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Time for a long cold shower on blogging pay rates

Time for a long cold shower on blogging pay rates

Duncan Riley> Yep, I’m really on a roll of upsetting people in the last few days so here I go again: its time for a long, cold shower on blogging pay rates, but I could have made the title “sticking up for Calacanis on Weblogs Inc pay rates” as well, because it would have covered what I’m going to write.

I ran the story last week on Weblogs Inc’s pay rates because I honestly thought the starting pay at Weblogs Inc would be of interest to readers, and what a reasonable pay rate for bloggers is a question that I’m often asked. What I didn’t expect was the level of criticism directed at Weblogs Inc., over the figures.

You see, if I’d been asked by Jason Calacanis to write for Weblogs Inc 12-18 months ago for a gaureenteed $500 USD starting rate per month I’d be writing for Weblogs Inc., today and I probably wouldn’t be writing the Blog Herald. Sure, if he asked me today I’d be wanting more money because I’m now making more.

But it took me a very, very long time to get to $500 USD per month.

And the reality is that most bloggers will never get to see this sort of money, even if you don’t think its a lot of money.

Now I don’t want to discourage people because the opportunity to make money from blogging is real, but the expectations in terms of dollars are unrealistic. Darren over at Problogger wrote recently about a guy who was quitting his day job because he was going to make a living out of blogging, and the most he’d made from Adsense to date was $3. Loony stuff.

On Weblogs Inc.
My understanding is that the pay rate offered at Slashfood is a starting rate and that other bloggers blogging for Weblogs Inc., are paid more. As a blogger myself I also know that most new blogs take months to bring in any decent money as well.

I will note I have some personal concerns with the exclusivity agreements in the Weblogs Inc., contract particularly given the pay rate, I’d note that I’d think its fair to say that Jason is not forcing a gun to anyones head either. If you don’t like it you don’t have to sign it.

The reality is that $500 USD/ month for blogging about something you love is a bloody good gig. It’s not a full time role and if you look at it this way you’d be mistaken because most of the bloggers on the Weblogs Inc network blog part time. If your blogging away now and are struggling to get a check from Adsense keep reading the Blog Herald and get your application skills up to scratch because we frequently have details here on Weblogs Inc jobs.

The Weblogs Inc opportunity is also much more than the $500/ month because you are also getting the support of an amazing team of people, the power and promotion skills of one of the industry leaders: Jason Calacanis, you’ve got no overheads and you haven’t got to worry about design, marketing, hosting and promotion, and you’re going to get seen by a lot more eyeballs than you’re going to get seen by if you do this by yourself.

I would note however that some other networks are offering better money than this. A number of people have compared Weblogs Inc., to McDonalds. Although I’d think this is a little rough, who wouldn’t want to own McDonalds, and although the culturally elite in society criticize McDonalds as providing awful food that no one wants to eat, millions of Australians and Americans for that matter eat McDonalds every day. Millions of readers dine at Weblogs Inc., every day. Calacanis is entitled to make a quid and if people don’t like his pay they won’t take it and Weblogs Inc., will find themselves without writers very shortly. The opposite is true.

See Also
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On pay rates
If you’d asked me 12 months ago how many bloggers would make $100 per month I’d be telling you hardly any, but the reality is the ability to earn money from blogging is getting easier all the time. But I’d still think that 90% of bloggers who are actively trying to make money from their blogs would be making around $10-$50 US per month. Maximum. The next 5% (or more) would be making maybe $50-$150. The top 5% of bloggers seeking dollars make up the $150 and more category. The same figures 12 months ago would have been $1-$10, $10-$75, and $75 and above, so you can see the movement there as well.

The value
I know when some people see the figures I’m quoting they are going to be asking themselves: why bother? why bother indeed, because if you’re into blogging strictly for the money you shouldn’t be. Email me the details of your blog and I’ll see if I can find someone who might pay you to get out of it, because you are not going to make it. Blogging has, and always will be more than just about the money. Darren Rowse started his camera blog (the one that makes him all the money) because he was into digital cameras. I started the Blog Herald because I was into blogs (as a concept and market). If your not interested in what you’re writing about it will show in your writing no matter how hard you try. Blogging is about passion. You should be blogging because you like blogging, you enjoy the interaction, and if your blogging on particular topics you should at least have some sort of interest in that topic. Once your enjoying writing and interacting and learning the money component comes into play.

Other businesses?
I can imagine some one at ThreadWatch writing in response to this that if pay rates are so low with bloggers why not get into some other business (like being a black-hat SEO for example). Sure, you know from strictly a business perspective that statement would be right, and in my case I could make more money in business consulting (although the over heads and risk profile would be higher) but if I didn’t make a cent from the Blog Herald I’d most likely still be writing it because I enjoy doing it.

I tend to think of the money I make from blogging in relation to what it can buy me. In the very early days I wanted my blogging to cover my internet habits, mainly server costs and domain names (of which I still own far too many than I need). Once I reached this goal I wanted to double this. Then it got to $100, $200/ mth etc. My current goal is to cover the cost of the mortgage on the house I’m building at the moment. To me that’s real returns. The $500/ month from Weblogs Inc., if your writing for Calacanis might cover a new computer, a membership, credit card or utility payments….you’ve got to look at the money in terms of what you’ll get from it, not on what you could be making elsewhere or in terms that its not enough, because if you continually think you’re not making enough money your not going to remain focused on the task at hand, and that’s writing a really good blog. When I get my Adsense check or my BlogAds payment I think in terms of what I can do with this money. I’ve just landed an ad contract for some of the Weblog Empire blogs that will deliver my wife a new dish washing machine. Think positively.

Good things come to those who wait
I cant say this enough, if you think your going to be a star overnight from blogging you deeply mistaken. Hard work and perseverance are vital. Good things do come to those who wait and the good news is that you can make more than the $500/ month offered by Weblogs Inc., for Slashfood. The question is though, how long will it take and would you be better off with the $500/ month on offer from day 1 as opposed to day 200, 300 or 400? There’s an opportunity cost to most of lifes decisions, and no matter which route you take you’re not going to be in my bad books. But never forget that it takes time.

View Comments (26)
  • The top 5% of bloggers seeking dollars make up the $150 and more category.

    Cool. I’m in the top 5% of something, but am investing it all back into the network and then some. Invest small amounts now and reap great rewards in the future, that’s my plan ;-)

  • I think some of the criticism on this issue being labeled at Weblogs, Inc, and Jason in particular is unfair. He’s running a business and that contract includes steps to protect that business – it’s nothing different than any other responsible CEO would do…

    $500 a month is not a small amount of money – it’s a third of my mortgage for example – and more than what my rent was in college just ten years ago – and as you outline here, it’s alot more than what many bloggers make from their sites today.


  • I think whether $4 per post ($500 per month) seems good or not depends on your personal opportunity cost — what else might you do with your time, and how else could you earn that $500? Many people see the amount as too low because they could easily make that equivalent amount of money or more for a lot less work — this is especially true of bloggers with a technical background who earn above average salaries. But relative to a college student with no sources of income, it’s probably an exciting prospect.

    I think one reason many bloggers struggle to make more than $500 a month from their blogs is because they focus on themselves and their own needs more than on their readers.

    Being a best-writing author pays nothing; being a best-selling author pays a lot. $500 per month is not difficult to make with a blog part-time, and you don’t need to post 4x per day to do it. 5x per week is plenty, but this only works if you’re writing something people seriously want to read and which provides a genuine benefit to them for doing so.

  • I’ve been outspoken about the contract, but not about the money. People thought I was upset with the money – the money is fine! I was upset with the idea that you can’t write for magazines on the same subject, which is a slap in the face to freelance writers. I can understand not competing in the same market on another blog, thats good business. But most writers who take on a subject usually write for multiple publications. If your goal is to be a professional freelance writer and makey money doing it you’ll have to write for more than one market.

    BUT, most people don’t fit that category. And it is good money for blogging. I’m fine with that. I’ve seen elsewhere that other bloggers at Weblogs Inc make more, so I imagine that it depends on how well the blog does. The pay is pretty fair for the kind of writing required. If they wanted 125 750-1000 word articles then I’d call them nut jobs, but they are asking for blog posts, which should be a breeze.

  • Great post, Duncan.

    And I would add that if you’re upsetting people you’re probably doing something right.

    ; )

  • Excellent post Duncan. As someone who is starting a blog network, which means also thinking about a compensation program for my bloggers, I find it very exciting that we’re just at the tip of the ice burg for pay right now.

    For example, blogs are not mainstream, yet. While I was pitching my business model to various entrepreneurs and business people over the last 4 months, I’d begin by asking if they knew what weblogs are, let alone are they reading any. Unsurprisingly (we all know that blogging is still in the early adopters stage), most people didn’t know what a weblog was.

    10 years down the road when RSS become the next ’email’, imagine what sort of traffic (read: money) that influential blogs will be getting? That’s going to translate into more money for people who publish quality content.

    It’s a great time to be in this space!

  • You wrote:

    “I can imagine some one at ThreadWatch writing in response to this that if pay rates are so low with bloggers why not get into some other business (like being a black-hat SEO for example).”

    Actually, I think someone on TW is more likely to say :

    “If you’re only making $100/month with your blog, you really need to hire an SEO or Internet strategist to help you”.

    In fact, if your post here was published on Webmasterworld, I would have been quick to suspect it was a shill trying to convince bloggers making $3/day that they’re doing just fine (leaving more profits and opportunities for the rest of us).

  • Omar, please e-mail me ([email protected]) when you launch your network, so Blogebrity can report it.

    Duncan, excellent post. Also note that full-time WIN bloggers like Karina Longworth post far more than 4 entries a day. On Slashfood, TV Squad, and Cinematical, I found 8 posts from her today. I browsed a few other WIN blogs, but I might have missed other posts from her. I think she also does some recruiting or backend work, but I’ve never asked.

    Anyway, there are several full-timers doing that. At the contractual rate, that would net $1000 a month. My bet is that Longworth earns more (this is a guess; I’ve talked to her, but I haven’t asked her salary).

    Several WIN bloggers, like PVRblog’s Matt Haughey and, obviously, Mark Cuban, are running their WIN blogs as little hobbies and work only at the pro-rated level. I have no idea whether Haughey earns extra for his street cred in the blogosphere (he runs

    All in all, the rate seems fair for what WIN bloggers write, but it’s not enough to pull me away from my own plans.

    Heh, my plans are pretty cool. If I told you, you’d dig them.

  • Just a correction to Nick Douglas’ comment above: PVRBlog is NOT a Weblogs Inc. publication, and to my knowledge Matt Haughey does not write for WIN.

    (pvrWIRE is a WIN blog, but Haughey is not the writer.)

  • Just a note on Matt Haughey, don’t know the guy, but noticed how much his posting rates gone up since Weblogs Inc launched PVRWire in competition? I’m into PVR’s so I read both, wonderful what competition can do :-)

  • I am wondering where you got the figures from about the whole percentage of bloggers that make X amount of dollars. The reason I ask is because, if you are right, I must be in the top 1%. I make WELL over $5,000.00 per month consistently, and I have been blogging for just over one year. It took me about 8 weeks to hit the $500 mark.

    If you are dedicated and write good content, I don’t see what the problem is. Be original, and give people a reason to come back.

    As for the whole WIN payment thing, after seeing how quickly I was able to hit $500 a month, without tying myself down with any sort of exclusivity contract, I don’t see any incentive. For example, if a magazine wants you to write for them and ONLY them, they HIRE you and pay you a salary or hourly wage to keep you from the competition. If not, you are free to write for as many magazine as you wish – be they competition or not.

    The other thing, though, is that competition is vastly different on the Internet. For example, in the real world, Burger King and McDonalds want your business. You have $5 to spend, you are going to choose one of the two places. One wins, one loses. On the Internet, if I want to get tech news, there is nothing stopping me from going to Slashdot, Gizmodo, Gear Live, and Engadget. There is no limited resource that I need to give up. They will all get my traffic, and that is frankly what many people do.

  • I just started blogging and I have made about 100 bucks in a month, I truly think that bloggers are capable of making 20-50 k a year with mutliple blogs.

  • “I’ve just landed an ad contract … that will deliver my wife a new dish washing machine.”

    What kind of century are you living in? For you and your wife and anyone else who eats in your house!

  • “And the reality is that most bloggers will never get to see this sort of money, even if you don’t think its a lot of money.”

    It’s true, but not because there’s not plenty of money to be made…its just that people don’t know how to make it. You’re not going to make a lot of money as a “writer”, but if you’ve got a good niche for your blog there’s no reason you can’t make killer money by utilizing a few lesser-known marketing tactics. You can’t just keep writing and expect the money to roll in. In most cases you need to proactively TRY to make money!

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