though they may not be as deeply introspective as other travelers. I do take issue with making money on other people’s content, especially in the way he actually describes it in the video.

It’s one thing if other people’s content causes thoughts and ideas to ignite. That furnace of creativity we all have is stoked by many different influences. If the final output whether it be written in a blog entry or spoken in a video is the product of research, passion and thought provoking words by others so be it. But it is another thing to simply cruise for popular topics that you may not have any interest in, read it 3 or 4 times and then make it into your own content by paraphrasing. He really does state his process this way in his video. He back paddles a bit in his comments to my comments on his blog, but the fact remains that in his 3 minute video he is promoting something that, in my opinion, sounds like lazy plagiarism.

I believe that if you have writers block, by all means, find ways to help stimulate your thought process. But using other peoples words and content does not substitute for your own, and you certainly shouldn’t be considered an authority nor make money on that. It can be a struggle to come up with content, there is no doubt, but in the end expressing your own ideas and thoughts is much more rewarding than regurgitating what others believe is most popular.

I'd rather experience the Sundarbans verses signing in on the Taj Mahal guest book, and I certainly won't be making money by paraphrasing others.

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Jo said...

I think it is strange that he thinks this will even work. It might gain a few readers temporarily but people are far savvier than to fall for this, what I would call, gimmick. Readers want authority, true, but only if it is authentic. He is clearly not authentic.

thank you for sharing!

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