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Observations on the SEO content writing industry

SEO Writing: Why Relationships Matter

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Over a decade ago, when I first began to see how the same writing I did for print publications translated to SEO writing, I established a friendly relationship with a client whom I will not name on this occasion. A talented professional, far too good for the job she was doing at the time, this person tackled each day and each project as if her life depended on it; and I respected her work ethic and sought each day to match her intensity by providing her with A-plus work every single time she blessed me with a content order.

Make no mistake, in those days, neither of us was paid according to our worth. Such was the time, when black hat SEO ruled the web before Google’s algorithms caught up and laid waste to the stunts that once made great deals of cash for short-sighted SEO companies, many of whom are now extinct.

Working under an account manager who failed to understand the value of good writing, this woman slaved tirelessly to do her job as best she could, while maintaining our professional relationship, despite a shockingly low budget that left me wanting and aggravated.

Ultimately, she left to become an account manager at another, larger SEO company; and guess who she called first when she needed a steady content writer?

In the end, though I wasn’t making the money I felt I deserved at the time, my loyalty to this one, deserving individual eventually paid off; and we still work together on many projects, which I do for a fair rate, consistent with my skill set.

The moral of the story is this: if you’re an SEO writer, you aren’t just working on projects; you’re working with people. Your reputation is important. Don’t bail on a client just because he or she can’t support your financial requirements. Instead, find a way to work things out. Negotiate a way to continue the relationship–even if it means writing only one 400-word article per week. In the long run, you may build an invaluable relationship that could be an important tool in helping you achieve your long-term goals.

- Ryan Lawrence

SEO Website Content Writers Beware

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Beginning SEO website content writers generally have a difficult time gathering clients, and many often end up slumming for work at writer mills that pay relatively little for time-consuming articles that eat up a large portion of each work day.

Ironically, when writers finally hone their craft and earn a strong enough reputation to secure steady work, a lot often end up returning to these low-paying mills to subcontract excess projects out at rates they once considered substandard.

If you’ve demonstrated enough talent and professionalism to land enough clients to keep yourself busy, be content. Not only is it unethical to charge your clients money for content you won’t be writing, it usually proves unprofitable in the long run.

Most SEO companies are beginning to turn their backs on writer mills, because they produce poorly-written content usually crafted by want-to-be writers who aren’t particularly good at following directions. If you try to subcontract your work out to people working at these cut-rate content services, expect to spend hours editing and rewriting. Even if you are able to find a reliable go-to writer, the relationship isn’t likely to last long; as most writers worth their salt typically “graduate” from these low-paying mills and move on to better opportunities.

In the long run, you’re far better off doing the work yourself. If you can’t, be honest with a potential client and turn the work down. Integrity may not seem like a profitable attribute; however, it is the ultimate key to lasting in this business, because it leads to long-lasting, mutually beneficial partnerships.

- Ryan Lawrence

Image credit: Muffet/creativecommons