In the event you’ve ever tried to rent freelance writers, you most likely ended up with hundreds of functions.

This often results in you asking your self two questions: 

  1. How do I select the most effective ones?
  2. How will I even have time to filter by way of that many functions?

On this publish, you’ll learn the way we arrange a course of to reply these questions.

Step 1. Create an software type

Most job listings inform candidates to e mail the hiring supervisor their cowl letter and resume. That works properly when on the lookout for full-time hires however not for freelance positions as a result of they usually appeal to a whole bunch or hundreds of candidates. 

There’s simply no approach you may evaluation that many resumes with out shedding it. In consequence, appropriate candidates usually slip by way of the online and also you miss out on nice writers. 

One option to resolve this drawback is to have all candidates apply by way of a Google Type. 

Listed here are two the reason why this makes sense: 

  1. It helps you vet candidates quick and effectively – Google Varieties funnels candidates right into a Google Sheet, so you may evaluation all candidates there as a substitute of sifting by way of emails. 
  2. It lets you take a look at writers’ expertise and data at scale – You may simply ask questions designed to evaluate candidates’ data, expertise, and expertise with the subject at hand.

By way of what it is best to ask candidates, I like to recommend a mixture of multiple-choice questions and ones with quick solutions. A number of-choice questions assist gauge data and expertise, whereas “quick reply” questions assist you to choose writing capacity. 

Right here’s one among our multiple-choice questions:

Example of a multiple-choice question in our application process

The reply to this query is one thing that we count on most skilled SEOs to know. However it could journey up these with much less expertise. 


There’s nonetheless a little bit of “it relies upon” with this query. However usually talking, there’s a transparent and proper reply that I believe most educated SEOs will select.

Right here’s an instance of a “quick reply” query: 

Example of a "short answer" question in our application process

We designed this query to assist us choose the applicant’s capacity to clarify issues succinctly and precisely.

In the event you’re inquisitive about our software type, right here it’s.

Solely a handful of those questions are for vetting functions; the remaining are to get fundamental particulars like their names, e mail addresses, Twitter handles, and many others. It’s important to ask for these particulars, because it’s the one option to get them when candidates aren’t making use of by e mail.

You now want to draw candidates to your software type, which you are able to do by making a job itemizing and posting in all places you can.

Listed here are the 4 issues you have to clarify:

  1. What you’re on the lookout for – Maintain it quick. Inform candidates what the place entails.
  2. What expertise you require – Checklist all the pieces you count on in candidates. 
  3. Who you’re – Give some particulars about your organization. (Maintain it quick; don’t bore individuals.) 
  4. Methods to apply – Ship individuals to your software type. 

There are many job boards the place you may submit your itemizing. We posted to ProBlogger, Swipe Recordsdata Job Board (prev. Hey Entrepreneurs), our careers web page, and some others.

One of the job boards we posted on

We additionally posted in a couple of Slack and Fb teams.

Given that each applicant goes by way of the identical course of, the extra locations you may publish your job itemizing, the higher. 

Each side of the vetting course of takes place within the Google Sheet. This makes life tremendous simple, as all the pieces is in a single place. I like to recommend splitting the method into automated and guide vetting to make issues as fast and environment friendly as attainable. 

Automated vetting

Right here, the concept is to disqualify candidates who don’t match the invoice, give a preliminary rating to the remaining ones, and clear up the sheet to make guide vetting as fast as attainable. Right here’s easy methods to do it in three steps. 

A. Disqualify

There’s no level losing time reviewing functions from of us who can’t observe fundamental guidelines or don’t meet fundamental standards. So it pays to disqualify them robotically. The great thing about Google Sheets is that you are able to do this simply with filters and formulation.

You’ll recall that we requested all candidates to outline two phrases in underneath 50 phrases. As we needed to disqualify those that exceeded the allowed phrase depend, we added two further columns with formulation to depend the variety of phrases in every definition. 

Columns calculating the word count of "short answer" responses

Then we filtered to exclude rows the place the definitions have been above 50 phrases.

Filtering out short answers that exceed the specified word count

We then filtered for a couple of extra standards: 

  • Fee per 1,000 phrases – We excluded anybody who didn’t put 10–1,000. (This was primarily to exclude candidates who couldn’t observe directions and gave a value per phrase.)
  • Years of expertise in search engine optimization – We excluded anybody with “<1” yr of expertise.
  • Have you ever ever used Ahrefs earlier than? – We excluded those that answered “no.”

B. Rating

Subsequent, you need to give every applicant a preliminary rating to get a greater sense of their data and expertise at a look. 

To do that, we created a method that checked their solutions to our multiple-choice questions, their Ahrefs expertise, and whether or not they nonetheless had an energetic Ahrefs subscription. The outcome was a rating between 0 and 5.

Preliminary applicant score in Google Sheets

C. Simplify

Even with the filters and scores in place, your sheet can be overwhelming as a result of it comprises a lot knowledge. So it’s price hiding columns you don’t want for the vetting course of, comparable to candidates’ names and e mail addresses. This additionally helps to eradicate potential biases.

For us, we added conditional formatting to our preliminary rating to make eyeballing the standard of every applicant simpler.

Right here’s what we ended up with:

Final applicant sheet

Guide vetting

We skimmed candidates’ preliminary scores and definitions to resolve whether or not they need to progress to the subsequent stage of the method. Every applicant took no quite a lot of seconds, permitting us to vet over 100 candidates per hour.

For instance, it solely took a second to resolve to not proceed with this applicant as a result of they outlined SEM slightly than search engine optimization.

Example of a not-so-good definition from an applicant

For the applicant under, however, we may inform fairly shortly that it’d be price giving them a shot. Each of their definitions have been correct and properly written, and so they scored properly on our multiple-choice questions:

Example of a good applicant

To trace our choice for every applicant, we added one remaining column:

Decision column for the applicants

Most individuals take a look at writers by having them write a take a look at article from a content material temporary. We do the identical however don’t ship distinctive briefs to every applicant. We ship all of them the identical temporary. 

Listed here are three the reason why we suggest this: 

  1. It’s simpler to grade their work – You may create a guidelines to attain writers on the identical standards. 
  2. It’s faster You don’t need to create a brand new content material temporary for every author.
  3. It may be automated – You may arrange methods to ship the temporary to writers after they hit this stage.

Let’s take a look at how to make sure checks run easily and effectively. 

A. Clarify the deal and get their particulars

For candidates who go our preliminary vetting course of, we have to clarify the deal for the take a look at article and get their particulars. We created a template in Gmail for this. 

It explains that we:

  • Wish to supply them a paid take a look at article.
  • Pay a flat price per take a look at article (and the way a lot).
  • Ship the identical temporary to each applicant and that their article gained’t be printed.
  • Personal all of the work they produce for us.
  • Pay invoices on the finish of the month.
Email we sent to approved applicants

Which will seem to be info overload, nevertheless it’s greatest to ensure everybody’s on the identical web page from the start.

Our e mail ends with a hyperlink to a Google Type asking for his or her bill e mail handle (that is usually completely different from the one they use each day) and the way they need to be paid.

Link to the next part of the process in the email we sent to applicants

B. Ship the content material temporary for the take a look at

We present a affirmation message when an applicant submits the Google Type within the earlier step. It hyperlinks them to a Google Doc with the content material temporary for the take a look at article.

Link to the test job at the end of our Google Form

Right here’s what that appears like:

Our content brief for writers

The doc additionally comprises directions that inform the applicant to:

  1. Make a replica of the doc.
  2. Write as a lot or as little as they like (no phrase depend quotas).
  3. E mail us the take a look at article and bill us after they’re finished.
  4. Learn our content material pointers earlier than they begin writing.

I like to recommend everybody create content material pointers when working with freelance writers. We hyperlink to ours within the doc. It explains what we count on relating to fashion and content material.

Listed here are a few excerpts:

Excerpt from our style guidelines
Excerpt from our style guidelines

C. Evaluation their content material

Given that you simply’ll be testing a couple of writers, you want a good and constant option to choose their relative high quality. For this, we created a guidelines to evaluation and rating their efforts shortly.

Right here’s an excerpt from our guidelines:

Our content checklist for vetting submissions

You may see that we examine the article as a complete for a couple of fundamentals, then evaluation every part in additional depth. 

For instance, listed below are a couple of of our standards for the definition:

  • Is it written within the appropriate format (in line with our pointers)?
  • Is it correct?
  • Is it properly written?

In complete, there are 30 issues on our guidelines. Each equals one level, so we rating every applicant out of 30. 

Hiring is the simple half. If an applicant scores properly on their take a look at article, we assign them an precise one to jot down. If that goes properly, we give them extra.

Right here are some things to look out for when working with freelancers:

  • High quality deterioration – Freelancers can generally get lazy and even start subcontracting work. Each of these items result in a discount in high quality. 
  • Reliability points – Life sometimes will get in the best way for everybody however be careful for constant unreliability. 
  • Communication points – For no matter purpose, disappearing off the face of the earth is surprisingly widespread. 

Don’t hesitate to drop writers in case you face these points. Persevering with to work with them will suck your time and vitality. 

By that very same token, once you come throughout dependable freelancers who persistently produce high-quality work, deal with them properly. Nice writers are price their weight in gold, so maintain giving them work and evaluation their charges periodically. 

Last ideas

Hiring freelance writers is simple when you will have a system in place. You may even automate lots of the steps with instruments like Zapier. 

For instance, now we have zaps for define requests, logging particulars, and sending fee requests to our workplace supervisor. 

How we automated our freelance application process with Zapier

Obtained questions? Ping me on Twitter.

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