Lots of people have trouble finding quality writers in their budget ranges. It’s easier said than done, which is why you might feel frustrated if you try a few writers at random and don’t get the results you are looking for. I wrote as a freelance writer for close to two years, and I have purchased hundreds of thousands of words for my own sites as well. I know both sides of the web content world. This guide will cover most aspects of hiring a writer for web content - articles, blog posts, etc. If you need web content for any reason, this guide will help you find the best writer possible for your dollar. Understanding Tiers of Content Most of the time with content, you get what you pay for. You can find a good value for your dollar, but you can’t usually find something too good to be true. In general the price you pay will reflect the quality of content you receive. $0.01 / word Unique (passes Copyscape) Will probably contain spelling errors and misused words Will probably contain many grammatical errors Will offer no real value and might be difficult to read Best used for: Spammy sites where content doesn’t matter or isn’t read, tier 1 properties $0.02 / word Unique (passes Copyscape) Should not contain any spelling errors or misused words May contain minor grammatical errors (commas, etc.) Will offer some insight and will be readable… but will not pass for a “good article” Best used for: Niche sites, lower-quality authority sites $0.03 / word Unique (passes Copyscape) Will not contain spelling errors or misused words Will not contain any grammatical errors Will offer good curated advice - nothing above and beyond, but a decent article that a reader can extract some genuine value out of Best used for: Really good niche sites, standard authority sites $0.04 - $0.05 / word Everything from $0.03/word, but with everything being just a little better. At this level you are hiring someone with some finesse who can give content some personality and flair. Content will not be best-of-the-best, but it should be pretty damn good and usable on authority sites where quality is key. Best used for: High-quality authority sites $0.05 - $0.10 / word At this level you should be getting extremely good writing not found in a run-of-the-mill writer. You are paying $35 - $50+ or so per hour at this point so you are getting real freelancer talent to choose from. Best used for: Amazing-quality authority sites (something like Sweethome or The Wire Cutter, etc.) $0.10 / word and up Cream of the crop. The best web content that money can buy. Best used for: brand content Determine the tier of content you need and keep it in mind as you continue. Writers vs. Agencies Once you determine the quality of content you need, you will know the general fee that writers in your tier will be charging. But before you continue onto actually hiring a writer, you should decide whether you want to hire an individual writer, or an agency that will offload your project to one of their in-house writers. Individual writers: Cheaper. Since there is no agency cut everything you pay goes directly to the writer. But, you have deal with the writer directly, which can be inconvenient. Your writer might get sick, get unresponsive, get backlogged with other client work, etc. With individual writers you essentially become the agency and you put together your own team of writers to draw from when you need content. Agencies: More expensive but more convenient. The agency will charge 20% - 50%+ more but give you a professional experience. You don’t (or shouldn’t…) have to worry about your writer getting sick, or being backlogged with other clients, or anything like that. The agency takes care of hiring, quality control, etc. and you just send your orders over. You still have to find a good agency in the first place, but once you do, using the agency is almost always more convenient than using an individual writer. Most on BHW will want to hire individual writers because of their cheaper rates. The convenience factor isn’t worth it for most beginners. You can put in a little extra work and get an amazing writer for the price that is within your tier. However, if your time is important and the extra hassle of managing a writer or multiple writers doesn’t sound appealing, go with an agency. Choosing a Platform Craigslist Hiring from Craigslist is not talked about much on BHW, but if you post in the Gigs -> Writing section, you can find some really good stuff at some really low prices. The average writer who replies to ads on here is just higher than most other platforms I’ve found. I wrote a separate, more specific guide on hiring from Craigslist here for anyone interested. Upwork / Freelance Sites Upwork and other freelance sites will have a mix of writers applying to your gigs. Personally, I don’t like hiring for writing from these platforms - simply because of the fee. You get charged a percentage along with your payment, which sucks. And the freelancers on here generally do not want to break the terms of service and move offsite. Lastly, I stay away from freelance sites because the quality is generally not as high as on other sites. I’d recommend Craigslist for good writers and Fiverr or BHW for the $0.01 tier. Fiverr Fiverr has tons of people offering 400- or 500-word articles for $5. It’s the easiest way to test out a bunch of low-tier writers at once. When hiring from Fiverr, I like to place a lot of orders and get at least a few different writers who can do what I need, because they are more unreliable than writers from other platforms. If you do some digging you can find a writer who specializes in the content you need on Fiverr. Fiverr prices + subject matter specialization usually equals surprisingly good content for very low rates. BHW BHW is a good place to find agencies that specialize in the type of affordable web content that most of us need. Most local and brand-oriented writing agencies will laugh at your requests for content at such a low price per word. Stick to BHW or another similar platform to find agencies, not local writing agencies or anything like that. There are agencies on BHW charging from under 1c to word to 4c/word and up. The majority of threads in the Content / Copywriting section are for agencies. Creating the Ad Skip to the next step if you are hiring from Fiverr and BHW. For Craigslist and freelance sites you will have to post an ad yourself. For the title, make it simple and short - if you need 5x 500-word articles for fitness, write “Hiring Fitness Writer for 2,500 Words - Future Work Guaranteed” will catch the eye of everyone you need to. In your body, make your description VERY short, just four sentences or so. Something like this: Hiring new fitness-related writer for a test batch of 2,500 words. Paying $3.00 / 100 words. When submitting your bid, please link to some of your sample work, preferably in the fitness niche, or we will not be able to consider your bid. Thank you and we look forward to seeing your offers. Simple and sweet, then the freelancer moves right on to sending you the samples, which you look at. Looking at Samples The first step to actually hiring a writer is ALWAYS checking out the samples. Ask them to send you some. The samples they show you should exceed your expectations for quality. Any smart writer or agency will put their best work in their sample pack, so if it’s worse than you expect, the content you receive will likely be even worse. Placing a Test Order If the samples pass your inspection, it’s time to get a real sample - one you order yourself, with instructions. (Sometimes portfolio content doesn’t match real quality levels and we want to determine if it does or does not before we spend any real money.) If you are not on a strict budget, the best way to order samples is by getting a single article written, with the exact same topic and instructions, from multiple writers or agencies. You will get repeat content but you will very easily be able to tell which is the best. If you are on a stricter budget, still try to give the same instructions (but different topics) to everyone you want to “test out”. If everyone gets a different piece, make sure that the quality of your instructions and/or the difficulty of the writing piece isn’t skewing your opinion of the writer. Get a sample (with the same instructions and the same/related topic(s)) from each writer or agency that passes the sniff test on their sample packs. Read through them and determine the best one. Then, move onto the next step. IMPORTANT: If you get crap on the test article, drop that writer or agency from consideration. Your next orders will be crap too and you’ll just waste money. There are better options out there! If you get ALL crap articles from multiple sources, you might have to test out new writers or agencies, or you may need to increase the amount you are willing to spend if this happens multiple times in a row. Placing Small Orders Once you know the writer or agency can do what you need them to do, it’s time to move onto a small order. It’s important you place a small order, or ideally multiple small orders, to make sure you get consistent quality and turnaround times. If you go big with your new writer right away, you may end up with a bunch of content that you’re not happy with, which sucks really bad and is a huge hassle. I recommend placing a few orders of 5-10 articles each before moving onto bigger orders. You’re probably not publishing all of your content right away anyways, so placing multiple smaller back-to-back orders should be feasible for most. Finally, Establishing a Great Outsourcing Relationship Once you get through a few orders and some back-and-forth, you are starting to form a good relationship with your writer, which is what you want. You will get better service as a repeat client. Also, more importantly, you will be able to offload your content work almost entirely to your writer once the writer understands what you’re about and what you need. You are in essence training your writer with the few smaller orders so that you can place big orders without any hassles or time delays. How to Save on Your Writing Costs There are a few ways you can save some bucks... Place bulk orders The majority of writers will be able to offer you a discount if you buy a lot of content at once. It’s easier for the writer to get one order for X than it is to get 5 orders for .2X. Also, you save them time on client communication, and it’s good to lock in big payments as a freelancer in general. Usually, I see writers offering 10% off for large orders, sometimes 15%. Ask for this if you buy a lot of content. You can also mention bulk expectations upfront if you want to guarantee that you can get cheaper rates once you establish a good relationship. Tell them upfront what’s going to happen in your job posting. E.g. - you will be placing a one-article order at X, then 3x 5-article orders at X, then you will order 10,000 words at once and expect 10% off. Agencies have less room to work with when it comes to discounts. They will usually offer some sort of bulk discount but because their margins are thinner the discounts are not as large. I’ve seen agencies offer around 5% off, sometimes 10% if you buy a truckload of content. Place monthly orders or pay for bulk upfront You can also send a fixed amount monthly for a fixed amount of content if you know you will need that every month (like if you’re putting out consistent content on an authority site). You should be able to get a discount if you do this, but buying in bulk gives you more leverage because you are actually giving the cash all at once. If you don’t have bulk orders to place but you trust your writer, you can also offer to pay for bulk words upfront but send the work over as you have it ready. Hire one tier lower Make an ad paying one full tier lower than you expect to pay. Who knows - you might find a gem who can give you the quality you need at a bargain. (But again, most of the time, you get what you pay for, and writers usually only misprice themselves at the very beginning. If you want to use this strategy to find diamonds in the rough you will probably have to sort through a ton of sh*t that doesn’t meet your expectations. It’s a time cost of finding a valuable writer.) How to Get Good Work from Your Writer At this point you have found a good writer and you are able to offload all of your writing work and get amazing quality at a discounted price. It’s a client-freelancer relationship so there’s not much you have to do. Just don’t be a dick and you now have a great writer for a great price. Continue to hire more writers in different (or the same) tiers, and you will have an entire fleet at your disposal that you can all on for almost any project, regardless of the quality you need. Once you find someone and run through this guide, getting words written for you is a breeze. Questions? Post below. I’ll reply to everyone.