Content is fast reaching the point where it’s a commodity on the web, like corn in the agricultural world: there are different kinds of corn, but pretty much everwhere you go, a given kind of corn sells in a pretty narrow price range. In a way, this is great for businesses who want SEO content, because they know pretty much what they’re getting based on how much they pay.
If you shell out only $.005 per word, you’re getting someone who has never seen a native English-speaker and who types for 12 hours a day on her 1998 Macbook while her husband is out harvesting rice. If you’re willing to pay a full penny per word, you get either the same person from before but with a half-decade of experience under her belt, or you might get the occasional native English speaker who is just getting started writing and whose best trick is to rephrase EZineArticles for content.
Once you get into the $.03-.05/word range, you’re starting to see glimmers of quality, and you can find the occasional diamond in the rough. Double that, and you have people who know how to create content rather than just write. What’s the difference? Preparation.
Content creators start a long, long time before they open up their word processors. They start by researching their client, learning what they do, who they do it for, and who they could be doing it for (but currently aren’t.) They look at their client’s competition, who their competition is targeting, and for market segments that are waiting to be exploited.
Then, they find where those market segments are hanging out online, and they stalk them for a few days, immersing themselves in the culture so that they can ‘talk the talk’. They look at what kind of content these folks are sharing, pinning, and tweeting so that they know what kind of content gets their attention the most.
If they’re working with — or are themselves — a social marketer, they’ll put out some feelers to find a few of the best-connected people amongst their target segment and ask those people politely if they’ll spread the word about the upcoming content before it’s written so that when it hits, it has the best chance of getting some mentions right away.
Only then will the content creator sit back and actually produce the content. This is usually the shortest part of the process (though often the most intense). A good content creator might rewrite an entire piece 3-5 times until it fits into the mold established by the market segment — and will often write a few hundred headlines and choose the one that seems like it will have the best impact on the crowd they’re targeting.
If the client is a regular, the creator might even ask to see the hits, clicks, conversions, and sales metrics that the content generated. After all, that’s how you know what you did right and what you can do better next time. Total time spent: just about a week. Total time writing: maybe a few hours. Results: speak for themselves.
That’s why we say writing isn’t creating content — because there’s so much more to the process than just putting words in order.