You can have the best developers and graphic designers create a beautiful homepage. But more than anything, it is content that drives an audience to your site. And that is why you must hire reliable content writers. Once you find your gems, use effective retention techniques to keep them.
Hire Reliable Content Writers for the Right Reasons
Many online freelancer platforms sell the notion that Filipino freelancers are cheap. I agree but only to a degree. If the pay rate is the same as in your country, why bother hiring remote workers? Unfortunately, some clients put a cap on salary based on the minimum wage in the Philippines.
How has that worked out for you?
Here are some problems you may have encountered:
- Submitted articles don’t make sense
- Discovering a freelance writer providing plagiarized content
- Cheating the time tracker by padding up the hours worked
- Freelancers bailing out on you without a word
- Losing talented freelancers
These issues, in fairness, aren’t exclusive to freelancers. I can also say there are lousy clients, so they keep encountering the same problems.
It is a mistake is to offer a pay rate based on minimum wage in the Philippines instead of service quality.
If you try to hire a freelancer for $10 per 1,000 words, you only attract “aspiring” writers. The truly talented writers, on the other hand, ignore you.
Is it possible to find “affordable” freelance content writers who are good enough?
I have met plenty of average content writers. Some of them later became excellent writers. But Like in traditional employment, they leave for the proverbial greener pasture. But Filipinos are loyal people. Many of them tend to stay, especially when they feel appreciated.
Try to go cheap on talented writers, and you’re back to square one.
Hiring Reliable Filipino Freelance Writers Is a Process
Hiring Filipino freelancers isn’t a privilege you grant to “third-world” country people. As much as remote workers profit from their livelihood, you are also benefiting – much more so. For instance, many clients could not have launched and sustained their businesses if they had not tapped into the Philippine gig economy.
Would you happen to be one of them?
Once you’ve hired and worked with enough freelancers, you’d already know what to expect from your compensation rate. Most likely, $10 for 1000 words 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. Suppose you have a good web content strategy, structure, and well-written articles. In that case, each article’s value in conjunction with others increases over time. Your website becomes more authoritative and trustworthy. Along with prestige, your website also becomes more prominent in search results. Only the best freelance writers can do that for you. Hence, you have to compensate them accordingly.
Is paying higher rates an assurance you’ll be hiring talented freelance writers?
Unfortunately, no. But you’ll have better chances.
1. Understanding and Breaking the Cultural Barrier
You may have come across some issues with freelancers before. Other than typical problems encountered, one factor you should not overlook is culture. By bridging this gap, you can have a better working relationship.
Many companies that found massive success with the Filipino workforce in the BPO industry broke the cultural barrier. Filipinos, by nature, love to please and serve – which is why the service sector accounts for 61% of the country’s GDP (O’Neill).
Filipinos are family-oriented. They live in large households (by western standards) and usually provide for their entire family. Yes, the more people, the more distractions. But these people fuel their desire to persevere, keep learning, and excel at work.
Visitors to the country can bring back photos of remarkable sights. For many of them, their lasting memory is the warmth and friendship offered by the people. Filipinos are friendly, helpful, and respectful. They say “yes” even if it is “no” or are unsure – not because they are shy but also to avoid offending you. Not speaking up, as a result, can lead to misunderstanding.
Encourage freelancers to ask if they need to clarify instructions. Ask them, too, and you may discover gems. Make them feel human and appreciated. Reward them with dedication and loyalty.
One more thing. Many Filipino freelancers tend to do more than asked for and keep it to themselves. Smash the cultural barrier, and you can get the most out of the relationship.
2. 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 judgments when hiring people.
How do you post jobs?
Serious applicants need details. It is impossible to make a compelling pitch when applicants do not know what you need. They need information such as topics, article type, level of detail, and intended audience.
How do you check 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 end 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 in each section
- A clear message in each paragraph, not mixed up
- Good flow of ideas 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 applicants’ potential. One of the indicators is signs of analytical thinking – a common trait of talented writers.
- I ask for a custom-written trial article to test their comprehension skill. It also helps me drop those who submitted heavily edited samples.
- Lastly, I ask them to explain their understanding of SEO and workflow.
3. Keeping Reliable Freelancers
There are thousands of potential applicants for crappy articles. You may know from first-hand experience that the higher the quality of content required, the fewer qualified freelance writers. Not only that, but they also charge higher rates. Granted that you are compensating them accordingly, how can you ensure they do not leave and take their “talent” elsewhere?
Do not be an asshole because that is the top reason employees leave (Goler et al.). Being the professional you are, I suppose that is not an issue.
Your loss becoming someone else’s problem is better than losing a talented freelance writer for someone else’s gain, for that would be a pity.
In basketball, a coach’s job is to develop strategies and plays to put players in the best position to score or defend. Similarly, you want to allow your freelance writers to excel. For instance, you could give them more responsibilities. Let them grow as they help your business grow, and give them their due compensation.
You can take the relationship to a higher level 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, so try providing paid leaves if they work full-time.
Finding and Keeping the Best Freelance Writers Is a Choice
Only recently, I asked about a writing gig. What happened next was “unexpected.” The client and I never had a discussion. Instead, I received an email containing a link to their expectations and pay rates. He also added me to their project management platform. In doing so, I gained 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 clients choose freelancers.
It is a great privilege for freelancers to work with the best clients. 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 drop 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 hiring freelancers has been a frustrating process, you are not alone. An HR professionals survey showed 68% having difficulty filling up positions for their organizations (Schramm).
Given all the challenges of hiring talented Filipino freelance writers, the best you can do for the gems is to do everything possible to keep them.
Sources and Further Reading
Goler, Lori, et al. “Why People Really Quit Their Jobs.” Harvard Business Review, 11 Jan. 2018. Accessed 28 Apr. 2021.
O’Neill, Aaron. “Philippines: Share of Economic Sectors in the Gross Domestic Product 2017.” Statista, 1 Apr. 2021. Accessed 28 Apr. 2021.
Schramm, Jen. “Survey: Qualified Workers Are Harder to Find.” Society for Human Resource Management, 1 June 2016. Accessed 28 Apr. 2021.