How to Screen Content Writers on Upwork
Published 11 months ago | Last update 6 months ago 📌
This article will tell you all you need to know about screening writers on Upwork and finding the right one to work on your project.
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- How to Screen Content Writers on Upwork
- Part 1: Posting Your Job
- Make the title and description of your posting accurate, but brief.
- Know what rates you are willing to pay for your content.
- Use Upwork’s “Filter by Region” option.
- Always request a cover letter.
- Part 2: Look Over the Proposals
- Fluency and Grammar
- ESL Writers
- Copy-Pasted Cover Letters
- Sir, I am Keen to Do Your Job
- Writer Enthusiasm
- Part 3: Speaking Directly With Candidates
- Preliminary Messages
- Writing Samples
- General Information
- TImeline and Budget
- In Conclusion
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Do you want to bolster the content on your website but don’t have the time to write dozens of articles yourself? Upwork can be a valuable resource for connecting with freelance writers who are eager to write content for you!
Upwork is a global platform used by thousands of freelance writers with all kinds of backgrounds and skills. However, just because “anyone can write” doesn’t mean that anyone can write well, and you will have to screen a lot of unsuitable writers before settling on the one (or several) that you’d like to work with.
Here is a quick and easy guide to screening out unsatisfactory writers and finding the right freelancer for you!
How to Screen Content Writers on Upwork
Part 1: Posting Your Job
When posting your job listing to Upwork, you should already have a good idea of what kind of candidates you’re looking for. In other words, what is the intended purpose of this content and what skills will a writer need to achieve this?
For example, you may be looking for high quality blog posts crafted on specific topics, posts that will retain a reader’s attention and compel them to return to your site again. In this case, you should seek a writer who has experience writing for blogs, is grammatically competent, and has at least a passing knowledge of the subject matter.
On the other hand, if you want to pump out a large number of throwaway blog posts in order to seed keywords and improve your onsite SEO, you can most likely get away with hiring a less competent writer.
Here are some thing to keep in mind when posting your job:
Make the title and description of your posting accurate, but brief.
At this point, your goal is to make your post as enticing as possible to the greatest number of freelancers.
- A bad title for your job might be something like, “Horticulture expert needed! 1,000 word blog post on benefits of organic fertilizers vs pesticides w/ references to current studies!”
- A major issue with this title is that it’s too specific. There are most likely a lot of freelance writers with a passing interest in or knowledge of gardening, but do not consider themselves experts on horticulture or pesticides.
- The title also set the expectations too high right off the bat. Most writers will pass up this job post simply because they don’t want to fail to meet your lofty expectations. From their perspective, there are plenty of other jobs on Upwork with lower stakes that pay just as well.
- Finally, the way this job post is worded sounds like an essay for school. No one likes writing essays!
- On the other hand, a good title for your job post might be something such as, “Looking for a content writer for my gardening blog.”
- This title will receive a lot of applications partly because it is calm and inviting, but also because the topic is kept purposefully vague. There is nothing intimidating about this post and it won’t scare away potential writers.
- The description of your job can also be kept vague. Your specifications for the project can and should be discussed in direct messages to the writer later on. Here is a good example:
- “Looking for a content writer to contribute multiple posts to my gardening blog on a variety of topics. I can provide more details to those interested.”
Know what rates you are willing to pay for your content.
Decide what your budget is for your project while posting your job. You should be prepared for the quality of work that you want to receive. Keep in mind that if you use writers from the US, UK, or Canada, and etc., you need to be prepared to pay more than if you’re hiring a writer from the Philippines, India, Pakistan, and so on.
Although you should know what your budget is for the project, there is no need to accurately represent this in the “Budget” section of your job posting. For one thing, it isn’t unusual for freelancers to negotiate a higher pay rate for projects. In this case, it is a good idea to list your budget as lower than what you are actually willing to pay, so that you have room to adjust upward if needed.
Also, writers tend to understand that they will discuss the pay rate with you directly before starting the project and it is not finalized until then. For this reason, it is okay to include a rough placeholder amount in the job details.
Use Upwork’s “Filter by Region” option.
If you want your content created by someone who speaks English as a first language and you are willing to pay US-rates, choose “US Only.” Otherwise, select “Worldwide.”
Always request a cover letter.
As we will see in the next section, cover letters are very helpful for screening candidates.
Part 2: Look Over the Proposals
This might seem obvious, but the next step of the process is to actually look through freelancer applications! Upwork job posting tend to accrue a sizeable list of applicants within 24 hours.
Here are some specific things you should keep in mind while reading over your proposals:
Fluency and Grammar
Does the basic fluency and grammar of their cover letter meet your expectations? It is usually apparent within one or two sentences whether you like their writing or not. If a cover letter is riddled with grammar and spelling errors, it is either because the writer was not capable of doing better, or did not care enough to do so
If it is clear from the beginning that the candidate is not suitable, dismiss them and move on to the next one. As you find writers that you may like to speak with, create a shortlist so that you know who to return to later.
If the writer obviously speaks English as a second language, it may or may not be a good idea to work with them. There are plenty of competent ESL writers on Upwork just as there are plenty of writers who speak English as a first language and are still horrible.
Copy-Pasted Cover Letters
Is the cover letter obviously copy-pasted to hundreds of job postings? Oftentimes, a cover letter will actually be written quite decently but won’t have anything to do with your particular job posting. This indicates that the applicant did not care enough about your posting to personalize their cover letter.
In the case of ESL speakers, it may also mean that they aren’t confident enough in their writing ability to freely change and add to their cover letter on the fly, which is not a good sign.
Copy-pasted letters are usually full of buzz phrases that you would see on any job application, such as, “excellent English skills, both written and oral,” “I work well by myself or as part of a team,” and so on. Clearly, these aren’t bad skills to have but are noted so often in cover letters that they cease to have any meaning whatsoever.
Sir, I am Keen to Do Your Job
It is a good idea to dismiss any cover letter that includes the word “keen” simply out of hand.
You’ll see what I mean once you’ve looked at a couple dozen of these things.
Does the writer seem enthusiastic about the job?
It should be obvious if a writer has genuine interest in your job by whether or not they reference the topic that you specified and speak to relevant experience that they have. Here is an example of a very brief but enthusiastic cover letter:
I saw your job posting for the garden blog content writer and I would love to be a part of the project! I have written content for a wide variety of blogs in the past, including sewing, cooking, and car maintenance. Although I have not contributed to any gardening blogs before, I have been an avid gardener for the past several years and have picked up on a lot of tricks along the way. I am also an experienced researcher and would be happy to look into any gardening topics that I am not already knowledgeable about.
Feel free to message me with more details about the project. I would love to hear more!
Part 3: Speaking Directly With Candidates
Once you have shortlisted five to ten decent candidates from the applicants you received, it is time to message them directly. When it comes down to it, the best way to know is a candidate is right is by actually having a dialogue with them.
A preliminary message might be something like this: “Hello, [Name]. Thank you for your interest in contributing to my gardening blog. Can you tell me more about your experience with [X]?”
The purpose of this message is partially to establish first contact. Once they have taken the time to your direct message as well as your initial job post, it is safe to assume that they are invested in your project.
The other purpose of this message is to establish a dialogue and learn more about their qualifications. This doesn’t necessarily mean formal qualifications in terms of a Master’s Degree in Horticulture or something like that. Rather, do you like what they say in their responses? Do they respond in full sentences and with decent grammar? Are they personable?
Ask to see writing samples. Sometimes, writers will include these in their initial job proposals as well. Reviewing samples is the best way to see if you like the style that a freelancer will be bringing to your project, as writers do not usually use the same style when writing a cover letter or direct message as they do when writing an article, per se.
Now is the time to give them the specifics of the job, but don’t try to sell them on it. At this point, they have devoted a not insubstantial amount of time to discussing the particularities of the job and are invested in the project even if they were only somewhat interested in the initial posting.
TImeline and Budget
Agree on a timeline and budget. When discussing a project’s deadline, give the writer enough time to do the work, but not longer. If you think they can do a good job given two days, giving them four days will not result in them delivering a post that is twice as good. Rather, you will generally receive two days of work, but two days later than you otherwise would have.
As mentioned above, offer them a fair pay-rate but keep it a little bit lower than the maximum you are willing to pay. If the writer requests a higher rate, you can meet them in the middle around your actual budget.
Throughout this process, listen to your gut. You are under no obligation to hire a freelancer even if you have no particular reason to not like them. If someone is right for the job you will look forward to working with them, just as they are enthusiastic about working with you.
If you follow these guidelines, you should have no trouble finding great content writers to work with on Upwork.
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