Elance has quickly become one of the premier websites for finding and selecting a freelance writer. With one of the most reliable payment systems, ratings, and an easy to use interface, Elance is safer for both providers and buyers, which makes it a great place to find someone to write your online web content.
Yet despite its usefulness, many buyers report having bad experiences with Elance, often selecting writers that do not reach deadlines, use poor grammar, and deliver content far below the quality they could have achieved on their own for free.
With results far worse than expected, these buyers look elsewhere or give up on their projects altogether, never again giving Elance a second chance. The problem, however, is not with the writers – it is with the writer selection process. There are over 35,000 providers on Elance, but only a handful are going to supply you with the quality you need. Below are several of the criteria you can use to ensure you select a quality Elance provider.
You Get What You Pay For
Perhaps the most obvious but often forgotten aspect of selecting a freelance copywriter is that the better writers cost more. If you come to Elance expecting to find a great deal, you should also expect to get below average writing. The following chart represents the quality you can expect based on the amount you are willing to pay for a single 500 word article:
Less than $2.00 = Terrible, possibly stolen below average content.
Less than $5.00 = Poor grammar, usually original content from Indian writers.
Less than $10.00 = English speaking writers with basic grammatical skills but little to no knowledge of writing articles.
Anything from $12 up = Above average writing skills, likely useable content.
People come to Elance expecting to find someone that will write articles for barely any money. The people they find are almost always far below average, occasionally with stolen content. Good writing costs more. It is the nature of the business.
Don’t Expect a Cheap Diamond in the Rough
Many buyers come to Elance and see low cost bids from non-English speaking countries. They are incredibly tempting. $3.00 per article is much less expensive than $15.00 per article. You see their samples and they appear to be written well and you think to yourself “maybe I am lucky and I have discovered a great low cost writer!”
You haven’t. If these writers knew their content was high quality, they would charge more. Likely their sample was written or edited by someone else. They may possess some basic English skills, but the chances of the writer creating high end content is very slim.
Be Wary of Cheap American and European Providers
Every once in a while you will receive a bid from a copywriter that appears to be American based, have good feedback, and cost about the same as an non-English speaking writer. Sometimes you will get decent content from these writers.
However, often times these same writers outsource their work to Indian writers that they have on staff. While the main individual may be based in the US, they send your work to low cost writers, get the work back, give it a brief once-over for grammar and send it back to you.
It can be difficult to tell who these providers are. One trick is to look at their feedback and check out the “Schedule” section. Writers that outsource their work are often late. If they seem to consistently be graded down for schedule, there is a good chance they are outsourcing their work.
The only cheap American/European writers should be those that have just started writing and are simply looking to build their portfolio. Cost of living in the US and the UK is not cheap – a writer that has been freelancing full time is unlikely to keep their costs low unless they are outsourcing, because paying rent in English speaking countries is not cheap.
High Cost Providers With Great Feedback Are the Best Choice
The more a provider costs, the harsher buyers are on their ratings. They are far more likely to punish a high cost writer for a minor error because they are paying those high costs in order to get better quality writing. If the provider charges quite a bit per article, but also has amazing feedback, there is a good chance they are going to provide you with high quality content.
When You Should Choose a Low Cost Writer
There are times that a low cost writer may still be beneficial. For example, if you are only looking to populate a website with content – any content – and the quality of said content is less important, a non-English speaking writer with basic grammatical knowledge may be enough. That type of content is great as both a placeholder for better content when your budget increases, and when you need to create more web pages without necessarily caring about the user experience.
However, when the copywriting you are paying for is going to represent the face of your business, or you need it to be well written in order to benefit the reader, you may need to save up and purchase a better writer.
Reviewing Samples and Profile
Samples are the best way to judge the quality of the writer, but they are not the only way. Samples will tell you if the writer has some idea how to write well using proper grammar, but remember to review the grammar they use to make their bid, the feedback, their location, and any other indicator you can find. Also, take the information in their profile with a grain of salt. Qualifications can be fabricated, and someone with expertise in the field may not necessarily write better than someone without expertise but considerably more writing experience.
Put Warnings in Your Job Description
One final way to make sure that you receive only the best bidders is to put warnings in your job posting that discourage bidders that use less-than-honorable tactics with their writing. It is always a useful idea to post he following at the end of the work description:
• US, UK, and AU bidders only.
• Quality of samples much match quality of final product.
• Content will be checked on Copyscape before payment is made.
This will discourage the number of unwanted bidders and reduce the likelihood of stolen content.
Using Elance Effectively
Before you use Elance, make sure you come in with realistic expectations. If you expect to pay very little, you should also expect to get poor quality content. If you are ready to use a larger budget to get your writing done, the quality of the content will increase dramatically. Finally, when you have a good experience with a provider, make sure you give the provider 5-star feedback across the board, to tell other buyers like you that they are someone worth using.