Controversial Content

How Do You Deal with Writing Controversial Content for Clients?

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

What happens when a client requests controversial content? That is completely up to the writer. Over the years, I’ve had a menagerie of requests for writing content that were either contrary to my beliefs or outright negative to some degree. While some may be apt to write the piece and get paid, others like myself try to stand for what they believe in. What can you do when clients ask for something you’re not comfortable with?

Each Writer is an Individual

Freelance WritingEveryone has different aspects of what a thorny subject entails. For example, some writers are more comfortable about creating religious pieces while others feel more comfortable writing about sexual matters.

Your actions will be dependent on your own comfort levels and objectives.
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What is controversial content?

Controversial content is really anything that you feel opposite about when compared to other people. Religion, politics, child raising, sexual orientation even choosing what is “the best” cereal for breakfast can all have a modicum of controversy.

One of the most obvious answers to this is content like politics. How a person votes is often viewed as controversial content, especially in today’s world. However, this isn’t the only example of controversy. In fact, you probably face internal conflicts all the time.

As a ghostwriter, it’s easy to come across some prickly forms of content that you don’t feel overly confident writing. At that point, you need to decide whether the pay is worth the effort.

Is money more important than being true to yourself?

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As a ghostwriter, especially if you use a system like Textbroker, you will come across clients who want articles that are opposite of your true identity. Sometimes you’ll need to weigh whether getting paid is more important than how you feel.

For instance, I am extremely anti-Apple products. I don’t like the company nor its practices and have never purchased anything with the apple logo on it. However, a lot of clients come to me for product descriptions and positive blog posts regarding new iPhones or iPads.

Needless to say, I turn down these orders. To me, it’s more important to be true to myself than what the client was willing to pay. This doesn’t mean I am a better person than other writers. It simply means my priorities are different.

Can you write controversial content well?

Some believe that if you don’t have faith in the topic, you’re not going to write content regarding it very well. To some degree, this may be true. How you view a topic is definitely going to influence how you create it.

Topics you feel are awkward will often affect your productivity. You may write slower simply because you don’t know the topic all that well. This doesn’t mean that the piece is going to be a failure. It just means you need to put in that much more effort to make it look nice for the client.

I can honestly say that I have created some junk articles in the past. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While I thought the pieces were terrible, the client absolutely loved them. My view was skewed because of my opinion of the topic.

How can you make a controversial topic more interesting for yourself?

Freelance WritingWhen I come across something I really don’t want to write, I view it as a learning experience. It gives me an opportunity to research a topic and find answers regarding why I didn’t like the topic to begin with. In a way, it’s helped me appreciate the viewpoints of others a bit more.

If you really hate a specific topic, there is almost nothing you can do that will change your mind about it. This is human nature. It’s part of why people are so apt to label something as “controversial” in today’s world. Many are too consumed by belief that even absolute evidence to the contrary is easily dismissed.

If the subject matter has some science behind it, you might be able to dig into why a certain topic is viewed in a specific way. However, you’ll need to be careful when creating the piece. Clients want content written a specific way, and creating something contrary to what they want is bad.

Does it hurt your reputation if you turn down work?

It depends on how much you don’t turn down. For instance, I have a reputation on Textbroker for certain kinds of material. The editors know they can come to me when it comes to technology, business and Internet needs. I’ve turned down a few jobs in the past, but the ones I accept are far greater in number.

As a new ghostwriter, you don’t want to turn down too much work. If the majority of clients are turned away, word-of-mouth will begin to hurt your reputation. Instead of being viewed as a quality writer, they begin to see you as one who is too fickle to work.

It’s best if you lay your cards on the table and detail what you specialize in. While it may limit the number of clients who send you requests, it increases the likelihood of getting a quality client who needs exactly what you provide.

Remember, your name is not used in most cases

Making Money OnlineAs a freelance ghostwriter, my name is never attached to the pieces I create. It’s all published under the client’s identity. So if I create controversial content, it all falls back on the client. As long as I give the client what he or she needed, that’s all that really matters.

You, as a person, experience no real repercussions from a controversial piece a client uses on his or her website. Keeping this in mind will greatly help you determine if you want to work with the individual or not.

It’s All a Matter of How You Feel

There’s nothing wrong with steering clear of clients who want what you view as controversial content. In fact, you’ll often be better at your job if you stick to materials you know or have an interest in. Never be afraid to turn down work. Sometimes $0.04 per word just isn’t enough to go against what you believe in.

Michael Brockbank
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