page title icon Hiring Writers for Niche Content Websites: Agency vs Direct Hires

Finding and hiring writers for your websites is critical. There are two ways to go about this: Agencies and/or Direct Hires. When I acquire a website, I immediately hire at least one dedicated writer for the site. This allows me to keep my costs down, control the content quality, and build a long-lasting relationship who essentially becomes the “voice” of the site. On the other hand, if I need a ton of content fast, I do go the agency route.

However, each method of agencies and direct hires have their pros and cons. In this writeup, here is what will be covered:

  • Agencies vs Direct Hires
  • My Upwork hiring template for generic and expert writers
  • Free Writer’s Guide

Let’s get into it!

Agencies vs Direct Hires

Here is a comparison of high-level features of agencies vs direct hires:

AgenciesDirect Hires
ScalabilityAgencies have teams of writers. Extremely scalable.Scalability is tied to how much content an individual can produce
QualityTop-notch agencies produce quality contentDepends on the individual writer
Niche ExpertsUsually generic writersCan “cherry-pick” and find niche experts
FormattingUsually not providedCan train the writer to format posts in WordPress
PricingRangers from 2-4 cents on mediocre quality, to 6-10 cents on high-qualityExtremely variable pricing. Room for negotiations.

Agencies can output a TON of content in a short amount of time but can be expensive (relatively) and usually writers do not have any specific expertise in topics (unless you get lucky).

Direct hires are usually cheaper (relatively), may have the expertise in the niche if you hire right, and can be a long-term asset to your business.

I use a combination of both on all of my sites. I use Agencies to get a TON of content on my sites quickly and to write articles that my expert writers are not interested in doing.

I hire expert writers to be the face of my authority sites. They are given a list of articles that I need to be written and they choose the ones they are comfortable doing, and the rest goes to my chosen agency in bulk.

This strategy works to build highly scalable authority sites quickly. The experts will provide true expertise to your site, and the agency will provide the bulk of the content.


🔥 My Recommend Agency is Open for Work

I’ve mentioned a new agency that I have been using. I use them on all of my sites including my WP, Outdoor, and Dating site that I do case studies on (see case studies).

The agency currently has an opening exclusively for my newsletter and I have secured a rate per word that is EXTREMELY competitive.

Here are the terms:

  • Price: 2 cents/word ($20/1000 words)
  • Minimum order size: 10,000 words (can be split among many articles)
  • Turnaround time: 10-15 days
  • Content outline, the keyword(s), and word count required for each article
  • Note: they do not offer a free trial at this time.

Check out samples here.

If you are interested in using the Agency, please fill out the very brief Google Form below and I will connect you with the Agency owner to get started.

Now, let’s go over my hiring template for hiring writers directly from Upwork.


✍️ Hiring Template for Generic Writers

I’ve had success hiring many writers on Upwork.com using the below templates. Make sure to put your own twist on it. The key items here are:

  • Clearly spelling out you want English as a first language writers
  • Clearly spelling out to add a keyword to their proposal. This weeds out anyone that did not read your requirements.
  • Be clear on the word count and any formatting requirements

Here is my template:

Title: Writer Needed for 10 Articles

I am looking for a content writer that has good written English. Topics will mostly be related to consumer products that you can buy on Amazon, and other such sites. No technical knowledge is required, but if you have specific expertise, make sure to highlight those in the cover letter. Topics will be based on items you may use on a daily basis so it will be easy to write articles for. You will need strong research skills for this job!

I need a native English speaker (i.e., English as a first language, not 2nd).

Requirements
* Word count needs to be 2,000 or more words per article on average. These are thorough articles discussing several products and how to choose the best product
* Research needs to be done for each article (i.e., you will need to find the best products that people can buy and also do the in-depth research for the article)
* English must be a first language for the writer
* Personal experiences and writing in the first person are encouraged

Payment
* The payment per article will be fixed at $XX OR BETTER OFFER

I will send samples to those who apply and meet the criteria.

Add the word ARTICLE to your proposal so that I know you read the description to its entirety. Otherwise, your proposal will be automatically rejected.

A major benefit of wording it like this is that you show the writer that this is a long-term job but starting it will be 10 articles. The writer will do their best to impress you.

Fire Writers That Don’t Listen…

Once you start getting proposals in, it’s time to weed out the people who did not put the keyword (i.e., ARTICLE) in the cover letter. Then, when you find the good ones, send them a message to see if they respond quickly.

If people do not respond within 12 hours, I reject them as well. If someone won’t respond in the proposal phase, they won’t do your job properly.

Here is the message I send to them:

Thanks for applying. Just to clarify, you quoted $XX for a 2,000 word article. Is this correct? If so, are you interested in starting with a paid trial article to begin. Then if it works out, we can continue.

I pay people to do paid trials. The trial should be a real article that you have outlined. This allows you to understand how well they write, but also if they follow directions.

Paid Trial Article

If they accept the paid trial, here is the message I send to them:

Trial article details:

Title: [PUT TITLE HERE]

Please submit in Microsoft Word or Google Doc. If the article has the words ‘Best…’, or ‘Top…’, then make sure to review 5-7 Amazon-related products, if relevant. Have a good intro, and then supporting text to help the reader understand what the topic is about. Follow the provided example article. Other categories of articles include informational, which require just research (i.e., no products). This trial will show me not only how good you write, but also if you can quickly pick up the writing and formatting style of websites.

No set deadline. I would like it ASAP though if possible.

Let me know if you agree and I will start the contract.

With the trial, I also send them a PDF of an example article that was well written with the correct structure. Take some time to put one of these together. It will include how you like the article written (e.g., Headings, pros/cons, features, etc).

Another option (if you feel comfortable) is to send them to an example article on the website they will write for.

👎 If They Fail…

Most writers will write bad articles. Get rid of them quickly. No emotions. Make sure to pay them for the trial article and move on.

👍 If They Pass…

Awesome! You got a good writer.

Bad news: from my experience, after the first 10 or so articles, the writers figure out whether this is worth their time. The good ones will ask for a raise and then you can think whether it’s worth it. Some of them will just quit since they probably realize writing isn’t for them. Of 10 writers I find via Upwork that pass my tests, on average one really sticks around long-term. It’s tough!

The writer is then given my guide to writing articles. You can download it below from Dropbox:

Note that some writers will prefer to write in Google Doc or Microsoft Word, and not in WordPress. You will have to accommodate those writers if they are good. You can hire a VA to do Microsoft Word to WordPress post formatting.

That’s all there is to it.

To wrap up, a few more comments:

  • After a few articles, if I like them, I like to push them to use Trello.com and do the payment privately via Paypal.
  • I provide writers with detailed content briefs so they can focus on the writing only

💡 Hiring Template for Expert Writers

The above templates need to be tweaked slightly when you want to hire a true expert for your authority site. Here it is:

I am looking for a content writer that has good written English and can write in the [NICHE TYPE] niche, e.g., [GIVE SOME EXAMPLES]. You will need strong research skills for this job! Articles will range from information content to product reviews. You will be provided with the exact outline for each article.

I need a native English speaker (i.e. English as a first language, not 2nd).

Requirements
* Word count needs to be 2,000 or more words per article on average. These are thorough articles discussing several products and how to choose the best product
* Research needs to be done for each article (i.e., you will need to find the best products that people can buy and also do the in-depth research for the article)
* English must be a first language for the writer
* Personal experiences and writing in the first person are encouraged
* If you do not have a [NICHE] background expertise (i.e., hobbyist, etc), then please do not apply.

Payment
* The payment per article will be fixed at $XX OR BETTER OFFER

I will send samples to those who apply and meet the criteria.

Add the word [NICHE] to your proposal so that I know you read the description in its entirety. Otherwise, your proposal will be automatically rejected.

The rest of the process is the same as above. The above template is exactly what I used to hire an expert for my Outdoor Authority site. It works!


Wrap Up

Putting together a team of writers is crucial!

For beginners, I recommend using agencies. It allows you to get started quickly and learn the niche. Once you know what you are doing and your site is earning revenue, you can afford to hire expert writers.

For experts, I recommend using a combination of agencies and direct expert writers. That combination works best to scale quickly but also have quality content on your site.

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Analyzed by Mushfiq S

Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 175 website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. Learn more about Mushfiq.


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