What if I told you that you can grow a blog to 100,000 plus visitors a month without even blogging.
It sounds crazy, right?
Both the KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg blogs receive well over 100,000 visitors a month each, and I didn’t even have to write one blog post to hit those traffic goals.
Sure, I now blog on both of those properties for fun, but it wasn’t the main source of traffic initially. So, how do you get to 100,000 visitors a month without blogging?
Well, you have to hire writers. Here is the process you should use to find writers who will not only write content but also promote it and make your blog popular.
Where do you find writers?
I’ve tested out a few places to find writers such as Elance, oDesk, Craigslist, and Problogger. Out of the places I’ve tested, Problogger and Craigslist tend to provide the best writers in that order.
When looking for writers, you have to be very specific. If you aren’t, you will be wasting your time digging through a pile of applicants.
The tricky part about this is that if your job description is too long, people won’t read it, and we’ll just apply. Your goal should be to balance length with specificity.
Here are the main things you need to cover within your job posting:
- Subject matter – the type of content you want people to produce.
- Length – business-based posts should be anywhere from 1,500 to 5,000 words depending on your niche. Consumer-facing posts should be fewer than 2,000 words—ideally, under 1,000 words.
- Tone – do you want your content to sound research-oriented, casual, conversational, etc.? Typically, conversational type of posts perform the best.
- Examples – send two examples of posts within your industry that you like. If you can’t find any in your industry, find some in any related industry.
- Purpose – whether you want your content to be humorous or informative, you have to state this to potential writers.
When posting an ad on Problogger or Craigslist, you should consider using an ad similar to this one:
ABC.com is looking for a writer who can talk about sales / crm / motivation in the workplace, business management, increasing revenue, etc.
- Be able to write in a conversational tone
- Produce informative posts
- Have personable writing style
Here is an example of two articles with the style of writing we are looking for:
We want blog posts written with 1,500-2,000 words.
Please send at least two articles you feel are closest to the writing style we like. If you don’t have any but are certain you can write in that style, send a paragraph within your email using the tone we are looking for
Once your job postings go live, you’ll receive 100 plus applicants. Just make sure you release the posting on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Releasing it on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday will usually result in 15 to 20% fewer applicants.
How do you evaluate writers?
Now that you have a list of applicants, you first want to read their emails. If you notice any grammar or spelling errors within the emails, don’t bother reading their examples. Just cross them off your list.
Why? If they weren’t thorough enough to double-check their emails, they won’t be detail-oriented when creating content for your blog.
For the applicants that have a well-written email, read the first few paragraphs of the examples they included. When reading the first few paragraphs, look for:
- Conversational tone – the use of the words “you” and “I.”
- Personality – no one wants to read dry content.
- Fluff – no one wants to read fluff.
- Facts – if the writer is making claims, he or she should be linking to sources that back up what the writer is stating.
- Short paragraphs – ideally, paragraphs should be no longer than 5 or 6 lines.
- Formatting – if their posts aren’t formatted well, people will have a hard time reading the content.
- Pictures – each post should start off with an image.
Now that you have narrowed down your list of potentially qualified writers, go back and read the whole blog posts that they linked you to. You should now look for:
- Subheadings – using them makes content easier to read and skim.
- Italicizing and bolding – doing these two things to certain words throughout a post makes it easier to read.
- External links – posts with dozens of relevant external links tend to get shared more on the social web by the website owners you are linking to.
- Media – pictures, audio, and video are powerful. Not everyone enjoys reading text. If the writer is using media throughout the post, it’s a good sign.
- Conclusion – wrapping up the post makes it easier for people to digest the information provided.
- Question – at the end of the post, there should be a question posed to the readers. This will help increase the number of comments generated by your posts.
Most writers won’t meet all of these requirements. But the ones that meet 80% or so are usually going to do a good job.
How much should you pay writers?
If you noticed, I didn’t mention the pay within the job posting. That’s because each writer is willing to work for different amounts.
If your number is too low, you will get little to no applicants. If you price it too high, the quotes you will receive will be too high.
By not including a price, you can ask each writer what they will accept. From there, you can negotiate with them and get their prices down.
Typically, expect to spend $100 to $200 per post. I know that may sound expensive, but good content is. If you are paying less, you’ll see that the quality won’t be as high.
If you are on a budget, consider buying less content until you have a larger budget. But don’t skimp on quality. It’s better to pay for one really good blog post than it is to pay for 10 mediocre posts.
Your first blog post
Now that you have hired your first writer, you’ll want him or her to submit 5 to 10 headline ideas. From there, you can either adjust the headlines or just pick the one that is most appealing to you.
Once you have decided what you’ll want your writer to write about, have the writer create an outline.
The outline should consist of:
- Introduction – the whole introductory paragraph(s) should be fully written.
- Body – they should put the main points that will be discussed throughout the body into a bulleted list.
- Conclusion – the conclusion should end with a question posed to the readers.
If you don’t like the outline or any specific element of it, give the writer feedback and have him or her continually adjust it until you are happy. Once you are happy, you can then have the writer write the post.
Once your writer finishes writing the post, provide more detailed feedback on what you like and dislike.
The whole purpose of this process is to be so picky with the writer that he or she will learn what you like and don’t like. Eventually, the writer will know what you want without much involvement from you.
If the writer has included images, make sure they are screenshots, royalty-free images, or ones that were purchased. In other words, make sure you don’t get sued for using the images.
I’ve been stuck in situations where writers used images that they weren’t supposed to, and we published the content. We later got a legal letter from stock photography sites like Getty Images that not only demanded that we take down the image but pay them for the prior use of the image.
This has cost me thousands of dollars over the years, which is why I am very picky about what images can or can’t be used.
As I mentioned in one of the requirements above, the writer should be linking out to sites—dozens, if not over a hundred, to be specific. A good rule of thumb is to add external links only when it makes sense for the reader. Ideally, you should be shooting for 25 external links for every 1,000 words of content you are writing.
I know I don’t follow this rule for Quick Sprout, but it is because the blog is already popular. On my new blog, NeilPatel.com, you’ll notice that I have at least 100 external links per post.
Because I usually email out each of the sites I linked to with the following email:
Subject: I mentioned [insert their site name] in my latest post
Hey [insert their name],
I just wanted to let you know I am a huge fan of your work. I like it so much that I actually linked to [insert their website] within my latest blog post.
[Insert your blog post URL]
I would be honored if you checked it out. And if you love it, feel free to share it on the social web.
[Insert your name]
By doing this, you’ll gain social shares and eventually build up a large enough audience that can be leveraged to promote future posts.
The process I’ve outlined above works so well that combined, the Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics blogs generated well over a million visitors a month.
Just look at the NeilPatel.com blog. You’ll see how much traffic it has received, which isn’t too bad considering that the blog is fairly new.
So, how else can you grow your blog without having to write content?