Why most content marketing is doomed to failure

June 4, 2008 •

I was recently asked if I’d be interested in writing some blog posts to increase a company’s search presence. I had to turn the job down, though, because the client was only prepared to pay US $10 per 500 words. (Actually, in light of my copywriting experience, they generously upped their offer to $15 per 500 words…) This wasn’t the first time I’ve been asked to work for peanuts.

It blows me away that anyone would think they’d get any real return out of this sort of content marketing investment. For your content marketing to be effective, you can’t rely only on quantity. If your content’s crap, people won’t read or share it. You also need quality.

That means whoever writes your content must have:

  • an excellent command of spoken and written English; AND
  • a sound understanding of the needs of the target audience; AND
  • a sound understanding of the needs of the client’s business; AND
  • consistency in style; AND
  • thoroughly researched, logical arguments; AND, AND, AND…

In my humble opinion, there’s just no way you can get both quantity and quality without investing in it appropriately.

Here’s an example of why:

In my experience, a good 500 word blog post takes around 3-8 hours to research, write, optimize and edit. Add another hour or so to implement changes arising out of client review, and you’ve got a total of 4-9 hours. (Many take even longer.) At $10 per post, that works out at between $1.11 to $2.50 per hour. Based on a 40 hour week, 47 week year (and no benefits), that’s a grand total of $1,087 to $4,700 per year!

I’d wager there isn’t a good copywriter in the world who’d work for that sort of money.

You might argue that the work could be outsourced – maybe to somewhere like India? I agree that it could, but you still wouldn’t get a good copywriter.

A cursory scan of Indian job search site Nakuri (http://jobsearch.naukri.com) reveals that a half-way decent copywriter can earn around 4,00,000 to 8,00,000 Rupees per year. That’s around USD $9,390 to $18,780 per year + benefits. So why would they work for $4,700 (much less $1,087) per year????!

They wouldn’t.

Sure there’d probably be plenty of unproven writers willing to have a crack at it, but that’s exactly my point. How many of them would be able to research and write quality content as outlined above. Just as importantly, how many would stick around for more than one or two. Very few.

The upshot could only be pulp. Meaningless content churned out for keyword density and nothing more. In fact, they’re probably just re-wording existing articles. Hardly a long-term SEO strategy…

Just my gripe for the day!

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