How much are you paying for blog content? How fast does your writer produce it?
If you’re getting a 1000-word blog post for $20, is the person writing it living below minimum wage or do they take just one hour to write each post?
Chances are, the awful content you’re buying for cheap sets your business back.
We’ve been buying, selling, planning, auditing, and publishing content online for over a decade, spread across thousands of websites and businesses, getting millions of views.
Along the way we’ve seen amazingly effective blog posts, and blogs that go to complete waste. Blogs that fail to get any meaningful traffic for months and months, and end up requiring complete overhaul.
Do you know what all the failing, stagnating, money-wasting blogs have in common?
It’s bad, cheap, and generic blog posts.
How cheap is too cheap for blog posts?
You will see all kinds or prices while shopping for blog content online.
There are blog posts for $10, $15, $20 or even $30, and if you break down these costs you’ll see how bad it gets.
Keep in mind that if you’re getting content on Fiverr or Upwork the writer is getting only 80% – so $24 out of $30
Normally, in order to produce a meaningful 1K-word blog post you would need to research the topic (make it 2 hours), write your draft (2 hours more), let it sit for some time, then revise and edit it (at least another hour).
Add to that the fact that humans can barely work 2-3 hours without interruptions and at full capacity., and you will see that you need nearly one full working day to produce a meaningful, readable, and factually correct blog post.
Sure, you can draft faster. Sure, there are easy topics. Sure, some writers have accumulated niche expertise and produce content faster.
Still, how do you expect to make a living if you’re making $20 or $30 per day as a writer? Something does not add up.
Another very real danger is that you get sold AI-generated text. There are so many article writing tools marketed aggressively nowadays that people get tricked into thinking AI can produce good content. It can’t.
I’ve pretty much written for a living all my adult life in one form or another and I know what it takes to create “real” content vs quick filler pieces.
Creating real content is real work – it is taxing on your willpower and intellect. Most good writers I know can produce 2 genuinely good pieces per day, not more.
How to tell bad content when you see it
There’s a set of red flags you can see in an article and immediately think “this post will never rank”. Here’s a couple from our experience:
Each post has an “Introduction” section
If your writer needs to write a generic intro before getting to the point – they are just doing it to inflate word count.
The beginning of your blog post is extremely important real estate – you need to both captivate your readers and use the most important SEO keywords at the same time.
Generic introductions that just repeat the title of the post are a waste of space. They are also bad for SEO sine they dilute the topical relevance of your post.
What to look for instead: writers that hook you and get right to the point.
Each post has a “conclusion/final words”
A blog post is not a school essay. The end of your blog post needs to showcase your products and services with a clear call to action – and try to convert your audience.
“Summary”, “7 tips”, “how we do X”, “our experience”, “how this works in our products”, “the practical meaning of X” – any of these will work better.
You need to adapt your writing to the situation. Just remember that “conclusion” or even worse, final words, have never excited a reader.
What to look for instead: something creative and custom each time. Definitely a call to action at the end.
You have to reread every sentence
Your blog posts need to flow.
If you need to reread every paragraph several times to understand the idea – I can guarantee no one will ever read that post.
Chances are, it won’t rank on Google either, it really does work that way.
Here’s what I mean:
What to look for instead: clear and readable text that flows freely, that’s pretty much a minimum requirement and a must-have for your blog.
Links to Wikipedia, webMD, and the like
Outgoing links are great, but they have to be meaningful, relevant, and something actual humans would read, like a magazine article or another blog post.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapid_eye_movement_sleep – lousy citation
This is more of a matter of taste and care for your reader. A writer that has spent time researching and cares about the topic will never link to anything generic like Wikipedia.
No organic traffic picked up
When you are looking at other blogs or the writers’ samples – see if they pick up any organic traffic.
Third-party tools like Ahrefs.com won’t ever show you the full picture but you can still get an idea.
What to look for instead: the articles by this writer actually pick up organic keywords on Google. Even if those are informational longtails – that’s still a good sign.
Here’s a client we’ve started content planning and blogging for in summer 2022:
Note that “average position” (orange) remains roughly the same while impressions and clicks grow (blue lines).
That means that the new articles we’ve created and published on their blog are all instantly getting traffic from new search queries.
Proper quality content should be getting impressions and clicks right after getting indexed.
3 Major things that happen when you’re using cheap writers
You are wasting your money
You will have to re-do all the major topics later anyway, if you want your business to be exposed to all the major search queries of your target market.
Most of the times blogs with bad content require a complete overhaul, a bunch of redirects, and, sooner or later, more expensive content from higher-end writers.
It’s way easier to order proper content right away rather than try and edit your old blog posts.
You are wasting time
If you publish bad content, that means that instead of accumulating rich diverse analytics data on Google Search Console with detailed, readable articles, – you will just have an illusion of activity. Great for reporting to your boss, awful for real growth.
These articles will just sit there giving blogging a bad name (that’s why many entrepreneurs and CEOs hate to hear about blogging).
You are wasting reputation
Can you afford to associate your brand with pointless blog posts published just for the sake of publishing posts?
If you’re in a huge B2C market this may not matter, but if you’re working in niched and narrow specific markets having a bunch of shitty articles on your blog can be deadly.
You need your target market to treat you seriously, to know you can bring value.
You’re doing things over and over again
The worst part about cheap content is that you can’t really repurpose it. Can’t edit, can’t post to other platforms, can’t include into booklets.
Cheap articles are always written just to look like an article and have the necessary word count.
There are no ideas in your content, no meaningful snippets you can share, you can’t easily turn your blog post into tweets or LinkedIn posts.
You have to do everything over and over again with your social media – that takes time and money. However, when you get great content it’s always easy to repurpose and turn into dozens of quotes, tweets, and LinkedIn posts.
Where to get good content & how much should it cost
Here’s a good rule of thumb:
A proper 1000-word blog post should cost $100 or more.
Now, as always the devil is in the details. First, you can still be getting bad content that costs over $100.
Second, you can definitely find a cheaper writer. Someone working with you long-term, an expat, or a student, or a niche enthusiast that enjoys writing on your topics anyway, a guest blogger, someone with a fixed rate + ad revenue share, – there are many, many options to get good content cheaper. You could also “grow” a writer that’s willing to learn into someone doing exactly what you need.
However, none of those exceptions are guaranteed. Keep to the simple rule – anything new under $100 for 1K words is suspicious and needs extra attention.
If you’re shopping for content that’s under $100 for 1K words you just need to be careful and always note how long (and how much) it takes you to edit the articles before publishing. There’s an 80% chance these articles will need too much editing and will not gather organic traffic from Google.
It’s best to set your expectations higher.
In terms of shopping for quality blog content – you can go several ways:
Work with an agency – order your content and get it delivered. The downside is until you’re ordering large volumes you may not be getting personalized treatment or a designated point of contact. We’re launching our own content writing service to address exactly these issues – we keep the client list small to make sure everyone get personalized treatment and meaningful blog posts (see if you qualify here).
Work with writers directly, long-term – this is ideal but looking for writers can take months. You can use LinkedIn, Twitter, and freelance marketplaces for that. Looking for writers and managing them can be a hassle but it’s totally worth it.
Hire full-time writers – this is the same as the above except vetted writers become your employees. Great way to go if you have the capacity for that.