Most freelance writers do not want to cheat you. They want to do good work and get paid for it.
Cheating one’s clients is not just bad business. It ruins everything wonderful about what we writers do. It destroys our creativity and our passion. Ultimately, cheating makes it impossible to live and breathe as a real writer. Even so, there are bad apples. So, how can you tell what is going wrong?
He’s Too Expensive
Professional writers cannot afford to be cheap. They spend more, not less, time on projects because they do a lot of stuff other writers don’t. They figure out your brand. They figure out your product benefits and how those benefits relate to your customer. They figure out the right sales angle to make it all work. Price is the least useful way to judge whether a writer is cheating you.
He’s Off Target
If a writer is off target, he either didn’t understand what you wanted or he was unable to produce it. This is rarely a matter of him trying to cheat you. It is due either to miscommunication or incompetence.
Off-target writing due to miscommunication
If a freelance writer misunderstood your directions, you may be blame. Perhaps you asked for one thing, but really wanted something else. I was asked to write an article on theological concepts, but when I turned it in, the client decided it was too intellectual. What he really wanted was just a simple bio. I could have shown the client his emails asking for an “idea” article, but it would have been pointless. Once a writer fails, for any reason whatsoever, the client is gone forever. If the miscommunication is truly the writer’s fault, you are dealing with incompetence.
Off-target writing due to incompetence
Incompetence shows up in rambling, disjointed, or sloppy writing. If you think a piece of writing is incompetent, ask a friend to read it. But you have to be careful how you ask for feedback, because if you think the work is shitty your friend will agree with you. If he knows you invested beaucoup bucks, he will assure you the work is fantastic. So, be noncommittal, hand over a few pages, and say, “Whaddya think? Should I hire this woman?
He Missed The Deadline
Professionals never miss deadlines. I’ve written a piece from a hospital bed to make a deadline. I’ve stayed up 23 hours straight. If a writer accepts an assignment, it is his responsibility to finish it on time. There are exceptions, though. If a client is late in providing information or materials, the deadline should be renegotiated. The death or imminent death of a friend or family sweeps away all other concerns. Ideally, the writer would let you know so the project doesn’t fall through the cracks completely.
He Is A Bullshit Artist
Some clients recognize bullshit. Most don’t, because ultimately writers are paid to produce bullshit. It just depends on how good or bad that bullshit is.
Some writers write crappy stuff just because they are lazy or in a hurry or greedy. They do this by substituting “power words” for ideas. For example: best, greatest, amazing, fantastic, unbeatable.
A more telling sign of bullshit is the overuse of exclamation points! There is almost never a reason to use exclamation points!
And, writers who over-use bolded, capitalized, or underscored words may be substituting typographical tricks for real thinking.
Hurry, you too can automatically detect amazing bullshit!
The BlaBla Meter is a fun piece of software by some German engineers who had nothing better to do.