Hiring writers for your precious blog is a long, tedious and sometimes even stressing process.
I know it, because I did it 3 times already. And along the way I’ve developed a number of shortcuts that saved me tons of time and resulted in hiring some really outstanding guys.
Why Hire Writers?
The reasoning may vary. And if you have never thought of hiring someone to help you out with your blog – maybe you shouldn’t do it after all.
As for me, I was hiring writers for 2 reasons:
- I needed someone with experience in a given niche, because I don’t have any experience of my own.
- I have more article ideas than I can possibly cover on my own.
An example would be the photography blog I’m working on right now – Photodoto.
I’m afraid I know nothing about photography, but I’m quite good at spotting the trends and coming up with controversial topics that generate buzz.
So I decided to hire a few good writers and just help them out in picking interesting and trending topics to write about.
Here the example would be BloggerJet.
I really have tons of nice article ideas and the list in my Evernote just keeps growing all the time. Most of them are very time consuming as oftentimes they require some thorough research or testing certain theories.
So I needed someone smart enough to do that with me. (kudos to Ericson! you’re great!)
Jobs @ Problogger is really all you need
Yes, I know it’s not free. It will cost you $50 to have your ad placed there for 30 days. And Yes, I also know there are some job boards where you can post your ad for free.
But listen. If you’re willing to turn your blog into a business and make a living with it, you should be ready to invest some money in it!
And besides, I don’t need “writers” – I need bloggers!
And Problogger.net – is world’s biggest community of professional bloggers. Why would I want to look anywhere else?
On the side-note I’ve also noticed that dozens of scrapers check Problogger Job Board daily and republish every ad to a number of different job boards. I don’t know if Problogger endorses this or not, but hey – your ad is getting more exposure!
Tips On Writing Your Job Offer
The very first thing I suggest you to do is go through the available ads and find some job offers similar to what you’re about to post.
This might give you some ideas of how you can make your own one more compelling.
Now onto the actual tips:
1. Picture the person you’d like to hire
I’m sure you know what kind of person you’re looking for. Now try to think of the most crucial requirement and begin your ad with it.
I decided to start my Photodoto ad with this:
“Do you have a DSLR camera? If you don’t – save your time and don’t read further.”
I was looking for professional photographers. Those are people willing to spend $1k+ on a nice DSLR camera just because they love photography. I wasn’t interested in amateurs with a point-and-shoot. That is how this line was born.
Later in my ad I briefly outlined the kind of person I’m looking for, to make things clear for everyone:
What kind of person we’re looking for:
- PERFECT English
- passionate about digital photography
- has some experience in blogging/copywriting
Don’t get into too much detail about who you’re looking for. The longer your ad gets, the less it is likely that people will read all of it.
2. Tell who you are and what kind of articles you need
Again there’s no point of wasting a few paragraphs of text praising yourself and your blog. Those who are interested will just follow the link to check it out on their own.
Instead, focus on describing the types of content that you need on your blog. Make people question themselves if they are experienced enough to produce it.
Back to my ad:
What type of content do we publish:
- All sorts of tips & tutorials to shooting better photos
- All sorts of tips to making money with your photos
- Photography gear reviews
- Post production tips & tutorials
- Inspirational stuff
3. What information to request from the applicants
The bad thing is that most people will just ignore all the aforementioned requirements and will reach out to you no matter what.
And your goal is to determine if a person is a good fit or not without waisting too much time on communication.
I really wanted to make a decision based on the very first email I get. And so I came up with a list of things I was requesting that helped me make this decision:
- Name – nothing fancy here, I just noticed that some guys won’t even specify their names while reaching out;
- Facebook / Twitter account – I love to see the face of the person I am communicating with. And I love to believe in my ability to understand what kind of a person he is just by looking at the photo. And besides, I want to see how social the guy is;
- Age & Location – As for the location, I prefer to deal with native speakers (especially since I’m not one of them myself).
And regarding the age: if the guy is too young – you probably can’t rely on him in long-term; if he’s too old – you can’t expect him to learn new stuff fast and follow the trends.
So I prefer to deal with people of about 20 to 40 years old (yet to any rule there’s always an exception, so don’t rely on this age thing too heavily);
- Your best published article – this would give me some understanding of what the applicant considers to be a good article, and if he ever produced something that got really popular (by the amount of social shares);
- Which Blogging / Copywriting blogs you read? – if a person is reading blogs in this nice, this means he knows for sure how to produce quality content and engage with the audience;
- Which “insert_your_niche_here” blogs/sites you read? – if a person claims to be passionate about photography, but doesn’t read any photography websites – he is either not willing to learn (which is bad) or just bullshiting you;
- Suggest a few post titles/topics that you’d like to cover – this will clearly show you how the guy’s brains work and if he has enough experience in the niche to come up with something unique and compelling (but sadly most guys will just offer you very generic topics);
- Why you want to work with me? – here I want to see how good a person is in “selling” himself to me. If a guy can’t persuade me that he’s a good fit – he probably isn’t.
Quite a long list, right?
(By the way, I’m not saying you should request everything of the above, just pick the items that are relevant to your specific job opening.)
Well, the trick is, the guys that will take time to answer all of your questions one by one are the most hard working and reliable ones. You can be sure that once you assign a task to them, they will read it attentively and act on every item you’ve listed in your task.
Isn’t this what you’re looking for?
4. Plant an Easter Egg
I absolutely love this trick!
It’s designed to weed out everyone who doesn’t read job postings attentively and just keeps sending out his CV to literally everyone.
So include a little request like this to your job offer:
Please send your applications to “timsoulo -at- Gmail” with “Enthusiastic Photography Blogger” in the subject of your email (obligatory; or else I won’t see your mail).
Once you see an application in your inbox that doesn’t have the requested line in the email subject – you can tell that the applicant didn’t even take time to read through the actual job offer.
And besides, you can setup a filter in your email client and have all these applications stored in a separate folder once they arrive. That’s very convenient, believe me.
Going Through The Applications
I’ve used Problogger Job Board 4 times in total and on average I was receiving somewhere about 70 to 100 applications (and that is considering that I was asking tons of questions from the start and planting an easter egg).
Now divide $50 by 100 and it appears that you’re paying $0.50 per application. Do you still think it’s expensive?
(I may sound as if I was an affiliate of Problogger Job Board… well I’m not. I just really love the results it brings)
So how do you go through all these applications fast?
Let me share my shortcuts with you:
1. Never answer to lame applications
I wasted too much time doing this when I posted my first job opening and I really regret it.
You see, if a person was impudent enough to send you some generic email, without even calling you by the name and ignored all the questions you’ve asked in your job posting – why should you even care?
If you’re too polite for this tip, you can send him some canned response saying you’re not interested. But quite often they will answer you back, asking “why?” and wasting even more of your time.
2. Check if the application meets all of your requested requirements
In case a person took time to answer all of your questions, but the answers don’t really satisfy you – you should definitely let him know about this.
Just thank him for the application and politely explain why you’re turning it down. If you’re afraid of offending a person with the actual reason – just say you’ve already hired someone.
3. Did you read the application till the end?
For this is a good sign actually. If a person managed to get you engaged with his job application, the chances are his articles will be very well written.
The same applies to boring applications (just say that you’ve already hired someone, remember?).
Talk About The Money!
If I’m satisfied with the application, the next thing I will ask is what compensation per post the applicant is looking for.
Usually there are two possible outcomes:
- The person will either ask you “how many words” are you looking for, or just say that his rates are based on the article length.
- The person replies back with his comfortable flat rate per article or says something about the amount of work that each article will require.
This means that the guy treats writing as some routine work and the more words he can write on the subject – the more money he will eventually get.
This means that the guy actually enjoys the process and he just needs a certain sum of money to support his needs. In this case you can be almost sure that the articles will be creative and unique.
As Daniel Pink suggests in his awesome book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us“, there are two types of motivation: Type X which is fueled by extrinsic rewards such as a monetary compensation, and Type I, which is fueled by intrinsic desires: “the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself.”
Well, the studies show that when the activity requires some creative thinking, Type X motivation (monetary rewards) will actually bring the results down!!! (Ouch!)
Daniel explains this phenomenon by the fact that we shift our focus from solving the creative problem to getting that monetary reward.
What I’m trying to say here is that you should look for someone who enjoys writing and is just looking for an adequate payment for his work instead of someone who’s purely money-motivated and counts every word he writes.
Test Them Out
The last step actually concludes the whole process. Just agree on some topic and have the guy write you a pilot article to test waters and check if you were right in your decision to work with him.
The only tip here would be to make sure you agree on 2 things:
- In case the article is lame, you just won’t take it. Which means the guy is not getting paid for it and obviously not getting hired.
- In case the article is good, but needs some tweaking, the guy should be willing to do a few revisions.
So that’s my process. It was born through trial and error and I think right now it works quite smoothly for me.
I sincerely hope that this huge tutorial will help you hire some really amazing people.
And I also hope that what I did here deserves some support from you guys: tweets, likes, comments.
Please share the article with your friends and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
See you in comments!