How To Hire Quality Content Writers On The Cheap

How To Hire Quality Content Writers On The Cheap

In this new era of Internet marketing, content has once again become king. With Google cracking down on Internet marketers that have been abusing low-quality link building techniques, more and more people are jumping on the content marketing bandwagon.

I personally think this is an awesome trend and I’ve been seeing some really great content coming out all over the Internet. However, it can be difficult to really scale up this type of operation while still being able to make some money. Quality writers are not cheap, and it can be even harder to keep good writers around for an extended period of time.

But, there is a little trick I found to get cheap writers that are very talented. Plus, they are guaranteed to stick around for a while.

Before I get into the details, I want to share a little story.

How It All Began

I was twenty-two and working on my undergraduate degree. I was in a very rigorous year of my degree that required around 60-70 hours of my time a week.

I’d already lost a girlfriend due to my schedule, hadn’t seen my family much, and was exhausted between school and my part-time job.

One day, while taking a short study break, I noticed that one of my friends was lamenting the fact that being an English major didn’t present the same kind of job opportunities that a tech degree like mine offered. He just wanted to write for people on his own schedule while working from home.

I thought about this for a second, and then thought back to a few of the Internet marketing forums that I frequented and how people were always looking for quality content at an affordable price. It seemed that there were either magazine-quality writers that wanted a ton of money, or non-native english speakers that just didn’t have the needed quality.

I quickly sent him an email asking him if he’d be interested in doing some writing for me. He agreed, we worked out the pricing and I sent him a few article topics. What he sent back was very well written. I had to make a few tweaks and it was ready to go.

I wrote up some documentation for him with tips about writing for the web as well as some external links for him to read and had him do a few more articles. This time, what I got back was even better and ready for posting without any edits.

I then started selling his writing as a service on some of the forums I was a member of. Word quickly got around that this content was top-notch, and at the price point we were hitting, it was more than worth buying. He got booked up extremely fast and we had to start turning away customers.

As any good marketer would, I then started going about scaling this enterprise. The content writing service ended up doing $x,xxx a month in revenue throughout the rest of my college career, including through my master’s degree. I was able to pay for school as well as save some money.

The big lesson I learned was in scaling this process and finding the right kind of people to hire.

The Nuts and Bolts

Now, let’s talk about how I was able to find the writers, and how I managed them.

Finding the Right People

As Anand mentioned in his post, you can make more money faster if you’re willing to hire appropriately. Instead of running to oDesk and hiring many of the willing job-seekers from India and the Philippines, I instead ran to the nearest universities.

Typically, I would go to the university website and find upper-level English, creative writing, and public relations professors. I’d then email them a pitch that looked something like the following:

Hi Professor [insert name],

My name is Mitchell Wright and I am looking to hire some of your students as writers.

[Insert something about my business, how they will write on a variety of topics, flexible schedule and better than average pay for on-campus jobs]

I’d like to come in and maybe take 2-3 minutes to pitch the idea to some of your students in your upper level writing classes. If that is ok with you, please let me know when I can come in and do this.

Thanks,

Mitchell

I typically had a pretty solid response rate, and even if I didn’t get to come in and pitch the students, a lot of times the professor would offer instead to send an email out to all the students in the appropriate classes.

Once I received emails from students, I would have them send me a couple sample articles about topics I gave them and would hire the ones that showed promise.

As I scaled up, I actually promoted my first friend to an editor position and had all of the new hires send articles to him directly for revision before I sent them on to the client. This freed up a lot of my time and allowed me to simply be more of an agent. I just had to find clients and send the information on to my editor, who would divvy the assignments out to the writers.

The Why and How

I know that this whole process seems pretty simple and obvious, but I think a lot of people don’t realize the power of it.

First, the reason you can get these people for lower than normal wages is because of the writer’s stage of life. Right now, he/she doesn’t realize the kind of money that can be made simply doing content writing. The typical university student has no idea how to even find these types of writing jobs.

You are offering generally higher wages than what would be made at an on-campus job, and it is relevant to the field of the student. This job is the type of thing that would be great to put on a resume.

Second, the student is not likely to up and leave because he/she still has to finish school. As long as you, the employer, continue to offer a good wage, there is no reason for the writer to stop writing for you. I have even had some writers stay on board after graduating as a way to supplement their full-time job.

I even started looking into offering positions for internship credit. This allowed the students to receive course credit for their work, and for me to get free writers in exchange for training them and providing work experience. This is an even leaner way to get high quality writers!

Go Forth and Be Lean

I want to make it very clear that I do not condone taking advantage of these students. They should still be compensated properly. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, I would find out what theses students can make at a normal on-campus job and make sure that the rates would be higher than this. The higher wage resulted in higher-quality writers that would stick around for longer.

Now, go ahead and build out your team of content writers!

About Mitchell Wright

Mitchell does Internet marketing and entrepreneurship, mainly working in the lead generation space. You can read more about him at his blog and follow him on twitter at @mitchellbwright.

  • http://www.thinkconceive.com Justin Garza

    Nice Mitchell,
    Best way to find someone is online but someone in college, or working a part time job looking for additional income. Interesting enough I have a site ranking in a similar niche and was getting leads for writers looking to earn money. Tried a few out and found some quality.

    My advice? Try linkedIN groups. Ton of “Self published” authors looking for additional income to fund there passion of writing books. Also, check out cragslist, offer inter position like mitchell suggested. That one tends to work locally.

    • Mitchell Wright

      Nice Justin. I never tried Craigslist because I was wary of the quality of writers and didn’t feel like wading through a bunch of garbage to find a few good ones.

      The other nice thing about going to a university is that if I need people on a niche topic, like the month we did a $7k order for health-related content, I went and temporarily hired some pre-med students to do the content because they had a little more expertise in the area.

      Thanks for reading!

  • http://nickleroy.com Nick LeRoy

    If you prefer to use services from odesk.com I highly suggest avoiding the “SEO Writers”. Find someone that has a passion for your niche and teach them how to write. The mechanics of writing SEO friendly content can easily be teached but the “energy” or “passion” behind the words cannot be taught. Just my two cents. These writers typically are cheaper too because their not “writers” by day.

    • Mitchell Wright

      Exactly! That’s essentially what I did with the university students. Just took good writers and taught them how to write with the web in mind. Perhaps oDesk could be a decent place to find some writers.

      Thanks for the idea Nick!

  • http://serpiq.com Kevin

    Love this Mitch…knew you did content, but I didn’t know the nuts and bolts of the operation. I’m actually looking to offer content to my clients and in the past would just write it myself…but that’s neither lean time-wise nor scalable, so I’m going to be using this to put a micro content divisio into my micro-agency. Thanks for sharing :)

    • Mitchell Wright

      Glad I could be of assistance Kevin. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about the process. I’d be happy to help you out.

  • Alex

    Great article! How do you pay these guys? Per hour or per article? What are the general rates you pay (if you don’t mind sharing)? Thanks!

    • http://www.twitter.com/thattallguy Jess

      Yes. This.

    • Mitchell Wright

      I generally paid on a per word basis. It depend on the writer, but rates were around $0.018 per word. The thing here to be careful about is people inflating word count needlessly.

      I know some people that have done the hourly rate and assume that people can do research and write quality at around 500 words/hr up to 1000 words/hr. This means they are making between $9/hr to $18/hr if you pay per word. You could base an hourly rate on that.

      You could also pay per article and just assume it will be around xxx number of words.

  • http://www.alexfusman.com/ Alex

    Great stuff here. I’ve used a similar approach… need legal content? Get in touch with the career center / job board at a few local law schools. School ain’t cheap and the students need extra cash. Plus, if they’re in law school they”re likely decent writers and this gives them a chance to apply some of their knowledge. Same for health content and med school, etc. I’ve found that graduate students are eager and hard working, which may not always be true with undergraduates.

    That said, I have an Indian writer and a Filipino writer who both write better quality, better researched content than most American writers I’ve seen. The Indian one I think I found on oDesk. They’re out there, you just have to be willing to sort through the coal to find the gems.

    • Mitchell Wright

      Nice. Too bad our little almost partnership never worked out.

      I’ve done the same thing regarding specialty pieces. You can have your pick of whatever department of the university fits your needs and find students interested in writing about it.

      I haven’t taken the time to personally dig out the gems of writers that can be found in the developing world, but I have no doubt they are there. I’m just all about the low hanging fruit.

  • http://www.treadmillreviewguru.com Treadmill Review Guru

    Great advice Mitchell, I was wondering how you did it ;)

    I’ve been looking for a writer to help me with some of my blogs and hadn’t even thought about going to my local university. I’ll definitely be contacting the English department now to see what I can find. Thanks for the info!

    • Mitchell Wright

      Nice of you to pop in Dan! I’ve seen some of your writers’ stuff and it’s not bad. Glad my suggestion could be of use to you.

  • http://michaael.com Michael Ten

    Nice post. I’ve found that if I buy single articles off of Fiverr, they can be really high quality. What you post about here is a great option, too! (:

    • Mitchell Wright

      Nice. I haven’t tried fiverr. I’ll have to look into it.

  • http://www.sustainablechristian.com Rick

    This is awesome, awesome stuff. Thanks so much.

    My fiance and I are really looking for some business ideas we can supplement our income with an, hopefully, turn into a full-time at-home business. We’re both have writing backgrounds, so I’m really interested in the first step of your process…can you say a little more about how and where you sold this service to people when your friend didn’t yet have a reputation writing content?

    Thanks again!

    • Mitchell Wright

      Glad to hear this has sparked some ideas for you.

      There are a few places you can go to get started. I used Internet marketing forums, and you can try out some of the ones like Warrior Forum and Traffic Planet. You usually need to build up some kind of a reputation to get the orders rolling in, so post around some, get to know some people, and I would usually offer some free content to a few of the more well-known members of the forum as a way of proving myself and my writers, that we could deliver on time and with quality.

      You can also try sites like oDesk and eLance. There are usually an abundance of job listings for writers over there.

  • http://seogoodguys.com.sg Marcus Wong

    For oDesk, there really are an abundance of writers, but it can be hard to discern their level of professionalism. I would definitely choose those which have included their past work to at least tell their quality. Jerry West once endorsed getarticlesdone.com though I haven’t tried them yet myself. Well, if HE is the one recommending, maybe it is worth a look?

    • Mitchell Wright

      Nice. I’ll have to check this out. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • http://megaquicksale.co.uk Marc

    hi there,

    I went through a few copywriters on Odesk.

    It is really difficult to sip through the quantity of SEO writers many not really good at all over commit over promise or down right don’t know how to write English or don’t write English like English do (not I am French).

    I eventually settled on a lady from India who writes pretty well but this is not a guarantee that the article will be a success. I do the research for her and pay a fix price per hour. She can usually write 200-250 words article in 30 – 60 depending on how complex the topic is.

    I tend to edit a little the final article as some of the text is not always perfect or does not add value and I like to put my touch on it too.

    I am still for hunt for someone who sounds really English and has a powerful and inspiring voice.

    Maybe that is asking too much of Odesk.

    Cheers
    Marc

    PS: Check out the blog on our site. Let me know if it sounds ok (I am French).

    • Mitchell Wright

      I haven’t tried oDesk so I can’t really give any thoughts on this. Just keep looking around and I’m sure you’ll find someone that works for you!

      • http://seogoodguys.com.sg Marcus Wong

        Yeah absolutely you have to put final touches on the articles yourself. I am a firm believer that the article should match the style of the website (informal, formal), and your personality should be evident in the writing too.

        If you find a good writer, you have to pay well so they are motivated to do good work. Too many great writers get underpaid and they can easily change contractors.

        • http://www.megaquicksale.co.uk Marc

          I think despite my French sounding English I think I have a pretty good voice but writing is a real job and I take too long and I have other activities to work on so I can’t do it myself for now but I wish I could as I would maintain a consistent voice across all contents and consistent focus.

          Anyway can’t be doing everything. Maybe I will start hunting of students that should like a good idea.

          • http://twitter.com/mitchellbwright Mitchell

            Yes, I like to also sometimes hire a writer to be responsible for just one blog. They write all the content and it keeps the voice consistent across all the posts. Something you might think about if you need the content for your own properties.

  • http://www.smallbusinessonlinecoach.com Matthew Hunt @ Small Business Online Coach

    Mitchell, great article!

    Some of best workers are students. We do a lot of content writing for folks. We use thecontentauthority.com which is a great place to order content. We have our students order then tweak it after. We find it the best way to scale huge volumes.

    Getting good content is all about how you order it. Garbage in, then garbage out.

    Once content comes back, we have students tweak it and edit them and spruce them up for the web so they have added bonus value and are epic or entertaining.

    We train them on how to create viral, epic or entertain posts. Most of them “get it” very quickly b/c they are tuned into things like buzzfeed.com We sometimes tell them to source places like that for content ideas on the niches we want them to write it on.

    After reading this, I’m inspired to get me some more students. They rock! And like you said, just pay them more than some student jobs and you can score some great talent!

    • Mitchell Wright

      That’s an interesting idea I hadn’t though of, regarding having the students edit content ordered from a marketplace. I think that could work really well for doing things a little differently than how I was doing.

      Thanks for the tip. I like it.

  • http://www.seo.com/blog Paige C. Willey

    This is great. As an English major, many of my friends said just the same thing as yours–they wanted to write from home. When I got into the industry, I was very pleased to see freelance opportunities I could send their way. I love the idea of reaching out to professors and asking them to recommend students.

    • http://twitter.com/mitchellbwright Mitchell

      The part I liked best about it was that I could help friends out. Even some of my friends that were stay at home moms were able to make some extra cash in order to help with bills, or just have some spending money for themselves.

      Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.fortune.co.in/company_culture.asp fortunecoin

    Hi there I am wondering if I may use this article in one of my blogs if I link back to you? Thanks

    • http://twitter.com/mitchellbwright Mitchell

      Sure thing. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • http://www.highonseo.com Matt A.

    My favorite “hire on the cheap” are bloggers. Find an amateur, but amazing blogger, and hire them to write on your topic. Bloggers love to type, they understand WordPress, and they can be taught most of the editing/linking & SEO stuff. Most have also learned a bit about headlines, they read Copyblogger/Problogger and they are dedicated to content. Many don’t really know what to charge so you can get fair deals.

    • http://twitter.com/mitchellbwright Mitchell

      I have a friend that has hired from the problogger job board and had great success. I think that will be my next experiment. Perhaps a topic for a future post!

  • http://www.keywordsmedia.net Lew Newmark

    Working from home is becoming more and more about lifestyle choices as much as career goals. At 55 and living with a vascular condition that’s affecting my hips now, working a regular full time “job” is out of the question.
    I enjoy writing though I’m not a learned scholar nor do I have a degree in journalism, but certainly the drive is there to succeed. I’ve been doing this on and off for almost a year and a half. I’ve been a blogger for many years though before I started writing articles for other people so I did a a bit of knowledge coming into this. I even started my own business in March of 2011 and still trying to build that business..

    LinkedIn is a great place to find quality writers that can get it done for you at a fair rate, I’m sure that you can find many writers to work with.

    • http://www.megaquicksale.co.uk Marc

      Hi Lew,

      I am always interesting to find new copywriters.

      Can you drop me email at partners @ mega quick sale dot co uk please (remove space)?

      I am looking for someone affordable (website is not making money) but one never know.

      I am in the property industry so anyone that got good understanding of this industry would be more suited.

      Cheers
      Marc.

      • http://www.keywordsmedia.net Lew Newmark

        Hi Mark.

        Thanks for the opportunity.

        I’ll message you with my information in a little while.

        Can you provide me with the link to your site?

        Thanks

        Lew

        • http://www.keywordsmedia.net Lew Newmark

          Marc I actually had to send you my info to the contact@ Mega Quick Sales website. In the subject line I wrote atten”Marc” Lew Newmark information.

          I attached my resume as well as a few links to work that I’ve already written.

          Lew

    • http://twitter.com/mitchellbwright Mitchell

      Exactly. Some of my friends that are stay at home moms do this while their kids are taking naps. It’s a way for them to work from home and earn a little extra cash. It’s great that we can do stuff like this these days.

  • Spook SEO

    Hi Mitchell,

    I just want to congratulate you for being able to pay for your school as well as save some money. If you want to look for”good” writers, better try Odesk. Some good workers can be found there.

  • writer-from-the-philippines

    I don’t know if I will be happy with the title and content of your article Mitchell.

    The freelance websites mostly destroy the marketability of well-deserved, high quality writers from the Philippines. I am just one of those who do not dwell in those freelancing sites and compete with such ridiculous rates of $1 to $10 (max) per 500-1000-word article. This is an insult to us who have been writing for years and have created a good portfolio as a result.

    Most of us struggle because of those who wanted to get hold of cheapos who are not ready to pay the right price. It’s disheartening, really. Even the title of this article is disheartening.

LEARN LOCAL SEO
A bad ass guide, that takes you through the most CRITICAL tips & tricks.

andrew

Andrew Shotland - localseoguide.com

  

“Adam is a font of local SEO knowledge.  He’s the SEO the other SEOs turn to when they don’t know what to do”

darren_12

Darren Shaw - whitespark.ca

  

“Adam Steele is one of the sharpest and hardest working local SEOs I know. He’s a creative problem solver that knows how to get businesses ranked. I have personally learned a ton from him.”