Early on in my content marketing career, I wrote about surfing in Senegal.
It was a horrific experience.
Not because I know nothing whatsoever about surfing and not because I’ve never been to that particular part of Africa — that just made it tricky. (I’d been a journalist for about 12 years by this point, so I was no novice writer — I could cope with all of that.)
What was horrific was the experience I had working as a writer for this particular digital agency.
Let’s start with the brief. I still have it, so I can tell you exactly what it was. I had to write a 450 to 600 word article, shoehorning in several keywords, then I had to “spin” it twice. That is to say, I had to create two new versions of the article that were sufficiently original that Google would not punish the websites that used them.
Guess how much I was getting paid to write three original versions of the same article?
Hey, I knew it was terrible pay when I took the job, but I was poor: I’d just moved to London, I was living in a cold, crumbling, smoke-filled student dive, and I had just started freelancing. I was a journalist but I needed money so I was dipping my toes into copy writing.
I can honestly say I’ve never worked so hard for so little reward. (As a matter of professional pride, I can’t bring myself to knowingly hand in poor quality writing.) The agency was thrilled with the copy I’d submitted and immediately offered me more briefs. I still have my email reply to them:
“Thanks X, glad you’re pleased. To be honest with you, I didn’t have a great time doing it. Would it be possible to put things on hold for a bit?”
I never did another job for them.
Keep your writer happy
By contrast, around the same time, I started working with Sarah Mitchell from Global Copywriting. Sarah paid well, gave interesting assignments, rewarded good writing and was super friendly and easy to work with. We just clicked — and we ended up working on some really big projects together. Six years later, she finally managed to crowbar me out of journalism completely and into content marketing full-time — and we work together closely at Lush Digital Media.
My point, really, is that good writers won’t stick around if they’re unhappy. Paying appallingly and giving them dull and repetitive assignments (or asking them to “spin” content) won’t encourage them to stay. Sure, you can always find another copywriter, but can you be sure you’ll find another great copywriter?
Happy writers, who feel valued and challenged, will write far better and more effective copy than you’ll ever get from an unhappy one who feels they’re being screwed over.
The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.
If you want to work with a content marketing agency with a team of great (and happy) writers (including one who still knows nothing about surfing — or Senegal), contact Lush Digital Media.