Person 1: “I got a real bargain – 750 words for just $25”
Person 2: “Did you? Maybe you could have knocked them down to $20 or even $18!”
The way some people talk about copywriting, you’d think they were buying tomatoes and not marketing texts, commodities and not craftsmanship.
The Internet has been a great stimulus for this kind of ‘sausage machine’ copy because there’s such a demand for text volume and keyword stuffing, to satisfy the search engine robots mostly. But definitely not people.
Being a sausage machine
Why do I use the term ‘sausage machine’? Because that’s really what it is – stuffing some information in one end and churning out the words at the other end. Even though I’m a serious copywriter, a couple of years ago I agreed to permanent work in an office in return for a steady pay check. The job was to be the writer for an online casino portal.
I had to write stuff like ‘How to play poker’ for mini-sites of about 8 pages each one. The problem was that the portal owners had bought around 100 domains (poker-lovers.com, poker-pleasure.com, pokerpalace.com and lots of other variations like these) and needed to populate all these sites with texts.
So I sat down for eight hours a day creating one original set of texts and then 99 copies. I spent my time rewording the texts so that they wouldn’t appear as copies – and fine-tuning ways to churn all this stuff out as fast as possible. That included all the Titles and Meta Descriptions. I was going nuts. My God, that’s the absolute closest I ever felt to being a true sausage machine! Thank goodness the job dried up in the end.
Places where they speak the English
I believe that there must be more to quality copywriting than just knowing the language. Many places like India are cashing in on their knowledge of English by offering writing services at ‘bargain basement/wholesaler’ rates. I came across a good example of this the other day in one of these article bank sites. An article entitled “Copy Editing Specialists for Good Texts” had been written by Sunil Ambani, working for an Indian text-generating company. It was noted that Sunil has 1582 articles online. Here is part of that article:
More or less every website depends on web contents. Whether contents in a site are used in article or blog form, landing page or advertising banner punchline form, it needs to be fresh, genuine and properly SEO optimized. Professionally optimized websites for search engine results have been able to do good business since the time when competition in the cyberspace shown its germination. Today, with so many websites competing with each other, it’s the order of the day to reside on top so that visitors can come pouring. If you use carefully written contents, you can easily tell your potential customers about your specialty and product ranges. When visitors come to you, they always look for something new and something informative. And if you fail to make them understand about your services well, it’s really very difficult to catch their attention. Therefore, besides designing and marketing, you should be able to use well-read copies in your site. If you do it yourself, you may end up doing several mistakes. So, you can opt for copy editing proofreading services to give your contents an error-free shape. The professional proofreaders will work at page proof stage by comparing every word, verifying correct word breaks and finally making sure that all editorial changes are input. Proofreaders are not meant to make substantive changes or go against copyeditors’ style sheet. On the other hand, the role of copy editors is always bigger. They are the people whoa re behind making the grammatical changes or any sorts of morphological inconsistencies.
Is being cheap a false economy?
Assuming that this article was written for consumption by humans rather than by search engine spiders, what can we say about it?
It’s a solid wall of 255 words, with no paragraphs or subheads
In the 38 words of the first two sentences, where’s the point that should support the headline?
Where’s the use of professional English? Professionally optimized websites for search engine results have been able to do good business since the time when competition in the cyberspace shown its germination.
- Where are the English editing skills? …the role of copy editors is always bigger. They are the people whoa re behind making the grammatical changes or any sorts of morphological inconsistencies.
If you can bring yourself to read Sunil Ambani’s ‘well-edited copywriting’, you’ll quickly see that it’s all overblown puff with nothing of real value to communicate. So has that $25 been wasted? Most likely!
The essentials of good copywriting
A good copywriter has to be a good analyst as well as a good communicator. He or she has to ask “What are the topics that people are really interested in?” “How do I appeal to their curiosity and intelligence?” All that takes time and expertise.
A valuable 750 word article will cost a lot more than $25, and it’s worthwhile paying the price. If the article has to be intelligently ‘keyword-seeded’ for SEO purposes, then the cost will naturally go up. More work = more money. So I think that people who are buying the ‘sausage machine’ merchandise are simply fooling themselves and tossing their money away rashly, without much forethought.
Why should the rules be different in copywriting than in other fields of activity? If you have toothache, will you go to the cheapest dentist around? If somebody is trying to cheat you, is any inept and inexpensive lawyer good enough for you? Or will you use service providers who really know their stuff, and their worth?
There’s a large market for ‘Sausage Machine English’. But clients and copywriters who respect their readers’ intelligence should stay away from it.