Finding the right blogger to create content for your website can be difficult, but it’s a necessary step that you will need to take if you want to increase traffic to your site and keep it up to date.
When you’re evaluating a new writer, you often only have the sample pieces in their portfolio to give you a general idea of their writing style. This says nothing about other important factors you should consider such as their ability to meet deadlines and follow instructions, or their ability to use common sense to troubleshoot any challenges that may arise.
You want all of the above criteria met, but it’s important to consider what the blogger is expecting to get out of the deal as well. Like with any business, not getting paid is a real risk, and writers deal with their fair share of customers who end up not paying for the work they provide. Dealing with new clients is just as nerve-wracking of an experience for them as it is for you.
Finding the Right Blogger: Start Small
Any good business relationship begins with trust. That’s why it’s a very good idea to start your prospective blogger off with a small introductory task to get a better idea of how they would integrate with your business.
A trial 500-word blog post will give you plenty of insight into how the new writer can provide niche-specific content for your site, which might be a concern if their provided samples don’t relate well to your business. You might offer them an introductory rate to evaluate their work, but writers should be paid whether you decide to continue to work with them or not.
As your relationship and trust levels with a particular blogger starts to grow, you can begin to assign them more and more tasks in advance and feel confident that the work will be completed on time.
What About Free Samples?
It’s unfortunate that in many creative industries such as writing and graphic design, a minority of freelancers are so desperate for work that they are even willing to work for free. This can come under the guise of many different names: guest posts, portfolio pieces, exposure, and others. While each of these has their place in a writer’s repertoire, it isn’t something they should be expected to do at the beginning of every new assignment.
Evaluate a new blogger the same way you would any other business service. Assign them a small task and see if they meet your expectations. A writer’s time is valuable, and they shouldn’t be expected to work for free. You wouldn’t expect a window washer to come to your business and provide a free cleaning to evaluate their work.
The best professional writers are very busy and try to maximise their results like any other business. This includes cutting out activities that don’t provide a benefit, such as writing free samples for prospective clients. By requiring free samples to begin work with a new blogger, you are often weeding out some of the best content creators that you could work with.
You Get What You Pay For
Content mills and websites like Upwork offer writing for as low as $0.01 per word, but you will often end up paying more to have the work edited afterwards.
There are other non-financial factors, like your time, to consider as well. These works are often:
- Riddled with spelling and grammatical errors
- Presenting facts that are simply incorrect, or poorly interpreted
- Filled with plagiarism. Some writers will unashamedly copy and paste entire paragraphs from other sources.
- Requiring multiple revisions when work doesn’t meet your criteria
- Padded with filler words and repetitive language to inflate the word count
- Not submitted on time to meet your deadline
Many writers that are found on such sites are from countries in Asia like Thailand, India, and the Philippines. That’s not necessarily a judgement against them, but as a whole, these writers do not speak English as their native language, and it absolutely shows in the quality of their work.
Find Your Rate “Sweet Spot”
With a rate of $0.03 per word or lower, you are going to be getting cheap content but it won’t be very readable. Each work will often require significant editing before it’s ready to publish.
If you are on a budget, you might be able to get away with hiring a blogger for as low as $0.05 per word. These writers are often new to freelancing or maybe still enrolled in university, but can help you produce great content with a bit of guidance. You can get a great entry-level 500-word blog post for $25 that will only require a bit of revision and editing before it’s ready to be published.
Once you get above a rate of $0.10 per word, you will find that writers truly start to shine. If you are paying $50 for a 500-word blog post, you should expect to receive polished work that’s always submitted on time and ready to publish as-is.
Although your blog posts will cost a bit more, you will be working with a professional and the process will be virtually automated. These writers will often go above-and-beyond, including providing images and graphics for their posts, as well as formatting and setting the blogs to be published directly in your WordPress back-end for you.
The value of content doesn’t increase alongside the price forever. Above rates of $0.30 per word, you will likely find no noticeable difference in the quality of work you receive. Unless the writing you need is especially technical or difficult to research, this is a good upper-bound to set on what you’re willing to pay. Although some writers demand $1 per word or more for work published in major magazines or for Fortune-500 companies, this is likely outside of the scope of what you require.
Whopayswriters.com is a great reference website where bloggers and other writers self-report how much they were paid by specific companies. Taking a few minutes to browse the reports here can give you a feel for what your industry standard is when it comes to paying writers.
Spend the Time to Find the Right Blogger
Once you find the perfect writer for your needs, things will go smoothly and you can often have a business relationship that lasts for years.
Finding the right blogger can be a stressful and tedious process. If you’re posting on job boards like Problogger.com, you can anticipate hundreds of responses. Invest the time up front to really take a look at prospective freelancers and get to know their work.
If you are only looking to take on one blogger on an ongoing basis, it’s still advisable to offer a paid trial article to at least three to five of your top applicants and then narrow down your pick based on those results. This test can quickly reveal freelancers who have trouble understanding an assigned task or getting it submitted on time.
Make an Agreement
Having details of the business arrangement confirmed in writing can provide assurance to both yourself and your blogger. You can avoid any potential misunderstandings or disputes in the future if you anticipate them in advance and have agreements already in place.
Some things to consider include:
- How much will your writer be paid per post?
- Will they be paid per word, or a flat rate per 500-word or 1000-word article?
- What payment method will you use?
- How soon after work is completed will you issue the payment?
- Will your writer receive any pay increases or bonuses over time?
Scope of the work
- How many words will each post be?
- How many posts do you expect will be needed per week or month?
- How many free revisions do you expect the blogger to provide if needed?
- Will you provide blog topics including the title and outline, or is the writer expected to generate this?
- What about formatting, images, SEO optimisation and other extras?
- How much notice will the blogger receive of deadlines? Will you offer an additional “rush fee” for work that needs to be completed in a short timeframe such a 24 to 48 hours?
In most online writing, it’s usually understood that the client will own all rights to written work, but it doesn’t hurt to include this in your agreement. Many bloggers will want to use work as examples in their portfolio to show future clients, so you should decide in advance if you’re okay with that or not, especially for ghostwritten works where their name doesn’t appear.
The wording of your agreement can be as formal or informal as you’d like, ranging from just an email of expectations to a signed contract. The word “contract” can often scare off some writers, but is perfectly acceptable if that gives you additional peace of mind.
Consider Working With a Content Agency
If you’re in charge of multiple websites or need more than just a few blog posts per month, you might want to consider working with a content agency. These companies have a team of writers who are tried and tested, and often come with years of blog-writing experience. They can produce quality articles for both B2B and B2C audiences.
If you are working with several part-time bloggers who can only handle a few posts per month, keeping track of who does what can become a job unto itself. Content agencies manage the assigning and scheduling of work with writers, giving you a more hands-off approach, and ensuring that finding the right blogger is much more straightforward.