spot a copywriting charlatan


You’ve heard of cowboy builders that give the rest of the industry a bad name, well all sectors them.

The problem you have, as a consumer, is spotting them before you get burned.

Looking at the world of marketing, and in particular copywriting, how can you be sure the person you’re hiring knows what they’re doing?

I have recently started working with a new client. He gave me a call to chat about what he was looking for and told me about the experience he’d had in his search for a copywriter.

The first was through word of mouth (a safe bet you would have thought), but despite providing an in-depth brief, he simply received a very dull and boring stab that showed no imagination or creativity.

On his second attempt, he looked around a bit more and found someone else who talked a good talk. Again the brief was provided, and this time the content he received was full of marketing psychobabble that was meaningless.

Almost afraid to dip his toes into the water once more, he did some more Google digging. After reading site upon site that said the same thing, he stumbled across mine. The content was, as he put it, ‘like a breath of fresh air.’ The approach I’d taken was what we was after, and so he got in touch.

We’ve not completed the project yet, but so far so good.

So how can you make sure you don’t have the same costly experience?


It’s always comforting to read the words of others when looking for a new service provider because it gives you a sense of what they’re like to work with.

There are a couple of things to look out for though. Make sure the testimonials are attributed to a real person and company. It’s all too easy to make something up.

It pays to be wary and not rely on these entirely. A couple of years ago I found a company that had used my testimonials on its website. The only reason I discovered it was because they’d left my name (and company name) in one of them.


Although this won’t show every piece of work done by the writer, it will give you an idea of the versatility of their writing – and that’s what you’re looking for. A writer with only one style isn’t any good to anyone; they need to be able to adapt their writing to suit each client’s needs.

Word of mouth

On the face of it, this should be a winner. After all, no one is going to recommend someone they haven’t used.

Having said that, you always have to be aware of mates helping each other out – especially if business is slow.

How to find a good’un

The best way to make sure you find the right writer for you is to follow these simple steps:

  • Ask colleagues for recommendations
  • Search Google for copywriters
  • Make a short list of potential candidates
  • Call or meet them to find out a bit more about them and how they come across
  • Ask to see samples of work that show their versatility
  • Don’t make your final decision on price alone

It’s vital you strike a rapport with your copywriter, so after speaking with them, you should be pretty certain whether they’re right for you or not.


A safe bet is to call Sally Ormond of Briar Copywriting. She’s been writing for international clients since 2007.