As we continue with this series on blogging jobs, it’s time to look at the income a blogger can make by blogging for pay.
The skills and qualities a company or blog owner is looking for from a blogger are extensive, far beyond just writing abilities. As with any freelance job, determining how to put a value on the time it really takes, and the costs associated with the time and production, is really hard when the real cost is in time, not materials. Bloggers should be paid for the time as well as their expertise and abilities. Are they? This is a problem that has been around for a very long time. How much is your time worth?
For many decades, professional editorial writers found a compromise on the time/value issue with payment by the word with a restriction on word count. I often was told, “We’ll pay you a dollar a word up to 1,000 words maximum.”
This meant the magazine, newspaper, newsletter, or other print publication had space for one thousand words that needed to be filled. Going over meant changing their magazine or newspaper design structure. Giving them less meant I’d be paid less, but somewhere in the middle was a compromise for both of us, usually in the form of me setting a minimum fee I was to be paid, no matter the word count, such as “I want $500 minimum for 700 words and a dollar a word thereafter.” If the article came it at 400 words, I would still be paid my minimum. If it crossed the 700 word mark, at which point I should have been paid $700 for a dollar a word, that’s when they have to start paying me the dollar a word rate. It wasn’t the best, but the companies felt like they were getting a deal and for the most part, I covered the minimum I needed to pay my rent and eat.
Here is a chart for the various traditional writer’s pay scale based upon a dollar amount per word. The more experience and expertise, the higher the fee per word.
|Paid by the Word Count|
|Fee Per Word||100||250||500||1000||2000|
Compare this to the word count of pay-per-post pay scales of today. If a blogger is paid $5 per 100 word post, they are paid 5 cents a word. If they are paid $100 per 100 word blog post, it brings the payment up to scale from 25 years ago. However, if they pass the 100 word mark, and most blog posts range from 200 to 500 words, the fee per word drops significantly.
|Paid by Post – How Much Per Word|
|Fee Per Post||100||250||500||1000||2000|
What does this mean? With the change from a per word fee to a per post fee, bloggers have to work longer and harder to make any money on content generation alone.
With the pay-per-word scale, you were paid more for generating more content. With the pay-per-post model, the more content you write, the less you are paid. So it pays to write as little as possible and generate the most posts you can. While shorter tends to be better in web and blog writing styles, what quality of content can you offer consistently in 100 words or less?
The dollar-a-word pay scale took into account not just the time it took to type the word, but the research, editing, and experience and training it took to generate that word. The pay-per-post mass content generation process is about getting the most posts published in the shortest amount of time, the sweatshop mentality of blog content. The pay-per-post bloggers never make enough money to adequately compensate them for the time it takes to produce the content, thus they have to work longer and harder. So how much time does it take?
How Much Time Does It Take to Publish a Blog Post?
The average hours worked annually in the United States is 1777. The average household income is about $60,000 a year right now. To make that, you’d have to earn $34 an hour minimum. How many blog posts can you generate in an hour to come up to $34 an hour? How long does it take for you to generate a single blog post? And how many posts would you have to write across a year to meet that average income if you are a full-time blogger?
If your goal is to make $40,000 a year, you’d have to earn $23 an hour. If your goal is to make $30,000 a year, you’d have to earn $17 an hour.
In How Long Does It Take You to Write a Blog Post?, the responses were fairly consistent from 30 minutes to an hour for a single post. Longer posts take more time.
What is interesting is how people didn’t count the time they spent writing in their heads, composing and torturing the story idea, making notes, and processing the information and research before they actually started typing. That’s part of the work time that goes into writing and shouldn’t be discounted or dismissed. How do you account for that time? Many of us do our best thinking and writing in our heads while doing other things or sleeping. Still, the time it takes to jot down notes, read our feeds, uncover story ideas, and tug and pull at our stories is all part of the time it takes to write a blog post.
Remember the list of all the things a blogger does and is expected to do beyond just writing and generating content? I’d estimate that on a per-post basis, each post would consume 1-2 hours. Do you take that time into account as you calculate what you should be paid to blog?
There are 52 weeks in a year. Most paid bloggers need to produce a minimum of 3 posts a week. That’s 156 posts a year. Divide the annual average income of $60,000 by 156 posts, that’s $385 per post. Anyone getting paid that much to blog? I doubt it. Notch this up to 5 posts a week and you’d need 260 blog posts at $230 per post. That’s better but most bloggers are paid $$25 or less per post.
At $25 a post, you’d need to write 2,400 blog posts to earn $60,000 a year. How long would that take you? Do you have 2,400 original blog posts within you?
If your blogging business is only about generating post content, here is a chart to gauge how many posts you would have to create and sell in order to make whatever is your desired annual income level.
|At USD $25 Per Post,
How Many Does It Take To Earn
Your Desired Annual Salary?
|Desired Annual Salary||Number of Posts Sold|
Those who make the most blogging don’t do it with pay-per-post unless they can get top dollar for their blog post content. Professional bloggers make money generating content on their own blogs combined with direct and indirect income sources such as advertising, speaking, ebooks, product sales, and consulting. This discussion isn’t about them, though. It’s about those who want to survive on blogging alone.
All this talk of income numbers is one thing. The core is how much time does it take to create and publish a blog post. Many workers are paid by the hour, so if you are paid $5.00 for a blog post and it takes you 15 minutes (.25 hours) to generate the blog post, that would be the equivalent of $20 an hour. Produce four blog posts at $5.00 an hour and you would get that $20. Ah, but that’s more work. Indeed. You work 15 minutes to produce a $5 post and not have any other posts within that hour, you are still paid only $5. You have to generate four posts in that hour to make the $20.
What if it takes you 30 minutes? Then your pay scale would drop to $10 an hour for a $5 post. If it takes you two hours to publish a $5.00 blog post, that’s $2.50 an hour. For the United States, that’s way below minimum wage. It’s not looking so good any more.
If you are paid $100.00 per post and it takes you two hours to develop the concept, research the story and materials, write the post, edit it, prepare it for publishing, find an image to accompany the post, publish it, then respond to comments and maintain the post over time, and include time for networking and promotion, you would be paid $50.00 an hour, a much more reasonable rate for an expert blogging specialist.
|Pay by Post Hourly Rate|
|Hours to Write a Blog Post|
|Fee Per Post||0.25||0.50||0.45||1.00||1.50||2.00||4.00|
These calculations take a generalized look at the comparisons to help you get a picture of how much you are worth as a blogger, how much time you have to spend blogging to earn enough money, and to determine if you are being paid enough.
If you are an expert in your subject matter, you might be getting paid $50 to $100 an hour for consultation or service fees. To be paid less than that to take the time away from your business to write a blog post has to be offset against the return on that investment of time. If it brings in more business, then a lower blogging fee would be acceptable. If it doesn’t, then your time might be better invested elsewhere, like on your own blog generating business and only occasionally guest blogging. You have to explore the number to see if they make sense – and enough money – for your needs. It’s all about the return on your investment (ROI) on time and energy as well as money.
Let’s look at some more time calculations. If it takes 30 minutes to write a blog post, to write 156 posts would take 78 hours. To write 260 blogs in 30 minutes each, it would take 130 hours. To write 2,400 posts, it would take 1,200 hours, coming close to full time work of 1777 hours a year, not counting the time it takes to read and respond to comments, network, promote, and all the many other tasks involved in blogging.
Is 30 minutes a blog post a realistic time frame? It often takes an hour or more to generate a single blog post, especially by a professional writer concerned with editing and making the content the best possible. Here are some estimates on how long it would take to generate the number of posts per week based upon how long it takes to write and publish the post.
|Total Number of Hours to Produce
X Number of Blog Posts
|Hours to Write a Blog Post
Average Work Hours Per Year = 1777
|Number of Posts||0.5||1||1.5||2||4|
|156 (3x a week)||78||156||234||312||624|
|260 (5x a week)||130||260||390||520||1040|
|500 (10x a week)||250||500||750||1000||2000|
|1000 (19x a week)||500||1000||1500||2000||4000|
|2400 (46x a week)||1200||2400||3600||4800||9600|
Some posts take only a few minutes, but others take much longer. These numbers are just a general guide to help you determine how much time it takes to generate blog content on average.
How Much Are You Paid to Blog?
Bloggers love their independence, their freedom to work when and where they want, but at what price? The hours are long and hard. As the NY Times reported, it is becoming a serious sweatshop industry to generate the volumes of content demanded by the ever-growing web.
To make the average annual US income of $60,000, you need to make $34 an hour. If you are paid $5 a blog post, you would have to write 12,000 blog posts. At $25 a blog post, you would have to publish 2,400. For $50 per post, that’s 1200 posts. At $100 per blog post, you would have to generate 600 posts.
I’ve only touched lightly on the price paid by those who work so hard for so little. Bloggers rarely see the inside of an office, which overjoys many of them, but the relationships that are formed within a work environment are denied them. Still, many stay-at-home parents are thrilled to be able to work and control their hours as well as take care of their family. I know of a growing number of bloggers dependent upon blogging income (and their online social life) while they stay at home or work only part-time to care for elderly parents.
As a freelancer and contractor, there is little room for advancement when you blog for someone else. You don’t get regular pay raises and have to beg for increases in your blog fee at a time when many are paying less and less and advertising income is dropping. You have to chase down jobs and prove your worth over and over again.
There are also legal issues to consider such as the rights and usage of the sold blog posts. Who owns them? Who dictates what will happen to them after they are published? What about syndication and reprint rights? Can the blog owner do whatever they want with the posts after they’ve been published?
What about copyrights? Who owns the content after it’s been published? Will the copyright ownership remain with the blogger or go to the blog owner? Will the blog owner protect the rights of the content and help the blogger defend copyright violations?
What about maintenance and upkeep of older blog posts once the blogger leaves the blog? Who is reponsible? It is still work representing the blogger’s quality of work and reputation. Who is responsible for maintaining those?
Blogging for a living is definitely not for everyone. If you are a talented writer and understand the hard work, discipline, and endurance test that blogging can be, there is money to be made and a lot of companies are desperate to hire quality writers and bloggers.
If you want to blog for a living, don’t take just any blogging job or low paying jobs. It isn’t worth it. Get paid what you are worth so every blogger within the industry can get a chance to make a decent living and not be undercut by those blogging for $5 a post. Consider your expertise and ask for what you deserve.
In the next article in this series, I’ll be addressing the issues of what businesses need to know about hiring bloggers. Many companies think they need blogs, but don’t have the staff to maintain and produce blogs, so they are hunting. Unfortunately, they are hunting within a new industry of writers and thinkers who don’t behave in accordance with traditional working standards.
Blogger Jobs Article Series
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.