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Last updated: August 26, 2020
Writing all the content for my websites myself is essentially a mission impossible. Outsourcing some of the writing is a no-brainer, but finding (and keeping) good writers can be quite the challenge.
I recently went through a recruitment sprint on OnlineJobs.ph, a job board for virtual workers in the Philippines. Whilst this website is mainly focused on finding virtual assistants, there are also good writers to find there.
In this review I am going to outline what OnlineJobs.ph is, the process I followed to find writers, and I will also share whether I will be using this platform again in the future.
What Is OnlineJobs.ph?
As mentioned, OnlineJobs is a job board for virtual workers based in the Philippines. The purpose of the site is to connect business owners with affordable virtual assistants.
It’s a win-win platform. It’s a good way for Philippines based virtual assistants to find paid work, and it’s a great way for business owners to find virtual employees to help manage and grow their businesses.
As an employer looking for talent, you can sign up for a free account. This will let you publish a job ad, but you can’t actually contact the applicants directly.
In other words, a paid account is a must if you want to hire people.
OnlineJobs offers two paid plans, one is called Pro and the other is called Premium. For most employers, the Pro plan is more than sufficient. The Premium plan is suitable for larger businesses that need to recruit a whole bunch of virtual workers.
I’m just a simple guy, so I signed up for the Pro plan.
These are two key advantages of using OnlineJobs.ph:
- Cancel anytime:
Whilst the monthly fee is rather steep, there is absolutely zero obligation to stay on. In fact, the platform is designed such that canceling your account is a normal thing to do. That’s how most employers use the platform. They sign up, put one or more jobs up, recruit and hire employees, and leave. Rinse and repeat.
- Contact workers outside the platform:
Unlike Upwork or Fiverr, with OnlineJobs you’re completely free to continue the communication process and work relationship outside the platform. It’s mostly a job board where you find your employees, and then leave the platform once you’ve hired the people you need.
How I Found 3 Good Writers Through OnlineJobs.ph
In this section, I am going to outline the process I followed that ultimately got me 3 good writers that I can now rely on for content production.
But before you continue reading, let me explain a bit more about how I work:
I know some multi-site bloggers out there who outsource their content production to a point where they don’t even need to log in to their WordPress sites anymore. They outsource the whole process, from keyword research, to content writing, to editing, to publishing.
I’m sure that’s super efficient, but I really can’t work that way, and I never will. When I hire a writer, I only outsource the writing part. I do the keyword research, I create the brief, I do the final editing, I add the images, I do the on-page SEO, and I ultimately publish the content on the websites.
This may sound like a lot of work, and it is, but these are the elements that I am good at, and also enjoy doing. Quality over quantity, always.
1. Set My Goal and Expectations
My goal was very simple. I wanted to revive a somewhat neglected website in my portfolio, and for that I needed a writer.
I wanted this writer to write 1 good quality article per week based on a detailed brief that I would give him or her. If this was going to work out well, my plan was to increase the workload to 2 good quality articles per week.
It was essential that this new writer was going to be able to commit to writing that 1 article per week, plus also being able to handle the increased workload a month or so down the track.
2. Prepare My Job Ad
One thing I’ve learned going through this type of recruitment process, is that the job itself needs to be clear and specific, and the job ad needs to communicate that.
This ties back into the previous paragraph about setting goals and expectations. If you’re looking for a writer, you don’t want a car mechanic to apply. It’s as simple as that.
And the only way for you to get the right people to apply for your job, is by being clear and specific in your job description.
This is roughly what my job ad looked like:
The tone on the blog is non-scientific and informal, but some research is required to better understand the topics to write about.
What I am looking for:
– Quality writing based on a detailed brief
– Unique content that is easy to read
– A natural desire to research topics
– Each article to be delivered in a Word document
What I am NOT looking for:
– Keyword research
– Fluff content
To apply, please do the following:
1. Send me a message with the title “AJ content writer”
2. Explain why you think you are the perfect candidate for this job
3. Tell me a bit more about your personality and interests
4. Tell me a bit more about your experience in writing
5. Include your resume or otherwise 1 or 2 examples of previously written articles
I will ask potential candidates to write a paid test article.
Note the first action item above, where I am asking applicants to send me a message with a specific title. This is to filter out any applicants who apply without using that specific title.
If they don’t read the job ad properly, they most likely won’t read my future article briefs properly either.
For this job I was offering $40 (USD) per article written, which on average would roughly translate to $0.03 per word. For a virtual worker in the Philippines that’s a pretty decent rate, especially because I do a lot of prep and editing work myself. For a writer residing in the UK or the US, that rate would typically be much higher.
3. Publish the Job Ad
Publishing a job on OnlineJobs.ph is a super straightforward process.
You fill out a job information form with Job Title, Type of Employment (full-time, part-time, freelance), Job Description, Salary, Required ID Proof, Email, and Contact Person.
The Required ID Proof is an OnlineJobs specific thing. Each job seeker on the platform has the option to verify their identity with official documentation. The more proof, the higher the score.
As an employer, you can say for example that you require a minimum score of 50 for job seekers to apply. This adds a level of trust.
Once you’ve filled out all the details, you can submit and your job ad goes live immediately, provided you have a paid account on the platform.
4. Going Through the Applications
As soon as my job as was live, the applications literally started pouring in. In total, I received 143 applications.
It immediately became clear to me that I had to change my goals. Instead of hiring just one writer, it was better to make good use of this large amount of applications, and hire a few more writers.
So my revised plan was to hire 1 writer for this particular website I was recruiting for, and to hire 4 more writers on a freelance basis to write content for some of my other sites.
One drawback of the OnlineJobs.ph platform is that it’s not designed around reviews. If you’ve ever used Upwork or Fiverr, you will know that having 5-star reviews is the key to success.
Since OnlineJobs is mostly a job board, employee reviews and star ratings aren’t really a thing. You’ll see the occasional review, but they’re rare.
What this means is, when you hire someone, you’re taking a bit of a leap of faith. It also means that you need to take the recruitment process seriously, and don’t just hire the first person that applies.
The Filtering Process
With 143 applications, going through them all would take a lot of time and effort.
So the first step is to reject the ones that didn’t read the job ad properly. About 25% of applicants didn’t use my suggested title in their application, so unfortunately I had to reject them.
My next step was to read the applications, and to reject the ones that didn’t at least try to address the questions I asked in the ad, or otherwise applications that were just too short and written on auto-pilot.
That left me with around 50-60 applications. I then quickly checked each profile to see if writing content was one of their core skills, or if writing was otherwise something they do as a side hustle.
I was hoping to find dedicated writers, so I rejected the ones that described themselves, for example, as virtual assistants who can also “do writing on the side”.
After a bit more screening and messages back and forth, I shortlisted 16 candidates.
5. Select My New Writers
I invited each of these 16 applicants to do a paid writing test in the niche of the website that I was initially recruiting the one writer for.
The Paid Test
To make this process work for myself as well as for the candidates, I prepared 4 different article briefs. Which meant that I had 1 brief per 4 writers.
The required word count in the briefs was rather low (it’s a test after all), to accommodate a quick turn-around. For each delivered test article I would pay $25.
This is what my paid test invite email roughly looked like:
Thank you so much for applying for the job. I would love to invite you to do a paid writing test, if you’re still interested? For this test article you will be paid $25.
Please find below the link to the brief for this test article. Don’t worry too much about the word count, instead please focus on the quality of your writing, so I can get a good idea of your writing style.
If you need more information, or if anything is unclear, definitely don’t hesitate to ask.
Thank you and good luck,
I figured this was a win-win situation, as the candidates would get paid for their work, and I would get new content that, with a bit of merging and editing, I could publish on the site I was recruiting the writer for.
I ultimately received 12 responses. The other 4 somehow weren’t available anymore, or they never responded. Okay, fair enough.
The Final Selection
Out of these 12 test articles, one really stood out as an excellent, well-researched article. I contacted her and asked if she was keen to commit to writing 1 article per week for the site, and 2 articles per week down the track, if both parties are happy.
Fortunately for me this writer said yes, so she was hired for the job. Yay!
What about the remaining 11 applicants?
The results were a mixed bag. There were a few that just weren’t good enough. They either lacked passion, or the topic just wasn’t researched properly enough. So I paid these applicants and thanked them for their time.
This left me with 6 applicants that I could potentially work with. I had another look at their profiles and their past work, and decided to select 4, and ask if they were keen to continue working with me on a freelance basis with a base rate of $0.03 per word.
They were happy to continue working with me, which in total left me with 5 new writers. And I call that a win!
How Are My New Writers Going Today?
Out of the five writers that I selected to work with on my sites, I have now three writers that are still working with me.
That may sound disappointing, and it kind of is, but those three writers are doing a good job, and are very helpful to my business.
They each write 1 article per week for me, and I am happy with the work they deliver. Plus, they’re easy to deal with, are flexible, and communicate well.
So what happened to those other two writers?
Well, one writer turned out to be a bit of a dud. I don’t know why, but the work this writer delivered after the paid test just wasn’t really up to standards, plus working with this person wasn’t exactly smooth sailing.
Then another writer ghosted me completely, and I honestly don’t know why. I mean, if you’re too busy with other work, just say so, right?
But as I mentioned, the three writers I am now working with are doing great, so overall I’m happy with the recruitment effort.
OnlineJobs.ph, Yea or Nay?
Using OnlineJobs.ph as a recruitment platform, and hiring Filipino writers, was a real learning process for me.
I do absolutely recommend OnlineJobs to others. It’s a super easy platform to use, and with a bit of effort, there are some excellent virtual workers to be found on the platform.
As such, I am planning to use the platform again for a new recruitment sprint, either at the end of this year, or early next year.
The platform is very much geared towards virtual assistants, and that is perfectly fine. But it also means that it’s a bit challenging to find true freelance writers.
What I found was that a lot of the applicants were virtual assistants who can also write content on the side. A dedicated writer is not the same as a virtual assistant who can also write, if you know what I mean.
That’s something to definitely keep in mind when searching for writers on the OnlineJobs platform. With my next attempt, I will make the job ad more clear, and ask specifically for freelance writers.
One last thing to keep in mind. Filipinos generally have excellent English language skills, but it’s not their native language. I personally don’t mind, because I am editing all the work myself before publishing.
But if you’re looking for a native English speaker, OnlineJobs may not be your best place to look for writers.
Long story short, OnlineJobs.ph gets my thumbs up, and I will happily use the platform again in the future.