The 5 Steps To Writing a Freelance Content Writer Job Description That WON'T Result in Crappy Content

Filed in Blogging, Case Studies, Content, Tutorials & Reviews by on February 20, 2017

Time after time in the NicheHacks Facebook group, you see posts like this one:

 

content-writer-search

 

And they’re almost always prompted by someone having a bad experience hiring an affordable content writer, and getting burned with horrible content in return.

Either the content is plagiarized, risking a penalty for your site…

...or it’s got horrible grammar, making you look like a joke… or it’s just boring, meaning no one’s going to actually read your site and buy from your affiliate links.

And no matter how hard we try, we keep running into the same bad writing quality time and time again.

It sucks, but it is a problem that’s solvable.

And rather than telling you that you just have to stick it out and wade through loads of crappy writers before you get to the good ones.

I want to help you do something different.

I want to help you set up your search for a writer from the beginning to help you instantly weed through people who don’t meet your qualifications.

And that’s by writing a carefully-worded job description.

The kind of description you put on UpWork, ProBlogger, or any site potential writers read search for jobs on.

 

The Pro-Blogger Job Board can be a good place to find writers if you're specific

 

It might sound like a trivial matter

But trust me—when you know how to put an effective job description together for a freelance writer, you’ll see a night and day difference in the kind of responses you get back.

And the writers you eventually hire.

So let's look at what you do not want to do first...

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free checklist of 31 blog traffic secrets click here or the image below)

 

The Typical Freelance Writer Job Description

Typically, a listing for a freelance blogger or content writer looks like this:

 

upwork

 

While there’s nothing inherently “wrong” with this job description

Almost any freelance writer on the face of the planet could read this description and think it’s for them.

Often, we try to appeal to a lot of people to make sure we keep our options open…

But on a platform like UpWork, it will only inundate you with more responses than you know what to do with.

 

Upwork is filled with low-quality writers so strong filters are needed as shared below

 

So it’s better to get more specific.

As we go through this tutorial, I’ll use this description.

You’ll see me re-write it into something way more effective that’d deflect some applicants

Weed out the ones that aren’t any good, and definitely attract the cream of the crop to apply to work with you.

So let's move on to the first thing you have to get 100% right...

 

What You’ll Learn

  • How to title your job description to be specific so you filter out time wasters.
  • How to order your requirements to keep low-quality writers at bay.
  • A "magical" filter to weed through applications that won't be worth your time.
  • What a perfect job description looks like that will find your ideal freelancer.

 

1. The Title - You Need To Get This 100% Spot On

Just because the title of our example job description is long and spelled out, doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly generic.

“Looking for long term blogger, social media assistant, and marketing copywriter”

With a title like this, you'll attract a ton of the wrong people.

Anyone who’s ever done anything remotely related to one of those three things is going to think they’re qualified for the job. 

And really, nothing could be farther from the truth.

By reading the job description, I see one line that tells me it’s to work with educational entities: schools, universities, and teachers.

Based on that, you’d only want people with experience in that niche.

Everyone else wouldn’t know what they’re talking about, which equates to generic, boring content.

So you could say:

 

 

I chose to highlight “blogger,” because, from the description, it looks like that would be the bulk of the job.

(And honestly, a good blogger would be able to handle writing social media and marketing content.)

Do you see how that change suddenly takes this from a “generic” listing to a highly specific one that more experienced and talented freelance writers would want to apply to?

 

2. The Job Description - You Win Or Lose The Game Here

After people click through on your title to read more details about the job, you either win or lose the entire “game” of getting decent writers to apply with what your description says.

As a professional copywriter myself, the biggest flaw I see here is that the end goal of the blog posts and social media marketing isn’t spelled out for the writer.

How will they know if their work is successful or not?

Do they want someone to work on the site content because they want to generate more new student inquiries?

Or do they feel like their site converts well enough, but they want to focus on SEO blog content so they can get more traffic to enter their conversion funnel?

That’s what needs to be spelled out first.

And rather than feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility, good writers will appreciate knowing what standard they’ll be held to, and will even use that information to give you an example of how they’ve done something similar for a previous client.

For that, you could write something like:

 

 

Do you see how that’s much more specific and gets right down to business?

Next, you’ll want to qualify the readers by spelling out the characteristics of your most ideal freelance writer.

How many years of experience does he have as a writer and in your specific industry?

What types of blogs and publications has he already written for?

You’ll also want to ask for some links—either to individual pieces of work or a portfolio—to make sure his writing style is up to scratch with what you’re looking for.

 

 

If you notice, in the example, the “mundane” job requirements come first.

You still want to list these, but when you say you want 1-2 blog posts per week, most writers—whether they’re a good fit for you or not—will start to think “Yeah, I can do that”

And will skim over everything else, effectively disregarding it.

But when you put these details after pieces of information that will make some writers realize the position is not for them...

...you’ll cut down on the number of unqualified writers sending in applications… which will be a big headache-saver.

So for this, we can more or less write what’s already written in the original job description.

 

3. A ‘Magical’ Filter to Get Rid of Horrible Writers

But beyond just trying to prevent people from applying, there is one way you can automatically get rid of a lot of unqualified writers, without even reading through their applications.

And that’s by writing in some requirements—scattered randomly throughout the job description—of wording or phrases they must include in their response, and where to put them.

For example: in the subject line.

For this particular job listing, you could give this instruction:

 

 

This works wonders.

Another trick—and one you can have a lot of fun with—is requiring an additional line of text to appear somewhere within their application message.

For example:

 

 

Applicants who don’t follow these instructions get moved to the trash immediately.

And this, more than anything else, will make your hiring process a lot easier and more time-efficient.

The number of wannabe writers mass-applying to various writing jobs is astounding, so this is the best way to weed them out.

 

4. Include Requirements Applicants Must Include

But, just because someone can follow instructions doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be a good match.

You still want to make sure they can carry their weight as a part of your team.

So you need to check out their previous writing. (And maybe even their resume if you need someone with a good bit of niche experience.)

So at the end of your job description, list out requirements that they’ve got to include as a part of their application for you to verify whether or not their writing talent is up to your standards.

Or fits in your budget.

 

Write something like this:

 

5. Put it All Together

When you put it all together, it'll look something like this:

 

 

It's a bit longer than the original job posting we started out with, but notice how much more specific and upscale it is?

And just to give you another example, here's a good job description I found on UpWork:

 

See how SPECIFIC they get with the results they want and the responsibilities? (The list goes on, but it was too much to capture in one screenshot.) You can view the full listing while it lasts here.

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free checklist of 31 blog traffic secrets click here or the image below)

 

Basically, Do This...

The secret to good job descriptions to hire effective (read: non-crappy) freelance writers is planning.

I know that sounds sooo boring, but it's true.

When you plan for the kind of writer you want and what you want their work to accomplish, you'll be more likely to get the right people applying to the job.

Because as a professional blogger myself, I'd never waste time writing in for a position for a niche site that didn't even know what they wanted the outcome of their written content to be.

So take some time, figure out ways to filter unwanted writers, and put your job description together to be intimidating the wrong people, but energizing to the right ones.

And if you've ever tried to hire a writer for your niche website before, what was your main takeaway from this post?

(Not to be biased, but mine is definitely that "magical" filter. Huge time-saver.)

 

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Chelsea Baldwin
Chelsea has a background in journalism and IT, and besides writing for NicheHacks, she's the founder of Copy Power, a business and a website that helps business owners figure out how to get remembered online via copywriting.

She excels in the topic of SEO but can write on a wide range of topics of which you can discover by clicking on her name.

Comments (9)

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  1. Amar kumar says:

    Hey Chelsea,

    With the evolution of technology, freelancers conduct most, if not all, of their work using computers and often submit finished pieces to clients via the Internet. As salaried positions become more difficult to secure, competition for freelance jobs may increase and cause a writer's income to fluctuate.

    Education is helpful in developing and honing writing skills, but experience and samples of published work often carry more weight with prospective employers. Much of a freelance writer's time is spent looking for work.

    Writers can find job opportunities through both print and online media. Freelancers can apply for writing positions, or send out query letters and article proposals directly to editors of various publications. Eventually, thanks for sharing your worthy information regarding this subject.

    With best wishes,

    Amar kumar

  2. DC says:

    How much should one pay their blog writer?

    • Hi

      You can pay them with whatever you both agree on. Usually this is all decided prior to hiring.

      • DC says:

        Can you give some sort of dollar amount for someone with the requirements listed in the above job description? I'm new to all of this and don't have a clue on what would be considered a fair wage. (I understand that you would both agree on it and it would be decided prior to hiring.)

        • Wages are not based on job descriptions, but on the person being hired and their experience.

          The above description says "$1,500 budget" and that it's a one time thing. So I wouldn't be surprised if they were offering $1,500 for that job.

          The other job description is asking for the writer to share their rates. So it depends on the writer.

      • DC says:

        Thanks, I didn't see the $1500 budget in there.

    • NicheHacks says:

      Depends on too many factors to give a good answer including the writers experience, whether they have written in your niche before, how long the word count is, what research is involved and lots more.

      This post has some details on it: http://nichehacks.com/find-good-content-writers/

  3. George says:

    Powerfully written. I've hired over 90 copywriters on upwork since 2010. It's been my experience 95% of them are extremely poor writers. Two writers plagiarized large portions of work too! Be careful.

    Over the years, if I'd have been as clear as Chelsea's recommendations it would have saved me thousands.

    Posted a new job on upwork today based on Chelsea's advice. Applicants are applying quickly, and I'm already deleting those responses not including ‘I paid attention and read the full instructions’. It proves so many don't even bother reading the full post.

    • NicheHacks says:

      Yep, places like UpWork are where people mass apply to everything and anything hoping for some luck. It's quantity over quality there.

      You can get good workers but you have to be strict, have a good hiring process, filter out anyone who can't read or follow instructions and have clear guidelines.