If you’ve blogged for any amount of time, you can probably attest to the face that blogging is extremely time-intensive. Depending on your niche, the availability of information and the amount of blog saturation in your particular market, blogging can turn out to be quite the undertaking. There are times when you’ve got more content to deliver and research to conduct than time in which to do it, particularly if you are blogging to supplement your income. When you’ve got more writing to do than time to do it, you may consider hiring a freelance writer to help out.
Being a Suitable Employer
Before we launch into ways to find your shining star, the most important thing to remember when you’re in the market for a freelance writer is that you need to be very clear about what you want the writer to produce. The best way for them to find out what it is that you need is to be able to go to your blog and find a common thread. So often, we write about any and every topic because there are lots of topics to write about and we have an opinion of each one. Well, you can’t really hire someone to have your opinion. Ideally, you should hire someone who understands the kind of content you provide and who will produce similar content. If your blog is pretty cut and dry and everything is pointing in one direction, you should be able to have a good writer look at your content and then produce something along the same lines. The next thing to do is make sure you know what you want. Identify for your freelancer what topic or topics you plan to address, the length and frequency of the posts, how they will be paid (by the hour or by the post) and the method by which you’ll pay them. All of those ducks should be in a row before you advertise for help.
The Candidate Pool
Once you’re ready to add a team member to your entourage, there are actually quite a few places to find good writers and bloggers. Elance.com, oDesk.com and Guru.com are three of the more popular platforms for hiring freelance help in administrative support, writing, web design and business management. Each site has its own culture and standards. While I work on both Elance and oDesk, Elance is a bit more tailored to what I need as both a writer and an employer. I’ve gotten quality jobs from both sites and hired quality help. My personal preference is still Elance.com. You may also consider posting jobs on craigslist in your area if you are looking for a local candidate. As well, the Freelancers Union, National Writers Union, and various local groups (such as the Atlanta Bloggers meet up) can be a great source for recruiting talent as well.
Elance, oDesk and Guru offer the convenience of having access to global writing talent and I will admit that you can get articles written pretty inexpensively using global talent. You may have to proofread and edit the post as many of the global candidates are proficient in standard American English, but not really colloquial English. Either way, at a few bucks per hour, it’s sometimes worth it to make the investment.
Choosing a Candidate
Actors act and writers write. A writer will always have a portfolio – even if it’s full of school essays. Always require writers to show you content they’ve already published or have them send you their writing portfolio. I also employ the tactic of asking an essay question at the bottom of the job description so that I can get a feel for their English writing / grammar proficiency and style. If the essay question is not answered, a red flag goes up. Either the candidate didn’t read the description, which means we may have issues with follow-through; or the candidate chose not to answer the question, which may indicate (s)he is not a strong writer. Use good judgment here.
A Trial Run
One article. That’s it. Make time for a candidate to prove himself once. If things go well, assign three articles with a due date. Then five articles with a due date. No one wants the worst case scenario I recently had with a new blogger. Here’s the scene: you’ve got projects due of your own, you’ve contracted someone to write articles that are also due. The articles are not delivered to you on-time and when you finally do receive them, they all require a re-write and when you should be kicking back watching Bones, you’re up all night re-writing poorly written, un-researched articles.
Been there. Sucked.
So check around. Find yourself a group of quality writers who produce good content and then hang on to them.
Image provided by Theodor38