How do you find freelance writers?
If you’re an agency owner and content creation is part of your service deliverables, then you know just how hard it is to find a good writer.
I’m specifically talking about hiring AIO content writers.
What is AIO?
AIO is short for artificial intelligence optimization which is the idea of using AI to write your baseline draft — saving 7+ hours of time per post — and then having human writers optimize that output before publishing.
AIO is one of the best approaches to modern content creation since AI has come so far that it writes nearly human-like content.
It just doesn’t make sense to do this process with 100% human writers anymore.
The secret sauce of the AIO approach lies in making cutting-edge AI technology work alongside skilled human writers who optimize content for readability and SEO purposes. This powerful combination uses AI writing tools like Content at Scale as a foundation for your first draft, saving you time and resources without compromising quality.
By combining AI and human ingenuity, your agency can now generate top-notch long-form content in a much shorter amount of time.
So in this masterclass (blog post +video!), I’m going to share with you how to find freelance human writers with this caveat.
We’re going to talk about how to hire AIO content writers from a pool of talented freelancers that are out there looking for work.
This lesson was inspired by Mickey Anderson, a friend and fellow Content at Scale user, who was able to turn an amazing content writer into an AIO writer.
With our AIO approach, we’re seeing agencies save an incredible 10x to 25x the time and cost of content production. One writer can do 10x the amount of output that a human writer used to be able to do on their own!
This is why I highly suggest using the AIO approach where artificial intelligence augments the human writer by literally 10x-ing their production.
It’s a no-brainer. ✅
If you want to continue going the human-only route, you would be missing out on huge amounts of money. But, our AIO approach means you still need a talented freelance content writer. In fact, they’re super valuable, maybe more so than ever, if you find the right one.
So this masterclass will be all about how to find the right one, how to hire them, and how to train them and bring them into your team as highly qualified awesome AIO content writers.
Let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
- How to Hire AIO Content Writers: Qualifications to Look For
- Tips for Creating Your AIO Writer Job Listing
- Say Goodbye to Zoom Interviews: Focus on Proof of Skill
- AIO Writer Examples and Pay Scale
- Where to Post Your Job Listing
- How to Interview Your Candidates
- Finding Your Perfect AIO Writer: Don’t Settle for Less
How to Hire AIO Content Writers: Qualifications to Look For
You can hire AIO content writers for your own brand or if you’re reselling content as a service — or both.
- At Content at Scale, we have one writer behind 80 to 100 pieces of content posted per month.
- And at Content Hacker, I have an expert AIO writer who is writing around 8 to 10 pieces per month using our AIO approach where the AI is your baseline draft and the human is the optimizer.
Why do you need a human optimizer at the end of the process?
To meet E-E-A-T!
E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness which are Google’s requirements for determining great content that ranks well.
So what qualifications should you look for in AIO content writers?
- You/your client’s industry of expertise.
- Willingness to learn AI tools and 3-5+ years of experience in content writing.
You want to keep these two things in mind when you’re writing your job listing or interviewing candidates. Let’s dig into each one.
1. Industry Expertise
Industry expertise should always come first when you’re hiring AIO content writers. Find a writer who knows your niche or target market inside and out.
If you’re writing generalized content, you don’t need this.
But whenever you’re writing for a specific industry like tech, finance, SEO, or legal, your first order of business is to find a writer who has experience in that field. This way they’ll be able to edit and optimize AI content way faster than a writer who has no experience in these industries.
If you’re a marketing consultant, look for a marketing-savvy writer. Perhaps someone who’s been a marketer for three years.
And if this is for a client, you need to think about the client’s field of expertise. For example, if they’re in the tech industry, then you need to find a good technical writer for them.
We’ve tested not doing this a couple of times in our writing agency, and it always didn’t play out well. With a writer who has industry expertise, things always worked out better — the content was done faster and with a higher level of knowledge of that particular industry and its audience.
2. Writing Experience and Willingness to Embrace AI
Beyond industry expertise, look for a writer who has excellent writing skills and several years of experience writing good content.
And one who’s not averse to AI!
We often call this the snobby writer — and I admit I was one before. 😜 (You might have seen some videos of me declaring “I’m never using AI!” 😂)
You don’t want that. You want a writer who’s willing to use AI.
If they’re anti-AI, this is not going to work.
Make it clear that candidates must be willing to learn and use AI-powered content creation tools.
So to recap, first of all, you need a writer who matches the client’s area of expertise.
And then you need to look for great content writing skills — a few years of experience will verify that.
And then they need to be open to learning and using AI.
Here are some examples for your job listing title:
- Technical AI content writer
- Technical content writer
- Marketing AI content writer
I found pretty good writers who were open to AI without even putting AI in the job listing title. With the speed that AI is going, writers are learning to adapt and they’re actually looking for AI content jobs.
Tips for Creating Your AIO Writer Job Listing
Here’s a big question I get a lot:
Do I actually say AIO in the job listing?
Yes, you should, but since this is a very new term, you should define it well and tell them you’re willing to train them on the technology.
If you want talented AIO content writers to apply, you should be very detailed in your job listing.
Here’s an example from our AIO hiring template:
We are looking for a talented content writer who we can train into a technical AIO writer — someone who uses AI (Content at Scale) as their baseline to write the content (we will provide you with the training and the tool) and optimizes that content output for best results with both search engines and humans.
This will bring so many good people your way if they know you’re literally giving them the keys to their own success.
So how do you qualify a good writer?
Your job listing is KEY. It doesn’t matter whether you’re hiring for W9 or W2. We mostly hire W9 which is a freelance contract role and not an employee. You can hire a full-time freelance writer in an employee structure or 100% freelance depending on your team setup.
I definitely recommend freelance since it’s less paperwork, less management, and more autonomy.
You also need to create a job copy that clearly outlines our two priorities: area of experience and the willingness to learn AI tools to go with some experience in good content writing.
Say Goodbye to Zoom Interviews: Focus on Proof of Skill
Whenever you’re trying to qualify your applicants, ditch the typical Zoom interview where you get on a call and ask irrelevant questions like:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your hobbies?
- What are you bad at?
Skip all of that!
Zoom interviews are not the best way to assess a writer’s skills. Instead, give your candidates a hands-on writing or editing task related to their field of expertise. This practical assessment will reveal much more about their abilities than any Zoom conversation could ever do.
People can easily BS their way through an interview and you will never know the true characteristics of that person. So ditch all of that and save yourself valuable hours.
When it comes to hiring AIO content writers, always look for skills in a written interview.
How do you do a written interview?
If you’re hiring AIO content writers, give them an article straight out of AI and ask them to edit it according to the CRAFT framework.
This replaces the Zoom interview and the candidate only needs to edit around 5 paragraphs.
They’re going to love you for saving them that precious hour on a Zoom call as they will only need to edit an article for around 20 to 30 minutes.
I tell you, the best writers in the world are often introverts.
They hate phone calls!
And they don’t want to be on Zoom.
They want to write.
That you’re catering to what they like to do is just magic. You’re going to get so much better output and be able to see within minutes who the good and bad writer is.
You can’t talk your way into convincing your interviewer that you’re a good writer — you either write well or you don’t.
So let me show you some of the AIO writers that we have on staff at Content at Scale.
AIO Writer Examples and Pay Scale
Chris is based in the Philippines and has 10 years of experience in content writing. SEO content is her skill set.
By the way, you can hire a good Filipino writer anywhere from $6 to $15 per hour and they’ll be happy to write for you for a good paycheck.
Our content strategy has evolved from just doing bulk SEO content to producing thought leadership content. So what we’ve done is hire an expert writer — Alyssa — for $40 per hour to train, coach, and direct our content creation process.
Now you have three ways to go about hiring AIO content writers.
You might want to go for the expert writer — Alyssa — or go for a beginner like Chris and train them.
Or you could shoot for the middle and pay $20 per hour for someone who’s already content savvy but doesn’t know AIO. Of course, they should be willing to learn AI.
That’s what I would do if I was doing this for my own content or for clients reselling it as a service.
Alyssa is also my AIO writer at Content Hacker and it usually takes her 2 hours to write a piece of content — so that’s about $80.
If I were to ask Chris to do it, I would only pay $12.
But why do I prefer to pay $80 for each piece of content?
Because of Content Hacker’s status. A lot of income depends on Content Hacker’s online authority and the name I built from my work.
I chose a higher pay rate because Alyssa has critical skills — she knows thought leadership, she’s written for some of the biggest publications in the world under my byline, she’s capable of very deep research, and she knows how to position a brand through 10 years of doing this with me.
She’s also an expert at sales copywriting which is a big plus when you’re trying to create persuasive calls to action.
Now let me be clear: You do not have to get an Alyssa. You can still do very well with a Chris.
If you are willing to train them on your style of writing and quality standards and give them great models to follow like the Content Hacker blog, then you can literally elevate a low-cost writer into a phenomenal AIO writer.
Don’t think that you have to spend a ton of money hiring a writer plus investing hundreds of dollars in AI.
You can really do this in a scrappy way and still create great content.
You can even hire interns! We actually have an agency owner that does that. They train college students on how to optimize AI content and have them do the job for free in exchange for valuable experience in AIO.
Don’t underestimate the value of this experience. Whenever you’re training people to become AIO content writers, you’re helping them get ahead in an emerging industry that many of us will be getting into very soon — leaving their peers behind.
Right now there are plenty of employers out there that are saying don’t ever use AI — which is ridiculous!
AI is here and it’s here to stay.
By hiring interns and SEO writers, you’re actually helping them adapt to the industry of the future.
Where to Post Your Job Listing
Now that you have an idea of which area of expertise you’re going after, how to position your job listing, and a pay rate that fits your budget, where do you post your job listing?
DO NOT post your job listing on Facebook groups, job boards, and most especially not on your friends list. 😂
I recommend posting this on a platform where you can go through a lot of talent to find your ideal person.
Let me walk you through a few platforms that I use.
Viva HR is a platform that we use for all of our hiring at Content at Scale. For $89 a month for one job posting, you get on over 50 job boards and you can set up a custom way to interview candidates.
Right now we have over 500 applicants just from the last few weeks.
The other platform I love to use is Indeed. I use this for everything I do at Content Hacker, including finding AIO content writers.
The job and the pricing are different according to how you sign up.
For example, I could pay $5 a day to find a marketing content writer or pay $50 for an applicant I was able to sign and hire.
The reason you want to use these platforms is because of their reach.
If you posted in a Facebook group or a job board, you’re probably stuck with only five people to choose from. The talent pool is going to be so tiny you can’t even see it 😂
You need a really big talent pool where you can send your written interview template.
How to Interview Your Candidates
At Content at Scale, we have a job listing template that outlines the interview steps on how to hire AIO content writers.
When you have hundreds of applicants coming through, you want to sort through those applicants before sending them your interview steps.
Here’s an example of my interview steps for Content Hacker.
I tell the applicant to:
- Study the Content Hacker blog to get familiar with what a high-quality published blog should look like.
- Study the CRAFT framework and edit the test article which is an actual post generated by Content at Scale.
- Put the final edited output on a Google Doc.
- Submit to my email address.
The test should take around 10 to 20 minutes.
Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for these samples to come in.
Whenever you’re reviewing submissions, the one thing you want to look for is writing quality.
Analyze each work thoroughly by checking grammar, punctuation, style consistency, and overall readability.
You want to see that the applicant understood the CRAFT framework — that they’ve cut the fluff, reviewed and optimized the content, added visuals, fact-checked the work, and built trust and authority with links to credible resources.
Want to learn every step involved in our C.R.A.F.T. framework? You’re in the right place. To learn more about AIO and C.R.A.F.T, read our individual guides:
- C – a full guide on cutting the fluff
- R – a full guide on optimizing your content for SEO
- A – a full guide on adding blog images and visuals
- F – a full guide on how to fact-check
- T – a full guide on how to trust-build in your content
Finding Your Perfect AIO Writer: Don’t Settle for Less
Be judicious when reviewing these outputs. Do not skip steps!
Make sure they’re excellent and don’t settle for less.
If you see low-quality writing, or typos, or didn’t follow the CRAFT framework, move on. It’s just not worth it.
You might have to go through 50 to 100 applicants to find a great AIO writer but it is 100% worth your time.
My AIO writer has been with me for years. She was a content writer before she became an AIO writer and I can tell you she has taken so well to the AIO process — it’s a dream to work together.
That’s what I want for you, and it boils down to not settling for less.
I’ve done this process a thousand times and I’m here to help you find your perfect AIO writer.
Cheers to you and your journey being an agency owner in the era of AI. If you’re offering content as a service, you can make an incredible profit margin with so much less stress.
I highly suggest the AIO approach because it works — and it’s freakin’ amazing!
I used to run a content agency with hundreds of human writers and I would much rather do it this way.
AIO writing is much simpler and more sustainable. And the key to AIO success is finding, hiring, and training freelance writers to become your next AIO writer.
For more guidance and even a kit to help you hire and train AIO writers, check out our resources below. ⬇️
Free Resources to Train Your Writers into AIO
I’ve been personally training agency owners and teams and helping them convert to the AIO way. Want these? You’re in luck – we’re giving them away.
We put together a full guide for AIO’s – an AIO writer’s worksprint, a job template to hire and find yours, links to our best tutorials and training, and more.
Want this awesome resource? It’s called the AIO Writer’s Worksprint. Download now for free.
Free Step-by-Step AIO Training Course
Additionally, after months of putting AIO and C.R.A.F.T. into action (over 40M words are produced each month by our users at Content at Scale, and our Done-for-You client side is another 500,000 words/month! Talk about AIO at scale 🤯 ) – we put together a step-by-step AIO C.R.A.F.T. tutorial.
Ideal for you, your writers, and any content creator ready to adapt to the CRAFT methodology and the AIO way.
New to the idea of AIO and CRAFT? Read this to understand the innovation behind AIO.
Want a written guide that has all the CRAFT steps from the YouTube video? Your wish is our content command. Step-by-step AIO writing tutorial, blog version.