At last month’s MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum last month, I visited exhibitors. There were the usual ones: software to make marketing easier, or video easier, for example. And there was one that made my blood boil: the cheap freelance writer vendor. I chatted with the booth representative briefly, and she (a bubbly Millennial) handed me Cheap Freelance Writers’ pricing guide. When I got back to my Airbnb room, I was tempted to throw it out the apartment window. (I didn’t. I didn’t want to get my host in trouble, so I tucked it into the recycling bin instead.)

According to Cheap Freelance Writers (not their real name), they pay between 1.4 cents and 7 cents per word – if you’re lucky. Clients pay more than that, so theoretically they could set their acceptable rates to two cents per word and pay $10 for a 500-word article.

I can guarantee you, it’s going to be a really terrible article.

Look, I get it. I’m not always a good fit for every project or every client, so I’m not telling you to hire me. (In fact, I can think of reasons why you shouldn’t.) But using one of those agencies that hires cheap freelance writers is a recipe for disaster.

Why Cheap Freelance Writers Are Not Your Friend

First of all, a cheap freelance writer is going to cost you more in the long run. Once in a while, you’ll luck out and get a beautifully written piece of content from a freelance writer who is exceptionally talented and just trying to build up her portfolio. That will be the exception. The rule will be words strung together in a somewhat coherent manner but with no flair, no voice, and no true value. Here is what you are likely getting when you use an agency like Cheap Freelance Writers:

  • A bad writer. There is no nice way to put this. You’re going to get someone who is just bad at writing. It could be because he doesn’t get the finer points of grammar, or he just has no imagination. Even in B2B technology marketing, you need some imagination.
  • An angry writer. Think: sullen teenager being forced to do something she hates. That’s the writer you’re going to get. The work will be passable, but it will be done grudgingly.
  • An inexperienced writer. You’ll have to explain and rewrite everything.
  • A writer who is trying to fly through the work – and thus sends you error- and typo-filled copy because she needs to churn out thousands of words a day just to pay her rent.

Why These “Content Marketing” Agencies Make My Blood Boil

If you’re a reputable company, you want to have a relationship with your freelance writer, right? Or at the very least, work with an agency that treats its writers well. (Contact me and I can put you in touch with one that is absolutely fantastic.) Your writing is your voice, which is why you’ve decided to hire a professional. It’s not a commodity that can be outsourced, like a trained monkey pushing a button. You want someone who is able to grasp the concepts of your industry, who has some experience in the space, and who can write. You want someone who is happy to do the work – trust me on this. Sullen writers, even if they’re being buffered by a piece of software, are no fun to use.

I still can’t get over the audacity of this Millennial telling me that I could “benefit” by signing up with Cheap Freelance Writers, or telling me to use their pricing guide to price my services. I can guarantee you that I charge more than two cents a word. And you know what? My clients will tell you it’s worth the price.