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UpWork Review: How To Hire Great Content Writers

Affiliate marketers need writers. Blogs need writers. Websites need writers.

In fact if you’ve got anything to do with the internet in a business context, chances are you need a writer.

And guess what? The internet is FULL of writers. Good ones and bad ones. The question everyone is asking: “How do I find good writers?” UpWork has provided a solution for this.

Previously known as oDesk, UpWork merged with Elance about two years ago. These two platforms now form UpWork, the go-to platform for freelancers.

upwork logo

Understanding How UpWork Works

Simply put, Upwork is a platform that connects freelancers with clients. It’s a fast and secure way to pay for freelance work without the hassle of interviews, contracts and legal mumbo-jumbo.

Here’s a quick rundown on how it works


Freelancers are divided into various categories:

  • Writing
  • Project Management
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Legal
  • …and more

Select the Writing category and you’ll notice lots of subcategories within the writing niche. There’s book writing, blog writing, travel writing, eBook writing, proofreading & editing, sales writing, copywriting and more.

Posting a job

To hire a writer, you will need to post a project on UpWork. Simply write a short description of what you want, tag the appropriate subcategories and wait for writers to apply.


You’ll also have to set a budget for your project. UpWork lets you choose between three budget categories:

  • Entry level ($)
  • Balanced between experience & price ($$)
  • Professional ($$$)

Set your budget and state whether you’re willing to negotiate on that budget or if it’s concrete.


A bunch of candidates will soon apply for your project. You can go through each applicant and choose the one you feel is most suited to what you need. More on this later.


Once a project has been completed, you’ll have the opportunity to either continue working with them (by adding more milestones) or marking the job as complete (closing the project).

You can then provide feedback on how the writer performed. But remember, the writer gets to rate you too, so be nice.

UpWork has a feedback system that works slightly different to other freelancing platforms. There’s public feedback and private feedback. You can let UpWork know what your experience was like in private. This feedback will affect the writer’s profile even though your comments will never be made public.

What Factors Should You Look for in a Good Writer?

Good writers are hard to find. If you have one that writes for you, you’re one of the lucky ones. Writers tend to cause a lot of frustration for project managers, website owners and marketing companies.

Here’s why:

  • A lot of writers are not trained. They think writing is easy and simply wing it as a side gig for extra cash.
  • Writers are typically procrastinators. They underestimate how much focus and hard work writing demands, and end up disappointing their clients.

How to Check the Authenticity of Writing Samples

One of the things you’ll want to know from the start is whether your writer can deliver good quality.

Since you’re probably not a writer yourself, I’m going to give you a quick guide on how to filter the good writers from the bad ones.

Asking for a Sample

Writers will usually have a portfolio attached to their profiles. You can view these portfolios and seek out samples within them.

You can also ask your writer to send additional samples with their proposal. This will allow the writer to provide you with an appropriate sample according to the requirements you’ve provided.

Checking for Originality

I’ve corresponded with many writers online. More than once, writers have sent me samples that were either not their own or never published.

You should always check whether a sample is original. There’s no sure way of doing this, but the following technique will give you a rough idea:

  • Select a phrase of about 10 words within the content body of the sample.
  • Copy and paste it into your Google search tab.
  • Put quotation marks on both sides of the phrase and hit SEARCH.

Google will now find that exact phrase if it exists on the web. If it doesn’t find it, it could mean the post was removed or that that particular order of words was changed. If so, try it again with another group of 10 words.

If you can’t find the post, it may never have been published. Ask the writer about this. They should know whether the post was published and some might even know where it was published.

If you do find the post, check to see who wrote it. It may have been published under a different name. If so, ask your writer whether they were credited with writing the article. If they say they were but you see it under a different name, the writer may be lying or they may have stolen that post off the web and claimed it as their own.

Niche Writing Versus Research Writing

Something else to consider when hiring a writer is whether you want a niche writer or a research writer.

Here’s the difference:

  • A niche writer has experience in the niche topic you want content for. They have either worked in that niche, adopted it as a hobby or had lots of experience writing about it.
  • A research writer isn’t yet familiar with the topic, but they are skilled at researching it. This means they will take more time Googling and studying the topic before the writing process begins.

There’s no wrong choice here. Choose a writer based on their research abilities or their hands-on experience. It’s up to you to decide.

Getting What You Pay For

Be the kind of client who’s happy to pay for a good service. Sure, you can hunt for a bargain. But more often than not, you get what you pay for.

If you insist on good quality, be willing to pay for it. After all, it’s the content that ends up making money for you, so respect the process and pay well.

The Importance of a Detailed Brief

A lot of clients set their writers up to fail without even realizing it. As someone who has hired writers before, I have learned the importance of a writing brief.

A brief is a set of instructions you provide your writer with. It gives him or her direction on exactly what you want. The more specific the brief, the happier you’ll be with the outcome of the content.

What Every Brief Should Include

  • A word count.
  • An indication of the tone & style you want.
  • A format guide (intro, subheadings, bullet points, etc).
  • A set of keywords (Unless specified, it’s never the writer’s job to find keywords for you).
  • Publishing procedures (Will the writer have to publish the post or will you do it).
  • A clear indication of what you DON’T want.
  • A reasonable deadline.

Testing Your Writer

Unless you have total confidence that the selected writer will meet your expectations, it’s a good idea to test your writer. UpWork allows you to do this in an easy way, which is why so many clients prefer this platform.

Should I Ask for a Free Test?

Good writers will often feel insulted if you ask them to do a free test. Many of them write for a living, so asking them to work for free cuts into their time and their pockets.

Offer a paid test and let them complete one article for you. Compare this article to the samples they sent you. This will give you a good indication of what to expect on future work.

If you’re not entirely happy with the work, decide whether it’s worth your time to coach the writer a bit in order to get them on the same page. If it’s not worth your time, pay them and move on to someone else.

There you have it. You now have all the tips you need for sourcing excellent freelance writers. If you run into a few bad eggs along the way don’t lose hope. Good writers are out there, you just have to know where and how to find them.


4 Comments UpWork Review: How To Hire Great Content Writers

  1. Christopher Binns

    Upwork rejected my application. I have superior writing capabilities and access to online databases like EBSCO Host. I could have brought excellent writing and content creation skills to the platform yet they rejected my application because they have too many writers. How is that possible? Why not let employers decide? I guess I should have lied and showed myself to be less capable of delivering quality writing and online content. Don’t waste your time with Upwork!

    Upwork isn’t interested in great content writers, if they were, they would have let me on their platform.

    I will do a small piece of writing for anyone here for free to show you I am a quality writer who deserves to work and potentially support his family.

    1. Chris Lee

      Hi there Christopher. I’m sorry you’ve had this experience with UpWork.

      I’,m often in need of writers so get in touch with me via email and we can work something out (maybe).

  2. Simon

    Hi Chris, I’ve been thinking about hiring a content writer for some and after plenty of bad experiences with iWriter I agree that Upwork is probably the best place to find writers.

    The thing that’s holding me back though is knowing how much I should pay. I understand you get that what you pay for but what ballpark figure is a reasonable amount for say, a 2,000 post. I’ve read that’s it better to pay per number of words rather than per hour.

    Would love to get your take on this.



    1. Chris Lee

      A good figure for a 2,000 word post is at the very least $50. That is a basic writer.

      If you want an expert in the field, a 2,000 word post can easily run you around $200.

      Hope it works out for you brother.

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