Beware of Promises of Cheap and Easy Content!
I am always on the lookout for assistance in producing content, I simply only have so many hours in a day to do what I love. I've explored outsourcing, interns, guest writers, content clearing houses, and even fiverr.com as potential avenues to provide supplemental content development services. To date, I have seen little in the way of quality content that I would use - aside from unpaid communications from thought leaders and experts who genuinely want to share their message. What a lot of folks are producing is regurgitated fluff and filler that will only hurt your engagement, turning off customers and setting negative first impression to new clients. My golden rule? If you don't do it right, don't do it at all.
By using mediocre content, I would water down my mission to be a top notch content development resource. What I do is customized to each client, often more costly, always more time-consuming, but (in my humble opinion) so much more efficient because I work closely and directly with my clients to understand their business, the market they want to reach, and the services or ideas they are trying to share with consumers. While my work may not be as shiny and "perfect" as agency deliverables, the message is far more powerful for my clients' brand. Call it holistic, call it grassroots, I call it genuine, and it matters.
So be cautious - sometimes you pay for what you get. Take this personalized email I received today from one of the content creation shops I considered working with on complicated technical blogs. They sent a blank 'oopsie' email which, when you consider copyright laws and spent dollars, is terrifying. This is pretty much verbatim from the email communication they sent (edited to remove names and companies). I don't call out the company because this is about the ease of producing 'shady' cheap content, not because this company intentionally set out to defraud. I fully recognize that no one is perfect, and while I applaud that they live up to their shortcomings, that content is live and in print for many consumers, in other words, the damage may live on forever.
"(Our Company) has been around since early 2011, and in the past three years we relied on two people we came to believe were of the highest quality and work ethic: Our Content Manager and Accounts Manager (names redacted).
Turns out, they're not.We had to terminate them last night after a company audit revealed they were notating fake work amounts for more than a year, and stealing untold amounts of dollars. For instance, in one day (she) recorded that she'd edited 30,000 words when she actually edited a 400-word piece; this turned into weeks and weeks of fake records of work. She was paid for all these inflated numbers for more than a year. Besides this, she's been responsible for hiring editors that were purposefully placing typos within content (and being paid). Who knows what inspired those negative actions. (These people) are thieves, and should be avoided at all costs; they are running a scam.
We're going to take legal action, but for now, we need to make sure we focus on the problem at hand. We are hiring and training an experienced replacement today (Mother's Day weekend currently on hold), and we're reaching out to all of you because (she) has already mass emailed several people with false information. I want you to know the truth from me.
If you've seen any kind of poor content delivered to you by our team (company redacted) in the past month or two, I personally apologize and ask that you reply, let me know what the quality issue was, and we'll give you a coupon for your next order. Just hit reply; it'll go straight to me.
All in all, this discovery, although hard, is an extremely good thing; we'll be able to have a much better eye on our quality and enforce great writing standards. This comes on the heels of our upcoming major re-launch, where we pay writers nearly double and have a custom built ordering system that answers most of the frustrations we've heard from you in the past year.
Enjoy your weekend, and rest assured that (our company) has the quality of your content at heart! We're inspired to work harder than ever now."
So beware - work with someone you know, and make your content custom - this way you'll always be sure the message is genuine and you are continuously differentiating yourself in the marketplace.