Why Your Company Can’t Afford Shoddy Web Content

Posted by on Oct 25, 2012 in Business Writing - General | 2 comments

The Web is flooded with low-priced content writers these days. Paying $5 – $15 per page or per article can sound appealing to budget-conscious business owners. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right option for your business.

You’ve heard the old saying “you get what you pay for,” and that couldn’t be more true in the world of Web content writing. Shoddy content, no matter how cheap, can come with real costs.

How Cheap Web Content Can Hurt Your Business

Here are some of the potential problems you’ll come across when you hire the least expensive content writers or bloggers you can find.

  • Many writers in this price range aren’t native English speakers. Some writers who speak English as a second language are truly fluent and they’re excellent contributors to your site. But most are not. If readers constantly have to stop and say “huh?”, the writer isn’t the only one who looks bad to your customers. So do you. Show them you don’t believe in your product or service enough to invest in a professional Web presence and they’ll show you they don’t believe in your product or service enough to buy it.
  • Plagiarism is common among extremely low-end content writers. If you’re caught, your business or website could take a major hit to its reputation. Is cheap plagiarized content worth the PR nightmare? Not really.
  • If you receive this kind of “rewritten” content, it likely violates the copyright of the original author. No one but that copyright holder has the right to authorize a derivative work to be created. That’s what rewriting or “spinning” is. You might not pay much for a “writer” to slap that content together for you, but you certainly could end up paying if you’re sued for copyright infringement. And remember. Plagiarism checker tools like Copyscape can’t usually identify derivative works. So don’t assume those tools will protect you from this kind of common infringement. Plenty of these folks pride themselves on being able to “beat” Copyscape and similar tools without getting caught.
  • You might assume that most people wouldn’t sue you for infringement anyway. First, that’s not true. Plenty of us protect our copyrights actively. And lawsuits aren’t all you have to worry about. When I find my content is stolen, for example, I usually go after the infringing party in a few ways — getting their content de-indexed from search engines to hit their traffic source, getting their ad accounts or advertiser relationships suspended for TOS violations using infringing content, and sometimes having entire sites shut down by hosts depending on the extent of the infringement. Those things are easy, and free, and they’re very real risks you face if you hire cheap content writers who can’t deliver unique work.

The next time you think about taking someone up on a bottom-of-the-barrel content writing offer, think about the shoddy content you’re likely to receive. And consider the risks to your business. Your best bet is to a hire a professional writer with experience in the type of writing you need or experience directly in your industry.

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If you’re on a tight budget and you can’t afford a professional writer yet, consider writing your own content. You can always hire an editor to help you clean things up at a lower rate than hiring someone to craft custom professional content. Just make sure you look at all of your options before you settle on something that might hurt the business you’ve worked so hard to build.

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger and freelance business writer. As the owner of 3 Beat Media she is also an author and active Web publisher behind websites including BizAmmo, All Indie Writers, and The Busy Author's Guide.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Jennifer,

    I’ve been a freelance print writer (magazines, newspapers) for years but as much of my work dries up I have now turned to the business world for new clients. I have also dipped my toes in online waters with mixed success.

    On your first point, “Why your company can’t afford shoddy web content” I think, never a truer word said. When I first started in the business writing world I spent a long time looking at company sites, company reports and other types of corporate writing and was surprised, (perhaps I shouldn’t have been) at some of the poor quality displayed by some well-known companies in the UK.

    So poor quality is a terrible advert for any business, it’s a message I am constantly trying to get across when company officials complain about the price I charge for work. The answer is simple, you get what you pay for.

    On the subject of theft, I think plagiarism is far too nice a word, where possible I too go after them but it’s so time consuming. I’m a small one man business and, as they say, time is money and sometimes reluctantly I let things go, even when I know I should go after them.

    I am hoping that all the recent Google algorithm changes will relegate these people to page one million. I live in hope.

    However it’s just occurred to me as I write this that an ebook on the best and quickest ways to deal with writing theft might just be a best-seller.

  2. I love the e-book idea Neil. If you ever release something along those lines, let me know. If it applies to a US audience in addition to UK writers, I’d be happy to mention it at All Freelance Writing — my freelance writing blog with quite a few readers who struggle with the same kinds of content theft issues. I know content thieves get my blood boiling, so any way to stop them more efficiently is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. :)

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