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17 Tips For Getting Bloggers To Write About You

One of the best ways to get publicity and generate buzz is to get bloggers to write about what you're doing. Boing Boing co-author Cory Doctorow provides some tips on making it easy for bloggers to point to you.
Enough with the legal boilerplate. If your every page on your site ends with "(c) 2008 Paranoid Co Inc, all rights reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced without permission," then bloggers may just take you at your word and write about someone else's site. You don't need this kind of language -- your stuff is copyrighted the second you type it out, in every country that's signed the Berne Convention (that includes the US). Your overzealous lawyer is scaring away the bloggers who'll tell the world about your stuff.

Let bloggers know how you'd like to be attributed. If there's a photo or some text that you're hoping will get picked up and reposted around the Web, it's useful to include a byline and URL, for example, "Photo by Max Kodak, www.maxkodakphotos.com"

Creative Commons licensing takes the guesswork out of blogging. About 90 percent of what bloggers do is potentially illegal under copyright law, and lives in the difficult and dangerous realm of "fair use," a legal doctrine that says that you can hire a lawyer to defend you if you get sued for infringement. The Creative Commons project is a nonprofit effort to create a series of standard, universal copyright licenses that help you tell everyone about the terms on which your stuff can be copied. If you want people to talk about your stuff online (and online "talking about stuff" is basically the same thing as "copying stuff") a Creative Commons license is de rigeur.

Finally: Send suggestions by the preferred means. Top blogs generally sport prominent links to their preferred means of receiving submissions -- sometimes it's an e-mail address, sometimes, it's a form. Misplaced blog suggestions are an inconvenience. Bloggers are people who live on the net, and people who live on the net have a million little systems for dealing with different kinds of routine correspondence. A misfired blog suggestion lands in the wrong inbox, bypassing all the bits of automation that make it possible to get it all done. For example, Boing Boing is liberally sprinkled with links to the page explaining how to send us suggestions. On Boing Boing, you want to use this form).

Getting blogged is a delicate balance between control and publicity: the more control you exert over your content, the more you lumber it with weights that slow it down and keep it from finding its way around the net. The Web is made of links, of copied bits of code and text, of snipped images and repurposed thumbnails: working with the Web, not against it, is the route to success.

Cory Doctorow blogs at Boing Boing, and is also a journalist, Internet activist, and science fiction writer. Read his previous InformationWeek columns.