Unless you’ll be the only person writing posts for your blog, you’ll need a handful of good freelance writers.
I recommend outsourcing writing to multiple freelancers as opposed to hiring one in-house writer because:
- You’ll get more high-quality content faster.
- You’ll never be without content, in case a writer gets sick or misses a deadline.
- The variety is good for the blog, especially if these writers have followings.
Finding good, affordable freelance writers isn’t a walk in the park though. You can’t just post a gig on Upwork, and expect to find legit writers that way. It just won’t work.
Here’s how you actually find good writers.
Where do I find good freelance content writers?
Look for writers on popular blogs.
The absolute best way to find good writers is to discover them through posts they’ve written. Once I find them, I send them an email or LinkedIn or Twitter message.
Here are two blogs I’ve poached from in the past.
The Muse is a very popular career advice blog for young people, which means it isn’t easy to get published there.
Because it isn’t easy to get published there, I know these writers will be better than the overwhelming majority.
They’ve basically already been screened for me. I like that. I also like recruiting from The Muse because the majority of the writers are students or fresh grads, which means affordable rates.
They’re also more receptive to feedback and are a pleasure to work with usually.
Last but not least, Muse writers usually have followings, which is nice, because then, they’ll likely promote their posts that you publish. #winning
Because there’s such a large group of writers for The Muse, I filter who I reach out to with the following criteria:
- They should be a recent grad or current student. Not a career coach.
- They should have written more than one post. You can see how many posts they’ve written by clicking on the author name.
- I have to obviously like the post. You MUST read the entire post to get an idea of what you’ll be getting.
- I Google their name to see what kind-of online presence they have and also to find their contact info.
I’ve also successfully poached good writers from Sumo.
This is another popular blog that gets a lot of hits and has high content standards, so again, the writers are basically pre-screened for me.
Noah Kagan is also pretty cheap, so I know these writers will be affordable.
Look for blogs that feature good content that is similar to the content you’re trying to create, and poach their authors.
Look for popular Quora writers.
Go to Quora, and search for a broad topic, like Excel. As you can see in the screenshot below, there’s a tab to the far right, labeled “Most Viewed Writers.”
Click that, and voila, the top experts appear.
If you scroll down, there’s also an “Up and Coming” tab. Review this too.
Next, simply read some of their answers to see how good they are.
I like this approach because syndicating posts on Quora is an awesome distribution tactic, and top writers will easily get their answers pushed to the top.
If the person seems like an older subject-matter expert, or a popular influencer, I don’t contact them because they won’t be affordable and/or don’t blog as a job.
Where do I find bad freelance content writers?
The worst writers I’ve ever worked with have come from job boards, especially Problogger.
I had to sift through SO many applications, only to end up with complete crap.
Job boards and freelance marketplaces just aren’t the place to find good writers. I promise you.
How does the hiring process work for freelance content writers?
You can usually find writers’ email addresses or LinkedIn profiles by simply googling their name, if they don’t have a link to their personal website in their bio.
If they do have a link to their personal website in their bio, then you can use an extension, like Email Hunter, to find their personal email. If you find their LinkedIn account and would prefer to email them still, then use Contact Out to find it.
Once you have their email, it’s time to reach out.
I would write something along the lines of this:
Hi, [Insert first name]!
LOVED your post on [Insert publication name]!
I really loved how you [insert what you loved about the post].
I’m the [insert job title] for [insert company/blog], and I’m hiring freelance writers. Are you available to take on more work?
If so, what is your standard rate for a [X-word] post?
I’d love to tell you more, if you’re interested. Either way, good or bad, please let me know!
Once they say yes, send them a link to your style guidelines, and explain exactly the type of writing you’re looking for, with specific examples.
Ask them how often they can write for you — usually it won’t be more than one post per week — depending on depth of the post.
Good writers will be impressed that you have a style guide and workflow process. They like the structure and knowing what’s expected of them.
Once you get a good feeling about them, and agree to a post rate, give them a few pitches to choose from, and ask them when they can have this back to you by.
This is basically a paid test. If they do well, then try to negotiate a bulk-price retainer.
For example, if they charge $250 / post, and they can write four posts per month, then ask for a five to 10 percent discount if you sign a monthly retainer.
What are typical freelance content writers’ rates?
They vary from writer to writer and based on how much experience the writer has — and obviously how good they are at what they do.
Rates are usually per post, but I have worked with clients that pay by the hour for research-heavy content.
You usually pay after the post is complete, but don’t make writers wait until it’s published. That’s not fair to them.
For writers you find on The Muse, you can expect to pay between $250-$300 per post.
For writers you find on Sumo, you can expect to pay between $400-$500 per post.
More established writers, like myself, charge a lot more than that.
For instance, one of my more prominent clients pays me around $1,000 per post, and my two other writing clients pay me $4,000 per month for three in-depth posts per month.
What can I expect freelance content writers to do for these rates?
The only thing I’d expect writers to do for the above rates is research and write and occasionally pitch their own ideas.
You’ll need to handle promotion, distribution and uploading/formatting/publishing in WordPress.
How do I manage freelance content writers, and stay organized?
Trello is super simple to understand, but here’s a guide, if you hit a roadblock.
You can invite writers to use your Trello board, and update you throughout the process there, or you can communicate via email.
Usually, there’s some mix of the two.