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This is our first look at cheap copywriting and why the old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ is true. First up, we tested the writers on Fiverr.
What is Fiverr?
If you want to know how much copywriting costs, freelancing website Fiverr has a simple answer. When it was founded, its base rate was $5 for a job (this changed in 2013 to allow freelancers to charge their own base rates).
We set out to discover what US$5 (AU$7.37 + service fees when we ordered it) would buy us on Fiverr, established in Tel Aviv in 2010. The website works on the basis of one-off jobs or ‘gigs’ in fields including copywriting, graphic design and translation.
What did we want?
We approached some of the top-rated copywriters on Fiverr, posing as a travel agency, and asked them to write a tourism piece about Newy. We provided a detailed brief asking for an article listing the ‘Top 10 Things to do in Newcastle, Australia’, specifying that the article be written in Australian English in a friendly, conversational tone.
We scanned each piece through grammar-checking program Grammarly, plagiarism-detecting program Copyscape and conducted a few checks of our own.
The results must be seen to be believed.
Article 1 – Top 10 Exciting Things to do in Newcastle
Writer rating on Fiverr: 4.7 (out of five) from 65 reviews
Bio: ‘Writer for a living and a Student’ – I offer articles and content that is 100% unique and SEO optimized. Promised to boost up your website traffic.
Writer Of The Year
[Award name] 2015
Grammarly: 13 critical issues including spelling, punctuation and grammar
Copyscape: no plagiarism detected
The glaringly obvious fault with this piece is that it is written about the wrong Newcastle – Newcastle Upon Tyne, England – so, not a great start. After failing to read the brief, the writer has clearly had some Google-translation issues, with obvious errors including:
“Offering an enticing range of premium way of life and design brands,”
“Flaunting a liberal assortment of untamed life, for example, rabbits, parrots, and ducks”
The article also uses Americanisms like “vacation” despite our clear instructions to use Australian English.
Article 1a – Top 10 Exciting Places to Visit in Newcastle
Bio and rating: see above
Grammarly: 10 critical issues including grammar and passive voice
Copyscape: 1 instance of plagiarism detected, 97 words, or 20% of the text of an existing article
After pointing out the article was written about the wrong Newcastle, the writer gave us a second attempt. The re-write, this time using the correct Newcastle, was even stranger than the first article. Again, American spelling is used in terms like ‘harbor’ and ‘center’ and the article includes large chunks of plagiarised text.
The writer demonstrates a complete lack of local knowledge by including the now demolished Queen’s Wharf Tower as a ‘must see’ and describing The Bogey Hole in simply bizarre terms:
“The Bogey Hole is one of the city’s most loved swimming spots, with bathers jamming into the ocean shower alongside King Edward Park for a sprinkle around as the sea waves collide with the stones.”
Article 2 – 10 THINGS TO DO IN NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA
Writer rating on Fiverr: 5.0 from 53 reviews
Bio: ‘Writer, Proofreader and Research Analyst’ – Article & web content, Blog post, Product description, Research & survey design, Statistics & Data analysis.
Grammarly: 11 critical issues including punctuation and grammar
Copyscape: no plagiarism detected
This article screams ‘lack of local knowledge’ from recommending the HUNTERhunter website as a restaurant to the bizarre way they talked about surfing at ‘the Nobby’s Beach’:
“The Newcastle Beach provides a charming scene adored by Surfers and swimmers. There are lodges and eateries close by. This means you can stay here. There is also a Bar Beach which stretches about 1.5 km south of the city were surfing is also done. Other magnificent beaches in Newcastle for swimming and surfing include the Nobby’s beach and Merewether beach”
Despite a claimed 5.0 star-rating, the content was shoddy and lazily written.
Article 3 – TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN NEWCASTLE AUSTRALIA
Writer rating on Fiverr: 4.7 stars from 77 reviews
Bio: I have been working as a freelancer for the past 4 years and writing amazing content that catches the attention of potential clients is my forte, and doing it in a manner that keeps them at the edge of their seats give me a sense of satisfaction for a job well done.
Grammarly: 24 critical issues including spelling, grammar and punctuation
Copyscape: 1 instance of plagiarism detected, 469 words, or 66% of the text of an existing article
Despite stealing huge chunks of work from a much better-written article, this article is riddled with absurd mistakes. The writer has almost certainly copy-and-pasted text from the internet and changed a few words with disastrous effect – American spellings such as ‘visualize’ are the least of this article’s worries.
Who wouldn’t want to visit Darby Street after reading the glowing recommendation below?
“This active street is barely a seven-minute go forth from our parking facilities. you’ll sample Newcastle’s feeding in one amongst the 25+ cafes or 20+ restaurants. verify one amongst the style boutiques, or devour some second-hand books from the much-loved Cooks Hill Books and Records.”
And how about cooling off in the Bogey Hole after lunch?
“Cut into rocks by convicts in 1819, the Bogey Hole may be a tiny seacoast swimming spot fashionable those that don’t wish to induce their feet sandy once they cool off.”
Another potential Google Translate horror story, this article manages to be plagiarised and incomprehensible at the same time.
Article 4 – Top seven things to do in Newcastle
Writer rating on Fiverr: 4.6 stars from 31 reviews
Bio: A skilful wordsmith, creator of staple contents and SEO expert from LA. HubSpot-certified writer from LA with over 3 years of experience in using my writing skills to provide high-quality and client-tailored web contents, articles, copywriting, marketing contents, SEO services, editorial services and Social Media Managment.
Grammarly: 28 critical issues including spelling, passive voice and grammar
Copyscape: 1 instance of plagiarism detected, 51 words or 8% of an existing article
While this writer has tried hard to seem like a local, the article is still poorly written, riddled with spelling errors and rambling, confusing descriptions, like this one of Nobby’s Breakwall:
“This is a favourite of locals and can also be enjoyed by visitors. Typically, on a sunny day the pathway will be fillded with runners, bikes, kids and dogs. Take a good stroll in and enjoy a local dish in one of the restaurant in Honeysuckle, enjoy the scene and walk out to the breakwall and back with your pet.”
Americanisms such as ‘characterized’ and ‘vacation’ also slipped into the article.
The upshot of hiring cheap copywriters
Clearly, five bucks’ worth doesn’t get you much. If we had wanted to publish this article for real, every single article would require a massive overhaul and re-write, with some of them frankly belonging in the bin. As demonstrated by the first two articles, even after a re-write there is no guarantee of quality.
A top star-rating and boastful bio don’t always add up to quality content, and cheap prices and quick turnarounds don’t mean much when the article produced is essentially useless and your time is wasted. It’s little wonder that New York’s Better Business Bureau gives Fiverr an F rating (the lowest rating possible).