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Bloggers need to be realistic about Blogging Rates

Posted by on 18th Jun 2009 | 5 comments

Be realistic about your Blogging RatesSetting your blogging rate is something that many freelance writers and bloggers have difficulty setting, particularly when they first start writing on the web.

We have touched upon the subject many times here at Blogging Tips. More recently, Yuwanda Black wrote about the subject in her posts ‘Freelance Writing Rates: How to Stick to Your Pricing Guns‘ and ‘Blogging Jobs: How Much Should You Charge to Blog?‘.

Yesterday saw the end of a series of articles on Mens With Pens entitled ‘Why Bloggers Should Be Paid More’. I recommend reading all the articles before moving on :)

I really enjoyed this series of articles. There was some great points raised however I disagreed with some of the advice so I thought I would go through each article and give my opinion on the points raised – Aren’t you guys lucky!! :)

Part I: Blogging is Tough

In the first article Taylor talks about how writing 30 blogs posts at $50 a post is more mentally draining than writing a website with content worth $1,500.

I do agree that blogging is mentally draining however I don’t believe that it is any more draining that writing copy for a website. Writing content for a static content website still requires thought, research and proofreading, much like a blog post. Perhaps some people find blogging harder but if that is the case then in my opinion, they are blogging about a subject they are not passionate about.

I know this from experience. I stay up to date with the latest mobile phone, laptop and gadget news frequently and I find writing about the subject a breeze because I enjoy talking about it. However, I have written about some other subjects in the past which didn’t interest me as much and it took much longer to write because of it.

I also think it’s not very realistic to assume that a website with 30 pages of content will sell for $1,500. I know that there’s a lot of splogs out which means that original content is valued much more but that won’t affect the value of a site greatly. Bottom line, if a website isn’t making money then it’s doubtful anyone will pay a lot for it. Buyers couldn’t care less how much time you spent writing the content or much value you put on your time, they don’t just spend cash on websites which aren’t going to make them money.

Taylor does raise some good points though. It is hard to mentally switch off sometimes if you have a lot of blog posts to write. Perhaps some people do find blogging more difficult in this respect though in my experience, the pressure is the same from writing content for websites too.

Short Posts Do Not Equal Short Hours

I really enjoyed the 2nd article. Taylor was 100% correct in saying that bloggers should get paid the average value for all posts. As someone who hires bloggers on a regular basis, I have to agree with this. You simply cannot get mad at someone for doing a short post if their previous post was incredibly long, you need to give a little bit of leeway.

Though it’s worth pointing out that many bloggers take advantage of this. Many bloggers who have written for me start off with long detailed posts. They then write much shorter posts and because I give them a little leeway, they take that as a sign that thats all they need to do. Same old story, give someone an inch and they take a mile!

Generally speaking most authors do not do this and usually follow up a short post with a longer post the next time. However, I have had to part ways with a lot of writers because, to put it bluntly, they started taking the piss. A blog owner has to look at all of a bloggers posts and judge them on that collectively rather than singling out a single article.

Taylor also points out that whilst one blog post might take 15 minutes to write, 10 posts might take much longer than 3 hours. Put simply, the longer you are sitting down writing, the more tired you get and the harder you will find it to concentrate. This is why it’s important to frequently take breaks people!

Not Everyone Blogs Right

In the last article of the series Taylor talks about the difference in quality that you will get from a professional blogger compared to an amateur. This is something that most blog owners are aware of. It’s simple common sense. Generally speaking, you’re going to get a much better article from someone who charges $25 per post than someone who charges $5.

At the end of the article Taylor wrote something which really surprised me, something which spurred me on to write about all of this in the first place :

Everyone is out there blogging, but most of them are telling bad jokes and bad stories. Most of them are boring the pants off people. When you find someone who can actually blog with real power and insight and intelligence, you want to pay that writer whatever he wants to represent you.

If that means paying him $100 a post, do it anyway. He’ll be worth it. Because it’s worth it to you not to look dumb.

I completely disagree with this last comment. Infact, I would go further and say that it is incredibly bad advice!

Be realistic about your Blogging Rates

The majority of bloggers reading this will never get the blogging rate they deserve or the blogging rate they think they deserve, they will get the rate which the blog owner can afford to pay. That is a cold hard fact which I believe a lot of bloggers need to realise.

It doesn’t matter what a blogger writes about, the fact is the blog owner needs to get a return for his money.

In speciality niches, such as medicine, law etc, bloggers can charge a lot more for their content. This is because only certain experienced people within the industry can write about certain subjects. A bigger factor is the product which is being sold. If, for example, the website is selling a product which costs in excess of $5,000, then clearly it’s worth spending good money on bloggers and copywriters to promote your product.

When you find someone who can actually blog with real power and insight and intelligence, you want to pay that writer whatever he wants to represent you. If that means paying him $100 a post, do it anyway. He’ll be worth it. Because it’s worth it to you not to look dumb.

Most bloggers aren’t writing for websites which sell products though, they are writing for content based websites and blogs whose primary source of income is advertising. These sites cannot afford to pay very high rates. Seriously, you would be surprised how little some of the top bloggers earn.

This does not reflect on the quality of the blogger and it should not reflect badly on the blog owner either. It is simply because the blog owner cannot afford to pay out high rates to their writers. Simply paying someone $100 a post because they are apparently worth it is a one way ticket to going broke!

Think about it from the blog owners point of view. Say you ask someone to write 10 articles for your current blog and agree to pay them $100 a post. How are you going to turn a profit on this $1,000 expense? Do you think that adding 10 really great articles to your blog is worth $1,000?

I would personally love to pay my writers more than they are getting paid just now. I would love to be in a position to pay them $100 a post but unfortunately, that would cost me over $6,000 a month in staff wages. I would love to be in a position to pay that out, I really would. I wouldn’t grudge it if this blog was making $15,000 a month, but it’s not. And, just like everyone else, I have to live within my means.

I don’t mind spending money at the start of a project however if a website is costing you time and money month after month, you need to either rectify that quickly or sell the website on. And paying people any rate they think they deserve could definately put you in that situation.

Now, I have jumped upon Taylors statement about paying $100 a post to illustrate my point (it may have just been a throw away comment).

And my point is this : A blog owner doesn’t care if you took 15 minutes to write a post or 2 hours. All they care about is the end product i.e. good content. They also don’t care if some other website is paying you $xx a post or $xx an hour, they can only pay you what they can afford to pay you and what they think you are worth.

You all need to be realistic about your blogging rates. Blogging is not a high paying job, I hope you all realise this. There are some people who make good money from writing for others but they really are few and far between. I don’t want to discourage people from blogging as it’s something which I personally enjoy however most people, particularly those in the west (i.e. USA, Canada, Europe, Australia etc), would make more money by working at a minimum wage job.

The industry is very competitive as well. I usually get dozens of applications when I advertise just one blogging position. Without a doubt, the quality of the writer is very important to someone hiring, but price is a bigger factor. 9 times out of ten I would personally hire a good writer at $15 a blog post than a great writer who charges $50 a post as I know that the benefit from hiring the great writer is minimal when compared to the added expense of hiring them.

Finding your blogging rate

I won’t go into specifics about how much you should charge for writing. It depends on so many factors including experience of writer, quality of content, length of post, content topic etc. After applying for several jobs within your chosen niche, you will undoubtedly get an idea of the average rate which is paid.

I don’t want to talk too much about how you set your blogging rates in this article either as it’s something which I have spoke about before. What I would recommend you to do is be realistic.

If someone contacts you directly about a blogging position then you will probably be able to charge a little more than you normally do because the blog owner has shown a clear interest in you. It’s different from applying for a publicly advertised position as the blog owner will have dozens of writers applying for the job. Even if you are contacted directly about a position, you still need to be realistic about your blogging rate, as you can very easily price yourself out of a job.

If the quality of your posts are better than the average then you can charge more than the average. If you are well known within the industry then you can charge a little more too because writing for them will raise the blogs profile.

But you need to remember, the blog owner still needs to get value from your posts. You can’t just take it easy because you have built up a reputation and do the bare minimum, particularly if you are charging more than everyone else.

I once hired a very well known writer and paid the person more than my other writers but it was a big mistake. They had relied on their reputation to get the job but they never put in the effort and we quickly went our seperate ways. So be warned. Reputation and experience only gets you so far i.e. if you are charging more than everyone else then you need to illustrate why you do so through your posts.

Overview

You will rarely get paid the rate you want from blogging as most blog owners are trying to keep their writing expenses down. Usually, everyone meets in the middle with the blog owner paying a little more than they wanted to and the blogger taking slightly less than they wanted to.

I appreciate those of you who will not blog for a certain amount of money. If something isn’t worth your while then don’t do it. However, if you are trying to make a living from blogging on the web you need to be aware of the opportunity cost of not accepting a blogging gig – A job may pay slightly less than you would like but if the alternative is not getting any writing gig at all then it may be worth considering.

It would be great if bloggers were paid more but I don’t believe this is going to happen until blog owners start making more money. Therefore, I think it’s important that bloggers are realistic about their blogging rates and are aware of all the factors that will determine why some writing gigs pay more than others.

As always, your feedback is more than welcome :)

Kevin

* Note, I just want to clarify to everyone that I’m a big fan of Men With Pens. It’s one of the best freelancing blogs around and I read it regularly. On this ocassion though, I just happened to disagree with them on a few things :)


Kevin Muldoon is a professional blogger with a love of travel. He writes regularly about topics such as WordPress, Blogging, Productivity and Social Media on his personal blog and provides support to bloggers at Rise Forums. He can also be found on Twitter @KevinMuldoon and .

5 comments - Leave a reply
  • Posted by Tei Lindstrom - Men on 18th Jun 2009

    Well, I suppose I have to wade in and defend my honor here. :)

    Re: Section I – The statement about blogging being more draining than writing copy on a single subject is actually based on brain research that says you exhaust your brain by switching from subject to subject. If you're writing many blog posts on a single subject about which you are knowledgeable, then yes, your brain may qualify that as one topic, making it easier on you. But it's a fact that switching from topic to topic is more tiring than writing on a single topic, and many pro bloggers are asked to do just that on a daily basis.

    As for the website pricing, it was a simple illustrative device. I have known many websites that pay precisely that for their copy simply because they price out by the page. I was only using it as an example for a side by side comparison, not to say that every website is priced on those terms. I'm not sure where you go that. I'm also not sure where you got the idea I was suggesting you write a website to then "sell" it to a customer. I've yet to write a website for anyone who did not currently own (and presumably see value in investing in) said website.

    Re: Section II – I think you misunderstood my point here, though I'm in total agreement with you about yours. Posts of varying lengths ought not be nitpicked for cost, and bloggers shouldn't take advantage of that fact.

    However, my point was actually about time, not length. Posts of equal length may take wildly different amounts of time, and pro bloggers should consider that fact when they are deciding what their rates for blogging should be.

    Re: Section III – With respect, I must disagree. You've basically said that bloggers should simply give up on commanding what their writing is worth, and you've also completely undermined the value of blogging, which surprises me when you yourself write on blogging tips. I'll cover both of these individually.

    Saying that you will only get the rate that a blog owner can pay is like saying that people will only call a doctor if they can afford one. Uh, no. People will call a doctor if they NEED one, and they will figure out how to pay for it when they really need it. My argument for this entire series is that blogging is in fact a necessary and valuable component of marketing. If a business really needs that marketing tool to get more business, they will find a way to pay for blog posts.

    If they don't need it as a marketing tool, then there's no reason they need a blog. They don't need to pay someone to write posts for them. And they do not (therefore) need to demand a lower rate simply because they do not find blogging valuable enough for their business.

    I grant your premise that many businesses do not see value in blogging and therefore will not pay an appropriate rate for that value. This is just fine with me, since many websites DO see the value in blogging and are willing to pay for it. It's about return on investment. If you pay $1,000 for those 10 blog posts (as you say) and in return you get 5 new clients worth $1,000 apiece, you have just earned yourself a net profit of $4,000.

    You say look at it from the blog owner's point of view. "Do you think that adding 10 really great articles to your blog is worth $1,000?"

    Yeah, I do. If it gets you $4,000 – or more – in new client money, yeah, it's definitely worth $1,000.

    And yeah, the blogger should get paid for that. Maybe you could get a blogger to write those 10 posts for $10 apiece, but if you get NO clients out of it, you're in the hole $100. Do you want to be in the hole $100 or have a profit of $4,000?

    That's an actual value. And yes, businesses DO recognize it. Telling bloggers to give up on commanding that rate is telling them they should find another job. And I don't think they should.

  • Posted by Kevin Muldoon on 18th Jun 2009

    I think that many full time bloggers actually write for the same site all the time therefore the topic they write about the same. Copywriters would have to switch topic just as much as bloggers in my opinion.

    With regards to section 3. All I am trying to do is tell bloggers to be realistic. As I pointed out in my article, businesses and sites which sell a product can afford to pay high rates because if they pay out $1,000 to bloggers but it bring in $2,000 in sales it's worthwhile.

    However, as I mentioned before, most blogs make their income through advertising and not from selling products directly. Check the latest blog jobs at problogger or performancing and you will see this for yourself. You only have to look at the major blog networks vastly reducing their blogging rates last year to see that blogging rates are low. And many of these bloggers were blogging in excess of 40 hours per week i.e. people you would call professional bloggers.

    Listen, I want bloggers to get a better rate, I do. But, blogs whose primarily income lies in advertising cannot afford to pay out those kind of rates. This has nothing to do with me and you, it's simply the world we live in. And I don't believe that I'm undermining a bloggers worth.

    Take DailyBlogTips for example, one of the best blogging blogs about. I know nothing about the traffic that Daniel gets or the rates he charges advertisers. Yet I know for a fact that he would not pay out $100 per article. Why? Well, because he isn't selling any products directly on his blog. His blog, like most others, are content based and their income depends on advertising. Therefore, paying out $100 a post just isn't good business because he would have to increase monthly advertising revenue by $1,000 just to break even on 10 extra posts published.

    I agree with you that any blogger who writes for a website which sells a product can charge more. If it costs the blog owner $500 for 5 or 10 posts and the blogger generates an extra $5,000 for the business then his rate was justified.

    However, as I pointed out in my article, the majority of blogging jobs are not for websites or businesses, they are for blogging networks whose main income comes from advertising.

    Just to reiterate, I am not trying to undermine bloggers or the act of blogging itself. The majority of my time online is spent blogging. However, I am a realist and I want my readers to be aware of the current market situation.

    Check out the latest jobs at ProBlogger. I advertised a position there before so I know that most jobs advertised there will get around 100 email applications. Do you think bloggers who quote $100 a post are going to get the job when there are 99 other applicants?

    I do agree with you that bloggers should be rewarded more for their efforts. I just don't believe that most bloggers will get anywhere near what they deserve – this is just the way things are.

  • Posted by Jennifer Mattern on 20th Jun 2009

    You seem to have an awful lot of misconceptions in this post. High paying blogging jobs do exist (quite a lot of them), and I think you'd really be hard-pressed to show that most come from blogging networks. It would be more accurate to say that most you SEE advertised are probably from networks, as most corporate blogging jobs are gotten through contacts and referrals–they never make it to public recruiting. You have a few other cases of faulty logic as well, but it was too much for me to look at in a comment, so I've written up a response post instead (from the perspective of someone who does make more than $100 per post) tackling some of my specific issues. – http://allfreelancewriting.com/2009/06/20/special

  • Posted by Rob on 25th Jun 2009

    I think I saw a poll on problogger or some other top blog where they asked what your average rate was for a post. Most people answered in the $10-20 bracket.

  • Posted by Jennifer Mattern on 25th Jun 2009

    Rob, that's absolutely true. I know the survey / poll you mean. But you also have to look at it critically – those results do not represent the entire spectrum of bloggers.

    I love Darren and his blog. But blogs "on blogging" generally cater to a specific segment of bloggers (it's only natural). Corporate bloggers really are not represented there, as one example. (If Debbie Weil did a similar survey focused on that crowd, you'd likely get very different results.)

    ProBlogger tends to focus on people who run their own blogs, helping them get started and helping them grow their blogs. The bulk of the content is on the beginner side (and there's nothing wrong with that). Those already earning significantly with their blogs (like those attached to larger media and corporate sites which can pay freelance bloggers exceptionally well) aren't going to be as likely to frequent ProBlogger (nor are their writers, many of whom ghostwrite for clients but couldn't care less about starting a blog of their own).

    These are the kinds of reasons you can never take a survey at face value without digging deeper into who the audience was, how the questions were worded, and more importantly who was left out.