How To Know When It’s Time to Replace a Content Writer

Vickie Ferguson


May 31, 2017 (Updated: January 23, 2024)

As a client, your interest is in contracting for quality content to promote your marketing strategy based on the criteria you’ve outlined for the project. When the submitted copy isn’t up to par, misses the mark, hasn’t followed the project guidelines, and isn’t publishable as-is, the first person you look to is the writer. Here’s how to know when it’s time to replace a content writer:

Client Basics

Whether you’re a client contracting writers privately or through a website that provides writing services, when making a choice of who will be delivering the content, it’s often haphazard and you won’t know it until you see the written copy. If you’re the person making the contracting decision, you’re limited to what’s available on a writer’s resume or profile. If a third-party content site assigns writers to your project, you’re trusting their ability to make the right choice. While many writers bring published samples, references, and years of experience to the table, like a new car, you don’t know if all the features its offering are services that can benefit you.


Communication is vital in the world of content writing whether it’s through chat, conference call, email, or via the platform. Depending on the platform you’re using, you may be communicating through various options such as the site’s administrators, directly with project managers responsible for their team of writers, or directly with the writer via in-house email accounts.

Whichever option is available, if the writer doesn’t take advantage of asking questions or clarifying instructions before working on your project, it can result in unnecessary hold-ups. While a professional writer may be able to decipher project guidelines and create what they feel is the right plan of action, if they have any doubts about the guidelines, asking before doing is the best route.

If the writer does communicate with you after you’ve clarified any questions and you still receive mediocre or sub-par work, it’s another sign to consider replacing them. But take continued lack of communication or clarification as a red flag that you may need to replace a content writer.

No Experience vs Seasoned Pro

You want the best content at the best price. This is business, but in the world of content writing, the adage, “you get what you pay for” many times holds true. With businesses, whether small entrepreneurship or those with deep pockets, there’s a budget to stick to but this doesn’t mean you want less than stellar work. While it may seem logical to hire a new writer with low rates, this isn’t always to your advantage. Below are several reasons why:

  • New content writers are still learning the ins and outs of what it takes to be a marketable professional freelance writer. This includes honing their time management in terms of research and writing time needed along with understanding freelance verbiage such as SEO, META tags, AP and Chicago Style, keywords/phrases, and CTAs.
  • There’s a learning curve on basic writing techniques that include formatting, the use of headers, when to use bullets instead of numbered lists, what active versus passive voice means, and the difference between writing a personal blog and professional web content.
  • When contracting a new freelance writer, you may spend more time requesting revisions and rewrites to teach the writer what you need, or worse, you may end up rejecting the work.

This isn’t to say there all new writers don’t do excellent work. They can, and do, depending on their background. It is something clients need to consider because a lack of experience may turn a budget-friendly project into a costlier endeavor.

If signs present themselves that the new writer is having difficulty with the project, it may be time to replace them with someone who has more experience and/or background in your specific type of business. With an experienced writer, you may pay more but you won’t be dealing with a writer who is learning the basics. These writers understand what to do and how to do it, know what questions to ask, and can interpret your instructions and create content according to your requirements.

Revisions, Rewrites, and Rejections

The need to send an order back for a revision isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s standard operating procedure. The problem arises when multiple revisions are necessary because the writer just doesn’t “get it.” This can be due to a lack of experience, a writer taking on a project they aren’t qualified for, an “I don’t care, just pay me attitude,” the writer has overbooked their schedule and is rushing to complete the work, content hasn’t been proofed for grammar, punctuation, and spelling, or the project instructions aren’t detailed or clear enough. This is the reason communication is key between a writer and their client.

Rewrites are at a whole other level and if you’re receiving work that is completely opposite from what you’ve clearly outlined in the instructions, or the content has triggered a plagiarism alert, there’s a problem. Rewrites require tossing out the original and starting over again from scratch. This is a waste of time and money for both parties. If you’re receiving content not on target, this can mean the writer just doesn’t have a solid grasp on clearly defined instructions. If it’s plagiarized, this can mean the writer doesn’t understand copyright infringement or they do and are hoping it will slip past the plagiarism software.

Rejecting work after working through revisions and rewrites is never a good sign. Any one of the reasons listed can be at the root of the problem. If you find yourself in the position of replacing a content writer, it doesn’t mean the freelancer isn’t good at their job. Even seasoned professionals can run into problems and come up short of hitting the mark.  When replacement is necessary, it usually just means the writer isn’t a good “fit” for your specific project.

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Vickie Ferguson

CopyPress writer

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