Should You Outsource Content Writing? (and 4 Ways to Find Awesome Writers)

Here’s something you might not know about me yet: I’m cheap. I live on H&M clothing and I don’t buy anything fancy when it isn’t tech. No matter how much cash gets in monthly.

Because of that when I started online marketing, I always wanted to ​do everything myself and spend as little money as possible.

But with time and experience, I’ve begin to realise I’m not always the best person for the job and that my time is valuable.

While I do write every single word posted on this site, this is not the case for most of my authority sites. At least in the long term.​ This post aims at helping you to chose wether you should outsource content production or not and how to do it if you want to.

Your content is your credibility

When you run an authority site, content production should not be taken lightly . If you’ve heard about Sturgeon’s law: 90% of everything is crap. Your goal is to not be in these 90%.

The web respects this principle. As a result, the returns on content are exponentially higher as quality increase as this graph shows:​

content roi

Because returns are directly correlated to content, choosing the right person to do your content for you is critical. There’s a saying that says “You can’t outsource caring.” I partially agree with that.

That’s why you need to have the right person in the right system to have a chance to create exceptional content.

Companies like Moz, Buffer or Unbounce figured it out and the founders are no longer creating all the content for their blogs.​

One thing I’m sure of is they didn’t find their writers on cheap market places like Text broker or iwriter.​

To outsource or not to outcource?​

That is the question. To answer it, you will have to go through a bit of an introspective exercise where you ask yourself the following questions:

  • ​How much value and new ideas can I bring to this niche?
  • If not much yet, can I learn and do I want to?
  • How do I feel about writing every day about this topic?
  • Could I realistically hire someone better than me and make a profit?

Based on your answer to these questions, you’ll have a pretty good feel of wether you should outsource or spend time to create content yourself.

Here are a few situations where I would write the content myself:

  • ​I’ve been interested in the topics for years and know a lot about it
  • I’m very interested in learning about the topic and applying what I learn to my life.
  • I’m broke and/or have lots of time in my hands

Alternatively you can go for some kind of hybrid model where you write the important parts and outsource the rest. It really is a function of the budget you have and the talent you can find.

Pro Tip

If you don’t have the budget to hire a topic expert and are not interested in writing / studying a lot on your niche’s topic, you’re better off picking a niche that suits you more. Even if you could make more money in the boring one.

​Hiring great writers

Here is an outline of the process I go through when I decide to outsource my content production to a third party. It’s important to understand that this process could take a long time. You will potentially go through dozens of candidates to find the right person.

This is a necessary pain to achieve the level of content quality we talked about earlier.​

You Might Also Like: How To Make Money Blogging: What We Can Learn From 23 Successful Bloggers

​Phase 1 – Brainstorming

​Before you get out there, you need to brainstorm what main characteristic the chosen writer should have. This ties back to content planning and your plan for the website.

Here is a quick checklist of things to think about:

  • ​Do I want my content to be more neutral or have a strong personality behind it?
  • What qualifies someone as a topic expert in my niche?
  • How much can I afford to pay for a piece and still make a profit?
  • How in depth do the articles have to be?
  • What kind of publishing/ordering frequency am I looking at?
  • Is this an ongoing job or a one off?
  • How am I going to pay writers? Paypal? Other?
  • Is this ghost writing or am I going to show the name of the writer on my site?

Answering honestly to these questions will make the offering you’re about to make a lot easier to formulate. This will ultimately make your job more attractive to the right candidates.

Phase 2 – Writing the perfect job ad

Now that you know exactly what you’re about to offer, it’s time to put it all together in an attractive manner: your job ad. It’s important to understand that great writers are not desperate for jobs and don’t need your business to pay their bills.

This means that YOU have to convince them, not the other way around. If you decided to base your authority site on content outsourcing, they’re the ones that will make of break your new business.

Switching to this mindset is important as you will understand the need of making your job ad, offering and tasks appealing to great people.​

After hiring hundreds of writers and tested different ad formats, I think what worked best for me are ads that are:

  1. ​Precise in the offering and give as much details as possible.
  2. Share your enthusiasm for the project and portray you as a cool person/team.
  3. Set the bar high in terms of qualifications and specialty.
  4. Are fun and shareable.
  5. Sell the perks of the job.

Here’s one of my recent job ads for Health Ambition hitting most of these points:

Are you a regular health blogger?

Do you know everything about:

– home remedies
– food based supplementation
– living a healthier lifestyle
– things of our daily life that are dangerous for one’s health

Then Health Ambition needs you. Healthambition.com is a popular health blog with over 200,000 monthly readers. We’re a bunch of people who are absolutely fanatic about healthy living and we’d love to welcome you on board!

We are looking for people blogging for us (4-10x/month) about topics we’d give them. You will have to research the topics to write content that provides real value, not a rehash of what you googled on the topic.

We aim for our posts to be readable for anyone and help people achieve a healthier / happier life. They need to be both informative and engaging/fun to read.

Here are some of our best performing articles:

http://www.healthambition.com/many-benefits-of-lemon-water/
http://www.healthambition.com/apple-cider-vinegar-face-wash/
http://www.healthambition.com/juicing-recipes-for-weight-loss/

In your application please include:

– links to health blog posts you’ve already published
– links to your most active social profiles
– any proof of health credentials
– your awesome personality

Our writers are expected to deliver pieces between 1000 and 5000 words and are paid proportionally to the amount of content that’s asked from them. We also expect the writers to promote the articles they’ve written on their social profiles/blogs.

Looking forward to see your proposals

Sincerely,
Gael Breton

PS: native english speakers only

Phase 3 – Promoting your job ad

​This is arguably the easiest and most crucial part of the process. You need to get your job ad out there in a way that gets you enough good candidates but not too many irrelevant ones.

I use the following places to promote my job ads:

Problogger Job Board

Price: $50 for 30 days

Amount of applicants: Lots

Gets tweeted by problogger and link to your site (nofollow)

URL to add a job: here​

Problogger is an awesome blogging tips site that also has a job section. People reading this site care about the right things: quality of their content, engaging their audience, gaining traffic and mindshare. As a result, you get a ton of good applicants from here and it’s well worth the money.

Blogging Pro

Price: Free or $25 for 30 days of featured listing

Amount of applicants: Average

Other You can include a dofollow link to your site

URL to add a job: here

Bloggingpro is another blogging advice website with a market place. They’re nowhere close to Problogger but you can post an ad for free and the featured listing is rather cheap too. Worth a shot, especially considering having as many applicants as possible will be helpful to promote your website.

Upwork

Price: Free then 10% of assignments

Amount of applicants: Average

URL to sign up: here

Upwork is a high quality freelancer marketplace. You can add your job ads and it will be promoted to hundreds of freelancers looking for jobs. There are a lot of qualified individuals along with a lot of crappy freelancers. Make sure you maintain your standards when you advertise there.

Facebook Ads

Price: CPC or CPM

Amount of applicants: Slow but ongoing

URL to sign up: here

This one is pretty unique, as far as I know, I’m the only one using it (at the date at which I write this post). I post the job ad on my site and post a job ad on Facebook to very targeted demographics for them to apply.

Outreach with Buzzstream

Price: Free

Amount of applicants: Few but very qualified

URL to sign up: here

Sometimes the simpler solutions are the most efficient. I simply scour the web for people already blogging about my topic and simply offer to hire them to write content for me. You’d be surprised at how many of them are interested.

Phase 4 – Filtering applications

If you’ve used one or more of the methods above, there’s a high chance your email looks like this at this point:

Case study on hiring writers Google Email

As much as I’d like to get back to everyone, it’s simply not possible at this point. So your job is going to be to filter out the application to only keep a handful.

This task is fairly easy if you’ve done step 1 properly and set your standards. Remember Sturgeon’s law: 90% of everything is crap.

Here’s a few things I tend to focus on when in that phase:

  • ​Good is the enemy of great, don’t settle down for “ok” writers.
  • Use your gut instinct, if you feel someone is not right, they probably are not.
  • At equal qualification keep people who are tech friendly and organised.
  • Focus on reasons not to hire somebody. As soon as one pops up, go to the next application.

Phase 5 – Interviewing

Once you’ve shortlisted your applications, it’s time to have a chat with these people. You should both check their credentials and have a better feel of their personalities. My tool of choice for that purpose is Skype. It’s not the most professional but if like me you’re on your computer all the time, you probably use it for pretty much everything.

I therefore reply back asking them to find and add me on skype (testing their abilities to use simple softwares through that).

I usually follow this interview pattern:

  1. I ask them to introduce themselves briefly and look for consistency between their email and their Skype claims.
  2. I explain briefly the scope of the project
  3. I ask them what kind of content they think would be appreciated by the community for it and ask them specific examples.
  4. If they did alright so far I keep it going explaining exactly what kind of content I want, if not, I end the interview.
  5. I then sell them the position and the perks that come with it, IE getting their name out there, more work coming their way from Higher Click and my other sites etc.
  6. Finally I ask them a paid sample of work to make sure they’re a fit with the voice you want for your blog. Usually 2 articles.

Phase 6 – Hiring

At this point you should have a pretty good idea of how good the writers are. I suggest slowly scaling up the engagement with them and testing their ability to maintain quality over time.

I strongly suggest to adopt the “hire slow, fire fast” policy when it comes to dealing with freelance writers.​

In the next blog posts, I will teach you how to organise your writing team and build a well polished efficient system.

If y​ou have any question regarding this process, let me know in the comments.

Do you want to learn how to build 6 figure authority sites?

Subscribe to join our FREE training and…

  • Learn how to build white hat links to your site without headaches
  • Finally have a proven method to finding profitable niches
  • Get access to our foolproof keyword research methods
  • Learn how to outsource high quality content

33 Comments

  1. I like how you are very strict about filtering out a prospect at the first sign of mediocre – this definitely saves recruitment time and surprise headaches in the future.

    1. Yeah, as Jim Collins would say (good to great) good, is the enemy of great. You settle for average and never progress. This is why you need to be ruthless and make no concession when choosing writers.

  2. Hey Gael,

    I’m giving this a try today, I am also going to post the job on my facebook fan page that has 8k fans…will see what comes of this method!

    Great article, keep up the great work, your blog looks awesome!

    Thanks,
    Lewis

  3. Great insights Gael.

    When it comes to payment, do you always have the same price in mind, or do you do it based on their qualifications? Also what kind of range are we talking? I assume you offer a lot more than somewhere like iWriter, as the quality of article would be higher too.

  4. He Gael,

    First of all, awesome content! Currently I’m researching a niche that has a lot of potentional (in my opinion). I do have some questions though.

    The problem is, I have no experience in the niche whatsoever. This means that I have to outsource all the content. What kind of budget should I reserve for content in a mid-competitive niche?

    And about picking a domain. I don’t have budget to buy a domain that already has authority. Is it still possible to start on a new domain and compete against sites that already have domain authority’s between 30/40?

    Thanks a lot and keep making this creat content :)!

    Jerrel.

    1. Hey Jerrel,

      to be honest, you should have some time and some money to start, I’d budget between $1000 and $2000 to get started with a site for initial content.

      As for domains, it will take time for you to catch up, there’s no magic formula, you’ll probably have to wait 6-9 months to see any organic traffic but after that you can compete if your content is more focused yep.

  5. Hi Gael,

    Love your content. They provide lots of inspiration to me and I learn many thing. Keep up.

    I the mean time I am starting up my new website (an authority site, no more crappy 5 pages site ;) ), but I am facing a problem. I am the topic expert for my niche and I can write up all the content myself. However, the problem is that I am not a native English speaker, I don’t have any standard of a good article. I tried to submit guest blog post to a big authority site and they rejected because poor grammar, but they said it had good content, just poor grammar.

    Do you have any suggestion to tackle this difficulty? I may try to find people to proof-read my articles before anything goes live. However, again, how can I determine is that proof-reader is up to standard or not as I am not that good in English?

    1. Hey Kevin,

      To be honest, perfect english doesn’t matter. Look at Authority Hacker. It does have typos, grammar mistakes etc, yet people seem to read it somehow. Sure I got a few emails pointing it out but if you compare it to the thank you emails its a tiny portion of people. If you content is good, people will forgive you your english.

      2nd, just hire someone to help you hire a proof reader. Find an expensive contractor on odesk and get him to review cheaper contractors for you then just pay for proof reading :). That’s what I’d do ;).

      Gael

  6. Awesome Gaélico, I love your content, thanks!
    Hace you thought about another system todo maintain a blog? For example giving the authors 70% of whst their content generate? That way you could have lots of authors and content, the difficulty comes when you need to measure the revenue.

  7. Hi Gael!

    I’m still creating my own content on my blog but I do have an editor now. Im looking forward to being able to outsource content creation at the latter part of the year so I do hope to be able to apply your tips.

    Just want to say that I like your newsletter. It keeps me updated with your work here. Keep up the great work.
    I do hope to see you on my blog someday. :)

  8. In the face of limited resources, can one start off at a level that might be considered mediocre; just to build readership base and later raise the standard of the site?

    To be clear, such a “minimalistic” approach is intended to reduce cost on hiring very good writers. Will it pay off?

  9. Great post, Gael. I really suck at hiring writers and outsourcing content production. Your article has certainly gave me an insight on how to do it right. Anyway, how much do you usually pay for a 1000 words article? And how do you keep your writers motivated to keep writing for your site?

    Cheers,
    Aakash

  10. Hey Gael, I see you have a list for places to find writers, but do you have something for video tutorials? Companies who have freelancers who do video tutorials or just videos. I asked because running a site takes a lot of effort and i’d like to outsource some of my weak points. I thought of this question while reading another one of your posts, so if this answer is in this post forgive me, because I read it a few days ago.

    Thanks in advance

  11. Hey gael,
    i’m going to start off my site with 2 Epic long linkable assets that contains 5000 words both, and i’m ready to pay 500$ for piece! where do you suggest me to outsource these? i really want the highest quality possible writer and i don’t want to go through the process of finding the writer as you outlined above, is there any place i can go to where i just give the briefs and the 500$ and get the content ? i’ve heard about longerdays.com from jon dykstra do you recommend it for these pieces ? i hope you answer me !

  12. Hi Gael,

    I second James Jean-Pierre’s question above: do you have recommendation to find good and reasonably priced outsourcing partners for videos and video tutorials? Not the classic video filmed in a studio or specific location with actors and so on, but the more and more common internet format with just a graphic animation and a voice over.

    Thanks a lot

  13. If my memory serves me well, Tim Ferriss recommended in his book ways to outsource virtual assistants from oversea via sites like Freelancer or oDesk, put down a bunch of criteria, and potential hire them as longer-term employees if the performance is top notch. It seems to me that this model of hiring can be applied to freelance writers as well. Anyway just a thought.

  14. We are consuming about 100 articles a day from different levels of writers (for SEO, guest posting, putting on our own blogs and highly researched product review articles).

    Few insights as a client –

    1. When we pay per word, there is certain lack of accountability in the content and more often would seem like the words were put together just for the sake of meeting the content word count.

    2. When we pay per article, we sometimes feel like the content could have been explained a bit better but since it was per article project it was cut short. .

    After dealing with the confusion for few months here is what we came up with –

    Pay per article, where the price depends on the range of words.

    Lets say from 750-1000 words $XX , from 1000-1500 words XX and so on.

    This way, the writer doesn’t stuff words and have room for putting only the words needed while still getting fairly paid for the effort and the quality is maintained for the sake of long term relationships and bulk work.

    1. Good way of making it work. We do something slightly different. We pay per word but have a tight revision process so if the writer fluffs we cut those words out and they’re not paid, trust me, from round 2 they are a lot more concise.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *