7 Tell-tale Signs of a Bad Copywriter

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By Boris Dzhingarov

Hiring the right copywriter is essential if you want your business to project the right image, make an impact, and increase conversion. Hiring a bad copywriter could be disastrous for your sales, and constantly revising your copy with different copywriters can get expensive very fast. The thing is that many people can’t really tell the difference between good and bad copy and end up trusting copywriters at face value. But there are many clear signs that you can look for that will show that you’re dealing with an amateur. Here are a few of them.

They’re Jacks of All Trades

If the copywriter you’re dealing with claims to be OK with any project and that they can write copy on any subject, as long as you can pay for it, of course, you should look elsewhere. Good copywriters will usually have set niches they work with, whether it’s e-commerce, publicity, or corporate writing. So, make sure that you are aware of their area of expertise. And don’t only take their word for it either, try to quiz them to find out how much expertise they have in a particular subject and what kind of formation they have.

Prices are Uncharacteristically Low

Everyone likes a good bargain, but copywriting isn’t somewhere where you can afford to cut corners. While there are some fantastic writers out there that charge less than others, for the most part, you’ll get exactly what you paid for with copywriting. Most of the time, copywriters who are extremely cheap are so because they know that they wouldn’t be able to justify charging anything more for their work. Cheap copy will get cheap results, and even if it might seem like a bargain at first glance, chances are you’ll have to revise the copy later after hiring a more aptly priced copywriter.

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They Don’t Ask about End-Use

This is another very important thing you should be looking for when working with a copywriter. If they don’t ask or aren’t aware of the copy’s end use and get to work anyway, this is a major red flag. They should ask as many questions as possible, so they can use the proper style and tone for the article. The structure, tone, style and even the voice will be completely different whether it’s for a blog, a newsletter, a web page or a leaflet. And if they have no idea where the copy will be published and who it’s targeted towards, they might end up writing copy that is completely irrelevant to your audience or what you were trying to do.

They Can’t Show Examples of Past Work

This is one of the most telling signs that you shouldn’t work with a copywriter. If a copywriter can’t show examples of their past work and don’t have an extensive portfolio, it could either mean two things: either they don’t have any, or their content is so bad they can’t show it for you. Ideally, your copywriter should be able to show not only examples of their work, but in the niche that you’re targeting as well.

Ask if they have a blog. A blog can be a great way to get more insight on their writing style and what you can expect. While many writers might be skilled, they won’t always be able to give you the style and tone you need for your particular project, so it’s always good if you can see first-hand what their strengths and weaknesses are.

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Another thing you should be asking for is references. Established copywriters will usually have old and current clients that will be more than happy to recommend them. If they can’t give you references, then it might mean that they’re either inexperienced or that they don’t have many satisfied customers they can refer you to. And don’t rely on testimonials either since they can easily be forged.

They Know How to Write Emotive Copy

If you’re looking for sales copy, then you have to work with a writer who knows how to connect with the audience on an emotional level. Sales copy deals mainly with emotion and knowing how to connect emotively will often get you much more results than someone who can write fancy copy that looks good but doesn’t convert. A good sales copy will usually focus on a product’s benefits over the features, for instance. That’s why you should only work with an experienced sales copywriter and not a generalist when looking for sales copy.

They Don’t Ask Questions about Your Old Copy

Knowing exactly why you want to revise your current copy is a very important piece of information that every serious copywriter will ask for. They will want to know exactly what was wrong with your previous copywriter, so they’ll be able to correct mistakes. They’ll also be able to get a better sense of what style you’re looking for, so they can come up with copy that will actually suit your tastes. In general, if your copywriter doesn’t ask enough questions, it often means that the whole process will be rushed and that you might not get the results desired.

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Their Web Copy is Poor

This is another clear sign that the copywriter in question is either an imposter or simply a bad copywriter. Look at their own website and see if you can see errors, overworked phrases, and grammar mistakes. Also, take a look at the general appearance of the site. This will also give you a general idea of what kind of copywriting you can expect. If the website looks professional, is free of errors, and the copy is convincing, then it’s usually a sign that your copy will be high-quality as well.


Hiring the right copywriter is essential if you want to project the proper brand image and not constantly have to tweak your material. Make sure that you stay on the lookout for these red flags, so you can get it right the first time and boost your conversions.