In our private Facebook group, it’s become apparent that a lot of you guys are having a bit of dilemma when it comes to content writing:
I could go on with these examples all day, but you get the idea: you want good content for your website.
And you don’t want to pay a fortune for it. You also don't want to waste your time and money on crappy writers.
You want content that is knowledgeable, follows basic grammar rules, and isn’t plagiarized.
Which really isn’t too much to ask.
The only problem is, with so many platforms offering such a low barrier to entry to freelance writing, there’s a lot of writers out there that aren’t any good at all, but they can claim they are.
And since their prices are usually in the lower price range, a lot of unsuspecting niche marketers will willingly hire them… but then be totally disappointed when they get the work back.
So in this post, we’ll help you figure out ways you can proactively get better content at an affordable price without having the entire process feel like such a gamble.
With the post, I’ll more or less go in order from the cheapest content solutions to the most expensive and show you how to get the most bang for your buck at each step.
What You’ll Learn:
- How to identify dud writers to avoid regardless of the platform
- How different budget-level writer hiring platforms compare to each other
- How to take your content quality to the next level
- What other community members are doing to ensure their content is quality
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free checklist of 31 blog traffic secrets click here or the image below)
1. Textbroker: The Cheap Writer Platform We All Either Passionately Love or Hate
Textbroker seems to come up a lot in our Facebook community discussions on finding good, affordable content.
And when it’s mentioned, it’s either mentioned with passionate love or passionate hate.
Like in Exhibit C above. Dean's never using them again, but Aaron's been using them happily for over four years.
So something's up.
One of the reasons why the idea of Textbroker is so attractive is because the platform supposedly screens writers, expels duds from the get-go, and categorizes them according to their quality rating within the platform.
Writers are rated on a five-star system, and going after the four-star or five-star writers is generally considered the only sensible way to ensure your content isn’t terrible.
When I was first starting out as a writer online, I signed up on Textbroker as a way to access plenty of easy, quick-to-write work.
Unless things have changed, the highest category you could get placed into with the initial test was four stars, and you had to prove yourself in other ways before you were allowed to apply as a five-star writer.
Having so much easy work to access was great, but I’ll admit that the things I wrote about weren’t always in my area of expertise. But the pay was low, and the clients didn’t seem to care too much.
After working on the platform here and there for a few months, I decided to move on after my last payout.
Even though I was a four and five-star writer, I still felt like the expected quality was too low for my standards.
(Take this with a grain of salt though. I charge a lot of money for my writing services now.)
But one huge advantage to the Textbroker platform is:
If you get a piece of content back that isn’t up to your standards or isn’t well-written, you can keep sending it back to the writer for revisions until it’s up to your standards for the same price.
What Textbroker's Good for:
Based on community feedback and my personal experience with the platform, I'd recommend Textbroker for niche marketers who run sites based around Amazon product reviews.
Because the writers probably won't be experts (or even experienced) in your niche, you can instruct them to write reviews based on the product description and the customer reviews that already exist in the Amazon product listing for that product.
Living up to its name, Fiverr is a platform where you can hire freelancers to do specific tasks for only $5.
A lot of providers on there provide service upgrades beyond their basic $5 offering, so your order amount can easily be more than $5.
But whether it’s $5, $10, $15, or even $20 for writing a page or a blog post, it’s still really cheap.
And though service providers there are rated with anywhere from zero to five stars, the rating system isn’t always reliable.
NicheHacks community member Harry Bloom, for example, says he’s received wonderful material from zero-star writers on Fiverr, but also terrible content from writers that have somehow earned five-star ratings.
Kelon D. Edwards, another community member, points out the even if someone has a five-star rating, you can’t see how many refund requests they’ve processed, which can also be a really telling sign.
My favorite quote in the community discussion, though, came from Stuart, who said, “Anyone researching and writing an article for $5 deserves a f*ing medal for working so low.”
Because, as someone who routinely charges 100x that $5 mark for a blog post, I can’t even imagine what dire straights I’d be living in if I only charged that much for my work. I’d be in the poor house, for sure.
But as a US citizen, my rent payment alone is nearly 2x what a “good” monthly salary would be in some of the countries these writers come from, so I can respect them not needing to charge as much and filling in that budget option in the marketplace.
What Fiverr's Good for:
Since Fiverr is very task-focused, I'd recommend using the platform to hire out content writing tasks like product descriptions.
It's a task that doesn't take much time, is easy to replicate, and you can give the writer a template to follow, reducing the potential margin for error.
Community member Harry Bloom first used Fiverr to hire Nader after speaking with him in the NicheHacks Facebook group.
But beyond that, he recommends checking out things other than a writer's ratings to see their potential for success as a content writer.
"I check the sales copy they have for their gig," he says. "If it reads well, is engaging and has great grammar; then chances are high that they will do the same for your content."
He also advises checking out the negative reviews, if available.
"I never like to read the positive points about anything because I already know what I want and they are usually the same kinds of comments," he says. "However, the bad reviews really show you what could go wrong as they are much more specific, and [the reviewer has] thought put into them, because [they're] venting."
Finally, he says, ask for samples. If they don't have any to share, that's a huge red flag that you shouldn't hire them.
3. Freelancer Platforms like UpWork
Because there’s too many of these platforms to list out and talk about, I’ll only mention UpWork by name here.
Mostly because it’s the one that comes up most in our community content discussions, but also because it tends to be the most popular around the internet anyway.
On UpWork, a freelancer can sign up and set whatever hourly rates he or she feels like charging.
Some charge as low as $3 per hour, but you can also find people charging $50 per hour or more.
I’ve used UpWork to hire a virtual assistant, and the thing I like most about the platform is that you can search through it with predetermined criteria.
Such as your price range, skills you want the person to have, their job performance, and keywords that appear in their profile descriptions.
The last one is particularly helpful in finding someone that’s already got knowledge in your niche.
You know they’ll write knowledgeable on the subject and not hand you work that’s plagiarized or overly generic. (You should still use a tool like Copyscape though, just in case.)
Plus, instead of creating a task and putting it “out there” for the platform to take care of like you do on Textbroker.
You can identify one or two small tasks to test the writers’ skills, offer a small (but fair) payment for them, and see which writer of 5-10 you’ve narrowed your list down to is the best value for you to work with.
What UpWork's Good for:
UpWork is a good place to go if you want to produce more knowledgeable content in your niche and need to find a writer with a relevant background.
For example, if you're starting a niche blog aimed at DIY car repair, you can use UpWork to find writers with a background in auto mechanics.
If you want to talk about diet and health, you can find writers who already have experience writing for nutrition blogs.
The payment rate will vary from writer to writer, but this ensures that you'll be able to find a rate you're comfortable with and that you can begin to improve your content quality as and when you're ready to do so.
One of the best things about UpWork is that there's so many possibilities.
But it's also a drawback... you have to spend loads of time weeding through the possibilities before finding a good match for your budget and your site.
Rahul Yadav, a community member who hires writers on UpWork suggests stating your requirements clearly and setting a $300 to $500 budget for the job to give a feeling of security.
"You'd be surprised at how many expensive writers are willing to work at a cheaper rate for a long-term project," he says. "So don't set the budget too low, because it may drive away some good writers."
"Once I receive the applications," he goes on, "I go through each writer's profile, check their rating, customer service reviews, and most importantly, prior work in my niche."
Another community member, Dom Wells, offers this advice if you're hiring through UpWork:
"The number one thing you need to remember is to check for plagiarism," he says. "Believe me, writers WILL try and get away with sending you copy and pasted work. Even if they are great for 99 articles, you still need to check number 100."
He also suggests that to start, you hire someone to write just one article.
"It's easier to hire someone and find out they are useless than to just keep interviewing people," he says.
(Dom's actually gone to the point of helping niche marketers like himself get more reliable SEO content by launching his own service for a set fee per article.)
4. Go Platform-Free: Taking Things to the Next Level
I don’t think you’ll be surprised to find out that the NicheHacks writing team wasn’t hired on a platform like Textbroker, Fiverr, or UpWork.
I’m not exactly sure how Stuart found Nader, James, and Jawad, but he found me via ProBlogger’s job board.
And when I saw his listing and reached out, it turned out that he was already commenting on my posts on other sites I was writing for at the time.
The idea behind something like ProBlogger's job board is for companies (yes, usually actual, full-fledged companies) to create a listing for their blogging needs for professional writers in specific niches to respond to.
But just because your niche site is a one-person operation and not a company doesn't mean the board is closed to you.
A listing costs $50 for 30 days, and the quality of applicants tends to be higher than that of other platforms... but they also charge more money.
What ProBlogger's good for:
Overall, the quality of writers you have access to by paying to post on ProBlogger is higher than on more generic freelancer sites.
There's a higher concentration of writers that are only there to search for listings that match up with their specific areas of expertise—particularly if you're working in marketing-based or business-specific niches.
According to Stuart, who's hired on this platform successfully, the only real drawback is that there's still a lot of low-quality writers who will apply to your listing without reading through your requirements or understanding the job.
"Like any platform you hire on," he advises, "you'll have to sift through mostly poor quality applicants to get the handful of good ones."
5. Finding Free Agents
If you're ready to contribute a healthy budget towards your content creation (as in, a minimum of $100 to $150 per blog post), this is often the path of least resistance for finding a writer who can produce quality, top-notch work for you.
Here's the process:
•Find high-quality, popular blogs that already have a great reputation in your niche.
•Identify some of the most popular posts on those blogs (comments and social media share numbers are good metrics).
•Look for the author's name and bio attached to that post.
•If the author isn't the owner of the site and has the title "writer" mentioned somewhere in their bio, get in touch with them to ask about their availability for a project like yours.
If you're really new to your niche and aren't sure of what those quality blogs are, a Google search like "best blogs about [niche]" is a great place to start and will usually yield decent results.
What to Expect With Your Budget
Obviously, there's no one set pay scale that freelance writers across the globe adhere to.
But based on the platforms outlined above and our experience with both hiring and working as niche-specific writers, here's what you can expect to pay for each level of quality. (Approximate prices are based in USD.)
- Low quality, possibly plagiarized paragraphs & phrases: $5 to $50
- Mid quality, one topic, no in-depth research: $50 to $100
- Mid quality, some in-depth research: $100 to $200
- High quality, plenty of in-depth research: $200 to $500
At the end of the day though, even if you do find a "diamond in the rough" writer, you'll still never be able to get really high-quality content at a cheap price, because the amount a freelancer charges often directly correlates with the time they put into their work.
Since freelancers work in a time-for-money business model, the more time something takes, the more they have to charge for it. And a high-quality blog post will never happen in an hour or less.
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free checklist of 31 blog traffic secrets click here or the image below)
And Once You've Got Your Content, Do Something With It
Of course, the main purpose of having content published on your website is to use it to generate traffic to that content.
It won't do us any good if we pay to have it written, publish it, and then it just sits there.
It needs to actually be read by people to do its job to get more people into our funnel to increase our passive income.
To make sure you get the most out of whatever amount you invest in your content, NicheHacks has a guide called 101 Traffic Hacks that you should definitely check out.