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New "Client" searching for feedback from Freelancers.

I only recently discovered oDesk and began using the service. I took some time to read many of the posts in the Freelancer's section. My goal of course is to understand the concerns from a freelancers point of view. Basically I have come to the conclusion we all share the same concerns. We all just want to deal with straight operators, who communicate clearly and deliver on their end of the bargain. That being said, I invite you to review a recent job posting of mine. I am looking for bold criticism and feedback. So long as oDesk continues to deliver a favorable experience, my intention is to use the service as often as possible. As such I brush up on my communication skills so I know I am coming at potential Freelancers the right way. You can find the posting under: Blog writer for construction company I thank you in advance for your time and comments. Russell
22 REPLIES 22
marciamalory
Community Guru
To be honest, I find the post confusing. I don't understand what you want the applicant to do. What do you mean by a paid interview? Do you mean a test job? If you want to pay someone, you will have to agree to an interview and then hire them for a test job. It is good that you are clarifying that you are paying for the interview/test, as it shows that you are not trying to scam the freelancer for free work.
Thank you for your feedback Yes, this would be very much a test job. As a writer,I would expect my work to be published. I want to be clear that we may or may not actually use the submission. The total compensation with be the fixed price and a fair review. If we do actually publish the material the authors By Line would be a bonus. It is my intention to hire each qualified applicant based on the terms of the offer. Then I will simply re-post a similar job description for the next applicant. In this way applicants will be compensated for their time, we will all build our oDesk reputations accordingly and we may find the perfect person to be our new "go-to" writer. Is "Test-Job" the standard vernacular? Would that draw better response than "paid interview?"
It seems like all your back-end stuff is in the job post, and all the relevant information is missing. In other words, you only discuss the process as it pertains to interviewees, but you are not at that stage yet. You are looking for someone to fill this job (which I hope has a higher budget than $15), not for someone to interview for the job. The difference is that the post reflects qualities, budgets, and factors that only pertain to the interview process. It will only attract freelancers based on those, not the attributes needed for the actual job. It can't attract the right freelancer for the job because it hardly discusses it. I would not apply, mainly based on the low budget; $15 for a 600 word article. That includes research, which basically means you want your writer to work at a rate that is below min. wage in your area, so you start off indicating you have a level of disrespect for the profession. The budget is not the only problem, though. Your post includes many key indicators that tell me to look away. For one thing, you say, "We will hire a permanent writer based on the best value," which sounds very similar to the loathsome, "lowest rate gets the job." I don't want to know you are looking for value. That is generally a given and stating it reflects an idea that the rate is more important than quality. But, speaking of quality, you state that the work will be scrutinized and should be ready to publish. Those characteristics are indicative of quality, professional writing, so the budget and the wording of the job post should speak to a quality, professional writer. Your job post appears to be the type we see all the time from low ball clients who make a habit of "interviewing" freelancers, often scamming them and treating them with little respect. Not many of us are interested in that. Write a job post for the job, not the interview process. It is great that you have an idea in mind of how you want the process to go, especially considering that you plan to do some paid test jobs to find the right person. The job post, however, should reflect the actual job you are interviewing for, not that process. EDIT: I understand that your budget is for the test job, which is often offered at a lower rate than the freelancer generally receives. Your $15 is probably reasonable (although, 300 words for that rate would be more fair). My point is that the budget for the interview should not be listed as the budget for the ongoing job (the position you are trying to fill), unless this $15 for 600 words truly does reflect the rate you are willing to pay for the full time position.
Thank you for your excellent feedback. I understand that I need to be more descriptive when it comes to the actual job itself. I felt that "Professional Writer for Construction Blog", accompanied by the tasks that were outlined as part of the test submission more or less spelled out the performance demands. As a writer, what additional details would you like to see? Would you be more inclined to respond if for example I had listed some of the topics you would cover in the future if you were selected? I know I was vague when I said that if selected you would be offered a minimum of 5 projects per week. At this point I am not sure if we will settle on one writer for all projects or work with a few based on their interest and inclinations. Would you suggest including this information in the posting? I hear you loud and clear on the budget issue. I posted the budget for the test article at $15.00 based on it being 150% of the typical job rate for a blog article as published by oDesk. I was trying to send the message "I am willing to pay you more than the average rate just to apply for the job." This is why I asked for the applicants standard article rate. I can see that my message is at the very least, not perfectly clear. I will have to rethink my approach. While we are on the topic, I realize one article might require much more extensive research than another article. How do we address this issue? Is it normal to split rate between research (possibly hourly) and writing based on a per project fee? I assure you if it were my intention to scam people and low ball them, I would not open myself to the criticism of every person I interview and do not hire. By paying each person who applies that is exactly what I am doing, and I don't mind that. Even if you are not selected for future projects you will be treated with professionalism and respect. In addition, I feel that if you ask a person to complete a complex interview process which includes a task, it is only fair that you should leave positive feedback based on their understanding of the task and timely completion, even if my opinion is that they are not the best fit overall. That being said, if this approach is not typical and it causes confusion, I must rethink my strategy. Thanks again for your very helpful feedback.
[quote=Russell C.]I hear you loud and clear on the budget issue. I posted the budget for the test article at $15.00 based on it being 150% of the typical job rate for a blog article as published by oDesk. I was trying to send the message "I am willing to pay you more than the average rate just to apply for the job." This is why I asked for the applicants standard article rate.[/quote] Hmm. If you are referring to what is currently advertised on oDesks front page, where it states that you can have an article written for $10, or something like that, I appreciate hearing from you here in the forum! Many people are very offended by what oDesk has done there and what it says about our value and worth, so you have proven the point by stating that $15 for 600 words is 150% of the "typical" job rate. You show your (understandable) naivety on the subject but more importantly, you prove oDesks ineptitude in educating the naive. $10 gets you some interesting writing, that is for sure. From what else I have heard you say here, I suspect that is not the kind of writing you are in the market for. After all, you probably don't want hassles from the search engines for plagiarized content, nor do you want content that is so low quality it turns away every one of your readers. If we took me for an example, I regularly earn at least $75 for 1000 words, and many people still consider that low. I write the kind of quality content that it sounds like you are looking for. Some people who have reasonably the same skills charge a bit less, but rarely in the $15 range. Some people who have difficulty with basic writing concepts (such as the use of the correct tenses or other issues. Understandably, we all have weaknesses. Hopefully, though, they don't make it through to the final cut) still charge around my price range. That is where it gets difficult for clients like you, and that is the place for the paid test you describe. Not every applicant can provide work that is even worth paying $15 for, so I recommend against that. On that note, most quality writers are too busy to read the job posts. We generally only respond to invitations to interview, which is why most serious clients peruse freelancer profiles to choose the freelancers they want to hear from and invite them. [quote=Russell C.]While we are on the topic, I realize one article might require much more extensive research than another article. How do we address this issue? Is it normal to split rate between research (possibly hourly) and writing based on a per project fee?[/quote] Most writers charge enough to cover any necessary research in a fixed-price job, or charge hourly for the whole process. It is unusual and unnecessarily confusing to try to combine the two, but I guess you could. [quote=Russell C.]I assure you if it were my intention to scam people and low ball them, I would not open myself to the criticism of every person I interview and do not hire. By paying each person who applies that is exactly what I am doing, and I don't mind that.[/quote] Right, that is why I am replying to you here whereas I might not if I had only read your job post. I get the impression that you are trying to figure things out and have no intention of being a low-baller or scammer. I just want to warn you that I think some people get sucked into those roles thinking that the way they are doing things is just fine. It is easy to do.
I do not fault oDesk entirely for putting the idea in my head that I might find someone here who would and could afford to write for less than what I might expect to pay in a closed market. That being said, I have gleaned enough pricing information from a few of the posts here to have an idea of what I need to have in the offer to attract the right applicants in the future. I also agree that I should be hunting for writers and inviting them to review a detailed description, rather than trying to draw them in with an ad.
anne_ginger
Community Guru
That's what sprung to my mind when I've seen your post, and I agree with Marcia that it is indeed confusing. Another thing that I've thought of is you may not be aware of how things are done here. I've even considered applying to the 'job' just so I can send you a message with a link to the client guidelines and policies. I'm both a client and a freelancer here at oDesk, and I agree with Robin that your post lacks the correct details (the one about the job, not about the interview). As a freelancer, it looks to me that it was posted by someone who does not know what he wants and is after a freelancer who might be able to somehow telepathically know what it is for the lowest fee possible. I'm surprised some people applied to it at all, considering how vague and confusing it is. You said you want a straight contractor who will deliver his/her end of the bargain, but that is very difficult to do, considering how vague you are with what you want. When posting a writing job, please include the following: -Your budget per article and for the whole job (so you will not waste the time of those who commands a higher fee than you are willing to pay) -Topic/Niche (so you do not waste the time of those who may not be adept at your topic) -Tone to use -Purpose -The website where you will use it (so the writer can adjust the writing style accordingly, you can state this during the interview as well) -Expected number of words -Other guidelines -Keywords to be used (this can be mentioned during interview, not necessarily on the job posting) -turn around time (your deadline) PLEASE, please, please edit your job post. It will save you time in the hiring process as well. Welcome to oDesk!


❄❄❄ Just A Forum Contributor --- This isn't against forum guidelines ❄❄❄
Thank you for your time and your comments. I addressed a few items in a prior post, so I will move onto the new items you have given me to think about. The whole job is the single submission. I have not established a budget per article yet as I do not know what the market will bare. I am open to negotiating on future contracts based on each applicants abilities. We both live in the same world. I don't want to tell you the maximum amount I believe I can afford any more than you want to tell me the lowest price you would work for in an emergency. On top of that I am still confused how a Freelancer can charge based on number of words alone. What happens if you are asked to write on a topic you know little about and you have to do a lot of research? In my mind, the interview is the job. As such the job was spelled out clearly. 1. You are to write a test article for a company that has a blog that is related to the construction industry. 2. You will be given a topic that will require at least some research. (Now, I did not list the topic of the test article because it will be different based on the applicant. If someone tells me they have 5 years experience writing articles for a concrete company I am going to choose a topic related to wood siding or something they are not likely to be so familiar with that they can hammer out 600 word with no research) 3. You will not be asked to do a re-write (one and done) and you will be paid. 4. You will recieve a review for your oDesk profile. I never considered mentioning tone. I will keep that in mind. Purpose is to evaluate your skills as a potential writer for a construction blog. I mentioned the submission may or may not actually be used. -The website where you will use it (so the writer can adjust the writing style accordingly, you can state this during the interview as well) I am simply not comfortable enough with oDesk to provide this information in a public posting. We expend great effort to combat hacker and spammers. Listing information like that just seems a little risky to me. Your other notes do not require comment, I understand completely. I clearly need to edit my post as it is not at all attracting the caliber of applicant I require for the ongoing project. Thanks again for your helpful comments.
I'm glad you are really taking our comments seriously. A well structured job post will save you time. At the end of the day, as a client, I'd rather just have 3 qualified people applying for my job than to have 30 which would be a waste of my time if I were to read all and not find the freelancer I am looking for. Including the niche is helpful because it can save you money and time if you can find a freelancer who is already well-versed in the subject. Example, a generic writer can take 2-4 hours to write a 500 word article if they still need to do some research and study the material, and even then, it might not be the caliber you are looking for. An expert will only take 1-2 hours to write the same, and you will be sure they do know what they are talking about. I've done an experiment in the past hiring someone for $10 an hr (generic writer) and someone for $35 an hour (expert in the subject). Guess what, the expert writer produced exactly what I wanted in only 50 minutes, whereas it took the generic writer 4 hours and 10 minutes to produce something which I might like on a nice day 😛 To be fair, I gave both of them a 5 stars feedback, even if the other writer didn't produce what I wanted because he was honest right from the beginning that it is a difficult topic for him. If you are unsure how much to pay, hire someone on a per hour basis (you can limit the number of hours, to say, 3 hours max for the test job) and invest on someone who really knows what they are doing. After you already know how much time it takes someone to write what you want, you can negotiate on a per article payment basis. As a client, I would suggest you hire per hour if hiring an expert, they do save time and money in the long run. As for the website where you will post the article, you can mention that once you have already handpicked someone. Btw, I don't know how anyone can hack a website by just it being mentioned (because your website is publicly listed anyway) but I understand if you are looking for a ghostwriter that you don't want the public to know you are not the one writing your blogs/content. Good luck finding that writer 🙂


❄❄❄ Just A Forum Contributor --- This isn't against forum guidelines ❄❄❄
It is in my best interest to take your comments seriously. I am sure the feedback I have already received will save me time and frustration in the future. I will address your comments in reverse order as the first of your subjects will require a more detailed reply. I am (overly)cautious about the website because I don't know where the hackers and spammers find us to begin with. In addition, I see job listings such as: "I will pay you $1.00 per posting you make on a forum or blog promoting my hemorrhoid cream, adult web site or whatever." (this is not an actual quote, nor is it in any way intended to be representative of the typical posting you find on this web site) Because our existing site has a forum and a blog, I did not want to advertise as a target. On Price I respect the "you get what you pay for" aspect of your comments regarding "price." To my mind there is no different between a project with a set price and an hourly wage project with fixed time. The entire oDesk experience is pretty foreign to me. I am excited by the prospect of what the service has to offer, while at the same time cautious of the risk involved. As a "Client" to this service, I am paying oDesk a fee on top of what I agree to pay my contractor or freelancer. Now you can describe this service any way you like but what it boils down to is the unspoken promise to save me time and alleviate some level of risk. I can find resumes posted all over the net. For there to be value for me as a client, I have to trust that all of the work posted in every Freelancers' profile is their own. That is to say, I would have to trust that implicitly if it were simply a matter of fixed price. Because the price is not fixed, oDesk affords me another benefit. The fee I pay also allows me to create small jobs that are sufficient to confirm the skills and value of a potential contractor without having to expose full company details to a large audience which may or may not contain actors of nefarious intent. I understand that from a skilled professional writers perspective it must be hard to imagine that there are those who claim themselves as your peers yet completely lack your ability or integrity. To me this posting is less about how much I pay to have an article written and more about how much I will invest to make the acquaintance of an excellent writer or two.
Hi! You can use copyscape.com to find out if the articles in the portfolio of your prospective hires are really theirs. If they claim that the name is not theirs because its ghostwritten, then it means that by claiming the work as their own, they have violated the ghostwriting policy/rule. When I hire writers, I always ask them to not provide attachments (because that can be copy pasted from the web) but rather to give me a link to an article they wrote that clearly identifies them as the author. There are writers who turn up a great test job and then the subsequent jobs are rubbish (because they hired someone else to write it for them, a common practice here I'm afraid) so that's why I hire on a per hour basis, its not about the price for me as well but rather its about saving time and being sure of the quality of work and the fact that it is indeed the person who I hired who did the job. I'm also a writer but my partner and I owns a technology site. As I am not techy, I decided its better to hire someone to ghostwrite for the site (that's why I hire writers too). I agree the process for finding someone who is the right fit is difficult. I'm just glad that there are also other clients here who are as involved in their business as you (just like me). Wishing you success in finding that right writer for you! My quest took almost 3 months, but our writer has been with us for nearly two years now and he is worth all the effort it took to find him 🙂


❄❄❄ Just A Forum Contributor --- This isn't against forum guidelines ❄❄❄
Thank you for the copyscape link. We are on the same page regarding concerns.
asajid
New Forum Member
Hi Russell, Welcome to oDesk! I agree with the others that your job post is not very clear. You need to give more details about what the actual job requires. That way serious applicants can see if they have the expertise required to apply. This current version of your job post will probably end up attracting equally vague applications. Doing a paid test is highly recommended especially for a writing job. It lets the client see if the applicant's tone and skill matches what they require while the applicant can get a feel of what they'll be writing about and who they'll be working with. If I were you, I'd rewrite the job post, make it relevant to the actual work required and then mention that a small, paid test will be required from shortlisted applicants. Once you have a fair number of applications, start shortlisting. First check their cover letters, portfolio items, feedback history and profiles. Make a list of those who interest you. But the portfolio may or may not reflect their actual ability, so I highly recommend a Skype call, audio at least if not video. You'll get a feel for their language skills as well as personality. This is very important if you want to hire for an ongoing/ long-term job. Send out the paid test to the finalists who pass through the Skype phase. As far as rates are concerned, it depends on how technical your topics will be. You can discuss this with your applicants during the interview. Naturally the rates will vary with skill and expertise. Like someone said above, an expert ends up being cheaper in the long run as they are quicker and deliver better quality content. You wouldn't want to skimp on the quality of your content, as your blog is basically your brand voice. You wouldn't want it to be lousy or unimpressive. Ask if the applicants can handle uploading the content directly to your blog as well - it will save you a lot of headache in the long run if the writer knows how to handle uploading and formatting the posts as well as putting up Google-smart meta-data while they are at it. :) On a side note, you sound like a very trusting person, which is nice, but you'll need to be on your toes while interviewing and test the applicants' claims by asking intelligent questions rather than opting for blind faith! If you need any assistance in hiring, let me know, I'll put you in touch with our recruitment team. Happy hunting!
oDesk Forum Moderator Always reach for the skies, for even if you fall, you'll still be on the top of the world...
Thank you for taking the time to post your helpful comments.
You're welcome, Russell! Glad I could help...
oDesk Forum Moderator Always reach for the skies, for even if you fall, you'll still be on the top of the world...
[quote=Ayesha Sadaf Kamal]I highly recommend a Skype call, audio at least if not video. You'll get a feel for their language skills as well as personality.[/quote] I don't want to be contentious, and I am certainly not being defensive here either, as I clearly have the ability to audio and/or video chat and impress clients with my command of the English language. I just want to point out that a person's speaking ability may or may not relate well to their ability to write well. I have met many people who can't seem to put 2 good sentences together when talking in person, but their writing is very eloquent and enjoyable. I have also met their opposites. As this is an international platform, I just want to speak up a little for those (possibly rare few) who may fail miserably on a Skype chat interview, but who are still likely among the best candidates for the job.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I fully agree that no person's ability should be assessed based upon any single data point.
Robin, I didn't mean that you judge their writing skill entirely by the call. Let me clarify... I agree that a person's written and spoken skills may - and do - vary. More so for non-native writers. I mean who'd know better than I, right? 🙂 The point I was trying to make was that in general, an audio interview gives you a feel for the applicant's personality. Secondly, it is the quickest way to find out if the person can walk the walk so to speak. Once you are interviewing via Skype, you can ask intelligent questions pertaining to the job. How will you manage this or how would you tackle that... That way you can tell who knows what they are talking about and who doesn't. I've hired people before, and in my opinion, an audio interview is the fastest way to shortlist applicants and get a feel for their knowledge on the subject, not just language skills.
oDesk Forum Moderator Always reach for the skies, for even if you fall, you'll still be on the top of the world...
It's funny that the devil's advocate post is Robin's post number 666 ahaha! :D Anyway, I agree by what she said here. My tech site ghostwriter sounds like an alien on skype call. Sometimes, he also he stutters and can't go past a few sentences. He says that because English is not his mother tongue, that he gets hesitant when speaking. However, as a writer, his skill is impeccable. He has great proofreading and editing skills too and even scored in the top 10% on his oDesk test. So yes, some people may not do well on skype interview but that does not mean that they can't produce great work.


❄❄❄ Just A Forum Contributor --- This isn't against forum guidelines ❄❄❄
[quote=Dianne M.]It's funny that the devil's advocate post is Robin's post number 666 ahaha! :D[/quote] Hmmmmmm Had I only realized the number when posting. Oh, well. I am not superstitious. Thankfully, I am not even a little stitious. 😉
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