I've been wanting to publish more content on my site. So I decided to hire a writer to help.
It turns out that there are tons of places to hire writers online:
So I thought:
Why not waste a bunch of money and turn this into a big experiment?
So I tested 17 different websites for hiring writers and outsourcing content. I spent an embarrassing amount of money. And by the end of it, I'd reviewed 359 articles from hundreds of writers.
The results were a minefield.
34% of the articles were plagiarized or "spun" (stolen, but with slight tweaks to make it harder to catch).
18% were AI-written nonsense.
And many writers included irrelevant links to low-quality sites. Probably in order to charge other clients for link-building services.
Surprisingly, these issues came up at practically every pricing tier. Whether the fee was under $0.01/word or over $0.50.
Whether through a job board, a freelance platform or a content-writing service.
Some sites even reinforced bad behavior.
For example, I wouldn't recommend any site that offers article spinning as a service.
Or any platform that lets writers hide unfavorable client reviews. (I'm looking at you, Verblio. Both Verblio writers I tested sent me plagiarized articles.)
Luckily, a few sites were much, much better.
Here were my favorites:
Best writing service: Express Writers
It's more expensive than a content mill — but a bargain for the quality.
$600 got me a 2k-word article at their "authority content" tier.
It was clear and concise. Well-structured and well-researched. And backed up with good examples and links to relevant resources. I gave it a 4 out of 5 for content quality.
Best inexpensive and fast writers: WriterAccess
At $0.15 per word for their most expensive tier, I didn't expect WriterAccess to be very good.
It isn't as good as Express Writers. But it might have the best price-to-quality ratio of any option out there. I gave it a 3.5 out of 5 for writing quality.
And it only took 4 days to get a 1,600-word article.
Best budget content mill: iWriter
iWriter's pricing ranges from under $0.01 to $0.07 per word.
I spent $145 for a 2k-word blog post.
The writing won't blow your socks off.
But from my testing, the quality coming out of iWriter beats every other budget content mill.
I only gave it at 1.5 out of 5 for writing quality. But that's good enough for low-competition affiliate blogs. Or anyone who thinks quantity > quality.
Best writing jobs board: ProBlogger Jobs
I bet half the pro writers in the world have applied to jobs on ProBlogger.
You can use it to find freelancers for one-off or ongoing projects. Or to recruit full-timers.
A $75 job listing gets you dozens and dozens of applicants. If not 100+.
Alternatively, another great — and free — writing job board is reddit's r/HireaWriter subreddit.
My listing there brought me 85 applications within a week.
When using any job board, I recommend setting up a Google Form for your application process instead of using their application management system. (Because when you're dealing with that many applicants, you need to be able to quickly glance through them.)
Best freelance platform: Upwork
The haters are wrong. I've hired 60 Upwork freelancers over the years.
But with so many low-quality freelancers there, it can be like finding a needle in a haystack. The key is having the right hiring process. Otherwise you'll waste a lot of time.
For this experiment, I hired two different writers on Upwork. One interesting thing about Upwork is that you don't always get what you pay for.
The first writer charged me $0.40/word, and I would give her writing quality a 2 out of 5. Not good.
The second writer charged $0.10/word, and his writing was a 3.5 out of 5. Pretty decent! Good enough for most blogs, and great for the price.
(Note: People Per Hour is a good alternative to Upwork if you don't mind British English. But I don't recommend their Fiverr-style individual services. Just stick to the freelance marketplace side.)
I published lots more details about this experiment in a blog post yesterday.
That post includes:
Plus more detailed reviews of all 17 sites, with writing excerpts of the work I received.
Check it out if you're curious: https://growthbadger.com/hire-a-writer/