Let's start with the basics. There is nothing wrong with commissioning your content to a freelancer or an agency. As a rule of thumb, outsourced content comes with added value unless you are in the content creation business or have a dedicated content development team in house.
You can also grow comfortably even without maintaining a blog or a case study/research paper section on your website. Apple and Microsoft, for example, do not have thought provoking blogs but only a news page where they release product and company news. Their market capitalization does not suffer from the lack of articles on their websites.
On the other hand, there are plenty of websites that make a living writing content about Apple and Microsoft's products and providing consulting services on top of that content. It is just one example, most businesses now implement a sort of a content strategy to increase their visibility and boost sales. And most of them are unable to create their content internally; hence, the question how much is your content worth if you are not equipped to create it yourself.
How Cheap Content Is Too Cheap Content
From time to time, we accept content creation gigs not directly on our website but through freelance platforms such as Fevvr, Guru, People per Hour or Upwork (formerly oDesk). We select these gigs very carefully and for a good reason.
If you explore the projects listed on these freelancer marketplaces, you will find strange offers, to say the least. Entrepreneurs and businesses seeking "expert" writing service and offering $1 per 100 words of expert, technical content. The math behind such an offer says that the client is willing to pay $10 for 1,000 words of specialized text on a subject that sometimes requires years to master.
Well, you cannot get thoughtful and original expert content for that price. What you can get is a spinned or copy/paste content if you have luck. In result, you only increase the already alarmingly high levels of content entropy i.e. your company blog will feature the next article that says the same already boring things that dozens of other blogs are saying.
Let's face the truth. Cheap is cheap for a reason. The fact that everybody has a blog and the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of "writers" will never add value to a cheap piece of content.
Content for the Sake of Content
I will never get bored saying that creating content for the sake of having content is one of the worst mistakes a business can make.
We strongly advice our clients to not over-produce content as there is enough scrappy articles online and one or two more useless blog posts on your website will only backfire.
Going back to the freelance platforms, you can find offers that read something as:
I need content for my personal brand/company blog.
This is more than ridiculous as the people who post such offers do not even mention in what industry or niche they work. They probably suppose that a content writer would write equally well on subjects related to quantum physics and then provide tips how to generate leads for a local grocery store.
Unfortunately, there are "writers" that are willing to accept such laughable content writing projects and as a result more and more people stick only to a handful of sites to get meaningful and thoughtful content in their industry or market.
The Ultimate Value of Your Content
Let's assume you have outgrew the stage where you post content just for the sake of having content and have also realized that a good piece of content costs double digits or more. Actually, a meaningful blog post of about 500 words cannot cost less than $50 to $80.
If you are ready to pay the price, the ultimate value of your content is not equal to the money you have paid to create it. Good content is growing in value over time as people read and share the article. Thoughtful content also inspires word of mouth recommendations and helps you build credibility you can never achieve through those $10-a-piece articles that will rapidly vanish in the broad content noise we are witnessing online.
Be careful, however, with the so-called "evergreen" articles that are supposed to generate greatest value over time. They come with a catch. For your evergreen content to be successful, it must be unique. Original is not enough in this case as there are dozens of original evergreen articles on virtually any topic.
So, an evergreen piece of content needs to provide unique perspective to a topic or problem as well as to offer unique solutions or new methods to solve an issue. Creating such content, which only grows in value over time, is extremely challenging and requires extensive expertise. And you definitely cannot rely on the average Joe and Jane to produce that kind of content.
Cost of Great Content Is Set to Grow
It might sound counter-intuitive but good and great content will become more costly in the years to come. The main reason lies with the fact that we already have an overwhelming amount of mediocre content online. Then, we have a growing number of practically illiterate writers and content creators who view their job as a hobby or a side gig, in the best possible scenario.
The need for highly skilled and expert content creators will thus only grow in the long run as consumers are getting increasingly demanding in terms of content quality but a decreasing number of writers and brands are ready to take the challenge. We do not speak of viral content here, it is another story, we speak of valuable content on corporate blogs and websites.
Those who are to win the corporate content race will be the ones that are ready to take the challenge of creating less but thoughtful content and those who know what is the true cost of creating inspiring content.
Fluctuating Value of Content
How much your content is worth depends on a bunch of factors. It equals the sum of the amount of effort you put into research of a specific topic, the money you spend on developing and writing the content and the uniqueness of your articles or blog posts. You get an added bonus if you are able to offer forward-thinking concepts and ideas you can back with research.
Obviously, creating such content costs much more than the average fluff you get for, say, $20 or $30 per a blog post written as a side gig by an average freelance writer. These low-cost posts can only have a meager short-term effect on your visibility, if any. And they will definitely not add to your authority as a valuable source of information and insight, exactly the opposite. Cheap outsourced content creation translates into minimum to no content research efforts and bad re-writing practices that do not add value neither for your business nor for your customers.
The value of your content will grow over time only if you put adequate efforts and invest reasonably in content creation. Have this in mind the next time you commission an article to a freelancer or hire an agency to implement your content strategy. In a world where everybody is creating content, you should really stand out to get noticed.
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