Finding Good Writers For Your Blogs

When I bought my 5th blog a few years ago, it became clear that I could no longer write and manage all my blogs on my own. Running a single blog well takes a lot of work (writing, promotion, ad management, etc). But running multiple blogs *well*, on your own, is borderline impossible.

The fact is that to run a good network of successful blogs, you’ve really got to work with other people. But finding the right people to work with isn’t nearly as easy as it seems. Below I list the qualities that I look for in online partners:

  1. Timely and Reliable (your blog can’t sit around for weeks, unattended)
  2. Long term commitment (you can’t be in the business of finding new writers every month)
  3. Capable and Productive (lots of people will show interest, but it’s the rare person who can actually make it happen)
  4. Passionate and Invested (find people who know their stuff, love their stuff, and enjoy telling other people about their stuff)

So that’s what I look for. But how do I find people who meet these criteria? Well, there’s really no panacea, but there are a few things you can do to find the best fit for your needs.

If you’re looking to get a blog started, and care more about the first three items on the list (as well as cost-effectiveness) then I’ve found no better solution than WordContent. They are eerily precise with the timing and reliability of their posting (reliability is priceless in the online world). And they are always there, ready to work when you call on them. The only thing you are really missing with WordContent is number 4 on the list. My strategy has been to use WordContent to build about 50 blog posts, and then to turn the blog over to someone with a genuine interest in the topic.

Here I should put in the disclaimer that WordContent is owned by Splashpress Media, the same owners of Performancing. However, I should also note that I was happily using WordContent long before I had any other relationship with Splashpress whatsoever. Right now, WordContent is putting the basic infrastructure in place for my latest Poker Blog.

So based on experience, I find that you are best off going for reliability and consistency at the beginning when you’re just starting up a blog. But pretty soon (3-6 months), you’ll want to find a real expert to take over your blog. How do you find a real expert whose still reliable and consistent? That’s a problem I struggled with for months until I hit up on the ultimate solution.

This is what you do. Post an ad on Craigslist describing the blogging position and the terms, along with a request that applicants email you with a simple cover letter explaining why they should get the position. I usually get about 30-50 applicants per Craigslist posting. You might also consider posting your position in the Performancing Blogger jobs forum.

Once you’ve gotten your 30-50 applicants who actually took the time to write a cover letter, email them back with a link to a 5-10 question application form carefully designed to weed out the half-hearted and the posers (see the link above for an example).

Of the 30-50 initial inquiries, you’ll probably get about 60% of them to fill out the application. But this is good because it filters out the lazy people from your applicant pool. Read through the applications and sort them into three folders: 1) definitely not 2) maybe and 3) definitely.

If you’re lucky, you’ll only have 5 or so applicants in the “definitely” folder. If that’s the case, you can move on to the next step. If not, you need to identify about 5 “finalists.”

This is where things get fun. With the five finalists, you offer them each $25 to participate in a one week competition where they each get to post “live” on the blog. This lets you get to see them actually doing the job, and proves to be invaluable in selecting your blogger. I’ve run this competition about 5 times now, and without fail, each time, there’s one blogger who sticks out from the rest.

I know that it seems like a long, convoluted process, but in the end, I’ve found that it’s the best way to find a blogger who’s dedicated and passionate while bringing a level of expertise and personality to the blog.

19 thoughts on “Finding Good Writers For Your Blogs

  1. Just wanted let you know I used your strategy to launch my blog on tomatoes and have been very happy with this system for selecting writers.

    Thanks again for this sure fire way to identify and sort through writer talent.

  2. Thanks Ryan. I’m totally using this strategy for finding writers. Being able to test out writers and find people who are most passionate is the ideal way to go about things.

  3. … that Dog Guide Writer Application was worth the admission today! 😀

    (PS: I didn’t know you had a Pet Blog .. I’ve added it to my Bloglines and maybe I can random link something over at PetLvr)

  4. AdSense sharing at the beginning isn’t much of an incentive. I like having the capital to pay them a guaranteed amount…the profit sharing is an incentive that helps keep the writers invested in the site.

  5. @Ajay: It’s an honorable method. There are a couple of plugins for WP for adsense sharing. I’ll try to remember to grab the URLs and post them here. Remind me if I forget.

  6. Hey, thanks for the post. I’m toying with the idea of getting writers for Techtites.

    However, I’m thinking of Adsense sharing for starters, because the blog is still very small. Is this a recommended method?

  7. Thank you very much for this one. I will surely try this out in one of my projects.

  8. Awesome article Ryan! Good strategy and directive to stick with.
    I also used to get people (before I used to have several Windows communities and often needed workshop writers and moderators – yes I paid already long before Calacanis started hiring people) in marketplaces from more popular niche forums.

  9. Raj- I’m happy with $100 per month, sometimes less. It’s really up to the client how often he/she wants their blog updated.

  10. bookmarked and helped me have a plan for expanding my internet biz. much thanks, ryan!

  11. Good point. I guess there are some blogs that this works for. The problem is that most such services want a minimum $1000/m for a single blog. I have yet to even buy a blog earning that much. So i guessing using such services is a moot point for me for now.

  12. Raj- most of my clients at Word Content are not savvy bloggers looking to get into any list- they are using their blogs to promote their other websites and online businesses in a lateral way. And if the blog itself builds a community and makes a profit, so be it. And that, I’m afraid, is the bottom line- profit. We help them do everything- from setting the blog up design and content-wise, to submitting it at the directories, to posting, linking and general SEO. I am proud to say, despite my above comments, I haven’t had a dissatisfied customer yet!

  13. Doesn’t this bring us back full-circle? My new motto is don’t start a blog unless I can set the tone with my writing, then find people who actually want to blog. I’m not at all sold on most content resellers, because as mentioned above, there’s no passion. What’s a blog without passion?

  14. Is that 25% of the net, or gross? And do you do things like a Digg bonus as well?

  15. So far, I just do one or two author blogs with flat rate plus profit share (usually 25%). My standard model is $100 plus 25% profit share, minimum of 15 posts per month. Usually after about two months I have a sense of whether they are really pushing for the site to succeed or not. If not, I just move on (usually drawing a blogger from the original pool of applicants).

    One of my bloggers is on the verge of making a full-time income off the 25% share.

  16. And this is re: only single author blogs, where in reality most blogs have multiple authors- where the opportunity for more complications exist.

  17. Thank you Ryan for the plug!! Your post has reminded me of the imperfection in Word Content’s system, which my own blogs have suffered from as well, in that as you say the writer allocated to do the work is not “passionate and invested”. It’s not hard to see why- they are paid “per word” (e.g: for a 250 word post) and they have no vested interest in seeing a community grow or for the site to make a profit. The only way to deal with this is to go into a revenue share model, which I am trying out now, plus allowing authors to use their own adsense codes. The problem here is that it becomes an accounting headache and one can lose the reliability factor. So the solution must be somewhere in the middle- getting someone who is reliable, by pay per word, and giving them a vested interest in the site’s success. Or doing exactly what you suggest- first reliability, then passion. But do you have a hard time working out revenue share, or do you just work on a gross split? And do you “require” the blogger to answer comments, post so much per day- or is it a completely free rein, based on trust?

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