Is content still king?
Ever since the earliest days of the Internet, there has been one great need above all other needs: content.
Without good, relevant content, there’s no value to a web site or portal. Ignoring this truism, some enterprising sorts decided that aggregating and automating content would be a good business idea. Is it? Forbes doesn’t think so: Congratulations Demand Media. You’re still pretty dumb
There are so many things wrong with content mills that one could go on forever. One of the worst things is how inane the content turns out. Why? The mills want generic articles that can be blasted into almost any venue as soon as one enters search terms. The result is stuff nobody really wants to read.
An equally bad thing is their pay scales. Demand Media pays an average of $15 for 500-1,000 word articles. Think about that for a moment. The lowest rates paid to writers for articles are in the range of 50 cents per word (where it has been for about a century). For a 1,000-word article, that’s $500 … a long way from $15.
The better markets pay $1-2 per word. So you can see where things are headed if the content mills have their way. You can also see why the typical content mill writer would want to grind out content rather than craft their copy. If you’re only making pennies, why kill yourself?
What does this mean for clients? Content mills are training clients to expect to pay far less than typical. But clients don’t really want lesser quality, do they? Trouble is, you can’t have it both ways.
Here’s an independent writer’s take on it: Demand Studios’ IPO reveals more reasons writers should be wary
Seasoned pros won’t touch the content mills.
Since 1988, I’ve largely earned my living as an independent advertising and marketing writer. The contemporary combination of globalization, the Internet and a flattened economy has created a plethora of content mills/farms that pay writers far less than minimum wage.
Demand Media is only one of many content mills. Examiner.com is even worse, recruiting “writers” (non-vetted, non-edited) and then making them work to publicize their offerings (and annoy everyone) because they pay by the click vs. by the word or article.
These mills are paying writers pennies on the dollar, if that much. It’s a brilliant business plan that depends entirely on the submissiveness and low self-esteem of writers.
Let me say that again: it’s a brilliant business plan that depends entirely on the submissiveness and low self-esteem of writers. And it cuts writers out of the markets they’ve been writing for long before the mills showed up.
Wake up, writers.
Writers need to wake up and realize some things about the critical need for their particular skill. Industry cannot grow without communication. Business cannot grow without communication. Capitalism cannot function without communication. Ultimately, communication (via marketing, advertising and p.r.) drives capitalism. How can there be competition without communication that makes the target audience aware of choices?
So, can we really afford to have communication dumbed down any further than it already is? The word on “the street” is that Google has become weary (and wary) of the mills that use “optimization” tools to place their articles at the top of search results.
Clients should be just as wary. Do you really want “mash-ups” rather than original, professionally written, carefully crafted articles? I didn’t think so. Think carefully about SEO before you jump on that bandwagon. As I’ve mentioned before, one of the gurus of SEO said that it has turned into “content written for machines rather than for people.” If you want people to respond to your calls to action, you need to write for people, not for search results.
The mills promote a culture of minimal thinking, minimal work and total plagiarizing. They virtually force their minions to work as quickly as possible in order to get out as many articles as possible so that they might actually survive. The concept of quality isn’t even part of the mix. Who needs it?
No writer, no newspaper.
No writer, no magazine.
No writer, no web content.
No writer, no owner’s manual.
No writer, no package copy.
No writer, no cereal box copy.
No writer, no program guides.
No writer, no museum guides.
No writer, no dictionary.
No writer, no ad copy.
No writer, no radio copy.
No writer, no catalog copy.
No writer, no business.
No writer, no sales.
No writer, no company.
No writer, no book.
No writer, no poetry.
No writer, no songs.
No writer, no laws.
No writer, no play.
No writer, no movie script.
No writer, no TV script.
(You get the idea …)