by Ahmed Bilal, Guest Blogger
Since many of you are curious about the difference in pay between blogging and more traditional forms of writing, I asked problogger Ahmed Bilal to come by and offer up an explanation. Do be gentle.
Freelance writing jobs pay better than Blogging jobs.
Or, if you prefer to twist that around, ‘industry-standard’ blogging jobs pay less than ‘industry-standard’ freelance writing jobs. It’s not a complaint – as a professional blogger I’m happy with what I do – but it’s a situation that needs understanding, especially for those people who regularly scan through blogging jobs and go away thinking that blogging isn’t worth it.
So why do us bloggers get paid less (on average) than you freelance writers? Here are a few thoughts:
Mature vs Immature Market
Traditional publishing and the practice of freelance writing has been around for a long time – the market is huge, with a high number of ‘big’ players. Monetization methods are evolved and dependable, there’s always a need for a quality writer and at the end of the day, the freelance writing market is a mature, evolved market.
On the other hand, blogging is raw, fresh and still figuring itself out. We’re realising that while it’s easy to start a blog on zero budget, starting a blog with good bloggers requires deep pockets because for a long time, you won’t be earning the sort of money that allows you to afford these writers.
The online publishing model is geared towards measuring results and where traditional publishers could charge exorbitant advertising fees for inflated circulation numbers, bloggers don’t have that luxury (advertisers want to see hard stats).
As blogging grows, we’re going to see the average rate going higher and higher (already, top blogs pay over $1,000 / month month to their lead bloggers – and that’s a minimum). The pay is perhaps more performance-related, but at the end of the day the money in blogging is only going to go up.
Quality vs Quantity
This is not so much a comparison between freelance writing and blogging as it is a criticism of blogging itself. There’s a growing trend in the business for blogs to focus on creating hundreds of posts daily in order to benefit from CPM deals. The problem here is that since the quality isn’t sustainable, you have big (relatively) networks hiring inexperienced bloggers for peanuts and expecting them to write 5-10 posts a day.
It’s not to say that freelance writing jobs focus solely on quality. However, many blog networks offering jobs these days are more focused on growing fast through providing the most content as opposed to providing the best content.
Some of the blame goes to job hunters as well. Blogging is a different beast to traditional freelance writing – you cannot set a blind rate of 10 cents per word and expect to be paid that if no one reads what you’re writing. The blogging business is based on results, and this favours those bloggers who are willing to work on a blog for a long time (thus helping it grow from a new blog to an established one).
That’s why you will see many blog owners offering revenue-sharing deals, traffic-based bonuses and performance-based salary increments. For example, when I posted my ad for bloggers last month, Deb told me that some of you guys complained about the low wages on offer. I agree – however, there are two things to keep in mind here:
One – nothing is fixed. If you’re just a good writer, you’ll probably earn $X per month. However, if you help increase the daily traffic to the blog, there’s an obvious benefit to me because of your presence and I’ll pass on that benefit to you as well. In such a case, you might start earning $1.5X per month + 10% site revenue, or something similar.
Two – many blogging positions are targeting bloggers who want to ‘grow’ with the blog (for one of the open positions in my ad, the blogger could go from $200 per month to $600 per month for 3-4 hours of work per day – after a month or so – not a lot for US-based writers, but for most non-North American and non-Western European bloggers, that’s a big deal).
There’s a gap in the market at the moment – expert bloggers can name their price and beginning bloggers (the good ones) have plenty of opportunities like the one I mentioned, but ‘middling’ bloggers find it hard to land gigs. Either they need to step up to the plate and improve themselves, or they need to start again from the bottom and work their way up (whether it’s a new contract or their own blog). Like I said earlier, the market isn’t mature enough to have openings for all types of bloggers, so there will always be a gap.
Blogging pays REALLY well – IF you’re any good
How does $50 per post sound to you? Even if it took you 2 hours to compose one such post, that translates into 2 hours a day, 30 days a month and an easy $1500.
How about $1,000 per month plus 50% revenue share on a blog where you’re required to write 3 hours per day? You could easily earn over $4k / month here.
Blogging gigs like these are few and far between, but they ARE available. The real question here is whether there are enough talented bloggers to fill these positions – because when you talk to blog networks and blog owners, they always talk about the lack of quality writers and especially writers who get blogging.
If you start writing linkbait for a living, a day’s work can easily fetch you $200-$300. Once again, these opportunities are available but a) you need to work hard for them and b) you need to be really good to get them.
It’s the same, IMO, for traditional publishing – you need contacts, experience, luck and a big dollop of quality to succeed as a freelance writer and as a blogger.
And as the online publishing market matures, we’ll see more and more lucrative opportunities appear for bloggers. You’d still have to be the right person at the right time to take advantage of them though.