We are inspired by those we see, talk with, and read. A picture in a magazine, a conversation at a party, or a book we read might be the start of a great post. Good bloggers are receptive to new ideas and trends that can spark an engaging blog entry, but it’s important to give credit to creators who originate ideas or other materials. Giving credit builds relationships and opens the world to your readers; giving credit is part of being an ethical blogger who respects the work of others.

The standards for giving credit depend on what you are doing with the material and the type of blog you are writing.

What are you doing with the material?

Do you find inspiration in someone else’s blog, book or interview? Is a writer a good example of the point you are making?  Give them a shout out with a link. For instance, in our blog on reaching different readers, we provide links to blogs that really speak to certain types of readers.

Are you using the information or ideas of someone else to make a point or to back you up? It doesn’t matter if you are using the ideas or the actual words: you must give credit to the writer. Maybe you are trying to make the point that workers who are aged 50+ are often technologically proficient, but have difficulty finding jobs. You might write: “John Hanc notes that employers may be skeptical of older workers’ abilities” if you are borrowing simply his idea rather than his words. Hanc is a good writer, however, and you may want to borrow a few of his words. If so, write “John Hanc writes that ‘If you are an older adult thinking of making a second career in the high-tech heart of the new economy, however, be prepared to face skepticism as to whether you can even turn on a computer’.”

Are you using an image or music from someone else’s site? Always contact the owner to ask for permission or look for a statement that defines what attributions or payment is required. A site such as www.pexels.com offers many images that are free for personal and commercial use and have no attribution required. Some sources require attribution; YouTube has an Audio Library of music and sound effect, some needing no attribution and some requiring full attribution. For instance, if you are using “Jumpin Boogie Woogie,” you’ll need the following information: Jumpin Boogie Woogie by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) Artist: http://audionautix.com/. There are services that offer images for a fee such as Adobe Stock or iStock; generally, you can license one image or subscribe to get a certain number of images each month.

Let’s say you are reviewing Rebecca Makkai’s new novel, The Great Believers, and you want to use her author photo. In a case like this, her book is a product and she is the producer. It’s ok to grab an image of the book or the author to use in your review, just include a link to the author’s website (though writing to the author might be a good opportunity to share your blog).

What type of blog are you writing?

If you are writing a blog for the general public, it’s usually enough to include links in the text to your sources. This is what I have done above. However, if you are writing for professional readers or writing a blog where your authority is very important, you’ll want to include both links and a more formal bibliography at the end of your blog post. I do this with my posts on Kindler of the Flame, which is a blog for readers in higher education. If you are writing on legal or medical topics, such a bibliography warrants your credibility.

Bottom line

Responsible bloggers give credit to their sources. This can provide you with an opportunity to build relationships with other bloggers and experts as you request permission to use their materials. It demonstrates to readers and potential partners that you are a trustworthy source of information. Links to other sources can do a great service to your readers by broadening their perspective.

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