Content Outsourcing – Nine Experts Reveal Their Hiring Secrets

Knowing where to go to outsource content for your sites is tricky, as there are so many different options available.

Even once you've actually found a place, the hard part isn't over. You've then got to figure out how to find the better writers, what kind of instructions to give, and how to avoid getting junk submissions.

A lot of the time it's best to just jump in and learn as you go. It will cost you some time and money, but at least you'll develop a system by the end of things.

Today I've got a roundup post for you from 9 experts on this very subject.

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I asked them all the same question; where do you go for content outsourcing, and what three tips can you give?

Their replies were very enlightening, and should give you a great head start when you take the plunge into getting content outsourced.

Here's what they said.

David Andrew Wiebe - David teaches about SEO, writing content, and of course outsourcing content over at Outsourceblogcontent.com. Here's his answer:

David

When it comes to outsourcing content, there are plenty of options available, from Fiverr to iWriter to Ghost Blog Writers.

There isn't necessarily a right or a wrong answer, but more often than not, you get what you pay for.

The key is to find a writer, a group of writers, or an agency that can consistently deliver unique, quality content.

1.) Make sure you have a way to communicate directly with the writer or the agency. Some outsourcing sites can be pretty impersonal, and may not give you the means to discuss your project with the writer (beyond leaving a rating or a note of feedback). If you are working on an important project, and you are expecting quality work, you need to be able to talk to the person who will be writing your piece.

2.) Be very specific about what you want. The writer is always acting on the information you provide them with, nothing more, nothing less. It's too late to complain after the content has been delivered. Make sure to give the writer as much clarity on the project as you possibly can upfront. Assume there will be no edits or revisions.

3.) Have one person in charge of proofing and final edits. Assume that you will have to make some changes to the content after it has been delivered. More than likely, you (or someone on your team) knows your industry better than the writer does.

Don't be too surprised if there are some errors or omissions that need correcting.

Avoid design by committee type situations. I have seen big scale projects (that were ready to be published) abandoned by larger businesses simply because no one on their team could agree on anything.

Recognize that this can easily happen (especially in emerging or new industries), so forgo the "we need everyone's input" nonsense by giving a trusted copywriter or editor the duty of getting the content ready for publishing.

Find a writer, a group of writers, or an agency that can consistently deliver unique, quality content.

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Jon Haver - Jon has a lot of great information about building systems and outsourcing over at Authority Website Income. He's logged a huge number of hours as an ODesk client as well. Here's his input:

Jon

My content source is almost exclusively ODesk.

The 3 tips I would give to someone looking to hire writers on ODesk is the following...

1.) Hire native English writers! Even if someone can grammatically produce a correct sentence it is VERY VERY tough for the article to come off as easy to read/enjoyable.

Native English speaking writers have a huge advantage, demand a price premium but is definitely worth it!

2.) Don't be afraid to hire/fire a LOT. It takes a long time to work through all the bad writers that are out there but there is no way to do this more efficiently than hiring and firing a LOT of writers while keeping the good ones.

Still pay the writers you fire if they completed the work but just don't spend a lot of time trying to improve their writing.

3.) Lock in the good writers for longer term writing assignments with some stability. It is easier to hire a writer for 1 post/week on a site once you have established they can write quality articles then to keep churning through many writers.

I like to have my best contract writers moved into permanent writing positions. This allows them to publish direct, get paid more and have more creative control over what they are writing.

Native English speaking writers demand a price premium but is definitely worth it!

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Lisa Irby - Lisa teaches people everything she knows about making money with blogs and affiliate marketing over at Blog.2createawebsite.com. Here's her answer:

Lisa

I use Elance, oDesk and Freelancer.

1.) Always message potential freelancers before you accept a job to make sure you are on the same page. Ask them questions and request samples of past work (if relevant). This is also a test to see how quick and efficient they are with responding.

2.) Never hire anyone who replies to your job with a stock reply or resume. I look for people who respond and comment on my job specifically. This lets me know they actually read it.

3.) Be very clear about what you need done and provide as many examples as you can. Don't assume the freelancer will do what you expect. For example, if you hire someone to transcribe a podcast and expect it to be proofed, make sure you include "proofing" in the description.

When outsourcing, never hire anyone who replies to your job with a stock reply or resume.

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James Anderson - James is part of an online marketing service at Toprankmarketing.com. Here's what he had to say on the subject:

James

We have on-staff writers who create content for both our clients and our owned media channels.

I'd offer these tips, however, for anyone looking to outsource their content development:

1.) Seek out subject matter experts.

There are tons of writers and agencies out there that will gladly take your money to develop content. That doesn't mean they know enough about your business to essentially put words in your mouth.

Reputable agencies will have a network of seasoned writers with experience creating content for your industry.

2.) Don't be afraid to build long-term relationships with content developers.

If you find that perfect fit, latch on to them. A working relationship over time continues to develop expertise for the content creator and often times leads to better pricing for the buyer.

3.) Always measure. You or your content developers can get too comfortable with certain topics, themes or methods of delivery.

Be sure to be looking at your analytics to determine which content is really providing the best ROI.

Be sure to be looking at your analytics to determine which content is really providing the best ROI.

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Dominic Wells - Dominic teaches about niche websites and affiliate marketing over at Humanproofdesigns. Here's his answer:

Dominic

Currently I have my own outsourcing service, but in the past I've used a couple of different places.

I recommend iWriter as the place to get started, simply because if you're not happy with an article, you don't have to pay, and can have it re-written or cancelled.

This is pretty useful when you're getting your feet wet.

My three tips would be:

1.) Make sure you know what you want from an article, the angle, the type of article, the tone.

Be clear when you explain. If you can link the writer to an example article, that's even better.

2.) Give instructions on format. Tell your writers to include subheadings, break up the text, and include an introduction and conclusion.

3.) Make a note of common errors or issues your writers are making, and adjust your instructions to compensate for this.

Cut out the errors before they happen. An example would be them overusing the keyword so it appears unnaturally.

I ALWAYS tell them not to do this in my instructions now. It's also a good way of filtering out who actually reads the instructions and who doesn't.

Cut out the errors before they happen - e.g. overusing keywords so the content appears unnatural.

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Lewis Ogden - Lewis talks about what works in Internet Marketing, SEO, and online business over at Cloudincome.com.

Lewis

For years my go to platform for content has been oDesk. My requirements revolved around niche site content, product reviews and price comparisons, that sort of thing.

I could always find someone that was 'good enough' for what I needed. Not amazing, but not the worst by any stretch.

Over the last year or so my requirements have changed. I have almost completely switched over to using the Elance platform for sourcing my content writers.

The main reason is I have switch business models away from small niche affiliate sites, over to larger authority sites. These kind of sites demand much better content and I didn't want to have to "hand hold" my writers like I did with oDesk.

You may be aware that oDesk and Elance are now one and the same company - however their platforms are worlds apart. Whilst I do prefer the platform and user experience of oDesk, Elance comes out tops when it comes to the quality of their Freelancers.

For me their platform isn't as intuitive, however it's not a show stopper. Especially as you know that you will at least get a handful of experienced applicants for each job you post. What I choose to do is one the initial task is complete and I have decided to continue working with the Freelancer, I simply move our scheduling over to Google Drive and pay via Elance.

That makes working with my content writers on a day-to-day basis so much easier.

I prefer the oDesk platform & user experience but Elance comes out tops for freelancer quality.

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Nathaniell Brenes - Nathaniell talks about Internet Marketing trends and reviews the latest "programs" at Onemorecupof-coffee.com.

Nathaniell

I've done content outsourcing at oDesk, Elance, and Freelancer, but use oDesk pretty much exclusively now.

I like their payment system, and find that I get a wider variety of bid prices and experience levels.

However, long term, all my best writer relationships have moved away from the freelancing site where I hired them, do just dealing with the writer directly.

My 3 tips aren't really 'rules of thumb' (or 'rule of thumbs'?), but what I've found through experience in hiring and managing writers.

1.) Have a clear set of goals and reasons for your requests.

Writers need a lot of direction in the beginning because everyone's expectations are different. The sooner a writer can get inside your mind and understand what you want, the faster they can deliver work you are happy with. My best writers are all ones that I have long term relationships with, not "article services" bought in bulk.

2.) Baby your writers in the beginning even if it takes longer and seems like it's not worth the money.​

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking "I could do this faster, better, and for free" but the whole point of outsourcing is that you don't have the time. There are going to be kinks in the beginning, and you need to be willing to work through those before the relationship becomes truly beneficial to your business. Invest training into your writers and you'll see value/cost increase over time.

3.) Be precise, polite, and pay on time.​

Most people looking to outsource (including myself in the beginning) just wanted to hire a flunky to take care of the junk I didn't want to do. I've heard some horror stories from some of my hires, and am surprised at the entitled attitude that some outsourcers have. Do your job 100% so they can do the same. If they don't deliver 100%, get a new writer.​

Don't fall into the trap of thinking "I could do this faster, better, free" you don't have time.

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Ian Pribyl - Ian exposes Internet Marketing scams and blogs about getting started over at Stoppingscams.com.

Ian

The best writers I've hired in the past have come in the form of referrals from someone we both knew.

These relationships always work best in my experience because you share common ground from the beginning, which puts more at stake for the writer.

If you tell your mutual friend that they're a horrible writer after they recommended them, it might change their opinion of that person.

That's a level of accountability you can't get from a freelance hire on Elance, oDesk, or any other outsourcing website.

If that's not an option (which has happened to me many times), post a detailed job on Elance and make sure you're not cheaping out when it comes to writing gigs.

Avoid writers that can't provide many sample pieces or don't speak your language as their native tongue.

Value quality over quantity. If you have a strict budget you need to stick to, I'd recommend paying for a single piece of really high-quality content rather than hiring a cheap writer to produce five pieces of low-quality content.

Your sites will rank better, your visitors will stay longer, and you'll make more money in the long run.

Can't afford high-quality writers? Then it's not time to outsource your writing yet.

Stick to it yourself until you can pay for higher quality.

Always pay for a single piece of very high-quality content over 5 pieces of lower-quality content.

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Steve Razinski - Steve also exposes scams and covers different methods of making money online at IveTriedThat.com.

Steve

My hires have either approached me or have come from within my social circles.

I can't speak too much on where to find writers, but I can talk a little bit about what to do after you've found them.

1.) Have a clear goal in mind for what you're going to be using the content for. Don't buy content for the sake of having content.

2.) Revisit why you're buying content and what impact it has had on your business.

Make sure that you're seeing a return (income, traffic, community engagement) somewhere on your investment.

3.) Make adjustments as necessary. When you start buying content for your site, you start to remove yourself from the equation.

It's easy to become complacent with earnings and traffic if both are deemed "good enough."

Don't let yourself get too far removed that it becomes a challenge to jump back in.

It's easy to become complacent with earnings and traffic if both are deemed "good enough."

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Closing Thoughts

What fantastic insight from these experts. I'm sure you've taken away many things and will hopefully be more confident about your own outsourcing ventures.

Here are some of the main recurring tips given today:

  • Be clear and precise in your instructions.
  • Make notes and improve your process.
  • Don't be afraid to hire and fire fast.
  • Have clearly defined goals in mind for your content.

Leave a comment below if you have any questions or comments, or you'd like to leave some tips of your own.

You may also like these content-FOCUSED articles.

10 Comments

  1. Donna Lesko January 8, 2015
    • Steve Rendell January 8, 2015
  2. Dominic Wells January 9, 2015
    • Steve Rendell January 9, 2015
  3. Lewis January 9, 2015
    • Steve Rendell January 9, 2015
  4. James Anderson January 9, 2015
    • Steve Rendell January 10, 2015
  5. David Andrew Wiebe January 9, 2015
    • Steve Rendell January 10, 2015

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