Finding quality writers for hire can be tough. Trust me, I’ve been on both sides of the equation.
Years ago, I built websites and filled them with blogs that I bought from content mills. Then, I saw two great truths of the internet.
It’s these two things that set me on a path towards becoming a freelance writer for hire.
Eventually I settled into being a blog writer. And niched down further into the sales, marketing and tech space.
Writing has been awesome. I’ve written a well-received book about my journey, been featured on sites like Business2Community and have worked with some amazing companies as a content writer and marketer.
As my content writing business grew — I began to outsource work.
Here’s where the problem came full force.
Finding, training and managing writers is different than just about any other role on the planet. And I’ve been through dozens of platforms both making and spending thousands of dollars.
So, I want to share the actionable insights I’ve garnered from experiences including:
Sound like something you could use? Great.
We’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Let’s get into it.
There are a number of tasks in the overall content marketing spectrum. And “freelance writer” is a vague term until you start to define what exactly you want.
Here are a number of things that have to happen in content marketing:
Keyword Research: Finding the phrases that will bring targeted traffic via search engine rankings.
Social Research: Finding pieces of content that currently perform well and tailoring those ideas to your audience and overall strategy.
Title/Topic Ideas: Coming up with themes and titles is a key part of keeping your strategy together.
Content Strategy: There are a number of strategies to get readers to your content.
Quote/Data/Source Mining: You can’t just write about topics. You need intel, influence and links to add value to the content.
Linking: Not just outgoing, but building a solid web of relevant interlinks to your site should be a regular practice for any blogger for hire.
Social Posts: You should really have 3-6 different social posts for each piece of content you put out.
Images: A feature image and maybe a graphic image to back up the content.
Email Writing: Sending an email out to your list can really drive initial traffic to the post and encourage shares.
Promotion: There are a number of free and paid promotion strategies that can be included in a content marketing strategy.
Well, how much work do you want to do once you hire a freelance writer or blogger?
Figuring out which tasks will be done by a freelancer can help you in the management process and should be decided on before you begin your search for a writer.
Let’s us a venn diagram to help.
One one side you have a content marketer — or someone who handles the pre and post items on our list as well as interlinks to the blog.
On the other, you have someone who is only going to (at minimum) handle the actual writing.
Put those two circles together a little and fill in which tasks you want your hired hands to handle.
Here’s an example image.
The fictitious person I’ve laid out in the above image sounds good, right?
It’s because you likely don’t need “just a writer”. You want someone who can add to the team and take more off of your proverbial plate than they put on.
But most people, even reputable companies, settle for “Just Writing” — leaving the ideal freelancer as a fictional character.
We’ll for that, I’ll need to start a new section.
If you want to find one (or more) writer(s) for hire — there are plenty of places to find them.
Which sounds like good news, until you begin to break them down. This is going to be tough to break it all down, and I’m not going to be comprehensive here.
What we’ll do is take a bit of a higher overview.
First off, if you’re looking for more than “just writing”; you don’t want to use content mills. Most mills are horrible quality words from nearly anonymous writers. Others are high-quality writers that come with a higher price tag.
Yet, all of them require you to come up with everything except the words themselves.
Personal Note: In the early days, I both purchased content from and wrote for content mills. If you want to use one to save money, I suggest iWriter. You can reject articles. Trust me, you’ll likely have to send each one back a couple of times.
(Image: Haven’t used it in a while, but here’s a look at orders from iWriter. Actually found I had a sizeable credit left on there. Not sure what to do with it.)
Some content mills include:
On the higher end:
Biggest Positive: The better quality ones can put out amazing content, but with at least $1 per word price tag.
Biggest Negative: You’re hiring a person to manage — one article at at time.
If you’re here, you’ve likely heard of sites like Upwork.
Personal Note: I have made and/or spent money to hire on EVERY one of these platforms over the years. Nowadays, I use them for quick one-off things like to help with website issues or graphic design help — not for content.
(Image: Here’s what my Fiverr orders look like)
(Image: This is a summary of expenses from one of my Upwork accounts)
Biggest Positive: You can eventually find a person to (after training) handle all of the tasks you’d like.
Full Disclosure: All Pro Content is a blogging/content management service. Obviously, I feel this model has it’s advantages over the others mentioned.
Another company doing this is Verblio (formerly Blogmutt).
Like I said, I’m biased. For this reason, I won’t write too long on this. Blogmutt, in some ways, actually prompted me to start All Pro.
Verblio starts out at about $29 per post. At face value, that doesn’t sound too bad.
But their additional services (the ones in our diagram) are all ala carte.
The $29 posts are only 300 words.
Photos, strategy, suggested blog topics all cost more and range from around $10 per post all the way to nearly $800 for strategy.
So, if you just want content, it can be a value. But if you want the full range of services, it can be difficult to calculate.
When I started All Pro — I wanted to pack as much into a single price as I possibly could.
(Image: A sad screenshot of the one and only post I wrote for Verblio, but it was Blogmutt at the time.)
Once you decide on the platform to use when looking for a writer — you’ll want to jot down how you’ll manage your new blogger.
There are three broad steps to training and managing writers.
(Image: This is a quick gif of the clients I wrote for on Zerys in the early days of my content writing.)
Just because they have a few decent sounding posts — doesn’t mean a writer can consistently and quickly produce.
I used to begin with a test post and some stringent guidelines.
Now, I actually hand out very few notes before the test piece. Allowing the freelancer some freedom on the trial will show me how they actually write — not how they think I want them to write.
If there’s a diamond in there, I’ll shoot a quick video with some notes and send the original back to be edited.
By the time the second iteration comes to my inbox — it’s clear if they’ll make it or not.
Setting expectations is a key part of someone who’s more than “just a writer”. But it’s two-fold with the things you expect and what they can expect.
Freelance writers for hire want to know exactly how to please the client and how much they’ll be compensated.
Of course, for writing only, it would be less. But more tasks should bring a higher rate. Don’t ask for a writer to manage a comprehensive interlinking structure on your blog for .03/word.
They’ll either do a poor job — or they won’t stick around long.
Once a rate is figured up, you’ll want to create a detailed checklist (or checklists) to help your freelance blogger through your expectations.
Note: Depending on their experience (or lack thereof) you may want to write some instructions, shoot small videos or have full-blown standard operating procedures (SOPs).
These checklists should be tangible and available for review.
When you check a blog post and realize that it’s missing some of the expectations, you should be able to see where the breakdown is happening.
You could let the expert marketers and writers at All Pro Content take care of it all.
If you’re interested in a content service that helps with the strategy, fully develops content and even promotes the posts written — schedule a consult today.
Josh Slone is the Founder of All Pro Content. He started out as a freelancer and has since written and marketed for exciting startups and established online brands.