A few years ago, I looked into hiring a writer to do some… well, writing. I owned and operated an e-commerce site and thought it would be good to have some content to post on various article sites. That was when posting content on article mills benefitted SEO… hint, it’s not good to do that anymore. Although I was quite capable of doing the writing, I just didn’t have the time to do it myself.
To find a writer who could do the work, I went to one of those freelance job sites where employers post jobs and freelancers look for work. Let’s call it the Acme Job Site (names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent). I had never hired anyone from Acme before, so I thought why not try it out once. The Acme site said articles produced by their writers are checked to ensure they are not copied. So, I felt good about that, albeit cautiously.
They had different categories of writers you could hire—beginners, moderate, and experts. I can’t remember if those were the actual names they used for the classifications, but you get the idea. The cost varied depending on the classification, expert having the highest pay rate. I thought, well…I think I’ll go with the moderate experience level. The description Acme had for that class of writer seemed to be appropriate for what I wanted (i.e. these were by no means expert writers, however, they were supposedly proficient—at least that’s what the Acme site said).
Well, I signed up for an account and proceeded to post my job request. I explained exactly what I wanted in terms of article style, length, and subject matter. Then I waited. In a short time, I had a few responses and chose a writer who assured me he could do the job. I hired him and waited, not knowing what to expect. Hey… how bad could it be?
I watched my inbox with anticipation, and perhaps a little trepidation. Little did I know it would turn to consternation. Not only was the resulting article not what I wanted, it was also not written particularly well. However, I thought, hey…I’m all for turning lemons into lemonade, so why don’t I just edit it a little (or maybe a lot), and use it anyway. It’s just too much trouble to go through the whole process of getting a re-write done. Then I made another discovery.
I copied a few of the sentences and pasted them into Google search and guess what I found? Most of the content was copied virtually word-for-word from a Wikipedia article. It seems that Acme’s original content guarantees were somewhat… okay, very… false. Either its system was ineffective, or the article was not checked.
The “writer” no doubt hoped I wouldn’t catch on to his particular “writing” style. He must have thought…hey…why do the work myself when there are perfectly good articles already written just waiting to be copied. Nice try guy!
So what is the moral of story, you ask? Well, maybe you didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you anyway. If you have neither the talent nor the inclination to do your own writing, then hire a professional. The copy-and-paste plagiarists of the world are not professional writers. Good writing takes time, and good writers take pride in their work. They are artists, and the blank page is their canvas. What sort of art do you want your customers, clients, or constituents to see?
In closing, I’ll leave you with this thought. The written text you show the world on your digital or printed materials is a reflection of your individual or company image. Regardless of whether you wrote it yourself or hired a writer, you will be judged based on what people see and read. Additionally, if no one wants to read your content, you are just wasting your time and money. There are many good writers out there. Make the right choice and find someone who can create art for you.
Rick de Vries is the one of the principals of FunFrog Creative Communications, a company that provides a full range of communication services. For more information, please go to funfrogcreative.com.