Quote of the week
If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.  
Mark Twain 
Valentine's Day
... which means now is the time to be writing a Valentine's Day message to all your past clients and people in your sphere of influence.

It's the perfect opportunity to let them know you appreciate their support and wish them well.
So don't procrastinate... get it written and loaded into your email autoresponder. Then set it to go out on Monday, February 13.
If Sales are
HOT in your market, you don't need this...

If they're just slowly chugging along, you do.
While not all are vocal about it, your listing clients want to hear from you - often.

What they want most is to hear that you've got a buyer, but regardless of what you have to tell them, they want to know that you haven't forgotten they exist.

They don't want to believe that you took their listing and then forgot about them.
But if they don't hear from you regularly, that's exactly what they'll believe. And if the listing expires unsold, it's the reason why they'll be looking for a different agent.
I know... it's hard to find something to say when there's nothing to report.
That's why I wrote the  Seller Service Letters.
They're a set of 22 letters you can either load into your autoresponder to go out automatically, or keep in reserve to send out manually on weeks when you don't have a market report, your newsletter, or a personal message to convey.
Either way, they'll reassure your listing clients that you ARE thinking about them and working hard to get their homes sold.
As a bonus to you, they'll gently remind sellers of their own responsibilities in presenting the house to potential buyers.
This set is priced at only $57 for 22 letters... and I'll bet your time is worth a lot more than that!

You Wouldn't Plagarize on Purpose, but...
You wouldn't do it on purpose – I know you wouldn't.

But a whole lot of people are unintentionally guilty of plagiarism.

You might copy a few paragraphs from an on-line article or blog and think it's OK as long as you mentioned where you got it.

You might "lift" a photo, a graphic, or a chart from a site in the mistaken belief that if it's online, it's OK.

The truth is – you can get in big trouble for doing either of those things. And when I say "big trouble" I mean trouble that can amount to thousands of dollars in fines and retribution. Some folks are VERY protective of their words and photos.  

So what CAN you do?

If you want to convey the information presented in another on-line article or email, you can read it, mull it over, combine it with some other research, and write your own article. This is by far the best idea, because the end product will reflect your own voice and your own "take" on the subject.

You can also say "According to a report written by Mrs. X on site YZ…" then use a few words (in quotes) from the article, followed with "read more…" and a link to the article. 

In other words, you can quote a sentence or two, as long as you give proper attribution. You CANNOT reproduce the entire article without permission, even if you give attribution.

If you really want to use an article on your site, first contact the author and ask for permission. If they say no - don't do it! If they say yes, save that correspondence.
Article sites say you can use the articles – isn't that OK?

Yes, it is OK. That's why authors post them there. BUT you have to include the author's resource box, and you may NOT alter the article in any way. You can add your own comments before or after, but you can't change the words that are attributed to the author.
You're always welcome to use my articles at EzineArticles.com – as long as you follow the guidelines.
And... you're welcome to use the information in this message as long as you say it came from Marte Cliff at www.copybymarte.com.
What about photos?

Many believe that Google photos are free for the using. I'm not so sure it's OK to use them online – so I don't do it.

Several photos sites offer "free" images, but their legal use may be limited to your personal messages and printing. For instance, for use on a birthday card or a poster you're making for a local event.

You need to read the terms of service carefully to see if it's OK to use those free images in your blog posts or on your website.

Even paid photos have limitations. When you go to istockphoto.com you'll see two different kinds of licenses – one is for your own use, the other is for use in a product that you will distribute for sale. (For instance, if you created and sold a series of postcards for others to use.)

One site that does offer unlimited use of their free photos is Morgue File.

When you download a photo, their permission is there in black and white – no doubts. I use them often, and in fact just got "stealing a cookie" from their site.

What about MLS Photos?

Reading Active Rain gives me an insight into what agents today are experiencing – and one of the things that really ticks them off is photo theft.

Here's how it goes: Someone has a listing and takes beautiful photos. Then later the seller decides to switch agents. And rather than take new photos, the new agent appropriates the photos the first agent posted on MLS.

Guess what? That's called stealing.
Unless the seller paid the agent to take those photos and thus owns the copyright, they belong to the agent, not the seller. Don't let yourself be tempted to steal them.
You wouldn't do it on purpose - so don't do by accident. The penalty is the same.
Yours for prosperity,

Copy by Marte, Priest River, Idaho