You’ve finally decided to hop onto the content marketing bandwagon and will spend some money to shore up the copy on your website and for writing social media content.

After all, you’re not a writer, nor do you have a writer on staff. So, you decide to outsource your content. Pretty soon, you’re in the midst of interviewing content firms, and, one month and dozens of interviews later, you decide to hire someone.

But within weeks, you soon find out that you picked the wrong company. Deadlines come and go without any content. The content itself isn’t very good, with punctuation and grammar errors, bad topics and the tone/style is all wrong. And keywords? If they’re using any, they’re certainly not leading to an uptick in traffic.

When it comes to looking for article writing services, picking the right company is easier said than done. On the one hand, you could simply hire a single freelancer (or dozens). But writers can be an aloof bunch, more like herding cats, and you don’t have time for that. That’s why you went with a writing service to begin with.

You just picked the wrong firm to work with. Before you make the aforementioned mistakes, consider these common mistakes when looking for article writing services:

1)      They’re cheap: Remember the adage, “You get what you pay for?” Well, that applies here, too. Even the word “cheap” comes with convicting language. Instead, you need to pick a company that’s the best mix of experience, results and price, as Bryan Lovgren of the Pintetop Group says.

2)      They miss deadlines: Don’t just ask them if they meet all deadlines (they’ll tell you “yes”). Instead, if you found them on a job platform like Elance, carefully read through all reviews. If they have customer testimonials on their site that includes the names of their satisfied clients, talk to those clients (you might consider letting your potential writing firm know you’re going to do that first).

3)      There’s no method to the madness: Ask about their process. How do they onboard new clients? What’s the process from client to writing firm to writer, then back to the client? If they don’t have a clear answer for you, then that likely means they’re winging it every time they pick up a new client.

4)      The writing is bad: Don’t just ask for some random samples. Instead, ask if the potential writing firm is comfortable showing off some random stories, even something that hasn’t been edited. Remember, when someone shows you a clip, he or she is showing you their best work, not necessarily something that’s typical day-to-day.

5)      They don’t have the resources or expertise to handle your brand: If you’re an IT company, for example, ask if they have anyone with experience writing about the industry, then ask for some recent samples (see above point). It doesn’t matter if the company has five writers or 500; if the writing doesn’t fit your brand or doesn’t read like it was written by an “expert,” then that writing firm isn’t a good fit for you.

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