Six Signs Of A Bad Freelance Content Writer

With the growth of the digital economy and self-employment in general, as a business you are spoilt for choice for hiring a freelance content writer. Unfortunately, not every freelancer you will come across is professional. Not everybody will deliver the service you expect. I’ve hired on Upwork, so I understand the problems that clients face too.

Six red flags of a bad freelance content writer

They Rarely Give a Straight Answer

Although some clients waste time on trivialities, a good freelance content writer wants exactly what you want – to ascertain whether you are a good fit for each other and then get on with the work. The problem is when the freelance writer won’t give you a firm answer to simple and basic questions such as:

  • Could you give me an approximate cost? Their answer should be one of two things: “Yes, it will cost around XX – maybe slightly more, maybe slightly less.” or “I’m sorry, I don’t have enough information yet, could you explain more about your requirements?”
  • When do you think you will be able to start / finish? If they can’t answer this, then that should be a massive red flag. It’s possible they have too much work but don’t want to scare you off

They’ve Not Paid Attention to
Your Requirements

You are the paying client and you expect a service, naturally. The very least the freelance content writer can do is do his or her best to produce what you want. The problem is that some freelance writers are so involved in the creative process that they ignore what you have hired them for. They produce what they want, rather than what you want. Nobody expects to get it perfect with the first draft, especially so with a new client, but if they continue to get it wrong, you should question your future relationship with them.

Their Rates are Too Cheap

In an age where businesses want to get something as cheaply as possible (or in some cases, something for nothing), I know that some freelance content writer rates will make you cringe. But you should be more concerned with the cheaper freelancers than the more expensive ones. Upwork allows you to see the freelancers average rating and work history. If a freelancer is Top Rated and charges $30ph, chances are they are justified in doing so. I would challenge the commitment to quality of somebody who charges rock bottom rates. They are not going to spend much time on your project and will have an “easy come, easy go” approach, flying through as quickly as they can to move onto the next rock-bottom price job.

They Farm Out Work as a Matter of Routine

So far, I have produced every piece of work submitted to clients. At busy times, some freelancer content writers pass their work on to somebody else, either as a favour (or returning a favour) or because they don’t want to let anybody down. These are perfectly reasonable reasons to farm out work. Some clients do it as routine. I consider this close to fraud as the quality will be much lower than they will pretend. The samples they send you may be their own, and they may or may not be involved in tidying up the finished product, but they did not produce it and it’s unlikely to be as high quality as you expected.

Too Much Copied Text

If there is one sin in content writing, plagiarism is it. Finding repeated text in CopyScape is not a problem in itself, we all use stock phrases and grammatical terms we can’t avoid. With millions of pages online for every subject, a little bit of overlap can be expected. There is an acceptable level of similar text, although you should certainly recommend that your freelancer change it for uniqueness. The problem is when it is glaringly obvious that they’ve copied huge chunks in the text. As a client, you should develop a good eye for what is mere chance and constitutes outright and deliberate plagiarism.

“Gizza Job, I Can Do That”

Being a freelance content writer means you need not just writing skills, but research skills. That doesn’t mean we know everything about everything. Every human being has gaps in his or her knowledge. Although I can write about almost anything, there are some subjects I would avoid. Indeed, I have rejected jobs in the past because I did not understand the concepts behind what the client wanted me to write about. No doubt, I will do so again in future. Ideally, as a client you should ask for similar or related examples of work, especially if you’re dealing in a niche. You want the right person to convey your message, and they can only do that . Beware of the freelancer who never says “no”, who never expressed doubts and never queries details. Positivity is a good thing, but so is remaining realistic about one’s abilities.

Copyright MG Mason
Copyright MG Mason

If you wish to hire MG Mason Creative Services for your freelance content writing needs, please contact me via the About Page here (click). You will also see my terms and conditions, and charges.

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