Complete Guide to Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog

According to a recent poll published by Smart Insights, content marketing was voted as the #1 most important digital trend for marketers in 2015.

This was beyond double the amount of responses of the next trend of big data and three times that of social media.

Blogging is clearly more alive than ever.

But, why such the drastic shift in focus towards content marketing?

It’s safe to say that marketers and small business owners (now more than ever) understand content is the ammunition you need to be relevant online. Done correctly, it will bring you traffic, exposure, leads, and customers.

However, continually writing great content may be an uphill battle for you.

With the majority of your time invested in income generating activities, maybe you just can not find the time to execute a consistent content marketing strategy.

That being the case, how do you build a popular blog when you do not have the time or when writing does not come easy to you?

Simple. You find people to write for you.

But, in order to find writers for your blog, you need to understand their motivation.

Writers write for credibility, exposure, and compensation (or any combination of the three).

Some people think that just having a vision for your blog is going to draw people in and that writers should create for you for free.

Without an established blog, large email list, or being a public figure, you may find it next to impossible to attract quality writers who write free.

It’s a catch 22 …

Good content is expensive, but it’s also what you need to promote and attract people to your site. Then once you have a popular blog, people will be begging to write for you for free.

And at that point, you still may want to pay your writers.

When money is on the line, the relationship changes. They are working for you. I find it so much easier to pay for content.

Moreover, I also suggest not looking for the cheapest route and waste your time working with unqualified, unprofessional writers. Your content is not something you want to skimp over.

Eventually, you can build your site up where it is an authority and the dynamic changes because people are seeking you out. Just as they would jump through hoops for a Forbes feature; just for the credibility that logo brings to their site.

My goal is to provide a solution to those who have a vision, but need help acquiring content for your blog. You know that once you have the content, you can market it and get exposure. So, I’ve organized years of experience in blogging and working with writers, and put it into this easy to digest guide.

Follow the steps I lay out below, and you will know exactly how to find and hire writers for your blog.

In this guide, we are going to dive into these topics:

Once you have these tips and strategies down and you crack the content code, you can use this for ebooks, social media posts, infographics, email newsletters and more. Let’s begin…

What Is Your Content Strategy?

Before you dive headfirst into finding and hiring writers for your blog, there are a few simple questions you want to ask yourself that will help paint a clearer picture for your content marketing strategy.

1. What is my blog content publishing model?

Your publishing model is the type of blog content you publish.

For example, you might run an expert blog where you are the face of the blog and source of information. Or, you might have a publishing model, like Learn To Blog, where you build a brand and feature writers on your platform.

If you have not already identified your publishing model, this article I wrote will help you create clarity.

But, let’s assume you are an expert where your name is the brand and you do not wish to have guest writers under your name. Can you still hire people to write for you?

You’d be absolutely shocked at how many famous faces do not necessarily write their own books and blog content.

A literary agent for ghostwriters Madeleine Morel estimates in an NPR article that 60% of bestselling non-fiction books are ghostwritten by invisible authors.

Meaning that your favorite authors or bloggers are likely pulling the strings while someone else carries the workload of creating the content.

Morel suggests that is because “celebrities sell books, but they cannot necessarily write them.”

Ethical debates sway to one side or to the other on the topic of ghostwriting.

“When someone sits down to read a book or a blog post, there is an unspoken contract that says the name on the content is the person who wrote it. Where I come from, we call this trust. So if a real person is claiming to be the author behind a book or blog but hires someone else to write the content, he or she is violating that contract. He or she is breaking that trust. And losing credibility.”

I’m here just to display the facts. You can decide for yourself whether you want to ghostwrite your content or attribute it to other authors.

You can use ghostwriters to get you 80% the way to your goal. I would never 100% ghostwrite as you never want to risk your voice. You give the ideas and maintain the connection with your audience and let the writers carry the workload.

But, it all comes back to the vision for your blog and your publishing model.

When you have a multiple author blog, you have more influence to attract writers anyways and it shifts the responsibility off of your shoulders.

Best-selling author and venture capitalist Gary Vaynerchuk publishes a video show called the #AskGaryVee show, and recently discussed why he constantly refuses to write quotes for other people’s books.

“There’s so many people saying so many stupid things about business and marketing and social, that I’m scared to give my name on it because then I’m endorsing you, but then you’re saying ‘here’s the way to hack Twitter’ and it’s wrong. I’m not on the same side as people on a lot of things. It’s just the way it is.”

Determining your content model is essential to publishing your writing opportunity. Some writers price differently to ghostwritten vs attributed content.

Regardless on how you proceed with hiring writers, keep ridiculously high standards for your content. In fact, you should be attracting people who are significantly better writers than you.

2. How often to I want to post new content?

Consistency is key in this game. But, don’t get that confused with frequency.

As an inequality, it would look like something like this:

Quality > Consistency > Frequency

You don’t have to blog a lot. Derek Halpern from Social Triggers claims he was able to build a very popular blog by averaging 3 posts per month from 2012-2014.

You want to find something that is not overly aggressive where you will be setting yourself up for failure.

Plus, it takes a while to get into a flow of working with writers, communicating, editing, and getting a few articles under your belt.

Personally, I shoot for two to four articles per month. I’d rather see you post two articles per month that you invest more time into marketing those articles.

You can scale up as you can allocate more resources to towards it.

3. What is your budget for acquiring new content?

Going into your content marketing strategy, be prepared that this is an investment in your business.

Although content can provide short-term benefits like leads and sales, it’s really a long-term game. But, it makes no sense to me to invest in content if you are not going to put a full effort into marketing it. Decide how much you are willing to invest in great content over time.

$200 per month? $500 per month? $1,000 per month?

In my business, I will gladly spend $150 to $200 per article because I know the long-term value of the article. People will share it with friends and it will get ranked in the search engines and bring in organic traffic. I know that the leads that come in from that will far exceed the amount invested in the content.

However, authority takes precedence over ROI.

You will be able to paint a clearer picture on what you can expect to invest in content

Where to Find and Hire Writers for Your Blog

Writers are everywhere. You just need to know how to identify them. Here we will examine some of the best places to search for your next content writer.

1. Content Marketplaces

A content marketplace is a designed specifically to connect writers with contractors.

Some of the most popular ones include TextBroker, iWriter, WriterAccess, Zerys, and Scripted.

There is a top tier platform called ebyline which is elite writers. The prices reflects that as its a monthly fee to remain a member, but if your are looking for top-tier content, this is your place. You will have access to a much smaller talent pool, however they are vetted writers.

Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

Content marketplaces usually allow you to post a project and writers can compete for the chance to work with you. Since many writers flock to these sites, the biggest positive is that if you have a niche that requires specialized knowledge, you may have a better chance of finding someone here.

On the other hand, you have to be very particular on whom you work with. Most of these sites work on a rating system and lure you in by advertising articles written for you for $1.25. While the temptation is real, even if you are on a budget, stick with 5-star writers even if that means producing less content.

You will end up wasting more time and resources going back and forth or having someone who is not native to the English language. What I suggest you doing is starting with a small test project to get a sense for the type of content being produced. With TextBroker, if you do not get submissions on the quality you are looking for, you can refuse the order and get your money refunded.

Since TextBroker is the only site among all of these that I have used (not saying it’s the best, it’s just the only one I have used), I will give you an example on how a project works here.

For example, as you can see in the screenshot below, I’ve started a new project with TextBroker.

Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

TextBroker gives you an estimated price based on quality and length of your content

You have different options and can choose a niche, quality level, and word count. Based on this, you are shown the maximum amount of money you will spend on this project.

There are thousands of writers, and if you do not get submissions on the quality you are looking for, you can refuse the order and get your money refunded. TextBroker offers three different styles of writing projects for you to place. You can have people submit offers to you, or you can post your opportunity.

However, it must be said that searching freelancer sites can be a tedious process. Moreover, giving the project to the lowest bidder is not always the wisest course to follow (you’ll often get what you pay for).

Don’t be surprised if you find, as Kelly Gurnett once put it, “desperate freelancers prepared to sell their first born for the chance to write someone’s 250-page ebook.”

Having to reject articles because they are below par after a deadline can be disappointing to say the least. What if the project was time sensitive? What if you have to reject another revision of the article? (Trust me, that happens).

Whatever the case, it is your choice to decide whom you’ll hire. On freelancer sites, profile and review ratings best measure quality of a writer, not the price.

The process can seem daunting when a marketplace allows all writers on their platform to apply for posted jobs. This makes the selection process even more difficult for you. However, some make it simpler. How?

Text Broker is unique because it is built specifically for matching writers with publishers. It has a large pool of writers, and you can get very specific on the type of writers you are seeking.

2. Freelance Marketplaces

Freelance marketplaces are open to all type of freelance work and they have a wide appeal to a massive amount of freelancers, including writers.

Some of the top ones include Upwork, Elance, Freelancer, Guru, People Per Hour.

Some are more or less bidding sites where hoards of freelancers bid on your project. Other marketplaces assign your project to the most qualified writer in the marketplace.

Still, others have different writers work on your project. On completion, they’re given to you for assessment. You then choose one that best fits your needs.

There are lots of them, and everyone has their preferences. They include but are not limited to:

Upwork (formerly Odesk) and Elance

Since, Upwork (formerly known as ODesk) will be soon be merged with Elance to form a single freelance marketplace, I have grouped them together here. For the past several years, I’ve hired almost all of my freelance workers from Upwork. Functionally speaking, the site is very easy to use and it is driven on a rating system. With this said, it will take some navigating to find writers to work on a per word rate without overly inflated hourly rates. Because the good works command higher rates.

Upwork -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

There is a community of over three million freelancers on Elance and 9 million on Upwork. You can find just about any kind of freelancer you’re looking for on these sites. What is more, article writing is one of their top skills at present (it’s in the top three).

Joining Elance and posting a job is free. So what do you do? Post a job. Describe what type of writing you need, and talented freelancers apply instantly with proposals or bids.

Instead of waiting for bids on the project, you can also search for freelancers. Note that freelancers that turn up in the results are often those using either a Small Business Account or Large Company Account. Those are premium membership plans for Elance. You can then invite the freelancers to bid on your project.

Elance also makes recommendations to make your job easier; analyzing your requirements and recommending freelancers best suited for your job.

Ultimately, whatever route you take, you have the opportunity to choose freelancers you want to work with personally.

So go ahead and check their profiles, read their proposals carefully, check their portfolios, test scores and ratings given by past clients. And then,

Choose your freelancer.

3. Job Boards

Writing job boards are different from the marketplaces.

Marketplaces are free to post and job boards the companies make money off of you posting the job ad. But, don’t let this steer you away. This is actually one of my favorite ways to attract high quality writers. When you have money invested in the job posting, you attract a high quality applicant.

The job boards almost always work the same way: you pay to post the writing project, and writers apply for it. Sometimes, the applicants pay a monthly fee before they can apply too. In any case, only you can see each application and decide if it’s a good fit or not.

There are many online job boards, but here are the two I’ve found the most success with…

ProBlogger Job Board

This job board is the gold standard to attracting writing candidates. For $50, you can run a job posting for 30 days and it takes minutes to setup. Since the readers of ProBlogger are already blogging focused writers, you can expect they are more polished when it comes to blogging.

A writer might just be able to put together great content, but applicants will take into consideration linking, images, optimization, headlines, etc.

Problogger Jobs -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com
The ProBlogger Job Board is one of the best places to find quality bloggers

From personal experience, I’ve seen roughly 40 applicants respond to my last posting in the first 2 days. You may attract more or less depending on the popularity of your blog and how niche your topic is.

BloggingPro job board is another option, but I have not used them. It costs $30 to have your job posted for 30 days. It appears fairly active getting one new job posting per day, but there is a reason why it is cheaper.

Focus on places that are getting many more job postings. If people are posting jobs, then there are going to be job seekers on the site actively searching.

Craigslist

My love affair with Craigslist began back in 2008 back when you could post job ads for free. Craigslist allows you to  because you can find talented people who are not normally in the pool of people applying on the typical blogging job boards.

People local to you is also a plus if you ever want to meet them in person. And it’s cheap to run an ad; only $25. When you post here, make your expectations very clear. You may find great writers, but they may not necessarily be bloggers. So let them know that formatting, images, sub-headlines, and scannable content are all things that are important to you.

Crafting the Perfect Job Description

There is no hard and fast rule here. Best practice is to see how others in your niche are doing it.

Keep in mind, freelancers are not looking for a job. They enjoy the freedom they already have. They are looking for opportunity to get paid for their work, but also they would love to have repeat clients they can come back to.

Just keep it short and simple including these things:

  • Who you are (and why your mission is important)
  • Links to examples of posts you want them to model
  • List your criteria for a great post
  • Instructions on applying

As an example, here’s a job ad I ran on ProBlogger that received 40+ applicants for Learn To Blog.

Notice that the heading of the job’s description is very specific. In my case, I would even change it to include the massive exposure opportunity. Leverage what you have.

But, don’t position it like a corporate job ad. Keep it short and simple.

The first time I wrote a job ad, I put a price in the post. The second time, I left the price off the ad as suggested by Neil Patel from Quick Sprout due to the fact that people work at different rates.

We’ll dive more into pricing negotiating later in this guide, but I prefer to leave the price off of my postings.

4. Poaching Writers From Your Competition

Another way to find writers is to approach people that are actively pursuing guest writing opportunities. Take a look at the blogs in your niche. Are people contributing guest posts?

You can also search blogs that have hired external writers and try hiring the same writers. Such blogs can be easily found on freelance job boards.

Do a little digging and you’ll find there are freelance writers who will be more than willing to take up your writing project.

This is quite easy too. Because most of the work you should have to do is cut short. Okay this depends on the kind of person you are, but if you scour blogs that accept guest posts then you have a good chance of finding a writer that has the voice or style you need.

And you know what? Most of the very best writers do not apply for jobs on job boards.

That’s not necessarily because they’re very busy. And it’s not because they’re making so much money they don’t want more work, and yes, more money. It’s because the smartest writers often make you (clients) come to them.

One way they do this is through guest blogging.

You know the best part? The blogs they post on have done most of the critical work for you. That’s because if a writer can get past the editorial guidelines of these blogs, then it automatically means they’re a good enough writer.

However, it doesn’t mean that if you find a writer’s post on a lifestyle blog then they won’t be a good fit for your real estate blog. Of if you found the post on a finance blog then they can’t write about WordPress.

Another way to quickly get a landscape of the players in your niche is to run a quick search of pages on Facebook. Type in your niche name. Below you can see I just typed “gardening” as an example.

Facebook Searching -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

Once you have found a few pages on your topic, you can check out their blogs and see what type of content they are publishing.

Taking this a step further, I like to go to the individual pages and see what other pages are liked by that page. I do this because they will help me quickly find related pages that I might not normally search for.

In the screenshot below, I just found the page “Herbs & Oils World” which is a topic most people interested in gardening would also be interested in.

Raiding Fan Pages -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

These are also communities you can start engaging with and searching their blogs to see who is writing for them and sending them a per. I recommend liking the pages relevant to you and interacting with these communities. They will see you commenting on Facebook posts, blog posts and even writing guest posts. Show your expertise by helping people and linking back to your site. People will click on your site, find your blog and tell their friends.

Ever heard “Google is your friend?” A good writer knows that more than anyone else. While it is true that some of them do have specialties, and won’t take on any writing gig just because they want quick money, they also know any topic can be researched thoroughly on the internet.

Let’s say you saw a post with the headline below on a popular blog:

Headline -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com
Try looking for the author page or author box on blog posts

You love it and want to see if you could hire the writer or get them to make a contribution.

You could look for their bio at the end of the article, links to their website, or if that information is not available, run a quick Google search on their name.

Most multi-author blogs allow writers a bio at the end of their post (Learn To Blog does). Writers often include their contact information in that bio. It could be a link to their blog, Twitter handle, or Facebook page.

Here’s an Example Email That Your Can Send

[content_band style=”color: #333;” bg_color=”#D8D8D8″ border=”all” inner_container=”true”]

Hey FIRST NAME,

I want to start off by saying I saw your post on BLOG NAME and I enjoyed the wonderful way you conveyed your message.

I got here from the info in your bio on BLOG NAME.

All I could think was: I’d love to have you work on WRITING PROJECT.

(You can either send details of the writing project, or conclude with a personal message in this paragraph)

Let me know what you think, and I will forward more details of the project soon!

Cheers,

YOUR NAME
[/content_band]

5. Conduct a Google Search

When you know how to harness the power of Google, you can find anything you need.

Try using the following searches on Google:

  • [YOUR BLOG NICHE] blogs
  • top [YOUR BLOG NICHE] blogs
  • [YOUR BLOG NICHE] writer
  • [YOUR BLOG NICHE] author
  • [YOUR BLOG NICHE] blogger

Google Parenting Example -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

From the highlighted results above, you can quickly see not just parenting blogs, but parenting blogs using external writers. Now, even if the blog owners are not interested in writing for pay, the writers they have featured on their blogs would. So it’s left for you to select a writer of your choice.

Google Parenting Example 2 -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

Let’s say you scrolled further down the search result for “parenting writer”, you will get this:

You can see links to blogs hiring writers on the Problogger job board. You can then apply to no. 3 above. Or you see the website of a parenting writer showing up in the search too. Reach out to the writer through his or her website.

6. Facebook Groups

Facebook has not been my first choice to find people to write as it is more of a social platform. But, there is one feature I really like to hunt down writers.

Facebook groups can be one of your most powerful assets.

Like the Google search above, try using some of those terms on Facebook. You can see groups that many writers belong to. You can browse their profile to find their blog and look at their work and if you are interested send them a short message to them directly to see if they are interested in writing for you.

Like the Google search above, try using some of those same terms on Facebook. You can see groups that many writers belong to. You can browse their profile to find their blog and look at their work and if you are interested send them a short message to them directly to see if they are interested in writing for you.

Facebook Groups Search -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

Don’t doubt this method.

Using this method, I hired a phenomenal copywriter by asking the admin of a group to let me post a job ad inside. Because the people in the group were so targeted to what I was looking for, one guy applied and he ended up being the perfect fit.

Months later, he still works with me.

7. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an invaluable resource for finding writers. After all, it’s a great place for them to showcase their work, skills and find clients, just like you.

There are three ways your can find great writers on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Profile Searches

First, the “Search People” box at the top of every LinkedIn page can be used to find freelance writers. Any search can potentially bring up a large number of people.

You can narrow search results by entering a particular keyword or keyword phrase, depending on what you need. For example, it’s safer to type in “technical writer” or “spiritual writer”, than just “writer” in the search box.

LinkedIn 2
The more specific you can be in your search will bring you more targeted results

The good thing about LinkedIn is that in the search results, people with whom you have a connection, either through one of your own contacts or a LinkedIn group turn up first. The Advanced Search option in LinkedIn also enables you choose the location of the writer.

If you find one or more writers you are interested in, take some time to explore their profiles, recommendations, and even mutual connections. Positive feedback from past and current clients or recommendations that describe projects similar to yours are bonus points. Not to be overlooked is a clear, polished profile, devoid of grammatical errors and typos.

You can then get in touch with your chosen writer and negotiate rates.

LinkedIn Groups

Very similar to harvesting writers from Facebook groups as I have mentioned above, you can find giant pools of writers within LinkedIn Groups. You can search and contact people directly or build relationships with the group organizers to see if you can post your writing opportunity within the group. Just check the rules of the group before posting an opportunity.

LinkedIn Groups -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

LinkedIn Pulse

Another option is finding people who publish content on LinkedIn. You can do this via LinkedIn Pulse.

LinkedIn Pulse -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

People who publish content on LinkedIn are often featured on LinkedIn Pulse. It’s a great way to find writers because writers publishing there are already trying to get traffic to their website, book, services, or squeeze page.

8. Twitter

Moz’s Followerwonk allows you search for Twitter Bio’s. Any of the following terms can give you meaningful results:

  • [YOUR BLOG NICHE] writer
  • [YOUR BLOG NICHE] blogger
  • [YOUR BLOG NICHE] author

You can use the filter on the left to sort search results based on relationships. Meaning you can opt to display only people you’re following, your followers, users that have any relationship with your account or users that have no relationship with your account.

If you find any profile or bio of interest to you, reach out to the owner, and he or she just might be willing to take on your project.

Followerwonk -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

By searching for people on social sites, you can see the size of the following of the writer you are pursuing. Which is another opportunity to ask them to push the article when it goes live.

9. Finding Experts on Quora

This a one I’ve been really liking lately. Quora is just full of experts answering peoples questions. You can run a search on Facebook and LinkedIn, but are these experts you find actually qualified writers. When you look at the people providing answers in Quora, many of them are well written pieces. And the folks on the usually have the credibility to back what they are saying up.

Someone asks a question and people can leave their feedback. Everyone has a bio and the community can vote on the answers. So the best ones get upvoted which increasess the credibility of the expert.

Here’s an example of a search for the topic “Dog Training”

Screenshot 2015-06-23 16.46.27

As you can see in the responses, you can evaluate someone’s writing style and some of these resposnes are good enough to be blog posts. Many of the experts even link to articles they wrote.

 Screenshot 2015-06-23 16.50.19

9. Content Marketing Certification Programs

There are a few reputable content marketing education programs that provide a certification upon completion.  Two off the top of my head are Hubspot and Copyblogger, and I am sure you can find more on Google. But, stick to the well-known programs as you will have people who actually know what they are doing. Anyone can slap a certificate or badge together and give it to you after you buy their course.

Copyblogger, for example, currently has 57 writers on their Certified Content Marketer’s page rounded with different skills.

“These writers have earned our “Certified Content Marketer” designation, completing advanced coursework as well as passing a detailed review of their work….”

Literally, it means that those writers on that page have been vetted for you. Which is why I say only evaluate graduates from companies who practice what they preach. They hold credibility. A university degree in content marketing means nothing to me. I want someone who is living it in the real world.

10. Referrals

Do you have or know a friend who runs a blog or has used a freelance writer lately? Ask for a referral. Or, maybe their contact has a friend.

Friends want to help each other out. Especially if they have a relationship with a freelancer who is not writing for them full time, ask to use them for your project. Your friend may gladly oblige out of the goodness of their heart, and to gain goodwill from the freelancer for the project referral.

Shoot him or her an email asking to be introduced to the writer. Or, do as I do and post a Facebook status asking for help.

How to Price Your Writing Opportunity

Depending on the quality of content you are looking for, expect to pay $100 – $250 for a 2,000 word blog post that is researched, has photos, stylized, and free of grammatical errors.

When I ask the writers how much they charge, usually the response is in the range $0.05 to $0.20 per word for a post.

Which I prefer to do things on a per word basis instead of flat rate posts. Writing is art and my preference is not to limit them on price, rather let the article naturally take shape (within reason).

[blockquote cite=”Neil Patel” type=”center”]It’s better to pay for one really good blog post than it is to pay for 10 mediocre posts.[/blockquote]

From my experience, some writers are willing to lower their rates when posts exceed 2,000 words and for ongoing work.

I’ll ask the writer to tell me whatBut, I prefer people to tell me what they charge and do a little negotiating if I feel it is too high.

You never know. Someone may have relatively high rates, but then when you tell them they are outside your budget, they may come down because they really want to write for you.

On the freelancer sites listed above, you’ll find people offering their services for as little as $1 for a 500 word post. Sure, that kind of content may have worked 5 years ago, but with so much information online today, you are better off focusing on fewer posts of higher quality.

Once you have

Great content is expensive, yes. But it’s only 20% of the formula. 80% of you time should be spent promoting that post. It’s a long term investment in your business.

Just make sure your blog is optimized to capture leads before you start unleashing your content to the world so that you will eventually see a ROI.

For a complete guide on rates, be sure to check this resource out (a little secret: it’s for freelancers but I think it can help those hiring freelancers too).

What to Say to Writers to Validate Them

Whether you run a posting or you are contacting people directly, it’s likely you’ll ask the writers to tell you about themselves.

Let’s dissect this real email application below…

Email Example -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

Among everything he told me, the one thing that stood out was that they were formerly a practicing attorney. This makes his different from everyone else. But, let’s continue.

He followed instructions and linked to some similar articles. His work was solid. He also claims to be good at breaking down complex subjects. he pays attention to detail, if we were to write an article on the topic, it gives the article credibility and likely he can write posts on this topic better than most.

Already, I have an idea in mind what I could hire him to write better than 99% of people who apply.

Until I have all the information I need about them and until they are Technically, I don’t ask the writers to pitch me ideas until I have information about them and until they are clear on who my audience is.

Sure, they could guess based on reading the site, but they are not going to REALLY know my audience like I do.

Here’s a reply I sent back.

Email Example -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

Instead of having writers pitch me a bunch of broad ideas like “9 Ways to Grow Your Blog”, my goal is to discover their sweet spot.

Their sweet spot is where their passion and talent intersect.

Ask them a few questions about themselves. Some people might give you a soft answer like one guy told me he was reliable. Reliability is a standard.

I told him that and asked him to dive deeper and here’s how he replied:

“Thank you for the email challenging me to dig deeper. I would have to say that what sets me apart is my ability to define the motivations of my target audience. I’ve long been a student of human nature and spent many years in sales, which is all about defining motivations, thus I feel I have a lot to offer bloggers looking to understand what motivates someone to become a regular blog follower.”

Jackpot! Now we are getting somewhere.These questions help them think in terms of specific processes that they have mastered over time where they can break them down simply for my readers.

Don’t be afraid to challenge your applicants. They will respect you for it and that you care. The last thing I need is someone writing just for a paycheck. Blogging is art and I want them to pour their heart into the content.

Help them think in terms of specific processes that they have mastered over time where they can break down for your readers.

Missing from the screenshot above was also precise details on who our avatar (my ideal reader) is. Give them as much detail as possible about who is going to be reading the content.

So, here is how he responded…

Email Example -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com

The best thing to do when communicating with them is be real with them. If you are brand new to this, just come out and say it.

If you are brand new to this, just come out and say it.

“Hey this is my first go around at this. You have done this before. How do you suggest we proceed from here?” Put the work on them.

After they give you some headline ideas, I definitely suggest you get some sort of brief or outline before they begin creating the article.

You also want to look for writers that have a following and are willing to promote the content and link to it. It’s free traffic for you and links that sit in their portfolio on their site. I’ve found that some writers come out and say that they will promote it.

If they mention links in it, they should reach out to the people too.

Conduct A Quick Background Check

For a freelance writing job? Absolutely!

I speak from experience when I say that you only have to make this mistake once.

After seeing several stellar marketing posts come through my Facebook newsfeed, I reached out to the author (one of my connections) to contribute an article on a specific traffic strategy he was having success with.

Great guy. Great personality. Totally professional and punctual with deadlines.

He invested hours into a phenomenal article. When he finished, I was suddenly stopped dead in my tracks.

One of landing pages he was linking to had an affiliation with an adult website. So, I then ran a Google search and found another instance of marketing advice for adult websites. Although he is a nice guy, it’s not something I want my brand or myself associated with, so I backed out of the deal we made.

It’s likely not something I would have found running a simple search in the first place, but it doesn’t hurt to run a check on your writers.

Search them on Google. Evaluate their website. Check their social profiles to see the content they are sharing.

You want your writers to be aligned with your values. By chance that you run a vegan food blog, it would reflect poorly on you if your writers are Instagramming themselves eating a steak on the weekend.

Setting the Proper Expectations for Your Writers

When communicating with your writers, you want to set proper expectations. Your ability to clearly articulate what you will directly reflect the time and quality of the work the writers submit. Furthermore, by setting expectations of the project, they cannot make excuses if directions are not followed.

Here are a few items in which you should consider advising your writers:

Writing Style – Send them some examples of the style you would like them to write in. This helps them find the right voice. If you don’t have any work created, find some links to posts you want to emulate.

Audience – Create a description of your audience. You can include things like age, gender, location, profession, education, etc. It will greatly improve their writing if they know with whom they are speaking.

Word Count – Quality over quantity. Opt for fewer, but more in-depth articles. My target is 2,000 words or more. More importantly than the word count is not boxing the author in and letting them get their message across (within reason).

Links – If your blog is new, have them include plenty of sources and links out. Top blogger Neil Patel from Quicksprout suggests you should have 25 outbound links per 1,000 words as a new blogger. By linking to other websites, this also becomes a promotional tactic to contact all the websites notifying them they were mentioned on your site.

Editing – The blog post should be fully edited and free of grammatical errors. If you are you are your own editor, one tool I’ve found helpful is using Grammarly to polish my posts. It catches a lot of errors that I miss.

Images – Images and screenshots are very important to the success of your content and should be included. Ask your authors if they have a stock photography account. Since, I primarily use DepositPhotos, I will let them pull photos from there because they are high quality. I’ve had authors submit work with cheesy photos that you see on every other site and serve no purpose. Real photos and screenshots work great.

Location – Often your writers will ask you how you want to receive the content. Google Docs works as a phenomenal (free) collaborative word processor. No compatibility issues and feedback is real-time instead of going back and forth in an email thread. You can also create a folder for each author in your Drive account to manage all the articles.

Collaboration using Google Drive | LearnToBlog.com
Real-Time Collaboration using Google Docs

Attribution – Are you giving credit to the author? If so, you will need their bio and a headshot to add to their profile or for a byline.

Formatting – Not only should the author match your style of writing, but the formatting of the post. For example, I like to avoid excessively long paragraphs, use sub-headings to make posts scannable, and bold and italicize things I want to stand out.

Optimization – Is your writer writing with SEO in mind? Not all writers may be skilled in this arena. But, if you are targeting specific keywords, it’s a good idea to make that clear.

Deadline – I’m looser about the deadlines, but if you have a specific time you need it by then be clear about that. Usually, they will give you a proposed time on when they can have it complete. I prefer they give me their word on when they can complete by on their terms.

Price – Negotiate a flat rate or price per word up front before they begin writing. Some writers may ask for your signature on an agreement.

Be clear on your expectations up front.

Tracking the Quality of Delivered Content

Now that you have an article approved for publishing, you can choose to add your writers as contributors inside your WordPress blog.

Adding Writers to WordPress As Contributors
Adding Writers to WordPress As Contributors

This allows them to go in and do most of the leg work in editing and styling the article. You’ll likely want to have an editor go through the piece, or do it yourself. Here’s a pro tip for those who will self-edit the article.

Purchase the tool Grammarly. Using this tool, I catch over 50 mistakes in per article pertaining to grammar, sentence structure, and word repetitiveness. It’s a browser extension and it works right inside your WordPress editor showing any errors in real time.

Once it meets your satisfaction, it’s time to publish the post!

Now that you’ve successfully hired writers for your content creation plan, you want to monitor and track your experience. You can use a simple spreadsheet like the one below can help you organize a list of contributed posts.

Writer Spreadsheet -- Finding and Hiring Writers for Your Blog | LearnToBlog.com
Example of a spreadsheet used to track quality of writers

Yours can be simpler, or more sophisticated, but it can save you a bucketload of time for sure. One year after running our first ad on ProBlogger job board, several of the same writers applied to write again.

I just looked at our writers sheet and the notes attached to each writer.

Now I prefer to price on a per word basis as the length of the posts can vary.

As a way to further engage your writers, after they have successfully published one article, it might be a good idea to invite them to a private Facebook group and create your own idea flow.

You can keep a running list of blog ideas and post them into the group for your writers to compete over. Maybe multiple authors can contribute to a single article. But get your feet wet

Often, people feel hesitant to give out their best content for free. Think of your content as your business card. This is your chance for people to find you and see you as a credible expert.

Getting Extra Traffic From the Post

What’s cool about using the strategy that is laid out above is that if you have a relatively well put together blog with great content that appears reputable, your writers will naturally want to talk about the work they’ve done.

You see, it doesn’t matter if they get paid or not. If they are proud to show their work off and to associate with your brand, you can ask them to promote the content to their audience.

For example, you can say that you will investing heavily into promoting the article and would appreciate any type of push they can give to it. Like emailing their contacts, sharing on social media, and reaching out to anyone they link to in the post. Also, freelancers get business because of their portfolios. So it does not hurt to even ask them to link to the article from their site.

Every little bit of promotional effort helps.

And if you specifically target writers that have influence, you are paying for the content and getting the traffic for free.

You may want to outline any suggestions you have in a email to them.

Now, I Want to Hear From You…

Blogging all starts with an idea. But, it’s not the best idea that wins. Everything has been said before. What makes you unique is the way that you have to say and taking massive action.

It’s your turn. What idea do you have for a powerhouse blog post that could be a smash hit in your niche?

Share your idea in the comments below and let’s discuss how we can make it better.

If you found this helpful, I would greatly appreciate if you shared it on Facebook and sent it to your friends and colleagues who need help creating their blog content.

How I Became a Guest Writer On One of the World’s Most Popular Blogs

Note From Matt: LearnToBlog.com has a thriving private Facebook community for members. Recently, one of the members, Jenish, told us of a success story where he was featured on the popular site, ProBlogger. This story peaked the interest of our members, and we asked Jenish to write an article with his story on how he was featured by such a well-known blog.

Enjoy Jenish’s story, insights, and action steps for getting seen on one of the world’s most popular blogs…

Enter Jenish:

Imagine yourself as a blogging newbie, only blogging for 6 or 7 months, and the first ever guest blog post you write gets published on ProBlogger (one of the largest blog on the subject of blogging).

Think about how excited you would get… What it would mean for your blog… How much extra traffic you would receive… And most of all, how many other doors it would open for you…

You may be thinking that it’s impossible, but guess what? That’s exactly what happened to me. A post that I wrote titled “ProBlogger in Perth: 10 Things Darren Wishes He Knew About Blogging” got published on ProBlogger (PB) and here is the story of how I got featured.

Before I tell you the whole story, I would like to remind you that “ProBlogger is not currently accepting any unsolicited submissions at this time”. So please keep that in mind before you get any crazy ideas.

Perth Mini ProBlogger Event

Jenish Pandya and Darren Rowse ProBloggerIt was a sunny Sunday afternoon in Perth on the 23rd of February and the time was around 1:45 pm when I entered the venue where the Perth mini ProBlogger event was being held.

This was the first time Darren Rowse had come to Perth and the event had sold out within hours of the tickets going on sale.

Upon entering the venue, I spotted a few people chitchatting near the main hall entrance and decided to join them. One of them was Darren himself. We began talking about blogging and his journey around it.

I was quite surprised by how down to earth and honest this guy was. My respect for him increased ten fold after meeting him.

In the presentation, Darren covered two topics “10 things he wished he knew when he started blogging” and “7 Quick Blogging Tips“.

After the presentation, we went for drinks where I continued to build upon my initial conversation with Darren. We both shared a few interesting stories, and I also met quite a few other business owners.

The Blog Post “7 Quick Blogging Tips”

Darren Rowse's 7 Quick Blogging TipsDarren was a celebrity in my mind and in the “I can’t believe it’s him” excitement, throughout his presentation, I was taking photos of him with his slides. The photos were meant as simple “memory joggers” for my personal use.

On the way back home, a brilliant idea hit me. I could convert these photos into a blog post! This would not only help me, but it would also provide an inside look for those who weren’t able to attend the event.

Once back home, I was so excited that I started putting the blog post together. I quickly realized that it was going to be a very long post if both topics were put together. Then another genius idea struck me. Why not publish one of the posts on ProBlogger and the other on my own blog?

After another 4-5 hours, and not getting to bed until around 2 am, I had finished a draft of the post that I was going to publish on my blog.

On the 24th, after returning from work, I reviewed and tidied up my post and hit the publish button.

The Magic Email

After Publishing the post, I contacted Darren through the contact form on ProBlogger and sent the following email:

Hi Darren,

Cheers for coming down to Perth and sharing some awesome tips.

I know you have stopped taking guest bloggers but was wondering if you would accept me publishing a slightly different post than normal about the main presentation you did at the Perth Mini PBevent.

I have published the 7 tips you talked about at http://jenishpandya.com/darren-rowse-7-quick-blogging-tips/ and would like to do a similar one about the “10 things he wished he knew about blogging” on ProBlogger but with more detail and linking to all the old PB posts that talk about each specific thing.

What do you say Darren?

Regards,

Jenish

I was aware that ProBlogger wouldn’t be taking new guest bloggers (especially newbies) but I gave it a shot anyway, relying on these three things:

  • The rapport I had built with him in person.
  • The uniqueness of my content.
  • The example of what it would turn out to be.

The Green Light

After waiting for three days for a reply, I thought that’s it, no one is going to reply to me, I’m not at high enough standards to get published on ProBlogger. Silly me!

On the morning of the 28th I received an email from the editor of ProBlogger saying:

I love the idea of the topic you’d like to write about, I think it will work well. The sooner you get it through, the sooner we can look at getting it up!

I jumped up and down a few times and probably would have shouted like crazy if there weren’t people staring at me already.

I was super stoked to receive such a reply, I just couldn’t believe it. They liked it, and they wanted to feature it on ProBlogger. I read the email another four or five times to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming.

The 2,500 word Epic PostScreen Shot 2014-08-25 at 12.13.47 PM

After realizing that I was really invited to guest post on ProBlogger, it hit me; I had a lot of work in front of me and I wanted this to be something that would stand out and provide incredible value to the readers. I did not want to disappoint Darren or the editor in thinking that they made the wrong decision.

The other important thing was that I had never written a guest post before. So think of that for a second. A guy who has never published a guest post has to write for one of the leading blogs on the topic of blogging.

I was nervous and happy at the exact same moment. It was a weird feeling but in a good way.

It took me roughly three days (a long weekend) to get the post ready.

First day: I researched how to write guest posts (lol), wrote a draft, added all the images, formatted it and made it look pretty.

Second day: I spent time researching ProBlogger for all of the articles that were related to this post and then did a bit more editing and reviewing.

Third day: I called in a favor from a friend to review the post and advise me on any mistakes. Then I reviewed it once more.

The Scare

Stressed businessman at computer

Once I was happy with the final version, on March 3rd, I sent it to the editor for review and then waited…

After waiting a few days and receiving no reply, I was concerned that they hated the post and that it was so bad that they wouldn’t even spend the time to reply back.

You know that feeling that you get after deciding to do something and then once complete everything starts going pear-shaped, and you start asking yourself “Why did you even bother?”. That is exactly what I was going through.

But I pushed through that feeling and decided to continue following up. I knew the whole ProBlogger team was busy with the launch of their membership site so I didn’t want to be too pushy about my post. I followed up every other week through email.

I didn’t hear anything back the entire month of March. Imagine that… Here I was, I had spent three days meticulously crafting this post and I had no idea what was going to happen with it. The uncertainty is tougher than rejection.

Finally, in the first week of April, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I received a reply from the editor.

The Waiting Game

We went back and forth a few times due to some technical issues with the viewing of my draft but, after everything was sorted, I was told to wait for it to get published. Their calendar was quite full and my post would need to be slotted in somewhere.

Everyday, I waited eagerly for the post to be publish with no such luck. After May, I just stopped worrying about it and patiently waited. Lesson learned from the Scare I had received in March.

After a long wait of almost three months, without any knowledge of when the post would go live, it finally popped up at the end of July.

All is Well that ends Well.

Lessons Learned (Action Steps)

This whole guest post experience was an emotional roller-coaster filled with very important lessons along the way. I would love to share my top 5 lessons learned:

Go to live events and meet/network people

Anyone who has gone to an offline event and networked properly can guarantee you that it is one of the best ways to grow your business. In my case, if I had missed that event, I would have never been published on ProBlogger and I would have never written this blog post. You never know what opportunities might come up.

Create Unique content

One of the most important reasons that I think my post was published was that it was unique. The post was nothing like previous posts published on ProBlogger and it also borrowed some credibility from Darren himself.

The other part that was unique was that I had added my own takeaway on each point. It was not just a recap of what happened at the event, it was from the angle of how I saw it. ProBlogger readers found that really useful.

Have Samples

Since I had a similar post already published on my blog, the editor could see my writing style along with an idea of what my guest post would be. This helped me overcome the typical guest post barriers of whether “I am good enough or not” in the eyes of an editor.

So make sure when you are approaching people that you send them your samples along with your email.

Follow Up

Popular blog editors are busy people. It is possible that your guest post might get missed due to their workload. It is your responsibility to remind them about it. Following up is key!

Have Patience

This would be my biggest lesson learned through this whole process.

Things never happen the way we want or at the time we want them to. It took roughly four months to get the post published but, once it got published, it was all worth it.

Never give up and be patient.

Get those guest posts cranking and you never know what opportunities will pop up.

Just keep in mind “Even if all the doors are closed, there is a chance that a window is still open – Jenish Pandya“.

5 Content Publishing Models For Your Blog — Which One Are You?

Maybe you love to write. Maybe you hate it…

Or maybe you are brand new to blogging and you feel like you lack credibility.

Whatever your situation, the truth is that it’s still possible for you to build a wildly successful blog.

Let me explain…

By focusing on the right publishing model, you may feel reborn with passion to finally share your voice with the world.

This article will show you how to identify the right publishing model for you and why this is a critical part of your blog strategy.

A publishing model is the format you use to produce your blog content.

And not all formats are created equal. These different models show you that there are many ways to create content.

It can be done yourself, by others, co-created, ghostwritten, or even “borrowed” for free from others.

Whatever the path you take, there is a model for you.

So, let’s dive into the 5 publishing models…

 

The Journal

The journal model is pretty straight forward.

It is primarily a way to express yourself and/or document your journey.

You could already be successful or you could just be getting started, and the topics may be all over the board.

Self-expression and inspiration trumps blogging for business or to make money.

Example of the journal blog Unfiltered.me by Brian Gardner

I admit. I should journal more.

When I am consistent with it, I have exceptional clarity and achieve more of my goals since they are in writing.

Even when it comes to problem solving.

I just open to a blank page and write. Usually by the time my hand gets tired, the solution appears to me.

But, what is even more powerful about the journal model, is the self awareness it brings from public accountability.

Let’s say you have a goal to lose weight.

By openly sharing your goals and documenting the process, you become a source of inspiration for your readers. They are there to support you, hold you accountable, and celebrate your victories.

I truly believe when you have nothing to hide, you become more committed to the process.

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” ― John Wooden

This can be a great way to start collecting content to one day publish a book. Or, how Crossfit gyms post the workout of the day for their clients.

You probably fit the journal model if…

  • You share random thoughts and maybe you are just doing it as a hobby
  • Your motivations are purely self expression
  • You want to document experiences and thoughts in your life
  • You are not as concerned in monetizing your blog
  • You may be building your email list, but you use it just to update your readers
  • Most of all the thoughts come from you and you don’t care to have guest bloggers

Examples: Unfiltered.me, Mark Cuban, Crossfit Defined

 

The Expert

The expert model differs from the journal when money becomes the motivator.

In fact, many blogs that start out as journal blogs evolve into expert blogs when they realize they can easily monetize their efforts.

But, being an “expert” can be a controversial topic.

If you have kids or you pay any attention to pop culture, Macklemore is responsible for making it cool for your kids to shop at the thrift shop.

Macklemore recorded a song entitled “Ten Thousand Hours”, where he sings about is journey to success as an artist. One verse from the song that always hits me is where he says, “10,000 hours, I’m so damn close I can taste it”.

The song continues…

I observed Escher
I love Basquiat
I watched Keith Haring
You see I study art
The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause they paint a lot

The whole song is based on a theory by Malcolm Gladwell from the book Outliers, where it takes 10,000 hours invested into a subject to become an “expert”.

Countless times I have held back at expressing my opinions because of a internal dialog of not knowing enough; worrisome of being judged and criticized by other “industry leaders”.

What helps me move past that every time is my intention. I’m not writing for them; I don’t care what they think and I don’t care to be a thought leader of my industry.

I’m writing this for you in hopes that this helps you and that is all that matters.

If Macklemore was paralyzed with fear of judgement from other rappers, he would not have changed the face of hip-hop with his positive music; voicing his opinions on topics of gay marriage, materialism, addiction and religion.

So, before you say “well, I am not an expert in anything”, realize that you likely already know more than your readers about a subject.

And in any scenario vulnerability will beat the “fake it until you make it” experts any day. And it brings you closer to your readers because they feel they can relate to you.

This means you don’t need 10,000 hour level mastery in order to build around the expert model.

Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience. ― Denis Waitley

You can become that “thought leader” of your niche by being the guinea pig much like Tim Ferriss does.

You probably fit the expert model if…

  • You prefer to write everything yourself
  • You are a wealth of information
  • You can talk about a topic all day long
  • You get fired up about teaching others
  • You enjoy the spotlight and telling your story
  • You want to turn what you know into a business

Examples: Kris Carr, Chris Mccombs, Tim Ferriss

 

The Host

On February 17th 2014, Jimmy Fallon ended Jay Leno’s 22 season run at the Tonight Show. Many including myself feel he knocked it out of the park with his humble opening monologue.

But, I want you to just put yourself in Jimmy’s shoes for a moment.

Imagine YOU are the one sitting behind that desk. Imagine it were YOU interviewing some of the most talented, dedicated and successful people in the world. Imagine it were YOU bringing laughter and inspiration to the world.

If you had the Tonight Show as your “platform”, what kind of connections and opportunities would open up for you?

The possibilities are endless, right?

Well, this is exactly what the host model is…

You get to leverage talented people for content by doing interviews like you would if you had your own talk show.

Sure, at first you must gain traction and credibility with your site, but once you do it will be a privilege to get on your show because who doesn’t want more exposure?

One of our Learn To Blog Insider students, Navid Moazzez, decided when starting his blog that the host model was right for him. He went from nothing to producing tons of traffic-pulling interviews with the top names of his industry in less than one year.

Example of the host model

Here’s what Navid told me about choosing the host model:

“I started doing interviews with successful entrepreneurs because I wanted to connect and become friends with the influencers in my field. It’s also a fantastic way to build your brand by association, since you’re surrounding yourself with many successful people. I’ve found it’s one of the most powerful ways to build authority when you are starting out with no experience.”

The host model is a great way for you to create a lot of content fast.

Let’s say you decide to do use the host model. You can do a video interview, post the video on YouTube, create a transcript for a blog post, and strip the audio for a podcast.

This gives you three different traffic sources for your blog; all without having to be the expert on any topic.

You probably fit the host model if…

  • You are great at interacting with people
  • You are great at listening and asking questions
  • You are genuinely interested in other people
  • You enjoy spotlight, but don’t really need it
  • You prefer to showcase others talents

Examples: Entrepreneur On Fire, Mixergy, Navid Moazzez

 

The Publisher

When you have others writing for you like a magazine, you are in a publishing model.

This is easiest achieved if one already has an audience or traffic. Since you are the “distribution channel”, the main motivation for people wanting to write for you is exposure and credibility.

The publisher model is one that is more scalable than the previous two if done correctly.

After six years of blogging, I have seen many blogs evolve. I have seen some evolve from journal to expert. Then from expert to publisher. Then even from publisher back to an expert model.

Miscues of the publisher model

In the publishing model (and every other model for that matter), quality trumps quantity. There’s so much content on the web for people to filter through, that you are much better off focusing on fewer higher quality, research driven posts.

Rather than having a cattle call for guest writers, consider cherry picking writers by reaching out to them and telling them an idea of a article you are interested in, why they are perfect for it, and what’s in it for them.

You know what your readers want…

So, when you do your research on a guest writer, it’s much easier to get a response from someone when you plant the idea in their head, rather than making them think of the idea of an article that is going to fit your audience.

Your intent is to get a response like “oh, I could totally crush that topic”.

But, not all people do the publishing model right correctly.

I’m sure at some point you’ve asked Dr. Google about a health related topic and chances are that you’ve run across an article on the Livestrong blog.

You know, the little yellow bracelets from Lance Armstrong?

I don’t support a lot of the decisions he has made, but I do love the mans courage and ability to overcome adversity.

Sadly, he went from being the face of his sport to the black eye of it when he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, was stripped of 7 Tour De France titles and banned from cycling for life.

The whole Livestrong brand has become another dent in his image as it has become greedy content farm.

Their goal is to publish articles that rank for every health term possible, so that they can get tons of traffic and and ad revenue.

But, if you actually read the articles you will see the are lackluster at best. There’s a reason that the articles have no comments on them.

This is a perfect example on what not to do with the publisher model.

The smart move is to post fewer articles of higher quality and spending more of your time marketing those articles.

You probably fit the publisher model if…

  • You are a networker and connector
  • You like working “behind the scenes”
  • You put experts to teach on your platform
  • You have great ideas for content that spreads
  • You’d rather promote guest writers
  • Traffic generation comes easy to you

Examples: TechCrunch, Copyblogger, Young and Raw

 

The Curator

Picture this…

You are scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed.

You are curiously stopped in your tracks by a post shared by one of your friends.

The catchy headline reads something like, “This guy was cut off in traffic and you won’t believe what he does next…”.

It’s accompanied by an irresistible image that makes it too compelling not to click on.

Greeting you on the other side is a two-minute video that provides immediate gratification to your curiosity.

You, my friend, just experienced the curation model.

Curation is finding content that is freely available around the web and repurposing that content for your site. This model has flourished with the popularity of video sites like YouTube.

For example, you find a video on YouTube, embed it on your site and write a quick review on them.

So, is it a sketchy way to get traffic or is curation a legitimate model?

Pawan Deshpande from the Huffington Post says that “curators are subject matter experts who have a knack for finding, organizing, and sharing the best and most relevant content on a given topic.”

Curation is not anything new. Deshpande says that “museums and art galleries have been doing it for centuries”.

But, the barrier to entry is just so low for anyone to start publishing content online.

With so much noise out there, it is hard to cut through it all to find what really matters. So, naturally there will be more of a demand for curators as more content is published online.

Recently, our team at Learn To Blog have been testing this model as a experiment by launching Riseable. The goal is to help small business owners cut through the fluff and find the best free content online that will help them grow their business.

Riseable

With only a few hours invested into the project, we generated 17 new email subscribers who joined the list for updates.

It’s nothing to scream about from atop the mountains, but the only cost was the purchase of a premium theme. We are growing our email list from free content and free social traffic.

We’re documenting the process of growing this site, so I encourage you to follow along so that you can learn from the experience.

You probably fit the curator model if…

  • You are good at finding great content
  • You want to quickly build a brand
  • You are okay with not “owning the content”
  • You are a great copywriter
  • Traffic generation comes easy to you

Examples: Upworthy, GodVine, Book Cover Archive

 

So, Which Publishing Model Are You?

Now, if you made it this far, I can predict exactly what you are thinking right now.

“Do I have to choose just one model?”

Absolutely not.

The goal of this article is to help you pick a path that you feel inspired by, not be limited by a box.

I suggest that if you are going to combine models, that you focus on a primary model and compliment it with a secondary model.

For example, most of your content is expert and every once in a while you sprinkle on an interview under the host model.

Like I mentioned before, many blogs also evolve over time. Maybe you want to start with a journal model and crossover to the expert and eventually to a publisher model.

It all depends on the vision for your blog. The canvas is blank and ready for you to create your masterpiece.

But, I’m very curious of your thoughts on this topic.

1. What publishing model do you fall into?

and secondly…

2. Why did you choose that direction?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Crank Up Your Copy: Ideas to Improve Your Content

If you’re blogging for business – or running a blog for a business – you need to have stellar copy. The best ideas, arguments, and offers won’t get you any new clients or convert readers into loyal followers if they are conveyed poorly. The quality of your copy matters when it comes to determining your blogging success.

You may be an incredible speaker, a wise consultant, or an inspiring teacher. But if you’re blogging, all this could be lost on your readers if they don’t like your way with words. Writing is the primary medium when it comes to selling ourselves online. Even podcasts or YouTube videos require captions or short introductions to help convince your audience to listen or watch. Your writing is your delivery, your execution, and if that fails, so does a large part of your ability to be persuasive, compelling, and engaging.

The truth is, your writing could probably be better. Everyone’s writing could stand to improve (and yes, I’m including myself and this post in that assessment). If you want to crank up your copy and start producing standout writing, consider these ideas and tips to improve your content.

Find and Maintain Your Passion

The first rule to amazing copy is to make sure you are passionate about your subject. Your enthusiasm and delight will shine through your words, and these positive emotions are contagious. You need to believe in your subject, service, or ideas. After all, if you don’t feel strongly about them, how will you persuade other people to feel the same?

This is why it’s crucial to understand you can’t start blogging or creating copy that converts readers into followers or clients with the sole purpose of making a profit from your endeavors. That’s where that sleazy car salesman vibe comes in, and most people are incredibly adept at picking up on that – and running in the opposite direction once they sense it.

Good copy starts with a belief in the content you’re creating. You don’t have to be a writing wizard to lay down some fantastic blog posts that people will get behind, because your passion is going to do a lot of the work for you.

Mentally Revisit Your 8th Grade Grammar Lessons

Keep in mind passion won’t do all the work, however. You can’t expect your copy to be outstanding if it’s barely readable. Temper that wild enthusiasm and tighten up your writing with a touch of formality and you’ll have the best of both worlds.

Remember those years in school where all you did was learn about the “right” way to write? Think back to the classes in which you were endlessly drilled on grammar rules and the way words were supposed to be formally composed (if you immediately started humming “Conjunction junction, what’s your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses..” yes, you’re on the right track).

Although it might be tedious, good writing often follows basic rules of grammar. Here are a few common trouble areas in grammar that plague even the best of writers:

  • Subject-verb agreement and verb tense agreement
  • Sentence problems: fragments, run-ons, and comma splices
  • Overusing pronouns
  • Using weak words, including just, very, a lot, really, and like
  • Using passive voice (and avoid combing this piece for passive voice please, as it’s my biggest vice as a writer).

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should work to make every piece of content you produce extremely stiff and formal. Rules were made to be broken. Sometimes. It’s important that you write in your own natural voice and let your individual personality shine through. But you also need to remember that excellent copy by and large sticks to the fundamental rules that govern language. This makes writing easy to read and comprehend. Using three punctuation marks after every other sentence is obnoxious. Adding in a little flair with a brief sidebar (perhaps in the form of a parenthetical!) might be appropriate.

Excellent copy is a balancing act between your own style and generally agreed-upon rules about what makes a piece of writing great.

Other Rules to Follow and Tips to Consider

Grammar creates only some of the guidelines good writing typically follows. There are additional “best practices” that you can utilize to improve your content. In order to create standout copy, keep the following in mind as you write:

Create a Hook

Your introduction can make or break your copy. You need to immediately hook your readers with something compelling that encourages them to continue consuming your content. Don’t use up three lengthy paragraphs of text before you get to the engaging line. You need to…

Get to the Point

Avoid being extremely wordy. If there is a simple way to say what you mean, always choose that straightforward delivery over something full of jargon or a sentence stuffed with adjectives. Be specific and be precise.

Be a Storyteller

Some of the best, most compelling copy is content that tells a story. Spitting out dry facts left and right may make for accurate writing, which is certainly important (always be honest) – but it gets dull fast. Craft a story for your audience to delve into and explore.

Format Your Copy Properly

Once you’ve got the actual content figured out, you need to dress it up in a pretty package if you want your readers to pick up what you’re laying down. Format your copy in a way that is easy to read.

For the internet, this means easy to scan and easy to consume. Using headings, subheadings, numbered or bulleted lists, and break up paragraphs so that chunks of text are balanced by white space. It’s intimidating to open up a web page only to be confronted with a massive wall of text. Make your copy inviting to readers by breaking up long sentences and paragraphs into smaller pieces.

Include a Call to Action

Great copy won’t rock back and forth on its heels, shyly waiting for an audience to engage. A compelling piece of copy will leap up and flat-out say what readers can do next. This is a call to action, and it means that you wrap up your content with a next step. Ask a question to encourage comments or provide a click to tweet link for a great quote from the piece.

Try Some Actionable Techniques

If you want to crank up your copy, then take action!

  • Practice. Apparently, it makes perfect. The more you write, the more adept you’ll be at working with words.
  • If you get stuck or don’t know where to start when creating new copy, resort to word vomit. It may get a little messy, but that’s what editing is for. Sit down and literally put pen to paper if that’s what it takes.
  • Brainstorm. You can’t write excellent copy if you have zero excellent ideas. You might have to let the word vomit fly here too until you make brainstorming sessions a habit, but simply getting everything out is a great way to unearth amazing ideas.
  • Do research if you need to. Be able to admit what you don’t know, and strive for accuracy.

Once you’ve created your copy, there are a few hoops you can make it jump through to find its weaknesses, figure out how to improve it, and determine whether or not it’s ready to be published.

  • Read your copy out loud (or have a friend read it out loud to you). This technique is a great way to fish out sentences that are clunky, confusing, or need clarification. This will also help you identify areas where you’ve been overly verbose.
  • Also plan on making multiple revisions. There’s a reason your teachers required you to submit rough drafts and final drafts. A quick read-over of something you’ve recently produced is not a great way to edit; because your ideas are so fresh in your mind, your brain tends to automatically correct any mistakes as you read or discrepancies in the text. Before you edit, go do another activity or let a significant amount of time pass. Sleep on it if you need to, and come back at your copy with fresh eyes and a clear head.

Now, Get Out There and Crank Up Your Copy!

With these tips, ideas, and actionable steps, you should be ready to attack your next copy challenge and crank up the quality of the content you’re creating. Don’t let your incredible ideas and important message get lost in poorly written copy. Instead, work to improve your writing so you can provide your audience with intelligent, persuasive copy.

The 10 Best Secrets to Blog Post Titles that Attract Readers and Get Noticed

With so many blogs existing in the world, you have a very short amount of time to catch the attention of your valued readers. Your title is what most readers will see first – in an RSS feed, in Google or Bing or embedded in an email. If your title is clunky, too long or plain lackluster, your blog post will likely be lost, forgotten and just plain not seen. With so much pressure to perform, you may find your title writing skills flagging when it matters most. If your goal is to create blog post titles that attract readers, whip their heads your way, and click on your latest blog posts with fervor, here are the ten most well-kept secrets for optimizing your blog titles that every blogger should know.

Enticing Blog Subject Matter

If you are stuck on what to write about, these three title categories are sure to lure new readers to your blog in droves.

  1. Provide a Benefit: Titles that get clicked on the most promise a clear benefit to the reader. They solve a pressing problem, they offer advice from luminaries in the field and they generally seek to improve readers in one way or another.

Whether readers are trying to improve conversions, lose weight or train their dogs to sit and play fetch, get to the heart of their passions, desires, apprehensions and fears and craft blog titles that speak to your readers and promise results; and make those results fast if possible. A good example of this is the blog title How to Eradicate a Zit in a Single Evening.

This will require extensive research in order to accurately analyze the psyches of your reader base, but today’s social networks and popular forums make that research easier than ever before.

  1. Spread the News: Some of the most popular blog titles are those that strive to keep your audience informed of updates and happenings as they relate to your niche. Scour the news, read the latest press-releases in your industry and write blog titles that keep your readers on the up-and-up. A good example of a title for an IT blog might be Ten Industry Updates All IT Professionals Should Know. 
  1. Pique the Curiosity: Attempt to write blog titles that are different than everyone else’s and that resonate with your audience. Use odd but relevant word choices, personal experiences, funny anecdotes and quirky subjects that no one else is using. Your readers won’t be able to help themselves but click and read. An example of a title for a construction blog might be Hammers and Hamburgers: A Day in the Life of a Construction Worker.

Proper Title Construction

Use the following tips to develop titles that drive traffic and attract comments.

  1. Set Expectations and Tease: Your blog title should let readers know exactly what they will get out of reading your blog in its entirety. For best results, tickle your readers with a hint of what’s to come and force them to commit to experience the true payoff.

Consider this title for a weight loss blog: See What Happens when Weight Loss Happens Too Quickly. Notice how the title doesn’t say what happens, it just urges readers to continue reading and pay attention.

  1. Concise is Nice: The shorter your title happens to be, the better. Remember, you only have a very short window to reach your audience. Not only that, but your readers will typically have very short attention spans. Long, drawn out titles get ignored more often than shorter ones. A short and sweet title for a gardening blog might read 7 Plant Watering Secrets.
  1. Optimize for Search: Use your primary keyword very early on if you want to beat out competitors that are optimizing for that same term. For example, if you are writing for a cosmetics blog and your keyword is ‘eye shadow’, your title might read Eye Shadow Tips from the World’s Top Makeup Experts. While not a sure way of improving rankings, there is always the chance that this technique will give you an edge against other bloggers that are using the same term keyword term a little later on in their titles; so this tip is always worth considering. 
  1. Beat Competitors: Once you get a good idea of the title you would like to create, get online and start searching for others who are writing about the same subject. Take their titles in, process them and then use what’s available to make yours even better. 
  1. Use Active Language: Stay away from passive verbs and instead use plenty of action words to get your readers’ hearts racing. Instead of the title How the Best Athletes are Running and Jumping Today, it would be better to use the title Run Faster and Jump Higher Just Like Today’s Best Athletes. 
  1. Lists Bring the Clicks: Blogs that contain numbered or bulleted lists tend to always perform well. Readers prefer blogs that contain easily digestible content, and lists provide exactly that. For instance, 10 Mistakes All New Police Recruits Should Avoid. 
  1. A Strong Title Never Lies: Your titles should always come through on the promises you make. In other words, if your blog title promises to help readers Change a Car Tire Quickly, Even in the Rain, make sure you provide exactly that advice. If your readers are ever made to feel misled, you may lose those readers forever.

Test Your Titles for Better Results

The above advice should help you develop titles that get results, but don’t stop there. Keep testing your titles, feeling your audience out and start looking for patterns of most-read blog posts by studying your analytics data. If you notice that some titles get more clicks than others, replicate your results for even more blog conversions.

They say that your choice of title can make or break every blog post you write. With these ten tips, your posts are sure to strike a nerve with every reader you target.

How to Start a Content Curation Blog

In a recent post, we took a look at what content curation can do for bloggers as well as the audience you’re intending to reach. In today’s post, we’ll give you a blow-by-blow on the basics of curation in order to teach you how to start a content curation blog.

To begin with, it’s important to note that curation is a time-intensive activity which should be done consistently for weeks at a time if you’re ever going to see any results. You should use it as an adjunct to your content creation efforts to ensure that you’re giving your readers a variety of media to maintain their interest in your blog.

There are 3 major steps to start a content curation blog:

  1. Seek
  2. Sense
  3. Create and Share

We’ll take a look at the three more extensively shortly; however, let’s first outline a few things every blog curator should have or know.

First of all, it’s important to know your audience. You could have a blog that’s visited by a specific group of people but not know the details behind these people. Things you need to find out include the following:

  • The median age of the people reading your blog.
  • The gender makeup (do more males than females read your blog?)
  • The peak times when it comes to blog traffic.
  • The socioeconomic makeup of your audience.

One of the ways you can find out this kind of information would be to use the Google Analytics tool found here. A good analytics tool will give you real-time information regarding your blog audience makeup which will in turn help you target them in such a way that they’ll feel as if you really know them as well as understand their needs. This is, in essence, content marketing at its best.

Here are a few other analytics tools you can use in conjunction with Google Analytics:

  1. Crazy Egg
  2. Performancing Metrics
  3. Enquisite

Once you have your data ready, you can start curating your content.

The next step is to identify sources for curated content. The internet is a living organism with thousands of pieces of content of varying types being produced every minute. Your responsibility is to identify valuable and relatable content pieces and place them in your content box so you can sift through them. This discovery process is known as seeking.

Here’s a screenshot illustrating how to discover more niche ideas as a pastry blogger:

curation 1

By searching for the term ‘pastry blog’ via www.google.com/blogsearch, she’s able to find out what the trending topics are as well as the industry leaders as far as pastry blogs are concerned. With this in mind, she can check out various blogs to see what kind of posts are eliciting major reactions and stimulating conversation. This blogger can then copy these post links and put them in a spreadsheet for future sifting.

At the same time, you can use Alltop to look for trending news items. What’s great about Alltop is the fact that you can personalize your content search feature by using my.alltop.com.

Here’s what the MyAlltop signup page looks like:

Alltop

All you have to do is sign up, agree to the terms and you’re all set.

Twitter is also a great way to find trending topics which can, in turn, help you curate timely content pieces. The almighty hashtag is a godsend for all content curators. However, you should use the hashtag in combination with tweets to find the meat and not just the bones. You can also use Twitter Search which is essentially Twitter’s Google.

When collecting your sources, you should always be careful to pick only high quality ones. Additionally, you should scan more than you capture, and you should make it a habit to define topics and organize sources as you go along. Seeking should generally be done for 15 minutes at least twice daily.

When used in a synergistic manner, you’ll be able to collate and collect content from all parts of the Internet in order to successfully move on to the next stage of the curation process: sense.

After collecting your articles and placing the links and relevant clips in a central place, you can begin to sift through them and find meaning and relevance in most of them and then discard any that might not be relevant for what you’re trying to communicate.

For example, if you have a blog which focuses on celebrity style and fashion, you could figure out how to tie that in with current trends and draw parallels in order to come up with an interesting pictorial conversation with personal commentary added in to give it a bit of your personality.

Making sense usually involves distilling and condensing information in order to streamline it into one theme.

Here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself to help make better sense of collected content:

  1. Will this content add value to my reader’s lives? Curated content has to appeal to your readers from an emotional standpoint. Whether your blog covers accounting or new developments in interior design, you need to make sure that each curated post is identifiable and if possible applicable to your audience’s daily life. This will help you create a bond with your audience on a long-term basis.
  2. Does the content I’m about to curate establish me as a thought leader in the blog circles? The last thing you want to do is copy what everyone else is doing. This will make people overlook you and you might get washed up in the sea of content because there are other bloggers out there who’ve perfected what you’re trying to do.

Here are some of the things associated with the sense stage of content curation:

  • Put your blog post together by merging links with your own commentary and maybe one or two photos or videos to give the post some pizzazz.
  • Annotate where necessary, archive articles and links, and apply changes within your blog if needed.
  • The sense stage of content curation should typically take you about half an hour to an hour every day. This might take longer if you decide to include different forms of content to your blog post because you have to find a way to make the curated content work for you and your audience without creating disconnection or confusion.

Creation and sharing is the last stage of the content curation process and perhaps the most delicate one. Presentation is everything, and you need to know what forms of sharing will resonate with your target audience.

There are various ways that you can use to create and present your content, with the first one being lists.  People love lists as it helps them get information in a compact manner, lessening the time in which they’ll have to go all over the internet looking for content.

A great tip here would be to look at the top 15 trends in your niche and come up with a great list linking out to the best posts on the web talking about these trends. Make sure to use appropriate attribution and keep the commentary short but meaningful. You can also ask your readers what kinds of lists they’d like to see in the coming days and weeks.

Another way in which to present your curated content would be through the use of infographics. These are usually data-based with a touch of visual esthetic thrown in. Infographics help you convey less than interesting information in a fresh an exciting way without taking away from the subject at hand.  Get into the habit of saving interesting and impactful data snippets as you go about reading and curating content around the web. Every once in a while, streamline these data bites and create a curated post based on them.

Yet another light and popular way you can use to create and present your curated content is through the use of humor. People like to laugh as it makes them feel good. At the same time, humor helps with information retention and is found all over the internet. For example, if you’re a food blogger, you could come up with a blog post where you feature a video snippet by a standup comedian lambasting the paleo diet. After the video, you can add your own commentary and then add a couple of memes to break the monotony of the post. Finish off with a snippet of an article extolling the virtues of the paleo diet and then invite your readers to leave you their opinions and thoughts in the comment section.

Here are a few closing tips on what to pay attention to when curating content for your blog:

  • Create a Tumblr page so you can have an account you can use to curate rich media such as videos, high resolution photos and sound clips.
  • You can curate social updates and comments to help stimulate or start a conversation regarding your blog. This can be a great way of getting to know your audience at a much deeper level. These can also be used to add depth and validity to your curated content.

At the end of the day, you need to consistently be on the lookout for new content as well as consistent with your efforts if you want to build a following, a unique voice and be considered as a go-to blogger for knowledge and information on a specific topic or genre.