Outsourced content writing? Not from this mob.

Ash Nallawalla

17 June 2008


This just landed in my inbox.

Located in an elite business centre in New Delhi, India, <company name> is a professionally managed Content Writing Company specializing in online copywriting and optimized content writing. Over the years we are successful in building reputation for us as a quality content management solution provider meeting high quality standards and executing all projects as per specified deadline.

We have a team of unmatched copywriters holding years of expertise in writing impressively for varied business sectors with a key knowledge of online content writing and keyword rich writing.

We also undertake outsourced content writing jobs meeting the clients’ requirements and delivering projects in specified time.

To test our expertise, we can provide with sample writing too on any topic as asked by you.

To know more about our services, visit us at <URL>


Would you use this company to write for you? I wouldn’t. While there are a few Indian content writers who write grammatically correct English, there are many more wannabes who don’t know their own shortcomings.

The quality of English found in India is atrocious and there is no kind way of saying it. The majority of English-speaking Indians did not go to elite schools where they might have had a gifted and dedicated English teacher. These days, they are likely to speak a mix of English and a local language — this can be seen in the Indian versions of American TV shows such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? When I saw an episode I could not tell if the show was meant to be in Hindi with some English thrown in, or the other way round.

There seems to be a shift from British English towards American English and this can be seen in the “iz” spellings in the email. A tip to content writers: don’t pitch to Australians, New Zealanders or the British (please lose “Britishers”) in American English. University-educated Americans usually have a very strong command of their language and will not be fooled by sloppy writing samples.

Common tools such as Microsoft Word are not good at detecting sloppy writing. New tools such as WhiteSmoke 2008 Extended Edition are trying to cover this market but it too has its work cut out.


So what is the solution for the company that needs cheap content? I suggest outsourcing from the best writer you can find but hire a local editor to polish the material.


Ash Nallawalla

Search strategist experienced in large, complex websites. SEO consultant.

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  • mini on 18 June 2008

    Thats the best solution. Kudos!

    The problem with Indian content writers won’t change because they work for a company and a particular company may have multiple clients, each belonging to a different country.

    Among content writers, if a one wants to maintain quality, I think one should stick to either American or British English. Why not? PHP developers specialise in PHP and Dot Net Developers specialise in Dot Net. Similarly we would have British-content writers and American-content writers.

  • Suzy on 9 August 2008

    Great post Ash, and very true

    you can spot outsourced content a mile off at times because of the “Indianisms”

    It’s funny that even in these days of text speak and the fact that we British English speakers can live with American English, it’s still a sign of quality if the distinction is made and the content is comfortable to read.

  • Dan @ PowerDosh.com on 20 September 2008

    Finding decent UK writers is hard enough, finding reliable UK writers is a nightmare. I agree that many writers (regardless of nationality) are simply unaware of their limitations.

  • Holden on 25 September 2008

    You hit the nail on the head! I can’t for the life of me figure out how someone would outsource content writing to a company that sends an email like that! But looks like this happens all the time. How else would such a company thrive?

    Do check out this funny article http://www.chillibreeze.com/resc/Seven-deadly-sins.asp

    It kind of mirrors your thoughts.

  • Ash on 25 September 2008


    Thanks for pointing out the Chillibreeze article. The beauty of the English language is that even good writers write oddly at times, for example, that article says, “Some Indian writers have inflated egos. They believe that their writing is flawless. It does not matter what the client thinks. They have degrees in English and for them, those are proofs of their writing skills.”

    “Those are proofs”? I use the plural form of “proof” only when referring to die-cast items such as coins. However, “proofs” is also correct usage in some other contexts such as mathematics, but in this context it distracts me. It makes me want to check whether their usage is correct. I think it is not.

    Chillibreeze and its related site India Reports are a fresh breeze in the world of outsourced writing, but it’s unfortunate that those websites are in need of proof-reading services.

  • Mini on 23 October 2008


    I am quite eager to know which book(s) you refer for English Grammar(British) – your favourite ones and the ones which you would like to recommend.

  • Ash on 23 October 2008

    I don’t have any favourites. In high school some 40 years ago I used High School English Grammar and Composition by Wren & Martin and I think my dad also used it. It is still sold in India. I don’t know if it has been updated to modern Western standards.

    I was a senior editor at Unisys (and briefly at an HP subsidiary) and it was this exposure that solidified my learning. We had to edit differently for Australian and UK English, although the two are almost identical, and quite differently for US English. If you can find any corporate style guides from the UK on the web, they might be useful.

    It doesn’t help Indians when the standard of English at The Times of India is passable for Indian English but not for the West. See this article, picked at random: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Woman_judge_lodges_complaint_of_dowry_harassment/articleshow/3632572.cms

    We would not say, “Madhuri Raj Lal is posted as Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) in the district court here.” Instead we’d say, “Madhuri Raj Lal is a Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) at the district court in Katni.”

    Wrong: “in-laws were harrassing her and her parents since a year”
    Better: “in-laws were harrassing her parents and her for the past year”

    Wrong: “the police station incharge”
    Better: “the police , e.g. Superintendent”

    Wrong: “the accused persons are absconding and further probe is on.”
    Better: “the police are looking for the accused, who are in hiding.”

    The ToI website is full of similar examples and occasional US spellings* such as “criticize”. This makes it harder for readers to recognise best practice English usage. Reading UK-based newspapers might be their only recourse. There are also examples of near-perfect English in the same edition, so I am not trashing the whole publication.

    * IIRC, the Oxford English Dictionary in India prefers the “iz” version, while the Cambridge Dictionary prefers the “is” variants, which are used in Australia and the UK.

  • Ash on 23 October 2008

    The angle brackets were swallowed up, so I’ll try again:

    Wrong: “the police station incharge”
    Better: “the police [give his rank or title], e.g. Superintendent”

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