Tag Archives: blogging

Spreading your Intellectual Property without Infringing on Someone Else’s

Image in the Public Domain from the Library of Congress.
Image in the Public Domain from the Library of Congress.

Many people view the internet as a lawless scary place where virtual goods, the lifeblood of starving authors and artists worldwide, is freely traded and stolen. And worst, this is all done without the original creators knowledge or consent. This is the image often portrayed by lawyers and copyright holders around the world when working to protect their personal income. The sad thing is, to an extent, they’re completely right. It’s not difficult to find copyrighted works, especially popular and bestselling works, available for download the day they’re released. While there are many competing views, as content creators ourselves, we should make the best effort to stay on the straight and narrow as we promote ourselves and our works.

It’s not easy to provide good content and still ensure everything is legal. If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that you’re an author working on your own works. Your words are interesting, your descriptions are captivating, and your audience is enthralled. However, if you’re like me, your drawing abilities leave much to be desired. But fear not, the internet is there for you. A simple google image search quickly gives you many great images that will give your prose that nudge to perfection. It happens all the time, and many times nothing bad comes from it. Perhaps even most of the time, nobody will even notice that the work didn’t belong to you. Some may even think you created it yourself. But, for the sake of argument, what if it was your work that someone “borrowed” and put on their page. No attribution or notice to you. It might make you feel guilty and quickly try to set matters right. Luckily, as technology advances, so does the ability to find content that is freely available to use on your site!

As always, if you’re concerned or have any questions, consulting a copyright lawyer can save you time and money in the long run. Information is freely given, but you ultimately own the responsibility for your own actions.

Images: As with all content, you want to ensure you have the rights and permissions to duplicate and host someone else’s work. While it’s perfectly acceptable to find an image you like on the web and ask the creator for permission, sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly who the creator is. If the owner of a piece of work is ambiguous, you probably just want to avoid the work altogether. When searching for work, look to buy from well known vendors or via trusted sources. A couple well known sites include: Shutterstock and iStockphoto.

If searching for free images, you probably want to look for images that are hosted under the Creative Commons license or listed as Free Use. These images are available by the content creator for your use following certain restrictions. Before using them, ensure you understand what is required and how far the rights extend. Many images, for example, are available to anyone as long as they contain proper attribution and are used for non-profit purposes. A few good sites to find Creative Commons images are to look at the Creative Commons section of flickr or look at wikimedia. You can also do a Google Images search and select “Labeled for reuse” under the usage rights of the search tools. Finally, you can just do a search on the Creative Commons website itself.

Writing: Like using images created by another, written content should be used carefully as well. Everything is given an initial copyright as soon as it is created, and that work should be respected. It is usually pretty easy to get access to bloggers and authors if you wish, so it’s never a bad idea to send a quick email asking for permission. This usually costs you a little time and can be very rewarding in the long run. The original author may even send traffic your way as a token of appreciation of your own work. You should always link back to the original work if possible as well. If not, make sure you give proper attribution and details on how the users can find the work referenced.

In the end, if you are using someone else’s work to help promote yourself. Someone, in the future, may consider doing something similar with your work. Play it forward and do what you can to help improve the current state of copyright on the internet. It may not get any better, but at least you’ll know that you’re one of the good guys. And, better yet, it might keep you free of all legal issues and ensure you can keep writing the good stuff!

Blogs and Your Cash: Thoughts on Starting a Blog and Where Your Money Should Go

-1A guest post by Stephan McLeroy.

Hello Fictorian loyalists!

Blogging, the soapbox of our generation.  And just like finding a soapbox down some random alley, it’s actually really easy to snag a blog these days.  So easy, that, according to blogging.org, in 2012, there were 42 million blogs in the U.S. alone.  With about 315 million people in the U.S. by the end of 2012, that means there was one blog for about every 7.5 people.

Then, on top of that, I’m sure there’s a cacophony of questions singing through your brain as you consider your own blog:  “What will I post?  How is this going to supplement my writing career?  How many cats should I have on the site?”

These are all important questions.  However, I would propose that the most important question you should be asking right now is, “How much money am I willing to spend?”

What I want to do is help you navigate a couple of the financial decisions that go into making a respectable blog.  I hope that, after this, you’ll have your blog up and running, and be well on your way to creating a site that will blow the blogosphere away without breaking your wallet.

Number one:  Getting your website hosted

To own any website on the internet, you need to get a domain URL (for writers, usually our name).  Once you’ve thought of the URL you want, write it down on your best stationery along with two or three alternatives and go to the next step: finding a hosting site.  There are tons of hosting sites out there, all vying for your business.  If you ask around, you’ll find out people have vastly different preferences for what they want/require from hosting sites.  However, being an active writer, you probably don’t have time for that, so I did you a solid by running a basic search for “best hosting site” on Google and got this sweet LifeHacker article.  You can thank me later.  Once on a hosting site, do a search for the URL of your choice by following the site’s instructions and sign up for hosting.  You are well on your way to becoming a bonafide blogger.

Number two:  Pumping money into your blog

Deciding how much money to spend on your new website falls along a spectrum.  At one end we have the penny pincher who declares, “I will do everything myself!” To them, I say, play on! You have a lot of research to do.  There are plenty of How-To books, YouTube videos, and, funny enough, blogs about what you need to learn in order to set up and maintain a blog successfully.

But if you’re like me, your dollar-per-hour rate is probably a lot higher than the gentleman or lady I was speaking to in the last paragraph.  I have a day job and a very limited amount of free time.  I need professional help.  Oh, and a small team to help me with my blog (Hey-Yo!).  I currently have a webmaster, a web designer, and a publicist friend who manages my posts, all for reasonable sums.  The main thing I do is generate content for my blog (my editor, btw, reviews the content I make).

To make this type of set up work, remember that your blog is only a component of your publicity efforts. It supplements writing by being a place to post updates and work.  With that in mind, I, for instance, set a budget for myself and my blogging exploits.  Under no circumstances do I allow myself to blow that budget.  If I need more for my designer this month, I reduce the amount of work I send to my publicist.  Is there a broken plug-in on the site that needs addressing?  Then design gets suspended until the plug-in is fixed.

This brings us to the next piece of advice.

Number three: Communication

No matter what team you set up, you gotta communicate with them to get good results.  For me, at the end of each month I take a few minutes to have a discussion with my team, letting them know what I see as a priority and then getting their input.  Everyone wants money, yes, but usually the work of one person directly affects the productivity of another, so that, 99% of the time, everyone is in agreement on where the money should go.  We then create an in/out list for the month and boom!  The well-oiled machine continues to crank out a respectable blog.

Number four:  Make sure you trust your team

Just starting out, you’ll probably end up working with people who are your friends, but they may not be; they may be people you’ve met at work, at a convention, or online.  Make sure you trust them, because without trust, you will not be able to have open, frank conversations, which wastes precious time you don’t have.

Your team may look smaller than mine, or larger, depending on your own needs.  I would suggest, if anything, that you at least have someone who can design the site, someone who can manage the non-design programming, and someone who can help you keep regular posts going.  From the successful bloggers I’ve spoken to, these seem like the bare essentials for running a site when you can’t do it by yourself.


I hope this little post helped get you started on your blogging exploits.  I can say that I am still a novice at this and my advice is not the end all be all, but it’s what I’ve learned in the time I have been blogging.  Feel free to leave comments or questions.

Good day!


Stephan McLeroy Bio: Stephan_portrait
Stephan McLeroy is a historical urban fantasy writer based out of the San Francisco Bay area.  His current work, The Adventures of Lockwood and Blackfox can be read for free on his blog at stephanmcleroy.com.  He recommends “Death on the Pearl River Delta.” It’s his favorite.