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Our Process for Matching Writers to Articles

With a growing number of writers around the world and a growing roster of clients who rely on us for top-notch technical content, one of the challenges we face is making sure each assignment gets matched to the best technical writer possible. In this blog post, I’ll outline our approach, which we share with writers and clients when they ask about this topic.

About Our Writers

First, if you’re not familiar with Draft.dev, we write technical content (tutorials, guides, comparisons, etc.) aimed at software engineers, data engineers, and technology leaders. Because our content is so technical, we don’t work with typical freelance writers - almost all our writers are practicing software engineers or managers.

Since almost all of our writers have a day job, their capacity is limited. Most contribute 1-2 articles per month, so while some are matched up to the same client consistently for an extended period, many work with several clients per year. This means that we spend a fair bit of time finding the best writer for each article we commit to.

Our Process

Our writers are busy professionals, so we give them as much autonomy as possible regarding the topics they want to write and when they want to write them. On the other hand, we want to make our clients happy and produce outstanding content for them on a predetermined schedule.

So, our process works like this:

1. Weekly Email to Writers

Each week, we send an email to our writers with all the topics we currently need a writer for. We work with clients to determine these topics when they sign on with us, so while writers don’t typically get to “pitch” topics, they have no obligation to take on a topic they don’t know well.

PS: If you’d like to apply to write for Draft.dev, here’s the application form.

2. Gathering Replies

Next, we wait a few days for our writers to read and reply to the email. Then, we create a list of writers who replied and which topics they are interested in. Some writers prefer to work exclusively on topics they already know well, while others take writing as an opportunity to learn new things. Either approach is fine so long as they are realistic about their ability to write on the topic with authority.

3. Matching Writers to Articles

This is where it gets a little fuzzy, and I’ll admit, sometimes challenging. Our goal is to fairly spread assignments out to our writers while ensuring that each writer has the skills to complete the article.

So here’s what we look at:

  1. Proven knowledge of the topic - We look at each writer’s past work with us, their writing samples, and their work experience on Linkedin or GitHub to see if they have the technical skills needed for this article.
  2. Proven ability for this type of writing - Writing a tutorial is very different from writing a good technical roundup, and that’s very different from a high-level guide.
  3. The writer’s current work queue - We rarely give writers more than one assignment at a time because we don’t want to overwhelm them. Most articles require some revisions, so we don’t want writers to overcommit and be unable to handle revision requests promptly.
  4. Is this a new writer? - We only accept a few applicants every month, but we try to give new writers a chance to prove themselves within their first few weeks. At the same time, we don’t want to give them an assignment that is out of their depth, so we may reserve some “easier” pieces for new applicants.
  5. When was their last article? - As I mentioned above, we try to spread the work around, so if a writer hasn’t gotten an article in a month or two, we might give them a slight priority over a writer who’s just had a couple of pieces recently. This helps everyone get a fair shot and helps us maintain a diverse writer pool.
  6. Speed to respond - Finally, if a writer takes 3 or 4 days to respond to our weekly email, it’s likely many of the pieces will already have been matched off.

4. Handling Unmatched Assignments

If, at the end of the matching process, we couldn’t find an interested writer for a particular article, we have a couple of options.

First, we might look through our list of writers and reach out to any with the requisite skills. Maybe they’re interested but can’t start this week? Or perhaps they missed the email? We usually build enough flexibility into our deadlines to accommodate small adjustments for the right writer.

Second, we actively recruit writers with specific skills. Typically, when a new client signs on, we’ll look at our existing writers and any who have applied to make sure we have enough people on board to handle the new work. But, some topics are just hard to find qualified writers for, so we spend time every week actively reaching out to engineers outside our network who might have the skills to write these hard-to-match pieces.

While this process is likely to change as we grow, our philosophy is likely to remain the same. We want to provide engineers with great opportunities to showcase their expertise while giving our clients the best technical content possible.

What Can Our Writers Who Want More Work Do?

Sometimes writers ask me what they can do if they want more writing work with Draft.dev. While all our writers today are independent contractors and we can’t guarantee a specific number of articles, here’s what I tell them:

Do Your Best on Every Article

Delivering your work on time, consistently, and at high quality is the #1 thing writers can do to improve their chances of getting more work. Writers who follow our style guide, self-edit, follow the outlines and briefs, return assignments on time, and respond to revisions promptly will almost always get more assignments in the future.

Conversely, if you agree to write an article about a topic you don’t know, and it goes poorly, you may not be considered for future work at all. When issues come up, or you realize an article is out of your depth, let us know as soon as possible so we can find another author.

Be Flexible

If you want more work and you’re willing to learn some new skills or research a complex topic, let us know. While some articles require previous experience, we give writers a shot at new topics if they’ve proven they can do good work on well-known concepts in the past.

Finally, we have new topics prepared every week. As they come in, we continue to send out emails to writers, so some weeks might have many options, and others might not. Just keep an eye on your inbox!

Interested in writing for Draft.dev? Click here to learn more and apply today.

Want access to our fantastic pool of writers? Schedule a call to learn more about what we do.

Karl Hughes

By Karl Hughes

Karl is a former startup CTO and the founder of Draft.dev. He writes about technical blogging and content management.