I have hired many writers, and have 99.9%of the time been disappointed in the quality of the work in varying degrees. I'm a perfectionist and value both quality and quantity. I want to provide a high-value experience to my site's visitors. Unfortunately, this requires me to rewrite (contracted work) and write all the remaining articles. I have particular and easy-to-understand blog writing SOPs. Still, invariably the SOPs are either not understood, and therefore guidelines are not followed, or worse, they are ignored. This level of supervision and rewriting is not sustainable or conducive to scale. Any suggestions?
UPDATE: Thanks everyone for taking the time to comment and leaving lengthy and helpful suggestions. I walk away from this discussion with actionable items and much to consider, including shifting my expectations and approach to developing talent. Thanks y'all. This community is fire!!!
18 👍🏽1 💟19
If you got disappointed 99.9% and you have SOPs in place that means your SOPs are not clear enough. Most issues stem from the lack of communication between two parties involved. I'd suggest looking into your guidelines and making them so easy to follow that anyone with basic English could follow them.
OK but they are pretty simple. I got them through a private SEO training/affiliate site build project with Spencer Haws and I find them clear, simple, and easy to follow. I mean I did it and I'm no Einstein. Like c'mon.
Bart » Robert
The thing is not every Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) template can be applied to other businesses. Sometimes a little of tweaking can do magic. I had the same issue with my writers going back and forth and trying to figure what is the problem. What I thought was simple and clear for me wasn't for them. So I started asking them questions such as "What do you think is the goal here?" or "What should be the article title here?" Turns out they weren't sure. Going over your SOP with one of your top writers can do wonders for your business.
Ok first of all it seems that you are making many assumptions here. "The thing is not every SOP template can be applied to other businesses", this statement right here strikes the wrong note in my case. Do you know how many different type of blog article formats there are? Not many. Very finite. Google that. When writing for a general and not professional audience Googling for information or a solution to their problem, you want to K.I.S.S. I won't elaborate. Just think about that. But yes, my templates are compatible with all general audiences across subject matter whether lifestyle or a ditch digging niche blog and everything in between short of specialized websites such as Wikipedia or peer-reviewed ish.. Secondly, I have wasted too much time on a non-solutions based answer.
Altü » Robert
With an answer like that, it doesn't seem to me that you're actually looking to be helped. Bart gave you a helpful and reasonable answer, and you just balked at it. Maybe the problem is that you don't see a problem…
Robert ✍️ » Altü
How much were you paying these writers? 😉
It ranged from idk $10 to $75 for 500 to 750 word articles
Arindam » Robert
At the higher end (75 USD/500 words or 15 cents/word) that is a pretty good intermediate price. Any writer getting paid at that rate who fails to follow SOP or deliver good content is unprofessional. Period.
As for your lower range, that's content mill rate, and you know what peanuts will get you.
But anyway, to make this discussion constructive, here's what I think:
1) Unless you are getting really good results from 500 or 750 word articles, you should aim for cornerstone pieces.
2) After you have hired your writer, tell them frankly that others have found it difficult to understand your SOP and if they'd want to point out something that needs further elucidation, even before the actual work begins.
Maybe you have done this already, but if you think about it, there's no way to make this right unless you have feedback about where the problem really lies.
Hopefully, if you do this once or twice with a couple of good writers, you will have a sustainable process in place and maybe even a few permanent recruits to your writer pool.
3) Since you are forced to rewrite stuff frequently, I'm guessing you are a reasonably good writer who'd rather outsource. Assuming that is correct, if all else fails, you could stop hiring writers altogether!
Just write the content yourself and find a good editor to polish them to perfection.
That's about all I could think of. Hope my rambling helps in some manner 🙂
Robert ✍️ » Arindam
Yes very well said and the prospect of being the principal writer is just something I refuse to resign myself to as it defeats the whole purpose of doing this work 🤷
Yes, I get where you're coming from 🙂
There are a myriad of factors at play here
1 you could not be paying enough. I wouldn't expect good quality from native writers for less than 5 cents a word. Not sure what you're paying but that's culprit #1 usually.
2 most writers aren't good. As someone who trains and coaches writers, SEO users, and editors for a living, this is a bigger problem than you might think. You need to ensure your writers actually know how to write and that requires you know what good web copy actually is.
3 maybe you don't really know how to brief, outline, or even write. I'm not attacking you since I don't know you but there's clearly an issue if briefs aren't resulting in good content. Consider learning how to write from a writers perspective and give inspiration rather than saying "explain this topic to the reader in 100 words". Sorry that stuff doesn't ever work. Trust me.
4 you're choosing bad writers based on the wrong criteria. Usually SEO users care about years experience, qualifications, SEO knowledge, etc. that's all bullshit. You want a good writer. Everything else is learnable. Good writing and following directions is not. Are they empathetic? Do they synthesize information? Can they follow instructions? Do they even give a f*ck at all? You need to first identify the right talent then build mechanisms into your hiring process to weed out bad writers or lazy ones. Get people who care not who know.
5 you have unrealistic expectations. You can't just expect a writer to produce a 2000 word masterpiece on a topic they aren't a trained expert in for what amounts to maybe 20 – 25 bucks an hour. You should expect decent quality for sure but temper expectations if you're a perfectionist. I had a medical SEO client angry about low quality medical content he was paying 6 cents a word for and I'm like dude surgeons make 500k a year because they studied for 7 years on this . You can't expect a medical textbook level piece from an SEO writer.
Tldr your solutions are
1 pay more
2 learn to identify good talent because you're probably hiring bad writers
3 learn how to hire properly to weed out lazy and apathetic writers of which there are many
4 learn what good web copy is so you can evaluate content better, train en editor, or evaluate writers better
5 temper expectations for low paid SEO writers
6 drink more wine to dull the pain and soldier through it
Best of luck
I would add once you do find a good one, take of them like you would that perfect babysitter for your child.
Kevin » Mark
Yes man. Yes. It's so hard to find good writers that care. When you find them take good care and give them some rope. Do what you can to give them room to grow into bigger positions, particularly content marketing and editing. You don't want to go through the hiring process again…
OK Kevin that's a lot. Thanks for the thoughtful response. But I will say to your point 3 regarding maybe I don't really know how to brief, outline, or even write. The briefs are admittedly from Spencer Haws. I used them as he passed them to us training under him. I found them super simple and he expected us to run with them. And we did. Sure, I had questions but I posed my questions as opposed to turning in any old thing. So I do think the brief and outline are quality. And as for my writing skill? I can write, informatively, persuasively, after-dinnerly, and rhet. critically lol.
Kevin » Robert
Great I'm happy to hear that. It'll make your life easier for sure. Then the disconnect must be with the writers themselves. Personally I don't even know who spencer is but jus searching him I can see he's a successful guy so he knows what he's doing. I just know as a former grunt work writer turned professional writer and coach I found 99% of outlines inhibiting rather than helpful. I'd love to see the outlines as that'll help me deduce why writers aren't following them. Again no pressure. I'm not taking new clients now anyway. Just interested in learning more about solving this problem.
Robert ✍️ » Kevin
Maybe we can swap files
William » Kevin
Kevin » William
It's been working for me for years
Also yes, sops are a huge issue because most SEO users don't understand good, valuable, conversational content that readers actually want to read. This is a major issue that I struggle with every week when coaching. It's very difficult for me to train SEO users to understand the key components of good content including clarity, empathy, synthesis, and personality. Personality is usually easiest though. If your sops don't have clear fundamentals, tips, examples to follow, and even templates for reviews, info content, and intros, then you're essentially telling a low paid writer to make you amazing content on a topic both parties probably don't understand all that well. It's a fundamental issue plaguing the SEO industry. So many SEO users are great SEO users but not experts in the topics of their websites, for example if you're an SEO with a home and garden site, chances are you rarely garden and focus only SEO. If you do both great but that's rare. As an SEO you hire writer, who probably writes all day rather than garden. Now we have an issue – someone who does SEO and not gardening is paying someone who writes and doesn't garden to write about gardening. And nobody knows what's actually valuable or helpful.
Again not saying the sites are bad or the SEO users or writers Are at fault it's just the nature of the beast. That's why I struggle to show SEO users what Great content about their topic looks like and struggle to show writers what good content on that topic looks like.
Anyways. Good luck.
Thank you and I keep my swipe file updated with what I consider awesome content whether it be ads, articles, landing and home pages, and whole websites.
Kevin » Robert
That's a great idea. I've found that writers need to be told why it's great content and how to reproduce it though. Or else they can't make anything close. I hope it works out for ya
We have built a team of 15 writers which costs us less than $7/h, and we have a native speaking editor who proofreads their content. I'm an engineer by trade, so believe me, it takes a lot to write an article that I will not mark as BS. Took a year for me and my partner. But we did it. One of the key points: make sure that you prepare a 360-degree test task that tests their thinking / logic / reasoning skills, have 50 people accomplishing it, and hire the best three. Then train them and help them to become the best. Make sure you treat them like your team, not freelancers. Mentor them, know their personal goals, help them to grow. You either pay with your engagement or with your gold. If you are not ready to pay $150/1k words, it will take some extra effort on your side. One of those whom we hired now became an editor. And we also have a part time native speaking editor, however she only proofreads the articles that are receiving traffic. Happy to share our experience, DM me. We're not selling anything btw, we're on the acquisition side 😉
Great advice. They need to have multiple goals in every piece. Canvas wide and narrow it down. It's actually not difficult to test following directions, writing sales copy, research, effort, writing skills etc in just a few pieces of content. If people aren't willing to fork over a ton of money then they make up with it with effort and training
Awesome. I will send you a friend request if you don't mind.
Also this advice resonates to my core. Now this is real talk.
Paying a Content Writer as Percentage Instead of a Fixed Price
6 Conclusions From 4 Years of Hiring Low-Cost Fast Native English Writers (US|CA|UK|AU|NZ)
Managing Multiple Writers versus Hiring a Writer Agency or Company