I just had a somewhat surreal, shocking experience while trying to outsource some articles from Word Agents. The story and details are contained within this review. It's a little long, so that I could give you a full picture of what I experienced. ==> Skip To The Reason
To start, the reason I wanted to get some articles from them is two-fold. One, I wanted to see how the article writing services varied so I could do some reviews and help you guys out with finding the best ways to outsource articles to your blog. Two, I actually needed the content and all my writers were busy.
Word Agents came heavily recommended from Authority Hacker, so there were first on my list to try.
Though I had high hopes for this service, it's clear that I will never use Word agents for my content needs. In my opinion, and based on my experience, Word Agents is not interested in being a professional content writing service. If you request that they write articles for you, they are doing you a favor. Be prepared to be treated with disrespect, and leave with mediocre content for a high price.
I honestly have never dealt with a business like this, so I had to share my story to help you avoid the waste of time. Email proof shown below.
First Interactions With Word Agents
It was clear from the beginning that Word Agents was a no-nonsense service, so I'll give them that. Vincent (who I assume is the owner) answered emails quickly, and was very clear about what type of content they offer, how much it was going to cost, how long it would take to delivery, and what was required of me as client. Great!
I was a bit unhappy to pay $0.08 per word for farmed content, but this was just a testing phase, so I would at least check out what they offered. I'm used to paying $0.02 to $0.10 for personalized content written by native English speakers through UpWork.com. Eight cents a word, plus $10 to format in WordPress was at the higher end of the scale, but if it was good enough, it would be worth it. In total, I would pay $520 for four articles, 1500 words each.
After reading Authority Hacker and talking with Vincent via email, it was very clear to me that I was responsible for making my instructions clear enough to allow them to make a good article.
That does not mean you don’t have to do anything. You still have to submit a good brief and communicate with your project manager – Authority Hacker
OK, that's fine. I'll do my keyword research, write out a template, and even give them some suggestions as to what possible content could be included under each heading. I spent several days finding 4 keywords I wanted to target, and that I thought would be a good fit for this type of service.
After reading some example articles that Vincent sent me, I pretty much knew what to expect from Word Agents. I wanted to set them up for a home run, so I picked a specific set of keywords I thought they would do well with.
Here were the keywords:
- Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker Review
- Zojirushi Micom Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker Review
- Zojirushi Induction Heating Rice Cooker Review
- Zojirushi Induction Pressure Rice Cooker Review
I thought these would be great. It would be a pretty standard product review, on a very specific type of rice cooker, and each rice cooker was unique enough that there would be something interesting to say about each one.
Many times when you review stuff like rice cookers, they are way too similar to say anything substantive about them. What's the difference between a Black and Decker Rice 5-Cup Rice Cooker and a Hamilton Beach 5-Cup Rice Cooker? Not a whole lot. Size, shape, color…these are all things that make for boring reading. But these Zojirushi rice cookers actually had unique cooking systems that would be interesting to talk about an compare/contrast.
I had numerous other reasons I thought these phrases would be great, but I guess that's not important. The point is that I spent a lot of my own time to research and prepare to use Word Agents. I was afraid that I would get a bad article and then I wouldn't have any type of recourse for corrections! Here are two lines from my notes I was keeping so I could write a full, honest review at the end of the experience:
- feel lots of pressure to have an exact formula or they will fuck it up
- spending weeks researching keywords and creating template for fear of wasting money
- submission form is long but will create better content in the end
- feel like they are doing me a favor instead of providing a service
Is that the mindset you want want to have when hiring someone to do a job for you? Do you want to be afraid that if you aren't perfect the first time that you still get charged even though you are unhappy? I know it was an uncomfortable feeling for me!
However, I persisted in preparing to use Word Agents because I really believed that they would come through in the end and deliver some good articles. If they were really good, I could even start using them on a regular basis!
The Article Delivered
I worked out with Vincent that I wanted one article delivered first, so I could catch any issues before proceeding with the full pack. Though I tried pretty hard to make the template perfect, I know that mistakes are made sometimes, and wanted to give myself one extra step to catch anything. He agreed to it, so that was OK too. So far so good!
The article was delivered in an acceptable amount of time (6 days), and the overall result wasn't too bad. The quality was pretty much what I expected. Here's an excerpt:
You might think that a rice cooker is simply a rice cooker. Why does it matter which one you purchase? In truth, each one differs, which is why you must pay close attention. For instance, the technical specification of your rice cooker matter. Do you plan on making a lot of rice or just a little? Are you looking for smaller servings or would you like to serve up large batches?
There were a couple grammar errors, but not many. Mostly, it was just a bland article that was filled with fluff normal people wouldn't say when speaking. It's clearly outsourced and written to fill a specific word count. However, I think it could rank for this keyword, and with a bit of editing could be a really good article.
Total cost for ONE article was $120. I wasn't thrilled to pay that price, but if it ranks and converts, it might be worth it. That's why we're testing!
All things considered, I was happy to continue with the project and see where things went. But that's not where the story ends!
The Shocking Experience – Emails With The Owner
I had one issue with the article, which was one section labeled “Comparison To Similar Products”
Here were the instructions, as delivered to Word Agents
[h3]Comparison To Similar Products
-what other models are similar with this brand (2-3 products)
– how does Micom compare to induction heating or induction heating pressure rice cookers?
-what other brands have products with similar functions (2-3 products)
-how do these product compare is function, size, design, and customer reviews
Here is what was delivered:
There are other rice cookers on the market, so how do you know the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker is the right one for you? Well, the simple answer would be to see how it stacks up against comparable products.
Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker vs. Micom Rice Cooker
Like the Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker, the Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker cooks approximately 4 cups of rice. It has the same nonstick interior, detachable inner lid, automatic keep warm, and reheating cycle, too. Both also have different cycles, making them capable of cooking a variety of rice.
However, can cook a wider variety of rice. It also boasts safety features the Micom Rice Cooker does not, such as the stay cool handles. When it comes to white rice cooking, the Neuro Fuzzy Logic Rice cooker has different consistencies, which includes regular, softer, and harder. The Micom Rice Cooker only offers a regular consistency.
Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker vs. Induction Heating Rice Cooker
In some ways, the Zojirushi Induction Heating Rice Cooker might seem like a better or even similar option. Both cookers have a color LCD, a nonstick interior, and the ability to cook a wide variety of rice. In fact, the Induction Heating Rice Cooker seems to cook a wider variety than the Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker. However, there are features it lacks.
For instance, the Induction Heating Rice Cooker does not have the safety features of the Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker. It does not have the same cool to the touch handles. It also does not have a retractable cord for added electrical safety. For many cooks, safety in the kitchen is a number one priority. Considering that fact, the Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker is still an optimal choice.
Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker vs. Induction Pressure Rice Cooker
The Zojirushi Induction Pressure Rice Cooker has plenty of noticeable features. For instance, it has the same nonstick interior as the Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker. It also offers a wider variety of menu settings, which means it handles a wider variety of rice. The Induction Pressure Rice Cooker also has the same rinse-free technology. It also has a platinum-infused nonstick coating that the Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker does not have.
However, the Induction Pressure Rice Cooker lacks the stay cool handle safety features that many cooks prefer. It also does not have a retractable cord when the cooker is not in use. The Induction Pressure Rice Cooker is still a worthy model, but if it is safety and performance that you prefer, it is best to stick with the Neuro Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker.
Here was my response to Vincent:
Hi Vincent. Overall, the article was good. I found a couple grammar errors:
“as the as the”
“of your rice cooker matter”
My only big concern is the section comparing other rice cookers to this one (Comparison to Similar Products). The writer seems to have assumed that I wanted to write an article claiming this particular cooker was “the best”, and focused on safety handles to name this as the best choice of rice cooker. However, it's the base model. The other rice cookers sell at a premium price due to superior rice-cooking abilities, but this was not mentioned in the comparison.
I'm not sure if that would be worthy of a re-working of that section the article.
For the last three articles, the “tech specs” section can simply be a bullet point list with short commentary about anything unique or out of the ordinary. It doesn't need to be an in-depth analysis of the specs as the writer currently has.
This was his response to me
Glad you liked it.
Our grammar guarantee is that all articles will score at least 90% using Grammarly – the industry-leading proofreading software. This particular article scored a 97 out of 100. I've attached the report for your review. If the expectation is that you want us to go line by line to sniff out any very minor mistakes, that is not something we can offer at this rate.
We know that most of our clients that order product reviews are planning on promoting said products for affiliate commissions. So, we tend to paint the products as positively as possible without making false statements. As mentioned in our previous emails and on our order form itself, we require all instructions to be available to us in your briefing. There was nothing in your order form submission (attached) that would have let us know this. As such, we wouldn't be able to offer any kind of revision on this piece.
I'll go ahead and tell the writer to finish up on the other articles. I'll make sure to pass this feedback along to them so these specific requests are accounted for in the content.
Here are two things that kind of annoyed me,
1. “If the expectation is that you want us to go line by line to sniff out any very minor mistakes, that is not something we can offer at this rate.”
2. “As mentioned in our previous emails and on our order form itself, we require all instructions to be available to us in your briefing. There was nothing in your order form submission (attached) that would have let us know this. As such, we wouldn't be able to offer any kind of revision on this piece.”
Is it just me, or do both of these comments seem a bit unprofessional?
The core of what was frustrating is that I felt like I paid a premium for this service, and the writer didn't do a sufficiently good enough job according to the instructions I provided. Even being as specific as I could, I wasn't able to predict that the writer would not understand the concept of that section of the template.
True, the writer did compare the Neuro Fuzzy cooker to each other type. That's fine! But he missed the entire point of what's important in a comparison. If someone is looking to spend $100 vs $300 on a rice cooker, the big difference is not the cool-touch handles or safety features. It's the COOKING MECHANISM. That's the entire point of comparing Fuzzy Logic vs Induction Heating. The difference lies in the method of cooking the rice, not in the cosmetic design.
In the template I wrote “how does Micom compare to induction heating or induction heating pressure rice cookers?”. In my mind, that means how does the cooking mechanism of this rice cooker compare to cooking mechanism of the other cookers. So I said as much in my response email:
I understand your strict rules about what needs to be included in the writer instructions. My point is that the information your writer included is wrong. Included in the instructions was the phrase “how does Micom compare to induction heating or induction heating pressure rice cookers?”
Micom, heating induction, and pressure cooking are all methods of cooking. This was not mentioned in the comparison section. Only the cool handles were mentioned, which is cosmetic, and not relevant to the differences between how these devices cook.
About 10 minutes later a refund came from Clarion Inbound Marketing, LLC. What? Then I got an email from Vincent: (I removed the competitor URLs and transaction ID)
There was nothing wrong in the article. We just happened not mention a single, solitary point that was requested. Why that wasn't brought up in your previous email, and only after I turned down the revision, I do not know.
At this point, it appears to me that you'll have an issue with whatever content we send your way. So, I provided you a full refund. Feel free to keep the article we sent over already and use it as you please. (Transaction ID: [removed])
Here's a list of our competitors that you may want to try out:
- competitor 1
- competitor 2
- competitor 3
Best of luck to you and your business in the future. Take care.
Sorry, but… what? Because of a single dispute about the content he's now refusing to work with me? After several weeks of back-and-forth figuring out the content and submitting an extremely detailed template he's just going to ban me form Word Agents as a difficult client? Because of ONE dispute on the FIRST article?
That just seems strange, and quite rude to me. I was very angry! I really disliked that Vincent tried to make it seem like the whole thing was my fault! I tried to be very polite in the first email, relay the issue, and get it resolved. When it wasn't resolved, I tried to prove to him why it needed resolving. To answer his question of “Why that wasn't brought up in your previous email”, the answer is that I didn't expect him to reject the request for edits since I clearly explained it in the template.
But I tried to calm down and realize that this is business. I really didn't want to see all that time I used to prepare to go to waste. I can “suck it up”, be professional, and try to smooth things over. Here was my next response, trying to at least get the articles finished, because I really did need them.
This is very surprising Vincent. As someone that was paying a decent price for the article, I was just trying to find the balance of getting what I wanted for the price I paid. Considering I spent a good amount of time writing the template and keywords specifically to use your service, I'm willing to accept the article as-is, and have the writer work on the others to finish this project. Is there any chance to resubmit the payment and finish the project?
No dice. Here's his response:
Best of luck.
Apparently business is good enough that they can refuse any clients who make them work harder than the minimum.
Final Thoughts On Word Agents
The reason why I'll never use this service again is because it's not an efficient way to outsource content. While working with this company I spent way too much time worrying about getting things perfect for fear of wasting my time and money. As it turns out, I did make a mistake, and they kept their word of being unforgiving. I'd much rather work with a flexible company, and work with writers who are friendly and willing to do minor edits.
When you submit a request for articles through Word Agents, it's a request. You'd better be on your best behavior, and make no mistakes! You get one shot to get things right, and if you don't like it, NO SOUP FOR YOU!!
What do you guys think? Was I being a difficult client? Was I expecting too much for $0.08 per word? I'm interested to hear your honest comments below!