Want to save time on your Internet business?
This is an outcome that many online entrepreneurs seek.
Having more time means you can focus on increasing income. Plus, you’ll enjoy life more – which is a major reason why we all run an Internet-based business.
One of the biggest “time sucks” online is writing. Yes, it’s important to publish great content. But we all have a limited ability to write on a daily basis.
That’s why you need a strategy for outsourcing content creation. Hiring an freelance writer allows you to focus on the critical aspects of your business – like marketing and networking.
Finding the perfect writer is like looking for a needle in a haystack, which is piled on a bunch of haystacks. Post a job on any freelance website and you’ll get dozens of applicants with various qualifications and price-points. Often it’s impossible to figure out who is the right person for the job.
In this edition of the Authority Internet Business project, I’ll detail my strategy for hiring a freelance writer. This is important because you should have a plan for scaling your business. It’s easy to get bogged down with writing and not make any forward progress. Having an outsourcing strategy will free up your time to focus on the actions that drive your business forward.
There’s a lot that goes into finding the best person for the job. So let’s get to it.
Your first action is to make a rule for what content will be outsourced. As an example, I personally write all of my “Steve Scott” content, but I’ll often hire other people to write articles for niche sites.
Think about the different types of writing you’ll need. You’ll have to create the content which comes from your personal experiences. Otherwise, it’s okay to outsource the general information that can be found from good research.
There’s a lot of writing that goes into an authority website. For instance, you’ll need a process for creating/doing:
- Blog posts
- Information products
- Press releases
- Lead magnets
- Kindle books
- Web 2.0 backlinks
- Copy editing
A common mistake people make is to hire one writer for all of these projects. The better solution is to find a “specialist” for each. Do this correctly and you’ll save a lot of time and money. Let’s talk about how to do this.
Not all writers are created equally.
Some can write compelling blog posts. Others can reliably crank out quality eBooks. Your job is to find a dedicated worker for each type of content.
There are many benefits to hiring multiple specialists for your authority business:
- You will get someone who is familiar with the content platform
- You will find an expert on your niche topic
- You will save money because some projects don’t require a professional level of skill
- You won’t have a SPOF (single point of failure) – In other words your whole business won’t collapse if you lose a writer
You can save a lot of time in your business by adopting a publisher mindset. The bulk of your time should be spent managing other content creators. This is the best way to scale a business and get results!
Let’s talk about a real-world of example of specialization. In the last few months, I’ve outsourced 15+ eBooks and a number of articles for different websites. One of these books is a lead magnet that I’ll offer on my forthcoming habits website.
This particular project went extremely well. Not only did I get an eBook full of quality content, I also found a great personal development writer that I’ll use in the future.
To start, I went to Elance and posted the description that’s listed below.
(I prefer Elance over other websites because it has the largest pool of potential workers. This makes it easier to get a lot of bids on a project and find the best person for the job.)
The way you get a qualified writer is to create a highly-responsive description, which details every aspect of the writing you need. Plus it should “disqualify” certain candidates. I’ve learned (the hard way) that it’s best to be clear about what’s required from the beginning. This lays the groundwork for a great piece of writing.
Here is a project I posted last month:
Do you love talking about personal development? Can you create content in the first person, friendly style that’s popular with bloggers?
If you answered “Yes” to both questions, then I have a project that’s perfect for you.
Here are the details:
I. I need a native English writer who has experience with blogging and/or copywriting.
II. The project is to create a 13,000 word report on developing a specific group of habits. (I’ll explain more when I narrow down the service providers.)
III. The report will be a collection of 50+ habits that people should develop. I need you to do FULL research and create a document that’s helpful to my blog readers.
IV. Obviously, no plagiarism will be tolerated. You can use other websites to get ideas, but the final work will be 100% unique content. I use Copyscape to double check the final work.
When bidding, please provide samples of articles that directly relate to personal development. If I like your bid, I’ll reply back with more details about what’s required. Also, include the words “Yellow Giraffe.” That way I know you’ve read this entire description and understand what I need for this job.
Finally, I’m on the hunt for a long-term working relationship with a potential writer for my blog. So let me know if you’re interested in future work.
Feel free to use the private message board if you have any questions or need further clarification.
There are a number of important elements in this project description. All of these are useful for finding a great writer. The above listing:
1. Asks for someone with experience in personal development
2. Includes an exact word count and an approximate number of habits. This lets the bidder know how much content is required for each section.
3. Requires a native English speaker. Frankly, I prefer people from Canada, the U.K, the U.S., South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. I do this because these writers understand the importance of creating informal, engaging content.
4. Includes the code word “Yellow Giraffe”. Anyone who doesn’t write this phrase is automatically disqualified. This is the best way to eliminate the bidders who aren’t detail-oriented.
5. Promises future work. This statement reduces the price of bids and opens the door for more projects. I want bidders to know, right away, that I’m not a “one-and-done” project manager.
That’s all I include in a project description. I’ll post this for 3 to 7 days and get around 20 to 50 bids. Then I’ll use a simple process to narrow down the candidates.
Let’s talk about how to do this.
The above project received 40 bids – ranging from $350 to $1,150. That means I had to eliminate 39 bids and find someone who offered the right combination of great writing vs. affordability.
Here’s how I did it:
#1 – Use the Hide Feature: Elance is great because it lets you “hide” the bids you don’t like. So you can quickly go down a list and eliminate anyone who isn’t right for a project.
#2 – Hide the Outliers: The first group of people I’ll hide are the outliers. I feel that the extremely high and low bidders simply don’t *get* what’s required for a project.
Generally speaking, low bidders produce crap content and high bidders make it hard to run a cost-effective project.
#3 – Hide the Cut-n-Paste Bidders: Some freelancers submit a bid to every project without reading the finer details. The above project description helps you weed out these kinds of bidders. For instance, I’ll hide anyone who:
- Isn’t a native English speaker
- Doesn’t include the code word
- Didn’t provide a sample of personal development content.
#4 – Hide the Companies: You’ll often get bids from representatives of a company. Instead of writing the content themselves, these people will sub-contract the work to someone else. Avoid this type of arrangement because it costs more and you won’t have direct contact with the writer. Both can become a huge obstacle to running a cost-effective project.
This four-step process might seem cold, but it’s the only way to weed out the people who aren’t right for the job. I’m sure there are exceptions to these rules, but nobody has time to interview 40 bidders on every single project.
Once you’ve completed this four-step sweep, you’ll go through another round of eliminations. This time you’ll examine the content they’ve created for other projects.
Typically I’ll look for four things:
I. Information expertise. Your writer should have experience with the niche market. In this example, I was looking for a personal development writer, so I asked for samples on this topic.
II. Punchy content. Writing Internet content is a distinct skill. You want someone who averages 2 to 4 sentences per paragraph. Plus, they should be comfortable with the first person, conversational style that’s common with blogging. This is the format that resonates with readers.
III.Quality information. Some people have the amazing ability to write thousands of words without saying a damn thing. These writers are easy to find because they will talk in circles without getting to a point. Look at their samples and see how much actual information they provide. Hide the bidders who seem like they’re not comfortable with the subject matter.
IV. Web-Based Content. Look for bidders who have content already published on the Internet. Bonus points if they have an established blog. Both provide a great example of how they write on a day-to-day basis.
If I still have a large pool of candidates, I’ll do a third round of eliminations. Typically I’ll hide anyone who:
- Has under a 4.5 feedback rating
- Doesn’t have a blog on this subject
- Isn’t genuinely interested in this topic
- Offers a long delivery time
After going through three rounds of eliminations you’ll be left with the cream of the crop. All of these writers should do an excellent job with your project. But as Connor MacLeod said in Highlander:
“ There can only be one! (Tweet this)
The next step is to contact each person on your “short-list” of candidates. Provide them with more detail about the project and ask for their input. Be sure to also ask for a confirmation on their bid price and an approximate delivery date. Do all these things and you’ll get a good “feel” for the writer’s commitment to the project.
At some point, you’ll have to pull the trigger and pick a service provider. This is often hard to do when you have a large pool of qualified workers.
My ultimate decision comes down to four factors:
- Experience with the topic
- Expertise with the writing platform
- Bid price
- Time of delivery
I don’t have an order of what’s important. Generally I’ll pick someone who demonstrates a good mix of all these elements.
Once I pick a writer, I’ll start the project and fund it through escrow.
Don’t depend on the writer to figure out what you want. The simpler solution is to correspond with him/her on a regular basis. This is the best way to get back a piece of writing that matches your expectations.
Here’s my 6-step process for working with a writer:
Step #1: Provide an Outline
Start the project by listing the exact parameters for the project. Be sure to include these elements:
- An overview of the problem you’re trying to solve
- A basic description of your ideal customer
- The topics that should be discussed
- What elements should not be discussed
- Specific word counts on each section
Provide as much information as possible. This will help steer your writer towards creating a valuable piece of content.
Step #2: Give Examples
Provide examples of content from other websites and products which relate to the topic. These links will give the writer a template of what you want. You should also include samples of your content, which can help a writer mimic your style.
IMPORTANT: Let the writer know this is an example. Never, EVER rip-off another person’s content. And be sure to emphasis this point to your writer. Plagiarism shouldn’t be tolerated in your business. I recommend you check their work with Copyscape and immediately fire the rule-breakers.
Step #3: Ask for a 10% Milestone
Include a milestone for the first 10% of the content.
For instance, if it’s a 10,000 word report, then ask the writer to send 1,000 words before continuing with the rest of the project.
This example prevents many future headaches and identifies any potential problems. Look over this preview to make sure it:
- Adheres to the writing style you prefer
- Sticks to the main topic and sub-topics
- Provides information that’s helpful to readers
- Avoids fluffy content that doesn’t provide value
- Includes 100% unique content
Go over this sample very carefully. This is the time to work out the kinks. You can prevent a future disagreement with specific feedback about what you do and don’t like.
Step #4: Use Additional Milestones
Set additional milestones if you’re unsure about a particular writer. You can review this content at the 25%, 50%, and 75% milestones. This is another way to make sure both parties are happy with the final outcome.
The amount of “micro-management” is up to you. Personally, I only like to set additional milestones when I’m working with a new writer.
Step #5: Review the Final Project
Do a final review once the project is completed. Use the project specs to make sure the writing matches everything you need. Take time with this step because it’s your last chance to catch any factual/grammar/style mistakes.
Don’t be afraid to ask for revisions!
You’re paying a good amount of money, so there’s nothing wrong with requesting a specific change or edit. You don’t have to be jerk. Just point out examples of what’s not working and request a revision.
Step #6: Complete the Project
When a project is done; it’s done.
Never drag your feet on releasing funds from escrow. This writer worked hard to provide a great piece of content. So it’s only fair to give them an immediate turn-around on their payment.
Also, be sure to leave feedback. Remember this is the writer’s business. So think very carefully if you leave anything less than a 5-star review across the board. In fact, if you didn’t like something about a writer – it’s better to communicate this problem prior to completing the project.
Hiring a freelance writer is a great way to scale your Internet business. We only have a limited time to get things done. Finding a reliable content creator can free up your time to focus on the actions that drive your business forward.
You don’t have to outsource all of your writing. Instead I recommend you start small by finding a writer for a few blog posts. From there, you can reinvest Internet income back into your business and set up a semi-permanent assignment. Keep doing this till you’ve outsourced all the writing that doesn’t require your expertise and knowledge.
At this point, I’m not 100% sure what content will be outsourced. So I’m testing different writers till I find one that works for me.
So what’s next for the Authority Internet Business project?
To be perfectly honest, there are a few things I’d like to complete before revealing my “case study” website. Specifically I’m not wild over the logo and I don’t like the current number of blog posts. So it will be a few weeks till I’m able to show this website.
Once the site is ready, I’ll talk about:
- How to pick the right domain name
- How to start building an email list from day #1
- How to create your first monetary offer
- How to locate profitable, quality affiliate offers
I’ll admit I’ve dragged my feet on this project for the last month. The good news is I now have more time to get the ball rolling.
So stay tuned for more details…To Your "Internet Lifestyle",