5 Signs you Hired the Wrong Writer for your Content

Has this ever happened to you? You wait all week for the content you ordered from a freelance writer, watching your Inbox and ready to post the fresh content to your site or blog. Finally, the material arrives. You open it and…

• “What is this – it has nothing to do with what I asked for!”
• “This is awful, incomprehensible writing, my third grader could do better”
• “OMG, this totally failed Copyscape, it’s a direct copy from Wikipedia!”

What did I just read?

Sadly, the above scenarios can and do happen every day I get asked all the time — how do you hire an excellent freelance writer? A lousy freelancer can cost you big in terms of both cash and wasted time, so choosing right at the start is essential. Here are some signs of a weak freelance writer — spot these red flags and you’ll avoid wasting time and money on your next project:

5 Warning Signs of a Bad Freelancer

1. They offer unbelievable (and unrealistic) rates: Sure, you love a bargain—who doesn’t? But before you hire the “Wal-Mart” of the freelance world, take a minute and think about why their rates are so low – and what those low rates say about their commitment and professionalism.

Consider this scenario:

Writer #1 charges regular industry rates. She’ll take the time to research your piece, write it out, edit it and make sure it is perfect before she sends it to you. Why? Because her time is valuable and she’s charging a rate that allows her to dedicate enough time to craft you something special.

Writer #2 offers an unbelievable bargain – much less than writer #1 – and lower than anyone else you’ve seen. To earn money, Writer #2 needs to work as quickly as possible, churning out content, getting paid and then moving on to the next piece. She doesn’t have time for much research, hopes the content will be “good enough” and may even need to take some shortcuts to get the job done quickly.

Which writer do you want to represent your name, product and service online?

 

2. You don’t like his samples: Writers usually submit the best clips they have for review. Don’t just skim these pieces, read them out loud. Don’t like what you hear or they totally miss the mark? Hire someone else!

3. She is an article farmer: Article farming is one of the dirty little secrets of content writing – sweatshops made up of struggling, desperate beginners and writers from developing nations.

Here’s how it works: A farmer will approach a client with a well-crafted proposal and secure the job, usually at slightly lower than industry rates. The farmer will then turn around and outsource the work to writers they pay very low rates to –.50 to $1.00 per 500 word page is typical.

The farmer edits the work a bit and then passes it off as his own, pocketing the difference in pay. Some of the biggest providers on huge freelance sites like Upwork are farmers, and sweatshop ethics aside, you will be better off paying for quality writing from an individual that you can actually build a relationship with.

Over time, a writer will learn your preferences, gain in-depth knowledge about your brand and even help you craft a compelling strategy your prospects won’t be able to resist. If you are looking for quality content that performs for your brand, expect to pay at least $150 for that 500 word piece.

4. He’s an expert — on everything: Writers can be skilled in many different areas; most freelancers can write about a variety of topics and provide different types of work. The red flag to watch out for is the writer who is an expert in every topic you suggest. Not sure if you’re talking to a pro? Ask a few more questions or request previously published samples in your niche area to be sure the claims are not exaggerated.

 

5. She asks no questions: You may be one of the few clients that provides freelancers with every bit of information about a particular piece – if you are, Bravo (or Brava!) to you, you’re awesome! If you’re like the rest of us, though expect a good freelancer to ask you some questions. He’ll need to know the main goal of the piece, who the target reader or prospect is, what keywords should be incorporated, the ideal length, and more.

We need this stuff to do a great job with your content!

No questions? Either your potential freelancer is a mind reader or she’s not really doing her homework.

Look for these red flags and you’ll spend less time wading through applications and portfolios and more time actually working on your business. Want to streamline the process? Start with someone with experience, schedule a discovery call to be sure you’re on the same page and ask for clips and references.

Free November Marketing Calendar is Here!

Struggling to figure out what to write about as the temperature drops and the days draw shorter? As we near Thanksgiving, the focus shifts to the holidays, but you can write only so many turkey, family and holiday themed posts before you get bored.

And so do your readers.

I created a November Marketing Calendar to help you figure out what to write about and let you know what’s hot and highly searchable this month. In addition to “Thanksgiving” posts, gift guides, “Movember” and party planning are all top search terms; fulfill one or more of these to attract attention to your blog.
Click Here for Free November Marketing Calendar

Other highlights this month include Cyber Monday, which is rapidly catching up to Black Friday in revenues for sellers. This month also includes Veteran’s Day, a chance to recognize those who serve the nation and Giving Tuesday, an ideal time for Non-Profits to shine.

As always, if you need help with content or social media, I’m here for you!

Let’s chat soon!

Samantha

Working from Home: Striking the Right Balance Between Work and Family

I get asked this one a lot — balancing a successful writing business with four kids and a life isn’t easy, but if you don’t carve out some time for things you enjoy, you’ll go crazy. Striking the right balance between work, self and home can keep you from becoming a frazzled, stressed out mess. If you’re a freelancer (or want to be one), then the quality of your work will also improve when you are not trying to cram too many things into an already packed schedule.

Finding a Balance between Work and Family

Anyone who works needs to find a balance between the professional commitments and family life – but it can be much more difficult to do so if you work from home. When you have an office to go to, you automatically have a built in “start” and “stop” time. When your office is your dining room, you can find yourself wandering in there to do “just one thing” multiple times per day and night. How do you strike the right balance between working at home and family time? These tips will help:

Schedule dedicated work hours: Believe it or not, setting firm work hours each day will actually help you spend more time with the family. How? When you can work uninterrupted, you can work quickly and efficiently. Every interruption, even “Where are my socks?” or “I can’t find my book” will disrupt your train of thought and actually prolong the amount of time you spend working – or trying to work.

This became far easier when my youngest started pre-school; until then I had to rely on sitters and working odd hours to get stuff done. Training the family really helps you focus on work — and then leave that work behind when you are done.

Your missing sock is not an emergency.

My kids are used to hearing “Is anyone actively bleeding or on fire?” If not, then don’t interrupt!

Leave the office behind: When you’ve completed your tasks for the day or the hours you planned on working, close the door on your office, even if it is only figuratively. Don’t check your email, leave the laptop closed and resist the impulse to return one last phone call. You’ll be able to dedicate all of your attention to the family and not stress about what you might still need to do.

This one really helps, particularly if you have a home office. When you can get away from the physical place you work it is easier to focus on real life. Once that workplace collides with home, it is a lot more difficult. If you wouldn’t drive back to the office to work on something, don’t do it from home outside of your chosen hours, either.

Grab an extra hour: You can’t add an extra hour into the day –sorry, we each just get 24, and you have to sleep sometime—but you can add a work hour when everyone else is sleeping. If you’re an early bird, get up one hour before anyone else, and get to work. Night owl? Schedule some tasks for after the kids go to bed, and enjoy dinner and bedtime together.

I seriously hate mornings, but since I need to drive the kids to school anyway, getting up an hour earlier did wonders for my schedule and life balance. If you have not yet read The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM), I strongly recommend it. It turned this night owl into a morning person for sure! (Well, the ideas in the book and lots and lots of coffee).

 

Outsource: Consider hiring someone else to do tasks for you. You can outsource professional tasks or home tasks. From a weekly cleaning service to virtual assistant (VA) services, web design or even social media support, outsourcing some tasks can help you build your business without overbooking your time. Right now I am using outsourcing for my VA. professional editing and  Pinterest management and am desperately in search of an awesome cleaning service.

Balancing work and family when you work at home isn’t easy, but it can be done – and when you figure out what works for you, the whole family will be happier.

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links to products or books I love and recommend!