Will Wheaton I, a humble copywriter and science journalist, salute you.
The former Star Trek star, now barrelslayer, tweeted this after a small dispute over pay with Huffington Post:
The tweet was then followed by another:
And a brilliant blog post fully explaining the situation also followed.
It's an important message in today's world where we are drowning in words. Tweets, status updates, emails and instant messages flood our screens giving the impression that words are an expendable commodity that anyone can use to good effect. To quote Mr Wheaton again: "50,000 monkeys at 50,000 typewriters can't be wrong."
But they are wrong. Good words don't come cheap. Good copy don't come cheap. I'd like to share with you a similar experience that I had.
Once upon a blog post..
A couple of months ago, I was in talks with a potential client about writing a series of blog posts for his technology start-up's website. It was a familiar scenario. He was snowed under with the usual ins and outs of setting up a business and wanted to hire in a writer with technical knowledge to establish his brand, connect with customers and boost the SEO of the website. He just didn't have the time to write the blog himself.
Then I received an email from the prospective client, let's call him Marmaduke, telling me he had decided to enlist a mutual friend who was only charging £10 per post.
We parted amicably and I thought that was that.
The other day, I had another email from Marmaduke. He was concerned about the blog posts. The writer had not captured the company's ethos, understood the technical side of the business and not thoroughly spell checked the posts. But then a competitor called to say one of the posts was pretty similar to one of their posts.
Marmaduke did a little more research on the blog and soon discovered his writer had been copying competitors' blog posts or regurgitating old news stories. The work was not original. In fact, it was downright plagiarism. No wonder it only cost £10 a post to produce.
How does cheap copy affect your business?
Bargain basement copywriting is a false economy and it can cost you and your business in more ways than one:
1. Your reputation
Readers will not realise your copy is written by a third party. They will assume it is you and your business so it's your reputation on the line. This is especially true for ghost written content. So remember, even if you didn't write the copy - your business and its values are at the forefront of your readers' minds.
2. Your business
A dodgy blog will not just raise questions from competitors, customers will notice. They will notice the typos, the incoherent messages and the dull copy. Rather than building a brand and connecting with customers, you'll end up alienating or boring them.
3. Your website
Google penalises copied content and copy that shoehorns in obvious keyword phrases. But it can get more serious than that. A site hosted in the US may be hit with a DMCA takedown notice, where the content must be removed from the website. If the owner does not comply, the entire site can be taken offline by the ISP.
When you invest in a professional writer, you don't just pay for a few lines of text. You pay for years of experience, original content, in-depth research, someone who will take the time to understand your business, brand, customers and voice, a certain level of professionalism and high-quality copy that's not littered with spelling mistakes and inconsistencies.
If your budget will not stretch to paying a freelance writer, it's usually best to write your blog posts and copy yourself. You can ask friends and family to proofread your work if you're unsure of your abilities. Or you could ask an experienced writer to proofread and provide feedback on the content for you - it will be cheaper than getting them to write a post from scratch.
Or you could take the same approach as the Huffington Post and convince writers to work for your for free. But, to paraphrase Mr Wheaton again, a writer can't pay their rent with "the unique platform and reach our site provides."
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I'm the freelance writer who gets tech. So, I blog on three core topics:
Science and Technology