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How to Use Public Domain Content to Boost Your Blog

Public domain iconSince the purpose of your blog is to drive traffic, branding, and revenue, you need to deliver fresh content on a consistent basis. That's what your content marketing strategy is for - to develop a long-term editorial schedule containing the types of posts you will put out on your blog.

Planning for the post ideas for the next three months is never going to be easy. And it's only going to get more difficult once you realize that you need to take chances with the kinds of content you need to regularly produce.

This is why you need to extend your content marketing reach by going for public domain content. This is the type of content unprotected by copyright law. The reason why some books, music, or movies are prohibited to be used is because only the person or group who has copyright ownership to the resources has exclusive rights to them for a limited time. If the copyright for a particular work expires and nobody came to renew the rights, however, then the work goes to the public domain. This means that works in the public content can be used freely - in any way the author wants to - without having to worry about getting entangled with the law.

What you need to know about public domain

  • Works published before 1923 are in the public domain.
  • Works published from 1923 to 1963 with notice has copyright law applied for 28 years. Law can be renewed for 47 years and extended to 20 years.
  • Work published from 1964 to 1977 with notice has copyright law applied for 28 for the first term and an automatic extension of 67 years on second term.
  • Work published on or after 1978 has copyright law applied until the death of the last living author (if joint work) in addition to 70 years.

(Click here for the source page of the points listed above. For the complete chapters of the Copyright Law in the United States, click here. Or check out Public Domain Sherpa for a comprehensive and easy-to-read information on how public domain works.)

Now that we have covered the legalities of public domain and copyright law, it's time to write some posts using the free content!

Copy and paste them on your blog

Pretty straight-forward tip, but if you're looking to diversify your content marketing strategy, you can take a book from the public domain related to your niche and publish the work into different parts. This applies to works published before 1923. Mashable has listed down some of the best sites where you can download free public domain e-books you can use for your blog.

Retell public domain content

Walt Disney made lots of money off fairy tales by fashioning them into feel-good animated films. You can do the same with public domain works from your niche.

Since most of the works in the public domain have outdated information, feature public domain information as benchmark for a comparative study. The idea here is to make information featured on public domain e-books relevant in today's context.

If you're running a social media blog, you can get a marketing book from the public domain and take ideas that were applicable then. If the ideas on the marketing book can be applied on social media, you can title the post "Universal Marketing Ideas from Yesteryears that Apply to Social Media." If the ideas are farfetched from how we do social media and marketing today, you can title the post "Reasons Why Social Media Won't Succeed in the 1900s" or something similar to that.

Use free images to beef up your blog posts

This is far from a secret but it needs to be said nonetheless - a post with an image will draw more readers than a post without an image. Sites like Photopin and Wikimedia Commons can help you locate suitable images for your post that won't cost you a dime, as long as you attribute their respective sources on your post. 

Create instant newsletter or e-courses

If there's a public domain work that exactly matches your niche, you can easily chop it up into parts and send it out to subscribers of your newsletters or e-courses. Set up a sign-up form on your blog using Aweber or MailChimp (free) to develop a mailing list interested in the information you wish to send out.

Use music for your video content

Instead of creating your own music or purchasing stock music online, you can just take some of the free music readily available on public domain (as compiled by FreePD and additional resources featured at makeuseof) and use them as fill in the desired tone of your videos.

Are there other ways on sites that you could suggest to help people with their content marketing strategy with the use of public domain? Let us know by commenting below!

Join The Conversation

  • Mavtrevor's picture
    Nov 19 Posted 4 years ago Mavtrevor

    I agree with you because copy and paste may cause one to be penalized someday for double content.

  • Christopher Jan Benitez's picture
    Nov 14 Posted 4 years ago Christopher Jan...

    Thanks for clearing things up, Kent.

    Regarding copying and pasting public domain content, it's always about publishing the most helpful content on your blog. It doesn't always have to be original, just useful. Therefore, if you find a public domain content that offers relevant information to your readers, I don't think there's any reason not to copy and paste it on your blog. You are well within your rights to do this, so if you feel you're doing the right thing, then you should.

    However, I did fail to mention that you should attribute your sources just to inform readers that the copy and pasted work came from a public domain work and to avoid confusion in authorship.

    I hope I answered your concerns about my post correctly, Kent! :D

  • Kent Ong's picture
    Nov 14 Posted 4 years ago Kent Ong

    Hi Christopher, you compared the wrong thing.

    You told in the article - "Copy and paste them on your blog". Walt Disney never copy and paste and Walt Disney is only one big company to creatively use public domain. Bloggers will just copy and paste. Even they spin or change the articles, they same points still there.

    My conclusion is, we can read, understand public domain content and write in our own thought. Not copy and paste. People read our blog content for our own thought comment on public domain content, not just copy and paste.

  • Christopher Jan Benitez's picture
    Nov 14 Posted 4 years ago Christopher Jan...

    I don't see why not as long as you stay creative with how you use public domain. Again, think of the animated films from Walt Disney. The stories they use are in the public domain yet they manage to keep the narrative fresh and exciting by retelling it from their perspective.

    Also, public domain shouldn't determine the USP of your business. As long as you offer something unique to your target audience, I don't think it matters if you use public domain for your content marketing strategy.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • Kent Ong's picture
    Nov 14 Posted 4 years ago Kent Ong

    Do you still have unique selling point if everyone use public domain content to blog?

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