Avoiding Link Rot with #BlogFirst
I can’t claim credit for the hashtag, it actually came from Dennis Kennedy, who is tired of writing articles for other publications, and then finding that the link disappears from the website and he can no longer point people to it. As he explains:
For new articles that I write not done as a favor for an editor or under contract, I will publish first as a blog post. I call this #blogfirst. The post will be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). People can use the post as they wish, only with attribution and only for non-commercial purposes as defined under the license. If someone wants to publish the post or a portion of it in their publication, they can contact me to discuss and we can reach mutually-agreeable terms.
Now, let’s go ahead and admit that Dennis gets asked to write articles and even gets paid for it as well. So he does have to differentiate between stuff he gets paid to write, and stuff he’s writing in hope of simply getting it out to more readers.
Those of us who are trying to write just to teach or get ideas out to as many people as possible, should be open to having things published online in a variety of places. Dennis talks about publishing to his blog, then LinkedIn, then wherever someone else may want to publish.
Kevin O’Keefe also chimed into the conversation on his blog, with some more relevant insight, specific to law bloggers:
Imagine what would have happened if we took the the numbers off the spines of half of the books. Or randomly picked out volumes and cut out 50 pages with a scissors.
That’s exactly what is happening here with people not appreciating that law blogs are the American Law Review, journals and articles of today.
For myself, I’m not asked to write for publications the way Dennis and Kevin are, but I have written things for other people before, and been burned by this. Years ago, when I was an employee of AccessData, I wrote for their eDiscovery blog. Specifically, I wrote a few posts with some tips for using Summation Pro. That blog no longer exists. AD marketing made the decision to pitch the whole thing.
Flash forward a few years, and I’m back working in a law firm, and trying to assist with someone we produced data to with a DAT load file who uses Summation Pro. I literally wrote the article that explained exactly how to do that like 3-4 years prior, but couldn’t reference it. I tried to help him through it from memory. It didn’t go well.
In the end though, I worked for AD, the article was theirs to do whatever they wanted to do with it. I have no claim to it, and that’s fine. But for stuff I write for free? I want to be able to point people to it, always. So I write it on my own website.
That’s not to say I don’t submit things I’ve written on my blog to other locations. Like Dennis, I’m more interested in getting my writing and ideas out to as many people as I can, and the best way to do that is to go where they are. So, everything I write gets linked on social media accounts, and some even get republished in other places, depending on the topic. (I don’t publish everything to LinkedIn or any other site, because many of the posts are just short “Hey you should go check this out, because”, and those really aren’t worth republishing.)
But, after publishing something on one of my blogs, and letting it kind of percolate there, I do like to experiment with publishing the posts, slightly edited in some cases, in other locations. I do believe it can help get what I’ve written in front of more people. LinkedIn has done that for me. Posts I’ve submitted and had published on Social Media Today have definitely done that, and posting a few to Medium has done that. (More on Medium in a bit). I’ve even had a couple of posts from my Child Abuse Survivor blog accepted for publication on The Mighty site, though their process seems to be very, very slow as neither has actually been published yet.
That’s also why I went ahead and submitted this blog to Kevin’s LexBlog Network as well. I’m not trying to make advertisement revenue on my sites, so if the posts are being read on Lexblog with my name attached to them, great.
Ironically, enough. Dennis started this conversation at almost the exact same time as I received an email from Medium about some changes they are making, and again as someone who isn’t writing to make money, but is extremely curious about online publishing, their changes are, well interesting. They’ve move to a semi-paywall. If you’re not a subscriber, you can only read so many stories on the site each month. So, that change is already limiting the number of reads any article gets over there. But, they’ve instituted a new policy for any stories that get accepted to the “recommendations” for any category where they’ll send you a “friends” link, that routes around the paywall.
It seems to me that they are recognizing the difficulty of asking people to submit stories for free, and they pay-walling all of them. Frankly, that policy had me fairly uninterested in republishing there going forward, but that curiosity about how this might work out, may get me to try it out again.
Of course, I can afford to tinker and experiment like this with having my content republished in other places because there is no money involved for me. I’m not making any money from my blogs, and writing articles is not where I make my living. This is all about spreading things I’ve learned as far as I can. #Blogfirst and allowing things to be republished elsewhere works for me. It may not work for everyone. In fact, if you’re looking to make money with your writing, you may be at the mercy of those publishers who may wind up losing your creations over time. Like my AD blog posts, there’s not much you can do about it. This also may not work very well if you’re trying to make advertising dollars from your blog, you want people coming there, not reading your content elsewhere, unless it’s going to help bring them to your blog. But those are business decisions. This isn’t my business, so I can make my decisions based on one thing only, I trust myself to keep my posts linked for years to come much more than I do any other website.
So I’m always in on #BlogFirst. Are you?
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