Competition is almost always inherently cut-throat. If human history has shown us anything, it’s that, when forced to compete with one another, humans will go to greater and greater extremes to beat their opponents.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Competition is the foundation of capitalism and, theoretically at least, leads to lower prices, higher quality and better service. Without competition, we would almost certainly pay more and get less for just about everything.
However, competition can push people too far, especially those unable to compete on a level playing field. An excellent example of this is ongoing in the content writing industry, which is a subset of the freelance writing community that deals with writing articles and material to fill Web pages, especially for the purposes of search engine optimization.
There, rampant plagiarism and content theft have pushed prices through the floor, as low as 15 cents per hour in some cases, and created a market where no legitimate content writer can survive while being the absolute lowest bidder.
Legitimate content writers, however, have started to hit back at this trend, not only taking copy and paste writers to task, but competing with them in an entirely different way and wooing a different class of client along the way.
The Sad Truth
"Content is king!" is probably the most often repeated catch-phrase in the content writing industry. Nearly everyone involved with the content writing knows that the search engines have an insatiable appetite for fresh copy and that, in order to generate precious traffic, one has to have a large amount of well-targeted text.
However, real content is time consuming to create, expensive to buy and, in the case of free articles requiring backlinks, will do the creator more good than the one reposting it. There simply is no easy, cheap and effective way to obtain a large amount of legitimate and useful content.
In short, if you don’t want to put the effort to create your own content, you should expect to pay a premium for it or live with less-effective material.
However, that hasn’t stopped people from trying to have everything at once and has caused many Webmasters to purchase plagiarized content for their site. Some are well-meaning Webmasters that get drawn in by the lure of cheap rates and fast turnaround offered by copy and paste content writers while others, like Whirlybird from the Wall Street Journal piece, have no such illusions.
This has sent waves of frustration through the content writing industry. While it would appear that the Internet should be the greatest boon for writers in history, it’s instead, for many, turned into one of the biggest headaches.
One content writer, however, seems to have found a way to offer something that no plagiarist could ever offer, a guarantee of originality.
Original Work or 300% Your Money Back
Carson Brackney is a content writer and, by all accounts, is both legitimate and very capable. He has, according a recent post, fifty clients and he makes a very good living at what he does. While he admits that he can’t beat scrapers and plagiarists on price, he does often compete fairly on price with other content writers.
But what makes Brackney somewhat unique is that he offers, among other things, a guarantee of originality and a 300% one at that. In short, he tells his customers that, if any article he writes or is otherwise responsible for turns out to have plagiarized content, he refunds the money for it three times over. Theoretically, a $50 article with plagiarized material becomes a $100 profit for the customer.
While originality clauses are a part of nearly all good writing contracts, Brackney is the only freelance writer I was able to locate that is upfront with this offer and this guarantee. Even his own research failed to turn up another author publicly providing such a promise.
According to Brackney, he can offer this promise because he knows that every word he writes is his own and, to date, has never had to pay one out. His guarantee has also greatly reduced the number of unscrupulous buyers that try to hire him and allowed him to focus on legitimate (and better paying) clients.
For him, it has been a very positive experience and is something that he is very proud of.
The Question of Originality
With plagiarism being such a major problem in the content writing industry and so many legitimate writers battling against, scrapers, spinners and other kinds of copy and paste plagiarists, a strong public assurance of originality makes perfect sense.
The question isn’t so much why Brackney offers such a guarantee, but why don’t others do the same? Though the majority of content writers are legitimate, the industry is fast earning a reputation as a plagiarist haven and legitimate members need a way to distance themselves from that behavior. While originality clauses are common place, they, generally, only command full refunds meaning that the plagiarist loses nothing but what they hoped to gain if they get caught. That’s very weak motivation to spend the time and energy to write original work.
According to Brackney, more content writers need to offer a similar guarantee and content purchasers, when looking to acquire new works, need to demand one. It may not completely stop plagiarism in the content writing industry, but it will at least provide safeguards and protections.
It could go a long way to distance the legitimate writers from the plagiarists and offer new assurances to potential clients. After all, if a work is found to be infringing, it’s the client who runs the risk of being shut down and/or sued.
All in all, it appears to be a cheap, effective and non-judicial, means of rescuing the content industry from the parasites that infest it.
In the end, unscrupulous authors will always find unscrupulous buyers to sell their ill-gotten content to. As long as search engines necessitate large volumes of "fresh" content, this black market will always exist.
Despite that though, there’s no shortage of real Web sites that want real content to lure real visitors into spending real time with them. There is good money to be made in legitimate content writing, as Brackney proves, but only if you’re willing to work at it.
However, to keep that going, the content industry needs to preserve (or repair) its image of legitimacy and the first step in doing that is to distance itself from the scourge that has infected it.
Though offering such guarantees is not a complete solution, it is at least a start and it’s a way for legitimate content writers to beat plagiarists without having to starve themselves.