In 2022, content is still king. There's a reason that over 80% of marketers rank content creation as their highest priority! When done well, content marketing can lead to exponential organic traffic growth, increased consumer trust, and impressive ROIs.
However, it's often time-consuming and expensive to create content that sees those kinds of results—especially if you lack in-house talent or the requisite SEO skill. This is where services like Verblio comes into play.
Verblio claims to help businesses find quality, vetted writers for all their content needs—from articles to social media posts—all at an affordable price. That's all well and good, but it left us wondering…
Does Verblio live up to these lofty aims?
To find out, we became Verblio customers and analyzed the process from start to finish. Keep reading for our full Verblio review!
Here’s an excerpt from one of their submitted articles:
Verblio is a content writing company based in Denver, Colorado that provides SEO content writing solutions for businesses and organizations looking to outsource this aspect of their marketing strategy. The company employs about 3,000 U.S. based freelancer writers at any given time—many of whom have been with the company for years.
Verblio’s selling points
- Vetted Writers: Verblio writers are vetted for English fluency and expertise. Only 4% of Verblio writer applications are accepted.
- Money-Back Guarantee: Verblio offers a generous set of remediation options including free replacement pieces and—if necessary—refunds.
- Unlimited Edits: Verblio plans come with unlimited revisions—free of charge.
- Customizable Service: Verblio lets customers tailor their plans to very specific content creation needs.
- Niche Expertise: Verblio employs writers with a wide range of niche expertise—from K9 unit tactics to cannabis.
Verblio is a subscription based content writing service. That means you select a plan based on your content needs and pay a monthly fee for a set number of articles each month.
Within the platform, there's a huge range of options that will work for a number of different marketing budgets. The cheapest option (one 300 word piece per month) will cost you $34.95 monthly. From there, the pricing increases based on the length of the pieces you require, how many you'd like a month, and what add-ons you'd like to purchase. To give you a sense for the other extreme, the platform maxes out at orders of $560,000 monthly!
For a more detailed description of Verblio's pricing model, check out the "Plan Selection" section below.
Verblio Review: Our Experience With The Service
Now that we've covered Verblio's service from a theoretical perspective, it's time to describe our actual experience with the company. To make things simple, I'm going to walk you each stage of the process in turn:
- Plan Selection
- Requesting Content
- Reviewing Content
Alright, let's get started!
Our experience as Verblio customers began with a fairly through onboarding questionnaire. The goal here was to get to know our business so that Verblio could match us with writers who were well suited to our needs.
Verblio's onboarding process was broken up into sections:
The questionnaire began by asking us to select our primary, secondary, and tertiary industries from a long, dropdown menu. Right off the bat, we were impressed by the number of industries Verblio is comfortable working within. All told, 39 industries are represented—everything from "Pets" to "Solar & Sustainability". We went with "SEO & Content" and "Marketing & Advertising" as our primary and secondary industries respectively.
Next, the questionnaire asked us to describe the tone we were looking for using a series of sliding scales. We were impressed with this section because it allowed us to supply Verblio's writers with a tonality guide that would—in theory—lead to pieces that fit in with others on our blog.
In addition, the available options didn't seem to have many tonal blind spots. Want something entertaining and expert? Move the sliders all the way to "Light-Hearted" and "Niche". Want something inspiring and skimmable?
Go with "Promotional" and "Bullet Points". Point is, there was lots of room for customization and nuance.
The online presence section was simple—Verblio asked for links to our website, blog, and social media accounts. While this section is optional, there are a few compelling reasons to oblige:
- It allows writers to see your tone in action.
- It helps them come up with relevant content ideas.
- It helps them avoid redundant content.
- It ensures CTAs are more targeted.
Audience and Voice
The final section of the onboarding questionnaire targets three key areas of content marketing:
- Audience: Who the content is speaking to (e.g., pet owners aged 24-38).
- Brand Voice: Who the "author" or "voice" behind the content is (e.g., the CEO).
- Brand Persona: What the personality of the author is (e.g., friendly and knowledgeable).
All the fields in this section were free-form, which allowed us to give as much detail on each of these points as we wanted (i.e., a lot).
The onboarding process was thorough and incredibly intuitive. We felt we had been given ample opportunity to describe what we were looking for, and that left us feeling confident about the rest of the process.
2) Plan Selection
The plan selection process at Verblio is broken up into 4 stages—each designed to allow businesses to customize their order to their specific content needs:
The first thing we were asked was how long we wanted each piece of content to be. Pre-set options ranged from 300 words ($34.95) to 2,000 words ($359.95). We also noticed a field for requesting custom pieces up to 3,000 words ($539.95).
Verblio guarantees that pieces over 1,000 words are written by "elite writers" (i.e., the top 10% of writers on the platform). Any pieces under 1,000 words are open to any writer on the platform, regardless of their experience and popularity.
We wanted to see the best that Verblio had to offer. To that end, we opted for a word count of 1,000 words and access to the platform's best writers.
Pieces Per Month
Next up in the order form was a section that asked us to select how many pieces of content we wanted a month… and that's pretty all there is to say about it!
After selecting our word count and the number of pieces we wanted, it was time to choose a service tier. There were four available, with each subsequent tier offering additional benefits (at a higher price).
When you select a tier, you pay a one time fee that gives you access to the benefits of that tier for all the pieces you order.
The tiers and their benefits:
- Basic (Included): Written content on requested topics.
- Photo (+$19.95): Basic benefits plus two stock photos.
- Optimize (+$39.95): Photo benefits plus backend SEO optimization, 2 proofreads, and CMS formatting.
- Verblio Complete (+$149.95): Optimize benefits plus a dedicated account manager.
For those curious, Verblio Complete's dedicated account managers essentially act as content strategists. They develop content strategies based on the organizational goals businesses provide, connect them with writers that are well-suited to their needs, and personally handle all edits and revision request.
Since we were mainly interested in analyzing Verblio's ability to produce SEO content, we decided to go with the Optimize tier.
The final stage of the plan selection process was deciding on a payment schedule. You have two options with any Verblio plan: monthly payments or annual payments.
Opting for annual payments is obviously a larger commitment. However, doing so will net you a 17% discount. Since we weren't planning on renewing our subscription, we went for the monthly option.
Once again, Verblio provided a well-designed system for choosing a plan that allows businesses to tailor their orders to their content needs.
3) Requesting Content
Once we had selected our plan and paid the monthly fee, we navigated to the "Requests" section of the Verblio web app—the tab you use to request content from Verblio writers.
Verblio uses a fillable form to create briefs (a.k.a., content requests). Once you've created a request, it gets sent to writers who match your requirements, and they get to work.
We found the form to be simple and detail-oriented. Verblio was extremely clear about what information that they expected us to provide. There were sections to providing information about tone, audience, keywords, search intent, reference articles… you name it!
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Verblio's content request system was fantastic. We didn't have any issues describing our expectations and felt confident we had given the writer all the information they'd need.
4) Reviewing Content
If you've been reading along diligently, you'll likely have picked up on the fact that we haven't had very many negative things to say about Verblio so far. That's because… well, there hasn't been anything to complain about! Well… that's about to change.
The articles we received from Verblio were average at best and disappointing at worst (with most trending towards the latter). While there were certainly some gems, they were few and far between.
You don't have to take our word for it, though. In this section, we're going to share some excerpts with you to highlight the areas we feel Verblio either succeeded or failed.
While there aren't a ton of positives to talk about, it would be unfair to say the pieces we received had no redeeming qualities. So, to start things off, let's go over some of the things we liked about our Verblio articles:
A few of the topics we requested from our Verblio writers required a fair bit of research. For example, the What Are The Highest Paid Programming Languages? piece we requested required that the writer seek out employment statistics from various sources to use in a comparison of different programming languages.
All things considered, we were impressed with the amount of research that went into creating the piece. The writer included 58 statistics in total, and while they weren't directly cited, we're happy to confirm that all were accurate.
Adding filler is a something that many content mills resort to when they're struggling to meet a word count. When you receive a finished piece, you often notice a section that doesn't really fit in with the rest of the content.
Or, you might find a tangent that goes on for a few hundred words more than it needs to. Both of those are examples of filler that detracts from the overall value of the piece—a big no-no in content marketing.
Thankfully, we didn't notice much filler as we edited the articles we received from Verblio. The writers more-or-less stuck with the brief and delivered concise content that prioritized delivering valuable information.
While providing original content is the bare minimum you should expect from a content writing service, plagiarism does still happen. We're happy to report that all the articles we received were 100% original (albeit poorly cited).
Alright, it's time to get to the negatives. As I mentioned earlier, this section is going to be quite a bit longer than the previous one…
The Verblio package we selected included not one, but two separate proofreads per piece of content. Based on our edits, we're not convinced that anyone proofread the pieces.
We'll let you be the judge.
The excerpt above comes from the article What Are The Highest Paid Programming Languages? The markings in red represent edits we needed to make for the passage to be grammatically correct.
This excerpt is striking for a number of reasons, but in our opinion the biggest issue is that it showcases a lack of care on the part of whoever edited it. There were several errors (e.g., "not badly off", "the most popular a programming…", etc.) so glaringly obvious that even Microsoft Spellcheck recognized them.
As we were editing the article, we began to suspect that Verblio's editors had not only neglected to manually proofread the piece, but that they had neglected to use any kind of proofreading tool at all. To test this theory, we decided to upload the piece to Grammarly.
We were surprised to find that the piece earned an overall score of 70% (not good at all). That means within the 1,000 word pieces, there were 70 basic errors detected by the system. While services like Grammarly are by no means a substitute for manual editing, it was disappointing to learn that Verblio's editors hadn't even bothered to use a proofreading tool for basic edits.
When we purchased content from Verblio, we expected to receive final pieces that were—if nothing else—well-written. Sadly, that wasn't the case.
The pieces we received didn't flow well at all—sentence structures were frequently overly complicated and jarring, paragraphs started and ended abruptly, and tone was all over the place.
The excerpt above comes (once again) from the article What Are The Highest Paid Programming Languages? The markings in red show all the edits we needed to make in order to raise the style and flow of content to the level we were expecting from the service.
To be totally honest, this article in particular was unpublishable when we first received it. Others were better from a style perspective, but all of them required significant editing. Our biggest complaint was that the language used didn't sound natural or conversational—two requirements we specified during both the onboarding and content request stages.
As we read through the articles, one thing that stood out to us was the strange formatting choices the writers made. There were several places throughout the articles where formatting was confusing, clumsy, or downright incorrect.
The excerpt above comes from an article titled What To Wear For A Zoom Interview. Typically, you want articles to be formatted with headings and subheadings designated as H1, H2, H3, and so on. For some reason, the writer decided to forgo this basic principle of SEO and use bullet points instead of H3 tags.
While this was simple enough to fix, the mistake itself is concerning. Verblio advertises its writers—and especially its elite writers—as capable SEOs. Yet, here we see a mistake that seems to imply a lack of understanding of basic SEO formatting.
This excerpt is from the article What Are The Highest Paid Programming Languages? Here, we see another formatting issue in the fact that the anchor text of the link is far too short to easily convey what is being linked to. While this may seem nit picky, it was a recurring problem in the article we received. All things considered, it points to a general lack of care being put into the polish of the content.
The articles we received from Verblio had several issues in the areas of style, formatting, and grammar. While we weren't expecting to be blown away by the service, we were disappointed by the lack of care that seemed to go into the writing and editing of our pieces. At the same time, many sections in their content didn’t make any grammatical sense at all, which leads us to believe that a GPT-3 tool may have been used.
The biggest issue by far was the lack of quality editing. The best articles appeared to have been checked for things like misspellings and missed punctuation. The worst articles were full of sloppy mistakes. At a tier that advertises two separate proofreading sessions for each piece of content, that's just not going to cut it.
Verblio advertises itself as a platform for "elite writers," yet the content we received from them was anything but elite. In fact, it wasn't much better than what you'd expect to get from an online writing mill.
In short, the content we received from Verblio was low- to mid-quality.