As a business owner, I know firsthand how strong the temptation to hire the cheapest contractors or get the cheapest services is.
After all, the money that you don’t spend on expensive services is your profit, right?
Well, not always.
Sometimes, the cost difference may actually cripple your entire P&L.
To make matters even more complicated, some services have infinite pricing options. Like SEO content writing or copywriting.
You can hire a content writer or an agency for $5 per article. Or you can hire a content writer or an agency for $5000 per article.
Yes, the same article.
Scratch that: the same article specs. You will definitely get different results based on how much you pay.
The cost of copywriting services varies A LOT, but one thing is certain: dirt-cheap services always spell trouble for their buyer. Be honest: how much work would YOU put in for $5?
Not that much, right?
But can bad writing really harm your business?
Or will people just ignore the bad parts and skip to your amazing offers?
Turns out bad writing isn’t something you can just shrug off.
It’s more than being annoyed that you feel for a clickbait title again. And it’s more than simply being ignored.
Bad writing costs American businesses almost $400 billion every year.
According to the same study that came up with the number above, “America is spending 6 percent of total wages on time wasted attempting to get meaning out of poorly written material.”
Jargon-ridden sales materials and offers, bad grammar and punctuation, blurry sentences, phrases that seem to never end – all these kill your customers’ productivity and your profit.
Sure, the occasional typo is not the end of the world. But bad writing is more than that.
Let’s see it in action:
Image via HBR
How incredible is that? It must be quite incredible, since the writer uses ‘incredible’ no less than four times in a single paragraph (see what I did here?).
Aside from making you sound like a fourth-grader, how can bad writing really cost you money?
Here are a few examples:
- You won’t generate leads: poorly written blog content won’t get anyone to subscribe to your newsletter or even come back to your website.
- Your website won’t sell: bad web copy doesn’t convince anyone to try a product or service. If you can’t explain the benefits clearly, who would waste money on what you’re trying to sell.
- Your email campaigns won’t sell either: you’ll just end up annoying your subscribers. And get some of them to unsubscribe.
- You won’t generate organic traffic: no one likes bad writing. Neither humans nor search engines. Your badly written SEO content will never rank.
- You’ll waste money on various campaigns: you need solidly written copy for PPC ads, too! Or your ads will be ignored. Plus, even if they get clicked on, you also need a solid landing page to get people to convert. Otherwise, all the money you pour into advertising campaigns will be lost.
How can you avoid bad writing?
The most common reason why bad writing sees the light of day (read: ends up live on the internet) is because people assume they don’t need to hire professional content writers. After all, anyone who finished high school can write.
That may be true, but not everyone can convey messages in a way that compels the reader to take a certain action.
Take it from someone who’s screened hundreds of writers: very few people can actually write. Out of all the people who apply for a writing job with my agency, no more than 10% make it past the first phase. And no more than 5% get hired.
However, since we offer content writing services, I needed to develop a bulletproof screening system. You may not have the time to do so. And that’s perfectly understandable. You don’t have to hire new writers every month.
Here’s what you can do instead:
1. Work with professional writers
Don’t assume that anyone can write. Don’t go for the English major who happens to work for you. You’re looking for a marketing writer, not the next Hemingway.
Ask for samples. Check out references and make sure they understand your industry before you hire a freelancer or an agency.
2. Don’t go for the cheapest option
Remember: what you pay for is what you get. This doesn’t mean you have to throw thousands of dollars at every article. But realistically speaking, how much value can you get from a $5 one?
Stay away from cheap content mills. They will do nothing else but make your brand sound cheap, too.
3. Test before you commit
While cheap writing is almost always bad, it doesn’t mean you have to commit to the most expensive agency or writer blindly either.
Ask for a paid test project before you commit to a monthly retainer.
At Idunn, the digital marketing agency I run, we actually urge our clients to order a single article or web page before they commit to more. As a boutique agency, we don’t work with hundreds of clients per month. A small test project is the perfect way to see if we’re a good fit for a client and vice versa.
Wrapping things up
I’ve seen dozens of business owners invest a lot of money and time in web design and treat web copy as an afterthought. Here’s the problem with this attitude: no matter how great your web design is, if it’s populated by bad writing it will be useless.
Yes, UX is important. But content is an important part of the user experience. Ideally, your copywriters and web designers should work together to create experiences that match your sales funnel and your customers’ needs.
Bad writing can harm your business more than poor loading speed or weird color schemes.
If you’re looking for content or copy that sells and positions you as an expert in your field, my team and I can help. Check out our content writing and copywriting services and let’s talk about growing your business!
Adriana Tica is an expert marketer and copywriter, with 10 years in the field, most of which were spent marketing tech companies. She is the Owner and Founder of Idunn. In October 2019, she also launched Copywritech, a digital marketing agency that provides copywriting, SEO content writing, and strategy services to companies in the tech industry.
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