I remember one of the first things I read about blogging which was – ‘blogging is simply journalism, without standards‘.
That phrase has stayed with me, firstly because it was an attack against journalism and their own levels of integrity and secondly because it really attempted to place blogging on the very bottom rung of the writing ladder.
This article looks at some of the implications that have arisen as a result of this negative belief in blogging and examines;
- how it affects pay rates for freelance bloggers
- how it impacts on the overall quality of blogs being produced
- what are the implications for the content marketing sector which uses blogging as a marketing tool?
The Commercialisation of Bloggers.
Bloggers need work, there is no denying that and many freelance bloggers use community board sites to seek work and also have a formal go between, to be assured of payment.
However, these companies cost the blogger dearly, most notably in the low rates of pay, lack of support and the on-going risk of work and reputation being rubbished by clients, even when the problem wasn’t the writer’s fault.
But the biggest problem is that blogging has been evaluated in terms of the number of words written on a page within a short space of time.
It has completely underestimated the VALUE of the content and the PURPOSE of the blog, which runs much deeper than just the number of words.
Measuring The Value Of A Blog Post
In order to ascribe a value to something like a blog post, you need to understand what the company wants that post to achieve, and then measure whether that has been done.
Content marketing is about attracting clients to a website in order to purchase goods or services, and a blog post is a means to bring them there.
The blog post is, therefore the start of a customer lifecycle which consists of;
- raising awareness of a company or product
- informing clients about the background of the product and company
- building trust and explaining why they should buy from this company
- leading the client through the buying cycle, often by writing several articles on a theme or about a specific product.
That blog post is worth significantly more to the company than the 400-800 words on a page. It is an ongoing gateway for potential customers to meet the company and its products and it is part of the overall buying process.
This is a point raised by Jennifer Mattern in her post, which provides a response to the view that companies cannot afford to pay top quality writing rates and therefore bloggers should accept the lower $5-25 a post writing assignments.
Her argument is that companies hiring bloggers are investing in their own PR strategy for the company, and like any serious business they need to get this right. In other words;
- Employ the right writers,
- Invest in the right work and
- Develop the content as part of a long term marketing plan.
Setting A Minimum Standard for Bloggers
In her revamped article from 2009 Carol Tice stated why it is important not to accept low paying writing gigs. She states that her main reason for not supporting this exploitation of writers is;
"If I accept this kind of work, it reinforces the idea that high-quality content on specialized topics can be obtained from professional writers at one-tenth or less of what was, until recently, market rates. I refuse to encourage this trend." (Carol Tice)
Carol makes a very valid point.
Especially as content writing mills and freelance companies such as Upwork (formerly e-lance) continue to exploit writers by encouraging overly competitive tendering. As a result writers are under pressure time wise and competing against writers in countries where the relative value of the US$ is a lot higher than in Western countries.
All of this process places the focus on cheaper, faster writing …. what happened to recognising expertise and quality writing?
Content Marketing Needs Quality and Expertise
Any business that is serious about its marketing will be seeking to monitor the progress of blog posts and see which articles are bringing in customers.
Ideally as a business or marketing manager you want a certain level of consistency across your writing and a writer that you can quickly contact and say ‘I need this revamped‘ or ‘another article similar to x but on y‘.
Your writer is a valued member of your team, one that can reach out to your customer base at the touch of a keyboard and inform them of what is happening.
Hiring at $5-$25 sends out a clear message to writers;
- You don’t value the work
- Your marketing plan is unstructured
- You don’t value your clients enough to try and communicate meaningfully with them
- You are not going to be measuring the ongoing performance of the blog posts
If that is the message then why should the writer care about your business or your customer group?
For some writers, especially students or those new to freelance writing, there will always be people willing to write for low rates.
However as a business with a genuine content marketing strategy these are not the writers you need developing your articles.
Instead you should have clear expectations of what your writer should be achieving and then agreeing a payment that matches your expectations and the ability of the writer – and like any employee of a company there will be opportunities to re-negotiate contracts as you both gain a better understanding of what is required and what can be realistically achieved.
Hopefully this article has helped to clarify the role that writers should play within business content marketing.
If you are a business owner looking to take on a blogger the decision is like most business decisions –
- how will this advance my company and
- does this support my current marketing approach?
If there are positive answers to these 2 questions then the decision to invest properly should be obvious.
There are a number of other articles on this site that are written for businesses using either freelance or in-house bloggers, these include;
- Is Blogging A Business?
- Successful Blogging
- Why Blogging is the Best Way to Attract More Links to Your Website