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5 Copyright Facts Every Blogger Should Know

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If you have a blog, whether you realize it or not, copyright is a subject that directly impacts your life.

Not only are you constantly creating new copyrighted works while making your blog but, most likely, you are integrating other’s works into your site including your blogging application (IE: WordPress), your theme, images with your posts, quotes, etc.

However, there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding on matters of copyright. Some of it is because the law is genuinely confusing, some of it is caused by misinformation that is being spread around the Web and much of it is the simple fact that most bloggers aren’t interested in these issues.

Unfortunately, those who are ignorant about the law often step into traps while wading through it and these pitfalls can both limit your rights to control your own work and cause you to be threatened or sued by others.

As a blogger, it is best to have at least some knowledge of copyright so you can protect yourself. With that in mind, here are five copyright facts every blogger should know.

1. If It’s Saved, It’s Copyrighted

There is no requirement to place a notice on your work for it to be considered copyrighted nor do you have to register your work with any third party. A creative work is considered copyrighted the moment it is “fixed in any tangible medium of expression“. Once you save your work to your hard drive (or server), doodle a sketch onto a napkin or put that painting on canvas, it is copyrighted.

Though you can’t copyright ideas, just their expression, and you do need to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office if you are U.S. citizen and wish to be able to sue for copyright infringement and collect all potential damages. However, that has nothing to do with your rights in the work and your ability to demand removal of infringing copies.

On the counter side, unless you have some significant reason to believe otherwise, assume all works you encounter on the Web are copyrighted and threat them as such.

2. There is No Golden Rule for Fair Use

Though others like to talk about rules such as X number of words in a blog post or X number of seconds in a song, there is no magic “bright line” on matters of fair use.

In short, fair use is a defense against a copyright infringement lawsuit and it is determined on a case-by-case basis, not by any hard rules. Judges and juries weigh four factors when looking at fair use and those factors get weighed differently almost every time.

There are some uses that are clearly fair and others that are clearly not. In between there is a wide swatch of gray area that could, quite literally, go either way.

3. Attribution is No Substitute for Permission

Though attribution is a good thing to give, it doesn’t give a green light to use a work as you see fit.

Attributing a work simply prevents its use from being a plagiarism. However, plagiarism and copyright infringement are two separate ideas. Not all cases of plagiarism are infringements and not all infringements are plagiarism.

If you want to use someone’s work on your site, get permission to do so. You can do this either by asking the person directly or looking for works licensed under Creative Commons licenses and then completing the terms of the license.

Failure to get permission to use a work can result in a cease and desist letter, takedown notice being filed or, in extreme cases, a lawsuit. On the flip side, don’t assume just because others attribute your work that it isn’t infringing. If you don’t want your work used in that capacity, you have the right to stop it.

4. You Can’t Copyright Names or Ideas

Though you can copyright a wide variety of content including literary works, photographs, paintings, movies, sound recordings and even hull designs, you can not copyright a name or an idea.

Names fall under the realm of trademark law, which deals with names and marks used in business. Trademark is much more limited in scope of protection than copyright for many reasons but the crux of it is that it is designed to prevent confusion in the marketplace. Delta Airlines and Delta Faucets, for example, can have the same name because they are in two different markets.

Ideas fall under patent law. Patents must be applied for and approved through a lengthy and expensive process and not all ideas are patentable.

For more information on trademarks and patents, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

5. Changing a Few Words Does Not Create a New Work

Finally, just because the copying isn’t verbatim does not mean that it isn’t an infringement. Copyright is not just a right to copy a work, but rather a set of exclusive rights including the right to make derivative works. A derivative work is a new work based upon the original and can include not only works with minor changes, such as moving a few words around, but also more substantial changes such as sequels and spin offs.

Though determining whether a work is a derivative work or not is a gray area problem similar to fair use, the test is whether an “ordinary observer” would notice that the new work is based on the original. Changing a few words or names around certainly fails that test.

Always remember that, just because a work is not identical to the original does not mean it is not an infringement.

Bottom Line

This is, of course, just a basic overview of some of the most important pieces of information bloggers need to know when it comes to copyright. I tried to focus on areas where there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation but, clearly, there is a lot more ground to cover.

The bottom line though is that, if you are a blogger, you owe it to yourself to have an understanding of how copyright works both so you can enforce your rights and you can avoid troubles of your own down the road.

You don’t have to be an expert on copyright, but it helps to at least understand the basics and how it can affect you.

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1 Key Concept to Grasp to Go from Full Time Employee to Pro Blogger

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My journey from fired security guard to professional blogger got bumpy sometimes.

I expected this.

Why not?

I programmed myself to be an employee. Go to work. Listen to my boss. Do what they told me to do. Spend 5-6 days weekly at work. Get a paycheck every Thursday.

The process felt quite comfortable to me. Simple and quite easy. Although I was unhappy at the time.

I did understand making the leap from employee to entrepreneur would be uncomfortable, thank goodness.

I filmed a Facebook Broadcast today discussing this key concept to grasp:

While writing my eBook I put myself in employee shoes. I worked a handful of jobs before I became a professional blogger. Doing the 9-5 bit felt pretty comfortable because all appeared to flow in orderly fashion.

The split second I was fired, I tasted freedom. After taking a few months off I enjoyed spending time how I wished to spend it. Sweet. But the moment I chose to become a blogger – after this stretch of no work – I instantly felt many deep, uncomfortable fears arise in my being.

I became my own boss, which scared me. Would I be lazy? Or would I work when I needed to work? How about this blogging deal? What would I do? Who would teach me? How would I make money?

Uncomfortable torrents of feelings flowed through my being. Being an employee felt comfortable, but confining. Being an entrepreneur felt freeing, but uncomfortable, sometimes. Totally different ballgame, totally different feelings, between my employee days and entrepreneur days.

I circle the globe as a pro blogger. Dealing with uncomfortable feelings was beyond worth living this fun, freeing lifestyle.

My wife snapped this photo during our trip to gorgeous Paekakariki, New Zealand.

For me, there is no other way to live.

But you need to know what’s in store before you choose to make the transition from full time employee to professional blogger.

Most New Bloggers Have No Idea What it Takes to Be a Pro

I know many full time employees who dive into blogging with no idea of the uncomfortable but freeing feelings they will experience on this journey. Many employees feel writing a blog post and publishing that sucker leads to success, totally avoiding the freeing but uncomfortable feelings of:

  • networking
  • writing eBooks
  • creating products
  • broadcasting live on Facebook
  • patiently learning blogging
  • delaying gratification in the form of delayed profits
  • rendering service to people without expecting anything in return
  • learning how to develop blogging posture with your product and service pricing
  • learning how to deal with critical readers
  • learning how to process terrible product or eBook reviews

Guys; unless you work a particularly high level, prestigious job, you never have to explore all of these uncomfortable emotions as an employee. After you dive into blogging and decide to grow your blog into a full time venture, you better believe you will face, embrace and release many uncomfortable fears to see greater and greater blogging success.

The upside, guys? Wading through uncomfortable feelings:

  • frees you
  • helps you become comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • boosts your blog traffic
  • increases your blogging profits
  • connects you with inspired, successful bloggers, as you move up in blogging circles
  • attracts profitable ideas to you
  • makes you unstoppable

Be realistic, guys. Employees are used to taking orders, working for a set period of time weekly and getting a steady paycheck. Pro bloggers give themselves orders, work a lot more than the average employee and do not see steady paychecks for quite a while.

Of course, being free and seeing paychecks that dwarf most employee paychecks are the ultimate rewards for dealing with fleeting but sometimes highly uncomfortable feelings.

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How To Create International Blog Content & Help New Audiences

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As a blogger or vlogger you might find certain niche ideas are already covered before you think of them. Grr!

Popular niches get saturated – it’s a natural cause & effect of the popularity of blogging.

But what if other countries who speak your language still need that niche topic or idea!?

By simply tailoring your how-to post (for example) with keywords and imagery for a specific country, you can enter into a whole new and unsaturated arena.

In this post we’ll look at just one example of how I took a saturated U.S. topic and brought it to India, with hopes of reaching new audiences far and wide. Let me know if you think it will work out or not!

What Niche Ideas Can You Bring to Other Countries?

Note that by “bring” I don’t mean you have to pack your bags and hop on board a flight, but you could!

There are always some niche ideas that translate better across borders than others. For example jokes about Kelly Anne Conway might not be too funny in Japan. But how to make Swiss Chocolate truffles or how to beat level 5 of Mario, now those are topics people will want everywhere and probably translate.

Topics that blog well across borders:

  • How-to gaming
  • How-to tech
  • Latest fitness advice
  • Cooking how-to
  • SEO
  • How to make money online
  • Travel guides
  • Etc

There are obviously many more topics which people will want to read about regardless of the country you’re in. But if you’re looking to both help internationally and increase blog traffic on the home front, you’d be smart to pick topics that appeal widely or combine popular things.

If you look at the list above you can combine a few topics like SEO, how-to tech, and how to make money online into the topic of “how to make a website”, which is exactly what I chose to do for the Indian audience.

I wanted to attract as many viewers as possible and sometimes a certain angle like “how to make money through ads” leads people to actually be interested in your website tutorial, or gaming tutorial, or whatever it is. You gotta be your own salesman!

So here’s a little more into the bread and butter, the research and execution of how I think you can create blog content for an international audience.

8 Steps to Make Your Content Internationally Friendly

1. Find a contact living there

Your journey to make content that does great with a new audience starts by simply finding one of your friends of business connections living in that particular country. If you can’t find someone in your immediate network, Google the topic you want to focus on and connect with local bloggers, or even do a joint post! In my case, I was connected with a few super nice contacts at HostGator India who told me what hosting packages Indian uses like the most, and also explained places, themes and styles people in their city are proud of.

2. Establish the need

Your next step is to really understand the need for what you’re writing, filming etc. Do people need guidance on your topic? Which people? When do they need it? This kind of understanding is a bit of legwork up front but will make it so much easier to understand what you need to actually make once you start the fun process of creating. In my case there are very few tutorials to help people make a WordPress website in India, but there is a vast growing presence of WordPress websites in general, up to 47% of all websites using a CMS. Ideally you have the lack of content and the heavy need, but it’s not mandatory.

3. Research current competition

Once you have a contact giving you some inside info and know what people need, you should see who else is making your type of content so you don’t do the same thing (and so you can do it better!) Tools like ahrefs show you detailed competitor backlinks, rankings and other strategies they might be using, but simply knowing how to read the SERPs in Google and YouTube is often enough. Can’t say my competition here, but watch out 🙂

4. Hunt down all the necessary tools

Okay so you’ve realized your competition isn’t too stiff and you see an opening for your amazing new blog post or video. Before you just start creating, see if you can use local tools to get the job done. If you’re cooking, go out and buy exactly what that person in that country would be using to make it easier on them. In my case, we chose to go with a #HostInIndia trend and use HostGator, one of the largest web hosts in India with offices in Delhi and Mangalore. It was a bit tricky signing up from Minnesota onto their India servers, but it had to be done to show the process, and it actually went incredibly smoothly. It was crucial we go with Indian servers as their are faster for local audiences, often times cheaper, are paid for in rupees and these servers use Softalicious as opposed to Quick Install (if we had used Quick Install that would have potentially confused people).

5. Use societally accepted methods and standards wherever possible

Next, any purchases done in your tutorial (you might not have any, or may buy things on your own) need to be done in the local currencies with local providers. In my case we paid rupees through PayPal which redirected us to the Indian site merchant, who then exchanged our dollars for rupees and made it all work happily.

6. Offer people choices

Now that we’ve done the grunt work and made our purchases, it’s time to setup content and what better format of content than have some user-friendly choices! Would you users like to good a vegetarian option or use meat? Would they like the 7, 30 or 90 day health plan? Simply structuring your content with options can lead to a lot more traction from the start and definitely over time than just taking people down one path and telling them what to do. In my case I let people choose to make a Indian website for free with the Elementor theme, which works great anywhere around the globe, and offered people a super premium plus option to go with Divi by Elegant Themes.

7. Pick the right time to launch

With your content tied down and edited to perfection, you lastly should be sensitive to when you launch. Gathering peoples attention is essential to a successful lifelong piece of content, and if you miss it you might think you create the wrong stuff when really it was just a timing issue. Right seasons, days of the week, and times of the day all factor in here. In our case, my deadline was Nov 1 as this is about 1 week before Diwali begins. My launch timing wasn’t great, it was midday Thursday U.S. time so people go the content Friday morning in India. If anything, I’d have rather launched it for their Monday morning! Oops! But hope it works anyways.

8. Share, Share, Share!

Last but not least, connect with your original contacts and create a gameplan for sharing! Go to the blogs, local sites even newspapers to get the word out. Just because you wrote it or filmed it, does not mean they will come! You have to get your content in front of eyeballs and even setup giveaways and other opt-in-centives if need be! Be aggressive and don’t let your hard work go unnoticed.

So What Was Our Final Product?

In the end, using the above 8-step plan I was able to create two videos and start a movement we are calling WP4India designed to help the India WordPress audience dominate in all shapes, sizes and forms!

Here is what we made:

And here is the free India website tutorial.

Final Thoughts

Of course what you create may not be a video about WordPress, you can think of things far more original to bring over seas! I hope this guide helps inspire you when you’re out of blog ideas in your national niche – sometimes none of it has been covered for people abroad, so get to it!

Do you create content that does well internationally? Please let us know a few of your strategies below!

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How Committed Are You to Your Blog and Business?

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8:24 AM.

Sunday night.

I have been working on and off since 8 AM.

I:

I could turn it in, watch Netflix and hit the sack in a few hours.

But I am committed to blogging and my business.

Being committed means putting in hours of work every day.

Smart work.

I treat blogging like a job; not a hobby.

You can listen to our podcast chat here:

I come across some bloggers who mean well but simply do not put in the time. Bloggers who treat blogging like a passing hobby, or a fad.

How do you expect to succeed with blogging if you are not fully committed to blogging? How do you expect to outshine bloggers like Alonzo and I if we work 7 days weekly, for hours daily, and you publish a blog post every 3-4 weeks, and call it a week?

Some bloggers literally blog for 1-2 hours weekly and expect to see a full time income through blogging. Are you serious? Imagine walking into a job, sitting down for an hour, working, leaving the office and expecting a pay check every Thursday? You’d be fired, instantly. In the blogging world, you essentially fire yourself, failing and quitting because you made no real commitment to blogging.

Blogging Is a Job

Blogging is a job.

Meaning you set aside hours daily to devote to blogging. Even if you work full time, you better be spending hours daily at least, for 5 days a week, to build the foundation for a thriving blog. Then ramp it up to 5-8 hours daily on the weekend. Gotta put in the time.

I suggest setting up a work space in your home, specifically designated for blogging. Act like a professional. Enter your blogging work space daily. Get to work.

Learn from Pros

Being committed to blogging and your business begins with learning how to blog from established, pro bloggers. Follow their blogs. Invest in their courses. Take notes on their insights. Study the notes. Put the notes into action through your daily blogging work.

The Upside

Sure; sometimes, you would prefer spending all of your Sunday watching football. But if you are new to blogging you gotta understand that every day counts. Especially if you work full time and only have 1-2 days off each week.

Giving up a few afternoons of football and being 100% committed to blogging helps you lay the foundation for a fun, freeing lifestyle. I got rid of cable a decade ago. I saved some scratch but more importantly, devoted much of my free time to building my blog and learning how to succeed with blogging.

I circle the globe as a pro blogger these days. Trashing cable helped me free up my time and energy so I could commit fully to blogging. Committing fully to blogging helped me create a fun, freeing lifestyle to where I could become a full time blogger who travels the world.

Fun, freedom and joy await the committed blogger. But you need to be honest about your blogging effort.

Be genuine; have you learned blogging from top shelf bloggers? Have you spent hours daily following advice from pro bloggers? If you have not fully committed simply be honest about your lack of effort and step it up, guys. If you have been all in from day 1, good for you. Expect to run circles around most other bloggers in your niche.

Blogging is good to you if you are good to blogging. Stop treating blogging like a hobby, or passing thought. Be all in so you can live a fun, freeing life as a successful blogger.

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