“Content is king,” – Bill Gates
Content – it’s what your website visitors come to you for, what your social media connections expect from you, and what Google needs to see from you in order to rank your site appropriately. Good content boosts your traction online. Bad content will take you down a peg or two (or more, depending on just how bad that content is). Content is one of the absolute essentials for anyone or any business hoping to make the World Wide Web work for them, but how do you get that content? There are two options here, and you might think that the lower priced of the two is the better bet, but you’d be wrong.
In-House Content Creation
The simplest, fastest way to get content up on your website, blog or social media accounts is to have it created in house. If you’re a multibillion-dollar company with thousands of employees, that’s a simple feat. For other businesses, it’s more challenging. You might not have any actual writing talent working for you. You might have great artists, programmers, tech support operators, administrators and clerical workers, but it’s possible, likely even, that you lack anyone capable of creating good content.
That begs the question, what makes content “good” in the first place? Is it grammatically correct content? Is it engagement? Is it how the content is formatted? Is it moving content that speaks directly to each individual reader? How do you tell good content from bad?
On top of those questions, you’ll have others to answer if you’re going the in-house content creation route. For instance, who double-checks the content created by your “writer”? Does that individual know anything about writing, marketing or grammar? What happens if they don’t know anything or if they only know enough to get into trouble as the old saying goes?
It’s a tough nut to crack, and chances are good that you don’t have the talent in house to complete the task.
Outsourcing Your Content Creation
The most common solution (and best option in most circumstances) is to outsource your content creation. It makes a great deal of sense. When you’re sick, you go to the doctor. You don’t try to cure yourself. If you blow an engine in your car, you head to a trusted mechanic. You work with specialists who know how to do what needs to be done. The same thing is true with content creation, whether you need new website content, ongoing blog posts, an ebook or something else created. You turn to those who excel at stringing words together and evoking a reaction in readers – a writer.
Professionals have the experience, expertise, knowledge and understanding necessary to strike the right tone for your particular content and forge a connection with your readers (well, they SHOULD, but not all writers are created equal). Hiring a writer comes at a cost, and this is where most business owners get into trouble.
The Many Different Types of Content
Complicating the in-house/outsourcing and content creation budgeting process is the growing number of content types used online. Most companies actually use 13 different types of content to reach and engage their audiences, according to Content Marketing Institute. These include:
- Social media
- Blog posts
- Articles on your website
- Web content (homepage, about us, etc.)
- Product Descriptions & Category Descriptions
- Landing pages
Each of those types of content requires a different approach in order to be effective. An ebook can’t be written in the same style as a blog post (in most instances, anyway) because they’re designed for different purposes. Whitepapers and articles might seem similar, but they’re actually very different beasts. So, when you choose to outsource your content creation, you need to ensure that you’re working with an expert who knows the ins and outs of the content type you need at that moment.
The Cost Issue
Words are cheap, or at least that seems to be the prevailing wisdom with some business owners. Part of this is natural – it’s the savvy business owner’s drive to ensure they’re saving money while still getting good results. However, the problem is that good content costs money. You really do get what you pay for here. If you’re only willing to pony up a couple of bucks for a 500-word article, you should expect that article to only be worth a couple of bucks.
That begs a question – how much IS your content worth to you? How much is one customer worth over their lifetime, $100, $1,000, $10,000? If one article secures only a single customer for you, how much revenue has that single piece of content generated for your company over the life of the customer? It’s about more than the total cost of the content right now. It’s about how much revenue you’ll generate for the business through each customer that content pulls in to your business. It’s also about how quickly bad content will run off potential customers and clients, costing your business thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in the end.
Setting Your Content Budget
Your content budget is enormously important – it determines just how much content you can purchase, and whom you can purchase that content from in the first place. If you have a low budget, you’ll be tempted to go with low-budget content creators. These outsourcers claim to create content, but it’s generally chock-full of typos, incorrect words, fragments and other issues that will actually drive potential customers away.
Set a realistic content budget that allows you to hire professional writers. Set a content budget that affords you the opportunity to have engaging, original, well-written content created for you that connects with your audience, as well as providing better visibility through search engine results.
In the end, your content budget determines your success. Can you really afford to pinch pennies here? Can you truly afford to pay bottom-dollar prices for bottom-dollar results? Most business owners can’t. It’s simply a bad investment that leads to serious damage in the long term.
Words You Want specializes in making content marketing for small businesses easy. If you don’t have in-house writers and can’t afford $1,000 articles, we can help you create the content you need at an affordable price, without sacrificing quality. We can even help you manage your blogging and social media efforts so you can spend more time serving your customers.
In the writing business, you’re constantly under scrutiny. Everything you write is always being judged. One misplaced word and you’re suddenly accused of outsourcing work to a foreign company. Just as bad, you might be accused of being a “content farmer,” those companies known for outsourcing work and producing nothing but incoherent and useless content.
However, despite how quick some clients and companies may be to make such accusations about legitimate writing companies, I find it interesting that there are a slew of “writing companies” to be found online that offer content as low as $1.99. It seems to me that in times like this when Google has been making it clear that the key to improved search rankings is quality content, businesses would want to use quality writing companies.
The old adage “you get what you pay for” is certainly the case in content writing. If you pay $1.99 for an article, you shouldn’t expect much. There are a number of issues with businesses such as these.
Content Created for Pennies
If a writer can work for pennies, then how are they making a living? No American can work for pennies and you shouldn’t expect quality work for content that you pay pennies for.
Who’s Your Writer?
Platforms such as these create a large database of projects that writers grab and write. This strategy doesn’t provide you with any way of ensuring the writer truly understands your business, your market, your goals and your audience. If you don’t know the writer, how can they know your business?
Spin Tag Versions For Free!
Really? If Panda and Penguin have taught us anything, it’s that spinning is no longer an option. Why on earth would a company that has your best interest in mind offer to provide you spun content?
Don’t Take a Chance with Your Content
Don’t take a chance with the quality of your content. Companies like this are a dime a dozen and if all you want is cheap content then that’s what you can expect. If you want content that is well-researched, well-written and follows the latest Google guidelines, then you’ve got to use a company with experience, proven quality and quick communication. Content marketing is the key to doing well in the search engines today and the last place a website needs to cut corners is in their content.
Writing projects today tend to be a whole lot more than just the written word. Writers are expected to also have web design/coding knowledge and even a little graphic design knowledge and although we do dabble in these areas, we certainly do not consider ourselves to be web designers or graphic designers. This can pose a problem when a client approaches us for an “eBook” and their idea of an “eBook” is not exactly what our idea of an ebook is. The main reason for this is because so many people are calling digital products a variety of different names. To prevent any communication breakdowns or issues within a project, it is best to first define exactly what your needs are prior to hiring anybody for your project.
Your first step should be to take a hard look at your project and what you envision the final product looking like. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you want the eBook to read like a book that you would pick up at your local bookstore or purchase on your iPad, Kindle, etc.? Do you want it to have the feel of a traditionally published book only in a digital format?
- Do you want the eBook to appear more like a magazine with heavy typesetting, formatting and including graphics and images?
- What do you plan to do with the book? Are you selling it on your website, its own website or on a self-publishing site like Lulu?
- Do you want the eBook to read as though you’re a friend talking to your reader? Or do you want it to read as a professional resource with cited sources?
These are the main questions that you need to ask yourself prior to hiring a writer or writing company and then you need to provide this information to the writer. By providing this information, you’re able to provide the writer with vital information needed to not only determine if they are the right person for the job, but also what they would charge you for the job. As a writing company, we not only base our prices on the length of a book, but also all of the extraneous factors involved, such as citing sources and writing in a professional rather than conversational tone or purchasing copyright free images to be used in the book.
If you need heavy layout work, that would also need to be considered because layout takes a considerable amount of time. In fact, we don’t even offer magazine style formatting, so you might find that you not only require a writer, but also a typesetter and you may even need a graphic designer that is a professional in the field and not a dabbler. It’s not uncommon for a project to require more than one person to complete the job, so you’ll need to consider this in your budget as well.
What happens if your needs become more than the writer can handle? Stick with the writer for the writing and then take the written project to a designer. Although we are capable of many things, if you’re looking for heavy formatting/layout that utilizes software such as Adobe InDesign, then you need a professional in that area and chances are that they are not going to be writers as well.
Finally, before you hire anybody, whether they are a writer or a designer, be sure to look at their portfolio. We have a sample eBook on our website that is free for you to download and it will give you a feel for the type of formatting we provide as part of our standard eBook writing services. We format our books so that they have more of a traditional printed book feel to them rather than a magazine feel, because that’s what we are able to do well. Portfolios are the key to understanding a person’s services. If you don’t like what you see, then chances are they won’t be the right fit for you and you should keep shopping.
When it comes to writing, it goes without saying that a writer can’t always match or write in the style that you’re looking for. Some writers just can’t write humor, while others write with a lot of humor, but lack in research and information. It really comes down to strengths and weaknesses. Our strength at Words You Want is to provide well-researched and informative articles, so our weaknesses tend to be really funny or really salesy content. It’s just not our style and we’ve found that the majority of our clients want well-researched and informational articles, while also being conversational, so that’s what we excel in and work hard to achieve. If you want a joke book, we’re not the company you want to hire. It’s just not our forte, and we’re fine with that.
Think about your favorite author and your least favorite author. Why do you like your favorite author? Perhaps you love Nicholas Sparks because his novels are always so heart touching and romantic. However, for someone else, his books may be too easy to predict. A couple falls in love, they have some sort of problem that tears them apart and then they come back together at the end. The bottom line is you just don’t like his style. One book may have been good for you, but you’re not running out to buy them all. It’s the same way with SEO writers. One article is good, but perhaps you don’t care for all of their writing because it’s just not a style you enjoy over and over. On the other hand, you might love the fact that every article from a particular writer is informational and consistent and you always know what you’re going to get. When you deal with writers that use a lot of humor, you don’t always know how much information versus humor you’re going to get.
The bottom line is that no matter how high ranking or how popular a writer or writing company is, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be a good fit for your project. It’s not that they’ve failed somehow, it’s just that your personal preference in writing style just doesn’t match how they write. It’s not the writer’s fault and it’s not your fault, it’s just not going to work out due to style differences.
The best way to determine if a writer’s style is what you are looking for is by looking at the samples in their portfolio. A good writer will always have samples for you to browse and ideally they will have samples over a variety of topics. For instance, we have over 100 different article samples in our portfolio for potential clients to read and browse. We’re also always adding new categories to the portfolio to cover as many bases as possible. We do our best to provide potential clients with ample opportunity to review our work so they have an idea of the quality and information that they’re going to get.