Buy cheap, pay twice: the real cost of bargain-basement copywriting

Updated: Jun 6

Why cheap copy costs more and delivers less.

Yesterday my hubby was wearing a t-shirt that makes me smile. Eleven years ago we were preparing to board a helicopter on our honeymoon, fulfilling my dream to fly under and over the Golden Gate bridge.

And there it is…fresh and new in the photos…the most expensive top I’d ever bought him. A khaki Carthartt t-shirt that cost about £40.

At the time, that seemed eye-watering. But it has turned out to be a good and faithful servant. Still going strong after a decade, it is older than our daughter and probably in better shape than our marriage (only kidding, Mr Marks!)

In comparison, subsequent t-shirts purchased by my frugal hubby – supermarket cheapies at £5 a pop – have come and gone in a matter of months. In fact, I’d estimate that one own-brand tee lasts about six months max. Which means, in the lifetime of the £40 Carthartt t-shirt, he’s spent £110 on each ‘cheap’ alternative.

Not to mention the cost of acquiring those tops. The time, the petrol, the self checkout.

'Unexpected item in the bagging area’.

Seriously, life’s too short.

Which brings me onto marketing. In case you haven’t guessed, I’m the Carthartt in this equation. A bit more pricey but finger my fabric and you’ll see why.

Many of my clients have come to me after being burnt by the copywriting equivalent of a supermarket cheapie.

On paper it makes sense. Same product, lower cost.

But there’s a cost to buying cheap. Behind that cheap price is more time and money you need to spend.

  • The time it takes to handhold an inexperienced writer

  • Extra rounds of amends because they’ve not got the brief

  • Sometimes even having to ditch content that is irredeemable and start again

And don’t forget the costs you might not realise – the poor ROI, the missing traffic, the overlooked opportunities for SEO.

Quality content is an investment and you get what you pay for.

A good content writer can provide:

  • right-first-time copy that you can use straight away

  • top tips for SEO, customer engagement and user experience

  • bright ideas you might not have thought of

So pay for quality and save yourself a lot of stress.

As Mr M’s wardrobe proves…buy cheap and you pay twice.

Or in his case, 22 times...

About the author

Libby Marks is an award-winning copywriter and content marketer. After 15+ years in marketing and communications, she escaped the 9 to 5 and started Write on Tyne.

Write on Tyne is a small content and copywriting agency dedicated to making marketing managers' lives easier. We provide top-notch copy for campaigns, content marketing, and websites - underpinned by expertise in marketing strategy and SEO.

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