Let’s establish one thing real fast. Content is important. In several of my previous posts I have mentioned content.. blogging, guest blogging, etc. Content helps attract website traffic and links. Simple as that. The most common PM I have received lately has been:

Tommy, how do you write so much content?”

The truth is I don’t. I don’t write a single word of content. These posts I have been doing for this blog lately is the only writing I have done in a very very long time. While I do have multiple SEO services that I sell I also have my own sites that I rank and I continue to add to that list.. constantly building new niche and product sites. Out of all the sites in my personal portfolio I have not produced a single word of content. Nothing!

..but I publish a crap load of content on those sites every single day.. and every single word is written by someone else. I’m also never struggling to find a writer or ordering an article to test someone. Why? Because I have a dedicated writer for every site. This is the best strategy I have found for several reasons:

  • I don’t have to constantly search for writers. There are so many “writers” out there but the truth is that most of them suck. Most of them just outsource it and it comes back almost useless.


  • Every site maintains the same tone. When you order from content mills you get a different writer every time. Some sound ok.. then the next article sounds like shit. It happens all the time. You never know what you are getting and your content just reeks of outsourced crap.


  • I know my sites are going to have new content added daily. Ever order an article from a person or company that claims to have 24 hour turn around time only to be waiting over a week for it? You know.. the classic illness, family emergency or the internet went out excuses that every content provider seems to use. Seriously.. you would think content writers are the unluckiest people in the world.. all the bad stuff tends to happen to them

It saves me from dealing with the content provider BS excuses and it gives my sites the same tone. So, if you want to step up your content game or if you are sick of writing content for your sites here are the steps I use to find writers for my personal projects…

I use job boards and classified sites to find my writers. If you look on sites like BHW and the other forums you are going to get a bunch of “SEO writers” that apply.. and they usually just outsource and you are left with worthless shitty content. You want to hire a real writer.. and even if someone has never written website content before you can easily teach them how to optimize the content. What you want is someone who can really write! The “SEO” part of writing is the easy part which you can teach them later.. finding someone that knows how to actually write well is the hard part!

Also, I avoid odesk and the freelancer sites like the plague. Nothing but low quality crap there. Look for real freelancer writers.. not “SEO writers” and you can mold them into the best content creators for your websites.

I post ads on classified sites that are very specific. Here is an example of an ad I ran last year for a website in the pet niche:

Job Subject Line:

Freelance writer & dog lover? GREAT Opportunity to make extra money!


Job description:

Looking to hire a freelance writer that has a passion for dogs. You will be writing daily blog posts on a variety of dog related topics, ranging from 1,000 word micro posts to 5,000 word in-depth articles with research and source citations required.

Here is an example of a micro blog post: (link to one of the articles on my site)

Here is an example of a more in-depth blog post: (link to one of the articles on my site)

Must have experience. Please send links to examples of your work. Note: examples don’t have to be dog related.

There are way more freelance writers out there than you think. Work from home moms that write while they are home taking care of their kids, single parents who write in the evening to earn extra money and students that write to help pay for their education. You will get a HUGE response. I get at least 25 replies to every post and some (if the specific niche is popular) will get over 100 applicants.

I ask for examples of writing so I can quickly scan them. I click on the link, read the first paragraph. If it sucks I close it out right away and move onto the next one. This quickly eliminates the bad applicants without wasting too much time. I leave all the windows up of content that passes the first test.

Then, I go through them all again. I check the formatting. I look for short paragraphs and headlines that are correctly used. If the writer uses long and drawn out paragraphs or doesn’t format correctly those windows get closed out.

Then I read the last paragraph of every one that is remaining. I make sure it sums up the piece. Anything that then passes this phase gets a full read. If I think the samples is well written I will put them in the “Reply” pile and then send them an assignment.

Here is an example of what I email back anyone that I feel has potential:

Hi (NAME),

After reading through your writing samples I am willing to give you a chance.

I’d like to give you one assignment to see if your writing style will gel well for this subject. The rate is $X per article that is 1,000 – 1,500 words and $X for articles that fall between 1,500 and 2,000 words.

For this assignment, please write an article about (insert subject) and make it 1,500+ words. I would just like to evaluate your tone and knowledge on the subject. Don’t worry about SEO or keywords. That will be discussed later if you are hired for the job.

This assignment will be paid, regardless if you are hired or not, so please don’t think this is just an attempt to waste your time. You will be compensated for this piece.

Please forward me your final piece within 24 hours from now. Let me know if you have any questions.

I keep it very short and sweet. I give them a broad subject.. because I want to see how they write about the topics. If it is all fluff and filler then I know they will have a hard time writing about the topic on a daily basis.

I also don’t give them specific instructions regarding formatting, links, etc. I want to see what they will do on their own. The whole point of hiring a dedicated writer is to free up my time. I don’t have time to edit posts, reformat them or look for resources and info to link out to. I only hire writers that do everything 100%.

Now, even though I said they have 24 hours to get it back to me I don’t want someone that submits it at the 24 hour mark. That means they didn’t take it serious enough. Let’s be honest.. if someone REALLY wanted the job they would start on the article right after receiving the email from me. I make my cut off time 8 hours. So if someone sends me back an article after 8 hours I’ll pay them for it.. I’ll even use it on my site if it is good enough.. but I won’t hire them!

I want people that are going to deliver on time and early every time. Not someone that will make deadline by the skin of their teeth every time. Anything submitted in less than 8 hours will go onto the real sniff test.

8 Step Content Sniff Test

1. Will readers actually like it

This is probably the most important thing to look for. If the writer gives off a shitty vibe or if the content reads like a text book people aren’t going to like it. The whole point of posting content is to keep people on your website longer and to get them to buy from you.

Every website is selling something.. products, service or information. SEO wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the sales aspect. Nobody wants to rank high just to attract visitors so they can read their blog. It’s what they do after they read it that matters. If the content sucks or just reads like it was written by a professor people aren’t going to respond well. Look to hire a writer that has a personality.


2. Is it useful content or just gibberish

A blog post that is just rambling on and on about nothing is a waste. Look for writers that write a good title that lets you get a good idea about what the post is about and then breaks it up into sections that are easy to understand and then wraps it up with a good conclusion. You should be able to skim just the headlines and have a pretty good idea of what the post is about.


3. Can an 8th grader read it

Even if your niche is something technical or more advanced such as iPhones or Tech related don’t assume that every person that will be reading your blog is going to understand all of the technical talk. I actually learned this part from one of my writers.. he said that the average reading level was a 8th grade level. Pretty crazy but it makes sense to write content that you know everyone will understand.

You aren’t trying to win a journalism award with your blog so eliminate stuffy content that would be better off in an encyclopedia. Simple.. would someone in the 8th grade be able to understand the post?


4. Good formatting?

Since you didn’t give any specific formatting instructions this is a good way to see if the writer understands how to format a blog post. If they just hand you a bunch of big block paragraphs you don’t want them. Look for writers that break it up and use headings. If they are really good you can try to explain and teach them but if you have a writer apply that is just as good and already understands formatting go with that option. Less work for you is always better.


5. Pictures?

No instructions for pictures, but if they include a royalty free image then they REALLY understand blogging. This isn’t a deal killer.. but if someone does include images or screen shots, etc. they move to the front of the line for the job.


6. Links?

If they cite sources did they include a link to that information? Linking out to authority sites is part of a good SEO strategy so anyone that is aware of this and links to wiki and sites like that are golden. You know you can hire them and they will be able to work without you having to manage them.

As I mentioned above some niches are going to get a huge response and you will get 100+ applicants. There are bound to be some writers that apply who already know what SEO is and how to write correctly. The whole point of hiring a writer is to save you time so jump all over writers that are up to speed.


7. Is there a good conclusion and does it ask the reader to do anything?

The conclusion is important. It should sum up the title in a couple sentences. It should also ask the reader to do something.. click somewhere.. buy something.. sign up.. register.. follow on social media.. leave a comment.. etc.


8. Would I come back to a site after reading this?

Ask yourself this question after you read through the post. If you were visiting your site and read this would you want more. Would it cause you to visit again? Think about it.. why do you come back to your favorite blogs  all the time? Because it has great info.. right? The same reason you visit your other favorite sites regularly. Make sure that the writer can create content that makes people want to return.


Once you have your writer hired you need to make it as simple as possible for them to publish content. Create a WordPress login for them and they can upload it, format it and publish it. Train them to do it right. Not everyone will know how to optimize their content so take the time to teach them and you will never have to write content or even upload it to your site. 100% hands off content is the way to go amigos. Take the time to hire the right writers and treat them well. Pay them on time every time and you will never have to babysit them.

When you don’t have to worry about writing (which is important as well as a pain in the ass) you can focus on niche and keyword research.. and building out more sites. This is how you make serious money online kids

That’s it for now.. As always I hope you enjoyed the read and that it helps a few of you.. Any questions, feedback or comments – fire away. Until next time..

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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