Over the past couple of years I’ve spent well over $5,000 on articles for myself and customers.
Right now, I’ve got a “team” of close to 20 dedicated writers and one manager/copyeditor helping it run smoothly.
I’m telling you this so that you’ll know my “pedigree” when it comes to article outsourcing. In today’s article, I’m sharing the various things I’ve learned about hiring and managing writers.
On Hiring/Using Services
I actually started out using iWriter and iNeedArticles for my own articles. The advantage of using big services like these is that you can get a fast turnaround.
On top of that, iwriter lets you reject an article or ask for a rewrite without paying for anything, which helps keep the quality high.
The downside is that you don’t get to choose your writers (unless you have been around a while and know which ones you like), so it can take a number of tries before you get something good.
Steve Rendell blogged about this here in his comparison of different services.
Ultimately I stopped using iwriter because I was spending a lot of time reading through junk and when you are selling over 100 articles a week, you need higher quality first time.
Plus, you can get better rates on Odesk.
Odesk (now called Upwork).
I don’t really recommend Odesk for beginners because it can be a bit of a learning curve, and there’s less protection from duplicate content. I got burned on a few article batches that were basically copied and pasted from elsewhere.
Iwriter makes this a lot harder to do.
If you do go with Odesk though, I recommend you hire for a few small projects first, and hire a couple of different writers to see which ones you might like to continue with.
You could probably find someone good for $5-10 for 500-1000 articles, though it often involves weeding through dozens of candidates.
Jon Haver’s “hire fast, fire fast” strategy works quite well, but doing this means you may waste some of your article budget. Luckily for me I have a proofreader to tidy up any junk articles and ultimately she makes the decision on which writers we keep and which ones go.
If you have more time, don’t need to hire 5-10 writers at once, and only need to get a few articles done, then be less gung-ho with your hiring.
Here’s a tip for spotting duplicate or spun content that beats copyscape:
A lot of writers know that you will use copyscape to check if their content is unique or not. To beat this, they use something like the “Thesaurus Tool” in Microsoft Word to replace a bunch of words and make a “unique” article. The problem is, this often creates weird text.
I once had somebody submit an article to me about “gushing TV’s”. She’d used a thesaurus tool to replace the word “streaming” and beat copyscape.
Generally, copying and pasting some of their article into Google will show you whether or not it is unique, and also typing the keyword and seeing if there are a lot of similarities with what is already out there.
In many cases, it is just plain obvious when they’ve done this. If they keep using “acquire” instead of “find”, or similar oddities, that’s a massive red flag.
On Giving Instructions
If only we could plug our brains into our writers’ brains, the process of outsourcing would be much smoother. Communication is definitely important, or you’ll end up with some surprises.
You’ll probably get surprises anyway, but with practice, you’ll be able to pre-empt them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told writers not to keyword stuff or bold/underline their keywords. Come on, it’s not 2010 anymore.
A lot of writers have worked with certain types of SEO’s before and assume every client wants the same spammy crap, so it’s not necessarily their fault.
My biggest tip here would be to tell you to be clear in your mind what kind of article you’re expecting. This includes the structure, format, and content itself. The slant a writer takes is important too.
I’ve had writers give a positive review to a scam before, simply because I forgot to tell them I didn’t want a promotional post.
Don’t be too cheap. Yes you can find writers for $3, but their English won’t be up to standards, you’ll have to edit a lot of it, and your site visitors will be bored by the content.
I blogged before about how cheap writers can actually do more harm than good, even if you think you’re getting a great deal.
I’ve paid anywhere from $5 to $100 before and been happy with both sets of results. If you want to find the cheapest, check out these guides by fellow bloggers.
I think the key is to find writers who provide value and interesting content. At the end of the day, you’re outsourcing to save time, but you want quality too.
On Managing Writers
From time to time writers will vanish, suddenly take ages to reply to you, or have a decrease in their quality.
When this happens, you’ve got to inquire why. Sometimes life gets in the way and things happen, but it should be very easy for someone to let you know and keep you updated.
I’ve found that there are simply going to be people who go MIA. It’s as if working online gives them the anonymity to just mess you around.
Cut them loose if they start being too inconsistent in their deadlines or quality. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
When it comes to them asking for a pay rise, you have to decide for yourself. I had someone write one batch of mediocre articles for me, then tell me she was top quality and deserved a pay rise (she asked for double).
I’m not sure why she applied for a job at a certain budget and then demanded that it was doubled after one job, but I never hired her again. Her articles were among the worst.
I’ve had other writers who have asked for a pay rise after doing great work for me week in, week out, and I was more than happy to oblige. It would be worth keeping them around, and they earned it.
At the end of the day though, there are a lot of writers out there and if someone is great but expects a fee you can’t pay for, you might have to just let them go and hire someone else. It really depends on you and your circumstances.
At the end of the day, my advice to anybody would be to jump in with a small budget. You don’t have to break the bank in order to outsource your first article.
It’s going to be a learning curve no matter what you do, so embrace it and get on with it. You’ll find that outsourcing stuff is very addictive.
And of course, if you think this is all a bit too much work, then my team are more than happy to handle your article demands for you.
Let me know your questions, thoughts, and suggestions below.