Q: I have a Web site for growing children, yet it's quite a challenge for me to keep it constantly updated with fresh, interesting content. How can I get editorial content and contributions for my site?
A: Keeping your site full of fresh, new content is the best way to keep people coming back for more, but it can be difficult to keep producing more and more content on a regular basis--especially if you're a one-person shop. Fortunately, there are alternatives.
Before we get into that, however, let me take this opportunity to remind everyone about Internet copyright laws. Some site operators choose to keep their sites fresh by cutting and pasting content out of other people's Web sites. Because it's so easy to do so, some people mistakenly assume that this practice is legal and ethical. However, it is neither. I've seen this firsthand--articles I've written have appeared on numerous other Web sites without my knowledge and, even more grievous, without any compensation.
There are plenty of legitimate ways to get new content without having to write it all yourself. If you have a special interest site, many of your readers may enjoy contributing occasional stories, just for the thrill of seeing their names in virtual print. Also, if you see an article you like somewhere on the Net, you may be able to get permission to reprint it. I get requests like these on a regular basis, and I'm usually more than happy to grant permission. If it's a small site, I don't ask for money; if it's a large one, sometimes just the extra exposure and an added link back to my own Web site is adequate compensation.
Another common technique is to incorporate a newsfeed onto your site. This can be done a lot cheaper than you would imagine, and it automatically keeps your site updated with a fresh news section. The process is simple: The newsfeed provider simply gives you a piece of code, which you paste directly onto your Web page. They take it from there. The news window that this code makes appear on your site links back directly to their own news server, constantly updating the content in the background. Two places to look for newsfeeds are Screamingmedia and iSyndicate. If you're on a tighter budget, there are free or very low-cost models that often supplement their content with advertising. You can find a list of free sources at FreeSticky. But examine the content carefully before incorporating it--some of the free content may be nothing more than a thinly disguised advertisement for something unrelated to your Web site's mission.
Besides general newsfeeds, there are also special-interest newsfeeds that provide content that's more likely to be relevant to your own site. ARA Content provides several vertical content sections. Bible-related content can be found at Back to the Bible, jokes can be found at Jokes2U.com and family-related content is available from Surfing the Net With Kids.
Dan Blacharski has more than 15 years of industry experience, has written several books and writes about business and technology for a wide variety of trade publications. A Silicon Valley refugee, Dan now lives in South Bend, Indiana, and covers high-tech start-up news in his Startup Trends newsletter. Free subscriptions are available at http://www.startuptrends.bigstep.com.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.