Should we be prepared to pay more for great content?

It’s tough out there

It seems everyone’s tightened their belts. Gone are the days of trotting blithely round Waitrose, trolleys packed with tempting treats, and of recklessly cranking the central heating up as soon as the temperature dips below 25°. Instead, we’ve all discovered Poundland, and shiny 4x4s are crammed into Aldi car parks the length and breadth of Britain. We’ve even resurrected the humble hot water bottle (or is that just me?).

Regardless of the economic situation, I think it’s no bad thing to spend less and waste less – though, like most of us, I’d prefer not to compromise on quality where it counts. I’ve not really noticed any adverse change from switching to cheaper brands of cleaning products, for instance, and Aldi wines are definitely worth a punt, but good meat ain’t cheap. My solution is just to eat less of it rather than splash the cash on sub-standard sausages.

Quality versus quantity

The same rules apply to commercial strategy – make savings where you can, but don’t scrimp where it’s important.

If you want to build a brand and establish a credible online presence, you need great content – and you need to refresh it as often as you can. But if you haven’t the time, resources or inclination to create it in-house, you’ll probably be on the hunt for a content provider.

Let’s say you’re in the market for outsourced content; where do you go? Ideally, you’d recruit the services of a freelance copywriter; you’d forge a trusted relationship, and you’d commission a series of blogs, articles and news features that would engage readers and communicate your brand values to your target audience.

How much should you be prepared to pay, though? And can you get great content on the cheap?

Cheap and cheerful?

I’ve been taking a closer look at the issue of pricing recently. I’ve evolved a couple of different options for my clients over the years – one for ad-hoc projects such as brochures and websites, and another, discounted rate, for ongoing work like blogs and newsletters that I bill out on a monthly basis. Both reflect the level of input required and the skill and expertise I deliver.

If you trawl the muddy waters of online service brokers such as Elance and People Per Hour, you’ll find people willing to populate your website with content for next to nothing. You can buy a thousand words for less than you’d pay for a kilo of liquorice allsorts. But what kind of ‘professional’ would rate their time so cheaply? And, if you’re paying a sum that equates to less than minimum wage here in the UK, can you really expect to get unique, carefully constructed content that’s tailored to your needs? There may be a myriad talented and highly experienced writers plying their trade over the Internet for $5 or $10 an hour – though I seriously doubt it.

The value proposition

Truth is, we all have to make a value judgement when it comes to buying creative services. If you have a blog-shaped hole to fill and you’re not too fussed what goes in it, you may be happy to pay for a tenner’s-worth of words from someone who sells them by the metre. If, however, you’d prefer to publish a piece that resonates with your brand values and engages with the issues that are important to your customers, you might have to dig a bit deeper.

Diane Nowell
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