You may (or may not) have noticed that I recently took the plunge into the dark, dank world of freelancing. This experience has opened my eyes to another layer within the business world and our beautiful industry. For the first time I’ve had to sell myself instead of just previously being the not inconsiderable brain behind some genius online marketing campaigns.
One of my skillsets is writing (I know, who’d a thunk it) and although it’s a bit lower down on my list of ‘specialities’ I have been contacted about and completed a couple of writing projects so far. From these projects and keeping my ear to the ground I have noticed an interesting but not surprising phenomenon.
Companies, brands and agencies still don’t seem to realise that producing something of high quality/value will in turn potentially have high costs.
I won’t give names but there are a large number of businesses who preach the holy arts of quality content, pleading with us that we should see the light and ask Cutts to forgive us for our keyword targeted sins.
And then outsource the creation of it for buttons.
Now don’t get me wrong this is business and most of us will understand/concede that this is the way it’s always worked. You need some articles? Some landing pages? Perhaps a guest post? Simple get on elance or odesk, add a job and don’t you dare spend more than £30 per post!
Even worse (and this is rarely aired in public) is where SEO’s will manipulate industry contacts and ‘friends’, underpaying them for content or not even paying them at all. Fortunately this hasn’t happened to me yet but I have multiple contacts within the online marketing world where this has happened to them.
Anyway, enough of the sob story.
How things used to be
Lets think about an example…
Pre Panda/Penguin agencies and businesses are still doing low level link building and creating crappy landing pages that might get long tail traffic and if they’re lucky rank for a short tail term if they chuck enough links at it. Lets call our agency White Hot SEO. Our head of SEO/content/whatever is called Tim and he outsources content to the far east for £2 per post, if he’s feeling generous and needs something extra special he’ll contact a UK or US writer and shell out £30 per post.
Tim’s clients are paying thousands of pounds per month. He is keeping costs down by outsourcing ‘smartly’ and getting good results for his clients. His staff are happy, his outsourcers are happy, his clients are happy and Tim is happy.
There maybe trouble ahead…
So, here comes trouble. Panda and Penguin rear their ugly heads and Tim is now in a world of pain. His clients who were used to the best rankings, traffic increases and positive reports are now furious. He’s been hammered by Panda because his content is awful before later being sunk by Penguin because his links are just as bad. He’s lost clients, let staff go and stopped outsourcing because “it was their fault”. What does the poor boy do?
He reads to find out what has happened, he reads to work out why it’s happened and he reads to work out how to fix it. He learns that this time content really is king. It helps attract visitors, it builds a brand, it gains links, it gets people to make that purchase. All of the things that his previous content suppliers couldn’t do.
The thing is Tim still expects the prices of content creation to stay the same regardless of his new found expectations of quality. He was paying £30 previously for a crappy keyword stuffed piece and expects the quality to improve massively whilst paying the same amount.
How does this work? This doesn’t make sense. He’s basically saying “I want you to create something of high value but at a low cost”. I’m sorry but this thought process ist kaput ja?
We’ve got to talk about content
The biggest problem is that Tim isn’t alone in thinking this way.
Like I’ve said I don’t write too often so it isn’t something I have to personally deal with but by looking at freelance sites, talking to freelancers and companies alike I see new attitudes to content value but old attitudes in its cost.
Isn’t it time that writers/creatives were paid the money they deserve? Don’t get me wrong, I am not asking for increased pay for all content creators, don’t rush to get your wallet out for just anyone. If they can’t write or create anything of note then leave them in the £30 bracket that amateurs will pay. However if you’re looking for something of value, a piece of genuine quality that will make the difference within a competitive market then it’s going to cost you.
Do you really expect any different?
It’s time the industry realised this and took it seriously.