Whatever kind of marketing you are involved in, there’s almost always a need for quality, relevant copy whether it is for your website, blog, newsletters etc.
This can be daunting for many businesses and you might not have the time or resources to keep on top of generating new content on a regular basis. So what do you do?
You might go on the hunt for someone to do this for you. This could be in the form of an agency, freelance copywriter or there are various businesses providing a platform for publishers to source written content quickly, easily and cost-effectively (their words not mine!). Examples of these are ContentBrokers, TextBroker, and, Copify.
To help you decide which is the best to use, I decided to put a number of options to the test. I submitted the same brief to ODesk, ContentBrokers, TextBrokers, Copify, and a technical freelance copywriter that I found through Google, asking them to write an article for the NuBlue blog reviewing Internet Explorer 9 Beta. Here is the brief:
Word Count: 300
Audience: This article will be aimed at Internet professionals and webmasters that may already be using IE9 or thinking about trying it. The finished article will be published on nublue.co.uk/blog.
Content: The article should review Internet Explorer 9 with a focus on its performance and functionality for web users and developers. The article should make comparisons with other browsers that are available such as Firefox that are currently seen to have stronger developer ecosystems and stands compliant features. The article should give a consensus of opinion on whether the release of IE9 will be a threat to its web browser rivals.
Tone/Style: This should be an objective, engaging and informal in tone.
I have reviewed each option based on cost, ease of placing order, speed of service, overall usability of site, and quality of finished article. Here are the results;
|Ease of Placing Order
|Speed of Service||0/10||10/10||10/10||0/10||5/10||Text Broker / Copify|
|Usability of Website||6/10||7/10||8/10||1/10||7/10||Copify|
Here is a breakdown and justification of each of the scores given. You can see each of the completed articles at the bottom of this article. I hope you find this useful if you ever need to use any copywriting services;
COST (CATEGORY WINNER: Copify)
- Content Brokers: 0/10 – This is a UK service that charges per word. The site operates on a tiered pricing structure relating to the quality of the writing requested. Prices range from £0.012 pw for ‘standard’ copy, £0.018 pw for ‘professional’ copy up to £0.05 pw for ‘expert’ copy. As my order was not completed by ContentBrokers I have had to score them zero in this section.
- Copify: 9/10 – This is another UK service that like ContentBrokers that charge per word on a tiered pricing structure. Depending on the quality level you specify, you will pay either £0.03 or £0.05 per word for ‘standard’ or ‘professional’ quality.
- TextBroker: 8/10 – This is a US service that charges per word again on a tiered pricing structure. Prices range from $0.012 pw (£0.01) for 2 star copy up to $0.067 pw (£0.04) for 5 star copy. All jobs are also subject to a $0.30 (£0.20) transaction fee.
- ODesk: 0/10 – This is another US service. ODesk lets you chose a price for your job based on either an hourly rate or a fixed price. This site operate as a marketplace where you can source copy from a community of freelancers. I decided to submit a fixed price of $10 to be similar to TextBroker. I have no idea if any of the authors on ODesk would see this as a reasonable price or not. Freelancers are then able to bid on jobs and propose an alternative cost. As my order was not completed by ODesk I have had to score them zero in this section.
- Freelance Copywriter: 4/10 – My freelance copywriter quoted me £150 to complete this brief based on 4 hours research and writing.
For my 300 word brief the cheapest price for the copy is TextBroker at $6.90 (£4.36). However TextBroker asks you to credit your account with a minimum of $25 before submitting a job. Therefore as TextBroker currently have $25 from me I can not let them win this category. The next cheapest copy comes from Copify (as my order was not completed by ContentBrokers or Odesk) with an overall price of £15.
EASE OF PLACING ORDER (CATEGORY WINNER: Copify)
- ContentBrokers: 3/10 – There was definitely no ease here! All in all it took an hour to upload my brief and add credit! First I went to credit my account, this can be done through paypal or credit card. I chose paypal, the transaction went through but then 15 minutes later the credit was still not showing in my ContentBrokers account.As it was instant when I preformed the same transaction on Copify, I was slightly concerned. At this point I thought if I log out and log back in then maybe it would be showing. However the site would not let me log out, it just crashed! So I decided to submit a support request. In doing so I clicked on the support tab and the site crashed again! Giving me an error message and showing a random email address. I got past this issue by refreshing and submitted my support question, however then I had no idea if it had actually worked so decided to pick up the phone and call.I left a message and a very helpful chap called Neil called me back. While I am slating the site I would like to say Neil was very helpful and advised he would credit my account straight away and that he would have a look at the bugs on the site. Sure enough he did and all was fixed. However I am now 45 minutes on since I first tried to upload my brief.15 minutes later I had completed the order form that allowed me to submit a project title, description, category, word count, quality level (based on cost per word) and deadline. You can then check the status of the job in the the orders tab once logged in.
- TextBroker: 7/10 – Like ContentBrokers it was necessary to credit your account first before placing an order. This can be done through paypal or credit card. At this point TextBroker asked for a minimum credit of $25. My job was going to cost $6.90, so I was pretty unimpressed having to add an extra $18.10 on my account. Placing an order was relatively easy. The place a new order tab allows you to submit a project title, description, category, word count, quality level (based on cost per word) and deadline.The administration tab allows you check the status of your order. The whole process took 20 minutes.
- Copify: 10/10 – This was by far the easiest site to place an order with. 4 steps and my brief was submitted and live within 10 minutes. Step 1 allows you to clarify the type of copy you require, step 2 you select a budget based on your word count and quality level. Step 3 asks you to submit details of the job, title, category, description and deadline. Then finally step 4 required a payment which is through paypal. This payment was immediately credited to my account and the job was live. I also received two emails from Copify confirming this. You can then view your job in the find a job tab and see once it has been picked up by an author.
- ODesk: 3/10 – ODesk allows you to post any sort of job for contractors from blog and article writing to web design to accounting and bookkeeping. You post a job by adding a job title, choosing if the post is to be public or invite-only, selecting a category and required skills and giving your job a description. You then set an hourly or fixed price. I found the site fairly confusing and it took it a while to work out how job postings work, at one point I was going to give up! Once figuring how the site worked it took about 15 minutes to post my job. After posting your job you can set up a payment option, this is done by credit card. You will only be able to make a hire once the payment is verified.
- Freelance Copywriter: 6/10 – I emailed the freelance writer I found on Google with my brief and I had a response from them within 5 hours. The freelance writer was happy to write my article and quoted £150. I confirmed I was happy with this and asked for the time scale to write this. The writer advised he had another project on would be looking at completing my article within 2 weeks. The freelance writer was quick to respond to my emails and helpful. However I was surprised when he asked me to recommend sites for information on IE9, Firefox etc. As a technical writer I would have hoped he did not require my help in researching the topic. All in all it was fairly easy to place the order but time intensive, as 12 emails back and fourth between us before he was ready to start writing.
SPEED OF SERVICE (CATEGORY WINNER: Copify/TextBroker)
- Copify: 10/10 – I specified a 5 day turn around for my article. However Copify do advertise they can do an average a 1.5 day turnaround. I noticed once I posted my job it was picked up within 5 minutes of being on the site. I was pretty impressed by this. I am sure Copify must have a wide range of copywriters registered with them for this to happen. Copify met my deadline and I had an email notification on the day of the deadline to say that my article was ready for feedback. If you are happy with your article you can leave feedback for the author and then there is a nice feature to download the article in word format. I was happy with the article, however if you are not happy you can request a change on the copy. If the copy does not meet the guidelines for the quality level you selected, Copify encourage you to contact them to report the user.
- TextBroker: 10/10 – I set the same deadline for TextBroker as Copify. Similar to Copify I received an email to notify me that the copy was ready for review. You are able to accept the copy or request a change. I was happy with the copy therefore accepted it. There is no option to leave feedback on the author and no download feature. One feature I did like was that TextBroker is that it uses CopyScape to make a copyright check. This reassured me that my article has not just been taken from else where on the web. One thing that TextBroker does that Copify doesn’t is that it lets me see the authors profile so I could chose to use the came author again.
- ContentBrokers: 0/10 – Again I set the same deadline for ContentBrokers. ContentBrokers did not meet the deadline for my order. I contacted support[at]contentbrokers.co.uk. As my order had not be picked up by an author they advised they would extend the closing date by two days and email all their authors to let them know there’s work available on ContentBrokers (is there not normally work available on ContentBrokers?). The extended deadline came and went and my order was still not assigned to an author. I can only assume that there is not much activity on the ContentBrokers from clients or authors. It seems they do not have enough authors signed up to cover new jobs posted in the site.
- ODesk: 0/10 – Like ContentBrokers, ODesk did not meet my deadline. I had one candidate for my job however I received email notification on the Friday evening and by Monday when I checked my emails the candidate had withdrawn their application. I have had no further application to complete my job. The whole process of having candidates apply for the job and then having to accept them seems a bit long winded for a 300 word blog article.
- Freelance Copywriter: 5/10 – I was unable to specify the same deadline for the freelance writer as he already had another large project on. He advised he would normally expect to complete an article in 2 -3 days, which allows for research and critical thinking time. For this it took the copywriter 1.5weeks from when I placed my order. He has advised it is his policy not to do two jobs at the same time to ensure the work is of the best quality.
OVERALL USABILITY OF SITE (CATEGORY WINNER: Copify)
- Freelance Copywriter: 7/10 – The freelance copywriter had a fairly nice site, with his portfolio and information set out clearly. The site immediately told me he was a copywriter and technical author. I did not really need to use the site apart from obtaining the copywriters email in order to send him my brief and request a quote.
- ODesk: 1/10 – I found the whole Odesk site confusing and I did not fully understand how to use the service properly. ODesk have a learning centre for ‘Employers’ and ‘Contractors’ with a number of webinars and tutorials to help you get started, I made the error of not watching these and therefore not understanding the site! When I have a pile of jobs to do and just want to submit a copywriting job quickly the last thing I want to do is be watching a 4 minute webinar on how to post a job. ODesk also offer support through live chat. I personally would prefer a simple ‘how it works’ tab or FAQ page that I can scan quickly.
- TextBroker: 7/10 – TextBroker was relatively easy to use, it took 30 seconds to register and start using the site. It was not completely clear straight away that you needed to credit your account before you could post a job but apart from that I had no real issues.
- ContentBrokers: 6/10 – The registration and set up of ContentBrokers was pretty much identical to TextBroker. Again it was not completely clear that you needed to credit your account before submitting an order. I submitted my order but then lost it as I had not creditted my account. The overall usability of the site was good however the number of times the site crashed on me let it down. ContentBrokers seems to be a UK copy of TextBroker. Both TextBroker and ContentBrokers both require your address for you to register.
- Copify: 8/10 – The Copify site is very easy to use and clear. It took a minute to register and did not require your address. You can chose to register by connecting through FaceBook if you really don’t want to fill out any forms. I like this feature but as my FaceBook account is my own personal account I prefer not to use it for work. If Copify had an option to connect through Twitter I may have used this as it is a work account. My only real critism of Copify is that it publishes all jobs on it’s homepage. Although it does not say who posted the job, it does show the whole brief. You can’t have great marketing idea and keep it secret if you use Copify.
QUALITY OF FINISHED ARTICLE (CATEGORY WINNER: Freelance Copywriter/Copify)
In order to make this a fair test, I asked a colleague of mine to read all the of the articles without knowing who wrote each article. Here are the articles and results;
- TextBroker: 7/10
Will IE9 Be a Threat to Browser Rivals?
The new IE9 beta is out, promising a return to the forefront of browsing capabilities for Microsoft’s wayside internet browser. But will it be enough to match its Firefox and Chrome competitors? Here’s the down and dirty on the latest out of Redmond.
While IE has given meaning to the word ‘lag’ for browsers, IE9 has alleviated many of the headaches associated previous versions. From decreased start-up times thanks to the more accessible add-on manager to fewer browser intrusions, like pop-up warnings, the site itself has become the focus in IE9.
While groundbreaking for IE, it couldn’t really be considered so for Firefox and Chrome. While IE9 includes mounds of updates based on IE8’s Customer Experience Improvement Program, these are still based largely on users’ comparisons to other browsers. Thus, these fixes can bring IE up to the level of other browsers, but Redmond is still outmatched by the sheer force of independent developers for Firefox and Google “catch and release” development strategy for Chrome.
IE still holds a comparable amount of market share in browsers, and with IE9 supporting only Vista and Windows 7, letting XP go, Microsoft is definitely moving forward. Keep in mind the current release is still a beta, but each release (Microsoft released three previous developer versions) has gotten more stable and IE9 beta seems to have reached about where Redmond wanted it to be.
For professional copy I was surprised to see so many errors in the article, for example there are words missing and comma’s in the wrong place. I know we all do it (I am sure you could probably spot some errors in this article) but I am not claiming to be a pro writer. It does look well researched though and the content is good. I particulary liked the tone of the article. However the quality of writing lets TextBroker down on this occasion.
- Copify: 9/10
Internet Explorer 9 Beta Review
IE9 Beta: A lean, mean browsing machine
Gone are the days when Microsoft held the dominant position in the web browser market. With fierce competition from the likes of Mozilla’s Firefox and Google Chrome, the stakes are now higher than ever.
Enter the revamped Internet Explorer 9 Beta, the software giant’s hotly anticipated attempt to lure back surfers. Microsoft is claiming that this is their best browser yet, but does it live up to the hype? Let’s find out…
IE9 Beta is HTML 5 compatible and is quick, very quick. Assuming your graphics card is up to scratch, it allows for development and the viewing of graphic-intensive sites like never before. Watching videos is also much smoother than on Firefox and Chrome and the improvements are obvious to even the most non-techy of internet users.
In terms of layout, IE9 Beta is a much less cluttered browser than its predecessors. This may, however, take some getting used to when it comes to finding tools. The menu and favourites bars are hidden by default, with tabs to the right of the address box, similar to those found in Chrome.
Gone is the search box, replaced by a multi-purpose address bar. This searches bookmarks and browsing history, as well as returning results from your chosen search engine (changeable in a drop-down menu). This means that finding things is a much faster process than in previous versions. Further simplification comes in the form of shortcuts to links or favourites, which can be pinned to the task bar for easy access.
Microsoft have ramped up security, with the new ‘Smart Screen’ download application feature identifying any suspect files. Privacy is also a focus, with the ability to block elements of web pages, such as those that gather browsing metrics.
IE9 Beta may not be a revolutionary development in the world of web browsers, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction in taking the fight to Google and Mozilla.
The article we got back from Copify was well researched, well written and nicely structured. I would definitely be happy to post this quality of writing straight onto our blog.
- ContentBrokers: 0/10 – I was unable to score ContentBrokers in this section as my order was not completed.
- ODesk: 0/10 – I was unable to score ODesk in this section as my order was not completed.
- Freelance Copywriter: 9/10
Internet Explorer 9 Beta – Is Microsoft Back in the Browser Race?
Internet Explorer 8 was much maligned by developers, and for good reason. So why is the beta release of Internet Explorer 9 creating such a buzz? Because it seems Microsoft have listened to our many complaints and have finally created a browser that can stand toe-to-toe with its main rivals, Firefox, Opera and Chrome.
Of course, IE9’s high Acid3 test score is largely thanks to its support for modern web standards. Microsoft’s test centre results show that its compliance with web standards exceeds that of all of the current browser versions, with CSS3, DOM levels 2 and 3, SVG, ICC colour profiles and HTML5 all supported. Of course, it could be argued that this level of HTML5 support is premature, as currently, many features are easier to integrate via plug-ins.
When compared to the current generation of browsers, IE9 appears to be competitive, but the real issue here is Microsoft’s update strategy. With IE9 tied to Windows 7, it is going to be unavailable to a large percentage of current PC users – around 55% of PCs run on Windows XP according to http://gs.statcounter.com. With rival browsers releasing multi-platform updates far more frequently, it can only be a matter of time before IE9 is lagging behind the pack.
So the day when you can develop a single web solution that works in all browsers could still be some way off. But with the release of IE9, at least that day is somewhere on the horizon.
This article is well researched and comprehensive. The quality of writing is excellent and I would be happy to post this straight on our blog.
For me there is only one copywriting site I would use again and that is Copify. Copify was easy to use, fast and the quality of writing was excellent. I am still waiting to hear back from ContentBrokers about refunding my credit as I have no article from them. The freelance writer was well researched and provided me with an excellent article but I am still not convinced I can justify paying ten times more for that article than what I paid on Copify.
I would say both Copify and the freelance writers have their place depending on your budget and requirements.
Image courtesy of Pexels.