Four Signs of a Bad Writer

Once upon a time there was a writer who wanted just $5 for a 300 word blog about a business. The business thought this was a great bargain and asked for 5 blogs. Sure enough, the blogs arrived on time and exactly 300 words–all about butterflies, picnics, flowers and rainbows. Unfortunately, the business designed industrial welders.

We’re all interested in saving money. The problem arises when we buy something we can’t use simply because it was cheap; that’s a loss, not a savings. Here are three ways to recognize a bad writer and avoid paying for content you can’t use:

  1. Bad writers give you words, not content. A truly professional writer is concerned that your message attracts your target audience. A bad writer recycles the same old message to as many businesses as possible to meet the word quota and get paid.
  2. Bad writers ignore grammar and spelling. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes but consistent poor grammar and spelling is a sign that your writer does not know how to communicate in your language or doesn’t care, and that can lead to copy that distorts your message and casts doubt on your attention to detail. You shouldn’t be editing a professional writer for grammar and spelling.
  3. Bad writers use content from other sources without giving credit. This problem is a little harder to catch but if writing varies widely in professionalism or the writer includes professional looking graphics and photos, you should check that you have the right to use that content. In particular, information on the internet is not free to any taker, unless specifically labeled as free–someone created it and owns it.
  4. Bad writers disappear. A professional writer, especially a professional freelance writer, develops a relationship with clients that extends from project to project, even with years between. (I recently had a client return after a 5-year gap!) A bad writer rushes through any discussion of your projects and goals and may not be reachable next week, let alone next year. Quality is a low priority for bad writers, even in client relationships.

When you pay for professional writing, you should receive professional writing. Paying less often turns out to be more expensive in time, frustration and customer loyalty. Make sure that you are building a relationship with a writer who is concerned about content, grammar, spelling and originality–not with meeting a quota.