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:
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.
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.
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.
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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:
- Precise in the offering and give as much details as possible.
- Share your enthusiasm for the project and portray you as a cool person/team.
- Set the bar high in terms of qualifications and specialty.
- Are fun and shareable.
- 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:
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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:
- I ask them to introduce themselves briefly and look for consistency between their email and their Skype claims.
- I explain briefly the scope of the project
- I ask them what kind of content they think would be appreciated by the community for it and ask them specific examples.
- If they did alright so far I keep it going explaining exactly what kind of content I want, if not, I end the interview.
- 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.
- 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 you have any question regarding this process, let me know in the comments.