It’s tempting to buy cheap content.
You don’t have the time to write articles yourself, or maybe you know that a writer can produce higher quality. You want to boost your SEO, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money. You discover content mills—the seemingly perfect way to get great blog posts written for a fraction of the usual cost.
You post an ad on Upwork, People Per Hour, Fiverr or even Craigslist. You’re offering $10 for 1000 words. That’s one cent per word and you feel like that’s a fair deal. You add some information in the job description about what you expect and maybe even request that writers only apply if they’ve previously written about that topic.
Suddenly you’re getting email after email alerting you of new proposal applications. Some even bid less than what you asked for. It seems like a great deal and you’re only spending $10. You go ahead and hire a writer.
Hey, no judgment. Every business has been there. You need to save money and increase profit.
But is it actually a way to cut costs? Or is it costing you more?
Here are the downfalls of using content mills and paying low prices for articles in general:
Plagiarism means copying someone else’s content. When you’re paying someone very little, expect very little. They’re not going to do their own research and ensure that the article is written in the best way possible. Instead, one thing they may do is take an article on the same topic from another website and then sell it to you as if they wrote it. In best cases, Google will penalize you for duplicated content. In the worst cases, you could get yourself into copyright infringement issues. Writers on content mills may also write the content themselves, but resell it to multiple clients.
The portfolio a writer sends you may also include plagiarized content. This is why many people hire a writer with great confidence based on their samples, only to be disappointed when the article they receive is unpublishable.
If your content mill writer doesn’t plagiarize, it’s likely that they’ll use a content spinner. Here’s how it works: your writer does a quick Google search on the topic and picks out an article from the results. They copy and paste that article into the content spinner. The spinner then automatically rewrites the content using synonyms words. It sounds like a win-win; you’re getting semi-unique content, and you barely have to do a thing. But, not so fast.
The issue is that the article created by the spinner is low quality and sometimes doesn’t even make sense. It’s also unlikely that it will be re-written in the language that your reader uses. Your brand should have a distinct voice. Inputting text into a spinner will not help you establish that tone.
If you’re still not convinced, you might as well save yourself the $5 and spin the content yourself. I’ll even give you the link.
Many writers on content mills think SEO means keyword stuffing. There was a time when that worked and search engines would rank your business higher, but that’s no longer the case. Now, Google will penalize you if you overuse a keyword. Google is smart—and it expects you to be too. They reward articles that exhibit knowledge on the subject and prefer websites that create user experiences.
If you’re paying writers in America or Canada $5 for a 1000-word article, they won’t be able to eat, let alone pay their rent. For this reason, you’ll likely get writers from countries where $5 goes a long way. The problem with this? Most content produced by non-native English writers is exactly that: non-native English writing. Broken English will cause you significantly more time editing (or even time scratching your head wondering what the writer meant). And if you just upload the content as is, good luck ranking in Google. If you’re looking to provide value to your readers or develop a following of readers (you should be), this will work against your goal. Readers will not only get frustrated and click off of your website, but they also won’t see you as a trustworthy source.
LACK OF WRITER RELATIONSHIP
To build your brand through content writing, you’ll also want to build a relationship with a writer. A writer who you always work with will get to know your brand’s tone and what you expect. You won’t have to reintroduce yourself to a new writer for each post and take a gamble on what you’re getting. In addition, with different content mill writers, the writing will be inconsistent, which is terrible when you’re trying to create a brand.
To ensure transactions take place on the website and that they get their cut, content mills don’t allow you to share outside contact information, such as email addresses. If you do, the content mill could ban you (even though, as you’re realizing, that’s not a bad thing). If you hire a writer outside of a mill, one of the benefits is that you can contact them through more traditional means. Getting good content will be easier, quicker and better.
LOW QUALITY = LOW VALUE
As I mentioned above, Google favors content that is valuable to readers. This means that the writer should be doing research, making sure the content is written for your target market and is easily readable. A professional writer understands that they are writing on behalf of your brand. A well-written article will attract more shares and customers/potential customers will actually read, and be thankful for your content. To get these benefits, you will need to pay more.
On content mills, you’re not going to get these benefits, and Google is likely to punish you for low-quality posts. To put it simply, it’s a bad return on investment.
It’s like the old saying: You get what you pay for. Writers who are good at their craft will charge accordingly and like you, they can’t pay rent by doing $5 jobs. This means they won’t spend much time hanging around on content mills and bidding on $5 projects. I get it, paying more for anything sucks. It may make your pockets a little lighter right now, but it will achieve better results, moving you closer to your goal in the long run.