This guide specifically deals with how we find reliable and good quality writers on oDesk to create high quality content in our eCommerce stores. As of April 2014, I am finding it harder to source good quality writers who have considerable oDesk experience. I have now changed my tactics to look for freelancers who have only just signed up to the oDesk platform.

On oDesk, there are hundreds of thousands of copywriters and finding one is easy enough. The problem I used to have was how to pick out and hire the really good ones. After years of experience, filtering out the good copywriters from the not-so-good ones is something that I have learned to do effectively and quickly. In this module, I will teach you exactly how I do it.

Step 1: Search And Filter Copywriters

The first step is to filter out all the freelancers under the Writing and Translation category, specifically Blog and Article Writing. This search yields 155,110 results – a number far too large to be manageable.

What you need to do is to narrow down the search by using the filters.

  • Select contractors with 4.5 to 5 Star ratings.
  • Set the rate to just a little above the minimum of what you are looking to pay.
  • Select only active freelancers; ones that have more hours worked and have been active in the past two weeks.
  • Select contractors who are near your time zone in order to work and communicate with them more easily.
  • Ignore the English Level option. This is self-assessed by the contractor.
  • Select independent contractors.
  • Ignore the Tests.

After refining your search results, you will now have narrowed down your search to 800+ contractors.

Step 2: Identify The Best Copywriters

Even after filtering all these contractors, 885 is still too large a number. These are the steps I take to further narrow down the search.

  • Search for “ESL” (English as Second Language) Teachers.

ESL Teachers have been trained in grammar and actively teach other people who use English as their second language. This means that these contractors are usually better at paying attention to spelling, sentence construction, and punctuation therefore making them better writers.

  • Check their profiles.

The two most important things to look at are their overview and their feedbacks to clients. Compare these two. Their overview is something that they most likely were more meticulous at writing and is more polished, but the feedback they give to clients is something not immediately visible and shows how they “naturally” write.

Even if a contractor’s overview is excellently written, if the feedback that they give has too many errors like misplaced punctuation, improper capitalization, or wrong grammar, I do not hire that contractor.

  • Pay attention to how they write and not necessarily to what they are saying.

Naturally, a contractor’s overview will only contain all the good things about them. Nobody is going to tell you their weaknesses. The trick is to look into HOW they write. Again, pay attention to things like grammar, punctuation, and sentence construction.

Step 3: Contact These Contractors

Now that you have filtered out the contractors you do not want to hire and are left with a more manageable number, the next step is to contact them.

I use three pre-written scripts; a job brief, a private message to the contractor, and an offer for a paid trial. I will tell you about the purposes of each and their basic structure.

Script 1: Job Brief

This is script will be your first communication with your potential copywriter.

First Script for  Copywriters

  • Keep the job brief short and concise.
  • Include the requirements.
    • This not only tells the contractors what kind of people you are looking for but also serves as a reminder for you of what you are looking for.
  • Include instructions on how to apply for the job.
    • In this section, you can ask them to take a Grammar Test. This not only lets you know if they have a firm grasp of the English language but how good they are at following instructions.
    • You can create a Grammar Test with Google Docs forms and there are many tutorials online on how to make these forms.
    • Another thing I ask is for them to give me their opinion on a certain website. This is a unique way for me to check their grammar abilities and how intelligently they can respond.

Script 2: Private Message

After posting a job brief, I return to those contractors that I have selected as the best and contact them. This is where the second script is used. This first private communication between the contractor and I is basically an introduction to the job.

First private communication with a copywriter

  • Ask them a question about something in their profile.
    • For example, I can ask a contractor about their previous work as an English teacher and how they liked it or about a unique topic they have written about. This usually gets them to talk to me and starts the conversation.
  • Give a short introduction of your company.
    • Some people will want to know what your business is and what you can offer them.
  • Include the tasks of the job.
    • This immediately lets people know if your job is suitable to them.

If you catch their attention, they will look at your job brief again narrowing down the numbering and culling out those who do not reply or those whose replies you are not satisfied with.

Script 3: Paid Trial

The last and final script is an offer for a paid trial. Usually there will be 3-5 contractors left at this point. The reason for the trial is to find out how well they can deliver the work that I require and I prefer to pay them for them to be motivated and not feel like they are working for nothing. These are the best contractors you have found out of 155,000+ writers and should definitely be worth the money.

Offering a paid trial

Step 4. Offer An Hourly Contract

On oDesk, you are able to see your employees’ progress with the Time App if you are on an hourly contract. Screenshots are taken of the contractor’s work and you can oversee what they are doing, how they are going about the task, if they are actually writing or just copying and pasting, etc.

I usually limit their work to three hours and inform them that the contract will end in a certain time.

The project brief is the details of the trial task. It indicates the topic, audience, and format. This lets informs them of everything they need to know to create the article. I also include where their article could be published so they can look through that website and get some examples of what it should look like.

Include the aims of the task.

Again, this is not only a reminder for them but a reminder for me. Once they have submitted their work, I look back on this list of aims and check whether they have met that. This is another way to cull out the ones that are not fit for the job.

After these contractors have completed the task, you can now easily choose which one you want to hire based on their performance. You will now have good and able copywriter.

Final Checklist

  • Search for ESL Teachers. They have training, ability, and experience.
  • Use pre-written hiring scripts to get their attention.
  • Use Google Forms and a simple, unique question to cull candidates quickly.
  • Give a paid trial to at least 3 copywriters based on the General Interest Articles Process.
  • Check their work against the GIA checklist.
  • Keep them by offering them more.