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Why Automated Blogging Tools Should Be Avoided

In the last week I’ve had 3 emails from makers of Automated Blogging tools, scripts and plugins (or RSS to Blog tools) asking me to promote their plugins and systems.

These tools all claim to be able to help you create content for your blog without you having to do anything except set it up, choose a keyword/s for your blog to be about.

The tools sales pages usually make claims like:

  • “create targeted blog posts on any topic without writing anything!”
  • “start hundreds of blogs on any topic and never have to lift a finger to keep them pumping out as much content as you like!”
  • “generate traffic, money and blog posts while you sleep!”
  • “Achieve Higher Search Engine Rankings And Massive Affiliate Revenue With Self Updating Blogs”

You get the picture – the list of the hyped up claims that the developers of automated blogging tools make goes on and on!

The fact that these people are asking me to promote these kinds of tools scares me a little as I’ve been pretty anti them in the past and don’t want to be associated with the in any way.

However it also makes me wonder how many bloggers are innocently signing up for them without knowing the dangers of doing so. After-all the sales copy on many of these tools sounds too good to be true – blogging made easy, lots of money, no work….

As a result I thought I’d put together a list of reasons why I would avoid ‘auto blogging’ tools at all costs.

Reasons to avoid Automated blogging Tools and Services:

1. Non Unique Content – at the heart of every successful and profitable blog that I’ve come across is unique content. Auto blogging tools all take content from other places on the web and automatically pull them together on your blog. They replicate what others are doing. They create duplicates of other people’s work. It’s not unique, it’s not original and it creates clutter.

Many of the automated blog tools sales pages say you can add to the content that these auto blogging tools use to add uniqueness to your blog but I’d argue that if you’re creating hundreds of blogs it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll be adding unique posts to many of them.

Blogs that are not unique, that don’t have a personal voice, that contain no original thought don’t tend to get links from other blogs, don’t tend to attract subscribers, readers or comments and don’t generally rank well in Google or other search engines.

2. Useless Content – the other main factor in successful blogs is that they create ‘useful’ content – the type of content that solves people’s problems, helps them solve a problem and makes their lives better in some way.

While some might argue that automated blogging tools can help people by finding this type of information my observation of most of them in action is that they are very hit and miss. Most rely upon you identifying keywords that you want your blog to be about and they then go searching for all kinds of content on those keywords.

As a result you can be publishing who knows what on your blog. Some of it may be useful but some of it might be completely irrelevant and even potentially harmful to readers. Many automated blogs that I come across are a step up from being ‘gibberish’.

3. Personal Satisfaction – early in my own blogging I created a number of blogs that I called ‘link blogs’. They looked at what others were writing online and manually (no tools) collated some of it onto one site. I added some of my own thoughts and it did provide usefulness to readers because it was high quality and all in the one place for readers – but the process almost killed my passion for blogging. It was an empty process for me with no real sense of satisfaction. I stopped doing these kinds of blogs (even though they did make me money and readers complained that it was useful to them).

At it’s best – blogging is an exciting, interactive and fun experience that can give you inspiration, ideas and energy. This kind of blogging (ie using these automated tools) is about none of that.

4. Risk – all of the sales pages on these tools talk about how you can use these tools with all kinds of content legally by using content from sites with APIs, open source content or creative commons content. However almost every time I’ve come across a blog using automated blogging tools they have been scraping content from other blogs without permission from their RSS feeds.

Some blogs allow you to use their content but most do not. There’s real risk in using content from other sites in this way on a number of levels:

  • Breaking Copyright – use the wrong persons content without your permission and you could end up on the end of legal proceedings.
  • DMCAs and Risk to Your Hosting and Ad Partner Relationships – when I catch someone scraping my content I generally give them a warning but follow that up by issuing DMCAs to them, their site’s host and sometimes their advertisers (like AdSense). This can lead to you losing your hosting and being banned from ad networks (for example AdSense don’t allow you to put your ads on pages where you don’t own the copyright of the content). I know a lot of bloggers who issue DMCAs without warning and push a lot harder on these issues than I do – it can be a nightmare to have to work through these kinds of things.
  • Damage to Your Brand – many bloggers skip the DMCA process and go with a ‘name and shame’ approach and publically call out those who steal their content. This can have a lasting impact upon your brand and personal name. There’s nothing worse than doing a Google search for your name and seeing the #1 result being a post an angry blogger wrote about you stealing their content.
  • Google Penalties – ever heard of ‘duplicate content’? It’s what Google calls content that appears in more than one place on the web. I don’t know exactly how they treat this content but do know that they try to weed it out of their search results. They don’t get it all but they do get a lot of it and I suspect that a site that is largely classified as ‘duplicate’ will never be seen as an authoritative site on Google.

5. Create Something Worthwhile – my take home advice for bloggers is to create something online that is worthwhile, something that matters, something that inspires, informs and educates. Do this over the long haul and you’ll create something that not only means something but that has every chance of having lasting success.

I’ve heard from a few bloggers that they’ve had some success with automated blogging tools (although most of these were a couple of years back) but in every case they tell me that it’s usually temporary. They start blogs, see a bit of Google traffic before being banned from Google.

Their blogs never really amount to anything, they never build their own profile or become known as authorities in their niches, they never create useful sites that become niche leaders and to make money they have to keep starting new blogs over and over again.

To me this seems like an empty existence.

Me – I’d rather create something worthwhile that will not only survive but that will grow in momentum, build my brand and mean something to people.

What are you experiences of automated blogging tools?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. I get a few “backlinks” from these automated blogs. I was amazed at how people actually use these automated tools to build a “ghost blog”.

    I guess the only thing they want is to make money. At least the ones that I know only grab a paragraph of my posts and link back to mine.

    and no, I never use an automated tool apart from the WordPress post scheduling feature :)

  2. My experience is to quickly look away when I hear the words: automated, easy, without lifting a finger.

    I have never heard a successful blogger claim that becoming a success was easy, automated and that they did not need to lift a finger. But I have heard a lot of failed bloggers claim that blogging was not as easy as they thought it was going to be.

  3. I think the main reason I’ll avoid these is the whole unique and personalized content. I too like the feeling of satisfaction of writing an excellent post and knowing that it was all 100% my thinking and writing. It’s that whole feeling of pride.

    All the content I write on my blog is 100% me, and it lets my voice speak. Every advice that I give to people, I feel like I’m speaking to them directly. I don’t think these tools can replicate that kind of feeling.

  4. Mine is just a fledgling blog and whilst I love gaining new readers, it remains about the joy of it for me.

    I was very upset to find some of my content scraped without permission and copied onto another site – presumably one of these soulless money-making ventures where new content is needed in order to pull in advertising revenue.

    Luckily, it was taken down after I complained in a variety of online fora, though I hadn’t been able to complain directly as no contact details were provided on the site.

    I do offer an RSS feed but only a partial one, mainly in the hope of discouraging the use of such automated RSS scraper tools.

    Of course, that may lose me some readers – those that prefer to read my content without having to click through from their aggregator to my blog for the rest of the post. So be it.

    The trouble is that most people reading your blog are people with a genuine interest in producing their own high quality site and high quality content.

    Not the target audience of the makers of such tools.

  5. I think you’re missing the point. The whole purpose of automated blogging tools is to not give a damn about the actual content, where it comes from, copyright or anything else.

    It’s to generate background babble upon which to generate context-based ads.

    The owners don’t actually care about the blog, except for the clicks it gets on their ad accounts. That’s it. End of story. Talking about the pros and cons is really rather extraneous, if you’ll excuse my bluntness!

  6. The only real legitimate use of these automated blogging tools would be for an information stream you wished to monitor privately. But then again, this can all be handled via an RSS reader just as easy.

    So then we come to the illegitimate uses. If you query “make money online” in Google you’ll see tons of people promoting these tools to create keyword rich sites with Google Ads scattershot across the pages.

    My belief is that Google will get better at filtering these out of the results and keep promoting sites with strong communities and original content.

    Like you said, it amounts to what your goals are. Some people get off on tricking the search engines and taking advantage of loopholes in search algorithms – constantly starting new blogs to take advantage of new loopholes, and make money teaching others how to do it. Others, like yourself (and myself) would rather build something worthwhile for the long term.

    In any market there will be shysters, and the blogging community is no different. Thanks for giving your readers a heads-up on what those automated blogging tools “really” bring to the table.

    Don Makoviney
    Makovision.com

  7. You’re preaching to the choir on this one.

    I blog for fun – having something go out and collect content to dump onto my site isn’t fun. Maybe it will make me a few bucks, but I have a day job to make money. If I make money of The Casual Observer, that’s a nice bonus, but I write for personal enjoyment.

    I recently added 4 writers to my staff (we’re at 7 total, and will probably add a couple more). How many of them asked about money? Zero. How many of them made any comments after sharing my profit sharing agreement (which I developed just to be on the safe side) with them? Zero. We’re just 7 guys who enjoy writing (yeah, yeah, we’re looking for a female voice to add to the group :)

  8. These are clear points why you should avoid automated blogging software. I think it is all hyped up too. I bought once a very automated blogging software. I do not use it anymore. I think manual blogging is the best. It is more fun then automated ones. Thanks for sharing. Great post.

  9. I was doing a search for ‘Make Money Online’ and ‘Make Money Blogging’ on Google and I got one specific result on both searches. It was a RSS to Blog tool i.e. a Automatic Blog tool. Lucky me I read this article before or I was going to do more search on this tool. I saved some of my time.

    Thanks Darren for saving my time.

  10. Darren, along with these ideas, I’d be interesting in hearing your thoughts on the value of content syndication deals. I’ve been approached by a number of ad networks who also want to syndicate content on the ad network blog. I’ve wholesale rejected all of these because of the duplicate content issue. Thoughts?

  11. I haven’t used any auto-blog tools, but I have seen people begin to place their twitter feed content on their blog. The technology seems similar, but (as long as they are using their own feed) the content is their own and hopefully original.

    I know you are on twitter, have you thought about putting your twitter feed on your blog? What are the pros and cons to doing this that you see? I still haven’t decided so…..

  12. I tried some autoblogging tools early on in my blogging career. Although I made several thousand dollars doing nothing, I felt guilty and shut them down.

  13. I also see quite a few new “auto Tweet” schemes, running Twitterfeed to update Twitter posts with blog headlines that include selected keyword terms. The Twitterer hasn’t personally vetted the article or provided additional insight — just uses TwitterFeed + RSS to churn content on a regular basis.

    The link goes to a blog, so it avoids the copyright issue, but this kind of automation takes the “social” right outta social media.

    Without real, human interaction — what’s the point, really?

  14. I dont like automated tools…. I want to connect with my blog.

  15. My point of view is this: IT IS REALLY Tempting!!!!!! DOllars without doing anything. But points of view from respectable bloggers like you Darren only say one thing: it’s not worth it!

    First, I’d like to thank you for giving an idea on what people do just to earn money: deception and lie. I didn’t know these kinds of services exist but really I praise God for not allowing to know them. AT least for now, i’m serious about my blogging life and am giving a lot of energy to make it beatiful and link-worthy!

    Thanks for the tips again as always!

  16. I agree – Blogging has always been – to me- about sharing myself with the world. It’s the same thing over and over – a new technology comes out and there’s major exploitations… then we all move to a new platform. It sucks. But it’s not going to change. I just do my part by creating unique, varied content. Thanks for the post.

  17. If I’m trying to develop a relationship with someone or build a community via my blog or Twitter or LinkedIn or any social media, my posts should be hands-on and written by me. Anything else is an insult to my clients, my colleagues and my potential clients. If I were to use an autoblog program then the only ‘community’ I could hope for would be uninteresting autocommenters.

    If it’s not mine, then who’s is it? Must mean it was written by someone and chances are good they don’t want you getting credit for their work.

    I joined a blog group on LinkedIn because of copyright issues and plagiarism that is rampant on the ‘web. I want to learn more about how to spot it and rectify it – peer pressure is an incredible tool.

  18. I haven’t even heard of tools like that. But even if I did I wouldn’t be interested in them. What can a machine create? I can imagine how clumsy the articles will be :)

  19. Here’s a thought for you. I was using an automated blog posting software to post my own original content, but instead of logging into Blogger where my Blog is hosted I used this third party software to send up my posts every few days. Again, my own content but instead of logging into Blogger to post I used this software. Anyway, not too long ago my Blog was flagged by Google as a possible spam account and I had to ask them to personally review the account and unlock it. Of course, they did, but I’ve gone over and over in my head why it was flagged in the first place and in my mind it must be the third party software I was using to post with. They must have some type of detection in place that flags these accounts. Just my thoughts and I have no proof but thought I’d throw it out there anyway.

    Merle

  20. I really would like an auto blogging tool to add some posts, not all. I read and comment on a lot of various blog posts in Google Reader that I’d like to share with my blog readers (i.e. my mom and mother-in-law) w/o having to manually cut and paste and create those posts. It would also ensure content on my blog (so something new to look at when they come look at the page). BUT I use Blogger, which one would think would work with Google Reader, but the only thing I could find was a WordPress plug in so I gave up.

    But I agree the idea of an all-auto blog is just ridiculous.

  21. The idea of generate traffic, money, and blog posts without do anything is tempting, but blogging is a hobby for me, if you don’t like to write something, then why you should make a blog? Maybe you will get some money, but do you feel satisfied with that? That’s why till now I never use any kind of automated blogging tools.

  22. So much true, I just hate to see stuff like that on social networks – people really think with such rubbish they could earn something and rank good on google. I really hope Google recognizes such sites who do that.

  23. I agree with everything you said, Darren.

    My content was copied by quite a few blogs using automated tools, but I’m not concerned at all because I know these blogs won’t get anywhere by stealing content. Like you said, there must be genuine effort to create something worthwhile.

    It’s amusing that some people still don’t get it.

  24. I can’t imagine any automated tool being able to capture my voice & passion for a subject. I can barely communicate my style of writing to a human being doing copy writing for us – let alone automating content.

    oi!

    Sometimes, a machine just isn’t as good as “the real thing”.

  25. As someone who’s been ripped-off by the piranha using such tools, your fourth item is the one that boils my blood — taking content from others without asking. More than once, I’ve had my content stolen by such tools to help generate money for others too lazy or creative to earn it themselves.

    I too issue DCMAs. And they’re a hassle. More work because someone looking for an easy road to wealth steals your intellectual property.

  26. This stuff drives me nuts! I’m so tired of seeing my content hijacked by these ridiculous features! I wish there was an easy way to prevent this.

  27. when i start blogging i never want to go for earning money as what spammers do using automated blogging tools. Blogging is the way to success for branding yourself and for sharing your knowledge about your industry and for making people understand and aware of latest technologies and getting most from blog in effective manner.

  28. I am lucky to use Blogger which has a gr8 automated blogging program involved in it . No ideas, but yes these days I have started to use an program called tweetlater which post my tweet any time which I want . I am fine with that ghost programm for sure . Thought being automated tweet applicant .

  29. Very informative post. I have seen these ads as well and am happy to say that I was not impressed by their claims. Yes I would love to shave some time off my blogging duties but not at the expense of my readers and offering unique quality content.

    Wishing you a scent-stional day!
    Patty Reiser

  30. I completely agree. I’ve seen a few of these myself and I’ve pretty much avoided them the same way that you have. I suppose that it would appeal to someone that is money hungry and wants to power a blog without actually caring about the satisfaction of knowing that it is has good content and is engaging and caring for their readers. Great post.

  31. GREAT POST. I’ve run a few blogs myself, and I hope the effort to be creative and personal made its mark on my readers.

    Automated blogging tools … BLEAGH. I can’t imagine the draw, other than a tacit admission that a person is uninteresting and has nothing worthwhile to contribute.

  32. Number 1 says it all. Blogs should be unique as these mostly reflect who the blogger is. And each person/blogger is unique!

  33. It would be a shame if any respected blogger used these tools. This goes against every little thing we’ve worked on as bloggers.

  34. It simply kills the purpose of a blog, and at the end of the day do u just want to name a website as your blog that keeps on dumping garbage or do you want to connect with like minded and achieve your goals with them. Depends on You..

  35. You shouldn’t fall for these blogs if you are serious about building a business and your brand online.

  36. I avoid any sort of automed blog like the plague. What’s the point of them? They usually seem made just to try and make some money from advertising off the backs of true bloggers.

  37. It’s a tool for lazy, uncreative people who want to try blogging but don’t really want to blog.

  38. With these types of tools out on the internet, it makes you wonder if bloggers should revisit partial rss feeds again. Yes I know, this subject again, but my only reason for exploring this subject is stolen content and isn’t some automated blogging tools promote just that?

  39. Thanks for posting this.

    These kinds of blogs are scourges on relevant search results.

    If I may, I’d like to publicly thank Kevin at Blog Traffic Exchange for denying his linking service to such websites.

  40. One further comment: many of these blogs DO rank very highly in search engines. As in first page on Google. Which really sucks. I’ve posted examples of totally gamed results on my tinobox blog (search if you’re interest, not grubbing for links here at DRs expense). I think they are sort of like junk mail: if it didn’t work, people wouldn’t keep getting junk mail!

  41. I’d never heard of this. one of my favorite things about my blog is that it’s mine. Good or bad, I’ve created something–and continue to create something that didn’t exist before me, and couldn’t exist without me.

    This just sounds so impersonal and greedy and lame that I don’t even know how to come at it. The best blogs have personal enthusiasm and passion behind them, no matter what the subject is. It’s not hard to spot the greedy phonies. What’s phonier than a robot blogger?

  42. The point of an automated blog isn’t to have a blog with readers. The point of that blog is to link to another site and to support this other site. They call this other site “the money site”. On the money site they sell stuff.

  43. I couldn’t agree more.

    The users of these tools prey on legitimate blogger’s hard work and steal content.

    I don’t give a shit if they point a link back to our sites or not, the fact of the matter is that we all spend a long time getting the formatting right, styling, and crafting the content people consume on our blogs.

    As a developer myself, I think the creators of these tools should be ashamed of themselves.

  44. In a burst of complete curiosity I once set up a blog in this totally automated fashion. I wanted to explore the overhyped and extravagant claims some high pressure internet marketers make about these tools. Because I “too could reap $10 a day from Google AdSense” for no work.

    I used WordPress tools like the one that sucks in Yahoo Questions/Answers content, and another that sucks RSS feeds.

    What a crock. At last check I made $2.58 in 8 weeks. Not much of a business model.

    In my experience the purveyors of these tools and schemes are feeding along the bottom of the pool.

    Darren’s position is sensible and valid. Great unique content beats everything else hands down.

    We too see a bunch of backlinks coming into our sites from these automated blogs, where they’ve RSS sucked stories from us. If we see any inbound traffic at all, it’s always low value – eg doesn’t result in either a sale or a genuine interaction with the visitor.

    I’ve seen some pundits suggest these types of blogs are worth setting up as traffic conduits to your real site. But I suspect Google and the other search tools are wise to this, and designate the links as low grade.

    Don’t hand over your hard earnt money to these tools makers. For a start there are free plugins for WordPress. And in any case it ain’t a path to riches. So let’s all do the world a favour and focus on creating great content that’s valued by our audiences instead of ripping off other peoples’ stuff.

    David Eedle
    http://www.NicheContentMillionaire.com

  45. Be yourself in blogging, and be proud of it no matter what. One more addition Darren, if the tool is offered in one lengthy page of a static website (never updated) with big fonts and containing testimonials that are too good to be true. That’s pure scam. Just like crappy site selling scripts, ebooks, and get-rich-quick shemes.

  46. Thanks for the informative post, Darren. I am just getting into blogging and have been looking for tips. Your suggestion for blogs to be unique, useful, give satisfaction, not risky, and worthwhile are excellant tips. Also, I will definitely stay away fro auto blog software.

  47. Darren,

    What tools are you using to find if somebody using your content on their web sites ?

  48. I don’t know about this tools and not use it …
    Your tips will help me..

  49. When I notice someone making unauthorised copies of my work I search the site in question for content that is copied from major mainstream-media organisations and inform them. Some of those cretins are in a position to ignore DMCA requests that I write, but media companies with in-house legal departments still seem able to get at them. One such SPLOG was shut down three times after I informed various MSM companies about unauthorised copying of their content.

    I never give warnings to SPLOGGERS, they know the law and don’t care. If someone has a blog that is mostly original content and goes too far with quoting in a way that I don’t like then I’ll discuss it with them – this hasn’t happened yet.

    Google could stop all this if they wished. All they need to do is to institute a policy of not paying for clicks on unoriginal content and paying 3 months after the clicks to give time to process complaints about such content. I believe that a large portion of the SPLOGGER market is for blogs of short duration, when the DMCA complaints start arriving they just move somewhere else after having already been paid.

  50. I’ve only used feedwordpress to automatically update my personal stuff from Flickr, Qik, Blip.tv and other places I upload or put my day-to-day lifestream type stuff.

    Using it to create a whole site just seems like cheating, and probably only monetizes through search engine traffic as almost noone would become a regular. But that’s probably not the aim.

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