A good writer is key to executing a successful content marketing strategy.
Bad writers can do damage. Whether it’s grammatical errors that subtly chip away at your brand’s credibility or plagiarism costing you business, you want to do all you can to prevent these inexcusable mistakes. Here, we’ve put together a thorough list of red flags to look out for when you start working with a content writer. These warning signs can help you determine if the writer is going to deliver or if you’re better off with someone else.
1. Poor Grammar
Typos aren’t always a sign that someone is a bad writer — it could mean they just aren’t detail-oriented. But poor grammar — using wrong tenses and other flagrant errors — are signs of a grammatically deficient writer (see also: Good Grammar: An Ancient Art). If you get work from a writer who can’t properly form certain sentences, chances are the rest of their work will be the same. Find someone who you can trust to be error-free.
2. Unable to Meet Deadlines
When you’re paying for content you expect it to be delivered on time. The copy can be excellent, but if it’s not sent on time, it might no longer be useful to you. Worse yet, this might signal a pattern from this writer. Make sure you stick with writers who always turn in work on or before the agreed due date.
See also: The Modern Writer Glossary
3. Using Stock Language
Original content should sound smart and savvy. If a writer submits work that sounds flat or formulaic, it might be a sign that they aren’t putting much work or thought into your copy (see also: Write Wisely: Word Choice and Impact). Try working with other writers who use thoughtful, original language each time.
4. Bad Attitude
If you give feedback on a piece and a writer is mean or impolite in return, move on to someone else. A person’s attitude can often reveal a lot about their work ethic, too.
Copying the work of others is the most egregious of writing crimes. If the plagiarism goes unnoticed before publication, it could embarrass your company and may lead to a lawsuit. This is a deathly serious infringement. Depending on how cleverly the writer lifted others’ material, it may be difficult to detect, but there are affordable plagiarism detection services available.
6. Tone Deaf
If you ask for a formal and professional blog post and the writer hands back a piece written in a humorous, playful tone — you have a tone deaf writer. A tone deaf writer may additionally be unaware of how their writing sounds to readers and can inadvertently insult or confuse.
See also: How to Hire Quality Content Writers
It takes patience and persistence to find someone with a good work ethic and good writing skills. When you do, you can leave the worries aside.