B5media Revamps Pay Model, Bloggers Lose Money

Filed as Features on October 3, 2008 3:06 am

Blog network b5media is revamping their pay scheme, and that means a lot less money for the bloggers. More or less every blog within the network will see a drop in revenue because of this. TechCrunch broke the story by posting a memo from CEO Jeremy Wright, in which the following is key:

I’m sure by now you’ve run your blog through the system above and realized that (with a handful of exceptions), due to the change to Omniture as a stats package, your pay will go down. For some it will go down significantly. Obviously this isn’t the intent of the new pay system, it was just the flaw in the previous stats package. For the last two years, b5 has been effectively paying bloggers 2-3x more in traffic bonuses than they were actually getting. While, again, this isn’t a blogger’s fault, neither is the new pay system about “cutting pay”. Any reduction in pay is due almost exclusively to the reality of using an inaccurate pay system in the past vs an industry standard third-party audited system going forward.

Jeremy Wright has tried to respond to the post, but his comments are apparently getting caught in moderation, so he posted it on his blog for now. He points out the obvious culprit:

As an industry, as you know, blogging (or at least media style blogging) has had to evolve its analytics and stats. Gone are the days where one company can say they have 30MM pageviews/month another can say 50MM and another can say 70MM and they all be telling the truth when their actual traffic is actually the same.

It appears that b5media have been relying on AWStats for statistics, and paid accordingly. This surprises me, since it is very much old media, just as Webalizer and other server log based statistic programs are.

I can understand that it feels great to quote these stats, because they are always better than things collected by, say, Google Analytics or Sitemeter. However, advertisers won’t be basing their pageviews on statistics sent by AWStats, at least not media agencies that knows what they’re doing. They have their own trackers, and naturally, the only pageview that gets tracked is one that actually exists. AWStats will show more than that.

So while this revamp in payment on b5media’s behalf will indeed decrease revenue for the bloggers within the network, I really can’t get upset by it. Then again, I’m not losing any money since I’m not blogging for b5, and the ones that are might feel otherwise. In fact, we might see more than a few jump ship.

I’m looking forward to following this story, especially since blog networks seems to be in transition. As you probably know, Nick Denton’s Gawker blog network have cut their pay several times already, AOL closed some blogs, and Know More Media went out of business, so this is hardly the last we’ll see along these lines.

Expect more on this soon. Meanwhile, it would be interesting to hear from b5media bloggers. What do you think of the new pay scheme?

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  1. By Jeremy Wright posted on October 3, 2008 at 3:37 am
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    We’ve never used AWStats as a public metric. We’ve never sold ads based on AWStats. We use a combination of MediaPlex, DoubleClick and Microsoft technologies for ad serving, all of which are industry standard.

    Using AWStats was never about inflating metrics. It was that none of the free JS-based tools out there were accurate enough nor enterprise-ready nor trusted by investors/analysts/advertisers.

    Our transition to Omniture has been a nearly year-long project, and we chose Omniture both because it’s the absolute gold standard for analytics and stats and because it did all the things we wanted it to do (more on that later).

    During that year we continued to pay bloggers based on higher-than-actual traffic because we didn’t want to change once to something like SiteMeter (which would have been less inflated) and then again to Omniture (or one of the other packages we were evaluating).

    Reply

  2. By b5blogger posted on October 3, 2008 at 4:56 am
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    I will be one of the people leaving b5media. The pay was low to begin with but this gives me no motivation to continue.

    Reply

  3. By Jeremy Wright posted on October 3, 2008 at 4:58 am
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    As a note, while the blogger above could well be a b5media blogger, in previous threads in places like performancing, we’ve uncovered that it has actually been unhappy KMM bloggers posing as b5 bloggers in many cases.

    b5blogger: if you are a b5media blogger and are leaving, I’m sorry we couldn’t meet your expectations. Please feel free to drop me an email so I can personally apologize: [email protected].

    Reply

  4. By Trench Reynolds posted on October 3, 2008 at 6:58 am
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    As a b5 blogger myself I think this is a whole lot to do about nothing. B5 has been nothing but great opportunity for me.

    I doubt you’ll find a blogging company that treats its bloggers better than b5.

    Reply

  5. By JCS posted on October 3, 2008 at 7:26 am
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    “I doubt you’ll find a blogging company that treats its bloggers better than b5.”

    In the penny a word world of writing for the web, that doesn’t really say much. Let’s not mince words. It’s no secret b5 isn’t close to being one of the highest payers on the web. We can all agree that b5 bloggers have to bust their butts to earn a couple of hundred at the end of the month. Many b5 bloggers work full days for less than $500 a month. This new model means their making even less. It’s not a bloggers fault their in an unfortunate niche. It’s easy to figure out the celebrity bloggers will earn a much better pay rate than a sewing or cooking blogger. Celebrity blogs are where b5 is focusing their efforts now anyways.

    Reply

  6. By Jeremy Wright posted on October 3, 2008 at 8:19 am
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    Sorry, I have to call BS. “Many” of our bloggers work full time for $500 per month? And how does this mean that those bloggers are making less? If they were making $500 in the old model that would mean they had roughly 300K pageviews/month, which even adjusted down by 60% means they’d still earn 450$/month ish before bonuses.

    Also, feel free to justify the statement that we’re focussing on celeb blogs. Because we aren’t. We never have. And while it accounts for a good chunk of traffic, that’s because those bloggers work their butts off and drive serious value and revenue- and they get rewarded for that (which is the right thing to do).

    End of the day, less than half of our top 20% of blogs are celeb or entertainnment blogs. I believe our astronomy blog is in our top 10, for goodness sakes.

    Anyone can get to any tier by working as hard as those that are in that tier. It’s like any other endeavour. You don’t get to the top by doing it part-time. But at b5 we fully support those who only want to blog about something their passionate about part-time.

    Reply

  7. By b5blogger posted on October 3, 2008 at 8:27 am
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    I’m a b5blogger as well, the pay is good compared to some of the other networks I write for. I think as times change so must the networks and it’ll be a good change for the b5blogs. As someone already stated this will definitely make sure we have no slackers, everyone will aim for higher and better content.

    Reply

  8. By Ted Murphy posted on October 3, 2008 at 8:55 am
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    $1.60 CPM to the writer? That’s got to be way higher than industry standard.

    Reply

  9. By Jeremy Wright posted on October 3, 2008 at 9:00 am
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    Ted: it’s $4-10 CPM to the writer. Plus bonuses.

    Reply

  10. By JCS posted on October 3, 2008 at 9:07 am
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    Again. To say b5 pays better than other networks doesn’t mean you’re getting the best deal. It just means it’s one of the highest of the low payers. Don’t gauge a comparison of other networks because they all pay crap. Most of us wouldn’t work for less than minimum wage in the real world but settle for pennies to work at home. Gauge what your time is worth. How much are you putting into your blog compared to what you’re getting back.

    Reply

  11. By Jeremy Wright posted on October 3, 2008 at 9:12 am
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    JCS: Put it this way, most of our writers who are earning $300-750/month in the new system are working 2-3 hours per day. So 40 hours per month on average. Which puts their hourly at 7.50-18.75$/hour. Before bonuses, which could skew that up past the $25/hour range.

    But remember, this is still a young industry. 2 years ago everyone said quite publicly and loudly that it’d be impossible to earn a full-time living from blogging. And look how far the industry has come in 2 years. 2 years from now we hope to be in a place (as an industry and as a company) where if you want to work full-time, there is a clear ability to do that if you already write well.

    Here’s the lick with blogging, though: you don’t need to be a professional writer. You can be a stay at home mom who just loves gardening. And blogging about gardening the way you’d do for free anyways and getting a few hundred bucks a month is a real quality of living mover. Vacations, computers, cars, whatever, it’s all extra money.

    Reply

  12. By Mike Abundo posted on October 4, 2008 at 1:44 am
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    Jeremy’s cutting pay because he chose the wrong stat system. It takes true cowardice to punish your people for your own unpreparedness.

    Reply

  13. By Jeremy Wright posted on October 4, 2008 at 2:06 pm
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    Torn: Obviously any hourly rate is based upon the hours you put in. As a blogger, obviously you’ll see more traffic for posting more, which means you’re investing in the future of your blog. But if you feel compensation isn’t fair in the new system, we do completely understand.

    Reply

  14. By Torn posted on October 6, 2008 at 7:43 am
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    Fuck you Jeremy. You are an asshole.

    Reply

  15. By Thord Daniel Hedengren posted on October 6, 2008 at 8:43 am
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    Come on people, try and keep it civil please!

    Reply

  16. By torn posted on October 6, 2008 at 9:43 am
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    As the original “Torn” I’d like to say that it wasn’t me who used profanity. Probably that guy who is being disrespectful to Jeremy on every website.

    Reply

  17. By Jeremy Wright posted on October 6, 2008 at 9:46 am
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    Curiouser and curiouser. Thanks for letting us know torn :)

    Thord: if you need an IP address to compare to, let me know.

    Reply

  18. By Mike Abundo posted on October 6, 2008 at 10:39 am
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    Jeremy, whenever I curse you, I will proudly attach my name to that curse.

    Reply

  19. By anon posted on October 6, 2008 at 10:43 am
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    Jeremy are you seriously collecting IPs against anyone who says something you don’t like?

    Reply

  20. By Jeremy Wright posted on October 6, 2008 at 10:47 am
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    @anon: Nope, but we do keep our bloggers’ IPs on file, for obvious reasons.

    Reply

  21. By Mike Abundo posted on October 6, 2008 at 10:52 am
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    And you’d reveal those IPs in case of a flamewar against you?

    Reply

  22. By bikerboy posted on October 6, 2008 at 10:55 am
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    Man… this guy must be some hotheaded insecure sore loser to care that much about an anonymous comment LOL

    Reply

  23. By Jeremy Wright posted on October 6, 2008 at 10:56 am
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    We’d corroborate IPs to recors if someone was seeking to prove someone wasn’t who they said they were (ie: someone commenting as Scoble, which has happened once), but we wouldn’t reveal the individual’s name or actual IP address. This is standard practice in media, no different than someone saying “is this Sarah Palin’s cell phone # cause I got a call from someone claiming to be her”. It’s just a yes/no answer.

    And, Mike, your contract wasn’t just an NDA. There are non-disparage provisions in there as well that you’re violating on a daily basis. We’re being nice about this, but continuing to run around spreading lies, insults and innuendo and pretending to be some “brave” blogger isn’t helping you at all. And it certainly isn’t harming me. People know that folk who get fired who are upset are usually upset because they’re fired.

    Reply

  24. By bikerboy posted on October 6, 2008 at 11:03 am
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    ROFLMAO what a LOSER! This guy is more than twice my age and doesn’t have a clue which comments to ignore. DINOSAUR! You shouldn’t be in that business.

    Reply

  25. By Mike Abundo posted on October 6, 2008 at 11:05 am
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    I’m upset because you’re a coward, Jeremy — a coward who just punished his people for his own unpreparedness. Some of those people are my friends.

    I’m glad I’m no longer working for a coward.

    Reply

  26. By Not a b5 blogger posted on October 6, 2008 at 11:26 am
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    Bikerboy, Jeremy wright isn’t twice your age. He’s rather young and in touch with what’s going on.

    I don’t understand why people have to resort to name calling and cursing. Mike I understand your anger but it’s not making you look good. You could probably get more people on your side if you nicely and calmly explained your side of the story. All your anger will be online forever and that could come back to haunt you.

    Jeremy, I don’t think it was the correct decision to lower your bloggers’ pay but I don’t feel you’re deserving of personal attacks either. It was a business decision, the wrong decision, IMHO, but it wasn’t anything personal. It’s a shame people can’t discuss this with you in a mature manner.

    Reply

  27. By Roberta posted on October 6, 2008 at 3:04 pm
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    I’m among those affected by the b5media pay change and I have to say that it’s really not going to affect me that much. It just gives me more incentive to make my blog that much better. Jeremy is a cool guy who has always answered any questions quickly and I appreciate that.

    Reply

  28. By Not signing posted on October 20, 2008 at 10:01 am
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    Dear Jeremy Wright,

    When I was accepted to work for b5Media I walked on air for days. Imagine, me, getting into a network with such a great reputation. Liz Strauss works for b5Media, Brian Clark works for b5Media and Darren Rowse was one of the owners. I could be a big name blogger too! Except that didn’t happen. I became known among other b5Media bloggers but no one knew of me outside of the network. But that’s not why I’m leaving I’m leaving because

    - Our new contract makes our jobs more difficult. We can’t post images without government sized amounts of paperwork, we can’t use affiliats anymore and we can’t review big ticket items anymore. Considering I just lost MORE than half my pay this doesn’t give me much incentive. Did I mention I lost more than half my pay?

    - In the private b5Media forum, certain team members are flat out ignoring certain questions regarding new pay and the contract. There is no excuse for this rudeness and starts you off on the wrong foot. At least say you can’t respond to that.

    - Morale is at an all time low.

    - Bloggers are leaving in droves. I can tell by all the internal blogger’s wanted lists. (Best to keep that off of ProBlogger. Can’t have everyone worrying about a “mass exodus” can we?

    - CE’s promise one thing to us and turn around and say something else to each other in the CE chat. I no longer trust the people who are to manage us.

    Nice work, b5media. I stuck with you because I believed in you. Now I don’t believe in you at all.
    Signed,

    A Recently Former Long Term Blogger

    Reply

  29. By Jeremy Wright posted on October 20, 2008 at 10:08 am
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    Blogger: Obviously I’m sorry to hear you are leaving, however a couple of clarifying points:

    1. The “paperwork” is a 5 second form that’ll be built into your blog… How is this monumental?

    2. You can use affiliate, it’s just being structured in a more coherent way. Not in all your posts, but then the logic of bloggers keeping massive amounts of money that b5 never sees doesn’t really make much sense either, right? I’ve always been for bloggers making more money, but in the same way as bloggers should make more if b5 is making more – b5 needs to make more if bloggers are making income off of a b5 blog.

    3. Big ticket items are fine. You just need your CE or the content team to approve it. This is a very lenient policy given we’re talking about items worth $250 or more. We’re fine with you doing it, we just need to know it’s going on so that if something goes wrong we have it on file. Since this (probably) isn’t a daily occurrence for you, this seems reasonable to me s well.

    Ultimately there are changes. But in each instance we’ve gone above and beyond to be reasonable.

    That doesn’t mean you have to stay, by any stretch, but given that you’ve decided to make this public, it is important that you (and anyone else) knows what the actual limitations of the new contract are.

    Reply

  30. By B5Blogger posted on October 20, 2008 at 1:32 pm
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    True dat. We don’t have mounds of paperwork. I think the other blogger’s point is that with having to fill out forms and request permission from our CE to do everything, it’s creating more work for less pay. As far as the affiliates, b5 makes a lot of money that bloggers never see either, right? It DOES make sense to allow affiliates in all our posts because we lost so much pay. It’s not like we’re making so much it makes a difference. I think the majority of b5ers would tell you affiliates ad up to maybe a couple of dollars each month if that.

    Since you didn’t address the morale problem and the bit about all the bloggers exiting the people reading in the peanut gallery can assume it’s true. A bunch of bloggers walked and many of us are unhappy and on the fence. Also the new manager is rude to us all. i know we’re not supposed to talk about it but we’re very disappointed at how things are going for b5 now. Like Not Signing in that other comment I was so happy to be accepted to b5Media but now I feel like it was all hype. Maybe someone who has been considering working here reads all this and know the truth about what their getting into.

    Reply

  31. By Jeremy Wright posted on October 20, 2008 at 1:45 pm
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    I didn’t address the morale issue because it’s perspective and subjective. I can’t so “no there’s no morale issue” because, for one, any change will precipitate a morale issue. I can’t say “every question has been answered” because maybe one question slipped through. And I can’t say CEs don’t sometimes answer questions and then come back a couple of days later with a different answer because they perhaps misunderstood the first time.

    The point, though, is that arguing those things would be useless. What’s valuable is that questions *are* being answered in the forums (and at all hours of the day); CEs *are* answering questions and aren’t afraid to update answers as they see fit; and b5 is continuing to listen to all bloggers on this.

    There isn’t an ounce of dismissiveness going on, there isn’t any “if you don’t like it leave” going on and in every instance we’re always happy to say both why a decision was made *and* listen to new suggestions.

    As far as affiliate stuff, if for most bloggers it’s only a few bucks per month, then the bonuses more than make up for the loss in affiliate income. And the proposed affiliate system should make up for it as well. And a more coherent affiliate program will mean more affiliate revenue (we don’t make any now) and for bloggers who make “real” affiliate revenue we’ll share that back via bonuses.

    Obviously any potential blogger should evaluate b5 with an objective eye. But at the same time, I think you (“b5blogger”), I, and just about anyone reading this knows that the hardest part of these changes isn’t*what* the changes are … it’s *that* they are happening.

    It’s not that b5 not giving bloggers the ability to post affiliate links in every single post isn’t fair and that the new way is so much worse. It’s that changing it is hard.

    It’s not that flat fee for the first few tiers and then a CPM tier is so much worse. It’s that changing is hard.

    It’s not that the bonus structure is unfair, copyright provisions are unwieldy or third party IP usage is just nasty. it’s that changing is hard.

    And I don’t begrudge any blogger who looks over all of this and says “yeah, okay, I get why this is happening but too much has changed for this to work for me anymore”. I really don’t.

    But at the same time, the new pay system is a very fair one, that pays bloggers between 4-10$ CPMs plus bonuses, and where the content team continues to support bloggers day in and day out.

    We’re not perfect, but we’re not unfair either :)

    Reply

  32. By GET posted on March 30, 2009 at 8:47 am
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    I really blame this on cheap content. Everyone wants to buy the cheapest content they can and then are shocked when they go broke. To make money you have to have a site that’s actually worth reading and coming back to. There are thousands, if not millions, of people starting Web “businesses” who really have no business doing so.

    Reply

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