Outsourcing Content for Cheap – How I Paid Only $76.66 for 40 Articles

Outsourcing Content for Cheap

Post updated October 18, 2014…

Note: There are several mentions and links within this article to Odesk. Odesk is now known as UpWork – so any links that previously led to Odesk now lead to Upwork.com. The platform is essentially the same.

You are not misreading the title for this post! I didn’t add a zero to the number of articles by accident and I didn’t forget a digit in the cost. Last month I did in fact get 40 articles produced for me from various writers and the total cost was only $76.66! Each article is 500 words minimum and is written according to my specific instructions for where and how to include specific keywords. The quality of the content turned out to be perfectly acceptable for what I wanted to use it for. I wouldn’t consider it to be excellent quality, but great for secondary articles on some of my niche sites. My intentions for these types of articles is to target very low competition keywords that get a decent (lower) number of searches, with the goal of attracting more search traffic to my sites. In this post, I’m going to show you exactly how and where I get articles outsourced for such a low price. I’ll show you every detail, including how I attract the writers and exactly how I instruct them to write the posts.

My Experience with Finding Writers on oDesk

There are several places online where you can find writers to produce content for you. Quality and price will vary greatly. With my limited experience in outsourcing, I have no way of knowing which place is the best. I can only tell you what I know from my own experience. I actually started off using oDesk (affiliate link) based on a recommendation by Jon Haver from Authority Website Income. In my first attempt at outsourcing content, around April 2013, I was trying to follow Jon’s method to get articles produced for $2 or less. I ended up finding an American writer who agreed to write articles for me for $1 per 100 words. I hired her through oDesk for several jobs as we built up trust and a good working relationship. She now writes for me on a private basis and has been producing articles for me weekly ever since. I didn’t exactly accomplish my goal of getting articles written for $2 or less, but I did find a great writer who produces high quality articles for a fair price.

Fast forward to October 2013, and I had a need for some more articles. More than I could ask my private writer to produce for me. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to attempt the outsourcing of content again via oDesk for $2 per article or less. As you can tell by the title of this post, this time I had success! I posted a job on oDesk which explained exactly what I was looking for. Within only a couple of hours I had more than 20 applicants who were eager to write for me at such a low rate. 24 hours after posting the job, I reviewed the applications then sent job offers to four of them (10 articles each). About 7 days later, I had all 40 articles in my possession and I had paid a grand total of only $76.66!

 oDesk Hire Contractor

Outsourcing Content for $2 per Article via oDesk

The user interface at oDesk is pretty straight forward and figuring out how to use the platform was easy, even for a first time outsourcer like myself. In my first attempt at article outsourcing, I had no clue what I should write in the job description. Even though I was copying Jon Haver’s method (changing the words slightly), I was still unsure about what I was doing when I sent out my first job. I was a little more comfortable with what I was doing my second time around. I had success with the process that I used, so I want to share the exact details with you. Feel free to copy any or all of it if you want.

Step 1 – Log in to oDesk

If you are not already a user, simply go here to get started at oDesk. It’s free to sign up. oDesk gets paid as a percentage each time you pay one of your freelancers.

Step 2 – Post a job

The following are the job posting settings/description that I use

  • Category: Writing & Translation – Website Content
  • Title: Keyword Specific Article Writing
  • Description:

    I need somebody to write 10 articles for me (about 5000 words total) based on very specific keywords. I will provide detailed instructions after hire.

    Qualified applicant MUST be native english speaking. I will want to see examples of past writing jobs to verify english writing skills.

    If hired, you will be expected to research the keywords (all in the same niche) and produce the articles based on my instructions.

    Upon completion of assignment (all 10 articles), I will provide 5 star feedback and payment as agreed.

    I will be reviewing applications approximately 24 hours after I post the job.

    Thank you for your consideration!

  • Skills needed: article-writing, content-writing, blog-writing
  • How to pay: Fixed Price ($20)
  • Duration: 7 days

Step 3 – Review applications

Look over applications. Filter out applicants who bid more than $20 or whose english skills are obviously not up to par. Review examples of their previous writing that they should have provided to you. I would not consider somebody who didn’t provide examples. This shows that they didn’t read and/or couldn’t follow your simple instructions.

Step 4 – Offer job(s)

After you decide which applicants you would like to hire, you need to formerly offer the job to them. Likewise, they need to accept before you get started and send them the details. Both of these steps are very clear and easy to figure out within oDesk.

Step 5 – Send article details

It is pretty standard to communicate via the oDesk message system. I always start there and include my email address at the bottom of my instructions and tell them they can email me anytime with questions or concerns. Assuming you have your keyword research done – this is what I send out to my writers when I am ready to have them start producing articles (with specific keywords, etc. inserted)

In every article, please include the keyword in the following places:

– in the title

– in at least one sub-title or sub-heading

– somewhere in the first “introductory” paragraph (first sentence if possible)

– somewhere in the last “conclusion” paragraph

– no more than 1% keyword density (if the article is 700 words, use it less than 7 times)

Open each article with an introductory paragraph. Use at least two sub-headings in each article (use the ones I’ve listed for each article, another one with the keyword (if I didn’t list it already), in addition to any you come up with). Use (bulleted or numbered) lists in articles whenever possible or applicable. Close each article with a concluding paragraph.

Article Requirements for this job:

Article 1 – 500 words





 (repeat previous 4 lines for all 10 articles)

  • If researching specific products for articles, make sure they are marketed to the United States.

  • If possible, please create articles on Google Drive and Share them with my e-mail address above.

  • Please complete all articles no later than 7 days after assigned.

  • Articles will be checked for plagiarism – make sure they are 100% unique.

  • I will provide agreed upon payment and 5 star review on Odesk upon completion and receipt of articles

Step 6 – Review articles

You should receive your articles within 7 days. When you do, read and review them. Make sure they followed your instructions for including the keywords in all of the appropriate places. Check for plagiarism. Copyscape is by far the most popular plagiarism checker. Here is another free plagiarism checker from dustball.

Step 7 – Pay and leave feedback

After you satisfactorily reviewed the work, find the option within oDesk to End Contract. Follow the instructions to pay your writer and leave them feedback. As long as they didn’t blatantly ignore your specific instructions, make sure to leave the 5 star feedback like you promised. Do this step as soon as possible after you receive the work to ensure that they will also leave 5 star feedback for you.

YouTube: How to Post a Job on oDesk…

How is the Quality of this Content?

As mentioned in my opening paragraph above, I’ve found the quality to be perfectly acceptable. The quality you will get using this strategy will vary greatly depending on who applies for your job and how you screen out your applicants. I probably wouldn’t use this content for pillar articles on websites that I am really trying to promote. But, this content is great for secondary articles that target low competition keywords that might not get as many searches as some of your main keywords.

Overall, I am completely satisfied with the quality of the content for the price that I paid! As it turns out – outsourcing content for cheap via oDesk is a viable and legitimate option. You can certainly pay a little bit more and get higher quality content if you want. But cheap outsourced content like this is perfectly fine for some of the things I plan to use it for.

oDesk Hire Contractor

Hint: This type of content is perfect for publishing on expired domains used for backlinking to your money sites!

Getting Very High Quality Content via Odesk

As I mentioned above, I originally found my regular private writer while trying to implement this cheap content strategy on Odesk. As it turns out, even the great writers need t…o start somewhere. If you are lucky, you can find them when they are just starting out and trying to build up their Odesk profiles. They may be willing to write content for cheap, with the hope of getting good reviews and 5-star feedback. More and more freelance writers are signing up and starting out at places like Odesk every day. Surely you’ll be able to find a good one that is willing to start out writing for cheap. Just be patient and carefully screen your applicants.

Even if you are unable to find one of these gems, you can still get extremely high quality content written by writers on Odesk. You just have to be willing to pay a little more. Plenty of great writers are already on the platform. Some that have great reviews and ratings and plenty of Odesk experience are able to demand higher rates for their work. If you’re unwilling to screen out the cheaper writers or just to impatient to wait – consider paying a little bit more to get that high quality content right away.

Go here to get started on Odesk today…

Remember, there are several dumb ways to create passive income online, but only one site that is blogging about it! Dumb Passive Income… dot com.

Image Credit

Metallic ballpen…” from Flickr by photosteve 101

Matthew Allen
Matthew Allen
Matthew Allen is a full-time trucker, part-time blogger, and imaginary entrepreneur. He's probably not the only trucker who calls himself a dumbass. But, he is the only known trucker who is blogging about passive income."Might be crazy, but I ain't dumb!" ~ Crazy Cooter (also Matt's CB handle) 
Matthew Allen
Matthew Allen
Matthew Allen is a full-time trucker, part-time blogger, and imaginary entrepreneur. He's probably not the only trucker who calls himself a dumbass. But, he is the only known trucker who is blogging about passive income."Might be crazy, but I ain't dumb!" ~ Crazy Cooter (also Matt's CB handle) 

67 thoughts on “Outsourcing Content for Cheap – How I Paid Only $76.66 for 40 Articles”

  1. Nice step by step guide Matt. Hope all your readers put this info to good use because I have gained so much from outsourcing work. There are a lot of fancy outsourcing services out there, but like you, I like to handle this process myself on odesk. I actually am in the process of hiring some new writers right now 🙂

  2. I very much prefer Google Drive – but for some reason a lot of people still use Microsoft Word. In fact, the writers of these 40 articles all followed my instructions to send the articles via Google Drive, but they somehow sent me Word documents via Drive and I had to convert them!

  3. Hey Steve! For the site that I shared, I did very little editing before publishing the posts. I did make some very minor changes. If you read the content, you can pretty much tell that the writer isn’t a 100% native english speaker. That one is from the Philippines – and to my delight has a pretty good handle on the english language!

  4. Google Drive converts them automatically. There is an option somewhere in there. What I do is all my writers get a folder with their names where they upload their content for review, then I have someone proof-read and review the article. There is a nice annotation feature on Google Drive to point exactly what needs work and put your comment about it.

  5. great instructional article. thanks for the advice. and great razor site too. but i’m confused as to how the site makes any money without having ads blasted all over it. can you elaborate some on that? i like the overall clean look of it. nice job.

  6. Although I don’t plan to do much with the site anymore, it is monetized through Amazon affiliate links. Any of the product text or picture links redirect the reader to Amazon for that product. I get paid a small percentage of the sale price as a commission if they buy. If the site were to start getting a lot of traffic, I would write specific review posts for some of the popular products on Amazon.

  7. As far as my bottom (time)line – it frees up a ton of it! I no longer have to spend my precious time creating content for topics that I am not interested in, but could be very profitable.

  8. Matt, good job with your outsourcing overview…I’ve started to utilize VAs even more and I’m telling you I’m glad I did. A good VA can make things so much easier. Again, good writeup…..

  9. Thanks Big Dave! Just the little bit of outsourcing that I do right now has made such a huge difference in how much I am able to get done. Looking forward to the day that I am willing to let go of even more tasks and pass them off to VA’s.

  10. Great info! I’ve seen so many articles on outsourcing writing and they always say be as detailed as possible in instructions. Well as a relative newbie to all this I don’t know what that really means. I hate to give as many details as I think should be there but it turns out not to be enough. Then I’ve just wasted my money. I love the detail you give in your instructions. Definitely going to to bookmark this page to refer back to when I am ready to have bulk writing that needs to be done.

    I was wondering how your experiment worked. Seeing any traffic to the pages?

    Oh also, I G+’d the the article but it didn’t unlock the link to the site.

  11. Mike – thanks for taking the time to comment on my post. As far as how the experiment worked, well… I haven’t exactly kept up with that site. I only published 3 of the articles and I’ve since moved on to bigger and better sites.

    Sorry about the blurred content thing. I just tried it myself and it didn’t even work. Don’t think I’ll be using that plugin anymore. Here is the hidden URL – http://bestrazorguide.com/

    Although I don’t plan to build backlinks to and monetize that site, I can still use it when I produce video tutorials going forward.

  12. Great stuff! One question…What do you think is the best way to give your VA access to software on your own computer (like Long Tail Pro) and no access to other areas of your computer besides renting a Virtual Private Server? Thanks

  13. I’m sorry Jason – I have no idea how to answer this question. I have yet to hire a VA. I’ve only outsourced writing. When I do hire a VA one day, I don’t think I will give them access to any software programs that are on my computer. If they really need a tool (like LTP), I will just buy it for them.

  14. Hi Matthew,
    Great post. If I can add something, a lot of VA on O’desk do not read instructions and there is a easy way to filter. Just ask in your job’s description to add a magic word for example: ( BIRD) at the beginning of theirs applications and you will see how this magic word filter a lot.
    Anyway, I will pick up some of your recipe to find a VA for 20 articles.
    Than you

  15. Thanks for the tip Jonathan. I have heard of people using the “magic word” or “Easter egg” strategy before. I didn’t really need to for this job – it wasn’t too hard to go through the 20 or so applications. But your tip would definitely be helpful for jobs that get a much larger number of applicants. Good luck with your articles!

  16. Hi Matthew I just posted a job on oDesk as per your suggestions. I’m wanting 20Amazon product review articles, 1000 words each. I have a specific outline that I want hired writer to follow. Hopefully it will work out.

    What is the filter technique and where exactly do you put the ‘magic word’?

  17. My filter technique is to simply scroll through the applicants and only consider the ones that bid within my pricing requirements. I then read over their application message. I will take a closer look at the ones whose English isn’t obviously too broken.

    I prefer that they provide examples of some of their past work. Most qualified applicants will have provided links to some of their work. If I am seriously considering hiring a writer, I will read over a few of those.

    I don’t use the “magic word” or “Easter egg” technique that others talk about. I don’t think it’s really necessary for this type of job posting – although it’s okay to use it if you want to. I figure, if the articles come back and they aren’t quite up to my standards, I can still use them on a web 2.0 property or something.

    Good luck with your hire(s) Macher!

  18. Thanks Matthew. I’m starting to get a few apps. So far none have provided links to some of their work. My fixed price is $80 and a couple have asked for higher fixed rate.

  19. You can also send them a message before hiring and ask them to provide examples of previous work. It might be okay to accept one of the higher bids too, if you’re confident their work will meet your expectations.

  20. Matthew I’ve only gotten 3 applications so far, thought I would get more. I want 20 articles, 1000 words each at a fixed price of $80. That’s $4/article. Any suggestions to get more applicants?

  21. Without seeing your job posting – the only suggestion I can think of is to offer more money and/or offer to give 5 star feedback upon completion. The strategy here is that newbies to Odesk will complete the work for cheap in return for 5 star feedback in order to boost their profile. Be careful with this though and make sure you are within the Odesk terms of service (it’s been awhile since I’ve actually read them).

  22. I follower your exact strategy with the job posting.

    I need somebody to write 20 articles for me (about 20,000 words total) based on very specific keywords. I will provide detailed instructions after hire.

    Qualified applicant MUST be native english speaking. I will want to see examples of past writing jobs to verify english writing skills.

    If hired, you will be expected to research the keywords (all in the same niche) and produce the articles based on my instructions.

    Upon completion of assignment (all 20 articles), I will provide 5 star feedback and payment as agreed.

    I will be reviewing applications approximately 24 hours after I post the job.

    Thank you for your consideration!

  23. Thanks for this Matt – just looking to start getting content written for me for a new project and will try this out.

    Ended up at this article through a genuine YouTube search!

  24. Nice Tom! Was I ranking high for whatever you searched for? Did you click on my video because you recognized my domain, or did you not discover it was me until after?

    Let me know how it works out for you. To this day, I am still getting content for $2/article which I use for my PBN sites and Web 2.0 properties.

  25. You were ranked number 2 for “post job on odesk” and i just happened to see your name under the video. Proof that it works eh?

    Am off on holiday but am definitely going to experiment a bit with odesk when i get back (will go through your aff link when i do)

  26. I’m going to give this a try again. Didn’t have success the 1st time around. Only had 3 applicants and they weren’t good. I want amazon review articles and info articles pertaining to my niche.

  27. One other suggestion you could try Macher – since it didn’t work out for you your first time…

    Try asking for less articles up front. Maybe hire for only 5 or 10 articles the first time around. Then, if you like their work you can always re-hire them to write the rest of the articles you need. The assignment might seem a little less intimidating this way.

    You could include in your description that there will be potential for more writing jobs in the future. Some applicants might look at it as a possible long-term position which might entice them to apply.

    Good luck this time!

  28. Hey Matt,

    This time around I’ve gotten a lot more applicants. I used the same wording to post the job. I want Amazon review articles in a specific format. I didn’t disclose all the details in the job listing. From ‘interviewing’ a couple applicants they were surprised that I want product review articles.

  29. Hello Mathew,
    Nothing beats quality content. This article is about three years old and it still make a whole lot of sense.
    The quality of the articles most of these writers submit is not far of from spun articles.

    I am a moderator at parmz writing services, we offer better quality at nearly the same price and we deliver roughly In 24 hours. We handle 100’s of articles daily and we know how much work is put into researching.

    Content pricing is about quality, perspective and preferences. No amount guarantees great content and no amount signals trash content.

    For those in need of some great content at Rock bottom cheap prices, please contact us at parmzhelp@gmail.com or articlependragon@gmail.com.

    Kind Regards!
    Parmz writing services

  30. Thanks, I`ve had mixed experience with freelancers but I guess I did not give proper instructions or make myself clear enough.You are right about price not guaranteeing work quality, I`ve had 1,200 high quality words written for $5 an article,also had 600 word poor quality for $30.
    My biggest issue with freelancers (the good ones) is coming and going,they are around then gone,sometimes they will ignore you for weeks.
    Still great tips,thanks for sharing

  31. Have you tried the “hire fast and fire fast” method? Hire 2 freelancers without interviewing. Give them both a fairly easy trial assignment. Evaluate their work and communication skills throughout the trial assignment process. Keep the better of the two and fire the other one. If neither work out – repeat the process.

    I’ve had pretty good luck with the VA’s and writers I’ve hired on UpWork over the years. I have one writer who has been with me for almost 4 years now and my top VA for almost 3 years!

  32. Dear Mathew Allen,

    This great article still looks outstanding even after four years. This simple and authenticated explanation of getting a cheap and quality content is great. I followed step by step instruction and placed a job with upwork.com. Of course, I hope this will work with some change. Great article. Once again thanks for discussing your experince. Have a great time…

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