Here's what it actually looks like when you underpay for marketing content

man upset with underpaying for marketing content
High-quality content is expensive upfront to produce, but once published yields engaged visitors forevermore
— Jason Amunwa, Director of Products, Filament

Next year, 70% of marketers will spend more of their budget on content. They’ll do this despite the fact that only 40% of them have a documented strategy for utilizing it. That’s pretty worrisome, as the signal to noise ratio in the marketing world is bouncing off the charts and businesses across the globe plan to continue spewing out even greater mountains of "me too" written rubbish

By now marketers should almost take it for granted that saying more doesn’t get you more. Even though your content may be a “paid” channel, the results are earned. You can’t simply pour more coal on the fire like you can with online ads and expect the same results. The quality of your content matters immensely, and when you underpay for it and try to make it up in volume, well, you get precisely what you pay for. 

You chose to pay less. What’s the surprise? 

Freelance writing is a wonderfully open market with little barrier to entry. A pen, a pulse, and smile is often all it takes to get started and as a brand, this practically guarantees that there’s always somebody willing to work for you for less. This is both encouraging for new entrants hoping to land their first gig and tiresome for seasoned writers who have to battle the unwashed hordes to find proper clients. Jobs are both easier to find and yet harder to land than ever.

This isn’t for a lack of proposed solutions. Freelancing sites like Fiverr, Freelancer.com, and UpWork have tried to close this gap by connecting millions of businesses with contractors in a highly competitive marketplace, but it’s mostly turned it into a volatile race to the bottom. What marketer couldn’t resist paying $5 for a full-length article? Indeed, most can’t. Freelancer.com boasts more than 21 million users and UpWork claims to have processed over $1 billion in freelancer billings. Even here at Find A Way we’ve been tempted, and while we’re entirely open to the idea that there are some hidden gems out there, sifting through the silt has been dismaying. 

What we find, both in trying to hire writers and seeking out new clients is that there exists latent, simmering, market-wide exasperation with the process. The other employers that we've talked to have dabbled with cheaper options before drawing the same conclusion that you get what you pay for. After a time, they all traded up. 

It is a constant, vicious cycle of poor quality, wasted time from doing menial tasks ... and perhaps, occassionally connecting with a few good quality people
— Jessie Nickles, Founder of LittleBizzy, employer of freelancers

 

These businesses have come to recognize that their time is valuable, and that any savings in cost is typically offset by an increased need for handholding. They also came to recognize that their website, their blog, and their online presence are their very first and most critical impression that they make on clients, investors, partners, and employees. It’s the bottleneck where their visitors decide to stay or go - where they make a snap decision about whether they trust them.

Is this all-important first impression truly the point in your sales cycle where you want to cut costs? We know that we sure wouldn’t. That’s like searching for a cut-rate surgeon or sampling on discount sushi. 

Instead, when you invest in this critical conversion point and pay more for good content, you get back more than you put in.

Here's what you’re actually paying for with more expensive content: 

  • A memorable, effective first impression
  • English mastery, not just proficiency
  • A clear writing voice that, y’know, humanizes and connects
  • A logical flow to some truly compelling ideas
  • Industry expertise and contextual awareness
  • Commonsense. Really can't stress that one enough.  

Here's what that difference in quality actually looks like 

We felt like it would only be right to run an empirical test and so we offered the same project to six freelancers, three at $0.10/word (a low yet normal rate on freelancing platforms) and three at $0.75/word, and asked them to write a quick bio about a made-up marketing software company. Here’s what the best of both groups came up with. 

Output A, cheap content

Is your company dealing in the SaaS platform? Are you struggling with conversions from your leads? Do you want to increase sales and get the maximum from your leads?

We are here to serve you. With the advent of new ways in marketing businesses in the ever evolving mobile and web applications across different industries, marketing has changed too. Many companies are moving to SaaS-based because of its cost effectiveness and lease based services. We generate leads for you by providing the prospective customer with a host of options, we give them vital information, free demos, and much necessary buyer guide for businesses. For the past 3 years, our clients have increased their sales by great margins. We have saved them lot of money and helped them increasing the profits.

(This goes on, but it's cut short for brevity.)

Output B, expensive content

You don’t just need more leads, you need better leads. Leads that sizzle - with buyers that are chomping at the bit for the paperwork. Where can we find more of those prospects? 

LeadGen Inc is made for sales and born out of a singular vision: to simplify the sales process. You’re busy, after all, and in an age where the average sales rep pours 35% of their time into prospecting and data entry, LeadGen’s SaaS platform frees you up by identifying, qualifying, and booking appointments with high caliber leads.  

The difference is stark. Now, nobody is saying that this is a statistically valid study, but it does feel telling. The former piece would probably require more work to untangle than it would to just scrap it and start over. If you do this, your money isn’t just wasted, but you're out the time spent searching for, communicating with, and hiring the freelancer. The second version? Now that’s something that we can publicly stand behind. 

When it’s all said and done, it makes sense to dabble in cheap content. There’s always the possibility that the next undiscovered Seth Godin is out there, just hoping that you’ll stumble across him, but the odds are unlikely. If you value your time, you value how your brand is perceived, and you don’t want to do the writing yourself, it makes sense to pay more for good content.

You get what you pay for, after all.  

Is this consistent with your freelance outsourcing experience?