How To Not Get Screwed When Hiring A Writer.

16 replies
Hey guys,

I've noticed that there have been quite a few threads recently about outsourcing content creation. As a matter of fact I just posted a reply to another thread on the topic. After I finished typing it up I realized that it might be of some use to people in general so I decided to create a post on the topic myself. Hopefully this will help some folks out.

So, here goes...

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You should definately outsource all the "menial" stuff in your business, Actually you should EVENTUALLY outsource everything you can, right up to and including yourself. That's how you create a real business that's sellable.

One thing I get tired of hearing is people complaining, saying "I hired a writer and got a bunch of unusable crap back! Outsourcing sucks!!!".

Look, the fact is you get out of it what you put into it. You can't hire a writer who speaks english as a 3rd language, turn them loose with nothing more than a list of keywords, and expect to get back "War and Peace". It just aint gonna happen.

Just like any other aspect of business there is a specific process to follow to get the best results.

For example, I almost never hear of people getting screwed over on outsourced content when they follow some simple steps. Here's a brief overview.

1. Provide your writer with an outline of the content you want them to create. Do some research on the topic yourself first and make an outline for the finished product. Then when you hire your writer you turn over the outline as well as any links to good resources they can use in further research of the topic.

That way the writer doesn't have to guess at the direction you want your content to go. It's plainly spelled out for them in the outline and they know where to look for more information.

This one step alone goes a LONG way toward you getting a finished product that talks about what you want. Plus it gives you a good bargaining position with the writer since you've already done a good chunk of the work. Especially since the research involved is what takes up the biggest chunk of time.

2. Create a document that describes EXACTLY how you expect the finished product to be presented. I'm talking about stuff like font size, margins etc...

3. Find a good writer. This part can take a while to weed out the trash replies you'll get. But asking them to see a "portfolio" of stuff they've written for other people is a good start.

Also, you might consider asking for a small sample of their writing on a topic you choose. That way they have to write it for you themselves instead of sending you a "writing sample" that was produced by someone else entirely. Making them produce some "off the cuff" copy for you will give you an idea of the writers real skills.

4. Manage the writer. Be sure to stay in touch with them, and make sure they send you updates of the work as they go along. That way if they start to get off track you can catch it earlier instead of finding out when they send you the final draft.

5. Rewrites. Make sure you specify in the agreement you make that you get the right to require an unlimited number of rewrites until you're satisfied. Don't be unreasonable, but you do want to get a final product that you can use. Just like they want to get paid on time.

Speaking of which...

6. Keep your writer happy! Look, once you've found a good writer you want them to happily work with you again. Good writers are worth their weight in gold! Pay them on time, give them bonuses, have them do more work for you to keep them busy and here's the most novel idea of all.

Tell them thank you and you appreciate the good work they're doing for you. Everybody likes recognition for doing a good job, especially people who just went through this creative process only to turn their work over to someone else who gets to take the credit and glory!

It's about more than money to some writers, especially the good ones!

There's obviously more to the process and this is just a general idea of the steps involved. But it should get you started anyway.

Hope that helps,
Tony.
#content #outsourcing #screwed
  • Profile picture of the author AmandaT
    Any quality writer will appreciate you taking the time to outline exactly what you want. We want you to be happy with what you receive just as much as you do! Sure, you can just give us a list of keywords, but giving us at least an idea of the direction you want is very helpful.

    Many clients choose to link me to the site it will be posted on or related to so I can get an idea of the types of articles they want. If you aren't comfortable with that, at least outline a few points. For instance, if your keyword is "getting out of debt" there are many directions a writer can go. Do you have a specific technique that you need mentioned to be related to your product?

    If you have a deadline, be clear about it. Many writers have a lot of clients and it really helps us manage our time better when we know if you have a deadline.

    From the other side, I have also hired writers to write for my own websites. I have learned a few things. Always look for testimonials. I like the Warriors for Hire section because I can see who is posting the testimonials rather than just seeing quotes on a website. Take a look at samples.

    Also, on the topic of having your writer do a quick sample... many quality writers will decline the job if asked to do that simply because of the extra time it takes. The majority of writers willing to take the time to write you a fresh sample for free likely do not have many current clients. Instead, only order one article to start. Many writers will also do the first article for a discount if you ask.

    There are a lot of good writers out there, you just have to look around! It may take some trial and error, but it can really be worth it in the end.
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  • Profile picture of the author allenjohn
    I'd also run the output through copyscape.... regards Allen
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    • Profile picture of the author AmandaT
      Originally Posted by allenjohn View Post

      I'd also run the output through copyscape.... regards Allen
      This is always a good idea. I've hired many "quality" writers and then just received articles copy and pasted off of EZA.
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    • Profile picture of the author ebrg
      Originally Posted by allenjohn View Post

      I'd also run the output through copyscape.... regards Allen
      Copyscape requires a URL to be entered.
      Is there a way to check an article without having to publish it first?
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      • Profile picture of the author Kay King
        You can check blocks of text using Copyscape Premium.
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      • Profile picture of the author GameVoid
        Originally Posted by ebrg View Post

        Copyscape requires a URL to be entered.
        Is the a way to check an article without having to publish it first?
        The Plagiarism Checker

        This one takes 10 random samples out of the text you submit and tries to find those queries on the web. You just paste the article directly onto the website, you don't have to post it anywhere else.

        For Copyscape, I just take an article and post it on a page on one of my unindexed blogs, put that URL into copyscape and then remove the page after the article has been checked.

        If you have your own HTTP server running on your home machine then you could do it even easier.
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      • Profile picture of the author Troy Broussard
        Originally Posted by ebrg View Post

        Copyscape requires a URL to be entered.
        Is there a way to check an article without having to publish it first?
        Just take a random block of text like one sentence or one and one half sentences and paste it into Google. But make sure to put it in quotes first. And then do a Google search.

        If that content is indexed anywhere in Google it will show you...

        Buying credits for copyscape is super cheap too, so that would be my suggestion.

        The thing is, having dealt with hundreds of writers, I can tell you that you must always check - always. Even your good writers. I've had many writers that do good for a month or two and then when they think that you're not paying attention they'll outsource it to someone else to write and pawn it off as their writing. It's obvious from the degradation in quality but you've got to be on your toes. If not, you will get burned...
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  • Profile picture of the author ballhogjoni
    Hey thanks, good tips
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  • Profile picture of the author TonyNorton
    Hey guys,

    Thanks for all the replies, and you've brought up some excellent suggestions!

    Like I said I only intended to give a brief overview. I've gone into GREAT detail on the exact process that I find to work best. If you look around I'm sure you'll find it.

    I'd really like to hear what other suggestions people might have.

    Tony
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  • Profile picture of the author WebsiteMarketer
    I've had great success hiring out content from TheContentAuthority. I'd recommend that as a simple and reliable alternative to anyone trying to get a handful of quality articles produced.
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  • Profile picture of the author mytoy78
    There are some really valid comments here. I particularly liked:

    "You can't hire a writer who speaks English as a 3rd language, turn them loose with nothing more than a list of keywords, and expect to get back "War and Peace". It just aint gonna happen."

    My god, now ain't that the truth! I think we've all been guilty of expecting writers to act like mind readers and somehow tune in to exactly what we want.

    Just remember - Communication and Clarity saves Confusion.
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    • Profile picture of the author AprilCT
      Clarity and a brief outline of what you want is very good to get back what you really need. However, I learned a long time ago not to give away free samples to a prospective client, unless it's an article used over several times for my advertising purposes.

      If you want a sample article, ask for something you can use, and then pay the writer for that sample article without the promise of additional work if the two of you are not a good fit. You can always revise and use the article once you have paid for it.

      As far as unlimited revisions - I don't know of any good writers that permit their clients to request this without an additional payment(s). Oftentimes the writer shuts off the revisions and either resells or uses the article elsewhere himself.

      Small revisions you can easily do yourself. If there is a need to request unlimited revisions, either the client doesn't know what they want, or the client and the writer are just not right to work together.
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      • Profile picture of the author AmandaT
        Originally Posted by AprilCT View Post

        Clarity and a brief outline of what you want is very good to get back what you really need. However, I learned a long time ago not to give away free samples to a prospective client, unless it's an article used over several times for my advertising purposes.

        If you want a sample article, ask for something you can use, and then pay the writer for that sample article without the promise of additional work if the two of you are not a good fit. You can always revise and use the article once you have paid for it.

        As far as unlimited revisions - I don't know of any good writers that permit their clients to request this without an additional payment(s). Oftentimes the writer shuts off the revisions and either resells or uses the article elsewhere himself.

        Small revisions you can easily do yourself. If there is a need to request unlimited revisions, either the client doesn't know what they want, or the client and the writer are just not right to work together.
        I offer limited revisions within reason. If there are errors with the article, I will fix them. If I am being told to rewrite the article over and over again, I will give a refund and keep the article for myself. Most quality writers will do the same.
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        • Profile picture of the author Kay King
          Experienced writers know most buyers who want unlimited revisions will try to take advantage of them. They'll want rewrites with the goal of ending up with a freebie or two. You'll lose good writers if you demand that "unlimited" thingie.

          I've only had 2 problem buyers (been lucky) but one of them was a doozy. She wanted me to promise I would revise until she was "happy" - and I was new and dumb. I wrote ten good articles - and she then said she thought a different keyword would work better and wanted all articles rewritten for a totally DIFFERENT keyword phrase. I don't stay stupid long - I reported her to elance and they took care of it....and her. And, yes, I got paid.

          The same is true of any any buyer asking for a custom written "samples" - another way to ask for a freebie from the writer and experienced writers won't deal with that. Any writer should be providing examples of their work when they respond to a request.

          As a buyer, be clear about what you want in the beginning and stick to that. Don't change your requirements or add more requirements after the price is set and the job is in process - unless you are prepared to pay for the additional work.

          The best thing you can do is find outsourcers who are good to work with, responsive and produce the kind of work you want. Then pay them well, treat them with respect and keep them! It will pay off.

          kay
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  • Profile picture of the author TonyNorton
    Hey,

    I guess I should have been more clear regarding the whole "sample" thing.

    I was actually just talking about a couple short paragraphs. Just enough to let you know that the person is fluent in english. Although truth be told, you can usually get a pretty good idea how well they write from the communication back and forth while you're working out the details of your project.

    There are some people who will respond to your (and everybody else's) post with obvious "boiler plate" responses. Then when you ask a question they take a LONG time to respond. Now that time delay COULD be due to them being very busy, but it could also be them having to take time to craft a responce that's not in broken english. These should be red flags.

    One thing I've done in the past is pay several people to write a short article on the exact same subject. Then use the results to determine which writer to hire for the main job.

    As far as the "unlimited revisions" thing goes, well it all really comes down to a matter of trust. If I've worked with that same writer before and they've produced good results then I'll specify a limited number of revisions.

    I'm not an unreasonable person and small stuff I'll most likely do myself since I'm going to be editing it anyway to add my own personality to the product. But especially if you're working with someone for the first time and they don't have a lot of feedback or other experience as a ghostwriter you need to protect yourself.

    You'd be surprised what kinds of total crap some people try to pass off. I have on several occasions received a "final draft" of a 25 page project that has 2inch margins double spaced and 20pt type. By the time I converted it to fit the original project formatting requirements it ended up only being 7 pages of actual content.

    If I didn't have a "satisfaction clause" in place on those occasions I would have had to pay the full price for MUCH less content than was originally agreed on. And it would have been nobody's fault but my own.

    Honestly though, if you follow steps 2 and 4 then neither rewrites nor satisfaction should be a real big issue.

    I understand the writers point of view though. You don't want to be taken advantage of, and that's totally cool. Nobody does.

    But, I'm not the writer. I'm the buyer and I have to look out for my own interests. I'm the one paying for someone I don't know and have usually never even spoken with to produce content that I'm going to attach my name and reputation to.

    Anyway, just wanted to be a little clearer.

    Tony.
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  • Profile picture of the author lewi77
    Interesting comments from all. Thanks for the tips and views warriors, you have made the art of outsourcing much much easier. Thumbs Up!
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