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Are You Ready for Self-Syndication?

© 1999 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

We all understand the advantages to a writer or cartoonist when he goes into syndication and his work appears in newspapers all over the U.S., but most of us have not yet been picked up by the big media syndicators. We are producing, and we’d like to get our articles, art, or cartoons before the public. What to do?

Let’s forget about newspaper syndication for now and build a personal syndicate for the Internet. We want to self-syndicate so that we can increase distribution of our content and, ultimately, make our names better known for quality content. By setting up online syndication on the Internet, we arrange to have our content displayed on participating Web sites, with our name and a link to our own site. By self-syndicating, we use technology to get the word out and to generate traffic at our sites.

Will Self-Syndication Pay?

Some of us are well-known enough to charge for our syndicated work, but most self-syndicators start by offering free content to other Web sites. Cash compensation is rare, but there’s more to self-syndication than immediate cash compensation. In contrast to generating immediate revenue, we offer free content to introduce people to our work and to entice our readers to visit our Web site to see more. The plan, of course, is to develop self-syndication so that it eventually produces a return on our investment of work.

There are two major tasks in self-syndication:

  1. Providing content. Generate the actual content, and set up an easy way to automatically update our content on participating Web sites.
  2. Marketing content to Web sites. Research and find Web site owners who might be interested in our free content. When we have found potential Web site owners, we contact them and convince them that their Web sites will benefit from our high quality content. We emphasize that all updates will be automatic, so their sites get free content with no additional work by their Webmaster. We give them a few lines of code to paste into the Web site page where they want our content to appear.

How Do We Update Participating Web Sites?

After signing up Web sites in the syndicate for our work, we must deliver our work to the Web sites on the schedule we promised. Using e-mail to send text or a Word document to each Web site in our syndicate would be inefficient for us and would require our participating Web sites to work to update their sites. We want to avoid depending on others to do the updates, and we want to be sure that our content will be displayed.

We set up our syndicate for easy updates. That’s why we supply each Webmaster with a small file which automatically updates his site every time we update our content. When we update the content file on our own Web site, the displayed content file on every Web site in our syndicate is automatically updated. The participating Webmasters don’t have to do a thing after their initial setup.

After a participating Web site has agreed to display our content, we provide the Web site with a tiny JavaScript file. The participating Webmaster simply pastes that small script into the page where she wants our content to appear. Each Webmaster inserts our script into one page of her site this one time only. After the quick insertion, she has no more work to do for our syndicate, yet her Web site continually displays our fresh content!

When it’s time to update our content, these are the only three steps involved:

  1. Create the context, whether text or graphic or a combination of both.
  2. Insert the content into a specialized content file.
  3. Place the specialized content file on our own Web site.

That’s it! Each of the Web sites in our syndicate automatically displays our new content. The process is fast and easy. We create our content and update our content file, knowing that the participating Web sites are updated whenever we update our content file.

What Does That Buy Us?

When we encourage Webmasters to include our JavaScript link, we are offering them fresh, changing content for their sites. We can change the content every day, once a week, once a month, as often as we like, or as often as we have promised. We know that content is king on the Internet, and Webmasters need fresh content.

Isn’t This Pretty Technical?

Well, we must carry out the steps correctly, but the technical tasks are very simple. See the details on the content file and the JavaScript in the SPAWN Member Area at http://www.spawn.org/private/techtips/syndicate.htm. If you maintain your own site, you can probably handle these files. If you have a Webmaster, your Webmaster will know how to help you.

Summary

Create your content now and plan to distribute it by self-syndication. Just create the necessary files, sign up the Webmasters eager to display fresh content, and send each Webmaster the script one time. Then you can update the content file as frequently as you like. Be sure to include a credit for yourself with a link back to your Web site!

~Copyright 2002 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is an Information Architect who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at virginia@spawn.org or visit her Web site at http://www.cognitext.com

 

 

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