CONTENT IS NOT A COMMODITY

Things like coffee and copper are commodities. They are raw materials that can be bought and sold, straight up and at face value. Content is not a raw material, and it certainly isn’t a commodity.

In today’s modern outsourcing ecosystem, we can get caught up in sacrificing good for easy, which unintentionally often leads to good enough. From a copywriting standpoint, there are services like Scripted and eCopywriters. These services can work, I’m not knocking them completely, but marketers and brands braving the outsourced copywriting matrix should proceed with caution.Just as I said I’m not knocking these services, I am also not condoning them. Yet.

Before you turn to an iWriter, do some digging to see if can you find an actual human being. Ask friends or colleagues if they know of anyone that is a good writer, put an ad on Craigslist, or run over to your local college campus and find the English department. There are plenty of local resources to tap before going to the ewriters well. I guarantee that this in person and local approach is going to be just as time-consuming, if not more, than turning to robotwriters.com. When you engage the robots, you fill out a form where you and your brand are a faceless entity. After answering a set of questions or an open essay format telling them everything they need to know, you are then matched with potential writers. You can review their work and pick the best option. Some of these services will allow you to communicate with the writer, but only through the services portal. Also, this writer at the end of the portal is most likely taking on numerous other projects, because these gigs don’t pay well. So the time they invest in research and producing a great product is minimal. Take it from someone who tried this route and then quickly realized that my payment would never allow me to keep up my food and shelter addiction. 

It’s a quantity vs.quality game with most of these writers, and the lack of quality directly affects your bottom line, not theirs. To even make a dent in their bills. They are often working on multiple jobs and bouncing between industries, brands, and tone. Quantity before quality is a bad approach. Plus, skirting around the writer and forcing them to split their meager earnings with the middleman-playing matchmaker is a bad system that undervalues a writer's worth. If you want a matchmaker, stick to online dating. If you want quality content search at home and be patient with little waiting.

When you do find a real person that you can see and feel – although don’t feel too much because that’s creepy—ask to see some writing samples. If they can’t produce them on the spot, don’t quit them just yet. Some of the best writers just haven’t found a platform outside of their Moleskin manuscripts. Give them a shot and see what they can do when given specific guidelines and expectations. Give them a tester run to see if they can write for your brand. Unless you live in the backwoods shelter of New Mexico where the hills have eyes (circa 2006), and the people can’t read, you have writer resources near by. Don’t send us hate mail because you are from the backwoods of New Mexico—If you can read this, we weren’t talking about you. Find a local writer or writers that are reliable, responsive, and within reach.

If you can’t find steady local or regional resources, and have to turn to the ghost copywriter in the machine, play to the strengths of these services. Give outsourced writers smaller, less content heavy responsibilities. Things like emails, product descriptions, and blog posts can be easier to brief in with someone at a distance. On these content channels, you can give guidance and information like websites, SEO goals, and other examples to help guide them to a successful product.

Then, take the local resources and use them for content channels that need more involvement and understanding of your products and services. Those channels are whitepapers, e-books, website copy, and blogs posts. I know we said blog posts twice, but the SEO driven topics can run without a lot of involvement, where the advice, leadership, and perspective that customers crave has to come from you or someone who knows you.

Whatever you do, the first thing to understand is that high quality and relevant content takes time and effort. When you commit to regular content practices, it’s important to do the work yourself or with someone close by to understand how long things take. Once you dial in the time for blog posts, or e-books, you can better manage any outsourced writers, and you can show them what “great” looks like. If they can’t cut it, you need to cut them loose and let them find another eclient.