Don’t make the mistake of so many others by looking to Upwork, Fiverr and other gig economy platforms as the holy grail of outsourcing. This will only result in short term gain and long term pain.
We’ve been there and done that. If you want to build a team of truly amazing writers then you’ll need to use more traditional jobs boards. Moreover, you’ll need to also put in place a robust hiring process that makes it easy to separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak.
Before posting a single job ad, it’s paramount that you first decide on what type of English your content will need to be written in – American or British, or both if you operate a content writing service like us. Also decide on how many writers you want to hire and over what timeline.
Once this has been decided, you can then identify the ideal job platforms which cater to native English speaking markets. This part is critical. If you don’t recruit writers from native English speaking countries you’re going to find it very challenging to find top quality writers.
Many small businesses will try and cut costs by hiring writers from non-native English speaking markets only to find themselves tirelessly editing all the content week in, week out. In the end in it works out to be more expensive due to the all the time they’ve spent editing and re-writing.
We advise choosing a combination of local job boards along with global job platforms. As Contentellect is a content agency that services clients from around world, we need to be able to offer writing in both British and American English.
One market we identified as being perfect to hire from for this requirement was South Africa. It’s a country that holds a large population of well-educated, native English speakers. Moreover its currency is relatively weak against other major market currencies like the US dollar and the British pound. This enabled us to hire top quality writers at competitive prices.
So, we went ahead and created a job advertisement on Indeed South Africa as well as on the job boards of two of the leading universities in the country. We also used Facebook Jobs but found this platform delivered a poor quality candidate.
Another good platform we sadly found right at the end of our recruitment drive was the Problogger Job Board. Based on the site this job board sits on, the vast majority of candidates using it are writers thus giving one a highly qualified pool of talent to access.
The job advertisement needs to make it explicitly clear that you’re only looking for passionate writers who can write to the very highest standards. In addition to requiring a CV, also be sure to ask for a cover letter where applicants can express their motivations for the writing role advertised.
Before setting the job ads live, you’ll need to first define how many stages there will be in the interview process and what these will entail. We went with three. The initial application where applicant submits their CV and cover letter. A written assignment where the applicant submits a piece of writing based in a brief with a deadline. And finally a skype call and job offer if the applicant made the grade.
Next you’ll need to create a template of different email responses as the applicants make their way through the hiring process. This will save you a lot of time during the recruitment process and ensure that any bias or prejudice is avoided. We created 4 of these. A writing assignment email, an offer to advance to the second round of the interview stages, a “next steps” email we sent to the applicants after they had submitted their second round assignment , and finally a job offer confirmation email.
Of all of the above the writing assignment email is by far the most important in the hiring process. The writing assignment is the only opportunity for you to comprehensively evaluate all candidates against a detailed brief in the form of a piece of writing.
It is therefore essential to make sure that the writing assignment replicates the kinds of writing projects that actual writers would be working on. Be sure to lay out all the required steps the candidate needs to follow and be detailed when listing these out in the brief. The more detailed you are the better.
When it comes to evaluating a candidate’s writing assignment it’s easier to distinguish the difference between a good and an excellent writer if the brief you have provided is very detailed. Excellent writers follow a writing brief to a tee and write content that is both engaging and easy to read, whilst still meeting SEO requirements.
You should only be aiming to hire excellent writers and so you’ll need to be patient when building your freelance writing team. It can take time to find outstanding writers. In our experience we found that for every 15 applicants, 1 of those applicants turned out to be a top class writer whom we hired.
At the end of the of the day it’s a numbers game – bring as many candidates as possible through the robust applicant pipeline which you built based what we’ve recommended above. If you work on our conversion rate of 7%, in order to build a team of 30 amazing freelance writers you will need to have screened a minimum of 430 candidate applications.
This blog post forms part of the first chapter of our ebook titled, How to outsource your company’s website content in 4 simple steps. Download it here.
Marc is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at Contentellect. Marc manages our growing team of project managers, writers and clients.