Over the past few weeks the blog has been fairly barren, because we want to make sure regular visitors had a chance to check out our brand new Podcast and read our research report on Pest Control SEO. But now it’s time to move forward, and let those important pieces get buried beneath other, equally important pieces.
Today I wanted to talk about an issue that often bothered me when I first started copywriting: writing about products or services that I didn’t believe in, or ideas that I knew for a fact didn’t work.
Placebo and Content Marketing
Many of my earliest clients were companies that sold herbal supplements. Now, I am not a natural medicine disbeliever. But I am a skeptic. I believe enough in modern medicine that I will research any “herb” or natural product I take thoroughly before I consider it, and what I’ve found is that most natural and alternative medicines and therapies are placebos. The vast majority of them simply don’t work, and the only reason people see results is because of the placebo effect.
It used to bother me that I would write about products that I personally didn’t believe to work, but I justified it by saying “well, someone needs to write them.” Since then I’ve had a change of heart, and then a change of heart again. I want to go through my thought process, and I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.
Thought 1: Someone’s Going to Write it – May As Well Be Me
Content writers don’t always have the luxury of being picky. While Great Leap Studios has grown dramatically in recent years, when Anthony and I first started out were were two college graduates in an apartment with a computer and no clients. We had no connections, no network, and so we had to take anything we could get.
This mindset bothered me, but it also didn’t. There is a truth to it with every product or service. Toilet paper companies don’t care if someone wants to buy several rolls of toilet paper to TP someone’s home. Shovel companies don’t screen to make sure that people aren’t using their product to bury stolen goods.
“Someone is going to write it anyway” may sound like a problem with ethics, but the goal of copywriters is to provide a service to clients that want to utilize their skills. By contacting us, someone has chosen to use our product (writing) to market their product. Why give that job to someone else, simply because we’re not a supporter of the product?
Thought 2: Morality of Trickery
One of the problems I had with the previous line of thinking is that in a way, I’m potentially contributing to someone’s ill health. By writing the content that convinces someone to use a specific herb or treatment that is ineffective, I’m allowing my skills to lead someone down a mindset that I personally believe is a damaging one – the over-reliance on natural medicine that may not actually be effective or safe.
I know people that almost literally live solely on natural or herbal medicines, alternative therapies and treatments, and other unusual techniques for good health. The vast majority of them, if not all of them, are complete bogus. They fall for nearly every sales statement, they believe every word in every documentary, and they ignore flaws in logic in favor of someone that a natural medicine guru claims will help them live forever.
It’s discomforting to know that I’m helping contribute to this aversion to long term health treatments that might work in favor of those that don’t. While yes, it’s true that anyone can write it, it’s also true that it doesn’t have to be me.
Thought 3: What Makes Me So Special?
Which brings me to where I am now – who am I to tell someone else that their product doesn’t work? I grew up believing in science. I studied science in college, and I research everything – from the side effects of a prescribed medication to the name of an actress someone claims they saw in a movie. I want proof for everything, and that’s how I’ve lived my life since I was a child.
But that doesn’t mean I’m always right, or that I should be the judge and jury for what people claim they want or need. Who am I to say an herb doesn’t work simply because trust certain types of studies? Who am I to say a therapy doesn’t work simply because it’s not empirically researched?
This is where I stand today. While there are certainly topics we choose not to write about at Great Leap Studios, it’s my belief that by turning down projects because I don’t believe in them, I’m needlessly acting as though I have some knowledge that other people don’t, and in a way I’m looking down on those that want to utilize these types of services. It’s not my place to act as though somehow I’m above something that other people believe in so strongly, and so I think ethically I no longer think there is anything wrong with taking on projects for products I don’t believe in.
What do you think? Should content writers turn down potential clients simply because they don’t like their products?