I was at an art fair recently when I started-up a conversation with a man at one of the booths. He asked me what I did for a living, and I explained that I was a professional writer and editor. He asked if I wrote books, and I told him that I do write fiction and nonfiction books, but that most of my work has involved providing writing and editing services to various clients and content production companies.
He then said, “Really? Man, I wish I would’ve met you a few months ago!”
I asked him to explain, and after hearing his story I HAD to share it. I will bet you money that you have gone through something just as hectic and as costly at your own organization!
The Great Fiasco
At first he tried to sugarcoat the situation, but then he realized that “fiasco” was the best way to describe it properly. He said that his company had paid through the nose to have their website designed by a third-party vendor. They apparently paid 20 grand for a total website overhaul. He explained that visually the new site looked great. It was friendly, had lots of information, and all the interactive parts worked very well. After about six months, though, his company really didn’t notice a big increase in sales or visibility.
All the senior staff then decided to have a meeting to figure out what was going on. Somehow they came to the consensus that it wasn’t the look of the site, but the wording on the site. It either didn’t convey enough information or didn’t really encourage people to act. Unfortunately, they had already spent a large amount of money building the site in hopes of a high return on investment. They needed better content, but they didn’t want to invest any more money into the project.
Their solution – have their own employees write the content.
In some ways, this solution makes sense. The employees should know the company inside and out, so they should be able to explain the available products and services. So, the senior staff divided up all the content pages, assigned them appropriately, and made a deadline for when all the new content was due.
The problem – now people had to complete all of their regular job duties, plus they had to find time to write content.
So what happened? Pretty much what always happens. Your daily duties take priority, because they are the immediate fires you have to put out. Everything else gets pushed back further and further until you “have time.” According to this man I was talking to, over half of the company failed to meet the content deadline.
The senior staff was determined to get this content up and running, though, but they didn’t want to lose productivity either. They decided that they would have to approve overtime pay to make sure that the content was done quickly.
If you are keeping score on this, remember that they had initially assigned the content to their own employees as a way to save money. Paying overtime to a dozen or so employees doesn’t save a dime.
Finally, all of the content was written, and they began uploading it to the different pages on their site. Apparently, they didn’t read everything together as a whole until AFTER they had posted the information live on their site.
There weren’t any major errors, since everything was proofread. Nevertheless, practically every page was written by a different person, and it showed. There wasn’t continuity between pages. Some people abbreviated, whereas others did not. Several people used an aggressive sales approach, but the rest didn’t even bother to include sales pitches in their content. It really was disjointed.
Once again, the senior staff met to discuss the matter. They felt that the individual pages worked, for the most part, and that the writing was better than the generic content produced by the company that built the website. Regardless, the lack of continuity was concerning. Their analytics showed that each guest clicked on multiple pages during any one visit, and with such conflicting writing styles, the company wasn’t sure how their customers would react.
At that point, however, they’d already invested more capital than they had initially planned, and they simply couldn’t justify putting more money into the content. After all, they did have new content, and it could work out in the long run. As a company, they decided to keep the new content, disjointed as it may be, and see how it performed.
The Cost of Bad Content
After hearing this man’s story, I really felt for him and his company. I mean their logic makes sense . . . on the surface. They are right to think that business professionals should be able to write about what they do and what they sell. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
There is a major difference between writing for fellow employees and writing marketing content.
Furthermore, while the actual content is important – as in the information you are conveying –how you present that content really affects the way potential customers see your organization.
For example, if the information is easy to follow, thorough, and tells me everything I want to know, I as a potential customer will see your company as organized and dedicated to customer service. In contrast, if I look at the content from one page to the next on your site and I notice a lot of changes and inconsistencies with how the information is presented, it would confuse me as a potential customer, and it might make me wary of trusting your organization.
First impressions will make or break your company. In the long run, it will cost you more money to get people to give you a second chance than it will to pay for someone to write content that flows well together across all pages.
I don’t want to tell people not to write their own content. You know way more about your field than any freelance writer ever will! Nevertheless, just because you’re an expert doesn’t mean you can explain what you do to people outside of your profession.
That’s why you want to hire a third-party writer.
We translate your professional jargon into a language that customers can easily understand. Plus, we know how to hype-up all the benefits of your services in a way that actually motivates customers.
I can’t speak for other freelancers, but I know what I do. I talk with clients and I find out what they really want in their content. I have them compare themselves to their competitors, and together we determine how to stand out in the crowd, especially in the sea of e-commerce. There are certain details that you always have to keep in mind, such as SEO marketing and the like, but it’s more than that. Whatever I write has to represent my client, because at the end of the day the content belongs to them, so it has to reflect their brand, it has to convey the right message, and it needs to sound and look as professional as possible. After all, you ARE your content.
Having to deal with high upfront costs for good content can be cumbersome and financially tricky, but you have to understand what you are investing in. Your customers see you predominately through the content on your websites, your social media pages, and on your commercials. The content DOES matter, because without it you can’t attract new clientele, and without that clientele you don’t have a business. Even in hard economic times like today, don’t cut corners. Shop around and get the best value you can, of course, but don’t skimp out either.
You have put too much money, time, and effort into your organization, so don’t short-change yourself now! Do what’s best for your business and hire a freelance writer who understands your needs. Hire me, L. Rigdon, and let me show you how to make the best first impression with your content.