Last week I had dinner with my neighbors who are in market research. They told me they are paying a blogging outfit to write multiple very short posts for them each week. The posts are inexpensive and mostly shameless plugs for their services. The writing, the friends said, was, shall we say, not of the highest quality and they often have to spend additional time re-writing what is submitted. But the posts still have value for their business — they create content for their web presence and attract new customers.
I feel like everywhere I look these days I see more evidence of the pressure to create more content faster. Between articles, blog posts, tweets, books – even New Yorker writers are collapsing under the pressure of the sheer quantity of output we’re expecting.
And for those of you who aren’t writers, “feeding the beast” of your own online presence — timely, blog or Facebook posts and tweets — when everyone has many other jobs to do is becoming almost impossible. Not to mention curating, following, reading (remember that?), and finding photos and graphics.
All of this pressure inevitably has an effect on quality.
Major newspaper editors were forced to acknowledge this fact this past summer after This American Life ran an expose showing they published dozens of items in print or online that appeared under fake bylines. The papers had outsourced their local news writing – police beats, community meetings, real estate sales and high school track-meet results – to a company called Journatic, a news outsourcing firm that was paying writers abroad to write the posts.
In many cases, it turned out, the hyper local stuff that matters very much if its your son’s school lunch menu or your tax dollars being debated at the city council meeting, were being written quickly and without context often by writers in the Philippines.
Editors admitted that when you cut costs, you also cut corners, that gathering local news that people care about may in fact require actual people who are familiar with the local news. Which does cost some money.
At the same time there is evidence that readers still have an appetite for good writing online and that we will spend time, significant time, on a story that has value for us, that’s smart, well-written and grounded in content and timely context. [See “Longer, original posts bring readers back”].
At HiredPen we know you need good writing that represents the nuance of your work. We distinguish ourselves from those “content factories” by creating real value for readers and the field to help you build an authentic audience.
There are close to 180 million blogs on the internet, according BlogPulse. Valuable content is what cuts through the noise, gains an audience, and keeps it—content that speaks to its audience, answers its questions, piques its curiosity. And people are much more likely to share your work with their online networks if they find it valuable.
Instead of an impersonal marketing firm that pays bloggers minimally to churn out copy, we’re aiming to be something much different. As a small firm, we have personal relationships with our clients. Our bloggers are carefully vetted science writers, many of whom have advanced degrees, with an understanding of the complexities of issues like education, poverty and economic growth, who can give context to your work. We pay them well to create loyalty and inspire them to write smarter. And with such a commitment, we can and do demand excellence from them.
We don’t just plug a product. We create a context for the research, add insight, and represent your work in its best light. That takes time, care, and thinking. In the social media world, you truly do get what you pay for.