You’ve seen the data.
You know that content marketing adopters have conversion rates that are nearly 6x higher than non-adopters.
You’re finally ready to take the plunge and focus on content marketing as a key strategy in your lead generation arsenal.
But then it hits you.
How are you going to produce all this content?
HubSpot is telling you that, in order to optimize your efforts, you need to publish 16+ blog posts per month.
“16 per month?!? My team and I can’t produce that many high quality blogs per month!”
Fortunately, you don’t have to go at it alone.
The proven effectiveness of content marketing has helped to create tens of thousands of capable blog writers that you can handle much of the work for you.
You just need to know how to efficiently find and work with them.
And, through this post, we’re going to teach you how to do it. Let’s get started.
The Business Owner’s Guide: How to Work With Blog Writers to Create & Publish High-ROI Content
Let’s start at the fundamentals: outlining your writing standards.
1. Creating Writing Standards to Communicate to Writers
If you have a blog, then you probably already have some type of vague writing standards in place.
And while your current standards can be used, they will almost certainly need to be expanded upon now that you’ve decided to outsource your writing.
Your standards set the stage for how you will communicate, hire, and work with your blog writers.
Establishing the Goal of Your Blog
The first thing you’ll need to do is to clearly establish the goal of your blog so it can be communicated to the writers you work with.
HuffPost contributor Danny Wong provides a few options. Some of them include:
- Tell your brand’s story
- Express your brand’s identity
- Build an email list
- Attract top industry talent
- Build credibility
- Become an authority figure in your industry
- Connect personally with customers and fans
- Capture media attention
- Facilitate word-of-mouth
- Create a competitive advantage
After browsing this list, you’re probably wondering why you can’t just focus on all of these goals.
The simple answer is…because having too many goals and priorities doesn’t work.
As Harvard Business Review contributors Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi have said, your business needs to stop chasing too many priorities.
According to a survey they conducted, having fewer strategic priorities can actually lead to higher revenue growth for your business.
If you’re determined to chase multiple goals, make sure they work together.
For instance, your goal can be that you want to build your email list while connecting with fans and facilitating word-of-mouth marketing.
Or, it can be to build credibility and become an authority figure in your industry in order to create a competitive advantage.
Each example has three goals that work together.
Hone your focus and create goals that you can clearly communicate to your writers. It will make working with blog writers a much smoother process.
Helping Writers Create Amazing Content
You know that creating amazing content is essential to high ROI content marketing. You may even know how to do it.
Don’t assume, however, that the writers you’re working with automatically follow the same rules of creating great content that you do.
If you’re looking for a checklist to provide to your writers, KissMetrics Director of Marketing Sean Marks created a great one. It includes nine ingredients. They are:
- Make sure the content is original
- Focus on creating a strong headline
- Make the content actionable
- Provide answers to reader’s questions
- Include accurate reporting and sourcing of information
- Make the content engaging
- Communicate through visuals
- Eliminate fluff and get to the point
- Update the blog regularly
Your outsourced writers will be responsible for producing content that includes the top eight ingredients.
You and your team will be responsible for the last one.
Determining Content Length for Writers
While it will obviously be much easier to get to 16 blog posts per month if they’re of the 400-500 word variety, the argument for long-form content is too convincing to ignore.
If you want to achieve your blog goals, ranking for targeted keywords on search engines is the ticket to getting there.
And if you want your content to rank on search engines, long form content is the way to go. Just take a look at this illustration produced by SerpIQ:
Sure, it’s going to be more expensive to outsource long form content than it is to do the same for 500-word articles.
As you can see, however, the ROI of long form content is significantly higher.
And isn’t the point of marketing to achieve the highest ROI possible?
Breaking it Down
At this point, you should have a solid understanding of what you want your writing standards to look like.
Now you just need to communicate them to your writers. Here’s a quick example of what you can tell them:
- Focus on the goal of our blog
- Utilize the ingredients of creating amazing content
- Make sure the post is long form (1,500-3,000 words)
2. How to Hire the Perfect Writers for Your Blog
Your writing standards help create an overview of the type of writers that you want and need for your blog.
Your job now is to seek out writers that have already proven capable of following the standards that you have established.
This can, for the most part, be done in one of two ways; hire a freelancer or work with a writing agency.
Freelancers vs. Writing Agencies
Ahh, the great debate. Should you hire freelancers or go with a writing agency?
And while there are many advantages and disadvantages to both choices, your decision should always come down to the value provided.
Let’s break down the process of working with each so you can make the best possible decision for your business.
Working With a Freelancer
The typical process for hiring a freelancer involves a few steps. They include:
- Find a freelance job posting site. Upwork, Freelancer.com, Textbroker, and even Craigslist are generally considered the most popular options.
- Post your project. Outline what the job entails and what skills are needed to complete it.
- Choose the best freelancer for the job. This can be based on their past work, their reputation, or after their completion of a test project.
- Freelancer is offered project and completes work. Details of project are provided and freelancer successfully completes it.
- You receive work and pay freelancer. Work is delivered on time and freelancer is paid.
Easy, right? Yeah, but if you’ve ever worked with freelancers, you’re probably laughing at this.
The thing is, steps 3-5 almost never go according to plan.
If you work with freelancers long enough, you’ll find that misleading portfolios, missed deadlines, and subpar content are more the norm than the exception.
That creates a whole lot of time and energy wasted.
Working With Writing Agencies
Working with writing agencies is a whole different story.
Interestingly enough, a lot of writing agencies are created by successful freelancers that couldn’t handle all of the work that was coming their way.
That’s exactly how Express Writers got its start.
You’ll also find that most successful agencies have a simple yet effective process for working with clients.
At EW, our process looks like this:
As far as the actual content, it involves six stages.
- Your Input. Your project starts when you send us your relevant project details.
- Assigning. Our Content Manager assigns your project to the writer that best fits your topic, industry, and content type.
- Creating. Our writer, along with the Content Manager, editorial team, and designer, completes the project.
- Editing. Our editorial staff reviews the content using a 5-point quality process that we developed in-house.
- Additional Creation. This step varies depending on what type of content you’ve purchased.
- Your Review. Content is uploaded for your review and you’re granted up to two free revisions within 20 days of receiving the content.
While this is how we work, it’s fairly common for most agencies to follow a similar process.
The Advantages of Working With a Writing Agency
At the end of the day, the major advantage to working with a writing agency is that we eliminate your risk.
We take care of the hiring process and make sure that the writers handling your project are qualified to deliver the best possible work.
We make sure that you don’t have to worry about missed deadlines or poor quality content and have provisions in place to protect you if this does happen.
Best of all, we make sure that you receive great content that will deliver ROI for your business.
While I’m not saying that you can’t find a freelancer that can do the same, I am saying that it will take a lot more time and energy to do so.
With the time saved and ROI produced, it’s hard to argue against the value that agencies provide when compared to freelancers.
3. Using Your Content Calendar to Guide Your Hiring Process
Hopefully you’ve already gone through the process of creating a content calendar that outlines what type of content you need to produce and when it will be published.
If you haven’t, you’ll want to get on that as soon as possible.
Your content calendar, also known as an editorial calendar, doesn’t have to be too complex. Here’s an example of a simple one created through Excel:
If you’re looking for something more in-depth, there are plenty of tools out there that can help you put together a solid content calendar in just a few minutes.
Regardless of the method you choose, the important thing is that you use it to plan your content ahead of time so you know when you’ll need to outsource the writing.
How Far Ahead Should You Plan Your Content?
This is where things get tricky. It’s almost impossible to identify a timeline that works for every business.
A lot of larger blogs prefer to plan their content at least six months into the future. Others tend to go with a monthly calendar that they add onto weekly.
As much as I hate to say this, it’s impossible to provide a one-size-fits-all answer here.
If you’re unsure of where to even begin, I would suggest starting by outlining your content for the next month. Then, every week, pick a day to plan out another week of content.
So long as you’re able to consistently carve out a day every week for future plans, this process should work just fine.
Identifying Who Will Write Your Content
So you’ve got your content topics and publishing dates lined up.
Now it’s time to plan out who will actually complete the writing.
This is a fairly simple process.
Here is an example of how the team at Shape and Sound does it in their content calendar:
As you can see, they create three pieces of content for each topic. Each type of content has an author listed.
By doing this, they know exactly who is accountable for each piece of content.
Since you need to outsource some or all of your writing, you would simply plug in the freelancer or writing agency responsible for the work.
Like I said, simple stuff.
By having your content calendar, and the author section, filled out at least a month in advance, working with writers will be a much smoother process.
Creating and Handling Deadlines
When creating your deadlines for the freelancers and agencies that you work with, it’s always a good idea to set a deadline that is at least a week in advance of when it will be published.
This helps you avoid many of the issues caused by missed deadlines. It also helps ensure you have time to revise poor quality work or, if needed, hire another writer to rewrite the content entirely.
In addition to protecting yourself by setting your deadline a week ahead, you’ll also want to set a policy for what happens when work is delivered late.
Most professional freelancers and agencies will offer a discount when this happens (20-50% is common).
In order to protect their reputation, some will even complete the project for free.
There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to handle deadlines. The important thing is that there is a clear policy established between both you and the writer before work begins.
4. How Much Should You Pay Writers?
This is easily one of the biggest questions in the content marketing world. If you’re like most businesses, you have absolutely no idea how much to pay your outsourced writers.
To identify how much you’ll have to budget, there are a few basic factors that you’ll need to consider. They include:
- Length of content. We’ve already identified that long-form content produces optimal ROI.
- Depth of content. Are you looking for a beginner, intermediate, pro, or expert writer?
- Visuals or no visuals. Content with visuals is optimal, but it will come at a higher price.
- How quickly the content needs to be delivered. Rushed content will come at a premium.
While there are many other factors, most freelancers and agencies create their prices after considering these four things.
For a general list of the prices you can expect to pay, take a look at this infographic:
On the expert level for this chart, you’re looking at $400+ per email.
Now you’re probably looking at this and saying, “I can’t afford those rates!”
And fortunately, you don’t have to. You can still get amazing content delivered by professionals at rates significantly lower than $.15-.50 per word.
You just have to know where to look.
Our writing levels include expert and authority, and we’re reasonably priced! Check out our pricing page here.
A Word of Caution
Before we start diving further into what you should expect to pay writers, it should be noted that the old saying, “you get what you pay for,” is as true in writing as it is everywhere else.
If you make your way over to a freelance platform like UpWork, you’ll quickly find that there are many job postings that look like this:
Yes, you can find freelancers that will write your content for $.01/word.
99 times out of 100, however, the content they deliver will be low quality content that’s littered with grammar mistakes.
You don’t want that for your brand.
How Much Do We Charge?
At Express Writers, we’ve created a Content Shop detailing how much every piece of content that we produce costs.
To ensure we offer options that fit the needs of our clients, we offer two options; general copywriting and expert copywriting.
For a long-form article (1,500-2,000 words) by a general copywriter, you’re looking at a price tag of $140.
For that same article by an industry expert, you’ll be paying $300.
So, for high quality content that delivers optimal ROI, you’ll be paying $.10-.20 per word.
The General Consensus
In the end, if you want to maximize the ROI of your content marketing efforts, you should expect to budget at least $.10/word.
While you can find freelancers that will produce content at a much lower rate, be aware of the risk involved when compared to the detailed processes and deadline provisions provided by a writing agency.
5. Maintaining Communication Throughout the Process
Whenever you’re outsourcing content, communication is absolutely vital to the success of the project.
This is true whether you decide to work with a freelancer or writing agency.
As Tamila McDonald, our Client Engagement Specialist, says:
Successful communication starts with providing clear instructions to your writer about exactly what you want your content to accomplish.
You won’t find too many writers that complain about detailed instructions.
You will, however, find plenty that become frustrated when instructions are too brief or general.
On the writer side, be wary of writers that don’t respond to update requests or questions within 24 hours. This is especially common when dealing with writers on freelancer platforms.
If the communication isn’t there, it may be time to move on.
6. Focusing on the Long Term
You’re hopefully already aware that success in content marketing doesn’t happen overnight.
It takes week after week of consistently producing high quality content.
But when can you expect your content marketing efforts to finally bear fruit?
Well, as Neil Patel tells us, “At the beginning, you’ll grow slowly and will need to add value drops to your content creation pot. Once your pot is filled considerably, you’ll start seeing the enormous benefits of content marketing.”
This visual by HubSpot shows us that, for most companies, inbound traffic grows fairly slow in the beginning:
Once these businesses hit the 300 blog post mark, however, their traffic begins to take off.
While it’s unlikely that your blog will follow this exact pattern, it illustrates the fact that it’s important to focus on the long term.
Proof that Your Long Term Commitment Will Pay Off
Business owners like Neil Patel have used content marketing to become authorities in their industry and build multi-million dollar businesses from scratch.
At Express Writers, we’ve built a million dollar agency by using content as our only marketing strategy.
Both of us have used outsourced writers to help us get to where we are today. And you can do the exact same thing with your business.
Building Long-Term Relationships With Writers
As you begin outsourcing your content, you’ll find that there are some writers that just get it.
They’re consistently on point with following your instructions and never fail to produce engaging content.
When you find these writers, do everything you can to keep them on board.
Work to develop long term relationships with writers that consistently prove themselves to you. You’ll be saving yourself a whole lot of time and stress in the process.
Outsource Your Writing and Take Your Content Marketing to the Next Level
You now have everything you need to move forward and use outsourced writers to help you dominate your content marketing efforts.
If you’d like some help along the way, feel free to contact us to hear more about what we can do for you!