Over the years the qSandbox - WordPress Staging Sites platform has improved a lot. It now serves as a foundation to several SaaS apps (Go359.com, wpsandbox.net) that we’re working on. The latest service that we’ve launched is called wpdemo.net - WordPress plugin/theme demo service. It allows developers and designers to provide private WordPress demo sites to potential clients so they can try a theme or a plugin before they buy.
We needed to start thinking about some useful articles that help people understand that it’s a must have service for any designer and developer not just for marketing but also for security reasons.
- Create a shared Google doc file that is accessible via just a link (no-sign in required).
- Set the end goal right on the first page of the document + a video explanation.
- Add page numbers so people get an idea that there are multiple pages in this document.
- Target: articles 500+ words.
- Post the job on several job boards & Facebook groups for content writers.
The initial job message was brief and to the point. E.g. we’re looking for people to provide cost for articles on WordPress demo sites topic. For more info the interested people can check out shared document.
Job Candidate search
We’ve contacted several people on Fiverr directly. This got us a warning that about spamming people. Those folks are on that platform to work, right? If they can’t do or don’t specialize in that kind of work there’s no point of ordering their gig.
The WordPress groups posting but didn’t get us any good candidates. We’ve even used the official WordPress logo in the posting so it attracts the attention of people who have some WordPress experience.
The message that was sent to each freelancer went through 5-6 revisions. We’ve logged which person we’ve contacted and who looked like a good candidate.
It turns out that no matter how well you explain things there will still be people who would not put the required effort to read and understand what’s required of them. Maybe those folks wanted to bid on as many jobs as possible.
A great way to test if the person has read and understood the document is to ask them questions to describe with their own words what’s required of them. Some of them copied and pasted the content from the original document and other pushed back what am we’re asking such questions.
Looking back maybe a nice mini test would have been great to weed out the people who weren’t serious.
At some point during the hiring process we decided to update the link to the document. We’ve used a redirect link from our main domain name to redirect to actual project document.
Why use a redirect link? This is totally optional but it required just few lines of code in the .htaccess file. This gave us a control over the link. At some point we could redirect it to another page or another software that can handle job applicants even more efficiently. Also if the job offer was no longer available we can just put up a message saying just that. This was especially helpful because a job posting to be effective may need to be posted on several job sites editing each job one would be very time consuming.
For the technical folks out there we’ve used a temporary a 302 redirect to the document so browsers always follow where it leads to. The link looked exmaple.com/d/abc111111111
Here’s the .htaccess code that does the redirect.
# google drive doc short link
RewriteRule ^/?d/([\w\-]+) https://docs.google.com/document/d/$1/edit [L,R=302,NC]
If you’re curious here’s the document that we’ve used to describe what’s required.
Please let us know if you have any suggestions how to improve it so it’s even more crystal clear.
If you can write about WordPress stuff and you’re affordable let us know J
The quotes per article ranged from $5 to $60 USD per article. This project required a more modest budget. Since it’s a new project we needed quantity with an OK quality. Some users were sharing excuses and other writers totally missed the point.
Another important thing that we have never thought that it would happen was the document settings of the writer. The writer submitted the document in .docx format but not sure what their text processing program settings and encoding were even the English words were marked as misspelled.
That showed in Microsoft Word, Google Docs and within WordPress too. This resulted in lots of wasted time to correct the words (about 30 minutes) and subsequently scrapping the article. The reason was that if the text editors and browsers are showing the most words as misspelled that would have meant that the search engine bots would have had problems.
A potential solution would have been to invite the writer to directly in a blank Google document with the clear requirement to writer without doing any copy & pasting from another software. Also the some words were joined together as one word which was super annoying too.
Some of the articles required screenshots to be added. We’ve had instructions about that too.
If the picture was supposed to show up in a the article document it has to be referenced because it would be hard to extract it without loss in quality. The solution was to put the document along with the images into one folder and archive in zip format. One of the writers had problems with that task too. Some characters were causing the archiving to fail. The solution was to use very simple file names. E.g. article.docx, 1.png, 2.png. etc. Then use the image names in the article so whoever posts that article in WordPress to upload the images in the right spots.
It’s super important to have someone verify the content in a timely manner after it was submitted and before the project is accepted.
The goal for one of the articles was to write a top 3 or 5 list of plugins that allow users to manage image alt attributes. We have a nice plugin that does that called Orbisius Media Property Editor . The writer compared the plugin with another 2 super outdated plugins that haven’t been updated in the last 3 years . A quick Google search revealed several different solutions that do the job and have been updated in the last 3-6 months and not years.
It took a lot of time to manage all the writers. To answer their questions and check their work.
The final conclusion was that it’s better to have the team, internal marketing person or the founder write the initial draft articles. Then give the articles to a marketer to look at them and improve things a bit.