(We Fix) Cheap Copy: Why You Should Pay for Quality the First Time

In my hometown, nestled in a strip mall with a few restaurants and other small businesses, sits a quaint barber shop. I’ve never actually been inside, but I imagine there’s a retro simplicity to it. No frills, but a good, quality haircut is promised, expected and delivered. When you drive by, you sometimes see a sign that upon first glance says “Cheap Haircuts.” As you get a little closer, though, you see the words “We Fix” above it . . . “We fix cheap haircuts.” It has always made me chuckle a little, but moreso, I’m glad that when people get a cut they’re less than thrilled with, that there’s a person with a sense of humor willing to fix it for them. It’s just not going to be cheap. By the time people get to the “fixer,” they have likely realized that they messed up. They should have paid for high quality the first time around. 

That’s what we’re talking about today, because there are a million sayings by a million people who have had to learn the hard way that “you get what you pay for.” In fact, Benjamin Franklin said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low prices are forgotten.” 

Quality, Expense, Speed Venn Diagram

We live in a culture where decisions are often driven by budget, but the budget is created without fully knowing or understanding the actual needs of the business. A low budget may force businesses and companies to sacrifice quality to save money. The problem is that when you do this, there’s a high probability that someone will end up having to correct what was done incorrectly the first time, or the business will have to replace or optimize their offering more quickly than if they had invested in doing it right the first time. This applies to copy, too.

Can someone string together a few paragraphs to come up with 500 words? Will they do it for free or pennies per word? Sure, they might. 

But ask yourself, are you getting a high-quality service that will enhance your brand and elevate your business? Are you optimizing for search engines and your customer’s needs based on gathered data and analytics? Are you staying on track with your key words but avoiding other pitfalls of copywriting, all while staying above board in the eyes of Google? Probably not. 

In the world of copywriting and SEO, there’s a remarkable difference between someone trained and someone who just “knows when things sound ok.” That said, just because something is more expensive doesn’t mean it’s higher quality. That’s why it’s important to ask the right questions to see if the product or service you’re looking into has the ability to meet your business’s goals. It’s ok to ask for education, qualifications, credentials, testimonials, a portfolio or samples and other performance indicators. Ask if they outsource their writing and even how much they pay their writers. How hands-on will you need to be in the editing phase? These types of questions will help you make the best decision for your business.  

I’ve worked with SEO/writing vendors in the past, some of whom charged twice what I charge now. Keep in mind that agencies tend to be more expensive than individuals operating small businesses because they have a lot more overhead. 

The point is, KE Butterfield probably won’t be the cheapest writer, proofreader or search marketing company you look into. It also probably won’t be the most expensive. What we can promise is that together we can assess your business’s unique needs and come up with a plan that meets your goals. Don’t waste your company’s time and money on something that’s not going to propel your business forward!

Karen Butterfield is an award-winning communications professional specializing in B2B and B2C content creation, copywriting, as well as internal and external correspondence. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Webster University, St. Louis, in 2010 and then served in progressive roles at a community newspaper and publishing company. During her tenure as a reporter and editor, she earned more than a dozen state awards for writing and photography.