You can have the best web developers and graphic designers create a beautiful, functional homepage. Expert social media managers can help increase your brand presence and recognition. However, all these wouldn’t matter if you don’t have content – the heart and soul of your website. As you surmised, there are literally thousands of Filipino freelance writers for hire (Benitez, 2016). All you need to do is find the right person – someone who is excellent and highly reliable.
Hire Filipino Freelance Writers for the Right Reason
Many online freelancer platforms sell the notion that Filipino remote workers are cheap. As disgusting as that sounds, I do have to agree. You might as well hire locally if the pay rate is the same as in your country unless there is a unique circumstance requiring someone from the Philippines. Therefore, the usual practice is to offer or put a cap on compensation plans based on the minimum wage.
How has this worked out for you?
Here are some typical problems you may have encountered:
- Submitted articles don’t make sense
- Discovering you were provided plagiarized content
- Cheating the time tracker by padding up the hours worked
- Freelancers bailing out on you without a word
- Losing someone talented
To be fair, these issues aren’t exclusive to Filipinos as crappy freelancers. I can even go as far as to say that there are plenty of lousy employers, which is why they keep encountering the same problems.
Your mistake is to offer a pay rate based on the Philippines’ minimum wage instead of service quality.
Never assume that you’re the only employer offering a competitive rate. Hence, if you try to hire a freelancer to write 1,000 words for $10, you only attract people “aspiring” to earn $10 per article. The better writers who rightfully deserve to be compensated higher simply ignore you.
Can you find “affordable” freelance writers who are good enough?
In my experience, I have met plenty of aspiring freelancers who are either good enough or learned on the job to become excellent writers. Although some of them leave for the proverbial greener pasture, most others stay (because Filipinos generally are loyal people, especially when they feel appreciated).
Try to go cheap on the great writers, and you’re back to square one.
Hiring Excellent and Reliable Filipino Content Writers Is a Process
Understand that hiring Filipino freelancers isn’t a privilege you grant to people in a “third-world” country or a hell hole. In as much as the remote workers profit from the livelihood, you are also benefitting – perhaps much more so. As a matter of fact, most employers could not have had the opportunity to launch a business if not for the Philippine gig economy.
Would you happen to be one of them?
Once you’ve hired and worked with enough people, you should already know what to expect from your compensation rate. $10 for 1000 words, for sure, is not the same as $20 or more.
Instead of sticking to perceived market rates, pay according to the perceived value of the content.
Here’s something that you may not realize. If you have a good web content strategy and structure in place and well-written articles, each article’s value in conjunction with others increases over time. Your website becomes more authoritative and trustworthy. Along with prestige, your site becomes more prominent in search results. Only the best freelance writers can do that for you, and they need to be appropriately compensated.
Can offering higher rates guarantee that you’ll hire better and more reliable freelance writers?
Unfortunately, no. But when you find deserving writers, you’re more likely to keep them.
I. Understand and Break the Cultural Barrier
You may be a likable employer. But even if you hired a hard-working Filipino freelancer, your relationship may not be smooth. It can’t be the language barrier. English is the secondary and one of the official languages of the Philippines.
Bridging the gap between cultural differences promotes a better working relationship. The burden is on you, not only on Filipino freelance writers.
Plenty of companies that found massive success with the Filipino workforce in the BPO industry broke the cultural barrier. By nature, Filipino people love to please and serve, which is why the service sector accounts for 61% of the country’s GDP (Plecher, 2020).
Filipinos are family-oriented. Not only do they live in large households (by western standards), but they also provide for their entire family. Yes, the more people, the more distractions. But these are the people that fuel their desire to persevere, keep learning, and excelling at work.
Visitors of the country can bring back photos of remarkable sights. Their lasting memory, however, is the warmth and friendship offered by the people. Filipinos are friendly, helpful, and respectful. They say yes even if it really is no or are unsure – not only because they are shy but also to avoid offending.
Not speaking up can lead to misunderstanding. Encourage freelancers to ask if they do not understand instructions or need clarification – you may have to do this a few times. Ask for their opinion, and you may discover gems. Make them feel human and appreciated, and they will reward you with loyalty and dedication.
As an employer, know that most Filipino freelancers tend to do more than is required and keep it to themselves. Smash the cultural barrier, and you can get the most out of the relationship.
II. Vetting Applicants
Suppose you’re asking for the sun and the moon. You should at least know some of the stars. You may not be a writer, but you should know enough to make sound judgment when hiring people.
How do you post jobs?
Serious applicants need details. It is nearly impossible to pitch when writers do not know your specific needs – such as topic, type of article, level of detail, intended audience.
How do you evaluate candidates?
You have your way of screening applicants but let’s compare notes. Here’s my process.
- I always ask applicants to apply by email. Following instructions as provided is of utmost importance. Fail to do so, and they and up in the archive.
- For the remaining applicants, I read their samples. Usually, I run them through grammar and plagiarism checkers. Once satisfied, I break down the article to analyze the content. Some of the things I consider are:
- Reader-friendly structure and organization with the effective use of headings
- Enough details provided in each section
- A clear message in each paragraph, not mixed up
- Good flow of idea from one sentence (and paragraph) to the next
- Focused on the subject matter
- Non-essential but helpful information kept to a minimum
- No excessive word padding or keyword stuffing
- As part of evaluating samples, I have to gauge the potential of applicants. One of the indicators I specifically look for is a sign of analytical thinking – a common trait of excellent writers.
- I ask for a trial article to test comprehension levels. It also helps me eliminate those who submitted heavily-edited samples (by someone else).
- I also ask them to explain their understanding of SEO and workflow.
III. Keeping Dependable Freelancers
There are literally thousands of potential applicants for crappy articles. As you may already know from first-hand experience, the higher the quality of content required, the fewer the qualified freelance writers – and they charge higher rates. Granted that you are compensating them properly, how can you ensure that they do not leave and take their services elsewhere?
For one, do not be an asshole because that is the number one reason employees leave (Goler, Gale, Harrington, & Grant, 2018). Being the professional that you are, I suppose this is not an issue.
Your loss becoming someone else’s problem is better than losing someone talented for someone else’s gain, for that would be a pity.
In basketball, a coach’s job is to design strategies and plays that put the players in the best position to score or defend. Once you find talented freelancers, you can put a lid on their potential by giving them tasks the same way you do as others. Or, you can exploit their potential by giving them more responsibilities. Let them grow as they help your business grow, and give them their due compensation.
Besides compensation, you can keep your best freelancers by not depriving them of their rights to fair labor practices. For example, offer to share in the cost of social services and health insurance. Holidays are a time for the family to get together. You can provide paid leaves (if hiring full-time).
Finding and Retaining the Best Freelance Writers Is a Choice
Only recently, I asked about a writing gig. What happened next was “highly unexpected” – to say the least. The client, as I like to call employers, and I never had a discussion. Instead, I received an email with a link to expectations and pay rates. He added me to a platform giving me access to the rest of the team (other writers), completed, pending, and upcoming tasks.
I did not take that job.
The best Filipino freelance writers know their value and choose clients the same way employers choose employees.
It is a great privilege for freelancers to work with the best employers and companies. Likewise, the best clients are also the ones who value deserving people.
Finding talented freelancers is not an easy task. You can screen the applicants to eliminate nuisance and unqualified applicants. By analyzing samples and trial articles, you may find suitable writers. Yet, until you have worked with them, there is no guarantee that they will be excellent at what they do. You can’t even be sure if they have the right attitude, dedication, and professionalism.
If this has been a frustrating process, you are not alone. A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey showed 68% of HR professionals having difficulty filling up positions for their organizations.
Given all the challenges of landing yourself truly excellent Filipino freelance writers, the best you can do for the gems is to do everything possible to keep them.
Sources and Further Reading:
Benitez, C. (2016, October 12). The State of Freelancing in the Philippines. Retrieved November 02, 2020, from https://blog.payoneer.com/freelancers/industry-tips-fl/state-freelancing-philippines/
Plecher, H. (2020, July 28). Philippines: Share of Economic Sectors in the Gross Domestic Product 2019. Retrieved November 04, 2020, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/578787/share-of-economic-sectors-in-the-gdp-in-philippines/
Goler, L., Gale, J., Harrington, B., & Grant, A. (2018, January 11). Why People Really Quit Their Jobs. Retrieved November 04, 2020, from https://hbr.org/2018/01/why-people-really-quit-their-jobs