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How Much Should You Pay a Blogger?

Montrealer and fellow blogger Martine wrote to ask how much her friend should charge for blogging services. I wrote a reply, and thought it might be of interest to others, so here it is:

As for paid blogging, the rate of pay varies enormously. I view it as just a particular form of contract writing, so the main factors to consider are:

  • Length of each post?
  • Complexity of each post?
  • How much subject matter expertise is required?
  • Combining those factors–how long will it take the blogger to write each post?

With that in mind, I’d generally charge by the post. One’s logic might go: “I think it will take me a half-hour to write and research each post, so I’m going to charge $20/post”. If the client wants 15 posts/week, that’s $300/week or $1200/month. If your friend is a fast writer, then this is a way to improve their hourly rate. The rate itself should be based on freelance writing rates for that industry. So, if you’re writing about local restaurants, then probably $15-20/post. If you’re writing about super-conductors or international investment, considerably more. As for contract, I’d just agree to a length of time, such as three months.

One caveat: I had agreed with a client that I would write 10 posts a week. However, after the contract had started, he wanted to me write two per day. And then he wanted me to write two per day in the morning. We reached a happy compromise, but your friend should be wary of fuzzy language in the contract or letter of agreement.

26 Responses to “How Much Should You Pay a Blogger?”

  1. Andrea

    Those rates seem awfully low. Perhaps you’re just using them as examples. I’d caution bloggers to consider time needed for servicing/managing the account, too. So 45 minutes or $20-25 a post might be a better benchmark. (Although this should be emphasized as an entry-level rate and not one for anyone with experience.) I’m not trying to price fix, but I also don’t think writers should earn poverty wages.

  2. Elisa Camahort

    I’ve had this same discussion with jeremy. I just don’t believe in charging by the post. When I blog for someone I am also researching, strategizing, messaging…I’m monitoring and fine tuning. I’m keeping on top of their web presence outside their blog and helping them to respond. I’m reading other relevant blogs and commenting when appropriate.

    In other words I am providing a professional service, and I charge accordingly. Normally it’s best to quote professional services on a retainer or project basis, not hourly. You are charging for value not minutes in the day.

    All that being said, I have no client where the blog is all I do for them. I also run other online marketing programs, so the blog is just one component in the proposal. But when I’m creating the proposal I definitely don’t parse the blog tasks out by post.

  3. Darren

    Elisa: Indeed, I don’t have any clients for whom I only blog. In fact, for most of them, it’s a relatively small portion of our offering.

    Andrea: I wasn’t really proposing actual rates, just rough estimates. That said, I think $40/hour for writing restaurant reviews is a pretty good wage.

  4. Andrea

    But just for entry-level writers, I hope. Yikes.

  5. joke

    Superconductor doesn’t take a hyphen.

  6. Darren

    Andrea: Most freelance writers would gladly take $40/hour for writing about what interests them. Using Gridskipper as a paid-blogging example, their average post seems to run about 120 words of original content.

    One should easily be able to discover, write, proofread and edit two of those posts in an hour. At least, that’s the minimum I’d expect if I were paying for it. 240 words divided by 40 bucks gets you about 17 cents/word. National magazines like Discovery or Cosmopolitan pay about $1.00/word. In terms of audience and revenue, the average blogs would have 1/100th (or 1/1000th or 1/10,000th) of their reach (not to mention, of course, that print work is still more valued than online writing). As such, I think that rate is very fair.

    Now, as I point out, the more specialized the knowledge, the higher the rate. If you want somebody to write a software development blog, for example, I’d probably double that rate.

    Joke: Clearly I shouldn’t be writing the superconductor blog.

  7. Andrea

    Darren: I’ve been freelancing for more than 12 years. The only time I’ve ever been paid so little per word was for my very first paid piece, back when I was a student. Even when I was in journalism school — in 1991 — $35 was considered an entry-level rate. I’d consider $40 an hour fair for someone with a year or two of professional writing experience. The only times I’ve seen rates that low offered to serious freelancers is when non-profit organizations are involved and the freelancers are intermediate, not senior. Of course, fiction writing and editing pays terribly, though.

  8. Darren

    Andrea: If I haven’t made it clear, I’d specify a rate of $40/hour (or .17/word, but I still prefer a per/post rate) for low-complexity, low-subject-matter-expertise work such as writing restaurant reviews or travel blurbs on Gridskipper.

    Additionally, keep in mind these other factors:

    a) Online work pays less, on average, than print work.
    b) Like a publication, the blog’s audience must be directly proportional to the rate.
    c) Theoretically, blogging is more reliable work than freelance writing. If I’m paying somebody for 10 hours a week for three months, as opposed to ad hoc writing work for publications, then that’s going to reduce the hourly rate.

    A mid-level software technical writer averages about $50-55/hour, so I think $40/hour for that kind of basic writing is very fair.

    As I’ve said, I’d also advocate doubling that rate for highly complex blogging that requires lots of subject matter expertise or experience.

  9. Andrea

    I don’t mean to go on and on, but my greatest sympathies go to the poor souls charging $50-$55 an hour for tech writing (if they aren’t entry-level).

    $80 an hour is fine for complex writing and subject matter expertise, though. But, jeez, there are some low paying jobs to be had out there, I guess.

  10. Darren

    Indeed, we can leave things here, but actually, now that I look around, I think $45-50/hour is a more accurate rate for mid-level tech writers. This article (PDF) agrees.

  11. blork

    Interesting discussion. Something to keep in mind is that many (most?) freelance writers spend a lot of their time on non-billable functions, such as networking, unpaid research, tracking down the next job, etc. Freelance technical writers, on the other hand, tend to take jobs that can last from several weeks to several months at a time.

    So the regular freelance writer is charging $80 an hour but only billing 15-20 hours a week, but the freelance tech writer is billing a cool 40 hours a week, week after week, at $40-$60 an hour. Not bad!

    Regarding paid blogging, I would further complicate the formula by adding another variable:

    What is the purpose of the paid-for blog posts? If it is primarily to have fresh content to keep people coming back to a Web site, that would probably be less valuable than if the blog posts were actually driving sales (which would involve considerably more expertise and committment).

    In other words, the more the client has to gain by your blog posts, the more they will be willing to pay for them. General interest blog posts are cheap because there are thousands of people out there who could essentially do the same thing, and many would do it cheaper. But if you’re bringing specialized knowledge to the posts, then the price goes up.

  12. Andrea

    Okay, I see your point, Blork. And perhaps Darren is talking more about long-term contracts. I must admit that I’ve discounted for those, too.

    Incidentally, Darren, I spent two years in journalism at Malaspina and that’s where I was first told never to charge less than $35 an hour — almost 15 years ago.

  13. Marc Snyder

    Personally, I charge clients a per-hour or a per-project fee. That fee is not based on the type of service or the size or type of organisation. It’s based on the value of my time.

    An hour of my time is worth XXX$. Whether I spend it doing job A or job B or job C (for client X, Y or Z) makes absolutely no difference.

    Now, I do discount my fee for a) retainer accounts, b) when subcontracting work (because I didn’t go and get the client; I should be paid the same amount) and c) when it’s a particular cause I wan’t to work for (I get paid in karma ;-)

    Regards,

    MS

  14. Eric Hansel

    I have read through this thread and have recently joined payforpost as an advertiser. I would like to have some idea as to how much is fair to pay for postings about EGM…The 1st Ever Casino Game of the Month Gift Club.
    Any help would be appreciated, as well as any interest.

    Have Fun!

    Eric

  15. Scott

    what if we are looking for someone who is not a professional and just looking to pick up some extra cash that will post on a sports blog…it is a negative return for me, there is no way possible for me to pay someone $40 a post, it would be much more like $50 a month and get 20 to 30 posts from them..is there somewhere to find this? from http://recruitcity.com

  16. jenny

    hi there, i’ve been approached to contribute to a home decor website with blogs, articles & postings. i’ve never been a writer before but i have 15 years of experience as a home furnishings designer. what should i charge for my blogs, articles & postings?

    thanks.

    Catherine Reply:

    Hi Darren,

    I’m an undergraduate student graduating this spring with an English degree, and I’m considering a blogger position that requres I post a few times per week about the bridal industry. Though I have no experience writing professionally, writing is part of my everyday life at school, so I would be comfortable contributing to the site regularly. I’ve been working for a bridal store for nearly 7 years, and feel like I have a lot to offer the blog…I just don’t know what to ask for payment. The employer said she is willing to negotiate payment, but I’m new to blogging, so I’m not sure what is reasonable. Should I consider payment per word, per blog, or per week? Any suggestions?

    Thanks. = )

  17. Geoff

    Personally, as a publisher who publishes many blogs and articles we have it worked out to as such:

    For articles on our website we pay anywhere from $30 – $50 depending on the length where it exceeds no more than 1000 words.

    For blogs, on the other hand we pay $8 per post for a content heavy “personal experience” type blog. So if one of our writers is writing a long piece on how their student trip to Europe was we’d pay $8 for that post. It requires little research but is usually anywhere from 500 – 1000 words.

    For shorter newsy type blog posts we pay $5/post. These are usually just quick snippets of 100-200 words that explain a situation and link to an actual article found elsewhere on the internet.

    This is a model we have had great success with and we have a seemingly endless pool of bloggers wanting to work for us.

    Hope this helps anybody out.

    P.S. I don’t know what the aforementioned people were talking about $0/post, hour to $60-$80/article/post/hour but we would never ever pay that much and I honestly don’t know who would.

  18. Richard

    $30 – $50 an article? $5.00 a post? Good grief. I’m not terribly surprised that “there’s an endless pool of blogger’s wanting to work for us” because there is always an endless pool of people willing to work for nothing, or next to nothing. There is blogging as a commodity – banging out posts assembly line fashion and then there is something different: creating useful, meaningful, intelligent, thoughtful and provocative content. Two different things. One is a commodity, one isn’t.

  19. Sasha

    What should a writer like this get paid per post? http://totallyher.com/author/seful7/
    Various topics, constantly keeping up to date with “what’s happening” in the world, and posting 5 times a week, every week.

  20. Yolanda Morris

    While this post is pretty outdated, the low-paying attitudes still seem as prevalent then as they do now.

    I shake my head at those who are satisfied with selling their well-crafted words/content for $8 a post. And as a business owner, you really should feel ashamed, especially if you’re actually receiving content that is converting and providing a return well above the $8 you paid some poor soul to write for!

  21. cynthia

    It is now 2010….A prominent restaurant owner has hired me to write her blog that will feature her recipes, cooking tips, etc. It will take some research but doesnt seem too taxing. My rate is $35/hour, so I quoted a $20 per post rate. This may be low, but in this economy I hesitate to charge any more than that, considering the next writer will charge $10-$15/blog. We are all struggling just to make ends meet these days. Am I being smart or cowardly?

  22. Cheryl

    Hi, I have been asked to create a blog for a small retail store, where I am the store manager. I would need to manage the blog, take pictures, and write articles that promote the items in store and their upcoming fashion shows/events.

    I am having trouble finding out how much I should be paid. Does anyone know?

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