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  1. #1
    Non-Member writer4me's Avatar
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    Things to keep in mind while hiring a content writer

    1. You'll get writers that re-write for <snip> page/article. But do not expect them to be the best. They are ok for 're-wording' articles.
    2. For <snip> page you can get reasonably good professional writers.
    3. Test the originality of the content from time to time using copyscape.com. You may land in perfect trouble if you are using copied content.
    4. Test the new writer with a test project first; before giving the bulk of work. Pay him for the test project.
    5. See his work samples.
    6. Prefer the ones that are in trade for more than 2 years.
    7. Avoid students at all cost. They vanish suddenly during their exams.
    8. Sign a non disclosure agreement with your ghostwriter. He should keep the project details secret.
    9. Prefer writers from Kolkata, India. Kolkata (city) has the best writing talents in India.
    10. Prefer to pay fees over <snip> in installments rather than as one down payment.
    11. Keep an option to come out of the agreement at any time.
    Last edited by Shyflower; Jan 18, 2008 at 23:28. Reason: Pricing discussions are not allowed.

  2. #2
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    Great guide for people who outsource their writing in India or Philippines.
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  3. #3
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by writer4me View Post
    1. You'll get writers that re-write for <snip>/page/article. But do not expect them to be the best. They are ok for 're-wording' articles.
    2. For <snip> you can get reasonably good professional writers.
    3. Test the originality of the content from time to time using copyscape.com. You may land in perfect trouble if you are using copied content.
    4. Test the new writer with a test project first; before giving the bulk of work. Pay him for the test project.
    5. See his work samples.
    6. Prefer the ones that are in trade for more than 2 years.
    7. Avoid students at all cost. They vanish suddenly during their exams.
    8. Sign a non disclosure agreement with your ghostwriter. He should keep the project details secret.
    9. Prefer writers from Kolkata, India. Kolkata (city) has the best writing talents in India.
    10. Prefer to pay fees over <snip> in installments rather than as one down payment.
    11. Keep an option to come out of the agreement at any time.
    What is "Rewording"? In my book that's the same thing as copyright infringement?

    This is a terrible post about copyrwriting. Professional writers warrant their copy to be original. They test it and, of course, encourage their clients to do the same. They also furnish resource sources and necessary citations to their clients so their clients can further review the originality of the work if they so choose.

    You will never find a good writer who will do work on spec. Good writing takes far too much time to write "Test pieces" and no pro will send an entire piece to a prospective client in hopes that he or she will like it well enough to pay for it. Once writing is in a client's hands, its printable. It can't be watermarked.

    Avoid students? -- Your inference is completely stereotypical. Right now, I think if you could throw rotten tomatoes over the Internet, you'd have a crowd of college students pelting you.

    Prefer what? Your last three points are total malarkey. So India is the only country that spawns great writers? And they all come from a single city there? 'Fraid not.

    Professional freelance writers manage a business. We set the rates and for most part, the terms of the agreement. Our clients don't decide when and what they will pay. We do. As business people we demand deposits and to allow an "option" to end the agreement at any time would certainly be a poor business practice. If that's the case, then why bother with an agreement at all? Ridiculous!
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  4. #4
    SitePoint Member stevetaylor's Avatar
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    Excellent tips. very practical. Thanks,

  5. #5
    SitePoint Enthusiast ScottyDM's Avatar
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    Linda, judging by your sig I can certainly see why this post has upset you. Perhaps it's not as bad as it looks (other than the prices quoted).

    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    What is "Rewording"? In my book that's the same thing as copyright infringement?
    I'm going to guess that "rewording" means the site owner/businessman might know red widgets inside and out, but he can't write for beans. Therefore he writes about red widgets then gives it to a "rewriter" to make it presentable. Sort of like editing on steroids.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    You will never find a good writer who will do work on spec. Good writing takes far too much time to write "Test pieces" and no pro will send an entire piece to a prospective client in hopes that he or she will like it well enough to pay for it. Once writing is in a client's hands, its printable. It can't be watermarked.
    He didn't say spec, he said little project first and expect to pay for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    Avoid students? -- Your inference is completely stereotypical. Right now, I think if you could throw rotten tomatoes over the Internet, you'd have a crowd of college students pelting you.
    True. Maybe better advice might be that if your writer is a college student, don't schedule a deadline for finals week.


    As far as scheduling payments, etc. that depends on the type of contract. I've done some technical consulting as an independent and have worked with NDAs (nondisclosure agreements) and both contract styles.

    The two contract types are: Time and Materials, and Firm Fixed Price. One could probably start a project one way then switch if both parties agree to it.

    Time and Materials is great when the client isn't quite sure what they want or no one is quite sure how much effort the project will take. The contract usually allows either party to walk away from the project with a minimal notice. What the client is buying is so many hours of the contractor's time and expertise. When a project goes well, the client gets the cheapest price. Hiring temps is like a Time and Materials contract. Billing is usually periodically, for example once a week, and there is usually not a pre-pay.

    Firm Fixed Price is great when the project is definable in a way that both client and contractor can agree on how the finished project will look. The client gets a firm price and if things go well the contractor gets extra profits. Such contracts are usually hard for either side to break without severe penalties, and payment is broken into milestones. It's commonly used in the construction industry so I'll use a construction example: Sign the contract and the client pays 20&#37;, when the ground work is done the client pays the next 20%, then when the shell is up and weather-tight the client pays another 20%, when the interior is complete the client pays another 20%, and finally when everything passes inspection and the client has walked through and likes what he sees he pays the final 20%. A writing job is probably not so complex you need lots of milestones: maybe half on signing the contract and half on final delivery. Payments don't need to be equal parts. When Firm Fixed Price contracts go bad everyone gets really pi$$y about it. The client sees it as impossibly late and the contractor sees it as a Death March Project. Sometimes it's cheaper to bail out and face a law suit or try to settle. When Firm Fixed Price contracts go well, everyone wins.

    I have done both.

    In one Time and Materials job the project was quite open-ended and the spec was just some vague hand-waving by the client, who was working from an equally vague description from his customer. About half-way though figuring out what the client really needed I realized the project as defined was far more complex than anyone had realized so I talked to the client, suggesting ways to scale back the project, or get other people involved. After talking with his customer he decided to drop the project. No harm, no foul.

    In another Firm Fixed Price project I had six milestones and got paid $9500 per invoice. Of course after the first milestone I had to deliver something before I could invoice the client. Also I'd miscalculated one aspect of the project and $9500 was not enough to cover the pain. After several 80-hour weeks the project was back on track and overall it worked out.

    Another critical issue is: who owns the rights to the results of the project? For a writing project it could go either way. If the client wants you to write about something very specific (e.g. a maintenance manual for red widgets), then the rights would typically go to the client. If they just want a few articles about anything related to a particular field (e.g. dog training articles for a site that sells dog biscuits) then possibly the rights could stay with the writer. The contract should specify this!

    Scotty
    "I'm obnoxious and disliked, you know that, sir."
    John Adams, 1776 the Musical

  6. #6
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    And the biggest tip:

    If you're hiring a writer for a website written in English, hire a native English speaking writer.

  7. #7
    Business Growth *******s, Inc
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    Shyflower, you're 100&#37; correct.

    Also I'd like to add that writers from those countries generally have bad grammar, thus you'll need a proofreader. In the end, using a proofreader is the best way to go - even with native English writers - if you want to come across as professional.

    Next to that I want to question about paying for a test assignment. While it is nice of you, I've found that the most eager people and those that know they're delivering great work will do a free test project if you can guarantee lots of work and reasonable rates afterwards.

    -Dave

  8. #8
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    ScottyDM:

    I don't have a problem with NDA's when they are warranted. My contracts define exactly what I will do and won't do as well as how I'll transfer copyright.

    My business model is Time & Materials and the terms are in my agreements. I don't know how familiar you are with writing on the web, but most webmasters have a budget. Writers need to give an estimate of the total project cost, so most projects, although billed for time and materials, are also quoted at a ceiling price.

    I've also written at the old-fashioned per-word fee. However, I find that limits my ability to cover my subject well as well as my clients ability to get responsible, in-depth content.

    When you freelance, there aren't one or two contract types. You try to make each project a good fit for your client.

    When the OP re-edited his post, he added the "pay him for the test project". I don't have a problem with that, except in that it's a waste of client dollars (ie, there's no value for dollar there). Most pros have a portfolio of finished work and can furnish references. There's really no need for test projects.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  9. #9
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy
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    I took the post for what it was, a thinly veiled, low information, content-per-ton "buy Kolkata India" commercial.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard angilina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by writer4me View Post
    1. You'll get writers that re-write for <snip> page/article. But do not expect them to be the best. They are ok for 're-wording' articles.
    2. For <snip> page you can get reasonably good professional writers.
    3. Test the originality of the content from time to time using copyscape.com. You may land in perfect trouble if you are using copied content.
    4. Test the new writer with a test project first; before giving the bulk of work. Pay him for the test project.
    5. See his work samples.
    6. Prefer the ones that are in trade for more than 2 years.
    7. Avoid students at all cost. They vanish suddenly during their exams.
    8. Sign a non disclosure agreement with your ghostwriter. He should keep the project details secret.
    9. Prefer writers from Kolkata, India. Kolkata (city) has the best writing talents in India.
    10. Prefer to pay fees over <snip> in installments rather than as one down payment.
    11. Keep an option to come out of the agreement at any time.
    How about, Just hire a writer from a freelance website. there are professional writers there, working as a freelance for years. They have ratings, and one can see all the feedbacks they have

  11. #11
    SitePoint Enthusiast ScottyDM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    When you freelance, there aren't one or two contract types. You try to make each project a good fit for your client.
    Of course. There are an infinite number of contracts, but only two basic contact types. It really doesn't matter what it is the client wants and the contractor will deliver--a house, computer chip, new product testing, technical manual, lawn mowing, or website content--there are only two basic contract types.

    In general (and for everyone) if you know precisely what you want and when you want it (as a client) then Firm Fixed Price works well. If you want the contractor at your beck and call and you want to explore possibilities and have the freedom to change your mind then Time and Materials works well. Problems arise when a project falls in between these extremes, or shifts from one style to the other and you don't renegotiate the contract. Also, some industries normally use one contract type, but I suspect for content writing it could go either way.

    FYI, the examples I used were for electronic engineering projects, not writing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    When the OP re-edited his post, he added the "pay him for the test project".
    Ahhh!

    Quote Originally Posted by DCrux View Post
    I took the post for what it was, a thinly veiled, low information, content-per-ton "buy Kolkata India" commercial.
    Did seem that way.


    As far as where to find your content writer, that depends on you. What do you need, and what are you comfortable with?

    A friend and I were discussing a concept for a content-heavy website. To really make a go of it and attract enough site visitors to be able to make money we realized we'd need thousands of articles and we'd need to keep adding new articles and updating old. The content was about a particular region and we envisioned an "army" of writers each equipped with a notebook computer, digital camera, and a GPS unit. Each writer would have a standing assignment like, "Find anything pertaining to ____, ____, or ____ then photograph it and write about it."

    We could pay them by the hour and make them employees (or go through a temp agency). Or we pay them by the word and photo (upon acceptance of the article) and make them independent contractors. With Time and Materials style employees we might become distracted by details like, "I thought you were going to do six articles this week, but you only did five. What happened?" Or we might wonder where they are and if they are working or slacking. Using Firm Fixed Price style contractors would free us from those concerns, but then the writers might wonder, "Are they going to buy this article or am I wasting my time?" On the other hand we wouldn't really care if the contractor did one usable article per week or ten. If we had lazy contractors we'd just get more of them.

    Well, we can't afford it so that idea is back on the shelf. However, it illustrates some of the trade offs that might go into hiring a content writer for a website. In our case, writers who are outside of our region would be worthless.

    Scotty
    "I'm obnoxious and disliked, you know that, sir."
    John Adams, 1776 the Musical

  12. #12
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    Nice guide for both content provider and buyers. Very helpful indeed. One should study them and utilize them.
    Thanks for the time and effort.

  13. #13
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    well, some good tips in here !!

  14. #14
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    The first time someone asked me to rewrite an article I was very skeptical. I wanted to know where the article came from and who it belonged to.

    Turns out it belonged to the client. They wanted it re-written to post on another website and avoid search engine penalties. I am so suspicious. I'm just glad I asked in a very polite way and retained my client and the project.

    As a rule I think all good writers are wary of plagiarism. It's kind of a "Do unto others..." golden rule situation.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Evangelist old_expat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by angilina View Post
    How about, Just hire a writer from a freelance website. there are professional writers there, working as a freelance for years. They have ratings, and one can see all the feedbacks they have
    Things on freelance sites are not always as they appear. On one site, which shall remain anon, I contracted for the writer of a sample article to do a series of articles on my topic.

    It was easy for me to see that the articles I got were written by someone else, and certainly not a native English speaker. I rejected the articles with a longish explanation citing phrases and paragraphs.

    I was offered a significantly reduced price to accept the articles, and an even lower one to give them a good rating.

  16. #16
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by old_expat View Post
    Things on freelance sites are not always as they appear. On one site, which shall remain anon, I contracted for the writer of a sample article to do a series of articles on my topic.

    It was easy for me to see that the articles I got were written by someone else, and certainly not a native English speaker. I rejected the articles with a longish explanation citing phrases and paragraphs.

    I was offered a significantly reduced price to accept the articles, and an even lower one to give them a good rating.
    ewwww! I certainly hope your reported the guy! It's writers like that who give a bad name to all freelancers!

    Quote Originally Posted by eFYI View Post
    The first time someone asked me to rewrite an article I was very skeptical. I wanted to know where the article came from and who it belonged to.

    Turns out it belonged to the client. They wanted it re-written to post on another website and avoid search engine penalties. I am so suspicious. I'm just glad I asked in a very polite way and retained my client and the project.

    As a rule I think all good writers are wary of plagiarism. It's kind of a "Do unto others..." golden rule situation.
    Precisely! I think every Internet good writer has experienced the utter frustration and rage of having his/her work plagiarized. However, a lot of clients may not be aware that copyright covers more than hard cover books. Here's a t ip:

    Put into your quotes and/or project agreements:

    The Client warrants that all material furnished to the Copywriter is the sole intellectual property of the client and does not infringe on any copyright, violate any property rights or contain any scandalous, libelous, or unlawful matter.

    The Copywriter warrants that all delivered copy is original and created either from the Copywriter’s independent research or from previously written material that was furnished by the Client and that to the best of the Copywriter's knowledge, the Work does not infringe on any copyright, violate any property rights, or contain any scandalous, libelous, or unlawful matter. As such, the Copywriter additionally warrants that the Copywriter has complete authority to transfer any and all intellectual property rights associated with this work to the Client.
    IANAL so I am not saying these clauses will hold up in court, but they often do generate questions from prospective clients who aren't aware of copyright issues and they are, in my un-legal opinion, a first defense against plagiarism charges.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown


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