Pros and cons of hiring content writers online

Perhaps I need to start this blog post with an apology.

I posted a (fake) writing assignment on and held my breath, about three minutes or so. That’s how long it took the first freelancer to respond to my request “to do some blog posting.”

Since I am a content writer I felt I should check out the competition on a site such as The website claims over 18 million registered users.

About six additional freelancers followed in quick succession to let me know they would like to complete my assignment. Another dozen or so took a few days to send me an email. That’s an impressive and quick response rate. The website calculated the average cost quoted by the candidates. Each freelancer gets rated (up to five stars) and reviewed by clients. So far, so good!

Next, I completed a quick review of the candidates’ profiles. Allow me to summarize my findings: If a person can’t submit a basic bio, maybe said person shouldn’t moonlight as a freelance writer.

Here are two typical bios of writers with five stars:

“Being a platinum level expert ezine author and having 4 years of writing expertise (articles, rewriting, blogs, ghostwriting etc), I am fully confident that I can deliver you high quality, plagiarism free, seo friendly and error free articles within the earliest possible time and also at an affordable price. Please check my portfolio for samples.” (A 52-words sentence with multiple errors!)

“i am H. G., a first class degree holder of Geography/Environmental management and also a full-time professional writer. I write articles, SEO, Press releases, Academic assignments and Technical writings. With my services, your project shall be delivered as at when requested and also of the highest standards. Your satisfaction is my primary objective.”

freelancer2Next, the website sent me an avalanche of email with interesting subject lines. See illustration.

Next, I closed down the fake job and my account. My apologies to the candidates!

Does it make sense to hire through a website such as Based on my initial experience, I would proceed with caution.

Surprisingly, the average rate quoted by the candidates came in at $80/hour. My assignment didn’t specify the amount of writing or research required. Nevertheless, that isn’t exactly cheap and in line with rates charged by many professional freelance writers in Toronto.

Looking for a qualified content writer who is registered with a professional association and accountable to a peer group? A person who knows your local market and Canadian context? Who is aware of differences in American, Canadian or British spelling, punctuation, vocab, measurements, currencies and preferences?

In the GTA, I suggest you visit PWAC or PIC, a group of Indies who are also members of IABC. And, of course, I’d love to hear from you at any time.




Cash and content are king in our digital world

cartoonby Nandy Heule

An SEO marketing company recently plastered simple flyers on telephone poles to advertise their services in mid-town Toronto.

One of their offers included “content bundles.” For example, three articles and 40 social media posts each month will cost you $99 for 1,500 words.

Maybe it sounds self-serving, but I’m concerned about this service offering.

The general consensus now suggests “content is king.” Your online info will be read if it is of serious interest to the readers you are targeting as well as SEO-friendly. Moreover, such content needs to be free of grammatical errors, typos and plagiarism.

A steady trickle of new, quality content will improve search engine performance. Such blog posts and news updates showcase an organization’s experience, creativity, and commitment to excellence. Quality content helps build influence and reputation, not just web traffic. It builds brand and bottom lines.

It makes sense to hire an experienced freelance writer who can work with rough notes, industry research, client success stories and other materials. She can turn such information into compelling copy — content that tells a brand story, demonstrates positive impact, and builds influence. Please plan to pay more than $99 for 1,500 words for this process. But, be confident that what you look like online matches the quality work you provide.

If the content marketing budget can’t exceed $99 a month, talk to a good writer who can produce 1 or 2 pieces of quality material. Less may very well be more!  A client testimonial, an industry event, an inspirational quote, a staff bio, an image with a caption, or a factoid can all provide strong content on a limited budget.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need a Toronto-based freelance writer to have a look at your content and evaluate its effectiveness.