Cheap copy is the most expensive mistake you’ll make.
There are many people that think you only need to pay a few quid for a quick blog post for your website. Wrong. By going to the cheapest possible source, you always end up with rubbish.
Right now, it’s all about content marketing. A business has a great website, but to draw more people to it and to look like experts in their field, they need more ‘quality content’. Blog posts and articles that will make their website stand out and get found better by search engines.
The problem is, a lot of business owners just want the content quickly, and don’t place much value on blog posts. So, they might go to Fiverr, or look at the cheapest options on Upwork or similar sites. Sometimes they might get an individual, but mostly it will go through a content agency, or ‘mill’, with bargain rates.
So, how do we know this is a bad idea?
Recently, a co-founder of digital agency Kraftblick posted this very revealing story to startupgrind.com:
It’s a great read, giving a first-hand account of working with very cheap content agencies for blog posts. The key takeaways from this article are:
- Cheap copywriters don’t have the time to invest much effort in the end product. To make a living, they need to balance their low rates with a high volume of work.
- They are not experts in any niche, or even in marketing. If it’s an unfamiliar subject, they are not able to do more research than skim the results from page 1 of Google. Certainly no research into client & audience voice, questions or benefits.
- As a result of these first two points, the content itself is incredibly mediocre. It lacks verve, structure, depth or a narrative. The article might not make best use of words and grammar, or even make sense.
However, the most important takeaway from the article is this: the client had to spend a huge amount of time and effort trying to put right what was wrong with the work. And then she probably had to pay someone else again to do the job correctly.
Anyone can write 800-1000 words an hour, if all you have to do is churn out words without thinking. That’s just the machine side of blog post writing.
But is it creating quality content that will bring people back to your website? Something unique that they’ll remember, or something so useful that they’ll want to bookmark and share it? Sadly not.
If you want a ‘proper’ blog post, then you have to put in the effort (or whoever you hire has to!). You need an article that will offer value to the reader, answer their questions, tell them something new and make them glad they read it.
Get better blog posts by taking the time they need
Apparently the average blog post takes over 3 hours to create, as outlined by the marvellous Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media:
Think about the time you need to spend on research, looking into a topic, finding out information and facts and then making sure they are correct. And the research into the writing style – how people talk about the subject, how they phrase things, or use slang.
Some writers allow the same amount of time for research as for writing, so 2 hours for research plus 2 hours for writing = 4 hours to finish the article. Others say take the amount of time you think you’ll need for research and treble it. There are others who might even spend a week on the process.
The time you spend on the writing shouldn’t be under-estimated. You need to organise all the points you want to cover into the right order. Then write the first draft, all the while thinking about the best way to phrase each sentence and making your words and ideas flow well.
And then there’s the time you need to spend going back over the article. Checking for over-long sentences, passive voice or jargon, and anything you might need to add or improve.
A good writer will know how long they need to spend on looking things up, collating information and then writing and revising. For a more in-depth article with a unique nugget of info, they might also need to chat to the client or a customer. It’s all stuff that you can’t do in 60 minutes.
Of course, a specialist writer in a particular industry or topic will take less time on a good blog post. They are already familiar with the subject matter and the audience, and will know how to create an article that presses the right buttons. But they will not be penalised because they are quicker, and will charge more per project because of their expertise.
Want to see some case studies?
Brian Dean at Backlinko gives three examples of great blog posts that changed a business’ fortunes in this article:
Each case study shows how a thorough blog post or article can blow competition out of the water. They take an in-depth attitude towards the subject, covering every angle and peripheral point of interest, and create more of a guide than a simple post. Obviously, these will take far longer than your average blog post.
The next step is of course promotion of your content. People will not find it by Google pointing the way alone, and for your article/website to get higher up with Google, you need to get more traffic. A concise run-down of what to do is probably the subject for another blog post here, but Brian covers this as well in his article. Needless to say, with great distribution, one of the business-owners in the case studies increased traffic to his site by 697%.
You have to ask yourself: Why are you adding this content to your website?
Is it for SEO reasons? Yes, there is something to be said for simply adding pages that feature keywords at just the right ratio. And if this is all you want, then cheap content might be for you. But remember, Google doesn’t like mediocre content without much value, and its monitors will mark you down for it.
Is it to be useful and to stand out to potential clients? To show you can offer insights and solutions that they either need or don’t have time to action themselves? Then you will need more than a quick 600-700 word post on a subject relevant to your business.
Avoid wasting time and money on cheap copywriting.
Time-wise, it’ll end up being more than you bargained for. You’ll have to keep asking for revisions, challenging the quality, or doing more work for the writer yourself.
Money-wise, it’ll be down the drain when you have to get the piece written again. And maybe again.
Hire a professional copywriter and you’ll get a finished document that will be more than just a piece of content for your website.
As well as posting it on your blog, you’ll be able to send to potential clients, use it as support info for proposals and while it sits on your website it will act to sell your services while you’re off doing something else. It’ll be a portable and re-usable tool for your business, not just a one-off. And you won’t have had to spend a lot of time on it yourself.
It’s basically an investment that will pay off.
Do you need blogs or website content? Go over to my Contact page to drop me a line and get the ball rolling on your project.