Getting a significant web presence can be a costly exercise, especially if you need a significant website creating from the ground up. However, building the site is only the start of all the expenditure (don't forget the web hosting).
Attracting visitors requires new content to be added on a regular basis. Writing fresh and relevant content for a site is a full-time occupation for many, and it often isn’t realistic for those with other duties to produce weekly postings that might run to a thousand words or more.
Luckily there are sources of free content that you can use on a website, although not all sites can make use of them all.
Blog sites are best suited to repurpose these resources, but they can also be useful for providing free graphics, text and even music for other types of website.
To be clear, the content we’re talking about isn’t something you’d put on the front of your site to draw people in – it’s something to use to fill deeper pages and make the site seem more substantial.
However, we should make it clear that this sort of content won’t adhere to the same standards as professionally designed material – the latter costs plenty, whereas this content is completely free.
Before jumping in we should also point out that using work without permission could have serious legal implications, so make sure that anything you use is genuinely copyright-free.
Bearing all that in mind, here are six ways to source free content for your site.
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1. Free articles
There are people who are just happy to be published, and they contribute to sites like EzineArticles, where you can find content written about a very wide range of subjects that you can repurpose for free.
Currently, the site claims to have just over 500,000 ‘expert authors’ providing a huge selection of work that you can freely use.
The content remains on the EzineArticles.com site where you link to it.
We tested the service by conducting a search on the topic of ‘surfboard building’ and it came back with 740 surfing-related articles, although none specifically about making boards.
Less obscure subjects generated even more potential content, and on occasion, the site found exactly the subject matter which was required.
As you might reasonably expect, the quality of these articles often isn’t the best, and they might well appear on multiple other sites that found them before you – but they are free.
EzineArticles isn’t the only source for free articles. Here are five others which are popular, although we suspect that some content will be duplicated across these sites.
- Amazines – Covers everything from Feng Shui to Food & Beverages
- Article Sphere – Will generate an RSS feed for any given subject
- ArticleCity – Plenty of content, and it’s professionally presented
- Articles Factory – A good selection of technical pieces
2. Free graphics
Sourcing suitable graphics which aren’t copyrighted can be difficult. But there are lots of very good resources which allow their images to be used freely without consent.
These are just a few of the numerous sites that offer bitmap graphics and photographs which you can use freely. There are many others, too.
In addition to pixel-based graphics, there are also some sources of copyright-free vector graphics that can be easily rescaled to whatever size you might need.
Here are a few to start you off.
3. Copyright-free music
Adding music to a video makes a big difference to how professional it appears, and using commercial soundtracks can be disturbingly expensive.
Luckily there are plenty of free resources that can supply music that doesn’t come with a big price tag, although some might ask for recognition of the artist in the credits or notes.
Here are a few links to get you some music you can use without worrying about copyright infringement. Most are either free or cost very little per track.
4. Free videos
A video might seem like a very specific thing to include, but there are lots of clips you can find which are the equivalent of moving stock photos.
Those wanting to create an atmosphere or mood might find these very useful, and there are some very high-quality examples to be found.
Try these sites if you need a free video for your website.
5. Just ask
This might seem cheeky, but many blog writers are happy for their work to be reused or linked to, as long as you don’t try to represent the work as your own.
Search for an article on a given subject, then compose an email to the author asking to reuse or link to the piece. They can only say ‘no’, and if they’re interested in getting more people to read their blog, that’s an unlikely scenario.
The only major roadblocks that you can run into is if the site is run by someone who doesn’t think your business is ethical, or it is sponsored by a competitor.
Just make sure to clearly communicate what you intend to do with their work, and hope that they’re pleased in your interest.
If you send 10 of these emails and get a couple of positive responses, it’s a worthwhile exercise, enabling you to source some very high-quality work without paying for its creation.
6. Idea generators
Sometimes content is easy enough to write, but coming up with ideas is the challenge.
There are some sites out there that you can provide with a selection of keywords, and they subsequently come up with a series of potential titles for those pieces. One of the best is SEOPressor, the Blog Title Generator.
All you need to do is put in some words, define if they’re just generic terms or have brand, celebrity or industry relevance, and click the Generate Titles button.
We tried ‘repairing classic hats’ and the list of suggestions included:
- 10 tips to avoid failure in repairing classic hats
- Never mess with repairing classic hats and here’s the reasons why
- The death of repairing classic hats
- Now is the time for you to know the truth about repairing classic hats
- The cheapest way to earn your free ticket to repairing classic hats
- 10 things to know about repairing classic hats
- The 15 common stereotypes when it comes to repairing classic hats
- 7 reliable sources to learn about repairing classic hats
While you still need to write these, of course, they could be exactly the sort of content that will attract readers and also spark the search engines to elevate your page rankings.