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?

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Comments

51 Responses to “How to Hire the Best Blogger For Your Site – Easy 9 Step Process”

Blog Expert on December 4th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

These are actually nine easy steps that anyone can take. I think the most important thing is that you layout instructions. If you want to find someone to become a blogger than you need to let them know what they’re going to have to do.

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

Very true. You can’t expect to get quality work if you don’t give clear instructions on what it is you what. Of course, the tradeoff to that is that you might stifle creativity by giving too much instruction.

 
 

I’ve never hired anyone to write on anyone of my blogs. I am interested in trying this out but have yet to do it.

I agree with the fact that you need to tell your workers what you want. If you don’t lay it out they will not produce the results you can expect.

Great tips.

Gyutae Park on December 5th, 2008

Yep, that’s very true. It’s all about balance. Tell them enough so you get what you want but at the same time leave enough room for the writers to inject their own creativity and personality into the mix.

 
 
shy blogger on December 5th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I am interested to hire a writer but don’t have enough money to afford it….

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

In that case, you need to do your own blogging and create a business for yourself via “sweat equity” (your own blood, sweat, and tears). Once you have a good cash flow coming in, you can spend some of the profits to hire writers and do the work for you.

 
 
Nicole Price on December 5th, 2008

Shy blogger, welcome to the club! I am yet too small to think of this but, this is very good advise and worth saving for the time that you will need it. I am saving it.

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

I’m glad it’s useful information for you. Obviously if you’re just starting off, you probably shouldn’t spend money to hire someone to blog for you. Instead, you should work on generating sufficient cashflow so that you can outsource some of the work later on (and concentrate on what you do best).

 
 
Jeremy on December 5th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way of going about this for a while now…I appreciate this post

 
Jeremy on December 5th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Almost forgot….can you send me that contract? jeremyquinn[at]gmail.com

What if I wanted the writer(s) to be ghost writers? What is your opinion about using their writings, but posting under your own name?

Gyutae Park on December 5th, 2008

Honestly, I’ve never used a ghost writer before but I think it would work pretty much the same. The only difference is that with ghost writers, you have to tell them exactly how it’s done. They’re supposed to be you after all. I’d be even more strict about who I hire as a ghost writer. A bad one could easily ruin your reputation.

I’ll send the contract example to you now.

 
 
Dennis Edell on December 5th, 2008

I gotta go with #7 as well. Similar to hiring a VA, you really need to set a good working relationship…early.

Awesome tips. :)

Ben Pei on December 6th, 2008

Aww Dennis always has a good choice for numbers. So I will go for #7 too!

 
Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

In most cases, relationship is just as important as writing quality. I’d rather have a great writer who is a pleasure to work with than an awesome writer who is a stubborn jerk. It’s just better for your blog in the long run.

 
 
Erwin Tan on December 5th, 2008

Haven’t tried hiring people to write my blog posts yet.

This 9 steps will really come in handy when I need it.

 
Michael Alexander on December 5th, 2008

I spotted your ad on ProBlogger. I didn’t respond because you’re paying chump change. You get what you pay for, haven’t you heard?

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

It really depends on the niche and job demand. Just because you think it’s chump change doesn’t mean a well-qualified freelancer or college student would be unwilling to do the job. In fact, there are a lot of talented people out there willing to work for you. Just make sure that your rates are in line with industry standards.

 
 
L Weng on December 5th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Depends on personal preference as well I guess. There are people who absolutely love blogging and it’s pretty much a lifestyle choice more than anything.

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

There are all kinds of people driven by different motivations. In order to find the right blogger for your job, you have to get to know your candidates (by asking a lot of questions) and understand where they’re coming from.

 
 
Ann Arbor Web Design on December 6th, 2008

I can guess who you hired: the guy who was really fanatical about the iphone. Am I right?

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

Yep, you got it. :)

 
 
GPS on December 6th, 2008

Good tips, thanks for sharing. I’ve hired a bunch of freelancers as well……it’s often tough to find someone who cares as much about the work as you (I) do.

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

That’s always the hardest part. It helps if you pay based on performance though (e.g. pay them a certain amount based on page views or conversions). That way they’re motivated to work hard and reap the benefits.

 
 
SEO Stuart on December 6th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Like you mention in a previous comment post Gyutae, I think by outsourceing this kind of work you would have to be very carefull as anyone you hire could easily, even by mistake, put a ding in a nice clean online reputation.

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

That’s definitely true – which is why the initial selection process is so important. If your site is closely associated with yourself, you’re essentially hiring someone to represent you and become an extension of your personal brand. It’s a reason why you shouldn’t make your sites be too much about you, but if it happens then you need to be careful of who you hire.

 
 
Caleb on December 6th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Now this is a resource that allows one to put out far more blogs as well as help out with the “writers block” days.

Man,that Darren Rowse guy is on point…Thanx for the tip!

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

The more people you put together, the more ideas you’ll have. It’s as simple as that. Good luck with your blogs. Which Darren Rowse point are you talking about?

 
 
ZK@Internet Marketing Blog on December 6th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Never hired a content writer , but I guess if you have a few blogs you need to outsource

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

I tried writing to several blogs by myself and it definitely was not a good idea. All of my blogs suffered and I quickly burned out from all of the writing. Outsource when you can. It’s definitely worth it.

 
 
Jacques @ SEO Tools South Africa on December 7th, 2008

The concept of outsourcing makes good sense if you can’t handle the workload internally. I feel that you will still need to work closely with the writer (perhaps only initially) in order to ensure that your image is portrayed correctly

Ben Pei on December 7th, 2008

Yup I believe communication is important at this point..

 
Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

It might take a while to get everything set up and train your writers, but in the long run they’ll save you a ton of time and effort. Plus you don’t have to do all of the grunt work.

 
 
Nicole Price on December 8th, 2008

The idea of ghost writer is very good. There are a lot of free lance writers who are willing to do this for a fee and you can post the output in your name. The copyright also stays with you.

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

I’ve never used ghostwriters before and honestly I’d personally be a little wary of using them – mainly because I take pride in my writing. I wouldn’t want to just take someone else’s work and slap my name on it. But that’s just me.

 
 
Ann Arbor Web Design on December 8th, 2008

Was I right about my guess about you hiring the guy who was really fanatical about the iphone? I am really interested to know who is the kind person in your opinion who would make the best kind of writer.

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

Yep, sorry for the late reply. You were right, I picked the guy who was the most passionate about the topic and it has worked out extraordinarily well.

Ann Arbor Web Design on December 25th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

No problem; thanks for the reply and I am glad that worked so well for you :)

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
Ryan Ray on December 20th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Hey man,
It was me, the young college student iPhone fanatic. Haha, this man is a pleasure to work with.

 
 
Syte Black on December 9th, 2008

Hello Buddy, you have got a nice blog. Can you tell me the name of the theme? I like it.

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

My theme is called Revolution. You can find it here: http://www.winningtheweb.com/go/revolution.php

 
 
Cheap Mobile Calls on December 11th, 2008

I’m thinking of making a blog myself, mainly me writing and maybe a guest writer once and a while, so your post has helped me a lot thank you.

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

No problem, I’m glad it was helpful. That’s actually a good approach for everyone who doesn’t have much cash to spare for writers. You can do most of the writing yourself in the beginning and then slowly bring someone in to take care of the duties. This is actually what Aaron Wall has done with his blog over at SEO Book.

 
 
jeflin on December 13th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Your article is very interesting.

I am interested in getting a few finance writers to join my blog but I am not sure how to go about doing it. Will be interested to take a look at your contract.

Jeflin

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

Hey jeflin,
Shoot me an email and I’d be happy to share my contract with you and give you some pointers.

 
 
Salwa on December 16th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Great tips you got here. I have never hired a content writer before for my blog but it is something i have been thinking about lately. Will try to follow your rules here when ready.

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

Hiring content writers is definitely a wise decision because it frees up your time to concentrate on the marketing portion. I would definitely recommend it if you have the money to spend.

 
 
Matt Helphrey on December 17th, 2008

Very informative post. I can’t wait to get to the point where I can afford to hire writers to do the dirty work. When I do, I will remember the advice you have given here.

Gyutae Park on December 18th, 2008

Thanks Matt. Hiring writers might not be as far off as you think. As long as you set the foundation with your own writing and develop a solid cash flow, you can easily start outsourcing to increase profits even more. Good luck!

 
 
Kel on October 25th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Why pay $50 for a post at Problogger when you can probably get more responses from sites such as Elance which doesn’t charge to post?

If you’re thinking quality might be lacking, you can see how job applicants did on past jobs at Elance.

 
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