Last week I mentioned the copy mills and
hinted at a personal desire to light a few torches, sharpen a pitchfork and go after companies making a fast buck on cheap copy.
Looks like I’m not the only one*.
Over the past few days Twitter has been churning furiously with writers like Tom Albrighton and Ben Locker weighing in on a new content mill’s $.004 per word pricing. Their calm “you get what you pay for” pieces inspired retweets, writerly ire, and finally a summation by Andrew Nattan’s blog ummemorable title that was as delightfully weary as the topic makes me feel.
Sure anyone can write, right? As Larner Caleb put it, “Trouble for writers is… everyone is taught to write as soon as they can pick up a crayon. Therefore, we’ve all got the necessary tools to write…” Just as I start to grind my teeth, Larner adds, “But not necessarily the tools to write copy.”
That’s the key point for me: expertise. (Oh, and value… and professionalism.)
We writers are always learning, always talking and researching and looking for ways to produce brilliant results for our clients. But we aren’t working for free (or per word), and we aren’t looking to “build experience” by selling ourselves and our insights short. Yes, these are “challenging economic times” and budgets are tight. But be honest, the right copy – tailored, focused and optimised by a pro who’s spending their time researching new ways to get your product, skill or sponsorship the best results – is going to last a lot longer than a poor quarter.
Of course, while more established writers like Locker are happy to wait out clients burned by cheap content that didn’t deliver, it’s not always easy for new writers still building their business to take that high road. Be strong, my writing brethren, sharpen those pens and get back to your clients. Show them you mean business with stellar work and great concepts; suggest something extra along with the job at hand. Remember that bad ideas (like Crystal Pepsi, Zubaz and content filler) fade while building a portfolio based on solid work and skill never goes out of style.
* Maybe I’m the only one entertaining ideas of fiery revenge, but I’m certainly not the only miffed writer.