There’s a content mill that has just launched online, and it’s called Copify.

Unlike the bespoke and personal service offered by a good copywriting agency or freelance copywriter, Copify wants to build up a huge bank of ‘writers’ who are willing to churn out copy for as little as 2p per word, and then match them up with companies who want content at rock-bottom prices.

In other words, they want suckers to write for cheapskates.

Fine by me

Personally, I don’t care if Copify want to make money out of cheap content. Nor do I feel my profession is threatened by the fact Copify offers ‘standard’ and ‘professional’ copy (the latter pays a whopping 4p a word – or, at least, did yesterday). After all, if there’s a company that’s based on a model that is bound to generate hundreds of dissatisfied customers, then some of them may well come in my direction.

Nor do I care that Copify has missed the point that crap online content for SEO purposes is likely to backfire in the near future (Tom Albrighton nails this nicely). Once again, I can see plenty of new clients coming to me licking their wounds, wondering why their site has dropped off Google.

Good luck to them, but…

I’m all for enterprise, as long as all parties are satisfied. It’s not my place to dictate how people conduct client relationships. But I’m also very interested in the role copywriting has in social media, brand reputation and all the other elements of online marketing.

And these guys have cocked it up badly

The first rule of business is that you work with people you trust.

You trust people, in part, because they know what they’re talking about. They do their homework, they are authorities on their subject, and you learn from them. And, ideally, the opposite holds true.

So, if you’re setting up a new business, you should…

Research your market

When Copify launched, there was a massive backlash on Twitter among copywriters who were angry at the low rates of pay on offer. It was the old quantity vs. quality debate once again.

As@harryfiddler put it:

@copify 20c a word for 2500 words. $2 pw for 250 words. $20 pw for 25 words. The 25 words will be the one you use.

Fair enough. But if Copify’s research had found that people were willing to accept the 2p or 4p per word offer, they should simply have stuck tight.

Instead, thanks to pressure from outraged copywriters, Copify quickly introduced a new 8p per word rate – for top tier writers.

Two’s company…

The people at Copify will no doubt say that they’ve been listening to their critics. That they’re flexible.

Maybe so. Or perhaps they were just wholly unprepared.

Let’s go back to a tweet I posted yesterday, addressed to one of Copify’s most outspoken critics:

@Mr603 Finally taken a proper look. No contact page/ address. Domain registrant concealed. No Copify at companies house. Not a good vibe.

Personally, I like to know who I’m dealing with. A website that gives me no contact details, doesn’t belong to a registered company and doesn’t include contact details in its WHOIS record is – well, let’s say I wouldn’t trust it an inch.

Not off the register

So, I had to laugh when I discovered that Copify had – today – registered itself as a company at Companies House and added an ‘About’ page to its site.

Again, they’ll say it shows they listen. I say they’re unprepared for launch.

Get this. I tweeted that Copify had just registered as a company. It came back with:

@benlocker we have only just moved into new offices, this is why we have only just been able to do this.

Er, no. My company is registered at my accountant’s address. It leaves me free to change my business address without hassle. It’s a standard arrangement.

As I said, trust is based on authority. If you believe that you need to move into new offices before you register your company, I know you don’t know what you’re talking about – and I don’t trust you.

Openness or censorship?

Most interestingly of all, Copify hasn’t hesitated to block Twitter users that have questioned its mode of business, and it has also deleted tweets. As any fule kno, this is a classic way of using social media to trash your online reputation and get acres of criticism into the SERPs (search engine results pages). It’s something that a good copywriter is often asked to help sort out, usually by writing copy that pushes the negative stuff down the rankings.

Out to lunch

Anyway, it’s taken me about an hour to knock out this post. And at 2p per word, that would have bagged me about £8 or £9.

If that’s the sort of money that appeals to you, then go ahead and sign up with the new content mill. But ask yourself – do you really trust them?