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:
|Scalability||Agencies have teams of writers. Extremely scalable.||Scalability is tied to how much content an individual can produce|
|Quality||Top-notch agencies produce quality content||Depends on the individual writer|
|Niche Experts||Usually generic writers||Can “cherry-pick” and find niche experts|
|Formatting||Usually not provided||Can train the writer to format posts in WordPress|
|Pricing||Rangers from 2-4 cents on mediocre quality, to 6-10 cents on high-quality||Extremely 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.
Now, let’s go over my hiring template for hiring writers directly from Upwork.
Real-World Writer Pricing Suggestions
Everyone wants to know how much to pay writers. As with most things, it depends. Depends on what, you ask? For me, it’s level of expertise and niche.
Because let’s face it, some niches are just more technical than others.
Here’s some real-world writer pricing data, based on my experience:
- Registered Dietary Nutritionist: 15 cents/word
- Writers for The Website Flip: 8-10 cents/word
- Dating site writers: 5 cents/word
- Outdoor site writers: 4 cents/word
Here’s the rule of thumb I currently live by when hiring writers for niche sites: Pay less than 5 cents for non-experts and 5-15 cents for experts.
✍️ 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:
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:
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:
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:
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!
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.