Why Do I Keep Getting Crap from My Writers?

working with writers

You’ve hired a writer. You gave her a topic (and it was a good one, darn it). Then, when the content came in, you were beyond disappointed. How was she so off the mark?

If this is a familiar scenario — as in, this happens to you a lot — there are a few possibilities. One, you’re hiring cheap writers with little experience. (You’ll pay on the back end by having to do massive amounts of editing.) Two, you’re hiring good writers who are just out of their element. (If you need a technical writer, hire a technical writer. Sure, writers can have multiple skill sets, but most of us are pretty clear about what we’re good at and what we’re not.)

Now, a third possibility: You’re not being clear about what you need.

Maybe you have a strong marketing background, but never worked as an editor. If you’ve never worked as an editor or in a creative services environment, you may not have experience with assigning certain types of content projects. Maybe you just don’t know what information writers expect. First of all, shame on us writers if we don’t seek clarification. But if a writer does ask, you should be prepared to share your vision or play the “I’ll know it when I see it” game (and pay extra for that process).

So, how can you avoid this lost time and budget? By spelling out your vision. Consider these elements:


Which of your audiences are you talking to with this content? Are you hiring the writer for her specific voice? Or should she be using your company’s tone and voice guidelines?

The final deliverable

Consider the visual. What will this look like when it’s out of Word and in its final form? How will it be designed? Is it meant to be read online or in print format? Does it need to be quickly scannable? What do you imagine it looking like in the end? If you hire someone to write a 10,000-word e-book, but never share with the writer that you envision only 100 words every other page with tons and tons of graphics, how would they know to break up the copy a certain way?

Specific approach

A good writer will look for a creative, fresh approach, but if you know you want an A-to-Z guide or a true/false quiz, don’t say “write 600 words on heart health.”


Get your FREE assignment letter template

These are just a few of the basics, but if you want to be even more complete in your instructions, write out a creative brief/assignment letter. Trust me, this upfront work will save you a whole heap of effort (and/or money) later. Not sure what to put in yours? Start with our FREE assignment letter template. Easy peasy.


2017-08-28T22:24:58+00:00 October 20th, 2016|Blog|2 Comments


  1. Bart Butler October 21, 2016 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Another good one from the master.

    • avc-admin October 21, 2016 at 7:45 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Bart! Appreciate you reading and taking the time to say so.

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