I came across a post on a webmaster forum today called the “Website Copywriter Selection Guide.” What a joke! It’s literally a tutorial on how to be a cheap-assed, overbearing client, and how to essentially turn writers into your very own little work horses. Obviously, I had a few things to say about it:
Can they produce quantity as well as quality?
The two very rarely go hand-in-hand. If you want 10+ articles per day, you’ll either get a single writer who more than likely ends up rewording and rehashing generic Web research, or you’ll hire an article mill that often results in the same thing. Don’t like it? Pay for a professional in the niche. It’ll cost more, but if they’re writing from their own expertise, they can turn out more (and more original) content than someone researching from other ripped articles online.
Will they be able to produce original content?
A lot of webmasters wouldn’t know “original” content if it bit them on the ass quite frankly. Original content does NOT mean it passes a tool like Copyscape. Original content is content that is written from original thoughts and phrasing… not rewritten content from someone else that doesn’t cite its sources for factual information, but still passes the unique content tests. Content in that group is very often illegal, and you risk getting yourself sued (and as the publisher you’re liable if you don’t check it thoroughly yourself). Don’t like it? Well, then take a legal risk. But watch who you’re ripping, because some of us have no problem spending our free time going after bottom-feeders who steal our content.
And on the note of Copyscape, don’t bring it up if you’re hiring an even remotely professional writer. If you start off saying you don’t trust them, you won’t get their best work. Hell, if a client mentions it to me, I tell them to get lost. I don’t tolerate disrespect from anyone I work with, and no writer (or other professional should). You’re running a business. Getting screwed on stolen content is a risk you take, especially if you’re buying cheap work. That’s life. Don’t like it? Then either increase your budget, get out of the business if you can’t handle the risk, or learn to deal with it after the fact.
Does the website copywriter have a back-up?
Ummmm, do you have a backup??? That’s the real question. It’s not your contractor’s responsibility to be at your beck and call and to have someone available to pick up the slack if their schedule fills up. If their time is in demand and they can’t drop everything to do a project for you, good for them. If you want more of their time, pay to put them on retainer. Otherwise, it’s your responsibility as a business or site owner to have a backup in mind who can handle your projects. If you can’t deal with the basic aspects of being in business like this, you probably shouldn’t be.
Does the website copywriter have an editor?
Are you paying for one? I’ll bet not. If you hire a real professional, they won’t need an editor on call. Here’s a reality check: if you make excessive demands on time or manpower, you’d better be prepared to pay for it.
Do they follow a quality assurance process?
What they hell were you smoking when you decided that writers should have to provide unlimited revisions, and shoulder all costs?? Writers set their own revision standard. Clients don’t have the right to expect the world. If you give an assignment with poor instructions, don’t expect to get exactly what you want. Most writers will offer revisions. But if you change your project description, you’d better be prepared to pay again for your lack of vision. Again, that’s a part of being in business. If you can’t articulate what you want, you won’t get it, and it’s no one’s fault but your own. Should you get a rewrite if an article is complete crap? Sure. Should you get to be fussy about every little detail if you want to pay a few dollars? Ummm, no. Accept responsibility for your own side of the equation, and you won’t run into those problems of needing rewrites often.
Will the writer surrender full rights of the materials produced to the client?
Again, what the hell were you smoking when you wrote this??? Why would you say that all Web writers must work on a work-for-hire basis? Are you paying enough to justify it? I’ll bet not. All most webmasters need is exclusive Web rights to the work; not the copyright. Understand what rights are available, and buy what you need. Professional writers won’t just hand all of their rights over for peanuts. Of course, this article seems to be directed towards those looking to hire amateurs who don’t really know any better…. you get what you pay for. Most of these Web writers who offer full rights at low prices give rewritten content on some level or another. What that means is that they have no legal right to claim copyright or transfer it to begin with. So go ahead and demand it… it doesn’t mean you’ll really have it.
In the end, you get what you pay for… simple as that.
Feel free to leave a comment here, and share your thoughts on either the original article, my feedback on it, or the subject in general.