There are countless articles online that discuss payment for writing, and most of them focus on how low paying the writing positions seem to be, but having been a full time blogger for five years, I have some insight into the content market.
Writing vs. Blogging
First, I want to make clear that there is a difference between writing for an online publication and blogging. I have done both, and writing is definitely the easier of the two. When you write for an online publication, usually your job requirements start and end at the creation of the content. Bloggers, at least in my mind, do far more than pump out content. When I was a blogger, on top of writing my articles, I was expected to reply to comments, filter out spam, promote my articles, manage links, and more.
Payment for blogging should be higher than payment for content generation, especially if it is expected that the blogger will perform such a list of duties beyond just writing the post.
Old Media vs. New Media
Many comparisons are made between traditional media (magazines, news papers, etc…) and new media (blogging), especially when it comes to pay scales. The hard truth of the matter is that many, but not all, writers hired by news agencies have specialized schooling, and as such are trained to be journalists or writers. I doubt most bloggers would have the same educational credentials.
The larger gap though, and the thing that truly effects business is how much money can be made from the content created. With a magazine or newspaper, not only is there a subscription based model, but an advertising model that generates revenue. And you would probably be surprised to know that most of the advertising model in magazines and newspapers is comparible to radio and television more than the pennies we see in advertising on the web.
If I pay two dollars for every hundred words written on a blog, it isn’t because I believe your writing is only worth that much, but I know from experience that it will be potentially difficult to earn back that money through the current advertising systems on the web.
I know detractors of this article will compare it to other start-ups, and I agree, but content creation online because of its low barrier to entry has made the expense to profit models of past businesses types almost obsolete.
At the end of the day, what really mattered to me as a blogger was “how much can I make per hour?” With a salary goal of $2000 per month, I was easily able to find positions where I could earn enough to make ends meet with the speed that I could churn blog posts out. I calculated it out that I needed to make $100 per day for twenty days per month. This meant that I needed to put out ten posts at ten dollars a piece. The ten dollar posts were around five hundred words each, and so over the course of a seven hour day, I had to put out five thousand words, a goal that was reasonably achievable for me to do.
While I’m sure this isn’t the case for everyone, it does make things easier when you can break things down based on your goals. Near the end of my professional blogging career, I was making twice as much per post, and so if my income goals had remained the same, the amount of time I would have had to produce content in a day would have gone down.
I was also fortunate enough to do some blogging where I was making $100 per post. These posts required a great deal of research, fine tuning and time. There was also far less of them in the marketplace. So while it was nice to write a single, well researched article each day, it was hard to find enough of these opportunities to make my income goals for the month.
At the end of the day, if you want to become a full time blogger, you need to figure out if you can make an appropriate wage. Complaining that the marketplace doesn’t pay enough isn’t really a valid complaint as it is controlled like many other businesses, supply and demand, and currently supply completely outstrips demand, but if you can make it your career, and find opportunities to write about topics you enjoy, it can be one of the best jobs in the world.