A lot of niche blog owners get to a point where they want to start outsourcing the written content on their site, either because they want to grow a successful site or to start a blog without investing the writing hours themselves. The rise of content writing services for blogs has grown rapidly as a result. Today we will review one of the newer entries into this content writing market – Hands off Publishing. As the name suggests, they claim to provide quality content that needs little editing from the customer. Let’s find out how true this is!!
What Do Hands Off Publishing Offer?
Taking a quick look at their website tells me that Hands Off Publishing are looking to offer “content automated like never before”, giving website owners the opportunity to quickly and easily get content on their sites.
All of their content packages include royalty free images, Copyscape plagiarism and Grammarly grammar checks, keyword research with premium tools and publishing to your website.
How Much is Hands Off Publishing?
The majority of the packages on offer are catering to the lower end of content cost when I compare to other writing services I have used in the past. As you can see below, they often hover around the $0.03 to 0.04 cent a word range. On the surface it seems like a great offer to be able to get things such as keyword research and images included in such a low priced offering.
They do have one offer which they call “The Exclusive Option” that is heavily limited but guarantees you are getting their best writers. This costs a bit more at $0.047 cents a word.
The Content Ordering Process
The content ordering process is well explained on the Hands Off Publishing website, and I found it very easy to work through. It was great to see that they asked for all the relevant information they needed to give me the best content they can. No stone is left unturned here. Below you can see an extract of the content form they asked me to fill in after my order was accepted.
As you can see below, Hands Off Publishing explain their content ordering process well on their site. I personally found that it was detailed, efficient and worked well.
What Did I Order?
I would always advise starting small with any new content agency, no matter how excited you are to get started or how many good reviews you have heard from others. Hands Off Publishing (like most content agencies) don’t offer a refund, but they do offer up to three revisions. If you do a big order and get garbage content back, it can be a real nightmare!
With this in mind, I ordered what is called the “Baby” package of 10,000 words.
The Method and Speed of Delivery
I was delighted when my ‘Baby Package’ order was delivered to me in just 4 days, about a third of the expected time for delivery they quote on their website. Pretty impressive so far!
There was one problem, though. I had said in the form above that I would like them to publish this content directly to my WordPress website. However, they ended up giving me the finished content in the form of a bunch of Google Doc’s (a popular platform for content agencies!) with a message at the bottom saying ‘if you want us to publish this content to your site just say the word’. Well, I already said the word but fair enough 🙂
The Content Quality
Unfortunately, this is where things started to fall apart. My excitement quickly turned to dismay as I started reading through the content sent to me.
Not only did the content have spelling errors and grammatical issues, but sections of the articles were frankly hard to understand and at times bordering on nonsense content. I have used some AI writing tools in the past, and some sections felt like they had come directly out of one of these with little to no editing!
Whoever the content editor was needs to take a long hard look at themselves. It’s fine using cheaper writers as long as you hire a high-quality editor to reign these types of things in before it gets to me the customer! This is the whole reason I outsource content! In this case, I find it hard to believe anyone edited this content!
Here are some examples, in case you think I am making it up 🙂
First of all, as you can see below, we seem to have paragraphs that make no sense. I read “to avoid them chewing on your couch and a high-quality dog collar like this one, they would need to chew toys” left me scratching my head and wondering what the heck they are talking about. Add to that the alien word ‘Teenren’ and alarm bells are now ringing in my head! It was so bad that an editor missed this.
It gets worse. This is the blog introduction for an article about the ‘best pets to cuddle up to on a cold night’. Not only does the intro paragraph make little sense to me, it isn’t really focused on the subject matter in hand and that first introductory sentence is frankly awful. Search intent is so important when putting up articles for Google to rank, this is an example of why so many people get it wrong!!
Then we have this list that actually made me laugh out loud, it was that bad.
‘Ways you can cuddle dogs on cold nights’ is bad enough for a title, but then to follow this up with ‘jumping in the air’ is one of the most baffling things ever! If I hadn’t paid money for this content, I might actually find this funny!!
Just to point out that all articles in my 10,000 word package had similar issues, this wasn’t just a one off. I highly doubt any of this content was ever put through Grammarly, and if so it was clearly by someone that doesn’t know how to use it!
As I said above, this content smacks of a non-native English writer using some kind of AI writing software to help them make up these nonsense paragraphs. And the fact that an editor passed this is OK makes me feel worried about this content writing agency full stop.
The only shining light for me was the fact that the articles did have royalty free images from Pexels inserted, and these images actually included a link to their source and were relevant. This would save you time if you don’t mind these kinds of free images.
The communication throughout the ordering and delivery process was good enough. I got emails telling me that the order was accepted, asking me to accept the titles they were suggesting and of course delivering the content. Nothing to complain about here.
However, now that the delivered content has so many serious issues, I will be interested to see how they go about fixing it. Will they be able to turn around such a disaster? Only time will tell! If Hands Off Publishing want to last as a content writing agency, they certainly need to make some massive improvements here!
I will update this section with the results I get from their attempts to resolve the issues I have shown in this article. Fingers are firmly crossed.
Would I Recommend Hands Off Publishing?
As you might imagine, from the results I have so far I wouldn’t recommend this content agency in a million years. If they were an established agency, I would simply erase all knowledge of their service from my brain and move on. However, as they are a new startup, I will give them a chance to improve. Maybe they have teething issues that they will rectify.
I will happily update this review once this becomes the case, but for now I would recommend you run for the hills!
UPDATE: April 2021
I have had a lot of back and forth with Hands-off publishing over the past few weeks. The good news is that they seem very willing to try to correct the problem and even offered me 5000 words of free content. The bad news is, frankly, I don’t think their current editors are up to the job.
I was told that I would have their best editors to do a second pass over my content, which happened. Unfortunately, I was still finding some pretty basic errors in their work. So it went back for a third pass, and even after this below are some of the errors I found.
Teenage is something that must be explored to the fullest….. this sentence just sounds plain weird to me, as a native English speaker myself I would never word the sentence below in this way. Nothing too bad, but something I wouldn’t want in my articles.
The Borzoi dogs sentence below is another one that made no sense to me; I think they should replace because with unless. Again, not something I want to see in my content. Google wants high-quality content, not broken or nonsense English!
After the first draft disaster I thought they would clean up their act, but after the third draft from Hands Off Publishing we still have things like below. Does anyone pet fish? I have certainly never heard of it! Dolphins maybe 🙂
In the sentence, they refer to an aquarium as a fish house. In all my years I have never heard anyone say the words ‘fish house’, have you?
So, as you can imagine, I am quite tired of having to go back and forth with Hands Off Publishing when they still give me basic errors in my order after three passes from their top editors.
I realise they are a new service, so I cut them some slack. However, the situation is getting ridiculous now.
The thing that makes me laugh is that I got onto this service from a paid ad in a newsletter I follow (from another prominent content marketer). Then I see that another prominent marketer has released their own glowing review of the service, not naming any names. It makes me wonder if that prominent marketer in question ordered the content anonymously? Because, with the experience I have had, I can’t believe his article was so well researched and written etc. etc.
Anyway, I don’t have any plans to try Hands Off Publishing again, there are so many other top-notch content providers that I work with that I don’t see the point in wasting my time with something that clearly isn’t hands off!! (how ironic).