While attending the How to Hire a Professional Blogger For Your Business session at Blog World Expo, it was very interesting to learn that you have to know your performance numbers and how they work in order to really understand what it takes to make money as a hired blogger.
As part of this series on what you need to know about hiring a professional blogger and being hired, let’s look at what the pros had to say about performance numbers and metrics and what you need to know before you go pro.
Gregory Go of About.com Guide to Online Business made it clear to the crowded room about how the numbers drive payment and drives success when it comes to paying a blogger. “If you are looking to make money blogging for a company or blog network, you have to understand the metrics.”
Gregory listed three key web analytics that should be used to set a price for paying a blogger.
- Consistency – Word Count Metric: Number of posts per week or month published with a minimum word count per post.
- Internal Metrics: Numbers based upon direct interaction and actions such as comment count, feed or newsletter subscribers, and direct sales generated.
- External Metrics: Performance compared to the general Internet/blogosphere metrics. This includes page view counts and referrer or inbound links.
While few pay solely based upon one of these three metrics, most blogs and blog networks compensate bloggers based upon a combination of these numbers.
As mentioned in Hiring Bloggers: Let Your Blog Speak Well of You, your blog says a lot about how you blog, how you work, and what kind of an employee blogger you would be. It shows the world that you can blog and keep blogging on the same or similar topic over time. Consistent generation of content is critical.
Accordingly, many blogger employers use that consistency to compensate your blogging. They base their numbers and your pay scale upon the number of posts you publish over a specific time period, such as per week or per month.
Many require a minimum word count so they aren’t paying a per-post rate for a 10 word post. Volume and frequency matters.
Some blogs and blog networks pay a set amount per post no matter how many words are in the post. It’s easy to manage and control, and sets an equal pay scale across all of the bloggers. You publish 6 posts, you get a set fee per post and that’s it.
Others pay per words, often per 100 words. Gregory gave the example of payment for USD $5-10 per 100 words, with a 300 word post totally $30. Counting words by the author and the blog owner can get complicated, though WordPress now features a built-in word count on the Write Post Panel making it easier. Combined with frequency, if you publish five 300 word posts a week, you could be paid USD $150 a week.
Some may set a minimum word count per week, such as 1,000 words total per week. Gregory said this was the equivalent to one long article or two to three blog posts a week. Some companies allow the blogger to determine how they want to divide up the minimum word count each week, giving the blogger more control over content and content length. Others will dictate limits such as a minimum of two blog posts a week.
Gregory explained that generally most blogs and blog networks use word counts and pay-per-post methods as a consistent and measurable requirement for compensation. Bloggers and blog networks using these metrics understand that blogging is about content. From there, it’s about marketing and promoting the content after you publish. They are invested in the content.
“Internal Metrics tell you how your blog is doing in response to content and marketing. If you have no comments on blog posts, then something might not be working right,” explained Gregory Go.
Internal metrics gives you information on how your blog is doing on its own based upon feedback and interactivity. Bloggers are paid based upon their performance along those lines, giving them more incentive to convert readers.
Generally, bloggers paid using internal metrics are paid a minimum per-post fee and then given incentives based upon measurable results such as feedback and conversion.
Comment counts are a measurable metric which accounts for a blogger’s interactivity. The more comments, then the more “social” and interactive, thus more successful a blog post is. Gregory gives the example of a reward of a dollar bonus per new comment, not including the blogger’s comments.
Rewarding metrics based upon actions and conversions is another incentive that can bring in more money for a paid blogger. Newsletters, emails, feeds, any action that converts a reader from a lurker to handing over their contact information and opens up more avenues for interaction and communication for the business is rewarded. The more a blogger encourages these actionable and measurable behaviors on the blog, the more their reward.
Commissions are another incentive paid to bloggers. If a blog post and comments are directly generating sales, a commission by percentage or flat rate gives the blogger a financial reward. Gregory recommends making the blogger one of your affiliates and that 20% is a reasonable commission rate for bloggers.
By compensating a blogger through incentive programs, which result in a greater commitment to the business and blog by the reader, benefits both parties.
Generally, external metrics are the most common ways of compensating bloggers beyond pay-per-post and word counts. The attention a blog post gets, especially if it is a lot, drives incentive rewards towards the blogger.
Gregory said, “External Metrics measures your blog against the rest of the blogosphere. There are two important metrics to track: traffic and inbound links.”
Page views, unique views, and search referrals are used to track the success of a blog post. These numbers are measured against the traffic on specific pages and evaluated accordingly. The high numbers of referrals reward the blogger with compensation, often ranging from 25 cents to one dollar per 1,000 page views.
“Content publishers sell advertising and the price is based upon page views. The more page views the higher the price charged advertisers, and the higher the bonus for bloggers,” explained Gregory. When it comes to unique visitors, the first time visitors, bloggers should be compensated more than for general page views.
The breakdown of compensation based upon page views means tracking the numbers and paying accordingly. An example of a month’s breakdown might be:
25,000 general page views at 25 cents per 1,000 = $6.25
12,000 unique page views at 50 cents per 1,000 = $6.00
16,000 search referrals at 25 cents per 1,000 = $4.00
Total $16.25 a month
The higher the numbers, the greater the reward.
Inbound links are also measurable and should be rewarded, especially as they influence Page Rank and visibility. The greater the number of people linking and blogging about the content, the more sources of customers and readers. Gregory claimed that 25 cents to one dollar per inbound link is an average incentive bonus.
Gregory recommended using Technorati for measuring inbound links. Technorati measures “authority” by the number of incoming links to a blogger and/or blog post. The statistics are tracked for only the past three months, which means the blogger must keep performing in order to maintain their authority number over time with Technorati. Every two months, the blogger has to kick it up a notch to ensure that the numbers will stay up as the last month falls off the charts.
Paying Bloggers Based Upon Performance
By paying bloggers based upon performance, they have publishing goals to meet and beat. Gregory Go advised that having too many metrics confuses people. “While performance bonuses can come from the variety of metrics, if you put up too many, you get people really challenging you.”
By making the blogger’s work performance based, you are telling them that their continued employment is based upon their performance. If their numbers aren’t driving traffic and conversions, maybe it’s time to replace them or change tactics.
A blogger who blogs based upon performance knows the employers expectations. By tracking the numbers themselves and learning how to improve their blogging in order to drive the performance metrics higher, they reward themselves with higher bonuses.
Most blogs and blog networks pay a set rate per post with a word count minimum and then provide incentive packages based upon the internal and external metrics. Higher rates are paid for internal metrics, such as conversion rates for sales and sign ups. Understanding where the numbers really count when they add up, the blogger can put their energy into making more through incentives than just post and word counts.
However, it isn’t just about the numbers. Blogs and blog networks succeed when they combine performance incentives with strong relationships with their bloggers, which I will cover in an upcoming article.