Everyone knows quality when they see it right? When you buy something, be it a car, a picture, a cake or even some design for your website, you can inspect what you're buying, decide if it has a sufficient level of quality for your needs, and then hand over the money.

If you are order a service online and in advance, particularly a design service, you can inspect a portfolio of previous designs, of websites that the designer has worked on and decide whether they are a highly skilled designer who is worth paying for. And most people, normally, will be happy to pay for good quality when it comes to design.

So why doesn't it work like that when it comes to content? Why is it so hard for people to get quality content and why it so hard to know how much to pay?

Content As An Afterthought

Actually, the two questions are intertwined. Because, despite words on the page being the most important part of their whole site, most people treat content as an afterthought. For most people building a site has always been about design and SEO and content last. At least it was until the arrival of the Panda and Penguin update (learn more).

Now, finally (by necessity) people are waking up to the importance of good content. They realize that bad content, in addition to causing damage to their brand and losing them readers / customers, also costs them rankings in the search engines. And they realize that they might have to invest some money in a copywriter.

Who Are You Looking For

But how do you know what sort of copywriter you need and how much they should charge?

When planning to buy content for your site, the first thing to do is establish what sort of content you need.

  • Are you looking for an SEO copywriter to combine content with traffic?
  • Are you looking for someone to define your brand and give your site a voice?
  • Do you want a combination of all of the above, from landing pages to blog posts, reviews to SEO articles to product descriptions?

If so, you are going to need a high quality copywriter and you are going to need to pay more than a couple of dollars to get them. That means not going on Elance or Odesk and hiring the person offering to write your articles for a couple of dollars each. Sure, you will find plenty of people offering exactly that, but you end up hiring someone who most likely doesn't have English as a first language and will hand over a bunch of generic, cut and paste articles no one wants to read.

That's not to say there aren't any good article writers and copywriters on those sites. There are but they'll be the ones charging a living wage for their work and they'll be the ones with a portfolio of websites they have worked on and articles they have written for magazines, newspapers and business websites.

Published Writer + Portfolio

And there's the rub. If you want decent content, you need to look to copywriters and article writers who have a portfolio you can browse online, of articles with their name at the top and references from sites, businesses and brands that they have worked on. Not all of them will charge the earth, indeed you should be able to find some copywriters out there who are relatively new to the game (but who produce quality work) who charge $15 - $25 per 500 words for a basic article as opposed to $1. And the difference in quality will be massive. Not only will they be able to write articles that meet your SEO needs without people noticing, but they will also be free of grammar and spelling mistakes and will make people actually want to stay on your site and read more.

So remember, check that they have experience writing the kind of content you are looking for, go through their portfolios and see if their style of writing suits your site and then check that their price is fair, but competitive. Paying that extra bit for your content will pay dividends with your site!

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