Everybody’s a Writer These Days – Warning! Professionalism Wanes

Posted on July 24, 2011


The digital world has made it possible for anyone to pick up a computer and write. E-book writers, novelists and copywriters from all over the world, from every walk of life can publish their work now. Is this necessarily a good thing? Well, it really kind of depends on which end of the deal you’re on now, doesn’t it?
Let Me Explain
I read a news article today that could have been written by a sixth grader. It wasn’t terrible but the title didn’t resemble the content in the slightest. Portions of the article were difficult to understand because the writer moved from one idea to the next without purpose or reason. By the time I reached the end of the article, I still wasn’t any closer to understanding the topic than I was when I started.
Writing for a newspaper is more than just content writing. It is journalism. Journalists should be held to the highest standard of writers – unless you count novelists – brining me to my next case in point.
I have recently fallen in love with E-books. I can take them with my on my phone to the doctor’s office, to the park and even to the bathroom while the kids play in the tub. E-books are eco-friendly and don’t take up any additional space in my home. Best of all, they are wonderfully affordable, often less than the actual book.
Sadly, however, I am finding that anyone can publish an E-book. Novels, parenting books, how-to books, you name it – they can all be found online. All the author has to do is pay a nominal fee for a cover design and publishing and…tada! They are a published author. Don’t get me wrong! Some of my favorite authors are Indie authors, like Rachael Wade. I LOVE her writing. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every book published today is worth reading, however.
Novel readers are the last people you want to try and pull the wool over on! They are avid readers. They understand the concept of good writing, even if they don’t write themselves. They are swoon over books that have three-dimensional characters. They notice the errors. Don’t believe me? Head to Amazon and check out some of the E-book reviews.
I experienced the sad fate of purchasing one of the poor quality books on Amazon – well two, actually. The first was not terrible. It read okay but I found myself frustrated by the lack of character development. I was disappointed that I had to constantly fill in the who, what, when and why’s for the author because they were missing. The second was just awful. I read one page and gave up. I couldn’t understand the story line and, honestly, from what I could tell, it was not very interesting anyway.
So…? What’s the Point?
Okay, brace yourself. This is where the professionalism might fade a little. My point is, in relation to the copywriting world, there is no difference. Anyone with a computer can become a copywriter/freelance writer. I encourage good writers to go for it – SERIOUSLY! What are you waiting for?! My problem is with the writing you find splashed all over the net that is riddled with errors, doesn’t make sense and leaves you wondering, “What was I supposed to get from that again?”
I know we all have to start somewhere. I am not the best writer in the world and I was definitely not as good at it when I started as I am now. I had to grow. I had to learn my voice, my abilities and find my nerve. I had to relearn all of the grammar rules. I get it. Really. But when I started out, I worked with a site that helped me grow. I didn’t just go throw myself out there like I was a professional. I took some time to learn the ropes before stepping out. It was the best thing I have ever done.
All of that hard work, all of that dedication, is scoffed at constantly. I get the cold shoulder because someone that can’t remember the basics of grammar or spelling is offering a cheaper price. Today, I was passed up because a writer that is inconsistent – not horrible, but not great- offered to do the work for $25 less. I was mad. I still am, to be honest.
It’s not that I missed the job, exactly. It’s not that I have a holier than thou mentality. It’s that this practice constantly cuts quality copywriters in half. We are constantly forced to drive our prices down, despite the fact that we work our fingers to the bone. We read, re-read, and sometimes read again. We spend hours researching. We work hard to make sure that our clients have the very best content we can give. Yet, we get passed up for someone that just slaps some words on a page and calls it copywriting.
The Bottom Line – Looking Beyond the Cost
Am I a little bitter? Yes. But there is more to it than that. Think of it this way – when you read something that doesn’t make sense or contains a bunch of errors, you probably lose respect for the business. You might not mean to, but secretly, you do. You think, “How can I entrust my fill in the blank with what you should be giving to the site owner when they don’t even know how to fill in the writing problem.
The reality is that you are hiring a copywriter because you don’t have the time and expertise to create the content yourself. Smart move! I don’t discourage that, by any means. But I regress, do not – I repeat DO NOT- think you are going to get content that is any better than you can write when you aren’t willing to make an honest investment.
You spend hundreds of dollars on graphics for your site when, really, honestly, it is the words on your page that will persuade your buyers. Sure, a pretty site is attractive but it’s not what sells. Copywriting sells. Take the time to really look at what you are getting for your money. Don’t settle for less and make hiring a quality copywriter a priority for your site development.