Okay, we get it. We need to be doing content marketing in 2018. There’s no doubting all the reasons why. But how do you find high quality writers and content producers to make my dream a reality? Well that’s going to be the entire focus of this article.
So you’ve decided that you’re going to dive deep into your content marketing campaign for 2018. You don’t have the skills or bandwidth in-house capable of producing the quality or quantity of work that you need to be successful. You have also decided that it isn’t within the budget to hire an agency to handle everything with their expertise.
So are you out of luck and ready to give up?
Not so fast.
Hiring Freelancers for Content Development
Okay so we aren’t going to hire somebody in-house or the agency route. What is the best option to move forward? Let’s hire a freelance writer. Freelancers work on mostly a project to project basis, meaning that you only have to pay for their services for that particular project. There are a couple things that we want to focus on before we just go and hire anyone with Freelance Writer in their Twitter Bio.
Let’s start with finding the right talent pool.
Best Places to Find Writers
In my experience, I’ve been a heavy Upwork user in my pursuit of freelance talent. There’s a couple things I really like about their platform. Unlike some competitors like Freelancer.com, there isn’t any automatic bidding when I post a job. This means that a majority of the writers placing a bid aren’t just automating the process to bid on any writing job looking for any work they can find.
A majority of the time you will get people that actually read your Job Post, take the time to learn a few things about the type of work and your company, before coming back with a response.
Some of the best places to find freelance writers are:
- Other job board sites
While these are all great places to find writer, Upwork stands out significantly from the crowd in our eyes. Throughout the years, we have hired a lot of writers, and we have personally seen the downfalls of each platform. While Upwork has its disadvantages too, we definitely feel it has one of the best talent pools, and best user experiences when working with and managing a team.
Tips for Finding Great Freelancer Writing Talent
There are a few tips that you should know before posting your first job on Upwork.
Go in with a clear and detailed job posting
Don’t just write “Need a 1,500 word article written by next Wednesday. What’s your best price?”
I strongly encourage you to not only take price as a prerequisite before making your first freelancer hire. In your job description you want to lay out exactly the scope of work. Let them know what your industry is, what type of background knowledge you’re looking for, and length of the project.
Request sample writings
Ideally you’ll want to ask to see their most recent work and not their best 3 posts they’ve ever written. If they tell you look, i wrote an article on your exact industry 4 years ago then that might be fine, but let’s try to stick to what they have been up to lately.
Pro Tip: Never lie on your job postings. If this is strictly one article that you need written, then fine. But if you are thinking about using freelancers frequently to create your content, throw something like that into the job posting. Say something on the lines of “Looking for the best content writers for this space, if I find the perfect fit then for the person who really does exceptionally well on this project, there will be more paying jobs in the future.”
This accomplishes two things. Freelancers are looking for a solid income. If they know that great work might get them more work down the line, you’re sure to see some of their best stuff. Second, people will put more time into their proposal and possibly even offer a discount on the first article written if they see it as a chance to make more money in the future.
Guru.com is a solid alternative to Upwork. Whereas on Upwork you can find freelancers across multiple disciplines, on Guru you will find a heavy focus on writers. The overall experience is a little worse in my opinion, but there are a higher concentration of solid, talented writers to choose from. It’s their bread and butter.
The other 3 sites that I encourage you to check out are ProBlogger, Contently, and Textbroker.
You can find a freelancer to fit your needs on any of these sites, it just comes down to which one you feel most comfortable on. So make a free account on all of them to see for yourself.
What to Look For in A Freelancer
Let’s just get it over with because it’s one of the most obvious factors. You care about price. The main thing that you should do, is come in with a rough idea of where you want to be at. So what I like to do is have a good idea what I want the final product to look like.
Say for example I’m looking for a freelancer to write a 2,000 word blog post. Well I assign a numerical range to that piece. I know that i’m hoping to pay $125 but if I find the most amazing writer then I can go all the way up to $225. This helps in the process of going through your job proposals because you can eliminate those asking way higher immediately.
Next let’s focus on their reviews. My process when I get say 12 proposals is to first see who doesn’t fit my price range. As soon as that’s done I go quickly through each proposal and look for two things. The first thing is if they’ve never completed a project before and have no ratings I toss it. I don’t care how great the proposal is, there is too many options to focus on the ones without a proven track record.
Narrow Down the Feel
Next I toss the ones that didn’t meet my requirements that I asked for in the Job Post. If I asked for their background knowledge and 4 writing samples and their proposal says “I can write this for $100” and that’s it, tossed. Listen to the instructions in my job post or you won’t be considered. Immediately after that I will be looking for those writers with less than ideal ratings and reviews.
If you’ve done 10 jobs on Upwork in the past, and 3 business owners had negative things to say about your performance, I won’t be taking the time to read your proposal. These are quick ways to get a big list of say 20 proposals down to your best 8-9 candidates in under 5 minutes.
After you have your price range and their reviews down you should be focused mainly on their background experience and examples of writings that they’ve done in the past. Here’s where you’re going to have to actually take a little bit of time to read, but only your best candidates should be remaining so let’s bear through it.
My process is, if you’ve either had a lot of experience in my particular industry, or your writing samples are great, you get shortlisted. You really want to get your shortlist of 3-4 candidates as quickly as possible and spend the majority of your time with them. So try to be harsh still at this point with your criteria. I’m sure everyone is great at what they do but we need to be focused on the best 3-4 potential fits.
Ask Questions Regarding the Job
This is where I suggest you initiate a dialogue. Ask each of your final 4 potential writers a few questions, you’ll learn a lot of key insights. For example poke a little deeper into their knowledge and experience of your industry. If your project is under a strict deadline this is where you need to find out their availability and how quickly they can work with you.
It also shows who will be easy to work with. It is often a bad sign for the future when they take 3-4 days to respond to your questions. You want to be dealing with the type of freelancers that can address all your questions and concerns as soon as possible, so this is an ideal little test.
From there it’s up to you. A particular writing style might stick out to you that you just need as part of your website, or possibly there’s a candidate with far too much past experience in your field to pass up. Either way the final selection process is more personal, but you can use these quick outlines to narrow down your choices faster, and focus your precious time and energy on only the best candidates for your job. Hope this helps and happy writing!
Advantages and Disadvantages of Hiring Freelance Writers for Content Marketing
Hiring freelancers is ultimately a lean process that can save lots of time and money for your business and yield great results. That’s if you do it right. And trust us, there are a thousand ways to do it wrong. Here are some of our unbiased advantages and disadvantages to hiring freelancers for content creation that we have learned throughout the years.
Advantages of Hiring Freelancers for Content
- Fast production time – Freelancer writers are fast at researching and typing, it’s what they do. Chances are they can produce content 2-3 times faster than you could on your own easily.
- Low cost – For the most part, freelancers produces content fairly cheap when comparing to an agency. However, this can come with its own challenges.
- Frees up your time for other tasks – Let’s be real, as a business owner you feel like there should be 48 hours in a day at least. Freelancers help cut down the time you need to spend on content production by quite a factor.
- Build great relationships – Along the way, you will meet a lot of great people, who will likely always be resources as you develop your business and yourself professionally. Freelancers are incredibly loyal and open to new projects. Chances are the right ones will be in contact for life.
Disadvantages of Hiring Freelancers for Content
- Fixing mistakes – When hiring a freelancer to write your content, you better be ready to search it with a fine-tooth comb. Even the best freelancers are human. They make mistakes, and even small mistakes with SEO, grammar, spelling, or subject matter can turn into big problems quickly and discredit your brand or company.
- Lack of understanding – I cannot tell you the amount of times I have plainly laid out EVERY SINGLE TASK in plain English that a 5 year old could understand and yet somehow, some way, it is not completed as expected. As a business owner or manager, you already know how this works with employees. It is no different with freelancers. If anything, it can be worse sometimes because they have no stake in your company outside of the immediate job you are paying them for.
- Can end up costing more time and money – Yup, expect this to happen the first few times you hire a freelancer and continuing onwards on a fairly regular basis. Once you get better at hiring and you also have good relationships developed with writers, this is minimized, but still happens.
- They are not subject matter experts (SMEs) – At the end of the day, unless you have done extensive research on your competitor’s content strategy, your audiences interests, industry trends, common audience questions, gap analysis, keyword analysis, et cetera, and then outlined it for your writers, you cannot expect your lack of content marketing knowledge to be overcome by a freelancer. Furthermore, you cannot expect that just because you are producing content that it will rank or work effectively. Freelancers may be good at writing and researching, but their expertise usually ends there unless you are looking to spend 4-10 times more for an expert to write your content. So unless you make up that difference through editing, researching, or outlining, you will likely not receive expert level content from a freelancer. Even if you do, it will still need some work to be optimized for search engines and your industry.
Should You Work With a Content Marketing Agency?
Look, we aren’t here to tell you what to do. And we aren’t going to be biased for our own sake. At the end of the day, hiring a freelancer for content development has its advantages. They are quick, save you time, and most of the time can be a breeze to work with.
Who Should Hire Freelancers for Content Development?
Overall, freelancers are best for companies who have the following content needs:
- Basic content produced on an irregular basis
- Content that is not super complex, or very specific
- Companies that have a low content marketing budget and want to learn it on their own
- Have a need to get something done quick and for low budget
- Companies that are looking for content that is mostly developed and who can do their own SEO, and content optimization with their own team or other team
- Managers who have time to edit and produce content on a regular basis
Who Should Consider Hiring a Content Marketing Agency?
Overall, working with a content marketing agency is best for companies who have the following content needs:
- Companies who have the budget to work on monthly and yearly content marketing goals
- Companies looking to fully automate their content marketing efforts in order to focus on their strengths
- Companies looking to maximize their content marketing budgets and see results with monthly reporting
- Companies who want expert opinions, ideas, analysis, and content creation on their team
- Companies that understand the value of content marketing and know it is the future of inbound marketing
How to Get Started Building a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Company
If you are looking to find the right content marketing agency to work with for your content marketing strategy, we would love to show you why the Poofnewsales team is the best partner for the job.
Give us a call or contact us for a free content marketing analysis on where you are relative to your competitors, how well you could be doing, areas you can improve on, creative content ideas for your industry, and more!
We also would love to work with you on some free sample pieces to get a feel for your company, audience, and competitive landscape, and also give you an idea of the value we bring to the table.