How To Hire Article Writers On oDesk
In my last post, where I shared with you that I had achieved my $1,000/month niche site challenge, I mentioned that I was ramping up my production by hiring 2 part-time writers through oDesk – which is a very popular freelancer marketplace.
I’ve had a couple of people comment and email me asking things like:
- How Do I Make Sure I Get Good Writers?
- Where Do I Find Writers That Cheap?
- What Do I Put In The Job Description?
So I thought that I would take you through the process that I personally go through to find writers (both good and bad experiences), so that you can start outsourcing your niche sites, blogs and ebooks – giving you more time to focus on the tasks that you enjoy most.
What Is oDesk?
I talk about oDesk a lot on this blog, but I bet a lot of you are wondering what it actually is, and how it can help.
Let me explain who oDesk are (In their own words – from their ‘About’ page):
oDesk is the marketplace for online work teams, with the best business model for both employers and contractors. Our unique approach guarantees to employers that an hour billed is an hour worked, while guaranteeing to contractors that an hour worked is an hour paid.
This win-win approach attracts more work to oDesk than to any other online work marketplace. Each month, thousands of companies of all sizes post jobs on oDesk, representing more than $65,000,000. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of top-notch professionals, including web developers, software programmers, graphic designers, writers, customer service representatives and virtual assistants, offer their services through oDesk.
In other words, it is a massive pool of ready workers, with a wide range of skills and experience, ready to start working for you!
And the main benefit is that thanks to geoarbitrage, you can get work done for a lot less that you would expect to pay a local worker (or yourself).
How oDesk Makes Their Money
In case you were wondering, oDesk take a 10% cut from all payments made to workers. The good thing here is that you set the initial price – so the fee comes out of the workers pay.
So How Do I Find Article Writers To Work For Me?
Well head on over to the oDesk website, and the first thing I always do is pretend that I am looking for work (not an employer). This may sound a little strange, but there is some logic behind it all.
Start by clicking the ‘FIND WORK’ tab, and browse down to the ‘Blog and Article Writer Jobs’, start sifting your way through some of the current job offers on for article writers – so that you can see what people are paying and how their job descriptions read.
This will not only give you a quick overview to the oDesk platform, but it will also give you some great ideas for your own job descriptions and pricing.
Sign Up For A Free Account
Once you have a bit of an idea on how job postings work, the next thing to do is just jump in head first, sign up for a free account and start posting your first job.
The best thing here, is that there is no pressure on you, because if you are not happy with any of the applicants, you just decline them all and close the job listing (at not cost to you), but if it anything like my experiences with oDesk, you will have a hard time culling your list of applicants – but I have some tips for that as well.
Posting Your Job Application For An Article Writer
Before you go and start creating your listing and I give you the actual job application that I personally use, just remember that my listing is just that, my listing. You will most likely have different goals for what you wish to achieve – so feel free to use my listing, but tailor it to suit your needs.
Navigating To Post A Job
Since they are currently updating their website interface, I have decided to use their new version for this tutorial as it will help more people in the long run (if the website looks a little different o the image above, the links should be similar, but if you have any problems shoot me a comment or email.
So as you can see above, to poist a job, you first click on the ‘RECRUIT’ tab in the navigation and the a second navigation below appears where you click ‘POST A JOB’.
Now let’s get into the interesting stuff!
Setting Your Job Requirements
On the’Post A Job’ page there are quite a few different fields for you to fill in, so let’s go through each of them, one by one, so that we don’t miss anything out.
Category => Sub Category
This is where you specify where you want your job listing located in their marketplace.
For article writers, the best selections would be
Category = ‘Writing & Translation’
Sub Category = ‘Blog & Article Writing’
However, if you are looking for a writer for another task, then choose the most appropriate category for your job.
This is going to be the first thing that potential workers are going to see of your listing as they browse through the marketplace – so make sure you use something that grabs their attention.
A few examples could be (pinched from current listing):
- Premium Article Writer Needed – $3 Per article (500++ words) - The One I Last Used!
- 10 x 400 word Guitar Articles
- Article Writer Needed(US English)
- Ezine Article Writer ($2/article) Build YOUR portfolio
This is the big one, you need to convey your job is an easy to understand (remember a lot of workers use English as a second language) format, while including a couple of key elements that will help you when it comes time to start going through your applicants; such as:
- A Codeword – That applicants must use to prove they read your applications
- Samples – To prove that they know how to write fluently
- Set Requirements - Let them know upfront what you expect from them
A Sample Of A Job Listing For Article Writers
Potential for ongoing writing work if successful!
I am looking for a premium writer to write article on niche websites.
I am will to pay up to $3 for each article of 500++ words.
You must have experience in niche article writing and be able to provide a sample of your previous work.
You will be required to write articles based on the keywords that I send you, and each article will need to pass the following requirements:
- Keyword optimized (SEO): Yes
- Article length: 500+
- Duration of project: 4 or 5 days
American English only, perfect grammar and broad vocabulary.
-A sample of your writing within the same budget is required.
-Please post any references you have.
-Please bid only if you’re ready to start immediately in 2 days.
Your bid is on 10 articles (maximum bid of $30), and only bid if you accept and understand the requirements.
When contacting me for this job, please mention the codeword ‘niche articles’ in the first line of the message so I know you have read the job requirements carefully.
1. All writing you create for me needs to be your 100% original work and free of any copyrighted or plagiarized materials.
2. I will own all rights to the completed articles. You may not distribute them in any way upon delivery.
3. While I am very easy to please, unlimited revisions will be expected until I am completely satisfied with the completed articles.
4. Completed articles shall be delivered in txt file or Wordpad format.
This job description worked really well for me, as I received almost 30 applicants within 24 hours.
I hope you noticed that I included the ‘code word’ near the bottom of the listing to make sure that they read the listing before applying.
This is the different skills that you require your applicants to have. These help people find you if they search the marketplace for certain keywords, so make sure you add as many as necessary.
A Few ‘Skills’ That I Mention:
However, feel free to use what ever skills you deem to suit your listing.
There are two different ways that you can hire people on oDesk, either by the hour, or by the task. For article writing I perfer to hire ‘by the task’ or ‘FIXED PRICE’.
This stops any nasty surprises popping up from slow writers, and make sure that you only pay for what you have asked for.
So that you don’t have to keep hiring your applicants after each article is written, a good idea is to break down your listings into batches of articles. 10 is a good round number to test a new writer with and should not set you back very much money.
The ‘Budget’ is the amount of money you wish to spend to have your task completed. Applicants can bid above or below this number, but it gives them a guide to what you are expecting.
I am not going to tell you how much you should pay for an article, the easiest way for you to work out what a ‘fair’ rate is, is to browse the marketplace and see what other people are asking. However, one thing to remember is that you are the boss of the job – so set the price to what you are willing to pay, and if people are willing to work for that amount then they will apply.
The amount you put as your budget is for the completing the batch, so multiple your per article rate by the amount of articles you wish to have written.
Estimated End Date
You are not going to want to be waiting months for these articles, so make sure you set a due date for when you wish to received your finished articles. For a batch of 10 articles I like to give writers a week (as this allows them time so that they are not rushing).
I want as many people as possible to apply for my jobs so I always set my listings as ‘PUBLIC’ as well as checking the ‘Get More Candidates’ (unless I am rehiring someone who has worked for me before).
The more people you have applying, the better the chance you have of finding the right writer.
Tips For Culling Your Applicants List
The first time that you create a job on oDesk you are going to love the experience of going through 30-50 applicants, reading their applications and checking their portfolios. In fact, if you are not careful you will end up getting stuck with a lot of applicants and not being able to choose which one to hire.
Once you start hiring people on a regular basis, heart goes out the window, and you start being almost brutal with the culling of applicants.
This may sound cruel, but you are running a business and you need to treat it like one.
Here Are A Few Things That Will Make The Application Review Process A Whole Lot Simpler!
- Instantly Decline Anyone Who Failed To Include The Code Word
Don’t be tempted to keep someone based on their portfolio if they did not include your ‘code word’. There will be plenty of competent writers who applied for your job and you don’t want one who cannot follow the most simple of instructions.
- Instantly Decline Anyone Who Doesn’t Include A Portfolio
This one is just common sense. As well as the fact that they cannot follow simple instructions, they are not providing you with any proof that they can complete the task. I want to know that their writing is not only readible but also fluid and well researched – and I can’t do that with no portfolio.
- ‘Save’ The Ones That Fit Your Requirements
As you work your way through the applicants, you will straight away start to find applicants that you think are perfect for the task. You want to make sure that you read every single application before you even consider interviewing anyone – so the easiest way to keep track of these potential employees is to ‘save’ them (so you don’t accidently decline them later).
- Make Notes On Each Saved Applicant
Applicants are going to start blurring together, and you will forget where one ends and the other begins. The easiest way to keep track of the things that you both like and dislike about an applicant is to make some notes when you ‘save’ them. oDesk have a space for you to make private notes about an applicant and I recommend using it.
- Read Previous Employer Feedback
I am not going to lie, there are going to be some incompetent workers applying for your listing. But the good thing is that with each job a worker completes, the employer for that job is able to leave feedback on the worker – and you can (and should) check this out before hiring someone.
These 5 tips should help you trim your applicant list down to a final 3-5, by this time the applicants qualities are usually pretty similar and I like to let personal preference and ‘gut-feeling’ help me make the final decision.
Interviewing Your Desired Applicants
To be quite honest, I don’t usually interview a couple of people for one task. I find the one person that I prefer and it isn’t really an interview, but more of a ‘I want to select you, but I am just making sure you understand what I expect’.
However, for the sake of being thorough, I would recommend interview for final 2-3 applicants, and give them a little more information about your task and simply ask them ‘Why should I hire you?‘.
Hiring Your Worker
Once both you and the writer are happy to work together and you have negotiated a final price (oh, don’t forget to take peoples bids into account when culling your applicants) you are ready to hire them.
So click the ‘HIRE NOW’ link on their application and follow the prompts.
CONGRATULATIONS YOU NOW HAVE AN EMPLOYEE WORKING FOR YOU!
Getting Your Writer Started
Now that you have hired your writer, you will be able to find them in your ‘work room’.
Click on them and send them a message with your article topics (keywords) and any requirements you may have – they just wait for your articles to get sent back to you.
I personally ask writers to send me half of the finished articles first (and make a 50% payment) so that if I find any problems with the writing I catch it early – but that is just my personal preference.
So How Did My Writers Work Out?
As I mentioned at the start, I have hired two writers (both on a 10 article contract) and I have had very differing results so far.
While one of my writers was incredibly quick to respond, produced quality articles (only required 2-3minutes editing, just to fix little grammar issues). In fact, she has already completed all her articles, been paid and I have just sent her a message asking to rehire her again for another 10 articles.
And my second writer? I am yet to hear from him. My End Date for the job was today, so I have sent him a message saying if I do not receive anything from him in 24 hours, I will close the job and hire someone else – so we will see. It won’t cost me anything to hire someone else.
But What About Article Quality?
I really didn’t want to share any of my articles, just because the way one person writers is completely different to what you may receive from someone else, but I will share one article that has definitely paid for itself over and above.
I used this article as a guest post and was totally blown away by the response it received. 26 RT’s and a solid foundation that will provide both a solid backlink and nice flow through traffic.
The Next Move Is Yours!
If you are looking to free up some of your workload, then outsourcing is a great way to do it.
I’d love to hear your experiences with oDesk or any questions you have about the process that I use, so leave a comment below!