I was speaking with a prospect about ghostwriting blogs for her clients. When we finally got to the topic of price, she told me her main resource for content had been charging her $15 per post.
After I threw up a little in my mouth, I asked what kind of quality she got for that price, and she said, “Well, it’s just for SEO.”
Translation: The quality of the content really doesn’t matter as long as the keywords are in there, and it’s okay that people find crap when they get to my website.
This is obviously wrong on 528 different levels, but I’ll focus on one – namely, the fact that at least one of this consultant’s competitors, and her client’s competitors, are not living down to those pathetic standards.
In fact, when competitors hear that statement, they’ll probably start doing a jig in celebration of the gift bestowed upon them.
What’s unfortunate about things that put companies at a disadvantage is that, in most cases, they’re easily correctible. Actually, a competitive advantage is often gained not through superior talent, but because someone simply made the decision to be great.
And someone else made the decision to accept mediocrity.
There are dozens to choose from, but here are the three most common things I hear people say that make their competition ecstatic.
1) “It’s Good Enough.”
Please repeat after me: “Good enough” is never good enough.
It doesn’t matter if your product or service is completely unique. If you’re not being exceptional and evolving with your clients’ needs, somebody will come along and offer something better. Ever heard of MySpace? Napster? Kodak? Borders?
Similarly, posting subpar website content or an inferior blog “because it’s good enough and you need to put something up there” is like waving a white flag. By settling for weak content, you’re pretty much banking on your clients and prospects having standards that are lower than yours.
If you want to gain any traction with your content, it has to be great. Every time.
Is that a lot of pressure? Perhaps. Will you feel more pressure if you go out of business? Definitely.
2) “That’s How We’ve Always Done It.”
I remember discussing advertising strategy with a local business owner who said, “Well, I always advertise in the local weekly newspaper. You have to, right?”
Well, yeah – if you’re getting results from that advertising. I’m a big fan of local publications, but shelling out money for anything because you’ve always done it, or out of some perceived obligation, is a complete waste of resources.
Some people call this “playing it safe.” I call it “falling behind.” Your competition is always looking for better ways to connect with new clients.
So should you.
Look at it this way. The iPad was introduced about three years ago. If you operate and market your business the same way you did just five short years ago, you’re already way behind.
And your competition loves it.
3) “Blogging Is A Waste Of Time Because I Can’t Make Money From It.”
Spoken just like someone who has never blogged or done it right.
You can’t make money if people can’t find you. The best way to get found online is by adding relevant, valuable content to your website on a regular basis. And the best way to add relevant, valuable content is with a blog.
That doesn’t even take into consideration how blogs help you establish your expertise and credibility, build trust and loyalty, and maintain top-of-mind awareness as part of a long-term relationship-building process.
If you think the term “blog” has some kind of negative connotation, call it a magazine. Call it a newsletter. Call it a university if you’re educating your clients.
You can package or name a blog however you want. Just don’t refuse to blog because your perception of blogs is stuck in the 90s when people first used them as personal megaphones.
Does blogging require a commitment and an investment? Absolutely. Is it worth it to hire someone to develop content if you don’t have the time or ability? You bet.
Just ask any competitor who blogs. To them, your blog silence is golden.
“I just updated my website last year. I’m not doing it again just for mobile.”
I’m sure that excuse will fly with people who visit your website on their mobile devices. Of course, two thirds of those people will never return.
“I don’t need marketing. My business is all word-of-mouth.”
Marketing done right can have the same effect as word-of-mouth. But you’ll reach more than one person at a time. A lot more.
“My competition isn’t doing it, so why should I?”
Would you rather be first at something or last? Those who wait for something to work for the competition before trying it themselves will never stop playing catch-up.
What have you heard a business owner or consultant say that made you think they were working for a competitor?
Join the discussion 12 Comments
Brilliant article, Scott. I’ve tweeted this and sent it to all my staff. Spot on.
Thanks, Dominic! I hope they find it helpful!
couldn’t agree more! but $15 per post? I really hope that’s some sort of joke…even if it’s written only for SEO purposes, that’s absurd.
Hi Jessica – No joke. Content mills are the sweatshops of the marketing world and screw things up for the rest of us. Thanks – Scott
It’s not just content mills. The economy has caused reactive behavior that ends up being self defeating. I see people offering content and design for as little as $5. No one wins in that artificial economy.
I have a friend who writes for a living and as Ralph said — it seems to be the economy that’s driving the price for online content down. People will work for less money when it comes down to putting food on the table for their families. Hopefully, there will be a turnaround for all of us soon.
I understand the economy argument to a degree, although Ralph didn’t say dropping prices is the best approach. He said this is a self-defeating reaction to an already difficult situation. When you go that low, you permanently devalue your product. I’d rather find alternate forms of income and wait for the economy to turn around than accept $5, $15 or $25 per post.
Scott’s correct. Most people who continue to drive prices down can’t continue to make a living at it. The entire effort becomes unsustainable. I would also point out another side to this which is that many “writers” out there charging hyper low rates aren’t that good.
Well call me ignorant Scott but I wouldn’t know if $15 a post is good or bad but from what I’m reading here I’m going to guess it’s bad. Yeah, I’m not a freelancer so I wouldn’t know but I agree with some of the arguments here.
If I’m building a business I’m not going to just throw something up to have it there. That’s a reflection of who you are, what your service or product says about you and we all know it’s your reputation.
I’ve also heard a lot of people talking about blogging is a waste of time because they’re not getting from it what they want. I hear this so many times yet they aren’t putting into it what it needs in order to get what they want. We all know though that it’s also not going to happen overnight.
Thanks Scott for this post and opening up more eyes here. I just got a lesson myself.
Hi Adrienne – Yes, $15 is really bad and unfortunately all too common. As for the blogging, you’re totally right that people aren’t putting into it what it needs. They’re also not delivering what they’re readers need, which is even more devastating. Thanks – Scott
I just had to laugh at that $15 per post! I can just imagine the nonsense they would write. For me, I’m not a professional writer by no means, but I write my own blog. There is where people can find me and get to know who I am and where I’m coming from.
I don’t think blogging is dead as many in the industry seem to be writing about. It’s our own property where we can teach, share, and engage our readers.
Our blogs are one part of our business and it needs to be in our own voice. I couldn’t imagine farming that part of my business out. Therefore, those who poo poo blogging probably had no success with it or maybe have hired those who wrote it for them for $15 lol.
Thanks Scott for information well needed in the industry.
Writing is like anything else. You get what you pay for. I think there may be some blogging fatigue because we’re constantly getting flooded with inferior, irrelevant, self-promotional content, but those who are doing it right are still reaping the rewards.
Honestly, most of my time is spent writing blogs for other people, so I know firsthand that outsourcing a blog is a valid option and valuable investment for many business owners. A good writer can present the blog in the client’s voice and convey the client’s passion and expertise in a way the client may not have the time or ability to do themselves. This costs a heck of a lot more than $15 per post!