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Blogging can be a great way to earn passive income. It does require however that you produce regular content that is engaging and which your readers can connect with. When you first started out with your blog, you may have written your own content but over time you realized that writing great posts can be challenging and it can also be time consuming.
Outsourcing your content writing to a freelancer can be a great way of helping you grow your blog and allowing you to concentrate on other aspects such as promoting your site. If you’re thinking of hiring a freelance writer but not sure where to begin, this article should help you with the whole process. In this article, we will cover how you create a job specification, how you go about finding freelancers and questions you need to ask before you decide on whether to hire them or not.
Without further ado, let’s begin.
Why Hire a Freelance Writer?
As a blogger you’re a researcher, a writer, an editor, a publisher, a picture editor, a web marketer and the list goes on. All these tasks can take time and effort, as your blog grows, you may find it a struggle to work on every aspect of your blog.
If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to produce quality content on a regular basis, it might be time to think about outsourcing all or part of it to a freelancer.
Benefits of Using a Freelance Writer
So, what are the benefits of hiring a freelancer to help with your blog’s content creation?
Producing good quality content can be challenging. If your blog posts are littered with grammatical errors and typos, you’re not going to have a very successful blog as your visitors are unlikely to trust your advice or content.
A good freelance writer will be passionate about creating high-quality engaging content that meets your requirements. Once you’ve found suitable writers, you will be able to depend on them to produce consistent great content for your site. You won’t therefore have to worry about running out of ideas for articles or simply burning out.
Can Increase SEO and Profitability
Publishing high-quality content on your site will mean your visitors to your site will grow, which in turn means your site will be more profitable. If your visitors feel that you’re offering valuable and useful content they are also more likely to come back.
If your writer is also an expert on SEO, it will mean that they will be able to improve your SEO for your articles which means they will get to rank better in the search rankings.
Frees Your Time Up
Creating an article is only part of the job, you will also need to think about keyword and competitor research, performing SEO, promoting your posts, link building and much more. If you’re aiming on working on those tasks as well as creating fabulous content, your articles may suffer especially as you won’t have enough time to do everything effectively.
If you get someone else to concentrate on creating content, this frees your time up to do other blog related tasks.
Allows You to Grow Your Site Quickly
Having a number of freelance writers producing regular content can mean that you can grow your blog quickly. For example, if you have 4 freelance writers each one producing around 4 articles per week, within just a couple of months you will have a total of 128 blog posts on your site.
When you first launch a site, it can take time to rank so the more articles you have early on, the more likely it will rank quicker and therefore the sooner you will start earning from it.
That’s one of the main benefits. You can hire as many freelancers as you require, whenever you need them. You also only need to pay them when they generate content for you and if you pay them a fixed price per article you know exactly how much it will cost you.
Negatives of Using a Freelance Writer
We’ve covered what the main advantages of hiring a freelance writer are but what are some of the negatives?
Choosing the Right Freelancer Can Take Time
There are thousands of freelance writers out there. It is therefore essential that you take your time in choosing the right ones. Choosing the wrong freelancer can mean that you may end up receiving poor quality content that you will need to pay for, or they may not keep to their deadlines or communicate effectively with you.
You will therefore need to interview a fair number of people before you come up with a list of suitable candidates so this can take up some of your time.
You Will Need to Train Your Freelancer Initially
When you first employ a freelancer, you will probably want to train them so that they understand what your preferences are in terms of the articles you want written and you will need to provide them with all the required information so that they can begin working on your tasks. Initially this may require some time and effort on your part, a good freelancer however should get up to speed quickly.
Before Hiring a Freelance Writer
Before you even think about coming up with a job description and start contacting freelancers you will first need to consider the following:
Type of Content to be Written
As obvious as it may seem, you first need to consider what type of articles you require. Are you looking for someone to create posts reviewing or comparing products, for example if you have an Amazon affiliate niche site? Or do you require someone to create educational articles which you will include in your info product? Whatever it may be, you need to have a clear idea understanding what you require.
In order to help with this, you will ideally have performed the necessary keyword and competitor research beforehand using a keyword tool such as SEMRush and you will have a spreadsheet with a list of articles that need to be written.
Do You Require a Subject Matter Expert
Do you require a subject matter expert with suitable qualifications to write for you? Or are you willing to work with a good freelance writer who may not be an expert but will research your subject thoroughly and will require very little guidance. If you require a suitably qualified person, it’s probably going to cost you more.
Do You Require Them on an Ongoing Basis
Are you looking for a freelance writer to work on a temporarily or an ongoing basis? If they are aware that they are required on an ongoing basis they are likely to be more motivated and therefore the content that they produce for you will probably be of a higher quality.
Don’t forget finding and on-boarding a freelance writer can take time. If you have to keep recruiting new freelancers you’re going to waste a lot of time, so ideally you should be aiming to work with them on an ongoing basis wherever possible.
How Many Writers Are Required?
Do you require a steady stream of regular content being written or are you happy to publish content irregularly? If you require lots of content being produced weekly, you will need to work with a number of freelancers. Don’t forget that freelancers will get sick and they may also want to take time off so it’s always wise to have a pool of freelancers that you can work with and who you can contact if you require an urgent post being written.
What’s Your Budget
What you’re willing to pay for your content will normally be correlated with the quality of work that you will receive. So you get what you pay for. Don’t forget that a well written article can sometimes earn you thousands for years to come, so you should never aim to pay as little as possible as quality does matter.
If you expect to pay less than $10 for a 1000 word article, you shouldn’t expect it to be the best article you’ve ever read. Naturally what you pay will depend on a range of factors including the type of article you want written, the level of expertise you require etc.
Here’s a few ways you can pay your content writers:
- By the word. For example, you’re paying $0.03 per word. This is ideal if you require one-off articles to be written.
- By the hour. Ensure you know how long the task will approximately take beforehand so you don’t get any nasty surprises. Always agree this with your content writer before they commence work.
- A retainer. For example, you pay your content writer $500 per month to produce 20 articles. This is perfect if you require regular content being produced every month. It can sometimes work out cheaper if you employ them on retainer and it saves you time having to interview freelancers on a regular basis.
How to Come Up With a Job Listing
Now that you’re clear on what you require and have compiled a list of articles that you want being written, it’s time to come up with a suitable job listing.
The secret to a good job listing is to be as specific as possible. Depending on where you’re going to advertise the job listing, you could have hundreds of replies. Interviewing content writers will take time, you therefore need to be sure that they are suitably qualified, you don’t want to be wasting your time interviewing unqualified writers.
So, what should you include in the job listing:
- Include a title that is to the point and not generic. You want to be attracting the right people to your advert. If you require someone with expertise in a particular subject say so in the title. That way potential candidates will know if they are suitable before even clicking on the job description.
- Include a short summary about your company/site. If you’re looking for someone on an ongoing basis, the freelancer will probably want to know a little more about yourself. Also, mention any potential benefits the freelance may receive working for you. It’s always good to keep people motivated especially as they are more likely to stay with you.
- Required skills. Mention the skills your ideal candidate should have i.e. do they need to be native English writers and do they require to have SEO skills?
- What content is required? Naturally you will need to give a brief overview of what articles require being written. Include such things as the expected length of the article, when you expect the article to be completed by, will you will be providing the relevant research or will they have to conduct it themselves?
- Your budget. What’s your budget, will you paying by the word, by the hour or using a retainer?
- Contract length. Also mention whether this is a one-off job or whether you require them on an ongoing basis. If you require them to write regularly for you, mention the expected number of articles you require them to produce per week/month.
- Include a random phrase within the job description. In order to ensure that the potential candidates have read your job description thoroughly include a random phrase which they must quote in their reply. For example, “Please quote “Green Chameleon” in your response to be considered for the role”.
- Include filter questions. An important question to ask is their availability and also ask your applicants to provide samples of previous writing assignments that they have worked on. This way you can weed out anyone who is not suitable early on.
See below, for an example of a job listing for a content writer:
How to Find Freelance Writers
Now that you have come-up with a job listing, it’s time to start finding potential freelance writers. There are a number of ways you can do this including:
While freelance and job sites are a popular way of finding content writers, there are a number of other ways you can find potential content writers online.
Some of these can include:
1. Competitor Sites/Blogs
A good way to find potential writers is by visiting related sites/blogs within your niche. If you’ve liked an article or it’s proved popular with their audience i.e. in terms of social media shares or comments, check who wrote the article.
The author’s bio should normally appear in the article so you can always perform some further research to see if they are a freelance writer which you could later contact.
2. Use Social Trending Tools
Using a social trending tool such as BuzzSumo is an effective way to find good and experienced writers. BuzzSumo allows you to find articles that are related to your niche and that have been highly shared across social media.
For example, let’s say you have a fitness and wellbeing site, you’re looking to find someone to write about “mindfulness meditation”. You would head over to BuzzSumo and type in a keyword related to your sector or niche (you can use a tool such as SEMRush to find related keywords).
The tool will then search for related articles and will list the ones that have been most shared. On some of the articles listed, it will display the author’s name which you can then contact.
3. Social Media
Social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin can also prove good ways to find freelance writers.
Linkedin has its own service to help you connect with professional freelancers, it’s called Linkedin ProFinder.
Simply enter “freelance writer + [subject]” into the searchbox and Linkedin will list professionals related to your niche.
Using Twitter enter “freelance writer #[specific keyword]”, and it should list writers related to the hashtag term that you have used.
Don’t forget to also check Facebook groups for likeminded and knowledgeable people on a particular subject. While they may not be professional writers, their passion may shine through if you manage to convince them to write for you.
Best of all, their rates will be much lower than regular freelance writers. Check out Q&A’s sites such as Reddit and Quora where you can also find extremely knowledgeable people who be suitable writers.
Freelance and Job Sites
There are also a number of freelance and job sites where you can find suitable content writers. These include:
Whether you’re looking for a web developer, a project manager, a graphic designer or content writer you’ll be sure to find one on Upwork. Upwork is one of the biggest freelance sites out there, while it’s not exclusively a site for content writers, there are thousands of freelance writers on it.
In order to find a freelance writer, simply sign-up for an account and post your job description for free. Make sure your job description is clear and specific so that you weed out low-quality writers early on. Freelancers will then respond to your ad with their bid.
Due to the sheer number of freelancers on it, you may get inundated with offers. Make sure you check their relevant profiles and reviews, as well as the work they’ve carried out in the past before deciding to accept any of their proposals.
If you don’t want to be wasting your time having to shift through thousands of proposals, you can always use Upwork Pro (one-time $500 job search fee). On Upwork Pro all freelancers are vetted and are experienced and are highly rated.
You can pay them a flat-rate (fixed-price contract) or pay them hourly depending on your needs. Once the job has been completed, you will be charged a 2.75% transaction fee on each invoice. You can however pay a $25 monthly flat rate fee if your total monthly payment exceeds $910 which is the cheaper option.
For a fixed-price contract, payments are made to an escrow account. Once a project or milestone have been completed and it’s been approved by you, the money will be released to your freelancer. You can dispute money in escrow for project milestones that have not been approved yet. For hourly projects however, you can only dispute the hours the freelancer has claimed to have worked and you can’t dispute the quality of it.
TextBroker operates on a star quality rating system, on a scale of 2 to 5 stars, which determines how much you will have to pay per word.
For a 2 star article (average quality content) the prices start 0.7 cents per word, while for a 4 star article (very good quality content) the price is 1.4 cents. If you require top quality content, you will have to pay 5 cents per word for a 5 star article.
I would definitely either go for a 4 or 5 star article if you looking for a decently generated article.
In order to use TextBroker, you will need to create an account and choose the type of membership. There are two types of membership accounts, a Self-Service and a Managed-Service account.
With a Self-Service account, you’re in charge of quality control as well as communicating with the writer and proofreading the finished article. When you require an article to be written, you will have to specify the level of quality, your budget, and the writer (this can be an individual of your choice, a team of writers or you can submit your project to over 100,000 available writers).
If your time is precious, you could always go with the Managed-Service membership instead. This is where every part of your web content is outsourced. This means you don’t have to worry about finding and managing writers, proof reading and editing their work. For this convenience, you will have to pay $2,500.
Writer Access is another dedicated freelance site with all of it’s over 15,000 writers based in the US.
Just like with TextBroker, you can choose writers based on star ratings (3 to 6 stars). Prices start from 4 cents (3 star) to over 10 cents (6 star) per word.
When you sign-up, there are a number of membership options that you can choose from. The Basic membership plan starts at $39 per month, while for the top-end Managed Service plan, the price is $349 per month.
A useful feature is you can specify how many times a keywords can be mentioned within an article, this is perfect to avoid keyword stuffing.
If you’re looking for high quality content and you’re not worried about paying for it then ProBlogger is the site for you. ProBlogger is an authoritative blog for bloggers and was set-up by Darren Rowse.
In order to post an ad on the job board that will last for 30 days, you will need to pay $70 for a standard listing or $140 for a featured listing. The rates you pay will largely depend on the writer’s experience as well as the niche.
Onlinejobs.ph is a freelance marketplace based in the Philippines. While the Filipino workers that are listed on the site are not native English speakers or writers, therefore they may not be suitable to write long content. They can prove extremely useful if you require help in publishing your posts in WordPress or you can use them to find suitable images for your posts for example.
The freelance site operates on a membership model. There are three pricing structures which you can choose from.
With the free plan, you can place an ad but you won’t be able to contact any potential applicants. You will therefore either need to subscribe to the Pro or Premium monthly subscription. The Pro monthly subscription costs $69 per month and allows you to contact up to 75 workers per month, while the Premium subscription costs $99 per month and you can contact up to 500 workers.
Screening Potential Freelancer Writers
Once you’ve posted your job description on a freelancing site, you should start receiving a steady stream of potential applicants for the task/job. In order to ascertain how competent the freelancers really are and whether they are a good fit for your needs, you will need to screen them.
Here are some typical questions you will need to ask:
1. Can They Provide Sample Work
One of the best ways to determine how competent a freelancer writer really is, is by reviewing past articles which they have written.
Ask them to provide you with a selection of different length articles. Check the websites or magazines that they have written for in the past. If it’s a leading site or magazine with high-authority, this is usually a good sign.
When you’re reviewing their articles, read them carefully and look out for the following:
- How engaging is the content? Have they written about a boring subject but they have still managed to make it sound interesting? This is usually a good sign!
- How is the grammar? Did they make any simple mistakes which means they are maybe not proof-reading their work.
- Has the article been properly formatted? For example, does it have the relevant heading tags, are the sentences not too long and are they using paragraphs correctly?
- Have they used SEO techniques throughout the article? Are they using the relevant keywords and targeting these correctly? Make sure they are not keyword stuffing.
- Does the article title grab your attention and makes you want to read it?
- What type of article have they written about? If it’s a tutorial, can you follow the steps? If it’s a product review, does it make you want to click on the Amazon Buy It Now button as they’ve managed to convince you how wonderful the product really is?
2. How Do They Conduct Research
Unless they are an expert on the subject that they are going to be writing about, your freelancer is likely to have to perform in-depth research before they can start writing an article. The quality of research that they perform will usually determine how well the article is written.
It is important therefore that the potential candidate provides examples of how they have researched articles in the past.
3. Do They Understand SEO
Don’t naturally assume just because the freelancer can write well that they understand SEO.
SEO is extremely important, you want your articles to rank well in the search rankings. If they do not fully understand SEO and if they are not optimizing your articles then it could be a problem.
Ask them what they know about keyword research and how they go about targeting those keywords when they write an article?
4. What Do They Enjoy Writing About
This is a good question to ask to determine whether they enjoy writing on an assortment of subjects or whether they just enjoy writing on a particular subject. A good writer should be able to research any topic and therefore they should be able to write about anything. If you require them to write on a broad range of subjects make sure they are capable and happy about doing this.
5. How Many Articles/Words Can They Write About
You need to determine how many articles/words your writer is capable of writing per day. It’s not always about speed but it’s knowing what your writer can comfortably manage. Naturally you don’t want to overload them with work if they can’t complete it within a specific timeframe.
For example, if one writer can finish a 2000 word article within a day but for another freelancer it may take them 2 days. It doesn’t mean they are a slower or worse writer, it could simply mean they spend more time researching the topic and editing the article and therefore they’re able to produce a better end article.
6. What Quality Control Measures Are in Place
Your freelancer may have written a good content but unless they have proof-read it, you may end having to correct their mistakes yourself. Understand what quality control measures they have in place so that they ensure there are no typos and grammar mistakes in their finished article.
7. What is Their Availability
An important question to ask your freelancers what their availability is. A good freelancer will often be extremely popular and they may be writing for several people/sites. If you require an article to be written urgently, you may not be able to wait for a freelancer to become available so it’s important to understand what their availability and schedule is.
Get Them to Write a Test Article
After interviewing your freelance writers, you will probably have a shortlist of potential freelance writers that you may want to work with. An effective way to determine who you will eventually choose, is by asking them to produce a short sample article for you.
This will allow you to determine how well they actually write on your chosen subject, and you can compare one another, to see who really shines through.
Let them know this will be a test article and if they are successful they’ll be selected to start writing articles for you. If you require them on an ongoing basis, let me them know, especially as they will be more motivated if they know you’re not just looking for a one off article.
Here’s some suggestions when coming up with ideas for test articles:
- Provide them with a particular topic that they need to write on. Choose something which requires some research, this way you can determine how well they can research a particular topic.
- Provide them with relevant keywords to see how they incorporate then within the article.
- Keep the sample article relatively short ideally within the 500 – 1000 word mark.
- Give them a relatively short timeframe to complete it, this way you can determine how efficient they are and whether they can work quickly when required.
- Provide them with a link to a couple of your articles on your site, so that they understand the style that you’re looking for.
Onboarding Your Freelancer Writer
Once you’ve finally selected your freelance writer/s, it’s time to onboard them onto your team.
Take time with this, your freelancer needs to understand what you expect from them and what your main goals are. This will save you lots of time in the long run.
When onboarding your content writer, consider the following:
- Create an editorial guide which you can provide your writer with. This will allow them to adhere to your writing style.
- Include such things as:
- What tool would you like your content to be written in i.e. in Google Docs or Microsoft Word?
- Type of font used, sizing and spacing etc
- Image sizing requirements.
- Type of English being used i.e. do you require them to write in American English or Standard English?
- Include an example of a post laying out the important sections which must always be included in your articles i.e. a call-to-action needs to be included in the beginning of the article etc. This is especially important, if for example, you have an exact format for your comparison/reviews posts that you want them to follow.
- How do you require them to communicate with you i.e. though email, over Skype or using Slack?
- Maybe provide them with an article on how they should perform keyword research.
- Include such things as:
- What’s the average number of articles that are required from them every week or month?
- What should happen if they believe they are going to miss a deadline? Should they inform you immediately?
- How should quality control work? Should your writer proof-read their content before sending you the final copy? Or would you like them to send you a draft so you can review their content and give suggestions if necessary?
- Explain how the payment process will work i.e. will you be paying them at the end of the month or the beginning if you’re using a retainer.
While you may never get to meet your content writer in real life, remember it’s important to keep them motivated. If they are motivated, they are more likely to produce higher quality content and they will stay with you. Make sure they feel part of your team even though they are not physically located in the same place.
If you believe they’ve done a good job, say so, everyone wants to feel valued. Is someone likes their article on social media tell them. If you feel that they are truly indispensable, consider increasing their salary, this way they will be less likely to want to work for others.
Hiring the right content writer shouldn’t be a laborious task, if you identify what you require from your freelance writer from the offset. Screening your potential hirer is crucial and will be greatly helped by following the steps listed in our post.
Once you’ve successfully found a talented content writer, they can be an extremely valuable asset. Not only can they save you lots of time, allowing you to focus on growing your site, but they can also increase your sites traffic by creating engaging content. Good luck with your search!