Elance Blog

7 Steps to Outsourcing High Quality Article Writing


The plain and simple truth is that writing isn't a strength that everyone out there has. However, everyone has access to high quality writing to spruce up blogs, update sales collateral, increase readership, and raise their bottom line. Roger Elliott, experienced elancer, webmaster, and outsourcing expert, shares his 7 Steps to Outsourcing High Quality Article Writing.

Over the last few years, the very phrase 'article writing' seems to have become synonymous with low quality, valueless 'cheaper by the dozen' articles, written purely for the search engines.

And for a while, as long as you weren't looking to impress your website visitors, it could be a fairly effective strategy too.

Google wants quality now, too

However, with Google's algorithm shifts in May 2010, the game changed. Google started focusing on quality over relevance and in doing so, decimated swathes of long tail traffic from websites the world over.

So now we all need attention-grabbing content that our visitors will retweet, Facebook and Digg, but how to get it? Unless you're lucky enough to be a great writer yourself, you might be worrying what you can do now.

All is not lost. There are plenty of writers on Elance who are capable of turning a nifty phrase or two, and providing you're prepared to pay a little more, will do a sterling job for you. (I know there are other places than Elance to hire writers, but I find all I need here).

Here's how...

The 7 steps to hiring writers on Elance

1) To begin with, you'll need articles that demonstrate the sort of style and content you're after. These can be yours, or another website's. (Note: This is for your writer to be inspired by, not copy!)

2) Advertise for a ghost writer. This lets your prospective writer know you want them to imitate someone else's style and will help you narrow the field quickly to those who can do it. Attach a couple of sample articles and ask them to provide an example of their own writing in a similar style.

3) If you can, hire 3 writers. You do this for the same reason that you get 3 quotes for a plumber. Without a comparison, you'll accept much lower standards (and possibly higher prices). And if you're lucky, you'll end up with 3 great writers. Spend some good time on this phase - 'hire in haste, repent at leisure'. One thing I always do is chat with writers I like the look of in the Workroom. If they can't communicate well, they aren't going to write well.

4) Once you have chosen your winner(s), feed back and ask for a specific improvement to the article. This lets you check how they respond to feedback and lets them know you're serious about quality. Plus, forcing yourself to work out what would improve an article helps you improve your game. Compliment your writer on what you like about their article - they'll do more of it.

5) Get them on a schedule - for example, one article per week. This gives you an external deadline to stick to that will keep your content creation process ticking along.

6) Be prepared to pay. If you're having SEO-focused articles written (and why wouldn't you?), do a bit of math to check how long your monetization model will take to pay back what you've paid. Work out how much traffic the article would need to attract to achieve this and then decide how much you're prepared to pay.

7) Do it again. If you can create content that will pay for itself, why not get 10 writers all creating one article per week? Unless of course you just don't want to grow that fast ;-)

Although it can feel like a big step, outsourcing your content creation to skilled writers is one of the most important things you can do to help your web business grow. Put the time in now and it will free you up to focus on other areas of your online business.

About the Author:
Roger Elliott has been running businesses online since 1999. An experienced outsourcer, his small tight-knit team uses contractors all over the world enabling the company to behave like a much bigger one. His biggest site’s content was created mostly by other people, and although he writes the odd article (like this one), most of his content is written by writers he hired on Elance.


Dear Roger, do you think the writer should be able to post the articles directly, or do you recommend editing and publishing by another person?

Hooray! Elancers are finally seeing the light. So is Google.

It's refreshing to hear from someone who expects to pay for good writing. I know many writers who put a lot of effort into their work, and they deserve to be well-compensated for their craft.

As more and more people start paying top dollar for great work on Elance, the overall reputation of the site improves. If we want to make this site the true 21st century workplace it is meant to be, we need to start paying better wages across the board. Nothing says "professional" better than professional earnings. The virtual marketplace needs to compete with the physical marketplace.

Hopefully this move marks the end of SPAM factory posts and the classic "I need 500 articles by friday" job.

-Ted Bendixson, Freelance Copywriter

Do we know how Google actually deciphers good content from bad? Its such a human skill as content's quality is often a certain x factor or magic as well as good grammer and style. How does a digital force define good from bad in this context?

Yes, I agree -- I have created an book using eLance as a means of sourcing high quality authors. My book entitled 'Why the World Needs Nurses - An Anthology of Perspectives' is scheduled for publication next month. It has fifteen chapters, twelve of which were sourced directly through eLance. What a wealth of creativity we discovered. We have a truly international book which has excellent viewpoints and perspectives - from the Phillipines to Canada,the Scottish Highlands to California. eLance enabled us to source content we could never have found using traditional means. It is a brilliant source of talent. I am based in Australia.