I like to use my time and the space Yaro gives me here on this blog to base my articles on questions I often receive and this one will be no different as I am going to discuss how “Mitch’s Blog” became a company with 18 current writers.
While the building a company part I have talked about in the past and I’m sure I’ll talk about it in the future, this article is going to focus on the variety of writers on my site: who they are, how they got there, and just about everything else that people would want to know if this is an approach they are thinking about.
Since this is a huge topic, I’ll break it down the best I can, and of course if you have questions, fire away in the comment section; as usual I’ll do my best to respond to all of them.
How Do I Find People To Write On My Blog?
This was one of the odd things for me because at first I didn’t always actively look for writers, most often they have contacted me.
I have a lot of content already and I cover a lot sports, which appeal to a broad segment of the global population. There are literally thousands of people who would love the opportunity to write and have their work read. I get at least ten emails per week from people asking to write on my site regarding a variety of sports and the bulk I turn away (I’ll talk about the process of who I choose in a moment), but with the pool given to me, I can find people who not only want to write, but who are also a good fit with the site and with me.
Once in a while, if I am looking for writers to beef up a particular section of the site, I’ll write a short post saying so, very directly and stating exactly what people should include in their response.
If you have been doing your work all along and have good traffic, enough people will read articles like this, either by happening upon them on your site or through Google, so you should be able to have at least a pool of people to work with and choose from. To be honest, I am always looking for talented and inspired writers, particularly in a sport or area we have light or no coverage of.
I don’t usually accept guest posts. I get requests from people wanting to do so, but at this point it doesn’t help my site enough to make it worthwhile. Usually the guest posts I get are loaded with links and marginally related to my site, I would rather not have them at all. We produced 800 articles last month, I don’t think having or not having someone’s one-off guest post is going to make or break us, so I would just rather not have it.
At Sports Chat Place, we only post original and unique content.
How Do I Choose Who Gets To Write?
Picking who is a good fit to write on my blog isn’t an exact science and it has been a learning process, but it is something I have gotten better at over time through lessons learned.
I used to let anyone, who wanted to write on my blog, contribute. As the blog has become bigger, I no longer do this for a lot of reasons. What I have learned is that while people are enthusiastic at first to write, it usually doesn’t take long to realize it is a job and like any job everyone has good days and bad days. While some people are motivated by money and others by getting notoriety, if you truly love what you do and are passionate about what you are writing about then it makes it a lot easier to get through the bad days.
Some people are just good at writing and some people enjoy it more than others, the ideal writer is both of these. While it’s tough to find these people, they are out there, but in most cases it’s best to compromise and have some give and take with people, as long as it’s in the right areas.
Some people will throw together a hastily written article and submit it to me as a writing sample, that doesn’t really work. Some people try and talk about what great writers they are, I don’t really care much about that either. I need and will only allow people to write on my site who are passionate about what they are writing about, and as long as they can write coherently with minimal editing and need just light coaching and some pointers, I usually give them a chance.
While my writers are compensated (another topic I will discuss shortly), if a person’s first contact with me centers around compensation, they probably aren’t a good fit. A lot of my writers worked for free back when the site wasn’t making any money, they did it because they loved writing and they loved what they were writing about. Receiving a check or Paypal from me doesn’t change that at all with any of them, feel free to ask them, most don’t care about the money and getting them to give me Paypal info or a W-9 so I can pay them doesn’t rank too high on their priority list.
One thing I am leery about, which is usually a warning sign, similar to money questions or demands for money, are people who say they are “good writers”. Usually I get this from people who went to schools known for Journalism or people who maybe were told by a teacher or friend they were a good writer. While getting nice marks in school is a great thing, it doesn’t mean or make a person a good writer. Having perfect sentence structure, solid grammar, or even an editorial background for a known publication or website don’t make a person a good writer. The public decides who is a good writer and they decide who a good writer is by reading a person’s writings.
So in order for a person to truly be a good writer they need to write consistently, write passionately, and need to have a following. While it’s nice for a college professor to think someone writes well, I’ll take the guy who misspells a word here and there, uses questionable grammar at times, and writes several times a week with so much passion the world wants to read more, and thousands of people read their articles, any day of the week.
How Do I Compensate My Writers?
Everyone who writes at Sports Chat Place is compensated, though (believe it or not) getting them to take the money isn’t always such an easy thing.
Everyone who writes at the site has signed a contract that was written by a lawyer that clearly defines what is expected of the writer as a writer on the site and how their compensation works. No writer has ever had an issue with the contract, but I always offer to them that if they do see something they don’t like, we can possibly amend it if it works for both of us.
Without getting into too much detail, the compensation is based on the contribution to the site and the income of the site over that period. Some writers only write certain sports and those sports are only played during certain months, some writers write about multiple sports at the same time, everyone gets treated the same as they are paid based upon each of their total contribution.
Basically there is a pie and the pie is based on income. The division of the pie is based on the formula we have agreed upon and recalculated monthly. While I like paying everyone, this isn’t what makes the site a success or a failure as I couldn’t always afford to pay the writers and I still always had plenty of people to write and plenty of success.
While the number of articles over the pay period each month is the biggest consideration in dividing the writer’s compensation pool, other things like timeliness of article submission and if articles need a lot of editing are other factors that are involved. The writers can also use affiliate programs and promote those within their articles, do product reviews, etc. to earn extra income and we have separate deals that address those. Everything is up front with the writers and I, there are no surprises unless it’s me throwing them an extra payment or bonus which is known to happen.
Payments go out to the writers on the 10th of each month. Some writers prefer to be paid every other month so they receive a bigger check, it doesn’t make any difference to me. As I will say over and over again, no one writes on my site for the money alone. While some of the people like getting the money and care about it more than others, we are talking about a group of people who are over the top passionate about what they are writing about, and being able to write at a place where 400,000 people a month (and growing) read it – is something they think is pretty cool.
While it’s usually a feel-good situation, not everyone works out over the long term; it’s just part of having a business. Like any job, writers have responsibilities to the site and have parameters they need to work within. We have deadlines, as sports have starting and end times, however the shelf life of a lot of what we write about isn’t too long, therefore timing is important.
Communication is important as well and although quality is paramount, I’m also a big believer in quantity, not something most bloggers hear too often.
How Do We All Communicate And How Do We Keep It All Together?
Before I get this question, the answer is that my writers are all over the world. I have writers in Australia, Ireland, Canada, all over the United States as well as other places. It’s global and it’s the Internet, it doesn’t matter where everyone is as long as they can communicate.
I use the most common method which is email for a lot of my communication, but it certainly doesn’t end there and on most days it doesn’t begin there either. Because of the number of games being played in a certain day, as a group we try and cover as many different games as we can without duplicating coverage of the same game. Of course there are days with a lighter schedule or more prominent games like playoffs, tournaments, and championships where we have several writers cover the same games but really those are less common.
Our current primary source of communication is Google Docs. We have a shared spreadsheet that list all of the upcoming games of the sports we cover and when a writer is about to begin an article about a particular game, they put their name next to that game on the spreadsheet so all of the other writers know that game is covered. We still get double coverage once in a while but it is very rare and really doesn’t do any harm, it just helps less than a fresh topic would.
While it sounds too simple, simple is usually best, and we also weren’t smart enough to come up with anything more complex, so it works for us. Every few days or so I update the schedules of the various sports, move things around, delete the old games that have passed, add new sports that come into season, whatever. The whole scheduling takes me about five minutes per week this way.
We also use this schedule Doc to post if we can’t write or cover any games on a particular day, this gives the other writers who cover a sport a heads up that there are some extra games if they want to cover them, or if it was a day they may have taken off, maybe it’s not the best day. It’s rare two people need the same day off, but when it happens, we usually get it covered. One thing is for certain, days off are expected, but letting everyone know that someone is taking one makes the site run a lot smoother.
I also do conference calls with the writers and try and do so every month though we miss some months. I also like to talk to each of the writers at least once a month to talk about what they are doing well, what needs work, and any ideas I have for their areas or any ideas that they have for the site. I like to stay in touch with everyone and though we are growing, it’s still important for me to do so. I use the phone, Skype, Google Chat, or whatever we need to use.
How Do The Writers Post Their Articles And What About Quality Control?
All of the writers on my site post their own content live on the site.
Because of the language in the contract they signed and because I am pretty picky about whom I bring aboard, I know there won’t be any objectionable content on the site. I also know the writers aren’t perfect, but they can edit their articles as well. If there is a larger issue, it can be sorted out in the comments or forums through interaction with the readers, or if I can edit everyone’s articles.
I don’t read everything the writers write, they know this and aren’t insulted by it nor do I worry too much about it. I do read at least a few articles each week by each writer just to make sure they are still on the right track.
Most of the headings and such are auto formatted by a system I had custom built. As far as style, every writer has their own personality, but there is a specific style of writing that works well on the internet and works well with our readership, and I have a document which hits on the key points. I also spend at least an hour before each writer starts to go over a few of the real basics as writing on the net is just a different animal than print or anything else.
As I say often, if the people who come to the site have something fresh there to read, that’s the most important thing, the other stuff is just secondary or will sort itself out over time. So far this system has worked well for me.
First time checking out SportChatPLace, nice site! I am just getting my own blog started (definately not 18 writers), but have been looking into project management tools. If you are using Google Apps (google docs for your own domain – free) you can also incorporate Zoho prodocts (zoho dot com), free as well! They have collaboration, meeting, CRM software etc that I understand incoporates into google apps with ap ush of a button (as I understand from the tutorial videos). Just thought I’d share!
Looks really complicated. The Absolute Last thing we want to do is spend any time on project management and coordination when we have a system that works though it may not be as fancy. More time spent on stuff that doesn’t make money is usually a bad thing for everyone involved.
I agree, the creative process is much more fun and stimulating.
I do have people who write on my blog a time or two..but I don’t give out money..thier getting something better..which is a backlink..
“Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”
But what about people who write on your blog that don’t have their own site and who contribute over 100 articles a month? From my experience you wouldn’t be able to secure a real staff.
I must be at the lucky stage with my site because I have enough incoming guest post requests that I don’t have to worry about asking or paying anyone else to write for me. Not everything I get is quality, but half of the articles generally are good ones.
It’s a matter of site content, subject, what you need and what you want your business to become and what works for you. Looking at your site I see a few posts a week which is nice but we’re doing 800 a month, that’s nearly 30 a day average and our income shows it. Would be tough to find 10,000 guest posters a year where you wouldn’t know what you were getting every day. It’s really the difference between a business and a nice blog.
Hi Mitch, it’s good to see your sports publishing business grow and succeed. I see that your site has a handicapping slant to it.
Did you focus in on that aspect by design since you determined that the web was missing this information or did the realization come by chance?
Also I see that your site’s coverage is pretty broad and wide. Do you believe that there is opportunity for sports sites to go deep such as covering one team only? Maybe you feel that it makes better business sense to go wide since revenue shouldn’t fluctuate as much.
Try and make a barter deal with Yaro, he can probably beef up your tennis coverage. 🙂
There are literally thousands of sports handicapping sites out there, I just thought I could do better and saw it as a challenge, if you do something well, there is always a market for it and the better you do it, the bigger the market is.
As far as starting with one team, I started with one sport,college football and grew from there, I never had any idea how big it would all become or that it would be a full time job, a company, make this much money,none of it. I went wide coverage because that’s what my audience dictated, they pay the bills.
A good friend of mine started a site many years ago of just one team but like my site, it grew into more of a network though his was a network of sites, not just teams or sports which he later sold for eight figures, so yeah it can be done but you have to leave room to grow.
As far as Tennis, it’s something new this year and we have two guys covering it who love the sport, and as always, I’m looking for talented writers. I know Yaro has a new product release coming out so I don’t think writing Tennis at Sports Chat Place is in his immediate future but I do know he’s a huge fan of the sport.
Yay for more tennis coverage!
Hello, Mitch. I find your article here extremely detailed and informative, even if it does read more like a “declaration of principles” or “submission guidelines” summary than an actual article. I love sports, as well, so I can definitely understand your passion in putting together a sports-driven blog site.
I don’t particularly agree with a couple of points you make:
For me, a writer’s worth in terms of skill and output – whether a writer is good or not – is not necessarily “decided” by anyone, least not the mass public. OK, yes, Danielle Steele is read by millions upon millions, as is James Patterson, for example, but does that mean that they are good? No, it just means they have tons of readers and make a zillion dollars. There is no science at work here, probably not even reliable patterns.
Also, you put forth that a writer needs to write consistently and with passion, which I agree with wholeheartedly, but I take issue with the idea that a writer “needs a following” to be good. Perhaps, yes, having a dedicated and loyal following could indeed push a writer to be better and to constantly strive to create original, engaging content, stories, etc. but it seems to me that you are suggesting that until a writer has a following he is no good (maybe not!;)) Cases in point, Stephen King and J.K. Rowling both had no money and no following when they started (like almost everybody else) but they wrote consistently and with passion and the following – and income! – developed as a result. So, I think it’s the inverse of how you expressed it in your article.
That being said, I did enjoy reading this and appreciated the attention to detail, as I don’t recall coming across any spelling or grammar errors, typos, etc. which is pretty rare in web content these days, so kudos!
Thank you, Mitch!
Thanks, it certainly isn’t meant to be a this is the only way it can be done, I am just letting people know what works for me.
As far as the following, well not to many people have ever accused me of being a good writer so I probably didn’t express it well. I agree with you, people need to stick with it and get noticed and build their following but the good writers and whom I feel are the best writers are able to do that. Many people who have tried to write at SCP think that because they posses a certain skill set that a teacher liked it gives them a pass on responsibility and consistency, it’s very tough to build a following if you have no output.
As far as the Authors you mentioned, if their goal was to be read by millions and make a ton of money, they have accomplished it. While we are all passionate about our writings, it’s a business and we need to make money to exist (the thought of going to work for someone else at a day job for a fraction of getting paid for watching sports all day makes me kind of queezy). I went two years without making any money at the site, making a lot helps things run a lot smoother, just the reality of it and the fact I have paying members makes me accountable to them and the fact the writers are paid makes them accountable for their responsibilities.
My way isn’t the only way, it may not even be the best way, but it works for me, that was really the point of the whole article/
As for the typos, I’m sure it was loaded with them. Behind the scenes who never gets any recognition is Stephanie who edited the article at EJ making me look a lot better than I am. 🙂
Thank you for the follow-up comment, Mitch! I agree about the business part. It is not just about the writing at that point, it’s about a whole host of other factors! But when you can position your business by way of the value that the writing offers your readers, you have got yourself a nice little operation going indeed!
Nice article and …as I see that your site’s coverage is very broad and wide and some how you really need more and more good writers..and even you say over and over again, that no one writes on your site for the money alone. But I believe thay need I fair game too…I mean thay still get the good bonus if they make more money thru… their writing ..and as I see you are already there…thank
Great article! I thought that your compensation plan was interesting. How do you you systematically compensate these writer? Is there a platform to make it easier to manage?
My old day Job was working at a hedge fund so I am pretty good at excel, I have it all loaded in a spread sheet. there is a manual process but really there isn’t too much to it. Probably the easiest way is to hire someone to do it for me, probably where I am going next with it.
Thanks for this tips, Im looking forward to find people to help me add content to my blog. This was very useful! thanks again!
this is great stuff. A blog should be like a company where you have workers. Having writers is a must and will relax and outsource some work to others. Good post Mitch.
It’s different for everyone. Some people are content to make little or no money from their blog which is perfectly fine, but I think if you truly want to take it to the seven figure a year mark and beyond there are a whole different set of things you need to look at like building a staff.
Great article and congratulations on the success of your blog. I’m always impressed with success stories like yours – to think just 3 years ago you were starting from scratch..cool stuff!
You don’t seem to be a big fan of guest posts today, but as someone that obviously guest posts yourself and who has accepted them in the past, do you have any quick tips you can share on how to get the attention of a blog owner if someone wants to guest post on a blog?
And what if you have a new blog and you are willing to accept guest posts (or regular contributors) – what’s the best way to recruit people? For new blogs, finding guest posts or regular contributors can be a challenge!
Travis Van Slooten
I don’t guest post everywhere, this is the only other site I contribute other than my own and to be honest, I haven’t been great about honoring my commitment here. I believe Yaro calls all of us columnists as we aren’t really guest posters. Either way, I don’t do this for exposure, links or anything else other than to share what I have learned, what has worked for me, in hopes that it helps someone else or that someone leaves a comment telling me I am taking the long way or most expensive way of doing something simple, something we all have done more than once.
As far as getting guest posters, once you have a following, people will want to be part of “it”. You can put something up in one of the drop downs like “Be a guest Poster” and say how and what it entails and what they are allowed to do if they guest post, there is a reason I don’t take too many as I don’t want articles that are anywhere else and barely relevant and loaded with links. I think since my site was three months old I had people that wanted to be part of it in someway.
I have always admired what you are doing with SCP – I LOVE the recent chatter around the NBA playoffs! continue the good work Mitch
Thank goodness for my NBA Team: Dan, Peter, Mike, and Brian..they are absolutely awesome and I would be lost without them. As strong of a college basketball season as I had and have put together for the past several years, I just don’t follow the NBA like these guys do.
I’m glad that there are still other people who believes that writing is not all about graduating in Journalism class or having a perfect knowledge on grammar and language. I believe in what you believe that a good writer is not all about these things but they are also consistent and passionate in writing. Actually, I’m encouraged by your words since, way back then, I have this belief that writers are measured by their knowledge. However, nowadays I know that writers are real good when they have the knowledge as well as the heart for writing, eh.
Like I said, I’ll take a person who is passionate and consistent and people flock to read over someone a college professor told was a good writer any day of the week…
This is a tricky situation for a lot of people and not all people want to have guest bloggers on their site. I have found that by keeping a notebook of ideas and such as well as a folder of interesting articles I find it helps me find topics when at a stand still and when i am really on a roll I end up be able to put some of the posts on the back burner so I can keep my content fresh!
The term fresh content is all relative, it would be tough to keep 800 articles a month worth of info in a notebook and still have time to actually deliever the content 😉
This is inspirational information. I am thinking about the difference between your niche and mine. My main blog is about cabinet manufacturing. With the U.S. economy the way it is right now, I suppose I could get a couple of people to write about something, if I tried.
Your niche on the other hand appeals to people who enjoy sitting around and flipping the remote control…a mass of couch potatoes. I would guess that a few unemployed finish carpenters have exchanged their hammers for a remote control in one hand and an unemployment check in the other.
The percentage of people interested in sports far exceeds the amount of cabinet manufactures we have in this world.
What type of suggestions would you have for a website like mine to start attracting people who would be interested in making guest posts on a regular basis?
Last time I was at Home Depot, Lowes, or Menards there seemed to be plenty of people into fixing up their home and I would think with the economy down people would even be doing more of this work themselves if at all possible.
As far as the remote control thing, I work 18 hours a day and run at least 6 miles every day so I guess it appeals to more than just couch potatoes and believe me, in this economy people have even less disposable income for gambling on sports and other recreation than they do for just about anything else.
To get people to post on your site, may start a section where every day or week or two or three times a week (probably dependent on your traffic) you have someone talk about and show pictures of a project they did and finished, my guess is some of these people have done several. Pleople who accomplish things often like to share this with other people so if you have people coming to your site, getting people to share their experiences probably would be to hard.
THis could function on your site sort of like an idea gallery where people could look at various projects they might want to do and you could include core categories like difficulty, budget, time in hours, etc where it would help your readers make the choice if it is something worth it for them. Just an idea..
This is very useful information, especially for beginners, thank you very much.
you just posted a complete guide on how to outsource writing content on your site. It’s really important that you have to be picky when hiring freelance writer. Passion for writing is the one asset that you should be looking for when hiring writers for you.
I’m not sure it’s a complete guide but it’s hopefully some food for thought
It is great that you are paying your writers based on what the site, or their niche makes and then splitting it among them. I think that gives even more incentive for the writers to produce quality content and to stick around. It would seem that the more they write the more that can earn.
There are some other factors but it gives them ownership of their job and accountability as well as a taste of the successes and failures of the business. The word I look for from them is fair and I hear it often enough to believe it.
I agree with a lot of you about the principles of writing and journalism. It is expressing yourself, whether you do it at university or personal level, it still counts.
Thanks for the info, really great quality stuff. Often come to see your site for new stuff!
Hmm, this is nice information. I am not sure, whether this is an complete guide, but i am sure, it will help for beginners. If Content is king, get unique content, and you will surely get good rankings.
Thanks for the post. I too, feel that content is king-but great content.
Lots of bloggers, and even some websites that have multiple bloggers writing a lot, seem to stuff content in to just “have” content.
It adds to the clutter, and we don’t need more of that!
Less, better content?
The Franchise King®
In most cases less is less and an excuse or cop out for not having a lot of content. More is more and controlling the quality by the method the content gets there is the key as far as I have found.
Very interesting Blog on How do I generate enough content for my Blog. Never thought to get others to write for my Blog, gets me thinking. Really enjoyed reading the article though. Cheers
One of the best guides i’ve read on how to outsource your articles successfully. I prefer to write my own articles but only for the topics that i am highly interested in. I outsource all the rest as well
Great advice on blog writing
Good info on the compensation plan. Trying now to do something similar with 6th grade science fair projects.
Hi Mitch! that’s a detailed post! thanks a lot. just about to start my 1st blog..
Well, obviously every one plans to make money out of blogging and you did tell right about being passionate about what one writes , Enthusiasm and patience is too important to get you through the good and bad days .
An amazing post!!!
I am honored to be able to read this case study
When things are going well, and you want and need to expand within the web,Outsourcing is the only solution for me.
But how I can keep my website/blog quality,if a stranger write my website’s content?? That’s the big matter!
I just got here and I am amazed! Would you believe I have been blogging with great enthousiasm, just for fun, on an adult site? After a year of blogging once a day I have 455 subscribers and a connection with many!
I am a published author, but the blogging was just for fun … I HAVE to write. Some of my work is sensual, some of it is not, but I have written about 1500 blogs in that site … never making a penny, but paying to be there!
My son mentioned there is money to be made in blogging, and gave me this site.
Things I write about?
I have a daycare … and a degree in childcare
I was born in the Netherlands, write about memories (bilingual)
My husband is without work … a builder without anything to build
Just reading this info is getting me excited!
I’m in the planning process for a site and have several associates the have a lot of knowledge in their own niche. I’m trying to find specifics on tracking their contributions and compensating them. I find general guidelines on various sites, but need to find sample agreements that I could implement and actual methods, software and/or forms that I can use to bring them into a collaborative with me. Can you help? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
Thanks for sharing this excellent information with us Mitch, this is definitely a great help to those wanting to outsource their work to better writers which also makes a lot of sense! and takes excess workload off yourself. cheers, many thanks.
Guest writing has been good for my blog so far, but you will find it takes a lot of time to proof read and make changes that are necessary. Sometimes it is easier to write yourself so you can structure it according to how you want it done.
Hey Mitch I spoke with you back in October 2013 by email about guest posting and you turned me down i understand now why , I have couple questions if your kind enough to answer where do you get your photos and do they cost alot?
and two just so I am clear on this you had writers write for a time without getting paid? Do you compensate them after you were making money ?