Sometimes you wonder if the Internet has ruined everything.
Case in point: Writing.
Writing as most of us know has a long and distinguished history. We celebrate great novelists, short story writers, playwrights, poets and journalists. Shakespeare is an icon. Hemingway a legend. We sing the praises of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. But we also recognize the talents of incredible copywriters, script writers and even bloggers.
Writing is a singular talent. And not everyone can do it well, in fact, many people are awful at it.
Writing is also the foundation for nearly ALL digital content: ebooks, white papers, websites, social media, and applications. Heck, a tweet is writing. So is a Facebook post. And even good video content is based on a script or a storyboard. And since CONTENT is KING shouldn’t writing be at a premium?
Shouldn’t this be an absolutely fantastic time to be a writer?
Well, not really. Once upon a time writing was like fine wine – a rare find and costly. But now it is like a keg of beer – plentiful and cheap.
Like most content on the Internet – writing has been commoditized. It has become a service to be auctioned out and awarded to the lowest bidder.
Take Scripted, the online marketplace for freelance writers, as example. Here are Scripted’s current rates for writing content:
- Blog Post – $49 (400 words)
- Website Page – $69 (400 words)
- White Paper – $299 (1,200 words)
- 25 Tweets – $50
- 25 Facebook Posts – $75 (two sentences each)
As one of my colleagues put it: “Those are slave wages for a high-unemployment economy.”
Let’s look at it another way. The average senior copywriter in 2010 earned a salary of between $54,000 and $80,000. Let’s take the average of that range and round up to $70,000 to give us a number to work with.
For a Scripted writer to earn $70,000 a year they would have to write 1,400 blog posts or 35,000 tweets a year. To make half of that – $35,000 a year – a Scripted writer would have to churn out 700 blog posts and 17,500 tweets.
Let’s put some context to those crazy numbers.
I’ve been writing HighTalk for more than four years. And, granted, I don’t do so full-time, but in that time span I’ve written a total of 514 blog posts (including this one) and just over 7,030 tweets.
If those wages seem unfair – they are. Especially with Scripted and other services like them skimming off the top.
But there’s another way to look at it as well.
If you’re a brand are you really getting quality writing when you pay someone the price of half a tank of gas to write your blog post? Do you really want to pay such low wages to people who are crafted important marketing and communications content for you?
Content that will be forever searchable on the Internet.
Is that the really the way to get quality and value?
I’d argue that you have to pay for quality. You need to think about your content beyond simply pounding out the words for it. Blog posts are more than just blocks of text – at least they should be.
All content should be part of a strategic design. A should have purpose – goals! Content should be part of a larger and more comprehensive marketing and communications plan that all works together on earned, owned and paid channels to optimize your business goals.
Paying low wages to virtual writers to pound on keyboards doesn’t sound like a real plan to me.
Average Salaries for Writers in 2010 via Writers Resource Center
(Penny image courtesy of Wikipedia)