In this article, I’ll explain how and why I started hiring professional writers on ProBlogger to help increase the number of blog posts I publish each week.
Like most bloggers, when I first started out, I wrote everything myself.
Every single blog post was painstakingly written, edited and formatted by yours truly.
Publishing just to publish, as it were… 😏
But still, I probably created the first 200+ posts myself. It’s a lot of work, even if you’re only writing 400-800 words.
I eventually came to dread the obligation of sitting down to produce that weekly post, and to be honest, I sometimes phoned it in.
I also shifted my focus to YouTube for a well over a year and assumed blog traffic would continue to grow organically, forever.
I was wrong, and it took years to step up my game and start managing my blog like a professional instead of a hobbyist.
Quality vs. Quantity
These days I know that frequency really doesn’t matter when it comes getting more readers and traffic. Quantity is nothing without quality.
But, if you can publish more often and maintain high quality standards, that’s ideal.
Recent Google updates have led to increased domain diversity in search results, which means larger sites are often dominating over smaller ones, simply because they have way more content.
If I were to use a sports metaphor (I don’t actually watch sports…do you?), Google is rewarding blogs that take more shots on goal.
Every new post you publish is a shot on goal. It’s an attempt. And if you do your keyword research and on-page SEO, every post has a good chance of getting traffic, possibly for a very long time.
Simply put: as long as you’re publishing quality content with organic potential, it makes sense to publish more content.
All else being equal, 3 posts per week > 1 post per week.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have it in me to produce that much content without some hired help!
Other Ways to Find Writers
There are many different ways to outsource writing, and I’ve tried most of them, including:
- Recruiting guest bloggers (who want exposure/backlinks)
- Finding subject matter enthusiasts (who want free samples and enjoy the process)
- Using Upwork and other freelance networks
- Using content/writer agencies
I’ve had mixed experiences with the above methods. Here’s a brief overview:
Recruiting guest bloggers
By “recruiting” I mean saying yes to some of the pitches that land in my inbox.
If you have an established site, you’re probably getting hit up by “guest writers” all the time. These requests are usually low quality; they’re clearly just link builders looking to take advantage of your domain authority.
But, every now and then, I’ll hear from a talented, genuine blogger who is looking to expand their reach and is willing to produce a high quality piece of content.
This is a great way to get articles for your website, but it’s hit or miss (mostly miss) and not very reliable.
In the fashion niche, there are plenty of guys who have no interest in running their own blog, but they love menswear and want to write about it in their free time.
Usually, they’re up for writing reviews in exchange for free product samples. This is a win-win and something I do a lot.
There are two big drawbacks to this method:
First, these guys have jobs and families and plenty of other obligations that take priority over writing a wallet review for my style blog.
So often times, they’ll take months to deliver a piece of content. It’s a lot of time and effort for one piece, even if the results are great.
Second, since these guys aren’t professional writers, their work sometimes needs heavy editing.
Granted, I’d prefer an amateur writer who loves the subject vs. a pro who doesn’t, but having both is ideal.
Whenever I try to use Upwork to hire a writer (or video editor, for that matter), I get mixed results, at best.
Upwork is like Amazon: you can find anything there, but it may not be up to your quality standards.
I’ve found a couple great writers on Upwork, but they’re diamonds in the rough, and they’re expensive.
I’ve also tried outsourcing to content agencies, which are companies that employ their own freelance writers and typically offer more competitive rates, especially for bulk purchases.
This is a convenient route to take, but I’ve found it almost impossible find any subject matter experts working for a content agency.
These companies claim to be able to write about anything, but I don’t want a jack of all trades. I want writers who know about, care about and love the topics they’re covering.
An article backed by years of personal passion is so much better than one back by an hour of internet research.
Hiring Writers on ProBlogger
I’ve known about Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger.com for years, and I’ve heard great things about their job board from friends who have very successful content sites (i.e., blogs, authority sites, whatever you want to call them).
I don’t know why I didn’t try to find writers on ProBlogger sooner.
Maybe it’s because you have to pay to post a job listing, although it isn’t very expensive.
Maybe I’m just afraid of unlocking my hidden potential that’s been waiting dormant all these years, and everything that comes with it, like the possibility of failure and public shaming…
It’s probably one of those reasons.
Anyway, I finally decided to give it a shot. Since you can browse the other job listings, I basically “borrowed” elements from other employers to stitch together my own listing.
On the advice of a friend, I used the ProBlogger listing to drive potential applicants to a Google Form where they had to supply more detailed info.
You can apply directly on ProBlogger, and many people did, but this extra step ensures you’re getting candidates who read the whole post and are willing to spend more than a few seconds to work with you.
In the form, I asked all of the usual questions (name, email, etc.) and threw in some niche-specific questions to weed out anyone who didn’t actually know/care about the subject matter.
I’ll be honest: there were a lot of very low quality applicants – partial answers, grammatical errors, non-English writers, etc.
But out of almost 100 applicants, I followed up with about 15 via email. These emails weren’t copy/pasted, as I had different questions for different candidates (more samples, clarity on rates, etc.).
Most of them responded, although I never heard back from a couple. I ended up asking for a paid trial article from about 10 of them.
2-3 of the writers sent articles that were clearly written by a non-native English speaker, which was a clear requirement in the job description.
But five of them submitted articles that were either publish ready or needed light editing. Their rates ranged from $0.04 to $0.15 per word.
Interestingly, I didn’t see a lot of direct correlation between rates and quality or work.
I repeated this process for a more specific topic and got the same results (lots of applications, mostly junk, resulting in a few solid writers).
What I Learned
Here’s what I wish I knew a long time ago about hiring writers on ProBlogger:
It’s totally worth the money
At the time of writing, it cost $75 to post a job listing on ProBlogger. I’ve wasted a lot more than this on subpar content in the past, so I think ProBlogger is totally worth the money.
It takes a lot of time
It takes quite a bit of time and effort to put together a proper job listing, go through all of the applicants, follow up with the good ones, do test articles, etc.
It’s totally worth the effort
Even though it’s not easy and doesn’t feel as productive as, say, writing an article yourself, hiring a couple of reliable pros is a worthwhile endeavor if you want to take your blog to the next level.
ProBlogger > Upwork
Overall, I found more quality candidates per job listing on ProBlogger than Upwork.
Need to filter for interest
Many of the writers on ProBlogger are just professional writers who probably don’t have any experience with or interest in your blog’s specific niche.
While this is okay for some topics, I really want writers who eat, sleep and breathe my topics (e.g., fashion, watches, grooming).
To find these people, it’s crucial to test their interest with some specific questions. Many of them will simple admit they’re not an expert, and some will try to bluff.
But it’s obvious when someone has a genuine passion for a certain topic.
Need to filter for native English writers
I had many, many non-native English writers apply to my listings, despite making this a clear requirement.
Many used fake English-sounding names and even lied about their portfolio.
Do a trial article
Some of these fakers claimed to have written for reputable sites like GQ and even linked to some really high quality pieces in their application.
But when their trial article came back, it was clear that they had been lying.
It’s weird…like, does this ever work? Are people fooled that easily?
Either way, it sucks to have your time wasted, but you need to do a trial article before giving anyone a real, important assignment.
If you’re on the fence about using ProBlogger or have been disappointed with other hiring methods, I think you should just go for it.
I wish I did this a long time ago!