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One of my goals for 2021 was to finally begin outsourcing some of my blog content. Writing blog content is something that takes up an enormous amount of time, especially if you want a high-quality article.
In this blog post, I’ll share with you the different ways to outsource blog content and some tips for how to get the best content possible from the writer or content agency you work with.
Outsourcing some or all of your blog content is essential for scaling your online business.
Should You Outsource Your Blog Content?
If you are wondering whether you should begin to outsource your blog content, then the answer is probably yes. Most bloggers reach a point in their journey where creating content becomes either a burden or just plain boring. If you find that you have too much on your plate and would like to take some of the work off your shoulders, then outsourced blog content could be the solution to your problems.
If you have begun to earn a small amount of money from your blog, then I recommend reinvesting your profits into new content creation. The only case so I would not recommend outsourcing your blog content is if you are a brand new blogger. In this case, it’s better to write the articles yourself so you can thoroughly understand what goes into content creation.
New content creation is by far the best way to grow your blog income so if you can scale up content production by outsourcing some of the work, it’s a no-brainer!
How Much Does a Blog Post Cost?
The cost of a well-written blog post will vary greatly. Writers typically charge per word. You can get a blog post written for as little as one or two cents per word, however, these posts will be very low quality. A good range of thumb to keep in mind is that a decent blog post will cost you between three and five cents per word. Better writers will charge even more.
If you want to outsource 1000-word blog posts, then you should budget between $30-$50 per blog post.
Ways to Outsource Blog Content
Here are the three major ways to outsource blog content.
1. Cheap Content
The goal is obviously to get quality content as cheaply as possible, that requires the least amount of editing. There are two major ways to get cheap content from writers.
- Fiverr and Upwork – These are two reputable freelance work platforms that allow you to hire affordable writers very affordably.
- Cheap Content Agencies – These are companies that provide cheap content for you (often for just a few cents per word) with a quick turnaround. Major content mills include iWriter, Textbroker, and Constant Content.
2. Decent Content
On the middle range of the content sourcing scale are freelance job sites, writing job sites, and written content agencies.
Freelance job sites allow anyone to hire a freelancer to complete a specific task. It could be writing, graphic design, data entry, or any number of odd jobs.
Writing job sites are also for freelancers but these sites only provide content. So the site is a bit more specialized and tailored to bloggers’ needs.
Content agencies provide a bit more strategy behind the writing services they provide. You typically pay a higher premium for these services but it’s nice because they do the keyword research for you, hire native English writers and edit the text for typos and make sure it follows your outline. Some examples include Content Refined, Text Goods, Passion Posts, and Text Paradise which is actually no longer taking new clients due to high demand.
3. Professional Content
At the high end of the scale, you can hire professional writers who might be published in national magazines. Professional content rates typically start at several hundred dollars per thousand words and can go even higher especially depending on the subject matter. If you blog about investing, finance, law, or real estate, hiring a professional writer with specialized knowledge is a smart idea.
Freelance Job Sites
I wanted to test out a few different inexpensive freelance writing sites to see what worked best for me and go from there. Here are a couple freelance writing sites I tried:
I decided to test out Fiverr since it seemed to be the simplest platform to get going on. I remember when Fiverr first launched and pretty much everything costs just $5. Not so anymore. Freelancers are allowed to charge as much or as little as they like. For $5, I could only find overseas writers for whom English was not their first language.
Long story short, this was a disaster. I found a few good writers, but they completed one good piece for me, and after I left them a positive review, the next batch of work was of far inferior quality.
Fiver also charges you a fee on top of what the writer will be paid.
For example, if you order a $25 blog post, this is what you’ll pay:
Service Fee: $3.25
A $5 blog post will incur $2.25 in fees, for a total of $7.25.
I then decided to test out the Upwork Talen Marketplace. I was sure to narrow down my search to include only writers based in the USA.
I created a job posting that included the niche I needed writers for along with a short description of the work involved.
I asked to see previous writing samples and that determined whether I hired the freelancer or not.
Overall I had good experiences with Upwork. While at first, a couple writers slipped through that weren’t all that great, I quickly learned how to filter out the lesser quality candidates.
Upwork is much more personal than iWriter and Textbroker, and the digital face-to-face interactions really push people to do their best work, I think.
However, there are a couple big cons to using Upwork.
The Upwork workflow is extremely fragmented and difficult to manage. I believe their system has been designed for other purposes, so I had a ton of difficulty staying organized when I hired 20 freelancers on this platform.
Essentially, you can see a list of the freelancers you work with and the open contracts you have. Within the contracts are “milestones” (the articles you assign), but there is no way to see a list of the milestones assigned to different freelancers. I can’t easily see what’s outstanding and what is not. It is quite frustrating but I managed to find a way to stay organized using the Asana “Board” view instead.
It’s Impossible to Cancel a Milestone on Your Own
I assigned work to a freelancer, who ended up taking on another job and couldn’t complete the milestone. I had already deposited the funds into Escrow so I went to the contract to cancel the milestone and get a refund – only to find out there was no way to do so. I contacted support who sent me this message informing me of the insanely convoluted process to just cancel a simple task and get refunded!
Feedback is Required
To end a contract, you must leave feedback which frankly I don’t have time to do. There are five questions that MUST be answered before ending a contract. This should be optional, especially when you only worked on one task with the freelancer and it didn’t go well. Should I lie in order to not be that person who gives bad reviews, or tell the truth and risk ruining his job prospects? There should be an option to not leave a review at all.
Writing Job Sites
Even though I was able to get very good quality content for just about $25 per 1,000 words on Upwork, the hassle of managing freelance writers became too much for me to handle very quickly. I wanted to try out some freelance writing job sites to see if they were worthwhile and solved some of the problems that I faced with the general freelance job sites mentioned above.
I first tried iWriter. iWriter prices were less than what I was paying on Upwork, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I paid $20.25 for an “Elite” writer to create a 1,000 word blog post.
I was actually very happy with the first article I received on Upwork. I did provide an outline and the content was well-written and original.
I also liked that I can add funds to my account for projects in bulk. With Upwork, you have to pay per milestone (or fund the contract completely from the beginning which I didn’t want to do in case I didn’t like the style of the writer). Funding in bulk definitely helps with my accounting!
I then tested out Textbroker. What I like about Textbroker is that they only hire US-based writers. Keep in mind there are many immigrants in the US so this doesn’t necessarily mean that all their writers are native English speakers. But it’s safe to say that many probably are. I also love the content ordering system which is far easier to use than iWriter.
There are several major downsides to using Textbroker.
Textbroker only gives you 3 days to review content submitted by writers. For this reason, I only order content at the beginning of the week (Monday and Tuesday) to prevent weekend work!
You must pay attention and set a 2 or 3 day time limit so that you get an article in return quickly. For one of my articles, I set the limit as 7 days and the author just didn’t write the article at all.
While I got lucky a few times with TextBroker, overall I was extremely disappointed by the quality of the written content. For example, if I assigned an article that involved writing product descriptions, and even paid extra for the research involved, some of the writers provided blatantly false information about the product that was likely pulled by a Google-scraping software.
When I rejected an article that had false information in its content, TextBroker refused to refund me saying that they needed to protect the work of the writer. It was quite shocking and I was furious.
Needless to say, I realized that these freelance content writing websites were not a good option at all.
It took me a couple months to figure out which way of outsourcing blog content was best for me. There are great writers on Upwork, but they are few and far between. You have to sort through many bad writers to find the good ones. The good ones will always ask for more money after a month or two. Freelance writing job sites are also hit or miss, and you have no control over who picks up your content the first time around.
The pros to using a cheap content job site like Textbroker or iWriter include:
- Originality Check: Both have built-in copyright and plagiarism checkers. With Upwork, I have to do this myself, which is a pain. After a few articles, I started to trust my writers, but still, it’s always a risk. You can manually check for plagiarism using QueText.
- Availability: Throwing content into a large pool of writers means someone is always available to work on your article!
- Project Management: Articles in Textbroker can be neatly organized into different folders which is great if you run multiple blogs.
- Add a Lump Sum of Funds: A big help with accounting.
The cons of iWriter/Textbroker include:
- Quality: You never know what you’re going to get. There’s a high chance you’ll need to ask for multiple revisions and/or heavily edit the article you receive.
The pros to using Upwork include:
- Specialty Writers: You can more easily find writers that specialize in a specific topic on Upwork. It’s still difficult as you really have to wade through dozens of people to find one good one, but once you do, it’s nice to have someone you know you can rely on for a specific niche.
The cons to using Upwork include:
- No Project Management System: You have a contract with a writer, but you cannot group writers into different projects
- Bad Workflow: The workflow on Upwork is not meant for bloggers and writers
- Billing System: You are billed for each milestone, as opposed to adding lump sums of money and paying out writers using your balance. This can make accounting tedious as you could end up with 100 different charges at the end of the month
Assigning individual articles to freelance writers quickly became a pain, so I started looking into the content agencies out there to take some work off my back. These sites tend to cost more, but you can bulk buy articles from the agency which will then assign them to their team of freelance writers.
I’m currently in the process of trying out several different content agencies to find a good one. Here are the contact agencies that I see recommended most often by professional bloggers.
- Content Refined
- Niche Website Builders
- Passion Posts
I tested out two of these content writing agencies in order to see if this would help me generate content faster.
While I won’t say which ones I tried, I can say that so far there are not enough pros to using these content writing agencies instead of paying for content on Writer.
Content agencies take ages to deliver mediocre content, and they charge you a premium for doing so.
I can get a mediocre piece of content for $20 in less than 24 hours from Writer, or decent content from Upwork in a couple days. Yet, content agencies take up to one month to complete just 10 measly articles and they charge $50 or $70 for the same 1,000 words.
I’m just not sure they’re worth it.
The only benefit I can see is that they are able to handle large projects and take orders in bulk. So you save time that would be spent manually assigning articles.
Which Content Provider to Choose?
I have been putting this article together for the last year, to really be able to share my long term experiences with these companies.
Truthfully, no blog content provider offers the perfect solution.
For a while I preferred using iWriter and Textbroker for their easy management systems, but over time, it became clear that the quality of the writing was really a mixed bag. I would say about 75% of the articles I received were not of great quality. They often had a lot of filler sentences and generalized statements that didn’t add value to the article.
Occasionally I would get a really good writer who wrote a solid piece where it was clear they did the research required. But these writers were sadly few and far between. Not to mention, if I did find a good writer, their direct order cost was often more than double what I paid to put an article into the talent pool.
For this reason, I ended up working more with Upwork, even if the interface is horrible and I need to post jobs more often to find good writers.
Outsourcing Tips to Get the Best Content
Here are some tips and guidelines for getting the best possible blog content back from your chosen provider.
You must have a system in place for evaluating potential writers before you hire them. I typically ask for the writers background, whether they have experience writing for other blogs, and what their interests are in relation to my niche. I always ask for a writing sample to see whether they are a decent writer. Well previous experience is not required, it is definitely preferred. Truthfully, the best way to evaluate a new writer is to give them a task.
Create a Content Brief
The biggest factor that determines if you’ll get an article you don’t have to edit much is to provide a content brief detailing exactly what you expect. The more clear and precise you are to the writer with instructions, topics, headers, and formatting, the better the post will be.
Everything from the target audience to the writing tone needs to be defined so the writer is clear on your expectations.
I typically provide writers with a short description of my audience, the type of writing I expect (informational, not personal stories), the overall tone of my blog, and a blog post outline.
I then write the Headings for them.
Is this a pain? Yes.
Do I get lucky and occasionally have a writer come up with a well-organized article? Yes.
Am I most likely going to get a poorly organized article without a content brief? YES.
So I always include a simple blog post outline like this, at a minimum:
H2: Best Pool Floats
And So Forth
Luckily, most of the dozens of Upwork writers who I’ve given this format to have been able to follow it.
Edit the Content
The last step is to read over the content provided, edit it as needed, and publish it on WordPress.
Grammar editing is a step I would like to outsource in the future, but for now I am doing it myself. I have a few writers that I trust (from Upwork) and their writing is so consistently good that I don’t need to heavily edit it, but the work that comes from iWriter and Textbroker always needs to be edited.
The reason why I publish all outsourced content myself is that I am most familiar with all of the blog posts on my site, which makes it easier to quickly add internal links.
I know the general site structure of my blog by heart, which makes it easier to follow my overall blog content plan.
Keep Track of the Work
Keeping track of your outsourced blog content is imperative. If you are not diligent about tracking what articles you’ve already assigned to your freelancer or content agency, you could end up making a mistake and assigning the article twice. I know because it’s happened to me!
I’ve tried a few different ways to organize my outsourced content. I’ve narrowed it down to Excel and Asana’s “Board” view.
Essentially, a blog post topic is italicized in Excel once it goes onto my Asana editorial calendar. In Asana, the task moves through the “Board” view stages depending on whether the post is assigned to a writer or waiting to be published.
I hope this guide to outsourcing blog content was helpful! Let me know of any questions in the comments below.