How to Hire the Best Blogger For Your Site – Easy 9 Step Process
December 4, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park
There may come a time in running your online business when you want to adopt the publisher model and outsource your content development. This includes your articles, your blogs, and even your sales copy. In a previous post, I talked about my success finding great programmers and designers on Elance and oDesk. Unfortunately, the search for bloggers and writers is a completely different animal and needs to be approached differently.
In this article, I’m going to share with you my experiences hiring bloggers and writers for my iPhone blog. It’s been a long and hard process but I’ve finally found an incredible writer who goes above and beyond what’s required. Not only that, but we have similar interests (it’s almost uncanny) and we’ve agreed to work on additional projects as partners. Sure, a lot of it was luck, but looking back I think there is an effective way to find the perfect bloggers and writers for your business.
Below are my tips for finding the best writers possible.
1. Use the Problogger job board
What I like about the Problogger job board is that everyone who keeps up with it is most likely already familiar with blogging and online media. Otherwise, they wouldn’t know about the Problogger site, right? On the other hand, if you list a blogging job on Craigslist, you’ll probably receive a lot of inquiries from unqualified candidates who have never written on a blog. A listing on Problogger is $50 for 30 days, but it’s money well spent.
As an example, my listing for an iPhone blogger is here: iPhone Blogger with Attitude
2. Write a clear description to pique interest
Your job listing should accomplish a couple things: find the right candidates (with topics, responsibilities, and experience) and get the right candidates interested (with pay, schedule, workload, and benefits). Be sure to include important details about the job such as job title, description, responsibilities (number of articles per month), pay, and benefits. Having a clear and descriptive listing will weed out uninterested and unqualified candidates and will create a better search experience for you.
3. Make them prove themselves
The key to finding the best writers for your job is to make candidates prove themselves from the get go. Ask them to email you back with previous writing samples and a paragraph with reasons why they would be a good fit for the job. Also, feel free to ask questions that reveal personality and knowledge about the topic. The more information you can get about your candidates, the better.
4. Promote on other sites as well
In addition to listing your job on the Problogger Job Boards, advertise your opening on other niche sites in your industry. For example, if you’re looking for PC gaming bloggers, spread the word on related blogs, forums, and job boards. It might not hurt to also get your listing up on the mainstream sites like Craigslist.
5. Followup to gauge interest
Once candidates contact you letting you know that they’re interested and ready to get started, reply back with a few questions. Can they meet the requirements set forth in the listing? What are their strengths? What kind of ideas do they have for this project and what can they offer to make it a success? From there, you’ll get a much better understanding of what the candidates have to offer. Sure, a resume or past writing samples are great, but they’re not true indicators of how bad they want the job. My current iPhone blog writer replied back to me with a 2 page essay about how badly he wanted the job and all of his ideas and strengths. He even offered to do video reviews on his new HD camcorder. Bingo!
6. Hire writers to try them out
By now you should have plenty of applications to choose from. Cut the list down to 5 of your favorite candidates. Rather than limiting yourself to just 1 or 2 writers, hire all 5 to try them out. It might be expensive in the beginning but it’ll save you a lot of money in the long run. Unless you try out writers and experience their work first hand, you may be missing out on great partnership opportunities or getting into the wrong ones. Don’t let this happen to you.
7. Lay out specific terms and instructions
After bringing on your team of writers, you want to make sure that you have a solid contract in place. If you want to take a look at the one I used for my iPhone site, feel free to contact me and ask. Provide everything the bloggers need to get started including WordPress logins, schedules, post ideas, and instructions. Be clear in what you want but leave room for the writers to be creative and to offer up their own suggestions. The last thing that you want to do is create a bunch of robots who can’t function without you. That would defeat the whole point of outsourcing.
8. Provide ongoing training
Don’t just tell your writers what to do and leave it at that. Provide honest feedback and ongoing support on how to do the job better. Not only will you develop real relationships with your writers but you’ll also get a sense of their work ethic, their willingness to learn, and their personality. Of course the more you train your staff, the better work you’ll get as well. Encourage your writers and utilize their strengths rather than just pointing out weaknesses.
9. Assessment time
After a month or so of working with your writers, it’s time to decide who you want to keep and what kind of role they will play in your business. Look at who’s keeping up with your requirements or even going beyond them and who’s been good to work with while responding well to feedback. Ultimately, you want to keep the ones you like and let the others go.
When dealing with my writers for iPhone Nuts, I originally had 4 on board: a freelancer who blogged for a popular tech blog, a school teacher who was just getting started blogging, a college student who had a blog and was fanatical about the iPhone, and another guy who loved writing and media in general. On paper, all of these writers were great. They had fantastic credentials and writing samples and wrote great posts in their own style. However, it wasn’t until I tried them all out first hand that I realized who was the right person for the job. Many of them flaked and didn’t hold their end of the bargain. It’s usually the person who’s the most passionate about the subject that wins out. Can you guess who won the job?
One month should be more than enough time to get through the assessment period. It’s never fun letting people go, but it’s a necessity if you’re running a business. First check with the writers you’d like to keep and make sure they’re in it for the long term. Once you have that confirmed, gently let the others know that you no longer need their services. In most cases, they’ll understand but never put anyone down as it could come back to bite you later on. If you’re interested in more advice on how to let people go, be sure to read Guy Kawasaki’s guide on the art of the layoff.
Have you found any quality writers or bloggers for your business? What do you do to find the best?If you like this post, subscribe to the RSS feed. Get the latest updates delivered straight to your email or news reader.