In a recent thread at webmasterworld, when asked if members had 10 people to assist promoting their website, what would they do. This interesting question produced the surprising answer by one member that they would have 9 people writing articles and one person linking.
Articles are a great way to get theme related one-way links, linkable content and can be contracted for around $10 per 400 - 500 word article. Prices vary though, and so does the range of qualifications.
Article writing, like link building, is an excellent candidatate for outsourcing, or perhaps more correctly, Outtasking.
Oursourcing is great because you can purchase services you need when you need them. You don't have to worry about meeting payroll, or providing computers, desks or equipment. While a freelancer is researching and writing you can take care of other things.
Often, a freelancer represents a group, allowing you access to the more resources and expertise.
One of the biggest misconceptions is you can 'just give it to them' and it will all be good. Nothing can be futher from the truth. In fact, the more time and effort you put into it, the better the chances of success.
Example Project of 10 articles.
Before talking to my partners in the Philippines, I research keywords and use the keywords to set up the titles and content of the articles. This usually gives me 6 or 8 of the article titles. Since not all articles get syndicated, I go to several articles syndication sites and research which articles in my area have the most links in YAHOO. This give more data for article topics and titles and general tone. Next, I decide what type of article suits the titles best. Is it to be a "information about this" article or a "how to" article with a bulleted list of actions the reader can take right now?
Once all this has been written out, I send it to my partner and ask to see 4 or 5 articles right away so that I can confirm everything is on track.
Or course, I have specified in advance the articles must be original, and I make periodic checks to make sure. Once you have dealt with a freelancer a few times you can ease up, but it still pays to check all the time.
Don't use software
There are lots of people offering software that scrapes article syndication sites and/or the web for content, re-arranges it, and spits out hundreds of articles. My experience is it would have been easier and certainly faster to write the articles myself, or hire someone to do it.
Automated re-writes of scraped content seems to work on the Search Engines for now, but how long it is going to last is anyone's guess. The achilles heel of automation is that it has to use templates and will always leave a footprint that other automated systems (ie bots & crawlers) can easily detect.
Price vs. Turnaournd time
Most freelance writers take on more contracts than they can handle and juggle turn-around times to maximise immediate cash flow. At any moment they only have a few contracts to work on, although they have many outstanding. Sound familiar?
Knowing this, expect to get a low price with a longer turnaround, OR a short turnaround with a higher price.
Low or High?
Don't choose the lowest price and don't choose the highest. Review what they say and examples of their work and make a decision on which one you like first, then look at cost.
A team is also important. Ofter 'a freelancer' represents a small group who work together. With a team of 5 people writing 20 articles, you get different approaches and points of view. I give preference and pay a slightly higher price for a team.
Qualifications are important in relation to what you need. I like newspaper writers because they are in the business of writing snappy headlines and catchy articles, which is what I like for my sites.
Other sites may prefer novelists or technical writers to suit the tone of their sites.
Contracting out or outsourcing is still work -- just a different kind of work. Managing freelancers takes some skill and practice and if done properly, can increase productivity and lower costs substantially.
About the author
Brian Stocker is a former teacher with a BA in Economics and a MA in Psychology. He has worked online since 1997 and has built, promoted and successfully ranked hundreds of websites and successfully conducted online marketing campaigns for clients large and small Internationally. His boutique SEO/SEM company has offices in Victoria BC Canada (www.brianstocker.org) and Manila, Philippines (sem.ph) offering outsourcing, SEO, Search Engine marketing and more.
By: Brian Stocker