13 Eye-Opening Signs that You’re About to Hire the Wrong Freelance Copywriter

Ugh! Not again.

You’ve been working with this freelance copywriter for the past one week… and the only thing they seem to be good at is ballsing things up.

Their work isn’t up to scratch. So you keep requesting for revisions on end. And they keep sending back a mashup of your notes and the original draft.

The final product? A skimpy fluffy blog that is worse than the post your 13-year old would have written. It would have been easier and faster if you wrote the wretched thing yourself-- if you only had more time.

How do you spot these self-proclaimed writing gurus before signing that contract? If only someone on the internet could help you sift the good from the bad, that’d be great!

Want to find out how to do that?

Keep reading.

The Wrong Freelance Copywriter is a Surefire Way to Make Your Life More Difficult

Adding an extra pair of hands to help you with your content marketing needs is an excellent way to save time and more money. All you need is to prepare a great brief, send it to your freelance writer, relax with your glass of juice in the sunset and wait. A few days later, you get a no-fluff, character-rich copy that exceeds your expectations and Google loves.

But how do you find such brilliant copywriters and get that third eye to weed out poor copywriters before you start working with them? Why does it seem that you always get it wrong?

Lucky you found your way here.

Ready? Let’s get right in.

1. They Don’t Ask You Questions

Come to think of it:

A manager always interviews a job applicant before hiring him. A detective asks an eye-witness questions to gather evidence. A parent questions a child to get a summary of how school was, and a TV reporter questions a newsmaker before reporting.

Notice a certain pattern?

Here’s the thing: there’s no substitute for asking the right questions when one wants to gather information. Assuming the freelance writer hasn’t interacted with your brand before, they need to ask you some questions to understand the ins and outs of your business. Asking these questions shows that they are interested in your goals and want to get a little under the skin of your business.

Be acutely aware of people who don’t ask you questions-- the type of people who will always say yes to everything. These kind of copywriters convey only one thing: they care less to know your business more, yet they know little about it. They’re in for the money.

2. Raises the Fees after You’ve Awarded them the Project

Everyone loves a good bargain-- I included.

I’ve had situations where I’ve had to raise my fees because the scope of the work the client requested required more input than what was indicated on the job description. However, this happens in instances where I’m supposed to include emails, social media posts, or the blog requires a significant increase in the number of words than the client had in mind.

I’ll also be quick to admit that some freelancers use underhanded means to get the most they can for a client. They will give you all sorts of vague explanations like “After a further review of the project, it needed more research hence more money” without necessarily giving a clear justification as to why.

I recommend working with freelance copywriters who are upfront about their fee estimates.

Bonus point: You and your freelance writer are far from being friends if you haven’t agreed on terms of payment. So ensure you are in a consensus before you start to work together.

3. Takes Feedback as a Finger of Blame

Having a good freelance writer who can communicate is essential-- but having one who’s good at problem-solving and executes feedback well is extremely important.

No one loves bad feedback, but excellent freelancers don’t take it as an attack on their writing style. They take it as a core function of their job and embrace it to provide the best services to the clients.

When hiring, always remember you’re hiring a freelancer for their writing expertise and ability to do things you can’t or don’t have the time. This means you should be willing to probe the work and give rational feedback until you feel the project meets your expectations. Why settle for a tasty blog when it can be mouth-watering irresistible?

If you get the sense that the copywriter is pushing back or doesn’t take on feedback well, it tells you one thing, RUN-- and of course, look back at your own risk. The best freelance writers will put in their expertise while crafting your content and will be open to alternative angles from you to ensure the best end result.

4. They Price Themselves too Low

“Great proposal, low prices, fast service”

Notice anything missing here?

You’re right to be wary of low prices. Most freelancers, in their panic to compete, often overlook what really matters to their clients-- quality.

Of course, price is important, especially when you’re working on a budget, but if it is the only factor you’ll consider when hiring a freelancer, you’ll often be in a rude shock.

I mean, doesn’t it sound sus already when a salesperson promises you a $500 zero-mileage car? For the same reasons, you find that sus, beware of incredibly low prices.

If you want an experienced professional writer who communicates effectively, meets deadlines, writes exceptionally well and compels your audience to take the action you wish to, be ready to pay for it-- they’re rare and are worth their weight in gold.

5. They are Unable or Unwilling to Provide Samples

You definitely want to work with someone who shows you a track record of their work. Blindly trusting someone solely on the integrity of their word, to me, is quite a bold move.

You need to have a glimpse of their previous work and make sure it resonates with your overall vision. If they promise you a lot and have nothing to show, vote against them, and you’ll be glad you did.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t work with rising talent. I am the writer I am because a client believed in me though I didn’t have a great portfolio. Years later, I’ve worked with lots of clients, big companies and household names, and it’s all because my first client believed in me.

But if the project at hand is complex, I’d recommend getting a veteran rather than a person who’s focusing on building their portfolio. Trust me; you don’t want to be a guinea pig.

6. Doesn’t Have Suggestion for Improvements

No matter the business you’re in, your clients trust you because they know you’re an expert in that area. The same happens in freelance writing.

Great freelance copywriters spend part of their time honing their skills and getting updated on the latest industry trends. This doesn’t mean that your freelance writer should know the nitty-gritty of the latest Google Update on content, but if they’re an SEO copywriter and can’t explain how SEO fits into your content marketing strategy, that’s a red flag.

An experienced copywriter will always seek to improve the bottom line, and if yours improves, theirs gets a boost.

7. They Claim to be an Expert in Everything

It’s only a fool who knows everything.


It’s great if a freelancer knows a lot of things about their trade, but if they claim to be subject experts in both Tech and Medicine and can still write you excellent marketing copies, then that’s a sure red flag.

It’s not uncommon to find multi-niche writers, and some of them can write exemplary well in a diverse range of niches with a lot of research. The difference between these freelancers and bad freelancers is that the latter claim they are incredible in all areas. The former will be honest about what they can do and where there their limits lie.

8. They Follow a Bit Too Much

There’s a fine line between enthusiasm and nagging.

It’s common for you to receive way too many proposals after posting your job description on a job board. However, getting more than one offer from the same freelance writer, especially when you’re taking your time to vet, signals that they’re impatient. This will often spill over to when you start working together.

And you don’t want someone competing for your attention with your three-year-old toddler.

Some degree of follow-up is excellent, especially on different phases of the project, but when this turns out to be nagging, it’s time to move on to the next prospect. Nagging signifies neediness, which is a sign of desperation-- which is not generally the best sign in business.

9. They’re Inconsistent

Here’s the thing: incompetent copywriters will say whatever you want to hear until they get into your pockets. They will make any half-truth if it means getting your vote of confidence.

Well, that’s until you offer them the job.

After delivering the first blog post, which almost meets your expectations, the standards start to decline. After getting stuck on revision with the second blog, you start to wonder, was this the person I first hired?

Sure, a few typos here and there might be commonplace, but if the work seems anything but your standards, then it’s time you take some radical actions. This could either show that the writer simply lost interest, is taking advantage of you or isn’t invested in your business.

10. They Didn’t Read Your Job Descriptions

You have high standards when hiring, and you definitely take some time to state that in your job brief. You understand that this is the single most important element between you and your freelance copywriter to be.

You also expect the prospects to take their time to understand your goals and match up to your standards. Now imagine, after all that effort, you get a generic pitch or proposal that’s been copy-pasted to a hundred other clients with the hope you’ll be the catch.

While there’s nothing wrong with applying for multiple jobs at the same time (that’s why we’re freelancers), applying for jobs for the sake of applying is wrong by itself. Your freelance writer needs to understand your goals and bring that out in their proposal. They need to show you that they care about your business more than they care about getting the job.

You can test this by randomly inserting a mandatory phrase that you need applicants to add in their application to make sure they read your job description. It could be something as simple as: “Include the word bingo at the start of your proposal.” If a freelancer applies and misses the word, you clearly know they didn’t go through your job description.

11. Their Writing is All Fluff

Have you ever read through a blog post, and after you’re halfway in, you’re still struggling to understand what the writer intended to say? Me too, my friend, me too. And I’m sure that’s not what you want your readers to feel.

You need content that is powerful, persuasive, unabashedly authentic and oozes with personality. Every sentence needs to be an inch closer to making your audience do whatever you want them to do. If the freelance writer can’t make it their goal to provide valuable information concisely, then they’re not worth it.

If you’ve had to read their pitch or proposal twice to understand what they meant, onto the next.

12. Doesn’t Show Mutual Respect

We all appreciate it when someone shows some level of respectability and honor towards us.

It’s in our nature.

And if you want a great freelancer who you can work with not only for a one-off project but for the longest time possible, look for signs of honor.

There comes a time when all freelancers have almost the same abilities, expertise and skill, with nothing more to differentiate them. You can use this as a simple but important metric to know whom to proceed with.

Honor manifests itself in many ways, from how the copywriter respects your time and opinions, how well he takes on your feedback and how willing they are to go the extra mile to provide you with stellar work.

13. They Leave you With a Weird Gut Feeling

I’m not superstitious, but sometimes logic and facts aren’t always the best predictor of whether your hire will be a great fit. Don’t only pay attention to reasons to rule someone in, but also look for reasons to rule someone out.

If you’re about to hire someone, and something deep within tells you they’re not the right for you, even if you can’t pinpoint the exact issue, trust that. Bringing in a freelancer to your business who’s a false positive will be costlier than ruling out a false negative.

If you find someone who you can at least get along with, ticks all your boxes, and can write the words that make your audience move closer to the BUY NOW button, you’ve found the perfect freelancer!

Make it Work for You

If you spot any of these signs, know that you’re about to end up with a freelance copywriter who’s about to make your life a little more complicated.

Or you can decide to make it a bit easier by hiring an excellent freelancer who not only gets you what you want but brings more business to your business.

Turning away the wrong copywriter will not only save you time but a lot of $$$ and resources too, which can otherwise be used to make your business better.



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