How to get million dollar content on a pauper’s budget

Funny sign for hiring piano player

Podcast Version

Steve got my attention with 3 words the other day.

“Great email Jon.”

Naturally, I opened and read his email.  Flattery works.

He goes on…

“I’m reluctant to hand research over to someone else as it feels like I’m giving up a lot of the control on my site, but it’s really the next big hurdle I need to overcome. Any thoughts?”

I gave Steve a thoughtful and timely response.

I started with “I have lots of thoughts.”

I knew right away his question would be a blog post because I have lots to say on this.

More importantly, I get lots of emails from readers who struggle with the content side of blogging.

Here goes.

A.  Million dollar content… seriously?

It’s an exaggeration… kinda.  If you publish enough good content and some of it ranks in search, you just might make a million.

HINT: Good enough is good enough.  It doesn’t need to be perfect.

What’s good enough?

This joke perfectly explains “good enough”:

Two guys are in the jungle when they see a lion running towards them. Frantically, one of the men starts putting on his running shoes.

Surprised, the other man says ” What are you thinking, you can’t outrun a lion!!!”

“I don’t have to outrun the lion,” said the man, ” I just have to outrun you.”

Likewise, your content just has to be better than what’s already out there.

I’m not suggesting you publish garbage.

My point here is don’t get all tied up in a knot over perfection. There is no perfect article.  There are bad articles, good articles and great articles.  How can something so subjective be perfect?  Do your best and move on.

You’re going to make mistakes. Last night a visitor to one of my sites told me via the contact form that I had wrong pricing info in an article.  It was a bad mistake, but it happens.  I thanked her profusely for visiting and for taking the time to tell me about it.  I fixed it immediately.

B. “Reluctant to hand over research to someone else…”

What if Henry Ford refused to hire people to build his cars because he feared they couldn’t do it as well as him?

I’ll tell the what.  He’d have sold 50 cars in his lifetime if he was lucky.  Ford Motor Co. wouldn’t exist.  We wouldn’t have the Ford F150 truck (perish the thought).

If you want to control everything and write every word for fear of mistakes, be my guest.

Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post.  How many articles do you think he writes each week?

You get the point.

If you want to grow a niche site, you need help.

It’s different if you blog under your name and publish a few posts each month selling courses etc. In that case, you’re an influencer.  Every word matters.  You’re a blogger in the traditional sense.  It’s you people read.  Write away.  Kinda like this site. I write 99% of the stuff.

With evergreen niche sites, you gotta outsource.

Okay, we’ve decided outsourcing is required.  What’s next?

C. Three ways to get million dollar content without taking out a second mortgage

1. Outsource, then polish

This is a great way to outsource product reviews.  I’ve done quite a bit of this back in the day (when I published product reviews on niche sites).

I’m old school.  I only publish “reviews” when I’ve used a product.  It doesn’t sit well with me title something a review if I haven’t tried the product or service.

It’s easy buying the product. It’s easy using the product.  It’s a TOTAL drag writing the review (hence I don’t do them all that often anymore).

My solution:  Outsource the boilerplate stuff.

The thing with product reviews is unless you want to pay outrageous sums of money, your hired gun writer isn’t going to try the product.  They’re going to regurgitate what they read on the merchant site.

They’ll be clever with Thesaurus in hand and say the same thing with different words.

You’ll get the specs and features plus a whole lot of fluff.

The goofy thing is, all that mumbo jumbo is a good start.

It saves you time typing it all out.

But you’re not ready to publish yet.  You must add the guts.

You go through the review and input your opinion based on your use.  It takes a bit of time, but with effort, it can be a great review.

So the same approach can be used with any topic requiring research.

You get the boilerplate stuff done by the hired writer.

You go through and polish it up with the good stuff.

Yeah, it’s work.  It’s a lot of work.

If you don’t like this approach, you’re in luck.  Try number 2.

2. Give insanely detailed writing instructions

Instead of counting on polishing your article for hours after you get it, invest time in crafting detailed instructions.

I like providing extensive outlines.  The order instructions become a “fill-in-the-blank” for the writer.

Make it very, very clear they must research extensively and cite all sources.

Oh yeah, make sure that whoever you hire to write you content that you can ask for revisions.  Most writers offer this.  It’s important.  Sometimes writers miss the mark.  Sometimes your assignment ends up with someone who has absolutely no business holding themselves out as a writer.

Who do I use for content? 

I use this outfit.  They have some great writers.  They offer unlimited revisions (which I exercise regularly).

What if they don’t do enough research?

It may be the case you cheaped out and didn’t pay for a high enough level of service.

You can’t expect research with the 2-star service when it goes up to 5-star service.

I hate to break it to you, but you need to pay for an upper-level tier of service to expect solid research.

You don’t always need to pay for the highest level, but usually one of the top 2 levels.

Here’s the thing, and I learned this the hard way.

I cheaped out one day with a former writing service I used.  I ordered 3-star quality (out of 5 stars).  My instructions discussed research this and research that etc.  What I received was pure fluff.

I hit the roof.

I demanded a revision.

The writer objected saying it was only 3-star level.

The writing agency intervened and sided with the writer.  They told me “you don’t get that level of writing for 3-star quality”.

I needed to cough up more dough.  Lesson learned.

Fortunately, with several writing agencies and probably many freelancers, you can get well-researched content for $.030+ per word.

3. Invest in expertise

If you still aren’t happy, it’s time to face the music and hire an expert.

If you happen to be in a niche where research and quality writing is critically important, you need to bring your A-game.  I’m in a niche like that.  In fact, for all of my niches, I’ve had to hire experts for specific articles.  Some articles require that.  There’s no getting around it.

It’s a good thing scores of people hate their chosen profession but like writing.  Or maybe they hate having a boss and would rather freelance than be told what to do all the time even if it means less money.

There are many experts who are experts that freelance for other reasons – they’re retired or they’re stay-at-home parents looking to make a few bucks on the side.

Whatever the reason, the good news is there are experts in every field who want to write for you.

The problem is finding them.

It’s your lucky day.  I’ve found experts of all kinds from a variety of sources.  Here are 3 ideas.

a. Universities/Technical Schools

If your niche falls in an academic discipline or a technical school degree, place a job posting with the career office.  It costs you nothing.  The career office won’t be able to get your job posting ad up fast enough.  They’re under the gun to land students jobs.

You can seek recent grads for full-time work or current students for part-time work.  I usually hire current students for part-time work.  They have access to the greatest libraries on earth so the research is awesome.

b. Craigslist

Craigslist is the bomb for hiring people. I’ve hired some terrific folks locally on Craigslist.

It’s probably the best place to find qualified folks looking to freelance, whatever their reason or situation.

And it costs nothing to post an ad.

I hired a videographer off Craigslist.  This guy was awesome. He made killer vids for $75 a pop.  He was young and wanted some experience.  I took a chance.  He delivered big time.

c. Parent FB groups

I’ve never done this, but I’ve heard about it.  You can approach FB group mods and ask if they’ll post a job posting.  I’d be upfront with the FB group mod though instead of trying slide in a job posting.

As a parent of young kids, I know there are loads of these FB groups in every city/town.  Members are active.  They sell used stuff to one another, arrange events, etc.  They’re actually very useful groups that more likely than not welcome job postings.

You never know who will be interested.

A lot of stay-at-home parents don’t know about the gig economy and freelancing.  But if presented the gig, they might be “hey, that’s awesome. I could totally do that while little Billy and Suzie are in school.  A $1,000 extra bucks a month couldn’t come at a better time.”

What about writing job boards and outfits like Upwork?

I’m sure you can find good people there.  I have.

How cool would this article have been if my advice was to use Upwork or  Not very cool at all.  That would be lame.

Who doesn’t know about those options?  Nobody, unless you discovered blogging yesterday (if that’s you, welcome to a great gig.  My Upwork/Freelancer comment is for you).

2 thoughts on “How to get million dollar content on a pauper’s budget”

  1. I just tried your content recommendation and they did a great job with it. I felt like it was pretty well researched and of course edited it some, but it was good. Thanks for the recommendation and the tips!

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