Setting up an automated blog using free news feeds is tricky. There are copyright issues with republishing someone else’s content on your site and search engines tend to punish the rankings on those sites with duplicate content. How can you possibly set up an automated publishing site without falling into a minefield of legal and technical trouble?
Fortunately, some sites cater to content publishers by offering a steady stream of free high-quality content that will keep your site fresh on an almost daily basis. We reviewed the terms and content of these five content providers offering free news feeds that could help set up an automated or nearly automated news publishing system utilizing WordPress plugins.
NewsUsa offers news content & copyright-free media placements. The company calls them “Mat releases” which are consumer-friendly feature news stories that are pre-packaged and pre-formatted articles consisting of a headline, photo, and article. They offer copyright free news feed content for newspapers, radio, and social media channels. The site claims to have made over 3 million media placements to date.
NewsUsa’s Terms and Conditions
This site has some of the easiest terms to follow. Basically, you’re granted a world-wide non-exclusive right to freely make copies, distribute, publish and/or provide links to this content so long as attribution is made to NewsUSA in the byline or otherwise and no material changes are made to the content. The included photos may or may not be used, but in no case can they be used without the accompanying article. No registration is required.
If you utilize NewsUSA content, you may find their name popping up from time to time in your Google Analytics reports. This is from reporting they do for their clients as proof that their content is being published.
NewsUsa Content Observations
NewsUSA offers content and news in 30 categories over a wide range of themes. Two of the most unusual that drew our attention are Infographic and Listicle. Technically, both of these are not topic areas but post formats. However, I found the content in the Infographic area engaging enough to pick up on for my own blog.
Each category has the ability to be picked up in an RSS to create your own free news feed. We set up an RSS feed for one of NewsUSAs categories with our auto publish plugin and it worked flawlessly. You can also manually download the article and images to work with via your own editor.
Articles tend to be on the smaller side starting at under 300 words but occasionally ranges well past 1000 words. Each article is available to be downloaded in a range of formats from plain text, HTML, and PDF. A snippet with a short description and link to the source is also available. One useful feature offered is that each article can be downloaded in HTML and pasted in a WordPress editor for quick editing that is ready to publish.
Our Take on NewsUSA
Of all the content sites we reviewed, we found this one the easiest to use and felt comfortable with their very succinct terms and conditions. We utilized NewsUSA for a couple of articles and it did draw a bit of traffic. We were able to grab content both manually and with a WordPress RSS feed plugin suitable for an automated blog.
FamilyFeatures is a well-established industry leader in food and lifestyle content. They provide free, ready-to-publish, full-page feature and editorial content for newspapers, magazines, and websites. Starting in 1974, by creating and distributing free, feature articles for the food and lifestyle sections of newspapers.
FamilyFearure’s Terms and Conditions
The FAQs for using content in FamilyFeatures, (and its other sites) are worth a careful review on your own. However, I found the following key points worth highlighting.
- With your registration, you may then display and electronically copy, download, and publish material contained on those FFES sites for your publication or Web site.
- Once registered, you can use the materials on the Editors.familyfeatures.com site (the “Media Web site”) for publication in print and online.
- If materials are used as provided, sponsor attribution is already included and must be retained to allow for full disclosure and transparency of the source provider.
- If you choose to edit the materials, attribution must be maintained as provided – typically presented as: “Courtesy of (Sponsor)”, “Photos courtesy of (Sponsor/Getty)”
- If provided within the copy, we also ask that you retain sponsor Web-links.
- Photos may be used only in conjunction with the content provided. They may not be used independent of the content and should include appropriate attribution such as “photo courtesy of (Sponsor/Getty).”
FamilyFeatures’ Content Observations
FamilyFeatures offer over 47 categories of content in five broad areas. They include Features, Food & Beverage, Lifestyle, Home & Garden, and Spanish. They also have a video area that we did not review.
One aspect that is appealing is that they offer a Content Widget. This allows the website owner to offer dynamic headlines and images that display the full article with a color scheme to match your theme. Articles are automatically updated articles every week. Choose from three categories with the food, lifestyle, and home & garden topic areas. Layouts include a carousel, sidebar, and main.
The one drawback is that FamlyFeatures does not offer an RSS to create our own free news feed to push content. RSS feeds are typically utilized in WordPress plugins for automated blogging. Thus to automate, you will have to utilize their Content Widget.
Our Take on FamilyFeatures
This site is the granddaddy of all the free content provided we reviewed. They also offer very rich, well-edited content that users will find appealing. The only drawback is their lack of offering an RSS feed in favor of their own proprietary content wizard. As a result, we will not be able to test the feed feature for an automated blog within our current configuration. We will circle back later.
Articlegeek – Offers articles and content with the ability to make your own free news feeds for an automated website. This cotent provider we would consider as being crowdsourced. Running since 2006, authors submit content to ArticleGeek with the hope that other websites will pick up their content and republish it. This leads to link building back to the author’s own site. Everyone wins right? It’s a nice concept but we found that we would have to be a bit more diligent with proofing content.
ArticleGeek Terms and Conditions
As a publisher you are on the honor system to adhere to the terms and conditions. Which are quite simple. Here are a few of the notable points.
- Articles must be published in their original format, unedited.
- Articles must be published with the Author’s Bio unedited. Publishers must include a clickable hyperlink to the author’s website (if included in the author’s bio).
- As a courtesy, publishers should notify the author when and how they plan to use their articles.
- Articles must be published with a hyperlink pointing to ArticleGeek.com as the article source.
ArticleGeek Content Observations
We counted over 96 categories in 17 topic areas. Topics ranged from Art to Law. This site has many online gaming categories that make them a stand-out in this emerging topic area. With such a huge amount of content, a publisher could offer fill for areas that they are weak in or start a whole new subject area in an automated blog.
Thankfully they have RSS feeds that can be utilized in each of the 96 categories. However, I was disappointed not to see any of the content dated. This would be a problem for automatic feeds which tend to depend on dates being available for content publishing control. There is also not thumbnail or feature images on any of the articles.
Our Take on ArticleGeek
This no-frills site offers the widest range of content topic areas of all the free providers. Some of the content is unique and one of a kind. However, I would not use this provider’s feed on an automated blog on autopilot. This is a great site to bookmark and check out for special articles that you could grab manually.
StatePoint Media provides free news feeds for editorial content suitable for print and online newspapers, as well as to radio and television websites, and other media websites. They offer feature stories and special supplements to crossword and sudoku puzzles.
StatePoint Media stories are sourced from highly trusted experts at leading non-profit organizations, professional trade associations, government agencies, and corporate community affairs departments. The site claims more than 15,000 newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, and magazines have registered to use their content.
StatePoint Terms and Conditions
Of all the free content providers StatePoint has one of the more involved and verbose terms. So it’s worth reading the T&Cs line by line to ensure you’re in compliance. Especially when utilizing their auto-feed. Here are a couple of points to be aware of.
- You only are permitted to publish StatePoint Media Editorial Products in the print and online publications that you register within your StatePoint.net account, and not in any other publications.
- …you may delete certain text or a photograph or illustration within any Editorial Product except StatePoint Crossword or StatePoint Sudoku.
- You must properly attribute StatePoint Media Editorial Products. You may not remove the StatePoint Media attribution (e.g. ‘StatePoint’ or ‘SPM Wire’) within any StatePoint Media story or puzzle.
- You may not publish or post a StatePoint photo separately from the specific StatePoint article with which it is distributed.
- You may not copy or otherwise select individual stories or puzzles from StatePoint Media’s Automated Feeds for publication in a print publication(s), or on any website(s) except as part of the automated feed on the website you designated in your StatePoint.net account. If you wish to publish individual StatePoint stories and/or puzzles in a print or Web publication, you must register that publication in your StatePoint.net account and download individual stories and/or puzzles from the StatePoint.net website.
StatePoint Content Observations
StatePoint offers 17 categories of content over a wide range of content areas. Most articles were between 300 and 700 words. The site also offers seasonal supplements along with crossword puzzles and Sudoko. The free puzzles make this site a standout and if I was a print publication I would be taking a hard look at offering that specialized content.
All the stories reviewed had a print preview and a featured image to utilize.
Our Take on StatePoint
This was the one review that I stopped and registered to try in real-time. While the T&Cs were lengthy, none of the legal language drew red flags. We will be circling back to this site and try it manually before using the free news feeds on our automated blog.
BrandPoint offers free news feeds for copyright-free premium content for editors, ad directors, bloggers, and print and online publishers. The Brandpoint (BPT) has been in operation since 1996. Content is available for editors, ad directors, designers, publishers, and bloggers. The cost is free as much of the content is sponsored or provided by Brandpointcontent’s clients and partner brands who want to share their insights.
Brandpoint Terms and Conditions
It’s worth reading BPTs Content Licensing Agreement carefully. Here are some of the key points I found within their terms and FAQ.
- Registration prior to use is required.
- Brandpointcontents byline must appear in the article or post at the beginning or end of the content.
- If you edit the article you must retain at least one brand reference.
- Images associated and offered with an article can be published only as an accompaniment to the article’s text. Any other use is prohibited.
- Alternative photos may not be substituted.
- If you’re a print publication, Brandpoint offers publishers $2 to upload articles used from Brandpoint in the last four months.
- If you publish the feature articles on a Web site you may be asked to provide reporting metrics, including Page Views.
Brandpoint’s Content Observations
BPT offers 26 categories of content in four broad areas of Lifestyle, Home & Garden, Business, and Health. My scan of the content showed each article ranged from 400 to 1200 words with a majority standing between 500-700 words in length. Each category had an RSS to utilize as a free news feed.
In addition to traditional articles, Brandpoint offers 100-150 word “Quick Read ” versions of some full-sized articles. If an article has a Quick Read, it will have a checkbox below the thumbnail.
BPTs website has a handy publication calendar for their features and health content. I found this extremely useful if planning on an upcoming posting schedule.
Our Take on Brandpoint
As a content provider for an automated blog, this site is no better or worse than the other sites we reviewed. However, what makes BPT standout is the featured calendar. This is very handy and allows us to plan ahead for our future issues. This was the one site that tended to offer some long-tail articles which is helpful in specific content areas such as gardening.
Conclusion with Using Free News Feed Content Providers for Automated Blogs
There is no clear winner in our review. All have positive points, unique content aspects and technical features that make acquiring their content easy. But each has their own quirks and things to watch for, or live with. Our recommendation is to try one or two of these providers on your own site and let us know your results in the comments below.
Automated Blog Best Practices Using Free News Feeds
Autoblogging is a fine way to get a new WordPress site on its feet quickly with content to draw in initial readers. But it shouldn’t be the sole way to run a site. Here are a few of the best practices to follow if you are using or considering auto blogging for your new or existing blog.
- The best practice and most good-looking content are to offer a summary of the article and a link to the main post containing the publication’s name.
- Acknowledge the author and image sources if provided.
- Utilize images and thumbnails if available. I tend to not publish a post without them.
- Do not reuse images from one post into another. This is typically not allowed in the terms and conditions of the content provider.
- If allowed, use your own images in posts.
- When using free automated blogging plugins, save the free news feeds post as a draft. Review the content and edit accordingly. Ensure titles and key phrases are in place then publish. I do this once a day and it only takes a few minutes.
- Use care if you utilize any automated blog rewriting tools or spinners. I shy away from them as if typically make a great article a bunch of gibberish.
- Consider setting up a separate author account for each of your feeds. This will allow you to quickly sort by author in the WordPress dashboard for that feeds content.
- Circle back on auto-generated posts and update the meta description and keyword(s) Use the free version of Yoast to do this.
- Don’t solely depend on using free news feeds for an automated blog for all of your content. Author or pay for fresh, unique, and useful content to improve SEO.