There are plenty of people around the world that know content is the foundation of their online presence. Without it we are nothing online. If nothing else, it truly separates companies that focus on pushing sales copy and wait for sales from those that publish quality content. People want to read and share great information in all mediums, and it helps to build a relationship between you and them.
If you just happened to stumble onto this post, you may have been searching for someone that could write your content for the company blog, or create a press release that we want to deliver to potential journalists. Content is a big deal and that’s why I really wanted to write this. The goal here is to get you to think about the many avenues you can take to connecting with a writer that truly pushes your goals to the next level. Trust me, if I could have a writer to write my thoughts I would, but until I can copy myself, I write these blogs. That’s my preference though and yours will differ without any doubt.
You will have a better chance at hiring these people from online venues such as UpWorks, Freelancer, Guru, and other freelancer types of site. They bid on your project and you can sort through their portfolios. You have other outlets such as Craigslist, local talent, or even a job posting in a Facebook group. Learning which platform gives you the very best leads is vital. Even bigger is knowing where to get the best quality as well and what to look for in a portfolio. No worries though, I have been doing this for more than 10 years with some good success.
The freelance system is a web full of opportunities. You can maximize your time on doing other things by simply off-loading some of the repetitive low-level tasks.. My goal is to share my experience in finding the right person that builds your contact list. Never think a 1-time small job isn’t worth adding a freelancer to your list. I hired a Filipino guy to do some data entry on my site for $40. He was awesome and professional during the whole 2-3 days of interaction. I then referred him to my mom for work, and finally when we flew to Manila I offered him to come down and stay a night so we could talk. That built a very strong relationship and that simple $40 job is what it took. We help each other out often and we are friends as well.
Let’s get into it and answer some of the questions you may have. Now, if you already know everything there is to know on this topic then maybe I can give you a tip in some way or form in this essay. If not, feel free to search another post.
Methods To Find Them (and Not To)
This section really is a negative against freelance sites. I briefly talked about freelancing sites and it was a great place to find people that were looking for side projects. I have had three freelancers turn into long-term employment. Perhaps I lucked out. Freelance sites are terrible now you will end up spending more time trying to find the right person to hire than it’s worth. I wish I could have all of my time back from interviewing, dealing with aggressive Indian freelancers, or even filling a dispute with an incompetent freelancer. Overall I would say that freelance sites are fairly terrible. Here are the freelance sites and my thoughts of them:
- Freelancer.com became Freelance.com after acquiring the domain. I personally hate this site and refuse to use it. It is over-feature rich and too many “companies” and garbage proposals. In the past 5 years I have hired 1 person to do an illustration and it was awful. It’s the biggest and the worst in my opinion. My rating 1/10 would never again.
- Upworks is the combo of oDesk which I hated more than freelance.com and eLance.com which was amazing and the #1 in my opinion. I hired so many writers from eLance that it became second nature. I had 75 different writers for 1 site only at one point. The content was good. Then the 2 sites combined and it’s honestly a complete waste in effort and value. I will never used UpWorks again. I gave it the ole college try and it was worthless. My rating -1/10 would never again.
- Guru.com is something I registered on before and tried it once and never went back. I have no opinion on it.
- Google “VA freelancer” or something to that tune and you will find a bunch of hopeful website. I do not endorse any of them.
Overall, I am down on freelancing websites. They are just flooded with bot proposals, shit skill sets, and mostly overpriced. I will never ever, ever hire from India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Mumbai (India), and no where in Africa with the exception of Egypt. I have had zero luck on a great experience with these areas and I have hired at least 1000 freelancers over 15 years. At some points it was common to be working with 3-5 freelancers at once. I especially will never hire a company on a freelance site. I have been screwed every single time and the whole reason I am searching for a freelancer is because I want to work with a freelancer. There is no such thing as a freelancing company. That logic doesn’t work on these sites.
I have been using Craigslist after leaving freelance sites and so far so good. This can be tricky because it covers the entire world. I never use the U.S. because there is too much land to cover. I have to go by state then city and it’s too much. I mainly hire from the Philippines above any other country, then Romania, Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Indonesia has been okay, and most of Europe but I rarely search there. I am not searching for cheap labor or anything like that. I personally hire 90% from the Philippines because I have had like 99% luck from there and English is the 2nd national language. Plus I spend a lot of time there and understand the culture.
Go slow on Craigslist and know what you are buying. I have a VA that works full-time from the Philippines and I have had some pretty good writers from there as well. In the past, 80% of my writers were American and I am sad that it’s not as easy to find them these days. I can still hire Americans, but the process takes longer and sometimes I don’t have a lot of time so don’t take that as a negative. Remember, I live in Asia and the time zones suck. If you hire outside of the U.S. please expect to read through the finished product for an edit just to be on the safe side. English is really hard so don’t be a dick about it to someone that isn’t perfect at using it. If you disagree with me on these areas please make sure to share your experience in the comments. YMMV
Facebook, G+, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and others…
Social media is a hot spot to hire from. You see the person’s stuff already and they might be looking for work in a group or on a page. Don’t leave these platforms off your list. There are some amazing people on these sites that could be a beautiful addition. The downside is that there is no escrow for protection if a deal goes bad and this applies to Craigslist too. Anything outside of a freelance platform does not have a third-party hold the payment until the job is done and both parties are happy.
If I had to pick on where to hire it would be Facebook groups. They are plentiful and a lot of professionals are on them giving advice and most are looking for more work. So join a couple and just lurk for a while until you figure out who is who and then if you see someone who might be a perfect fit go ahead and ask them. Send them a PM if they are cool with it. You might have to tell them on a post that you will PM them so it’s not a surprise. This can be a great way to get a native English speaker that knows exactly the in’s and out’s of SEO and how to write a great piece for a reasonable price.
Questions To Ask Before Hiring
This section is going to be a shorter one because I am simply going to list what I ask, view, or search for before hiring. I am a researcher and NOT an impulse buyer. Never impulse shop when it comes to freelancing. Be apprehensive and if it’s too good to be true, it is. I hate having to put it that way, but not everyone on these platforms have good intentions. Here we go:
- Ask or look for the resume for the freelancer. They normal put it out upfront because they know it’s important.
- Look for the portfolio if necessary or ask for it if it’s not already attached. Again, it’s normal just as the resume is. Look at everything.
- Ask any questions that you might have doubts on, like previous work, NDA’s, or education level. They will normally be glad to answer task related questions. Don’t waste their time though. Their time truly is money.
- Stack them up against other bidders to see where they sit in skill, cost, experience, and reviews or feedbacks.
- Ask for a sample if their resume or portfolio is not available. Never just hire someone without seeing previous work of some kind.
- Make sure the payment terms are agreeable to both parties, and don’t low-ball a freelancer. Pay them what you think the job is worth and you can always look to see what others are bidding on a freelance site to get a fair comparison. If you can’t get it from that method then ask me.
- I always ask about their goals, their hobbies, family, and I never dive too far in. I am simply trying to see if this person could work into a full time position. I am not being creepy, and neither should you.
- I ask what they like to write about, where their strengths and weaknesses are. This may allow me to tailor my needs a little so we both can win.
- Anything else that might be good knowledge to have that would improve the outcome of the job.
That’s really it. It’s a very basic process when looking for a content creator. One last piece of advice is to try the very best you can to find a writer that loves the topic you need a writer for. If you have a site about bird watching then try to find a writer that likes bird watching. I used bird watching, but feel free to substitute it with whatever your project calls for. When I was hiring for the military niche content for my website I was only hiring veterans, current military, and spouses of.
Keep the Good Ones Happy
As I mentioned my Manila story briefly above, you have to really search to find someone that may end up in your contacts. Not everyone that I have hired gets to be put in my list. In fact, I would estimate that 1 out of 100 freelancers get that. I am sure that I am also in very few contact lists as well. I am not only picky in my hiring, but also experienced enough to see who has passion and talent and not just a college sophomore trying to make enough money for pizza this coming weekend. People who are just trying to make a quick buck are perfectly fine so please don’t pick based on their situation. There is to that.
Okay, moving on. You suddenly find a freelancer that has personality, skills, and overall you think this person might be helpful in the future. What do you do? I am going to tell you what I am going to do if I was in this position. I grab email, Skype, name, location, resume, or whatever I don’t already have already. I make sure I file it in the right skill folder I have and make a personal note about my experience and what my thoughts are at that moment so I can reference it later on. This is just what I do when I make a decision to add someone.
Once I built my information I give them an excellent rating if it’s a hire from a freelance site along with a paragraph or two about my experience and why someone should hire them. I especially go after people that are new to the platform, not because it’s cheaper, but rather I want to give a benefit to someone who needs to build their presence. The feedback is always details and personal. I want this person to know that they have been appreciated and don’t forget me later on.
Close With a Virtual Handshake
Normally, after some kickass feedback, they thank me and return the favor by leaving me great feedback as the employer. I want to make sure that after we finish the formalities, I ask if they mind if I add them on Skype or whatever method you use. Of course 9.9/10 times the answer is yes, of course. That’s the first handshake. Next, I reach out just to say hello and maybe even do a video call for however long they can spare. I am doing this quarterly, or less if I want to hire them again. This isn’t for work unless I have some for them. I try to get 5 minutes just to say hello, exchange what we are working on. Perhaps I will try to offer some possible work on the horizon and it would be a good fit for them. The point is to show them that they are still valued.
Finally, keeping my freelancers happy is the payment. This is the crucial step that separates you from everyone else. If I am paying through PayPal or another service, I always pay the fees. Simply select the payment method and send the money to “friends and family” and cover the entire thing. That alone sends a warm message because every dollar saved is cherished by many. This next step is the final one. This is the icing on that freelancing cake. This is not done every time but often enough to make a point.
Let’s say that the agreed cost was $100 and it went flawless. You PayPal’ed the money by sending it to a “friend” and you send $120 to them. Don’t mention it to them and just say thank you. When they realize you overpaid them the first time, they will most likely tell you. If they don’t, you might have the wrong person. However, if they say, “Sir/Ma’am you paid too much” , you simply respond with a, “yes, I know and it’s because I appreciate you and what you did for me”. Those words is what hardens this relationship. I know I have written this like a love story, but it’s like a love story without the love.
Last example on this and this will be a wrap. I have a graphic designer that helps on projects and I pay on time, I don’t haggle, I tip, and we have been working together since 2009. I have been so good to him that I know if I need something quick he will drop whatever he is doing to get it done without giving me something that looks like it’s rushed. I get the bennies that others don’t because I do the right thing. I treat him as a professional and if it costs a few extra bucks it’s because I think it’s worth a few extra. Treat the good ones well and they won’t walk away.
TL;dr [The Tip] Pay the fees of the money processor (i.e. PayPal), give a tip most of the time (6-7 out of 10), and this person will always be awesome and excited to work for you.
I will improve this as time goes on. I want to hear from you. Tell me a story or tell me what you think of this post. Feedback is always welcome.