Hi. This is an old, unmaintained blog. You may find these sites more to your liking:

Carson Brackney: This is my primary site.

Ad Astra Traffic: Content production/article writing service.

Ad Astra Traffic Team: For those who'd like to get writing gigs with Ad Astra.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

On content writing and quality...The challenge of marketing "the good stuff"...Part II

So, how does a content writer market quality work in a world where many don't seem to be able to differentiate top-notch material from low-grade semi-sense that barely passes Word's grammar check? Here's the way I see it...

Inferior material may pass a busy webmaster's cursory review. It may even work for a significant percentage of those who visit the site and who don't sense a difference between the passable and the superior. However, there will be a contingency who will notice lackluster writing and those people will be turned off by junk. Even more importantly, they will be attracted to quality.

Those who run with poor content are leaving money on the table. They are losing a segment of their potential market by feeding them weak content.

Many buyers recognize this but will argue that the loss in volume resulting from the inferior content doesn't justify the expense of paying for a truly talented writer. As much as it hurts to admit that retort makes sense, it does. Even though many freelance content writers would like to think everyone should spend for greatness as a matter of principle, online businesses must be concerned first and foremost with the bottom line.

However, I do think that argument against buying better content loses strength when one considers at least three different factors.

First, the market segment alienated by poor content consists, in large measure, of those who are more likely to have money to spend. Let's say lousy content only costs one 10% of their potential customers in raw numbers. That 10%, however, is likely to be more educated and to have more disposable income than the bulk of the visitor population. In other words, the demographic that will respond positively to high-quality content is one site operators should covet, not neglect.

Second, the price differential between low-grade and quality content is marginal. At least the difference between my prices and many bargain producers is slight. I believe the idea that "you get what you pay for" has led many potential buyers to believe that acquiring the services of a good content writer will cost them an arm and a leg. That isn't the case. There is a price difference, but it is not as dramatic as many may assume. Additionally, the perks that come with hiring a talented writer usually include a higher degree of reliability and professionalism, which should close the gap even tighter in the minds of many buyers.

Third, good content is more powerful than crap. It increases the length of page views. It results in bookmarking. Even in an Adsense model, the stickiness associated with quality content makes it a winner. Even more importantly, that quality can multiply the value of the material by the backlinks it produces. No other site will voluntarily take it upon itself to link to the latest really horrible "diet tips" article churned out by some hack willing to trade 500 words for a candy bar. However, an insightful article on the same subject may inspire many other webmasters and bloggers to point out the material. Spontaneous backlink creation like that is worthwhile. It's great for the SERPs and has the secondary advantage of creating direct traffic flows.

Fine, those are all great arguments in favor of quality content. The question we are more concerned with here, however, is how to make that pitch to someone who doesn't seem able to differentiate between F. Scott Fitzgerald and the high school kid who lives across the street. Here are a few tactics one can use to crack that nut.

I have offered to "clean up" some of a webmaster's existing text just to show them the difference. When one has the chance to compare a great version of their message with the seemingly acceptable existing version, the difference can really stand out.

I am not afraid to tell clients when something is lousy and why I feel that way. It may be hard to find a way to do that while remaining polite and not seeming like a jackass, but it can be done. By pointing out problems and explaining them, you can spotlight the distinctions between good and bad work.

Testimonials from others are nice, but may not pack a lot of weight with regard to this issue, because you could very well have a collection of accolades from others who don't necessarily focus on the finer points of written English.

Offering a test drive is another good technique. The client who may not be willing to pay a higher rate on a 5o article project from the start will often changer his or her mind after booking a five article project and seeing the difference between good and sloppy work.

The tabloids are in every supermarket, but getting a copy of Nobel Prize winning literature from your public library might require an interlibrary loan request. That's where things are today. We swim in information and so much of it is poorly written that we may not even notice it. The internet hasn't escaped that fate. In fact, it's probably worse online than it is out in the world.

That does not mean that quality has become meaningless. It doesn't mean that talented freelance content writers should surrender and assume that no one cares whether or not work is good. It does, however, make it slightly more difficult to market quality as a primary selling point.

When I started Content Done Better, I did so with a simple mission in mind: To professionally and reliably produce high-quality content at reasonable prices.

I've discovered that marketing the "quality" part of the equation does make a difference. I cannot say that it makes as much difference as handling interactions professionally, being reliable or maintaining competitive pricing, but it does make a difference.

So, if you are reading this as a potential buyer, look closely at quality, what it is, and what it means before making a decision about which freelance content writer to hire.

If you are reading this as another writer, don't abandon your commitment to quality. It does make a difference and you can market that difference.