Hi there friends, it’s Darren Rowse from ProBlogger here. Welcome to episode 248 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse, as I said and I am the blogger behind ProBlogger, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to start an amazing blog, to create some great content on that blog, to grow your audience, and to build profit around it. Also, you can find more about what we do at problogger.com.
Now, in today’s episode, I want to talk about where to find writers for your blog, particularly where to find paid writers— those writers that you want to add your own voice and to help you to create more content for your blog on an ongoing basis.
I want to share with you the five places that I found writers for free without having to advertise for them at all. These are five places that are probably under your nose right now, they may be writers already in your network and it’s about how to unearth them. And then also, I want to share some tips of how to advertise for writers as well if you can’t find them within those free places that I’ve talked about.
You can find today’s show notes over at progblogger.com/podcast/248, where is a full transcript of today’s show as well as any links that I mentioned along the way as well.
Today’s show was inspired by Richard, who’s one of our listeners who sent in this question. He writes, “I’ve been blogging for three years now, and while my blog is making enough income for me to probably go full time with my blog. I also have a full time job that I love and don’t wish to leave. As a result, I’ve decided to look at hiring a writer or writers for my blog. To this point, I’ve only ever featured my own content and one of guest posts unpaid, and have no idea where to even start when it comes to finding writers. Where should I look for writers for my blog?”
Thanks, Richard, for the question, I appreciate it. Firstly, congratulations of building your blog to a point that you’ve come to already. I think it’s great that you have built to this level where you could full time but also I think it’s great that you’ve decided to keep your job. That must have been a tricky decision to make but one I do applaud. Because I do know that a lot of listeners of this podcast dream of going full time but also have work that they really love as well. So you can do both.
One of the ways that you can do both is to outsource aspects of your blogging—one of which is the writers. Onto your question, where do you look for writers? Some people are probably thinking that I’m going to just use this podcast to promote the ProBlogger job board. It is a place on ProBlogger where you can advertise for different roles that you’re looking to fill for your blog, including writing but also editing, marketing, copywriting, proofreading, that type of thing. We’ll certainly touch on the ProBlogger job boards later on in this episode.
I do suspect that Richard my not even need to advertise for a writer because it sounds like he might already have them under his nose. I started hiring people to write on my blogs and to edit my blogs quite a few years ago now. In fact, I think it was probably around 2005 that I hired my first blog writer and she also became an editor for one of my early blogs. It’s actually a blog that doesn’t exist anymore today; it was a blog about camera phones. Today we all call them smart phones but back then, I don’t even think that would existed. It was just this new type of phone that was coming out that had a camera in it and that seem to be the whole newby craze. I had a blog about camera phones.
The reason I wanted to hire someone for that blog was that I simply wasn’t passionate enough about that topic to keep the blog ticking over. And yet, it was doing reasonably well in terms of traffic and revenue from AdSense. I thought it was probably worthwhile hiring someone to keep that blog ticking over.
The first person I actually hired came about because that person had already contributed guest posts to the site previously. Richard mentioned that he has published guest posts on his blog in the past. That’s probably where I would be starting to look for someone to hire. The first place is in any previous writers that you have had. I’d be looking back of those guest posters and asking how do the post go in terms of traffic, what was the quality like, how was the guest poster to work with, we’re they easy to work with, did they submit content in a way that didn’t need much editing or was it a lot of to and fro, were they high maintenance or not, did they go above and beyond with the post as well, did they promote it to their own networks, did they reply to comments, how were they to work with and if one of those people stands out as being easy to work with producing high quality content, adding more to the content than just writing it, by going a little bit above and beyond, then that’s probably where I will be starting with.
Maybe one of those guest posters comes to mind as someone that you will love to have write in an ongoing way, and I’ll be reaching out to those previous guest posters. That would be the first place that I will look for and I can think of people that I’ve hired that started as guest posters. In fact, Darlene, who currently edits Digital Photography School, working part time for us, started as a guest post as well.
There’s been numerous times where that has been the progression. I love when that happens because it means you get a real feel for them, they get a feel for you, you understand their voice, they begin to understand your systems, and it is probably the most seamless way of finding a writer because they’ve already been doing it in some ways.
Ideally, that’s a great place to start and it may be that that’s the way Richard finds his answer. I know many of you listening to this don’t have guest posts already and that may actually be one good reason to bring them on but there are other places as well that you can look on your worn blog.
On Digital Photography School, I’ve made a couple of my earliest hires in terms of writers based upon guest posters but I’ve also hired one person who was leaving great comments on my blog. They actually had been regularly leaving comments that showed that they knew what they were talking about when it came to photography. That also showed that they were genuinely helpful in their comments and interested in helping people. They also showed by the fact that they’re writing fairly lengthy comments and communicating clearly that they were decent writers as well. I reached out to them to see if they would like to write an article for Digital Photography School.
The first article back then, it was probably back in 2006 or 2007, it was a guest post, it wasn’t a paid article, but it was a bit of a test to see how they would go with that format of writing and to see whether they were interested in writing. It went so well that I then offered them a once-a-month opportunity to write a paid article for us.
Maybe, there’s a comment around your blog that comes to mind. I know a lot of people don’t comment as much as they used to on blogs but maybe there’s someone of your blog who is demonstrating that they know what they’re talking about. They’ve got some expertise and they’ve got an interest in talking about that topic by the fact that they leave comments. That’s number two place that you might want to look.
If you don’t get many comments, there are plenty of other places that you could be looking to find the people who do leave comments in other places. People are commenting all the time. They may not be commenting as much on your blog these days, but maybe there’s somewhere else in your presence online where they are commenting or in other people’s presence as well.
Perhaps, these are a few of the places that I found writers in the past. Perhaps, you would find them in a forum. I can think of people that I’ve hired who were forum members of my own forum when I had a forum on the topic of photography years ago.
Again, they were writing good quality content in the forum and I approached them and said, “Hey, would you like to write on the blog?” It was a fairly simple ask and in some cases, they transferred across and became writers of the blog.
I’ve hired people who’ve left comments in other people’s forums. There’s nothing to stop you going into someone else’s forum, becoming a member, and having a look at who’s the most useful member of that forum and reaching out to them. Maybe they could become a writer as well. The same is true on people leaving comments on Facebook Pages, particularly in Facebook groups. We hired someone relatively recently, about a year and a half ago now who is leaving good comments in a Facebook group that I owned.
They were contributing there and I was like, “Wow, they’re being so generous. They’re writing in such a way that they’re effectively writing articles in our group, why don’t they write some articles on the blog and we could pay them for that.”
Sometimes people leaving comments of other people’s blogs is a way you could start. If people are contributing useful, genuine, and generous information in different places, you should be reaching out to them and looking for opportunities to work with them. I’ve hired people have been interviewed as guest of other people’s podcasts, I”ve hired people who I have seen doing Facebook Lives of their own Facebook Pages.
Ultimately I’m always on the lookout for people who demonstrate a knowledge of the topic that I’m blogging about who seem to genuinely and generously be interested in helping other people, who communicate well, who seem to be putting themselves out there and looking for opportunities, who are interesting, who are a little bit different, maybe a little bit quirky, and people who seem to get social media and online communication.
I think we should all be in the lookout for those types of people. It’s not just we should be looking at for these type of people to become writers for us but all kinds of thing. I guess what I would say is if you see anyone who fits those characteristics; you may have in the back of your mind. They could become a writer for you. But who knows what else they may become?
Usually when I see that type of person, I just reach out and say, “Hey, I’d be interested to have a chat with you to see where at, what you’re interested in doing and to see if there’s a way that we could work together.”
Usually, my approach is usually fairly general. I might think that they could become a writer, but maybe something else might emerge from that kind of discussion. I try and go in open minded into that. It means I don’t have to get locked in to hiring them down the track, I’m not setting that expectation with them, but it also opens up other opportunities and maybe they could create something else for us. Maybe they could create a course for us. Maybe they could create an ebook for us, maybe they already have a cause of their own and we can become an affiliate for them. Or maybe they could become an affiliate for us.
Maybe there’s some other job in what you do that you could hire them to do. I remember meeting with one person who I thought might become a writer for me. It turns out that they actually were better suited to another role that I was looking for at the time and actually ended up managing part of my business down the track. Try not to go in too closed mind into these conversations.
Be on the lookout for good people. People who get your topic but also get communication and who are—good people with good values as well. There are a few different opportunities they are looking for previous guest posters. I’m looking for people who leave comments on my blog. I’m looking for people who leave comments in other places as well.
The other type that I hired, and this has been a less road but I have had some success with this, is looking at people who by creating content in other places, sometimes their own places, or also as freelancers as well.
For example, I can think of one person who I hired in the early days of Digital Photography School—actually it’s probably about a year and a half into the APS. I found her as a writer for my blog because I discovered her blog. She had just started; she was a brand new blogger. I can see even in her early posts that she was going places with her blog but I could also say they she just started, she didn’t have much readership. I reached out towards her, “Hey, I know you’ve already got your own blog but would you be interested in writing for us semi regularly as well as a paid contributor? I can see what you’re doing of your blog would really also be appealing to our readers as well.
This was perfect for us because I got someone who’s a great writer but it was also perfect for her because her blog wasn’t a point where she can go full time with it. But by me giving her some writing work, I did give her some income while she built her own blog. It also gave her some exposure as well because we also had a byline underneath all of her articles that promoted her blog.
Ultimately, her blog became so popular that she could no longer write for us anymore. But for the time being, it was a win-win interaction for us. Be on the lookout for other bloggers who may be bloggers who are just starting out or other bloggers who might be looking for another income stream as well.
The other place that I’ve found people to hire out for me is people who are writing freelance articles for magazines and other kinds of websites as well. I remember once, reading a photography magazine and really loving one of the articles and noticing that it was by an offer that I’ve never seen right for that magazine before. I did a bit of digging and I found this person on Twitter and said, “Hey, I loved your article on this particular magazine, how long have you been writing for them?”
I discovered that they were actually a freelancer. That was the only article that they’ve ever written for them and their business is just to write freelance articles. I reached out and said, “Hi, I’ve got this photography site, would you be interested in writing for us as well? We’d love something similar to what you did in the magazine.” That person became a writer as well. If they’re writing freelance for other publications, they probably also open to doing it for you as well.
The last place and this is probably where you should start is word of mouth as well and the thing has often what for me is when I just let people know in my circle of friends, in colleagues, my network, that I’m looking for writers. And, do you know anyone who’s good at writing about this particular topic and you’ll be surprised how many times that actually does unearth someone for you. That’s another place that I’d be looking.
Up unto this point I’ve been talking about free things that you can do. Word of mouth you can be looking for freelancers or bloggers who’s already writing on the topics. You can be looking for people who are leaving comments in public places, forums, Facebook groups; you can be looking of your blog at people who are leaving comments and also people who may have written for you before.
And then the last thing that you can do is to advertise. This will cost you some money or cost you some time but also in my experiences worked very well. In the early days, for me, it was all through the things are already mentioned. But since probably 2006, 2007, we’ve had the ProBlogger job board so I’ve used that myself when I’ve come to higher writers as well.
Obviously, I have a vested interest in mentioning this in this particular podcast, but every time we advertise for new writers for digital photography school of our job board, we get about 50, sometimes 60 or even 70 applications. We get a lot of candidates and I would say that every time we’ve advertised, we have found some gold. Not all of that 50-60 people are high quality. You do get some people who just apply for every job they don’t read the applications. But every time we’ve advertise, we’ve unearthed amazing people as well.
In fact, most times where we’ve advertise, we’ve ended up hiring five or six people, sometimes as many as 10 from that advertisement. You need to also just be aware that it takes a bit of work. You’re getting 50, 60 applications, you need to put a bit of time into sorting through those but it if you’re willing to put in that work, it can be well worth doing.
Now, one thing I would say is that over the years, we’ve refined the way that we processed the candidates. We’ve learned the more specific we are in the job advertisement that we put up, the better quality applicant we get. We really try and be as clear as possible as to the type of person we’re looking for, what qualifications they need to have and very clear about what we want them to send us in their application.
I have actually written a blog post a few years ago now on the process that we use and I’ll link to that, in the show notes today, but also go through in really quickly here as well. Generally, when we put up an ad on the job boards, we ask people to fill in a form so we might set up a Google form or we get them to apply through the job board itself. This is a new feature that we’ve got of the job board that people can actually put their application in through the job board, which does help us now.
We ask them to submit a lot of information. We want to know where they’ve written in the past, what they’re experiences with the topic. We often get them to submit some articled titles that they’d be willing to write about, which show us that they are willing to come up with content and take some initiative. We always ask for them to submit some samples of their writing, either to send us some Word documents that they’ve written, or send us to some links that they written online. Whether it’s their own blog or someone else’s.
We have found that the more information we can gather, the better because it does help us go back to the people who we think are high quality candidates. When we put our ad up, we promote that ad to our own network as well so it goes up on the ProBlogger job boards but then we Tweeted out on the Digital Photography School Twitter account, we put on our Facebook Page, because we actually want people who understand our side to apply for the job as well. Because often they are the people who turn out to be the best writers for us, people who have been readers and go, “Hey, I could write for them because I understand what they’re on about.”
Generally, when applicants come in, we give them a deadline, which all the applicants need to be in by this time. And then we go through a shortlisting process. We put them into three main categories. No, they are the people we immediately eliminate and we email them immediately and say, “Thanks for your application. We’re not going to progress with you at the moment.” They might be people who haven’t followed the instructions and we can they’re just applying to everyone. People who don’t communicate well in their application, it’s amazing how many people submit applications with terrible spelling mistakes and no attention to detail. People how perhaps English isn’t up to scratch, we want to hire people who are able to communicate naturally with their audience who are English speakers.
We have criteria there that we put people in the ‘No.’ then we have a ‘Maybe category’ and there are people that we think, “It’s not a perfect application but maybe we’ll be able to work with him as well and we do know that there are some people who’s communication skills maybe not quite out to scratch but we have an editing process. So we might be at a work with them. So they go in the ‘Maybe’ category, and then we have a’ Yes’ category.
Generally, what we do with the Maybes’ is wait to see whether we get enough people to hire from our ‘Yes’ category. We will go back to the people in the ‘Maybe’ and just say, “We need a little bit of time to process this, thanks for your application. We’ll let you know by this date.” Then we go back to the people who we’ve put in our ‘Yes’ pile. There’s usually 10-15 of these. We say to them, “Hey, we’d love your application. We would love to take this a little bit further and give you a trial.”
Basically, in that email, we outline how much we will pay them. We outline the kind of content we’re looking for, how much content we’re looking for—try and give them a bit of a feel for what it would be like to work for us, and then we outline the trial process which I’ll talk about in a moment.
And then we say to them, “Would you like to progress?” What we find that that point is that usually about 60%, 70% of people go “Yes, we would like to progress,” and maybe 10% or 20% sometimes up to 30% might go, “Yeah. You’ve described something that doesn’t quite fit with me right now, thanks.” But that will say no at that point. We’ve already whittled that down a little bit. Remember you’re into that trial period.
Trial period is basically as asking how ‘Yes’ candidates to submit an article that we can publish of the site. This is a paid article, we always pay them at this point, they’re going to put some time and energy into it so they should be rewarded for that, we pay them at the full rate that we pay our authors and we ask them to come up with a topic which we negotiate with them. We go back and forth of that because we don’t want them to submit something that’s really not a good fit for our site. We talk to them about that. We commission that article and we give them a deadline for that.
This whole trial process is one that creates a piece of content that we publish of the site. We look to see how that content goes over with our audience but what we’re also really looking to see how this author is to work with. Are they easy to work with? Are they submitting content in the format that we ask them to and following instructions clearly? Are they meeting the deadline? Do they have a gift in writing—those types of things as well. We will publish all of those pieces of content. It’s a bit of work at this point but we’re getting some content out of it as well, then we pay them, and then we make our choice based upon that.
There have been times where we’ve hired from this process five people at a time. There was once I hired 10 people from this process just from one ad of the job board as well. There’s been other times where we’re just been looking for one particular type of writer as well so we just hired them.
The trial process has really worked very well for us because it really does give us a feel for them. It also gives them a feel for us as well. There have been candidates who we’ve really liked and they’ve gone, “Yeah, I didn’t really enjoy this process.” I don’t really feel like it’s a fit for me.” I rather then discover that during the trial process then three months in the writing for us.
The keys I found is that when you’re advertising for a writer or going through any other process that you might want to go through, some of the other things I mentioned. It’s really important that you know what you’re looking for. You need to know how much content you want, the style of content that you want, the kind of topics that you want. The more information you can give potential writers, the better, because it gets their expectations right.
Communicate that really clearly through the ad or through the communications you have with people. The second thing is to really communicate really clearly with everyone who applies, and the people you end up hiring and also the people who don’t end up hiring. Because they may actually become readers, they may actually become guest posters, they may become collaborators, they may promote your site. You never quite know where these relationships are going to end up. Communicate as clearly as you can and yeah, get the process moving as well.
I hope that that has been helpful for you if you are thinking about hiring a writer of your blog. Hiring a writer can have many benefits for your blog. Obviously, it can help you to create more content which can relate to more pathways into your blog. The other part about having a new writer come onto your site is that it broadens the expertise that you’re able to have in terms of the content that you share. Me adding new writers into Digital Photography School back in 2006, 2007, I can produce more content which helped to grow traffic. It meant I can broaden the topics that I was able to write about.
Suddenly, I wasn’t just writing beginner articles, I was writing articles or publishing articles at an intermediate level because these other writers were at that higher level. Or they had expertise in different types of photography that I didn’t have which really helped me to serve my readers as well.
I think the other thing that is probably worth mentioning is you don’t want to just know what you’re looking for in terms of the type of content but also think about the voice of content as well and the values that you want your writers to have as well. To really try and hire people that complements your style but really get your values. This has been really important. There’s been a few times over the years where I’ve hired people who are great communicators but they had their own agendas and they had their own values that go right in with my own and that ended up not really helping build the brand that I was trying to build.
You want to be a little bit careful about those things. The other thing I would say is there may also be a case of having an extended trial period as well. We don’t tend to do this with our writers but I know a few bloggers who—when they’re hiring someone new, they will hire them for three months, and again, that’s like a trial period. At the end of the three months, things will be evaluated and then they work out whether they want it to be an ongoing relationship as well. That may be worth building into your process too.
I hope that’s helpful to you. I would love to hear your tips of how you go about hiring writers for your blog if you’ve done that. If you do want to check out the ProBlogger job board to advertise, it’s at problogger.com/jobs. You’ll find it linked to in the navigation area everywhere on ProBlogger.
If you’re looking to find a job, there are always jobs being advertised there as well at any given time. There’s usually about 90 jobs for bloggers, for writers, for copywriters, for marketers, for editors, for proofreaders, a variety of different types of roles there. Even looking now I can see people looking to hire bloggers for men’s grooming writers, lifestyle writers, someone looking for a bitcoin expert, people wanting for people to write about email marketing, people wanting to hire people to write about food. There’s a variety of different topics there as well.
If you’re looking to use the job board to hire people, we do have featured jobs as well as just noble jobs, the price to have a normal job, advertise the $70 for 30 days. But there is an opportunity there for a featured listing as well which gives you more prominence, which may be of interest as well.
Check it out if you are looking for a job or if you’re looking to hire people. It’s at problogger.com/jobs. There’s also an RSS feed for those of you and then an email alert for those of you looking for jobs there as well.
Anyway, thanks for listening. I hope you found these useful. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/248.
Before I go let me share with you one quote of the day. I don’t actually know who came out with this one, it’s one of those anonymous quotes but I think it really does apply to this topic of hiring people. Whether you’re hiring a writer, or whether you’re hiring a designer or whether you’re hiring something else in your life, I think this applies. “If you think hiring professionals is expensive, try hiring amateurs.” I think it’s definitely true.
One of the things I would say about the ads that I sometimes see of ProBlogger job boards is that sometimes people pay a pittance, they pay not much at all and all they advertise—looking for people and they’re not really willing to pay much for the people that they’re hiring and the reality is that you’re going to get the kind of applicants for your jobs based upon that type of things.
If you are not willing to pay much, you’re not going to get a high quality applicant in most cases. Put a little bit of money there and you’re going to get someone who is going to produce something at a higher rate, I hope and not pay for that in the long run if you are going to publish rubbishy content on your content of your site, cheap content on your site, that is in the long run going to cost you a lot more. Pay a little bit more, and reward the writer and you will see the benefits of that in the long run as well.
Thanks for listening. I look forward to chatting with you next week.
Before I go, I want to give a big shout out and say thank you to Craig Hewitt and the team at Podcast Motor who’ve been editing all of our podcast for some time now. Podcast Motor has a great range of services for podcasters at all levels. They can help you to setup your podcast but also offer a couple of excellent services to help you to edit your shows and get them up with great show notes. Check them out at podcastmotor.com.