My thoughts on ‘sausage-factory’ copywriting: Let’s set some things straight
May 27, 2010 • Glenn Murray
Ok. I’d really like to set some things straight on the issue of paid, high volume copywriting (hereafter ‘sausage-factory’ copywriting).
Why do I want to set things straight?
Because it may seem I have opposing views on it (and I like to think there are a couple of people, at least, who care)…
I’ve been quite vocal about my distaste for sausage-factory copywriting:
- I’ve argued that if you pay peanuts to blog ghost-writers you get monkeys.
- I’ve argued that most article marketers are doomed to failure because they pay too little for their articles.
- I’ve argued (among other things) that the use of sausage-factory copywriting is an unsustainable SEO practice (see comments — LANGUAGE WARNING).
- I’ve discussed why sausage-factory copywriting undermines your conversion rate and bottom line.
- I’ve argued that writing copywriting purely for search engines is not copywriting.
- I’ve publicly disagreed with Rand Fishkin and asserted that quality copywriting is all-important in SEO.
And I’ve been quite vocal about what I think quality copy is, how to write it and why it’s worth more:
- I’ve explained why I charge so much for copy.
- I’ve written about how to write quality, respectful, positive, easy–to–read, engaging, compelling, effective copy.
So what do I really think?
- I think webmasters and SEOs have every right to use sausage-factory copywriting, and they should NOT be penalized by the search engines.
- I think many aspiring copywriters (both good and bad) are often left with no choice but to take on low paying gigs. (I’ve been there.)
- I think all sausage-factory copywriting dislike writing sausage-factory content.
- I think a lot of sausage-factory copy is written by decent writers; it actually reads OK.
- But I KNOW it’s impossible to write 2-3 original, thought-provoking, witty, insightful and/or persuasive 500-word articles in just 1 hour. Let alone to continue doing it all day, every day. (Try it yourself. Just for an hour. It’s not just about pretty prose; it’s about planning, researching, thinking, understanding, learning, extrapolating and communicating.)
- I think that, as a result, the vast majority (if not all) of sausage-factory copywriting is low value to readers. It’s fundamentally unoriginal, and never thought-provoking or truly interesting.
- I think that because it’s low value, no-one will link to it (organically).
- Consequently, I think the use of sausage-factory copywriting is a fundamentally unsustainable SEO practice. It will never generate many natural editorial links from reputable, quality sites. And Google will naturally get better at identifying and devaluing poor quality content.
- I think you get the copy you pay for. Expensive copy is generally better than cheap copy. Not because the writer is necessarily more skilled, but because a really cheap piece has to be written far too quickly.
- I think you also get the copywriter you pay for. Expensive (busy) copywriters are generally better than cheap copywriters. They’ve typically been doing it longer, and they’re clearly delivering a valuable product to their clients (otherwise they wouldn’t be able to command such high fees). Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule, but over time, the market filters them out: Good cheap copywriters become good expensive copywriters, and bad expensive copywriters become bad cheap copywriters (or something else entirely).
- I think successful business people view copy, like any other form of promotion, as an investment, not a cost.
And that’s all I have to say on the matter! (Until someone comments, of course… 😉