How To Find and Hire Writers For Your Blog (The Complete Guide)

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One of the big bottlenecks for blogging is, ironically, the actual blogging.

It can be pretty time intensive creating all your own content. So, depending on your business model and your intentions, there are times when hiring other writers is the best way to go. It is what I do over on PCMech and, were it not for them, PCMech wouldn’t exist. I simply don’t have time to keep up with that site and this one all by myself.

As part of a long-term marketing effort I’m working on for PCMech, I recently took to finding some new writers. We’re still in the very early stages of getting them going, but I thought I would spell out the process.

When To Find Other Writers (And When Not To)

There are two things you have to take into consideration here:

  1. Your niche.
  2. Your business model.

Some niches don’t require as much content flow as others so it might be just fine to write it all yourself (especially if you enjoy it). In my case, PCMech is in the technology niche and that niche usually sees a LOT of content flow. If PCMech was updated only as often as this blog, it would die off. So, since a higher volume is needed, I need more fingers on the keyboards.

Secondly, writers cost money so your business model needs to be considered. Will you be making enough money to pay them? Can you set things up so that the ROI of each writer makes them profitable for you?

If you’re in a high-volume niche, you might need to consider hiring other writers.

One case where you cannot really make the switch is when your blog is closely tied to yourself. If your blog is part of your personal brand, then the only person really suitable to post there is YOU. In that case, you really shouldn’t hire writers. There are exceptions (like guest posts), but there is a line there that can be tougher to cross.

How To Find Them

There are many places you can go to find potential new writers:

  • Your own blog and mailing list. If you have an established audience, you can turn to your own crowd for writers. After all, they’re familiar with your niche (in theory). You do need to pay attention to their writing skills, however. A good blog reader doesn’t make a good blog writer.
  • Industry Forums. If the forum rules allow it, you can post an invitation to apply. Another way to go (which would work with any forum) is to simply participate in the forum like any normal member. As you identify the best posters, you can private message them about your opportunity.
  • Niche blogs. If you identify some smaller niche blogs in your market who are good writers but don’t have the audience, you can directly contact them about writing for you.
  • Problogger Job Boards. This is where I went and it worked out quite well. It costs a little bit to post the ad, but I got close to 70 responses from it and it worked out nicely.
  • BloggingPro Job Boards.

When you post an ad somewhere for it, you need to pay attention to the way you post the ad. Think of it like a blog post. Make it interesting, have a call to action, and be sure to provide all relevant details. Look at it from THEIR viewpoint. What would attract a good writer to respond to your ad? Take into account the following:

  • Solid headline. The actual headline for the ad should be specific about the niche you’re looking for.
  • Be as specific as possible. Specify the kinds of topics you would want covered by them. Who is your ideal writer? Describe that person as best you can.
  • Be human. People won’t respond to stuffy corporate-sounding crap. Your opening should sound like a fun opportunity. You should be looking for a relationship with a like-minded writer, not some top-down approach where they feel like you’re being their boss.
  • Tell them what to do. What you don’t want is a resume. They suck and they’re all written to make stupid things sound impressive. So, tell them exactly HOW to respond to your opening. What email address should they send to? Do you want sample posts? Links to stuff they’ve written before?
  • Use negative qualifiers. You want to do your best to weed out wastes of time and you can do that with qualifiers. For example, you can tell them to respond with a certain email subject line. If they don’t do that, then it shows they didn’t read the ad and they’re probably just mass applying. Saves you time. Also, you can think of things which might not be a good reason to apply and specifically tell them not to. For example, with PCMech, some out there in tech writing would only apply so they can get free hardware. So, I tell them straight-up that this isn’t a review thing and you won’t be getting free hardware.

How To Evaluate Them

Most likely, you’re going to find people of ALL skill levels applying – especially if you post to an open platform. The thing about blogging, too, is that it is a specific skill. An interest in the topic doesn’t mean you can write about it. And blogging is a form of writing which is a little different than other writing. A good blogger should be able to write in such a way as to get, keep and HOLD attention throughout a piece. He/she should know how to craft a good headline, a solid opening, compelling sub-headlines, etc. He should know to make posts which are easy to scan and not read like big, long term papers with big-ass justified paragraphs.

So, you’re looking for not just writing skills, but BLOGGING skills.

Writing samples are paramount. Preferably, you’d see prior blog posts they’ve written and are currently online, not simply samples they’ve written just for you. But, whatever works.

Also, pay attention to how they apply. Are they personable? Did they take the time to respond the way you asked them to?

I had some people who just sent me a resume and a shortie email. That doesn’t work for me and I simply deleted them. Others told me they could write about anything and everything…. and I don’t buy that. Generic for-hire writers are not nearly as good as somebody who is actually NATURALLY in that niche and writes about it because they LOVE it. So, I recommend steering clear of these generic writers or people who submit samples from completely unrelated niches.

I also got a few companies responding to me, where they have a team of writers and could generate content on whatever I asked them. My recommend: steer clear of that, too.

As you evaluate them, I recommend that you try to respond to everybody who replies – even if you think they’re no good. Be polite, and part of that is replying. If you need more information from them, ask for it. The ones that stand out, flag the message so you can pay special attention to it.

What To Pay Them

This is always a touchy subject and a hard one to decide on. Generally, I think a pay-per-post model works best. In other words, every post of their’s that you publish, you pay them an agreed rate.

When I got responses back from the Problogger job board, the range for pay was varied. The lowest I got was $4/post, and it went up from there with the highest being a couple hundred dollars per post. On the average, it was coming in with $7-$20 per post. It varies based on experience, as you might expect.

Simply put, the better writers will cost more. The person who came in at well over $100/post was an outlier and not statistically representative, but that person clearly had the most experience and wrote for a few reputable tech magazines in the past. He was good, but I couldn’t afford that.

The cost-per-post will also depend often on the length of the post. So, consider that. Do you need big, long tutorials or will quickie 250-word posts work for your blog? With some authors, you may need to work out a graduated scale.

As the blog owner, your job is to consider the ROI. Let’s say you pay a writer $15 for a post. Your job is to ensure that the lifetime value of that post comes in at more than $15 so that it is profitable. So, you need to consider the ads that can show on that post, any affiliate products that can be mentioned in that post, the SEO-targeting (and thus potential traffic draw) of that post. Much of this will come to the management process of your writers, but these are things that need to be considered.

So, before you make decisions on pay, you should know your metrics. You should know the “hot topics” of your market, where the money is flowing, and how you can get it. Then, your job as the owner is to steer your writers into authoring posts that aren’t simply filler, but actually strategically placed to ensure the ROI and make a profitable online publication.

You’re thinking like a PUBLISHER here and not just a blogger. There is a distinct difference.

Legal Considerations On Hiring Bloggers

On any writer who you decide to hire, I recommend you have a signed agreement between you and them. The key elements of that agreement should include:

  • They are an independent contractor and not an employee.
  • The agreed per-post rate.
  • That payment is contingent on you actually publishing the post, not simply that they wrote it. You’re the one paying them, so you need to be the gate keeper to posts going live on your blog so that you can control ROI. If they write a post which you cannot use, you don’t owe them a dime for it if you don’t actually publish it.
  • Who OWNS the content. You want to avoid copyright disputes later down the road if/when this writer moves on. So specify clearly who owns the copyright. You can either specify that you own all rights or you could consider a split model. With the split model, the agreement would state that you have exclusive rights for a certain time frame (6-12 months), after which they are free to re-publish the piece elsewhere but you maintain non-exclusive rights for life. Lastly, you want to be sure the agreement specifies that you can use the content in any way you please, including commercial for-sale products you may create in the future.
  • How they should invoice you. Do you want them to invoice you one per month? How will you pay them? Paypal? Specify that in the agreement.

Right For You?

Hiring writers for blogging isn’t right for everybody. It really depends on the kind of publication you’re creating and how big you want to be with it.

The next phase of this process is how to manage your writers. As I perfect this process, I’ll share the details here. Management is a key part of the process. These writers don’t share your vision of your site. Also, without clear guidance, your for-hire writers won’t know what to do. They’ll either go off on their own and write whatever comes to mind, or they’ll simply leave. Good management and topic control is crucial to making the ROI of hiring outside writers in your favor.

So, we’ll talk about that one a little later. 🙂 Once I have it worked out.

Comments on How To Find and Hire Writers For Your Blog (The Complete Guide)

  1. Dave Doolin says:

    “One of the big bottlenecks for blogging is, ironically, the actual blogging.”

    I may be an exception here… If only this were true for me.  I have to *stop* myself from writing (and from coding) to get all that other really necessary stuff done. Like, promotion, twittering, paying bills. Eating. 

    That said, these are solid tips. And thank you for emphasizing being a “publisher.” I’ve been harping at people over the last 18 months about this. 

    Oh yeah, Inner Circle… I need to pivot my main web site, I would like to lean on Inner Circle to maintain momentum on that.

    1. David Risley says:

      You still in the Inner Circle? (I forgot). If so, yeah, just post whatcha need help with. Or we could even hop on Skype on one of the call-in days.

      1. Tonsil says:

        I will hire a writer on wso.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Fortunately for me, I enjoy writing so posting myself is not really an issue but I do dream of a time when my blog makes enough money to hire other writers.   Having said that, if I were to hire someone who writes as well as I do, knows  my subject matter as well and takes the time necessary to create the kind of quality post my readers have come to expect, I’d have to pay them a lot more than 20 bucks.  I guess that means I will  never hire other writers!  Good thing I enjoy it!  

    Of course then again, maybe it is a reflection of the fact that I put too much into my blog posts.  It is FREE content after all. 

    Thanks for the great article David.   I wanna barf when I hear “gurus” tell you to post articles you only pay 5 bucks for.   Might as well let your cat attack your keyboard and post that! 

    1. David Risley says:

      Yeah, you don’t get anything stellar for $5, that’s for sure. But, it really depends on your purpose, too. If you’re just trying to spam the article directories, that’s one thing. But, a quality blog post is another.

  3. I am glad you wrote this article because a lot of bloggers seem to think that they need to be the one responsible for writing the content all the time. There comes a time to find others to join the team and help streamline and automate the entire process. I am especially looking for an affordable and yet awesome writer to help with creating some deeply research pillar articles.

    What do you think of this idea Dave? I am thinking of hiring several foreign journalist to help with my content research and creation (granted I will still be responsible for creating my videos). Journalist because they are already skilled at creating a story and narrative based on factual research. Foreign because hey, I want a very affordable option. LOL!

    1. David Risley says:

      Well, going foreign might be cheaper, but it almost always means more hassle. They don’t share the language, for one.

      In terms of research, you can find people who do that. But, content creation in any form is a completely different animal.

  4. This is a great guide, David. I’ve thought about this a bit already for the future of my blog, and a lot of what you’ve said here makes sense. I’ll definitely come back when I’m more serious about hiring others.

  5. krissy knox says:

    I have thought about this topic a lot, and you have written a very good guide, David.  You have shown that things need to be well thought out and in place before a blogger “comes on board.”  I found it interesting what you said about management and how these writers/bloggers “don’t share your vision of your site/ won’t know what to do.”  I have always thought in the past that I would not allow someone to blog for me if they didn’t share my vision of my blog.  But that isn’t always a reality, now is it?  You can be sure you have a blogger(s) on the same page, and find out he is not.  I found that out from past experience…  So I’m looking forward to see what you write about next.  Thanks for a great post, David. 🙂 

    1. David Risley says:

      I don’t think it is realistic for another writer to be completely on the same page as you. After all, its your blog, your baby. Not their’s. They don’t really have an emotional stake in it. That is, of course, you set up the situation so that they do. 🙂

  6. PJ Brunet says:

    Regarding the “gate keeper” aspect, in the magazine world the writer submits a proposal first–to avoid working on something the rag doesn’t want.  

    1. David Risley says:

      Yeah. But, blogs work on a much faster timeline. 🙂

  7. David – Solid overview of hiring a blog writer. 

    This is something I did for a bit on my main blog while I traveled.  Her writing was great; but I felt that there were some areas that were lacking; simply because she couldn’t crawl into my head and write about the topics with in-depth detail. 

    I’m now hiring a blog-writer for another blog and I definitely agree with your points about finding someone who matches the requirements you have for the site.  Right now, I’m using Elance; but in the future; I’ll follow your suggestion and try contacting readers/subscribers.  Frankly, that’s something that didn’t occur to me.  Thanks! 

    1. David Risley says:

      You might wanna try those blogger job boards. It fits a much better demographic. On Elance, you tend to get a lot of generic writers and their passion for your topic is usually missing.

      1.  Good idea…I just took a look at all the bidders and none of them seem to have the requisite writing background.  I’ll hop over and take a look at the blogger job boards. 

  8. My perspective is from the flip side of things too (I both have my own blog and am a hired blogger for other people), I can say this – the best relationships are when you hire someone you really trust to do the job (and to do it well). You do have to give some direction, at least at first, but you want to find someone who will not only do an amazing job in terms of providing content, but who will take the reigns and do the job without 10 emails a day. How much is your time worth?

    Also, think of it like hiring a baby-sitter – you of course want someone who knows how to care for a child, but it’s much better if that someone is a family member you trust rather than a stranger from craigslist, even if the craigslist sitter is more experienced and wants less money. It’s usually worth hiring the person with less experience or higher rates if you can trust him/her. Twitter is my favorite “job board” because of that – people you already know or your friends know might be looking for work and trust has a foundation because there’s a relationship there already.

  9. I just took a look at all the bidders and none of them seem to have the requisite writing background.  I’ll hop over and take a look at the blogger job boards.Thank you for giving that informations

    1. The Padrino says:

      Well you got to cherry pick the good ones.

  10. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  11. BlogsDB.com says:

    Well said! It’s a very informative post, especially when it was based on real life experience. I’m also planning to hire writers for my business, and I got enough information from your written experience. Thanks David.

  12. Aaron Wright says:

    Hey, great primer on paying for blog posts. I am trying to get better at outsourcing my work and taking more of a management type role to become more productive, and I’m looking into hiring some writers for my blog. This post is a big help. Thanks.

  13. Scott says:

    This was an AWESOME POST. Very Informative.. but I was able to skip to the points that I needed lol.

    Best, Scott Warner

  14. Thank you so much for this! I have been a freelance writer for over 8 years and I recently started a blog then found my own workload increasing on a daily basis. I’m now forced to hire but wasn’t sure where to start, even though I myself have written posts for others before. This will help me alot and hopefully I’ll find a great writer!

  15. Hi, great article. Yeah, we are currently looking for writers. I have been paying $6 for 500 words and I am thinking of increasing it.

    What do you guys think?

  16. How do you know your writer didn’t reuse content that is or will be published?

  17. Lauren Dodge says:

    Wow – this was actually informative, thank you. $8-15 posts sound ludicrous to me, though. We’re you actually getting decent quality? We’re they just repeating news bubble or did they have genuinely interesting things to say?

  18. Julia Jones says:

    I don’t know what part of the country you are in, but I find some of this info unbelievable. I’m not acquainted with any true professional writer who would agree not to be paid for their work if you decide not to use it. Also, the rates are unbelievably low. $7-$20 per post? Really? If you’re hiring writers at that rate, you are underpaying them.

    1. David Risley says:

      Hey Julia,

      It all depends on who you hire. Sure, there are people who write for a living and have a lot of experience who will charge much higher rates. In some cases, they would be worth hiring. But, for the typical blog post, that isn’t necessary. And, you can find bloggers who will most certainly work for those rates.

      Also, keep in mind, this post was written some time ago. 🙂

  19. Dustin says:

    Good post. I’ve been thinking about using a couple freelance writers, and the pay scale seems to be a real wide range.

  20. I have my writers picked… “Now” where do I find my blogs that are relevant and have a good audience, PR, DA, etc… For my niche, (Which is weddings, Louisiana, New Orleans, Louisiana Plantations, things in this bracket. I can’t ask my competition for a blog posting opportunity. I’ve tried a few ways to look it up on Google, I’ve looked at the back links from some of my competitors and can’t seem to find “ANY” good blogs that would benefit them and myself with well written content. I don’t wanna contract this out, but I might have to. Any suggestions??

  21. Animish says:

    Good post David. The article really helped me.

  22. John says:

    I’ve been considering hiring someone to write good articles about national parks, forests and state equivalents with unique content. That is a lot of posts. Does anyone have suggestions on how to find a cost effective set of writers who can maintain the same upbeat tone and be informative without breaking the bank?

  23. April says:

    For let me just say great well rounded article with several key points that need to be considered when outsourcing blog content.

    For the sake of transparency, I manage a seo based content site that handles several content needs from blog management to developing employee training material.

    Something that we practice that I think is vital for any blog is having a specific writer for content, either by hiring someone that you locating or having a business assign one to your website or blog. By having the same person creating your posts, your followers will recognize a passion and voice that is always portrayed.

  24. Chris Carter says:

    Great article. Linked to it as a solid blogging guide for my podcast listeners on my latest episode. My folks (independent hair stylists, cosmetologists, etc.) generally don’t blog so anything that will get them off the schneide is a good thing.

  25. smarthoughts says:

    Hey there, am new new in this blogging business and I need some help from you guys. From your comments I realized you are experienced bloggers. I want to create a new blog which has this magazine-like appearance and categorize the various topics. My major issue here is getting and keeping the various writers and how to make something out of it to pay the writers and manage the site. The business is somehow new in my country though. Could anyone please help me?

  26. Hi David, thank you so much for this comprehensive post. This is a great post for bloggers looking for the ideal companies to work with as well. I’ve been blogging about technology for the past two years, and I recently ventured into freelancing full time. I want to understand how businesses think when it comes to hiring bloggers. So, this is an eye-opener! Thanks! 🙂

  27. What if you pay per unique view?

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