In a web increasingly dominated by algorithm-driven walled gardens, it’s always a delight to wander into a website full of art, stories, and ideas someone has collected with care. The two WordPress sites we feature today are great destinations to lose yourself in — but they can also teach us how, no matter what kind of site we manage, there are things to keep in mind when focusing on content that others have created.
Why should you visit?
As a site that bills itself “an ever-growing cabinet of curiosities for the digital age,” The Public Domain Review offers visitors a deep archive of essays, collections, and other media that focus on historical artifacts and less-known (but no less fascinating) stories from centuries past. From old maps to Victorian book embroidery, the site invites us to take a plunge into topics we might know nothing about, and to develop new interests and obsessions (18th-century Japanese monsters, anyone?) along the way.
What can you learn?
If you’re a blogger who sometimes struggles to find inspiration for a new post, or a business owner with little time to generate enough original content, sharing a gem from another site can seem like an easy solution. The Public Domain Review exhorts us to take great care and post only that which we’re allowed to share.
In this particular case, the way to go about it is clear-cut: the editors of the site only share things that are in the public domain, meaning that they’re no longer protected by copyright. The Public Domain Review generously lists numerous sources for such material. When it comes to your own site, looking for non-copyrighted content is a great way to start, but you don’t have to stop there. The web is full of creators who’ve released their words, images, and other media under a Creative Commons license, and as long as you attribute it properly, you’re good to go.
If you’re concerned about others misappropriating your own original content, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk.
What do you do if you stumble on a post, an infographic, or a video you really want to show your readers, but that isn’t licensed for sharing? First, resist the temptation: taking advantage of others’ labor is never a good look. Second, not all hope is lost: if you can trace the creation to its author, reach out to them and ask if you can use it. Be specific: tell them about your site, who your audience is, and whether you stand to make money by sharing the work. You’ll be surprised by how generous internet strangers can be when you approach them with respect. The worst that could happen is that they might say no.
Why should you visit?
“Quirky” is an adjective that’s lost much of its currency in the ocean of Instagrammable, Pinterest-ready food, furniture, and fashion we swim in daily. But the two-person, Paris-based team behind Messy Nessy Chic — editor Nessy and webmaster Alex — are doing a fine job scouring the web and sharing oddball finds, from a collection of beautiful bird cages to an old, empty, and highly photogenic hospital.
In the midst of all these riches, Nessy also publishes a weekly roundup post of 13 internet finds, sharing the love — and the views — with other bloggers, publications, and creators.
What can you learn?
Are you interested in adding curated finds to your site, but not sure how or where to start? We have ideas.
When clicking around on Messy Nessy Chic, you quickly realize that curating material from around the web is demanding in its own right, but the real work is infusing what you find with your own voice — with your own personality.
If you plan on mixing your own original posts with other people’s creations, don’t just slap together a link and a quick credit. Tell your readers why you chose that photo, that design, that song, or that list of tips for better SEO for your gardening business. Show them that you’re not just an expert Googler, but also possess a specific taste and a particular perspective, and that you ground your choices in personal knowledge and experience. That’s where the real value lies, and where you have an opportunity to transform casual (and even accidental) visitors into a community.
How do you go about sharing other people’s work on your site? Do you aim to strike a balance between curation and original content, or do you have a strong preference for one or the other? Tell us in the comments.
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