In “Blogger Jobs: What Are They Looking For?” we talked about what jobs are out there and what blog owners and companies are looking for when they hire a blogger. Blogger Jobs: How to Apply For a Blogger Job? covered how to apply for a job as a blogger, with some good tips on what to do – and not to do. Today, I want to look at a very serious issue: How much are they paying bloggers to blog?
The issue of the blogging pay scale is very important, not just because I’m one of the workers in this new industry who expects to be able to pay the rent or meet a mortgage, but also because I represent the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of people who want to make money blogging.
In a NY Times article on the blogging sweatshops by Matt Richtel (Print Version) the description of people of one of the hottest jobs in the world has writers churning out mass volumes of content working around-the-clock to make enough money to survive. It’s called blogging.
A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.
Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong…
It is unclear how many people blog for pay, but there are surely several thousand and maybe even tens of thousands…Blogging has been lucrative for some, but those on the lower rungs of the business can earn as little as $10 a post, and in some cases are paid on a sliding bonus scale that rewards success with a demand for even more work.
The demand for content is moving from personal blogs to guest blogging to multiple blogs to hired blogging gigs. In the past year, people don’t ask me where I get my story ideas as much as they ask me how many times I publish a week.
As a long-time professional writer, I was paid the average going rate for a professional technical and editorial writer of USD $1-2 dollars a word, ranging from $100 to $1,000 an article, for many years. This rate rarely rose once it reached the dollar mark.
When I started, there was no Internet to research content. Research meant time on the telephone interviewing and asking questions, trips to the library and local colleges and universities, and traveling around looking for stories. I wrote one to five articles a week. Today, I can research most stories from the relative comfort of my home office with access to tons more information than I could reach before. This speeds up the research time, but I have to work harder for less money than I did so many years ago. That’s not how it’s supposed to go. Your pay should increase, not decrease, as your expertise and education increases. Right?
I am paid much less and worker harder. I publish 21 to 36 articles a week across multiple blogs in addition to my full-time business schedule in order to keep the money flowing. Sweatshop is indeed an appropriate description.
What Are Bloggers Paid To Do?
As an editorial and technical writer, I was paid to write. Research, edit, and write. I came up with story ideas or took what I was assigned. I had a word count limit, and was often requested to include my own photographs, paid $100 minimum for each photograph they included in the published article in addition to compensation for the writing. If one of the images was on the cover, I would be paid more.
As a blogger, I’m expected to go above and beyond just the writing stuff. It’s about public relations, networking, promotion, marketing…it’s about running a business in addition to just writing. I covered a lot of the skills and abilities companies are looking for and expect from bloggers. They include:
- Being the visual “face” and “voice” of the company.
- Promoting the company.
- Customer service.
- Original content creation (brainstorming, editorial planning, article series).
- Self-promotion that you are working for/with the company.
- Frequent announcements of your work with the company on your blog(s).
- Writing web content rich with keywords and search terms.
- SEO expertise and experience.
- Use Web analytics to evaluate the traffic and site metrics.
- Attract readers, convert visitors to readers, and increase traffic.
- Monitoring comments.
- Cleaning comment spam.
- Moderating comments.
- Responding to comments.
- Representing the blog on social networks.
- Advice and recommendations on web design and development.
- Participation in company events and activities.
- Editorial recommendations and direction controls.
- Collaboration with company staff and other bloggers for content generation and feedback.
- Blogger Outreach – Developing relationships with other bloggers to promote the company blog.
- Participation in forums.
- Continued self-education.
- Trend watching and monitoring.
- Reports on trends and changes in the technology and online world.
- Reviews and recommendations on web technology and services.
- Interviews to promote the company.
- Monitoring of company news on the web.
- Responding to fellow bloggers covering company news and issues, as well as blog content.
- Your blog traffic directed to their blog.
- Interviewing writing experience and skills.
- Review writing technique and ability.
- Technical writing experience.
- Editorial writing skills.
- Defending copyright violations often without company support nor compensation.
- Ability to report and pass on user issues, concerns, requests, and feedback.
- Travel and attendance at a public event as a representative and “face” of the company.
- Professional writing skills.
You would think that such expertise and skills would demand a high price. After all, a blogger isn’t just a blogger but the visible face of the company. The voice that speaks on behalf of the company. The online representative. They set the tone and standard for the company and its policies. The blogger is a marketing expert, public relation expert, customer service expert, consumer relations expert, advertising expert – oh, yes, and expert writer.
So how much is all that skill and ability worth?
Types of Blogging Jobs
Before we talk money, let’s quickly look at the types of blogger jobs out there. Not every blog job means being the online social representative of a company. Some are hired just to churn out content.
- Content Supplier: The blogger that supplies content and nothing more is like a factory work. They do what they are told to do and little more. They are often given editorial guidelines, subject assignments, a word count, and a deadline. There is little personality in the writing and usually no byline – just anonymous content. Their job is to mass produce content across a wide spectrum of topics, being hired just to write and generate volumes. The word count is usually 500 or less words per post. Paid by post, this is the lowest of the low on the pay scale for bloggers and professional writers.
- Original Content Generators: These bloggers write as freelancers generating original, unique content within their field of expertise, such as real estate, parenting, medicine, repair, construction, and education. They usually won’t give up their day job for blogging, but rather use blogging to build their day job business. They often produce content for syndication, specific to an industry but using generalizations so it can work across a wide spectrum of publications. They are usually paid by the word count or pots, and often get a byline with a link to their blog, which means they may work for free or very low rates in order to get that link and build an online reputation as an expert in that field. As freelance bloggers, they often write in spurts with no contracts nor consistency, selling individual article posts to blogs or syndication markets.
- Contributor/Columnist: Just like the newspaper and magazine columnists of old, these bloggers are hired to write on a regular basis for a specific blog as a contributor or author. They are hired to write on their specialization, publishing one to five times a week, typically paid by the post. They are hired for their expertise so their online reputation and history is a hiring factor, as well as proof of their community building, attention-getting skills.
- Guest Blogger: While few guest bloggers are paid, some gigs are compensated financially and otherwise. The guest blogger is hired for their expertise on the subject, and their ability to add a fresh voice and increase traffic on the blog. The gig is usually one time only, though some guest blog on a regular or irregular basis such as once a month or every three months. The pay scale is by the post, with articles ranging from 500-1000 words in length, though most do this for free for the publicity and establishing their blogger authority.
Let’s also remember that in addition to the professional writing, marking, and public relations skills, along with the background expertise, a blogger rarely qualifies for benefits, insurance, revenue sharing programs, or other employee benefits. They are freelancers, thus must pay for all of these themselves. Do you add the costs of these benefits and necessary expenses into your blogging fees?
Tomorrow, I’ll share with you some numbers on how much bloggers are being paid compared to traditional editorial and technical writers, as well as how much you should be paid to blog.
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.