Friday, February 20, 2009

Copyscape: What A Nickel of An Investment Can Do For Your Writing Career

Today I want to share that .05 cents could save your writing reputation. Small price to pay, huh?

There's a valuable writing tool for web writers called Copyscape. Copyscape has a free service that looks for copies of work online and allows five searches a month but the premium service is only a nickel per search and can help you check your articles before they get posted online. You can buy a block of 100 searches for just $5 and as a self-employed individual you can write off this expense on your taxes.

Why use copyscape?

I now use it almost daily. I use it because I have a team that I sub work to and I've been let down a few times so I've become gun shy and it's important for me to protect my reputation and my business. I've now decided to use it on everything I have written for me because I got an email from a client this morning that pointed out a project done a few months back that had blocks of text that were NOT original.


The person I subbed to was an experienced writer. She has written for the web longer than I have. She came to me highly recommended. She copied several sentences of text directly into articles that were clearly defined as needing to be unique. This isn't the first time this person did this. They did it one other time and I gave the benefit of the doubt. Once bitten, twice shy.

Thankfully I have a good relationship with this long-time client and they appreciate that this has happened unintentionally and I've assured them this writer is never going to work on their projects again. I've said that anything I don't write myself for them will be run through Copyscape. I've already paid the freelance writer for the work but this weekend will have to spend several hours of my own time rewriting text for a disheartened client. I'm also going to check everything this person has done for me so I can be sure I'm not about to have any more nasty surprises.

It could have gone differently. Perhaps the client may never have told me and I could have lost a decent chunk of business. Perhaps they could've complained publicly about my business. It could have ended very badly.

Use Copyscape if you sub work out. You can use it on your own work as well and you can use it to see if anyone is trying to copy you. You may use it if you are asked to rewrite PLR articles to make sure the new content is unique. You may also use it so you can see if anyone has plagiarised you. Five cents per 2,000 words means you can use it for a few articles at a time if necessary. It just might save your reputation!


Sharon Hurley Hall said...

It's a shame this happened, but like you I use Copyscape whenever I sub work out, Dana, because of a similar experience. It's not that expensive and it protects your reputation - so it's well worth it.

Dana Prince said...

Yes, Sharon. Well worth the investment. I'm lucky that this didn't end badly. It's nice when you can learn from something without it turning catastrophic first!

Brenda Emmett said...

So sorry this happened to you Dana. I also use Copyscape religiously when I sub out work. It has saved me too many times to count...much more than the original nickel to check. A smart investment, indeed. ;)

Lori said...

I am constantly amazed that good writers (or those with good reputations) would take such unethical shortcuts.

Time for me to stop before I begin ranting about the lack of ethics training in universities. :) Sorry this happened to you, Dana. I think Copyscape is a great tool for someone in your position!

Dana Prince said...

Thanks, Lori. Thankfully it was an inexpensive lesson!

Bianca Raven said...

Sorry this happened to you Dana. Luckily the client was willing to be understanding about the situation.

All writers should get into the habit of using Copyscape. I've been a victim of plagiarism several times now and Copyscape has been invaluable.

Dana Prince said...

Thanks Bianca, for stopping by.
Yes, definitely a worthwhile investment!