Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo

Build a Badass Business Podcast #43: How to create original content (and what NOT to do)!

Topics:Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo

  1. If you take your edge, your experience, or your perspective and put that spin on the topic, then you’re going to create something that’s unique.
  2. Focus on what you want to create and put out into the world with a positive vibe, not a negative one.

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Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo

Build a Badass Business: Episode #43: How to create original content (and what NOT to do)!

Coming to you from the city by the bay, this is Build a Badass Business with Diane Sanfilippo. Diane is a New York Times bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. She’s here to teach you how to grow and develop a successful business you love, and how to create raving fans along the way. Here she is, your host: Diane Sanfilippo.

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, welcome back to the show you guys. I’m psyched to be here with another episode that is being recorded live on Periscope; so if you’re not yet with me on Periscope, please come check it out. It’s a really fun way to ask your questions live at the end of the recordings for the podcast. So definitely join me over there.Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo

Today I have a question from Elizabeth. Elizabeth asks, “Diane. I found you through paleo, and I’ve listened to the Balanced Bites podcast for over a year, and now I’m toying with the idea of starting a blog about my own health journey and autoimmune paleo life. I feel like I have something to contribute that is not already out there. My question is this; are there copyright laws for web content. I’m afraid that I’m going to post a recipe or give information that someone else has already put out there, or something very similar. Is this ok? Do I have to do an exhaustive search of the web before I post something to make sure it’s original? I wouldn’t plagiarize intentionally, of course. Also, if I want to link to someone else’s website for info, do I have to get their permission first? Thanks so much, I’ve learned a ton from both podcasts and your books.”

So here we go you guys. I have a couple of thoughts here. First of all, anything you do write is technically copyrighted. Just when you publish something out there, it is copyrighted, to a degree. I definitely would recommend talking to an attorney if you’re concerned, and you get to a point where you’re really concerned. But I think to give you just a few tips on how to avoid this. You don’t want to read something; just like when you were writing reports or working on homework or writing essays, or whatever else when you were in school, you can’t have something open and then just rewrite what that person already said in your own words. Even if you change a few things, you are still plagiarizing.

I’ve had folks who have literally, you can tell that they read the 21-Day Sugar Detox, and then closed the book and rewrote a paragraph in their own words. And it’s point by point, kind of the same information, just slightly reworded, and that is not ok. What you can do, however; I have three tips for how to put out your own content, despite the fact that obviously; for example, tons of people are talking about bone broth. Let’s just use that as one example. Or tons of people are talking about kettlebells and kettlebell training. Here are three ways that you can make that content your own.

Number one is to use your personal experience. So, a perfect example is, this morning I posted something about bone broth over on Instagram, and I just posted a picture of how we eat broth. I have no idea if there are other people who do the same thing, I just posted “this is what we do.” I roast some veggies ahead of time, whatever; I just added my two cents to the way that we like to drink it. So I talked about what I do, and why, and there may be other people out there who have similar opinions, but it is what it is. You’re never going to be 100%, your take on something is totally different, but if you just take your edge or your experience or your perspective and put it on the topic, then you’re going to create something that’s unique.

So another good example of this would be; let’s just keep it that same topic of bone broth, for example; what if you have a family and one person in the family really does not like beef broth, but everybody else does? What would you do about that? Giving your take on that would put your own personal spin on it.

Now, when it comes to recipes, you do have to make sure that you’re creating something original. From what I understand, the ingredient list from a recipe cannot be copyrighted, because these are ingredients. So for example, let’s just say you have a vinaigrette dressing recipe. It’s olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard. That’s a classic standard recipe; you’re not inventing anything new by creating that recipe. Maybe you use slightly different ratios and amounts than somebody else, but those ingredients themselves in the list are not something that you can copyright.

That being said; the description of how you write the preparation, that is something that is your own. And you need to write that in your own words; you need to explain what you’re doing. I don’t recommend that you open somebody else’s recipes, use the same ingredients, and then rewrite the process. I don’t recommend that you do that. If you’re inspired by something; again, close it, do your own experimentation in the kitchen, write down what you did, and then write your process out.

And quite honestly, writing a recipe in terms of writing a description of the process and the steps, that’s the hardest part. When you’re doing it actually to be printed and published in a book, what’s happening there is so much more technical and so much more difficult to do than you might even do for a blog post; but keeping that in mind that that’s not ok to copy someone else’s recipe or their content. But referring to it, or saying; hey, here’s some great ones, and linking to it; people always appreciate that. There’s no problem there.

And here’s the point; when in doubt, honestly when it comes to issues of copyright, and trademark and all of that, typically I’m an ask for forgiveness, not permission person, but when it comes to copyright and trademark, and a community that you’re not trying to alienate yourself from, ask for permission before you do anything. We get tons of emails every week; can I share this recipe on my blog, can I share a link to this, or that. And we’re so happy to respond to them rather than just finding somebody copying a recipe out there. So number one, use your personal experience.

Number two, if you’re a coach or a consultant or somebody who works with other people, use the experience of your clients, you don’t have to use their names, but use their experience to put a different spin on it. So this is kind of a twist on the first point, where you’re taking your own experience, but maybe you just use the experience of somebody else that you’ve worked with to share that with other people.

Here’s a great example; if I’m writing information on a meal plan, or tips and tricks for something like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, I don’t have those diseases. I can’t write about it from my own firsthand experience, but I can write about it from the experience of clients that I may have worked with. So, there’s a great way to put your own spin on it. Talk about examples, talk about what people are doing, talk about what works for them and what doesn’t, and that’s another really great approach.

Now the third recommendation I have for making the content your own, despite it being maybe a very popular topic, is to ask new questions and provide new examples. So maybe there’s something out there that’s come up that you haven’t seen somebody else address; you might not have the answer to the question, but you might have new questions.

So, some new questions I might have about bone broth, for example; and I keep using this example because it is a really popular topic in the paleo community, is the topic of glutamate and free glutamic acid. And we’ve talked about this on the Balanced Bites podcast before, but maybe if I were to write a new blog post on bone broth, I would bring up, I don’t know if bone broth is great for everybody, given new information that we’re finding about free glutamic acid being potentially irritating to some people, it may cause migraines, etc.

The content there is not important; just the idea of coming up with new questions, and whether or not you can answer them. It’s not really that relevant; if you can find answers to those new questions, that’s great. But if you can’t, it’s just presenting again that unique viewpoint or really putting your own thought to it. I think a lot of people initially, when you start blogging or writing, you’re sort of regurgitating what you’ve found out there, so putting your spin on it is important, but I do think that sitting with an idea, sitting with a concept, and just contextualizing it for yourself; and this is kind of the way I’ve always been a student. If I sit in a classroom and somebody explains something to me, I’m like, how does that really work? Or what would that look like in my life, or my mom’s life, or somebody I know, or just kind of giving it a real life context so that you can come up with new questions or new ideas. So that’s something I recommend as a third point.

So that’s all information on how to take a topic that’s out there. As I mentioned, for those of you who are watching this on Periscope, something I mentioned early in this broadcast is, there’s a hot topic out there in the whole online marketing and business community about overnight success, and whether or not people are overnight successes, how that happens, etc. So I’ve seen lots of people talking about it, and I thought to myself; well, I heard this person talk about it, and then this one, and then this one. Literally three people in the last week I’ve heard talk about it; but I’ll probably talk about it, and I’ll say, “These are the people I heard talking about it. Here are a couple of points they made, and here are my thoughts on it.” And then that’s my own original content.

So, the flipside is, what I recommend that you not do when you’re blogging, and writing, and talking about topics that are super common and popular and especially if there is one or a handful of known voices on a particular topic. You guys can all think within your own community, there are go-to people for different topics, different niche elements within a community, etc. Here’s something I recommend that you don’t do is become, number one antagonistic.

So if you write blog posts that are like; oh, I don’t even want to say specific topics, but if you want to write a blog post about something that you think is not healthy, and these other people think it’s healthy; being careful not to use language that makes it so obvious that you’re being passive aggressive and antagonistic about the topic. I’ve just seen this happen so much, even within the paleo community, and to me it feels like people are picking on each other, and on each other’s thoughts, and on each other’s approaches and ways of doing things.

It’s definitely happened in the low carb community, for sure, where people are like; is low carb healthy? No, low carb isn’t healthy. It is healthy! It happens with everything; veganism, paleo. I would never write a blog post that’s like, why your vegan diet is killing you. Well, maybe that’s not true, maybe I would write that. {laughs} But I definitely wouldn’t write it as inspired by and targeted to in a passive aggressive way to another blogger who is in my community. That being said, I don’t think there are a lot of vegan bloggers within the paleo community, so maybe that example isn’t great.

But I just can’t stand it. Because you know what; I think people think that nobody notices that they’re being antagonistic. And it’s something that a lot of us may do early on in our career; I mean, I may have written blog posts like that in the past, and I just don’t think it’s a good way to go. I don’t think it’s like a healthy, sane way to approach our work. I think we need to focus on what we want to create and put out into the world, and do so with a positive vibe, not with a negative vibe. And at a certain point, if you’re constantly putting out antagonistic content, then it becomes very obvious to readers that you’re constantly being defensive instead of just helpful, supportive, and positive.

The next one is not to be berating, and that is something that I’ve talked about before. So when you talk about an approach that you think is great, that doesn’t mean that you then talk about other approaches that suck {laughs} basically. So if somebody asks you about a different approach, a different program. I see this happen a ton within the Crossfit community; people are really quick to put down other forms of exercise, and I just think that’s ridiculous. Because people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. That expression holds true; nothing that any of us do or know is like the end-all, be-all of anything. So if we act like we know everything, and that our way is the only right way and it’s the best way; then we’re just setting ourselves up for somebody to knock us right down. Basically, it’s just not a good way to go.

I’ve seen people in the Crossfit community circulating photos of people standing on an exercise ball, for example, and making jokes about how that person is going to fall off the ball and break their neck. And I’m like, somebody just dropped a barbell on themselves and broke their neck, {laughs} so it’s like, somebody can break their neck doing a million different things, and I have stood on an exercise ball and done squats with a barbell on my back and have not broken my neck. So, I think it’s kind of a live and learn, sometimes the older and more mature you get, seeing different things and experiencing the world, you stop doing those things.

I just think when you’re blogging, be really careful not to do that, because once you put that stuff out into the world, you kind of can’t take it back. You know? It’s out there, people are screen shotting it, they’re saving it, it’s in the way-way back machine. So just really be careful not to do that.

And then here’s the last point I have, and I think a lot of people do this, and it’s popular; I’m not a fan. I’m not a fan of this approach. I don’t recommend that you be alarmist. Again, this kind of goes back to the point I made about; your vegan diet is killing you. I have a ton of respect for someone like Dr. Mercola, and I’m totally not trying to throw him under the bus here. And I don’t know if he does this anymore, but I used to get a lot of emails from him that would have really alarmist headlines and titles. I think there are ways to be smart about writing something, and creating engaging, interesting copy and interesting headlines that are not alarmist, especially when it comes to health.

So in the health world, I just don’t think it’s important to scare people. I think people are scared enough as it is, trying to figure out what’s not toxic every minute of the day, and I really think that’s not a good way to go. Especially if you’re newer to blogging; which I know this question is for a lot of people who are newer, and if you aren’t really sure. It’s just one of those things; I think sometimes people will write a quasi-alarmist title or subject, but it’s kind of intended to joke about the fact that other people are being alarmist.

So here’s a really good example, because I love his work and I don’t think he’s an alarmist. Chris Kresser might write a topic that says; “Is red meat really killing you?” And he writes that in a way where you know, when you read that, that it’s intended to basically debunk the fear mongering. So that’s ok to me, but if you’re like, red meat is killing you and here’s why; I don’t think that’s the way I would recommend going. Do what you want to do, but I recommend not doing that.

Alright, so hopefully that helps you guys figure out how to kind of navigate in this world of blogging and content creation and make it original for you, and also not get out there and just start pissing people off, because that’s the last thing you want to do as a new blogger. I’ve talked a lot about engaging with other people who are kind of coming up in the community at the same time as you; I think that’s important to connect with people who maybe have had a blog for about the same amount of time, and are trying to build their business at the same time.

With saying that, you don’t want to piss off the people who maybe have a bigger reach or broader audience who, maybe one day you want them to share your stuff. Don’t be talking smack about them or their ideas. That’s not to say that you can’t write something that might be oppositional; you might not agree with someone, and that’s totally fine, but just word it in a way that you know you can feel about for years to come, and you’re basically not being a jerk when you’re blogging. So just don’t be a jerk, and everything will be ok.

Ask for permission before forgiveness in this approach; I generally don’t do that in most things in life, but when it comes to worrying about stepping on toes; copyright, trademark, etc., I would always email the person who has the recipe, has the information that you want to share, and do that first. You’ll just build a much better relationship with somebody. You will be exhibiting goodwill, and just a good business practice in general.

Hey guys, I’m so glad you’re loving the show. Let me ask you to do me a favor; come follow me on Periscope. You can find me; I believe you can search Diane Sanfilippo, or you can search @BalancedBites, which is my Twitter handle, which is the account name over on Periscope. I am going to start doing live sessions, really quick thoughts for the day. I’m not sure if it I will be every day, but it will be pretty often, and some Q&A on business topics and motivation, inspiration, etc. So make sure you’re following me over on Periscope. Download the app in the app store, and I will see you there.

That’s all I’ve got for you guys today. Don’t forget to subscribe in iTunes so you don’t miss an episode. And drop me a review to let me know what’s speaking to you from the show. If you want to get in on the conversation and you haven’t yet joined the group already on Facebook, head on over there and join the Build a Badass Business group. I share insights and tips regularly, as well as answer your questions right there on the page. Do work that you love, and hustle to make your business grow like your life depends on it, because it does. Thanks for listening, and I’ll catch you on the next episode.

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