Online Marketing Lesson 26: Outsourcing Your Web Content


In this lesson, we will explain how you can outsource your web content when you should consider doing it and so on. The focus of the lesson is on outsourcing written content, but in the end, we will list some marketplaces that you can use to outsource any kind of content creation, from software coding to audio and video work.

Guest Bloggers and Writers

The first way to outsource some of your writing content is with guest bloggers and writers. This practice was born with blogs, but you can use it on virtually any website. If you have a company website, for example, you could create a section with articles, and inside that section, you could have the guest writers.

Using guest bloggers has many benefits. First of all, they won’t cost you money, which is an important factor for people who a limited budget. Secondly, they represent a flexible source of content. Some people might decide to have guest articles being published once a month or once a week while others might run a blog exclusively with the contribution of guest bloggers. This flexibility can also be used on special occasions. If you are going on a holiday where you won’t be able to write, for example, you could let your readers know about it and ask whether or not they are interested in writing guest posts to fill that gap.

The only time when you should be careful with guest bloggers is during first few months of your site. Those early days are very important because they will set a voice and style for your content. Getting guest bloggers too early in the game might disrupt this objective.

One Pre-Requisite

Maybe one or two of your readers, the ones that are real fans, will be willing to write guest articles for you expecting nothing in return. The vast majority of people, however, will not. This means that while guest bloggers won’t cost you money, they will still require you to give something back.

It must be a win-win situation, in other words. The easiest and most common way to compensate guest bloggers for their work is to give some exposure to their website or product. Here are practical ways that you can use for that purpose:

  • adding a link to the guest blogger’s blog on top of the article
  • adding a byline, including a small bio of the author at the bottom of the article
  • adding a picture of the author to the article
  • creating a special page where all the guest bloggers are featured
  • creating a section in your sidebar or footer where guest bloggers are featured
  • writing a monthly “Thank You” post thanking previous guest bloggers

The exposure that the guest blogger will receive will obviously be proportional to the size of your audience. That is why you might need to wait for your site to grow a bit before you can attract interested people.

How to Get Started

The first place that you should consider is to find potential guest writers on your own blog or website. You simply need to write a post mentioning that you are looking for people who would be interested in writing some articles for you. Make sure to explain in the article what kind of content you want, if there are any technical specifications (e.g., post length, originality, republishing rights), and highlight what people will get in return for their contributions.

If you want to get a steady flow of guest blogging applications, you should consider adding a “Write For Us” link on the navigation menu or on the sidebar. Upon clicking there a visitor would be sent to a page that contains the same information what we mentioned above (in fact you could just point that link to your article where you first requested guest bloggers).

If for some reason this method does not work, you will need to look outside your own site. One good idea is to browse around blogs in your niche and look for the ones that publish guest posts on a regular basis. Once you find them, simply make a list of the guest bloggers, and contact them individually asking whether or not they would also be interested in guest blogging on your own site.

Paid Staff Writers

As we mentioned before, guest bloggers are a valuable source of content for any website. They are not suitable for all situations, though. If your blog or site is new, for example, you will have a hard time convincing people to guest blog for you. Secondly, guest writers are not completely reliable. If you want to have people writing every day for your site, perhaps following some editorial guidelines, then you will need to pay them.

Some of you might be asking yourselves: Do I need paid writers do make a blog or website successful? The answer is “no.” If you blog on a niche that you are passionate about and you have the time available, you can perfectly write all the content yourself and still make your site grow and become popular over time.

Some people, however, prefer to focus on the business side and outsource the writing part. Moreover, having paid writers allows you to create websites in niches that don’t interest you at all, but that might be profitable and therefore worth the investment.

How to Select Writers

In the last section of this lesson, you will find a wide range of websites and marketplaces that you can use to post your job listing. It is very likely that you will receive dozens of applications within a short period of time. How should you go through them to make sure that you will end up with the best writers?

The answer is simple: get them writing. This is by far the best process to select aspiring writers for your website.

First of all you need to mention in your job listing the fact that all applicants should send you an email with their bio and, most importantly, with an article written specifically for your site. This is not a writing sample from something that the writer wrote in the past, but rather a new article that he will write specifically for your site, and that could be published if you consider it to be appropriate. Remember to mention that he will get paid if you decide to publish the article.

This first article will allow you to discard all the writers with poor writing skills or with a style that is not suitable for your site.

Now you will need to send a reply to all the writers that satisfied you, saying that you will publish their articles and pay them for it. Then mention that they should work on a second article and send it to you as soon as possible, again for your evaluation.

Repeat this cycle as many times as you need. After 3 or 4 articles you will be able to tell a) who is the best writer and b) whether or not he would be a reliable writer. You can gauge the second point by taking a look at how fast he was able to turn the articles for you, and on how eager he is to take the writing job permanently.

How Much Should You Pay?

This is the one million dollar question. How much should you pay your writers? As you’ve probably guessed, there is no right or wrong answer here. It will depend on a vast number of variables.

First of all, you need to consider how much money you are already making with your site. Then you need to think about what fraction of your income you are willing to put on the table in order to get more content coming. This number can be as low as 20% if you just want to complement your own content, and as high as 100% if you want the writers to take care of pretty much everything while you just manage the site.

If you are not making any money yet, you need to estimate the potential that the website has. Based on that you can calculate how much you can pay for your writers, on a monthly basis, and how soon you will recover that investment if things go according to the plan.

The second variable that you need to consider is the kind of content that you are looking for. If you want a writer to cover the content of your mini websites, for instance, you won’t need to have really high quality or carefully researches articles. As a result, you could pay as low as $5 per article.

There are writing companies on the Web that charge even less than that, but you should be careful with those. If you end up choosing a cheap one, at least make sure that the articles you will get are original and not copied from other websites. You can easily check that by copying a specific sentence from the article and then searching it using quotation marks on Google.

If you are looking for quality articles to be published on your blog or company website, you will obviously need to pay more. As a rule of thumb, $10 per small article is the minimum that you should expect to pay. For longer, carefully researched and link bait articles, you should pay a lot more. Most popular blogs and websites pay at least $50 for those, with the price going up to $200 or more in some cases. It might sound expensive, but the right writer will craft content that will attract many backlinks and a lot of traffic to your site, making your investment worth it over time.

Notice that so far we only recommended paying a flat fee per article, because this is usually the simplest and most efficient method. If you want, though, you can also experiment with variable pay rates, which link the payment to the performance of the article (e.g., to the number of page views that it will generate), and with bonuses, which will increment the payment in the case something special happens (e.g., in the case the article gets featured on the front page of Digg or receives a high number of backlinks).

Marketplaces for Web Content

General Purpose Marketplaces With over 80,000 qualified professionals up for hire, Upwork is the largest freelance marketplace on the Web. There you will be able to post a job listing in a wide range of fields, from design and multimedia work to writing and translation services. Creating an account is free, and once your job is live, the professionals will start bidding on your job posts. Guru is the main competitor of Upwork, and it works pretty much in the same way. The only difference is that Guru tends to have more job listing in certain fields, and vice-versa. For writing services, however, they are pretty much equivalent, with 20,000 or so registered professionals.

Specialized Marketplaces This is the first website that you should check if you are looking to hire a blogger. The insertion costs $50, but your job listing will stay live for 30 days, which guarantees a good response level. If you need to get some technical work or programming done, RentACoder is the probably the best solution. The interface is rustic and confusing for the first time user, but once you get used to it you will be able to navigate around the site. The main advantage of this site is the number of qualified coders that use the site to find new projects to work on. The go to location if you are looking for voice over talent and artists. The interface is very user-friendly, and within minutes of posting your job requirements, you will start receiving bids. You can even add a script to your ad and the professionals will provide you with an audio version of the script so that you can test their quality and style easily.

Action Points

  1. Evaluate whether or not you will need to outsource part of all of your web content.
  2. If you only want to outsource part of your content, try to use guest writers in your site.
  3. Experiment with it for a couple of months and decide if the results are satisfying.
    If you know that you will need paid writers, use the marketplaces listed in this lesson to find applicants.
  4. Once you have the application emails coming in, use the technique described in this lesson to select the best writer for your project.

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