A lot of brands are struggling with content creation. That’s not news – creating a steady stream of high quality content is hard work. And so a lot of brands are leaning heavily on licensing content from other sources, including big name media brands like Forbes, the New York Times, etc.

Which makes no sense.
First, let’s acknowledge that so many companies are struggling with content creation. The Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs 2015 B2B survey bears this out: 54 percent of B2B marketers say they struggle with content creation; 50 percent say can’t produce content consistently; and 42 percent say that they struggle to produce a variety of content.

It ain’t easy, fueling the content marketing beast.That has led many brands to license content from elsewhere. On the surface, it makes sense – you get high quality, credible content for your website, which theoretically will keep the audience coming back.

But here’s the big question that, to me, has an obvious answer: Why would someone read a New York Times article on my website instead of on the New York Times’ website? The obvious answer is, “they wouldn’t.” The New York Times is bigger and better than my site. The best I can do by duplicating their content is come in a distant second place. Worse, I’m vying for that second place booby prize with everyone else licensing content from the Times.

This week, well-respected facial hair impresario and Moz CEO Rand Fishkin told Contently that licensing content from other content creators is, basically a waste of time.

“If you’re a small or mid-sized website and you’re licensing content from the AP and the Times, you’re probably sunk. That’s not going to do much for what you’re building. That’s not going to do much for your SEO. You may be getting some stragglers of traffic when Google accidentally thinks you’re the original source, but yeah, that’s not a great model.”

Importantly, Fishkin says it won’t help your SEO. 

So why do it? Are you helping your audience by licensing content?

Probably not.

Take this blog post as an example. I am obviously building off Contently’s interview with Fishkin. However, I’m adding my own thoughts and analysis, hopefully furthering the conversation. I’m building off something else, not just acting as a pass through.

Look, here’s the bottom line: If you’re trying to build an audience and demonstrate your credibility, you need to be original. You need to have your own thoughts, and provide your own analysis.If you can’t do that, then you need to find someone who can do it for you, whether that means hiring a team of writers, hiring Scribewise, or maybe even buying an industry blog you respect.

But you can’t just build your audience through a series of transactions built upon someone else’s work.

It’s silly.

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