Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Why Bots Shouldn't Write Your Blog Posts

Not long ago, I was browsing on Facebook when I saw an ad for a software that automagically generates blog posts for you.

This was news to me, although it shouldn't have come as a surprise.  As a longtime content writer, I have known for a long time that there are software programs that (badly) rewrite existing content.  Using a thesaurus and a syntax generator to replace words and rearrange sentences, they produce something that can fool the search engines into thinking it's original content.

This kind of software, along with low-paid ESL writers from countries such as India, have always been the bane of a professional writer's existence.  They drive down prices and cheapen content, making it more difficult for professional copywriters to sell well-written and fairly-priced copy.  From the reader's perspective, they've also lowered the overall standards of quality for content on the internet.  It's part of the reason why so much of what you read is poorly written clickbait.

Now apparently software can also write a completely unique blog post, with you just providing it a few key terms and main points.

The thought is mind-boggling, but if you read the comments on the ads, it's also not very effective.  There are a lot of people complaining about the lack of readable quality in the posts.  And it makes sense.  The point of blogging is to write in a more informal style, allowing your own personality to shine through.  A bot will never succeed at that style of writing.

The problem with bots writing blog posts, or even writers who don't speak English as their first language, is that readers can tell.  Awkward phrasing, typos and misspellings, and lack of flow make it difficult to hook potential customers and keep them reading.  Worse, it reflects poorly on your professionalism.

To understand why bot-written content is so bad, think about the purpose of a blog.  Your blog does several things for your business:

  1. It constantly updates your website with new content, which helps it to rank more highly in the search engines
  2. It appeals to potential customers with more varied and interesting content, keeping them on your website for longer and hopefully generating a sale, and
  3. It encourages potential customers to return to your website to check for updates or read additional posts, which also makes a sale more likely.
Bot-written content (as well as, honestly, poorly written content) will satisfy the first point, but probably won't help much with the second and third.  The content is likely to be too dry or awkward to interest potential customers for long, which will cause them to move on faster and may cost you a sale.  And if they don't find your content interesting enough to stick around, they're certainly not going to make returning to your site a very high priority, either.

Having good content is just another part of running a successful business.  There are ways to save money on business expenses, but sacrificing the quality of your content shouldn't be one of them.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Pros and Cons of Working from Anywhere

Remember how I said my horse was doing better again?  He had a pretty major setback on Monday, so we've been pretty touch and go all week.  This unfortunately means I haven't had time to work on my websites as planned.

There are some definitely advantages to being able to work from anywhere, and I've exercised this freedom many times in my career as a freelancer.  I've worked on client materials while waiting for my electric car to charge at a public charger, while waiting for appointments, and after the kids have gone to bed while babysitting.  And that's not counting all the numerus coffee shops, libraries, and other places where I've gone intentionally to get some work done when I needed a change of scenery.

The current situation has been a little more challenging.  My horse has needed frequent meals and attention, so I've been packing my computer up and taking it out to the barn with me every day.  When I get a little bit of time, I fire up the hotspot on my phone and work.

Being able to work from anywhere carries with it both pros and cons.  It's nice to be able to get my work done even during a major life crisis like this one.  But you know what?  It's hard.  When I'm stressed out about my horse, it's hard to focus on work.  When I'm having to do a lot to take care of him, it's hard to find time to get work done.  I can only work on what travels easily with me to the barn, so there are some things I am perpetually trying to find time for.  And as a freelancer, I don't get paid time off, so there's more pressure on me to find time for it all, too.

As I've been taking care of my horse, I've been around the barn a lot, and a lot of other boarders have taken to commenting, "I don't know how you do it!"  It's an awkward comment for me, because the answer is, "Not well."  I cobble it together, and I get as much work done as I can, but my income and my sleep have taken a hit while my stress levels have skyrocketed.

As nice as it can be at times to work with a view of my horse in the background, I look forward to the day when I can go back to my version of normal.