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How to Find, Hire and Train Writers w/ Julia McCoy

julia mccoy - scaling content services

Ryan Stewart

I build, grow and sell digital agencies. Most recently, WEBRIS, a 7 figure SEO agency.

We invited Julia McCoy of Exress Writers to speak with us about How to Find, Hire and Train Content Writers for Agencies. She is always my go-to person to get high-quality content that ranks well.

Let’s hear what she has to say!

Timestamps

  • 05:47 How do you find and hire your writers?
  • 2:05 How do you pay your writers?
  • 14:56 Do you have a database full of specialist writers or do you look for them only when a client from a certain vertical demands it?
  • 15:58 Do you provide writers with any sort of outline or do you have any processes or documentation to push them in the right direction?
  • 17:00 The training you provide is only for your writers or other agencies can also benefit from it?
  • 8:52 Are you worried about AI taking over writing jobs?
  • 23:41 How do you deal with edit requests from the client?
  • 29:51 Do you see the value of NDAs with clients and how much do you charge for it?
  • 37:29 How do you deal with the writer turnover?

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How do you find and hire your writers?

It is a trial and error process.

We post job listings to platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and Facebook groups, etc and then go through all the resumes that come in to shortlist writers. Then we test them and train the ones that pass our test.

How do you manage writing projects for your company?

We use ActiveCollab for our project management needs.

We looked at other solutions in the market as well but all of them were expensive. We host Activecollab on our servers and we have skinned its design to match our brand.

We have a team room for our writers in Activecollab and all our tasks go there. The tasks are overseen by a manager who manages the editorial queue and makes sure that deadlines are met.

We have eight part-time editors working in different timezones just so our content never sits in the queue. This strategy works for us.

How do you pay your writers?

We pay them per 500 words.

When we started the company we used to have three levels of writers: general, expert and authority. As the web changed and clients started asking for specialist writers, we started offering only expert and authority writers and did away with the general category.

The web has become this sea of content and only the top writers are worth investing in because they give the clients a good ROI. These days clients understand that only good writers can boost their brand.

We find and hire specialist writers for every vertical we cater to. The clients also demand them because of the ROI they get from such writers.

Do you have a database full of specialist writers or do you look for them only when a client from a certain vertical demands it?

Yes, we have a database and we look for new writers as well when we need to. Sometimes it takes a lot of time to find a specialist writer for some niches but we have to do it for our clients.

A specialist is an expert writer who can research and mine Google to find interesting statistics to use in writing.

Do you provide writers with any sort of outline or do you have any processes or documentation to push them in the right direction?

Yes, we do. One thing we have done over the years that put us ahead of other agencies was to create internal training for our writers.

From that training, we produced the courses that are public now. The training helped us deal with the challenges that we were facing daily.

The training adds to the skillset of our writers and makes them better.

The training you provide is only for your writers or other agencies can also benefit from it?

I have a content strategy and marketing course and that is also what my second book is about titled Practical Content Strategy & Marketing: The Content Strategy & Marketing Course Guidebook.

It goes hand-in-hand with my content strategy and marketing course. It teaches how to build a content strategy for your content marketing because without that you are publishing content in a disorderly manner and that will impact the ROI in the end.

Are you worried about AI taking over writing jobs?

Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, predicted about five years ago that writers would no longer be creating the majority of online content because AI will take over.

I tested all the mainstream AI tools after I read that 3 years ago none of those could match the human touch in writing and I believe it still has a long way to go.

How do you deal with edit requests from the client?

We set clear expectations before we even work with anyone. We take payments upfront to establish that the client is on our turf because we are the experts.

We make them agree to our TOS before they hire our services. We make sure that the clients know beforehand how long their revision window is and how many edits they can request without paying.

All these measures not only make them move forward quicker but also help the content cycle.

Do you see the value of NDAs with clients and how much do you charge for it?

I do not charge for it. I look at the work they are going to bring in. If it is a long contract and our margins are great, I do not mind signing an NDA.

How do you deal with the writer turnover?

We deal with it every month and that is just the way it is. We have a good core team that helps deal with that.

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  • Juliasays

    What an awesome recap! Thanks for having me on your show, Ryan!