In the time I’ve had the past 2 weeks to work on my new niche site, I’ve been focused on 2 things:
- Hiring a great writer and getting my first post up
- Building the foundations of an email list
I’ve accomplished the first of the 2 tasks, but I’m still finishing up the second. Details to follow…
Before you hire a writer…
I think it goes without saying that before you hire a writer, you need to know what you need in a writer.
What do I mean by this?
Well, frankly it isn’t enough to just hire the best and/or cheapest writer you can find on Elance or Fiverr (god forbid). The second criterion is actually just as important, if not more so. Ready for it?
Your writer should be an expert or at the very least, knowledgable about your niche
When I outsourced my first article at TopRatedCoffeeMakers.com, I simply looked for a writer who had great feedback and a nice portfolio. In other words, I looked for a great writer.
But I didn’t check to see if she was actually knowledgable about coffee making. Doh!
Her articles were good…but they were pretty formulaic. They didn’t wow me. It also seemed that she didn’t do the extra research that I, myself was doing about each coffee maker I reviewed.
So the bottom line is that your best candidate as a writer is the one who is not only good at writing, but also very knowledgable (and ideally, passionate) about the niche you’ve chosen.
Don’t forget your editorial “calendar”
As I mentioned in the previous post in this series, you should have a list of article topics/titles ready to go.
Don’t worry too much about keywords and keyword stuffing, just make sure the content you plan to create is relevant to your niche.
So what did my RFP look like?
In the RFP (request for proposal) I sent out, I didn’t ask for much. Here were the 3 main components:
- I asked for someone who had experience in my niche.
- So say hypothetically my niche was about X-box games…then my RFP would say something like this: “must play x-box games on a regular basis and have ample knowledge about x-box games”
- I asked for writing samples, ideally about the niche.
- By looking at someone’s previous work, you can get a good sense for their writing style.
- I knew that I wanted a writer who wrote with their own personality and not too formally or formulaically. Mechanical writers are not unique…and nobody likes to read their work. Anybody that wrote too stiffly was filtered out from my search.
- I asked for a quote for 500, 750, and 1000 words.
- Almost every freelance writer charges by quantity of words. While this is kind of a shame, there’s nothing you can really do to avoid it. What I did with the writer I chose was give him the option of producing the best article he could in as few words as possible. While this may not deter the writer from writing 1000 words of garbage, at least I am emphasizing that I’m looking for quality.
- I signed my name at the bottom.
- I do this so the contractor can address me personally in their proposal. If they don’t address me personally, I know that there is a good chance they didn’t read the RFP carefully and/or don’t care very much about doing great work. Think about it…did you ever send out a cover letter to a prospective employer (that you wanted to hire you) without addressing it personally? Didn’t think so.
- Some people like to include arbitrary instructions somewhere in their proposals to make sure the applicants read the RFP…you know, something like: “write the words ‘purple rhinoceros’ at the end of the proposal so I know you read this.” While I’ve tried this in the past, I think putting your name at the end is good enough and not as ridiculous.
Here is a sample RFP:
“I’m looking for somebody that not only writes well, but also plays water polo at the competitive or recreational level. It’s a definite plus if you know a lot about water polo drills.
Please include some samples of your work as well as your experience, and quote for a 500, 750, and 1000 word article.
I will really only be considering writers who play water polo, so please don’t bother applying if you don’t.
Putting your writer(s) to the test
I actually hired two writers. One of the writers I hired seemed to be the perfect fit based on what I described above. The other seemed to know a bit about my niche and wrote a great proposal. I decided to hire them both and have each write their own articles.
Whoever wrote the better one I planned to re-hire for future articles.
And the outcome? Well, writer #1 exceeded my expectations with a great article that I will be using as my lead magnet (more on this later). He also agreed to create a few videos for an extra $25 demonstrating the things he described in the article. I asked him to do this because I wanted to make my lead magnet even more valuable.
Writer #2 on the other hand didn’t get back to me for a week. In fact, I had to follow up with him. He claimed Elance was giving him issues, which I can’t say I really believe, but he promised to deliver the work within 24 hours if I emailed him the specifications off of Elance. So we’ll see what happens with that one.
In the meantime, writer #1 has already written another article for me that I’ve added to the site as my first post.
So I finally have some content live on the site. Woohoo!
Now, about the e-mail list…
I want to collect names and e-mails of my niche site’s visitors so I can keep people coming back. So before I added my first post, I brainstormed ideas for lead magnets (as I like to call them) I could promote in exchange for names and emails.
At topratedcoffeemakers.com I wrote an ebook that was a coffee maker buying guide. It doesn’t convert very well, so I wanted to make sure the lead magnet(s) I created for this site were much better.
Anyways, I came up with something I think will be very valuable to people in this market. It will also be multimedia with text and video…so I feel like this will be an additional selling point I can use in my copy.
I’ve already setup some web forms on my site to collect these names and emails.
I may also use Opt-in Skin for some after-post forms (and possibly sidebars), but I haven’t had nearly as much success conversion-wise with this plugin as I’ve had with MD3’s built-in forms.
I’m not exactly sure what my autoresponder series will be about, but I’m going to take the Pat Flynn road here and only provide value in these emails. I won’t try and sell anything through my email list, except for my own content (which will be free).
Costs and earnings
My costs have gone up since hiring my writers. I suspect article writers will be my only major costs from this point on.
- Web Domain – $8.99 (1 year)
- Web Hosting – Added for “free” to my hosting account, which is $120.87/yr
- Thesis 2 for WordPress – free upgrade
- Marketer’s Delight 3 skin – free upgrade
- Content Writers via Elance.com – $91.18 (3 articles)
- Video Content Creation via Elance.com – 27.40
I haven’t setup any of my monetization vehicles yet.
OK, so I think that is enough info to digest for now. Over the next few weeks my strategy is going to be to consistently pump out content and start organizing it nicely on my site. I also plan to connect with a few of the top bloggers in this niche by getting involved in their comments sections/forums/social media profiles as much as I can.
Please share your comments and questions below!