It’s no secret that good content boosts Google rankings, drives website traffic, and of course, makes users very happy. However, damaging misconceptions are holding some organizations back when it comes to creating great content.

Aside from addressing what it really takes to create awesome content, today’s post contains a content lesson our team learned the hard way.

Ready to jump in? Let’s start with the biggest misconception of them all.

1. Misconception #1: Content is Cheap

When it comes to creating great quality content, it can be hard to know what kind of hourly rates are fair. I’ve done a little research to try and shed some light on this common problem.

In 2015 CopyPress surveyed 247 writers, bloggers, and editors to find out exactly how much freelance writers are being paid. The majority of those surveyed (52%) were earning at least $18/hour, and 22% were earning $40 or more. The study also pointed out that members of the Editorial Freelancer’s Association charge between $40-$100 for an hour of work.

Research at HubSpot found that marketers generally spend 1-5 hours writing one 500 word blog post (the number varies depending on the nature and purpose of the article). Let’s pick the average time, around 3 hours.

That means for a higher quality post, a professional editor might start at $40 x 3 = $120.

When you think about how many leads, conversions, and sales a great blog post can generate, spending around $100 doesn’t seem bad at all!

Content creation shouldn’t dominate your entire campaign budget, but remember that content isn’t a commodity, you get what you pay for.

2. Misconception #2: Content is Easy to Create

It’s not rocket science, but great content takes skill, effort, and time to create. Writing clear, engaging articles to educate, inform, and inspire your readers is work and writers should be remunerated according to skill and experience.

Related to this, I’d like to share a story with you. It’s a bit embarrassing, but if other marketers can learn from our mistake, then I think it’s worth being honest.

We provide content marketing services for many Canadian businesses and charities, and a few months ago we decided to do a search to continue building our roster of vetted professional writers for our clients.

Someone on our team came across a freelance writer that boasted they could offer 5 blog posts for the low, low price of $125! Considering our rough calculations above showed the average rate for 5 blog posts would be closer to $600, this seemed too good to be true but we couldn’t resist to test it out. Spoiler alert: It was too good to be true.

Although the upfront cost was low, using this writer would have turned out to be extremely expensive. Out of the 5 test posts provided, one of the posts was 100% plagiarised, another was so bad it was incomprehensible, and three were somewhat salvageable—but only if we had spent significant (and costly) edits. This was a good slap-in-the-face reminder that you get what you pay for and that all content is definitely not created equal.

3. Misconception #3: Content Can (and Should) Be Done in a Day

I recently came across Articoolo, a company promising to scrape the Internet, “extract sentiment and important keywords”, and create easy-to-read articles in just a few minutes time. Oh, and did I mention this would only cost $0.29 per post?

There are two huge problems with this.

First, content created by this kind of software is only ever going to be a regurgitation of other people’s ideas. It won’t contain any original research, new insights, or added value, it’s not going to help its audience in any meaningful way, and it could even be copyright infringement. I’d say (and Google agrees with me) that this kind of content just isn’t worth creating.

Second, the software doesn’t even work! I know because I tried to get it to write this article (slightly modified to “3 Common Content Marketing Mistakes”) and I got some pretty silly results, including:

“Whenever you look at the globe throughout your clients eyes, it rapidly becomes apparent what content you must be making.”

I… what??

Anyway, great content is going to combine a lot of things: strategy, trending or important topics, new and exciting human insights, and original research (or at least original ideas) to name a few. You just can’t create that kind of authentic, helpful content in a day.

Where Should We Go From Here?

Marketers, writers, and website developers should work together to break down these content misconceptions so that we in turn can deliver better user experiences to the people we serve.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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