In a digital market space with billions of pages of written content, getting noticed by consumers and maintaining their interest is no easy task. In fact, content marketing—the use of articles, blog posts and newsletters to generate leads and drive conversion—is now a multi-trillion-dollar industry, and shows no signs of slowing down.
This presents a unique challenge for businesses with limited budgets that want to get their message out. However, when it comes to online content, quality is paramount. Not only do consumers dislike poor writing, but with a nearly unlimited number of options to satisfy their need for helpful, informative, trustworthy content, they are quick to dismiss the irrelevant, mundane or obscure.
The pitfalls of hiring a cheap writer go beyond poor grammar, false statements and a confused narrative. In this article, we’ll look at how low-quality writing can harm your business, and why it’s worth paying for cost-effective, high-quality writers to strengthen and promote your brand.
1. They’re overworked or undervalued — both are bad for you
There are two leading scenarios that allow for low-cost writing, and it’s probably fairer to swap “cheap” for “underpaid.”
On the one hand, everybody has to start somewhere, and that’s usually at the bottom. Unseasoned writers—which doesn’t translate to untalented or unmotivated writers—have the arduous task of making a name for themselves, building a portfolio, and gaining experience. In the meantime, they have bills to pay.
On the other hand, so-called content mills, cheap writing services that focus on pumping out large amounts of content at stupendously low costs, are bastions of overworked, underpaid writers that prioritise quantity over quality at every opportunity.
In both cases, low-cost writers find themselves in the position of having to do more for less money. As a result, your project doesn’t receive the time and effort it deserves. Instead, you’ll end up with recycled or unoriginal content (an SEO no-no), and writing that lacks polish and pizazz, and is sure to drive away customers.
2. It’s harder to build long-term relationships
Content creation is the new marketing norm, and it has to be done ongoingly. Unfortunately, it’s no longer sufficient to publish your website and wait for the traffic to start flowing in. The Internet is simply too vast and too competitive.
A good writer is somebody who can help you define your brand and share its story through consistent content over time. However, high-quality, low-cost writers don’t usually stay low-cost for long. Eventually, they’ll move on to bigger and better things by finding clients who will pay them a higher rate.
To conclude, opting for a cheap writing service early on likely means you won’t have the same writer for very long. As a result, you’ll lose all the time and money you spent communicating your needs and vision, and agreeing on a voice and direction, as well as the trust you established with that particular writer.
3. Cheap writers are often jacks of all trades, and masters of none
Many professional writers are able to charge the rates they do because their expertise transcends writing. Pre-existing topic proficiency is an invaluable asset when it comes to hiring a writer for your business, and one that merits investment.
At Eleven, our writers have studied, worked in, and written extensively on a variety of topics, from finance to computer science, ancient history, psychology, cybersecurity, medicine, and more. Each of us is an expert in writing, and well-versed in one or more fields.
Cheap writing services, on the other hand, cast a wide net. The low cost translates to a voracious appetite for new clients at all costs, such that businesses are matched with writers who are unfamiliar with their field of operation and thus less able to produce convincing, trustworthy content—the kind that consumers crave to help guide their decision-making.
So, low-cost writing is normally inexpert, unauthoritative, and ineffectual — three things consumers strongly dislike.
4. They may not be native-level English speakers
This isn’t to say that there aren’t coherent, expressive, excellent second-language writers, in English and other languages. But these are the exception to the rule. As anybody who has learned a second language can tell you, writing fluidly and eloquently outside one’s native language is extremely difficult to do well.
Unfortunately, cheap ESL writers may be willing to lie to businesses about their level of skill or experience, and also make easy prey for content mills willing to exploit low labor costs. Either way, be wary of low rates that may reflect an imperfect command of the English language.
5. A lack of up-to-date SEO knowledge and/or the means to act on it
Cheap writing services and low-cost writers may profess to be experts in SEO, but this betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of modern SEO techniques.
Google and other search engines have adopted models emphasising the value of high-quality information that responds to user intent. They have also become much more adept at “fuzzy” logic, leveraging related concepts (like “smartphone”, “cell phone”, and “mobile”) to find content that may better respond to a user’s query even if the exact search term is missing.
All of this calls for experienced writers who have sufficient time and energy to carefully and thoroughly conceptualise the appropriate structure, breadth, and depth of a written piece, to help guide users from search query to content. So, even if the writer has the ability, a higher cost will be required to allow the time necessary.
Indeed, a practiced hand may be more expensive, but the return is far superior. Your site will rank higher for target search terms and more readily satisfy user intent, keeping Google and other search engines interested.
6. Briefing, revisions, and alterations
Writing is a process, one that professional writers will be happy to include you in. In fact, the best ones will insist on it.
Whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship or a one-off partnership to publish a high-quality e-book or overhaul your website’s copy, just like graphic design, web development and other artistic services, writing benefits greatly from active communication to set expectations, communicate goals, and coordinate on revisions.
At Eleven, for example, we’ve streamlined the writing process into four steps of equal importance: Break the Ice, Establish, Create, and Review. Each step allows us to better understand your vision, shape it with writing expertise, and refine it for your audience.
A cheap writing service, on the other hand, may gloss over or skip entirely these important steps. Due to the low cost, they are often unwilling to oversee the more abstract, less profit-oriented aspects of your project, which can lead to misunderstandings, disappointment, and serious buyer’s remorse.
7. They are inflexible writers, and your voice will be lost
For reasons we’ve already covered, cheap writing services and independent low-cost writers tend to focus on quantity over quality.
Rather than emphasising creativity and flexibility, two essential ingredients for the kind of bespoke content that will really resonate with your audience and customers, this kind of thinking prioritises cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all strategies.
As a result, your unique voice gets lost in a mad rush to pump out content and compensate for the low cost per word. This may sound like a compromise you’re willing to make, but brand uniqueness is essential to standing out before an audience of info-savvy consumers hungry for authenticity and originality.
Your voice and your vision are built into the DNA of your business, and professional writers will know how to maintain that code by adapting their writing style to fit your audience. Cheap writers, on the other hand, lack the time, experience or skill to do so, and consumers have no time for content they deem irrelevant or unoriginal.
8. Your brand, and not the writer, will be penalised for poor writing
You may think that by paying for a service, even signing a contract, you’re guaranteed a certain level of quality. Unfortunately, many cheap services know better than to put stock in their overworked, underpaid writers, and are typically slow or simply unwilling to resolve customer dissatisfaction. As a result, you’re left holding the bag when readers find your content uninteresting or irrelevant, or are scared away by poor writing.
The fact of the matter is, most consumers don’t care who is writing your content, only that it be informative, interesting, original, free of spelling and grammar mistakes, and offers them some kind of solution. The money you save by hiring low-cost writers will be quickly lost when your brand fails to generate new leads and maintain customers.
It’s a sad and frustrating truth, but nobody will pardon your brand for poor content just because you didn’t write it yourself.
9. Writers deserve to be paid well for their work
This is one of Eleven’s core tenets, a cornerstone of our Writers’ Haven approach to employing talented writers with specific topic expertise.
Throughout this article, I have tried to limit my use of the phrase “cheap writers”, because I can’t help feeling it’s somewhat pejorative. Every professional writer at Eleven started out as a “cheap writer”, underselling their services to build a portfolio and gain experience. Of course, this is true of most careers, and especially true of the arts.
If you’ve made it this far in the article, you’ve seen that there are many excellent reasons for investing in a fairly priced, professional writing service, and many excellent reasons not to waste your money on a cheap one.
From a financial perspective, the cost-to-value ratio for a well-paid, high-quality writer is exponentially greater. They have the freedom, confidence, security, and, perhaps most importantly, the time and energy to whole-heartedly commit their experience, skills and knowledge to your business.
The choice you make to invest properly in good writing is not only beneficial to your brand—although it is undoubtedly that—but also supports a group of talented and hard-working individuals dedicated to helping companies find their voice, disseminate their message, and, ultimately, succeed financially.
Content has become the new standard for customer engagement. In fact, consumers rank trustworthiness, shared values, and being understood as more important than their reliance on a brand’s products or services.
In the judicious words of Lisa Gansky, “A brand is a voice and a product is a souvenir.” A cheap writing service or low-cost writer is a patently poor investment, because it puts your voice at risk and undermines your product.
Your business, brand and reputation are important to you, but don’t expect content mills, cheap writing services, and overworked low-cost writers to share that view. Instead, hire a professional service that delivers on quality, cooperation, and accountability.
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A graduate of Psychology and Archeology, Christian joined Eleven to further explore and write about the great sciences that comprise our world. When he isn't nose-deep in a new book, he can be found cycling, practising yoga, or enjoying a cold beer or two by the seaside.