Article writing services have inundated the web in recent years thanks to layers of online filters and anonymity that can make it difficult to distinguish between a professional and a fake. Even amateur writers can masquerade behind a computer screen as an article writing service, a press release service, copywriter or whatever they’d like to sell paper writer themselves as. The following are 6 pitfalls and ways to avoid them when considering an article writing services company.
1.) Non-English Speakers
If you think the quote you’re getting from an article writing service sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In fact, the cheaper the cost of the writing, the more likely it is that the authors are non-native English speakers. They can offer extremely low pricing because either:
a.) They use a software program to create the article
b.) They severely over-estimate their grasp of the English language
How do you tell? READ. In most cases where people hire an article writing service and are unsatisfied with the transaction, it is largely because they failed to read the content offered by the service. This includes the content on the company’s website, their communications with you, testimonials and work examples. Recognizing non-native English writers is easy because it shows in their writing. They use unnatural grammar, are too stiff or formal, and confuse singular and plural, past, present and future, etc. Taking the time to read the content will invariably reveal a non-native English writer.
Consultants can be useful for a number of business purposes, but when it comes to mediating between an article writing service and a client, they’re usually nothing more than a middle man. Your writer or editor should respond directly to you – otherwise a great deal of time, effort and resources will be squandered. Consultants can get in the way of the creative process and create lags in the editing process that can double or even triple the production time for a single piece of work. However, some consultants will hide the fact that they do not do the actual writing themselves.
How do you tell? ASK. By directly querying a consultant, you will be able to determine exactly what his or her skills are. Ask where they trained in English, writing, journalism or literature, etc. Ask if you can have access to outlines early on. Ask what their editing practices are. In most cases a consultant won’t be able to answer any of these questions and will usually reveal that they have a writer “on staff.” If the consultant will be interfering with the writing process between you and the person who is actually doing the writing, it’s time to walk away.
3.) Flaky Freelancers
Some writers are notorious flakes. One of the biggest risks of hiring a freelance writer is the abandonment of an incomplete project. Other problems include editing resistance, lack of or significantly delayed communications and lack of professionalism.
How do you tell the flakes from the pros? The same way you’d investigate any other business or product: check reviews, read testimonials, review Better Business Bureau reports, contact references and check their feedback ratings and comments if the work is contracted on a site like Odesk, Guru or Elance. To be sure your writer won’t flake out, put your project agreement in writing and obtain a physical signature
4.) Untrained Wannabes
Just because you wrote a poem that won a 6th grade poetry contest or a paper for English Composition that got an “A” doesn’t necessarily mean you can write well enough to be a professional. Unfortunately, the internet makes it all too easy for anyone who fancies themselves a writer to set up shop as an article writing service. Some of these amateurs produce such substandard work and create so many editing lags that the project spins out of control and both writer and client walk away from the incomplete transaction frustrated. However, it’s fairly easy for an observant person to weed out the untrained wannabe writer:
*Check their website: how old is the domain? Is it a free website or blog site? What’s the PR? How many backlinks? The older the domain the better, although there may be cases of veteran writers that only recently launched a website.
*Does the writer have an 800 number? Any number at all? If a writer won’t make themselves available by phone or for video conferencing, there may be a problem.
*Check the company address in Google Earth. Is it a business or residence? While a residence doesn’t mean the person isn’t reputable, it adds to the overall picture. Is the writer trying to sell themselves as operating from a high rise downtown when you can see their address is a trailer on a dirt farm? Even so they could still be a good writer, but who wants a good writer that is also a terrible liar?
*Google the writer’s name or company name. A well-established writer should have a great deal of results in search that are related to writing and publishing – even if they’re solely a freelancer.
*Check Facebook and other social media. You may find that the “professional writer” you’ve been considering hiring is really a19 year-old kid who’s never had a writing assignment before.
5.) Not Guaranteed / Limited Revisions
This should be the clincher here: a weak guarantee (or no guarantee) and a limited revisions policy is a bad sign. If you can’t get a guarantee and your requests for edits are going to be limited, WALK AWAY. Professional writers guarantee their work and they make unlimited (reasonable) edits.
6.) The Golden Portfolio
Checking the portfolio of an article writing service doesn’t really mean anything as they’re only going to show you their very best work. However, they might not be able to replicate the quality they initially present to you. In some cases, terrible writers hire good freelance writers to create a portfolio for them. In other cases a bad writer may just happen to have one or two good pieces that they market to every potential client. Whatever the case may be, a traditional portfolio should not be relied upon alone – or even taken seriously. Links to published works on the web are an excellent way to supplement/verify a portfolio, and writers that can provide this should be deemed much more credible than those who cannot.
Avoiding all of these pitfalls can be difficult. The only way to properly vet a writer is to pay them to write a sample for you – just be sure that they are able to sustain what they produce.