Why freelance writers ghost you (and some possible solutions)

Why freelance writers ghost you (and some possible solutions) Click To Tweet

Anyone can get ghosted, even the best-paying clients. Is this dumb? Absolutely. Are the reasons always bad? Yeah. Like any industry freelance writers sometimes bail and it hurts both our and our (former) client’s reputations. I’m going to confess that in my dumber days I ghosted a client for a gig that paid $200. I never did that to anyone again though. After asking for advice from other colleagues I’ve devised a system to help me avoid doing this.

Throughout the years I’ve also been a part of online and offline writing communities and have heard a myriad of stories about ghosting in the industry. Usually the client is the one that does this, but every so often a freelance writer has done this. Here are some reasons why.

You look for the lowest bidder

Many freelance job ads ask for writers to “send their best rates” during their selection process. This means they intend to contact the lowest bidders to weed people out. Some writers charge more because they can truly write content that will garner results, but many clients don’t always think about the long term. If you only contact those who charge the least then…

  • You may end up with an inexperienced writer that doesn’t do it right the first time, delaying results for you.
  • The freelance writer is likely to leave you once they acquire higher-paying clients.
  • You could end up with bad content

Possible solutions: start interviewing or looking through the portfolios of people who have higher bids. It makes more sense to hire someone who will get it right the first time

You don’t pay enough

Writers have to pay bills just like you, and many have degrees or valuable on-the-job experience from years of work. 1 or 2 cents per word doesn’t cut it for the majority of writers (for any, actually). Sometimes you may wind up paying this little if you offer consistent work, if you own a content mill, or if the writer is your friend an does this as a favor. Some companies pay this little because they outsource this work to people in disadvantaged countries, but that doesn’t mean that this will be enough for the person on the other side of the world that’s working hard for little pay. Sure, some writers may accept this work, but few have positive experiences with content mills or places that use their business model to work with writers.

Possible solution: if you have a mentor or know about another business that hires writers or freelancers, ask for suggestions about what they pay so you can have a better idea of what a good market rate is for a business of your size. You could also network or ask friends to talk to a freelance writer and have a conversation about what reasonable pay might be like. If you have decent writing skills, then maybe do that on your own at the moment, but don’t expect others to have low bids just because you have other expenses. That’s not the way the world works.

You expect unreasonable results

Writing is hard work like anything else, especially if you expect to get good at it. Serious writers may ask you to explain your goals so they can gage whether or not they can provide this service. Here’s an illustration: let’s say you own a brand-new domain and want to keep a blog with SEO content. Increasing your ranks in search engines takes a few weeks or even months of work. You can’t expect someone to write one or two posts and expect your rankings to go up immediately. Some businesses are very tough to write for because the writer may never have worked on it, and writing blogs for them could take research that needs to be paid for because it will be used to inform the wring you expect.

Possible solutions: read SEO or business blogs that could give you an idea of how SEO marketing works. Also, assess the requests you’re making of freelance writers. If it means trying to do something yourself at least one time as a trial run so you can see how long an assignment takes, then do it so that you can put yourself in the shoes of someone who will actually have to do the job. It may also help to find someone who is an expert in your field and has good writing skills, then they will be able to write faster and will have to do less research.

You don’t pay on time 

A few weeks ago I had to leave a blog I was ghostwriting for because the article I had written wasn’t paid for on time. I had to wait about an extra week and became uncomfortable with this arrangement and let them know I could stay on until he found a replacement so that we could end on good terms. However, I’ve had some clients that send me into a panic because I’ve had to wait a month or more for the money I had earned. A few months ago I had a client who didn’t pay at all.

Businesses are run by humans, of course, and sometimes this means that something will be forgotten. The problem is that writers also have bills to pay, and if they’re good about keeping deadlines and following instructions, writers will panic at your lack of organization and decide to move on.

Possible solutions: establish an invoicing plan for freelance writers and be clear about the date(s) when you’ll pay them. Try to line them up with the payday for your regular employees so you won’t forget, and make sure to get their information (PayPal, Venmo, Bank transfer, or address if you still use checks) so that it’s processed right away and on file.

You think the work is easy

Writing is not a physically exhausting job, but a serious writer with the discipline to adhere to deadlines can be hard to come by. One of the most demeaning things you can tell a writer is that their job is easy.

Possible solution: don’t assume it’s easy!

You’re disorganized

I once worked at a non-profit where I was expected to do some writing in my office as a part of my duties. My ex-boss would walk into my office every few minutes while I was working on my drafts to offer suggestions, and it predictably made me angry. I tried to nicely tell him that I work best if I write the first draft and he can correct it after it was written. I explained that this would save us both some time. He blew up! To top it off, he had the habit of wanting to chat about a topic other than the writing task at hand while he interrupted me. Some editors/clients are also like this. They send many emails during the editing process, clogging the inbox of some poor writer and confusing them.

Other clients may make a variety of requests during the week and forget which is which (trust me, it’s happened). Some clients may even send you an email meant for another writer or employee (yes, they can!), or whatever amount of mishaps. Now, these things happen once in a while because we’re human, but if someone else is trying to fix a problem and you have a different solution every two minutes, then it’s going to be hard for anyone.

Possible solutions: organize an editing system. Also, try to find a workflow that makes sense for you and your writer(s). Thanks to technology there are many resources that can help you and your employees/writers stay on top of deadlines. Trello, Slack, Asana, and Basecamp are all great ways to communicate and stay organized. And hey, some industries require fast edits, and if yours is one of them and this advice doesn’t apply, we get it!

The writer is disorganized/lazy/etc

Yes, other times you may have done everything right, but you’ve been ghosted. Hey, ghosting is a two-way street after all! At times, you will end up working with people who are disorganized and lazy despite your best efforts. Sadly, this gives us a bad rep, but it happens!


#business#experience#freelance writing#ghosting#SEO

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