Good friend Kirk Petersen sent over a link to a blog post touting using one's blog to market. Great! That's what we do here every day, right? The difference? The blog post was paired with a photo of a woman who, if she's not careful, could end up with a major chest cold. Her attributes were apparent, as was the message. Or wait - was the message apparent?
It's a post about a lot of thrown-together ideas, one of which is paying writers to write your blog posts. Here's the post in its entirety, but Kirk had pasted the gist of it in his note. It reads:
"You may shy away from blog marketing because you feel that you might not be a good writer, or simply don’t like to write. This is understandable. But the truth is that many blog marketers nowadays don’t even write their own content. They pay someone else to do it.
"In fact, you can pay someone else to write dozens of articles to keep your blog going. You can come up with ideas if you want to, but you can just as easily give your writers a broad general topic idea and have them come up with streamlined topics for blog entries. The best course of action is truly up to you, but paying writers to craft your blog entries is not expensive and may save you trouble in the long run."
Let's just guess how much the person who wrote that gripping prose was paid. But the idea that you can get "dozens of articles" written and that the cost of a professional writer is "not expensive" irks me. Yes, I've known for a while that this type of marketing "strategy" is the reason the writing profession has taken such a deep hit in the pockets. But the thing that is escaping entirely those writers who take these jobs - who exactly is your client?
How many articles must you write for some dude who wants to make $50K a year on residual income before you realize he's making the money and you're not? This is someone who doesn't know good writing if it ran him/her over. The copy you're providing? Yea, that's not exactly clip-worthy stuff. It's not just the way in which you write - it's the topics about which you choose to write. That all matters to the legitimate client.
At the moment I write for four blogs. All are on specialized topics (not generalized schlock). I get paid quite well for three of them. One is, in my estimation, underpaid. But in all cases the topics are such that any future client would see them and know I'm capable of handling her project. And I've not been ashamed to use any of them as proof of published work.
How do you know a quality job from a lousy one? Start with the pay. If it's not enough to buy a pack of gum, it's not worth your time. Quality clients aren't looking for bargains - they're looking for someone skilled enough to get their project done correctly and on time.
Also, if the client is using the content purely as a driver for all the ads on his or her site, you're not exactly associating with Fortune 500 crowds. In this business as in others, it really is about who you know. Your client's intentions will reflect on your resume whether you realize it or not.
Artwork - let's just say the woman's photo on the blog post instantly categorized the content in the "believe at your own risk" column. Anyone using t-and-a to get their message across has a very weak message. Ironically, I did see the point the author and writer was trying to make (the editor in me rewrote the thing as I read). But the wording and presentation were enough to repel me permanently from believing this was anything more than cheap, lousy marketing bordering on a "become a slum employer!" message. Don't associate yourself with someone who resorts to cheesecake to get the message noticed. That's a person who won't show much interest in paying you for good prose.
Thoughts? What are your red flags?