We’ve written about the cost of local SEO and national SEO, but what about the price of the content that drives nearly every aspect of online marketing? As with SEO, a better way to frame the question is from the perspective of the value of content writing.
Can you afford inexpensive writers?
Technology makes it possible for anyone with internet access to offer writing services on sites where writers and buyers can connect. A glance at these sites quickly shows the remarkably wide range of pricing, both per hour and per project, with a majority priced exceptionally low. A snapshot of the current freelance writer pool on industry giant Upwork, for example, shows more than 800,000 writers on the site, with nearly 350,000 of those charging $10 or less per hour and a total of about 700,000 charging less than $30.
It’s clear that hiring a content writer can be affordable for most businesses, but choosing a writer solely on price can backfire. Here are the two most important reasons why:
- Search engines: Google and other major search engines place a great deal of value on original content that’s relevant to users’ search queries when ranking sites in search results. Conversely, websites with content copied from other sites or that contain links to irrelevant third-party sites will compromise good rankings.
- Site visitors: Every business has one chance to make a first impression on people who come to their websites. According to the Content Marketing Institute, the median time site visitors spend reading an article is just 37 seconds. That means people make fast decisions on whether a business offers what they’re seeking, is trustworthy enough to buy from, and makes engagement easy. Poorly written content can waste this all-important chance and send potential buyers back to search results and on to a competitor.
Can a writer charging $10 an hour deliver well-crafted content that supports your business goals, your customers’ needs, and search-engine rankings? It’s certainly possible, but it’s not likely. It’s difficult to overstate the value of good content when it has the power to bring people to your website and improve the quality of your leads. Check out Google’s guide to creating valuable content for details on the importance of using content to “create the best possible experience for your audience.”
How to choose a writer.
Great writers with solid marketing skills can be found on freelancer sites if you know what to look for.
- Profiles: Most sites give writers space for them to describe their qualifications, specialties, and approach to projects. Check this first: If a writer didn’t take the time to craft a perfect statement to sell themselves—free of typos and jargon—move on. A lack of attention to detail should be a deal-breaker.
- Experience: Look for writers who have experience in your specific industry or in an industry that’s closely related to yours, and in writing the type of content you need. A writer whose specialty is technical copy for engineering firms may not be a good fit for a conversational blog post for your organic food store.
- Reviews: Reviews should be used carefully to assess writers. A long list of unsatisfied clients is a red flag, of course, but a writer with mostly positive reviews shouldn’t be dismissed due to a couple of negative reviews. Clients share some responsibility for outcomes through their contributions to the project and, let’s face it—some people just like to complain. It can be difficult to sort out which reviews are fair and accurate.
- Samples: Seeing a writer’s work is a must, and you should be able to review quite a few samples when making your decision. Keep in mind the unseen variables in writing samples: they may have been improved by a good editor or are not entirely original. The more samples, the better.
- Communication: Once you’ve contacted a writer, how promptly does he or she respond to your messages? A writer’s communication skills and style in the initial conversations are good indicators of how he or she will work with you throughout the life of your project.
When your project gets under way, remember that you also have a role in its successful outcome. To help a writer provide you with great work, give them what they need: timely and thorough responses to their questions, access to your subject matter experts, background on your audience, and creative direction on the tone and voice that’s right for your company.