5 Best Places to Hire Writers

Over the last few months, I have received numerous emails asking about writers and where to find them. Writers can often be a headache for people to outsource and can sometimes eat up a lot of time. Our team likes to hire and fire fast and not spend much time on a writer if they don’t produce something great the first time.

Hiring a writer is more than just paying for a service; it’s an investment in both your company and yourself. It ensures your company is properly represented and saving yourself hours of time that can be better spent focusing on any of the countless other tasks that come with running an online business.

There are also many different writers out there, too. There are writers who specialize in different fields, such as SEO, copywriting, dissertation ghostwriters, essay writers, writers to maximize business plans, content writers, white paper writers, resume writers… the list is almost endless and all of which can be found on freelance sites.

First, if you are looking for a writer for hire, you need to think about exactly what you want.

Before you can actually go about hiring a writer, you’ll need to decide whether you want to hire one as a part of your staff, work with a freelancer or an agency. All options have their own benefits and drawbacks.

Working with a freelance writer is a more streamlined process and oftentimes more cost-effective. Interviewing can be tedious and time-consuming. Instead of meeting with multiple people, you can place an ad online and make a decision based on the submissions of writing samples you receive (risky but fast).

Whereas hired writers are either salaried or hourly, freelancers are usually paid per project. If you find a writer who you’d like to work with more consistently, you can offer to pay a retainer fee to reserve a determined amount of time for your projects.

Compared to the possibly-costly process of firing an employee, ending a relationship with a freelancer is much easier. All you have to do is send an email letting them know you’re no longer interested in working together (sometimes you can get someone who sends a million emails asking why they were fired and for another chance – as I have experienced!)

Hiring a writer as part of your staff isn’t without its perks. Even with email, Skype, and other modern technologies, nothing compares to communicating face-to-face. Sometimes, explaining exactly what you want is easier in person.

Working with a content management team such as Content Refined, offers the ability to be hands off and hire a skilled team who just produces quality content. Plus, many content management teams also offer scheduling and marketing services.

Most content management teams have a team of writers so you can rest assured knowing there will always be someone available to take on your project. If you’re dissatisfied with the quality or style of the assignment, you can simply ask for a different writer’s spin on it.

Like with freelancers, payment is usually per assignment and based on the services provided. However, you’ll likely end up paying more when working with content management teams, which makes sense since a team is bound to have more expenses than an individual. However, with additional services like promoting content across various social media platforms, your money will be put to good use.

Now that we’ve gone over why hiring a professional writer is essential, let’s take a look at the 5 best places to hire writers.

#1 Upwork

“To connect businesses with great talent to work without limits.”

This is the biggest and best platform that we hire a lot of our team from.

Upwork is a website that connects freelancers with those who are looking to hire them. This does not only have to be article writing it can be a wide range of different tasks from hiring a VA to getting someone to build you a website.

Those looking to hire freelancers submit a job post in which they describe the details of the project, as well as any required skills, certifications, or other preferences. Freelancers who are interested bid on the job, submitting their rate along with examples of previous works.
Payment is either hourly or a fixed, flat rate for the entire project. For more complex projects, the total payment can be divided into parts that are released once a pre-established amount of work is completed.
By utilizing their licensed escrow service (a financial arrangement where a third-party holds and regulates the payment of the funds required for two parties involved in a given transaction), Upwork protects both freelancers by ensuring they get paid for their work and employers by ensuring the work meets the established requirements.
Due to payment being based on individual budgets and bids, it’s hard to quantify an average rate. However, for entry-level writers, most postings look to pay about $5 for a 500-word article or $10 for 1000 words.
With the wealth of freelancers available, the best part of Upwork is you’ll always find someone willing to write for you. While this is good for would-be employers, it can make things difficult for freelancers—forcing skilled individuals to compete with those who are willing to work for less.

#2 Facebook

With over 1 billion users active on a daily basis, Facebook is undoubtedly one of the best ways to find a professional writer. Unlike Upwork—which only provides you with the information submitted by the freelancer—Facebook gives you far more insight into who you’re dealing with as a person.

Experienced freelancers may even have reviews on their wall and clients on their friend’s list. We have only recently started to use Facebook for hiring, but the outcome has been fantastic so far. They are a bit more pricy then the other places listed here but can sometimes be worth it.

By utilizing its search function, you can easily connect with thousands of people—both individually and in groups. For example, this group https://www.facebook.com/groups/copyjobs/ features over 13,000 members who are all skilled copywriters.

Because business dealings managed via Facebook are usually done in private, it’s hard to discern how payments are usually handled, we usually use Paypal for our transactions with them.

The greatest pro of finding writers on Facebook is its massive user base. The biggest downside is its publicity and the risk of scorned clients or freelancers posting negativity on your wall.

#3 Fiverr

Fiverr (Not recommended) is almost the antithesis of Upwork. Instead of posting jobs, those looking to hire a freelancer, select a category, then a sub-category of work and choose the freelancer they feel best fits their needs from the listings. We find that the pool isn’t as large as Upwork but there are still some good quality writers if you give it enough time.

Rather than applying to different jobs, freelancers on Fiverr post a listing that specifies what type of work they’re willing to do, their skills, and their rate. Each listing comes with three options: basic, standard, and premium—each with its own rate and services offered.

The going rate for 1000 words seems to be anywhere between $10 and $25, depending on the seller.

The biggest advantage of using Fiverr is being able to compare and contrasts the many different sellers to be able to find the one that’s ideal for you.

The biggest downside to using Fiverr is the inability to post jobs with specific requirements and I find the pool isn’t as big as other platforms.

#4 Onlinejobs.ph

Onlinejobs.ph is a website that allows you to outsource work that you have to skilled individuals in the Philippines. I haven’t used this one but I have heard some great things about it.

When looking for someone to hire, you can either post a job and wait until someone applies or search through the site’s resume database using keywords.

Once you’ve found someone you’re interested in working with, you’re ready for the next step: Ironing out the details like payment (which is handled via PayPal) and expectations.

The greatest part of using onlinejobs.ph is its TimeProof tool: Software that records any activity, takes screenshots of the freelancer’s screen, and then sends them off to the employer automatically.

As with all outsourcing, you run the risk of working with someone who isn’t too familiar with your language, which may end up leading to issues. In my opinion, this is the biggest disadvantage.

Before working on onlinejobs.ph, it’s important to remember to read up on the conversion between your nation’s currency and the Filipino peso.

#5 Guru

Guru.com seems similar to Fiverr in how employers sift through freelancer listings and profiles in order to find someone that can provide what they need. Like Upwork, the website manages payment by serving as a middleman. Unlike Upwork, where the website’s team ultimately decides if the work has been fulfilled satisfactorily, Guru claims that the employer ultimately decides whether the provided work is worthy of payment.

Leaving the terms of payment up to the employer is simultaneously Guru’s biggest pro (for the employer) and con (for the freelancer).

Out of the 5 websites listed above, I’d have to say Upwork is the best for finding writers. Even though Facebook has a massive user base, the straightforward and streamlined bidding process for Upwork makes it easy to find someone to work with.

If you have any questions or know of any other places, I would love to hear about it! Please mention any other writing resources below and what it’s advantages/disadvantages are (self promotional posts are allowed within reason 🙂 )

5 Tips for Managing Writers

Now that you know 5 locations to hire writers here are 5 tips on how to manager the writers you have hired.

Building up any website takes a lot of working with writers to get the most useful quality articles possible.  Across all my money sites, I work with a team of writers to keep the content new every week and to keep the organic traffic numbers growing.

As you can imagine, that’s a lot of writers to manage.  So this week I thought I’d share the best ways to hire and maintain a team of solid writers, keep them organized, and keep on track with what everyone is doing.

In addition to these practises I have developed over the years many of these lessons have been learned via ContentRefined.com where we have produced over 1,000,000 words/month for clients!

1. Hiring Writers

I’ve talked about this beforebut hiring freelance writers shouldn’t be taken lightly.  You want a native English speaking, strong and competent writer with solid experience.  I always ask them to do a test assignment before bringing them onto the team. Here’s an example job posting from UpWork.

hire freelance writers

To check for grammar, I always ask the applicant to fix a couple of grammatically incorrect statements.  That’s a quick way to check whether they’re legit English speakers or not. If they provide some examples of their work, that’s a good way to quickly check them out as well.  But the best way is to assign them a test article to really see their chops.

2. The 10% Rule

I stole this rule from Jack Welch, former GE CEO, about maintaining the best teams.  In a nutshell, he says that you should fire the bottom 10% of your staff every year.  I apply this (in a way) to writing teams to make sure that they’re always stacked with the best writers.  Say you have 10 writers on a content team. Every month or so, I cut out the 1 bottom performer and replace them with someone new.  Constantly refreshing teams like this has worked well for making sure that writers are on their game and not getting lazy.

3. No Second Chances

Another tip with freelance writers: don’t give second chances.  It’s happened a few too many times where I’ll give somebody the benefit of the doubt for a mistake or a late assignment, and sure enough they go out and repeat that bad behaviour every time.  When you depend on sticking to a schedule and you really need writers to be on the ball, you can’t let anything slide. If they screw up, move on and hire someone new. You don’t have to be rude about it.  Just let them know the problem(s) and why you can’t continue to work with them. It’s not personal; it’s business.

4. Keeping Organized: Spreadsheets!

A master spreadsheet that shows the status of team members has been the most effective strategy for keeping track of everybody.  I check in with a spreadsheet like this one pretty much every day to review the work in progress.  If I’ve assigned something and haven’t heard back from the writer for a day or two, I’ll follow up.  If there’s still no response, those articles need to be reassigned.  This simple spreadsheet will save you the huge headache of confusing emails and trying to mentally keep track of everybody.  Just be sure to actually update it and don’t let things slip by, because that will make things confusing really quickly.  Especially if you’re dealing with 10 or more writers, and various writing teams across different businesses, you want to make sure everything is well-organized.

managing writers spreadsheet

I also always have an editor go through every article or piece of web copy that I have written.  It’s great to have a second set of eyes on any text to help with spelling, grammar, flow, and readability.  It’s usually this editor who I also get to run every piece of text through Copyscape to check for plagiarism.  So in this master spreadsheet, you can keep track of what’s on your editor’s plate at the moment too.

5. Consistent Payments

Some freelancers will want to stick with UpWork for payments for security, but more often than not our writers ask for PayPal.  It avoids the UpWork fees.  No matter which way your writers want to go for payments, I recommend that you stick to a consistent pay schedule.  Every week at the same time of day is ideal.  Let your writers know when they can expect to be paid, and keep track of the work they’ve completed on a week by week basis.  Here’s an example of what that payment tracking spreadsheet can look like.  In this example, payments would ideally be made on Sundays, because the weekly tracking goes from Monday to Sunday.  So writers know that if they hand something in on a Monday, they won’t be paid until that coming Sunday.

paysheet timetable

Final Thoughts: Keep Your Writers Happy

Consistent work, positive reinforcement, and clear communication are probably the three main things that have helped me keep some awesome writers around for a long time.  When you’re working with someone primarily through email, it helps to have a friendly tone and to be as clear as possible with direction.  Mutual respect and trust is the goal.

What have you found to be the most effective way of managing writers or content teams?  Are there any tools you use that I should be checking out?  Let me know in the comments!

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Your Two First Hires – How to begin scaling your business with a VA and a writer

If you are building a website with the goal of generating traffic/making money your two most important hires are a VA and a Writer.

After some recent discussions with a couple people I am helping coach/consult with it became clear that these are the 2 most critical first hires!

This post will share with you how to find, hire, fire and manage both roles.

What This Post Will Cover:

  • My 5 Simple Rules for effectively hiring and managing a virtual team
  • My experience (including the number of hires I have had via UpWork)
  • How to Hire a VA
  • How to Hire a Writer

5 Simple Rules for Hiring and Managing a Virtual Team:

  1. Hire Fast (no interview)
  2. Hire more than you will eventually need (hire 3 if you need to fill 1 role) 
  3. Fire Fast (as soon as it is clear they are not an A player whether it is 1hr or 1week cut them loose ASAP) 
  4. Keep them consistently working
  5. Have a system to track and manage their output with clear expectations of results expected of them and a way to feedback to them their performance

My Experience:

Over the past 9 years me and my team have hired A LOT of people via upwork (1,539!!)

But it all started with my first VA and a writer.

Here is a snapshot of what is reported via UpWork…

How to Hire a VA:

Hiring your first VA is a crtical step that I believe everyone looking to build a substantial online business should pursue.

The benefit of having a skilled VA that works closely with you to help with your business is huge! I have many that have been with me for A LONG time and I would not be able to operate without them.

I have mentioned it before but…

  • One started at $0.5/hr and rose to $6/hr!
  • One I was recently named as a god-parent for (among about 15 others)
  • Here is my refined approach to hiring a VA which I first shared over 3 years ago here

Of course you know I love sharing detailed tutorials and not just theory…so here it is… something that people have been asking for…exactly how I go about hiring virtual assistants.

Step 1 – Sign up at UpWork

The sign up process at UpWork.com is straightforward. You simply sign up and attach a credit card to your account.

Even though they have raised their fee structure the talent pool and management systems still have me using it.

Step 2 – Post a Job on UpWork

Post a job on UpWork. For me I used a very simple job posting in the administrative general category.

Some people like to use hidden keywords to qualify applicants or say no form cover letters. To me it only makes sense people would use form cover letters when the success rate of job posting has to be around 1/50 so who would spend time creating a unique cover letter. I wouldn’t so I don’t punish people who don’t. The bottom line is I don’t want to hire the VA with the best application I want the best VA at their job so the more applicants for me to select from the better! The ability with UpWork to see who is serious and who is not is easy with their previous work history so I don’t use the cover letter to judge how serious an applicant they are.

See Example Job Posting Here

Step 3 – Wait 1-24 hrs no longer!

For most job postings dozens will apply in only a few hours.

I like to keep the momentum going of someone who just applied and hire them as soon after they applied as possible.

This momentum when managing VA’s is critical right from the start. When I hire someone I want to ensure they continue to progress through the work without a break…if a great VA has a 1-2week break from being assigned work they often are hard to get restarted.

When I have hired someone who applied to the job longer than 24hrs ago I notice a decline in their responsiveness. My focus in this phase is to keep the momentum moving and the cycle time from application to hired short.

Step 4 – Sort through the List of Applicants

Here are the 4 measures I use to find the best possible VA.

  • How many hours has the person worked on UpWork (~30% weighting) – The more hours the better, what often can occur is someone will sign up on UpWork, apply to a job but then never follow through on the assignment. Someone that is making a living on UpWork will be certain to deliver results for you and protect their positive feedback.
  • UpWork Feedback (~30% weighting) – Reviews are not good enough to sort out the top 50% but they can be reliable on cutting out the bottom 25-50% of applicants. If someone is below a 4 rating I would stay away. However, someone that has a 4.91 is not necessarily better than someone with a 4.78…reviews just are not to be trusted that much in my opinion.
  • Matching Skill Set (~20% weighting) – In my case I am looking for someone who has done similar work including WordPress, research and some SEO work. If they have another bonus skill I can’t efficiently teach I consider that as well such as graphic design or the ability to code.
  • English Skills (~20% weighting) – I want to find someone who does not have any broken English in their application. Whether it is selecting a category for a post or crafting a tweet their English skills need to be decent enough to put together a non-broken sentence.

Step 5 – Hire the 2 Best VA’s for the Blind Experiment

Based on the criteria above hire the 1-3 best potential VA’s with no interview. Simply select the 2 best and hire them.

Here is where the blind experiment method comes into play. Without an interview I just go ahead and hire someone then in the next steps there is the “experiment” to prove who is the best VA.

When the cost of making a hiring mistake is high (such as in real life) it makes sense to be as thorough as possible… however, in the online world where ending a contract costs only the few hours the candidate was working you can save yourself a TON of time bye not doing any interviews.

Step 6 – Assign Short Term Research Assignment

Once the VA’s have been hired it is time to send them their first assignment. It is important to follow up with the instructions right after you have hired them. The assignment I am looking to assign is something that is simple and will prove to me if they have what it takes.

Example of the 2 assignments I am going to assign…

  • Research Assignment #1 – Find 30 scholarships for College students in the US who are from China. Create a Google spreadsheet and share it with JonHaver11. I would like you to include the name of the scholarship, the URL of the scholarship and a copied short description of the scholarship. Please confirm you have received these instructions by emailing me at jonhaver11 immediately after being hired and send a very brief email daily with your progress (# found) and any questions you have. I would like this research completed within 2-3 days.
  • Research Assignment #2 – Find 30 scholarships for College students in the US who are from Canada. Create a Google spreadsheet and share it with JonHaver11. I would like you to include the name of the scholarship, the URL of the scholarship and a copied short description of the scholarship. Please confirm you have received these instructions by emailing me at jonhaver11 immediately after being hired and send a very brief email daily with your progress (# found) and any questions you have. I would like this research completed within 2-3 days.

That is it! I like to provide more detail on all future assignments but this clear enough but not too detailed job will show me what kind of person they are.

Step 7 – Review Work Completed by the VA’s

The review of their work starts with their communication, I like to see the confirmation come shortly after being hired saying they understand the job. If I get a ton of emails asking simple questions like “how do I create a Google Document” or anything they could easily learn with Google then I know they will be a burden on me or my team leads time and not free it up. If they are crisp with their daily communication and deliver great results in an organized fashion within the timeline then I know what kind of worker they are.

Using this test assignment has been a huge help to me and my team in terms of weeding out low performers before they have been a drain on my team.

The 4 basic skills I am looking at during this phase is…

  • Speed of communication
  • Quality of communication
  • Quality of questions they ask
  • Quality of final piece of work (did they “get it”)

Step 8 – Fire Lowest Performing VA

In the past I have spent time trying to train up low performers to make them high performers. However, I am now very convinced my time is far better off training up my best performers and churning through VA’s until I find some stand outs who can be top performers.

WARNING – You will get many emails after you end the contract of the VA asking to be re-hired and providing many passionate pleas why you should hire them. It does hurt to say no to some people. If I think I gave them a fair opportunity I can’t get too worked up about ending their contract but it still sucks. So if you plan on following my no interview hire 2 fire 1 strategy be aware there is pain associated with it.

Step 9 – Manage and Train Your VA

This step deserves its own section but here are some basic instructions that will ensure you are effectively managing a VA…

1. Require daily updates via email…

  • What has been done
  • What the plan for tomorrow is
  • Any issues that have come up

2. Use a Google Document that includes training, tasks and work completed

3. Provide consistent feedback both positive and constructive. Aim for a ratio of 4:1 positive to constructive.

How to Hire a Writer:

Much of this is the same as I wrote back in 2012 and although the cost per article has increased the principles still hold.

3 Hard Earned Lessons

  • Good writers are typically “flakey” and will disappear without notice so always have some backup
  • Native English writers is an absolute requirement
  • Paying promptly and communicating well will help reduce the churn typically experienced with good writers

My System for Hiring Writers…

Getting high quality articles written for a very low cost is a key strength for my online business. In this article and for the first time I share exactly how I get high quality articles created cheaply.

Here is how I get a 500+ Word High Quality Article Written for $8

ONE - Identify Articles to Be Created

I have a ONE simple Google Document spreadsheets for my various projects with a typical list of…

  • Website
  • Title(target keyword)
  • Type of content (Pillar 2000-4000 word article or 750 word blog post with a little bit of information added here to help guide the writer)
  • Link to eventual Google document of the article (for when the article is created)
  • Link to published URL (either on my site or another page online)

TWO - Post a Job on UpWork

The job on UpWork doesn’t have to be anything special. The key to hiring good writers is understanding what they are looking for and providing it.

My ideal writer is looking for an opportunity to get 5* feedback and steady work. I am looking for someone who is…

  • A Native English Speaker (USA, Canada, Great Britain, Australia)
  • Has writing experience
  • College educated
  • Newer to ODesk and looking for experience/exposure
  • Returning to the workforce and hungry to prove themselves
  • Stay at home Mom’s have proven to be exceptional!

Example of Content Tracking Sheet

These qualities typically reflect themselves in a stay at home mom or recent college graduates who are looking to get experience.

Here is my article writing job posting I like to use…

Article Writer Post


I have a quick 5 article writing job if you are interested in getting some 5* feedback on your ODesk profile and potential long term work.

I will provide you with the article titles and would like you to research them and then write 750 word articles

Required:
– Native English
– Interested in completing this job quickly for the fixed bid amount and receiving 5* feedback
– interested in potential longer term writing assignment after the successful completion of this job
– Bid at or below the $40 for 5 articles

THREE - Hire 2-3 Writers for Each Group of Keywords

No need to interview since there is very little you can learn to better inform your decision. By not interviewing you take on 2 risks…

  • Writer is not serious and does not complete the work – However, I don’t believe interviewing would reduce this risk and the consequence of not getting your articles is minor since you are hiring 2 writers for each group of keywords.
  • You receive of sub-par quality content – Again, this risk is minor since you have 2 writers working for each group of articles and if the content is decent(which it almost always is) but just doesn’t add enough value it can be used as an article on my Private Blog Network.

Many people will disagree with me on this but hiring them right away without an interview saves me a lot of time!

If schedule is not important to you and you have a lot of articles ready to be written it can be a good strategy to assign articles 1-5 for one writer and 6-10 to another. By doing this if you do end up with 2 great writers you can use all the articles on your money site.

FOUR - Send Them a Message with Instructions

Here are the instructions I send via UpWork as soon as I hire them, this email is nothing special but lays out what deliverables are expected and when they are expected.

A great podcast if you are interested in running an efficient team is Manager Tools who teach the basic principle of project management is defining “who is doing what by when”.

One change I made to this template that improved the number of writers that completed their articles was asking for a small action right away “email me confirming you have received and understand these instructions”.

—- Email Template —-


Welcome to the team. I really look forward to working with you!

My name is _____ and I am the team lead here, please email at _______ to confirm you have received this email right away.

If you ever have any questions or concerns you can get in touch with Jon the owner at _______

Here are the 5 articles each article needs to be 750+ words and 100% unique…

Title 1

Title 2

Title 10


Following the general instructions provided at the link below (specifically section 4)

https://websiteincome.com/quality-article-writing-using-a-template/

Please send all articles in one email in individual .doc form to the emails above.

Hopefully you can complete all 5 articles in 1 week, 5* feedback and more work will follow.

If you have any questions please contact me.

Thanks and I look forward to speaking with you more.

_______ (Team Lead)

FIVE - Receive Articles

Once the articles have been received they should be checked for the following…

  • Quality – Review the article to see if it is good enough to go onto the website, again if it’s not it can be used at a Web 2.0 property or private blog network.

I then have my team leader move each article to a dropbox folder and share the link on the google document.

SIX - Publish Articles (more to come in future posts)

Once the articles required are available (uploaded to dropbox folder and added to the content tracking spreadsheet) my content publishing VA is triggered to get the articles published on the given site.

Another complete post could be created on the different ways to ensure quality content is published.

For me I use Thrive Themes and Content Builder extensively to help ensure my posts formatting is of a very high quality!

Depending on the quality of the writer, me and my team manager will move them onto bigger assignments as required.

So that is it, six steps showing how I get cheap articles written that are of high quality!

Hiring Your First 2 Positions – Summary

So that is it… an updated version from my original posts talking about hiring a VA and hiring a writer.

The basic concepts have stayed consistent in my business for the past three years.

If you are starting out and looking to grow your team I hope my hard earned lessons and the strategy I have refined now over the years is helpful!

If you have any tips/tricks when it comes to your first hires please share in the comments below.

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