Trying to do all the work involved in running a blog or online magazine solo can be overwhelming, so why not try to outsource one of the most time-consuming parts, namely the actual writing of blog posts?
In a quest for cheap (but hopefully good and reliable) article writers for my online magazine experiment I’ve been trying out three different ‘Content Mills’ – iWriter, Fiverr and HireWriter.
Visiting iWriter first I ponied up $37.50 in return for two 1000 word articles on Science by ‘Elite’ writers (rankings are Basic, Premium, Elite and Elite Plus.) Here’s a handy pricing list.
I wasn’t all that happy with those as I had to do a fair amount of editing to get them to an acceptable standard.
Not So ‘Elite’ at iWriter
After requesting some more jobs and rejecting them quickly due to appalling writing, I quickly learnt that an ‘Elite’ writer at iWriter is more likely than not to offer me substandard work – apparently the vast majority of iWriter’s ‘writers’ hail from Africa, India and Pakistan, and are no more ‘Elite Writers’ than I’m an Elite Brain Surgeon! How they got the idea that they could make a living writing online is a baffling mystery to me.
Before sampling any more ‘Elite’ garbled offerings from iWriter I decided to give HireWriters a go, which offered me a 25% deposit bonus on joining. I decided to deposit $100 and waited about twelve hours to be approved. In the meantime I posted two more jobs on iWriter. My plan was to compare iWriter’s Elite level to HireWriter’s ‘Skilled’ which costs slightly less.
The next day I received the completed article submissions from iWriter. One expounding on the future of vegetables and a paleo diet was obviously written by someone for whom English wasn’t their native tongue – a quick click on REJECT. On inspecting their profile I see that they sold more than thirty articles, judging by the comments, to a person with even worse English than theirs!
This was something I was to encounter frequently, so no doubt a lot of the badly written articles on websites are being posted by people who think they’ve found a great writer with fluent English.
The next article (on cargo-carrying drones) was acceptable, though I had to spend about ten minutes editing it before I was happy.
Having resubmitted my first article job offer on iWriter I received a new submission a mere one hour later. This one was just appalling – obviously someone with very poor English skills had put an article through a spinner and simply sent me the hilarious result – iWriter is going to have to do a lot better than this, or maybe I’ll just have to fork out more to encourage better writers.
After quite a few hours nobody has taken my re-opened job offer on iWriter – presumably the writers see it’s received two rejections and thus, probably realizing I’m someone with more than basic English skills, are avoiding the job…
HireWriters and Fiverr
Next day, I received a completed article on Self Driving Cars from a ‘writer’ at HireWriters – pretty bad, immediately ‘fired’ him (they have a big ‘Fire This Writer’ button, which is always fun to push if you’ve only ever been an employee.) He was also working on another job, which I immediately cancelled as well.
Moving on to Fiverr, which charges a few dollars in extra fees. Rather than creating and sending some jobs into the general pool, I contacted some writers direct to see if I could improve the quality of the work I was being offered.
Chatted online with a guy from Nigeria who writes Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency articles. He seemed an ok writer and wanted $20 for 1000 words, which might be as high as $24 including fees, so I decided to see what value I could get with other writers and sites first.
Fiverr’s option of chatting to potential candidates and requesting samples of their work is at least an improvement on iWriter, where there’s no contact with the writers.
I logged on to www.fiverr.com/pro , apparently a new service on Fiverr where you can view thumbnails of the candidates (often fake pictures and fake names I hear) and a short two-line intro. It also shows their lowest starting price, their star rating (out of five) and the number of completed jobs, as well as the sellers ‘Level’. In the left margin there’s a bunch of different filters; I checked English and Seller Level 2.
I sent a bunch of the likelier looking prospects the following message using copy and paste into the online chat box:
“Hi – would you be able to send us some samples of your work and your rate for 500 words please? (Looking for articles for a new science/tech/health online magazine.) On a fairly tight budget currently, so we’re evaluating potential writers based on both their rate/500 words and quality of work.”
I was soon receiving positive responses and sample content started flooding in. Most of the samples were pretty bad – if an English teacher was marking them there would have been close to 90% D’s and E’s, and yes they were all claiming to be expert writers! (And they had the star ratings to ‘prove’ it, no doubt handed to them by grateful clients whose ability to judge written English is about as good as my ability to judge written Sanskrit.)
After receiving sample text from one person, I left my pc for a while and came back to this (apparently he felt I was stealing his work samples) :
“The kain devil wey go punish you this idiot on top this nonsense wey you dey do so… this current devil go worship am. And dem never create that devil yet Walahi! As u jus dey mumu yourself so dey feel like say u get sense u this naija fool. God go catch u. And I swear e no go funny for you and ur generation. As u know me for somewhere and ur idiotic conscience no gree u ask me sample from there make God punish u.
U see that sample wey I give u so, na im be ur nemesis. Nonsense ballistic idiot!!!!!”
In spite of this inspiring 100 word sample, I didn’t offer my nemesis a gig either, though at least he puts his heart into his writing…
There were a couple of decent candidates, but they were asking, reasonably enough, higher fees than I was currently prepared to pay, my idea being to see if I could find good quality writers at the lower level first.
Having read articles by bloggers claiming to have found the ‘hidden gems’ who would write high quality 1000 word articles for $10 – $12 I wanted to see if I could do so myself. (Ok – I’m stingy too.) Anyhow, running an online magazine, I’m presuming I’ll be looking at needing something like two to four articles a day seven days a week, which can obviously get expensive in a big hurry.
A couple of the candidates were reasonably promising, but I still felt that I could do better, so I returned to HireWriters and discovered that I could filter the writers there in a similar manner to Fiverr (something I’d previously missed.)
The candidates there looked much more promising than Fiverr’s, being only from English-speaking countries (USA, UK, Australia, Canada etc.) After using the filtering system I sent out the same offer as on Fiverr to promising-looking candidates, and soon started receiving positive replies in my message box.
So to sum up, I recommend contacting writers directly (after filtering for Skilled, Low Reject Rate etc) as a big time-saver.
I received my best results at HireWriters, paying $10 for 500-700 words and $15-20 for 1000 words. Articles submitted to the general pool on any of the sites were all too frequently being grabbed by some of the worst writer wannabes, who apparently swarm there like mosquitoes over stagnant ponds.
Have you had any interesting experiences hiring writers (or perhaps as a hiree yourself)? Let me know in the comments!
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