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How To Find Great Content For Your Website (on a budget)

If you're on the editorial end of running a website, you understand the importance of consistently delivering new, relevant, engaging content to your audience. However, if you're part of a smaller organization, you probably don't have the luxury of an in-house writing staff, or an astronomical budget to spend on top-notch freelancers.  In fact, you may find yourself desperately scrambling every week just to maintain your editorial calendar, which could result in lackluster content that causes your audience to lose interest in your blog/website. However, in 2012, there's simply no need to resort to desperation and guesswork when planning content on a budget. There's a wealth of resources and strategies you can employ to ensure your blog/site is stocked with quality, readable articles that will keep your readers coming back. We've listed a few ideas below: HIRING A FREELANCER While it may be easy to find someone who bears the title "freelance writer", it can be difficult to find the person who's style and voice clicks with what you're looking for. Always remember to get a few writing samples before committing to anything, and make sure your terms are clear (nobody likes to bicker over money, especially over the Internet!). Here's some places where you can find freelancers of all kinds: Your personal network: Take a look at your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ connections.  What friends (or friends of their friends, and so on and so on) do you know who has a background similar to that of your organization? Who do you know that can write well? Your network has the potential to provide a wealth of connections. Blog Directories: While they can be rather unwieldy, some focused searching within these directories can sometimes uncover great writers that need a publicity boost to elevate them from the purgatory of Internet anonymity. Check out Technorati or any of these directories. You never know what you'll find! Students: If you happen to live in a college town and know of nearby schools that specialize in writing or journalism- or majors that are conducive to the content you're writing about, students can be a great resource. They are looking to hone their craft and prepare for the professional world, and you can provide them with portfolio pieces and real-world experience.   Search!: I know, it seems obvious, but it's still worthy of inclusion. Focused Google searching for writers can yield an abundance of results. Allow your search terms to drill down into your specific content needs and see what you come up with. Craig's List: Can't find anyone yet? Really? Well, there's always Craig's List. Sure, it's hardly glamorous- but you can find some great freelancers, if you search in the right cities. For optimal results, do advance research on specific metro areas and the types of industries they are known for. Densely populated areas (Manhattan/LA/Chicago) should have deeper pools of freelance talent than say...Casper, Wyoming (with apologies to the great people of Wyoming). USE A CONTENT MARKETPLACE Looking to generate a lot of content in a short stretch of time?  You may want to explore the option of a content marketplace, which can match publishers with a large, versatile stable of writers who can help with assignments of all kinds. Check out places like Textbroker, Writer Access, E-copywriters, and Need an Article. The prices are reasonable, you can get assignments back in as quick as one day, and  you have the right to send anything back for re-editing if need be. THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND Be clear about what you're looking for : Not everyone is going to have the same amount of knowledge about the types of content you require. What type of writing do you need? Technical instructions? Light, satirical commentary? Fact-based journalism? Whatever it is, be clear in your instructions to your writers. You don't want to waste time, so writing up a brief with all the necessary details about the assignment will ensure that you are both on the same page. Compensation: Sure, we're in a tough economy, but that doesn't mean everyone is lining up to work for free. Don't shortchange your writers. However, if your budget restricts you from compensating anyone, take the time to go the extra mile and find some way to reimburse them for their efforts. Showing your appreciation goes a long way, especially if you're looking to build long-term relationships with a stable of different writers. Do you have any ideas or solutions we didn't cover? Please- share them with us in the comments below. Happy content sourcing!  


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