Plagiarism—that ultimate P word in the content industry. Some writers would curse its name when first starting their writing career. I know I did. You’d start writing for your blog or new client, acting like a professional in your field, but upon submitting your work, it’s thrown back in your face, with them saying it’s been plagiarized… What the?
You feel cheated because you’ve spent hours researching and writing it. So you look for plagiarism checkers, find one like Copyscape.com, run your content through it, and…
Where did I go wrong? How do I fix this? These are some of the questions that flashed through my head the first time. If you’re in this predicament, let me show you how I made peace with plagiarised content. Let’s get started.
#1. I Understood What Plagiarised Content Actually Means
When starting my writing career as a newbie, I had heard of plagiarism, but never really knew what it meant. This new concept intrigued me so I dug deeper and found that it meant something along the lines of duplicate or copied content.
You can see in the screenshot below this is what copied content looks like:
In other words, when writing, you shouldn’t copy paragraphs with large sections word for word… Well, that’s easy, right?
Believe it or not, for new freelance writers who’ve never done it before, it’s not as easy as you might believe. After reworking the content and lessening the bulk of the duplicate content, you’d think it would pass right?
The key to having plagiarism-free content is to have 100% unique content without any phrases copied, and having a couple of words changed here and there. This can only be done if you write something in your own words. This does take time to master.
#2. I Learnt How To Reword Content
My next step on the road to being free of plagiarised content was to learn how to reword content. Yes, still a sneaky tactic when you read it like that, but during my early years, this is what I was doing. The problem was that it wasn’t enough.
While it may pass Copyscape doing this, it’s not really unique and original content. This is what’s called spun content and I used to do this a lot. Let me show you an example of a basic sentence from a news type article:
Original: The car drove all day and then broke down on the side of the road. It had two flat tires.
Spun Content: After a long day of driving, the car broke down from two flat tires and was stuck on the side of the road.
As you can see from this example, while the word arrangement is different, the information relayed in each one is the same and how it’s given is very similar. This is called spun content. This is a rookie mistake and one that will burn your writing fingers a few times before you start to really grow as a writer.
Instead of rewording the information that’s in someone else’s content, it’s important to try to bring something new to it. Try to think of how you can make something better by explaining it more in your own words.
Here’s an example based from the two examples above:
New Original Piece: The vehicle was found late this afternoon on the side of the road, empty and with little belongings inside. It’s estimated that it had been driving for 24 hours straight before blowing out two tires. Police are still looking for the drivers.
As you can see with this example, it means the same as the original but it’s written in my own words. Doing this not only helps avoid plagiarism, but you also free yourself from generic content spinning because you don’t just rearrange the words. It also helps you find your inner voice when it comes to writing something unique.
#3. I Learnt How To Research Better
The best content is that which has been written based on sufficient research. What this means is that you don’t just rely on one source to gain insight into your topic. Instead, you need to read through different sources in order to really create a piece that is unique, interesting, and something your audience wants to read.
Let’s choose a topic that you might want to write about:
Backyard Landscaping Tips For Newbies
Now, if you search for this on Google, let’s see what comes up:
When clicking on the first link you’ll find it’ll cover things like:
This is a great start, but we don’t want to just rewrite this article as that’s just spinning content. Instead, we’ll check what the next article covers. The next one on the list:
This is also good tips for newbies, but let’s just check one more source to see what it covers:
So when you look at what 3 of the articles cover, you’ll see they offer some good points. So what you can do next is work out which subjects out of the top you might like to cover in your own article. So if I was writing it, I would do:
Backyard Landscaping Tips For Newbies
Okay, so you have your baseline, and now you need to make it uniquely yours. So what I would do first is change the subject lines into something that means the same but puts your own unique spin on it.
Backyard Landscaping Tips For Newbies
Can you see the difference? These new subheadings give life to your article. It gives it a sense of uniqueness. This is how you utilise your research to create a new article that no one has read before.
#4. Utilize My Own Knowledge
Last, but not least it’s important to trust yourself and utilise your own knowledge on a subject. It can be tricky if you haven’t had much to do with a subject or niche, but over time, it will come easier. You have some sort of knowledge in you about a subject, and the trick is to convey it on paper in your own words.
So, when writing your article, you can then start utilising your own thoughts and common sense about what each section should cover, then only use your information source as a backup.
For example, let’s use the subject lines in the last section as a guide. Here, we’ll use Budget, Budget, Budget. You don’t really need to research what this subheading is about—it clearly involves knowing your budget, and you just need to write about this. Here’s something I would do:
Understanding and setting your budget is crucial to the overall success of your landscape project. You don’t want to get your hopes too high with what’s on your wish list to find out you don’t have enough funds to back it up. When budgeting, think of the necessary costs, which might be things like:
Then budget luxury things you might want to add in, such as:
Keeping the costs separated but understanding the total combined will help you see whether some changes are required in your overall landscape design.
Writing from your heart based on knowledge you know can really give you that edge, especially when you’ve taken the time to do your research of what you want to cover. This is how you can truly make peace with plagiarised content.
Finding how to make your own peace with plagiarised content isn’t going to be a quick fix; it does take time for something to just click in your head. However, by taking these tips above into consideration and trying your hand at changing how you write and research with each piece of content you write, you’ll be able to really improve your chances of writing something unique and something that’s really grand.
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