How Much to Pay a Blogger: The Answer Might Surprise You

“You’re a professional blogger?”

Earlier this month, I attended ROFcon, a geek convention with panels on cosplay, science fiction, comics, and other awesome nerdy interests. Yes, I dressed up! I was especially interested in the literary track, which included panels on publishing and writing. One panel, early in the morning on the last day of the con, was lightly attended, so it was more of a conversation than a formal presentation. The speaker asked everyone where there were in their writer, and I admitted that I did more blogging than anything else.

One of the other audience members was keen to know if I was actually a professional blogger, if this was how I made a live. Why yes, yes I am. I explained that I both run my own blogs and work with clients to help them with their content marketing efforts.

The question I could all but hear churning in the minds of the other people in the room was this: how much money do you make?

While I don’t post income reports like other bloggers, I will say that when I am paid to write posts for other bloggers, I’m paid anywhere from $15 to $500 per post. That’s a huge range, I know! Here’s what affects the price:

  • Whether or not I get a byline
  • Whether or not I get a bio with a link to my site or social accounts
  • How much research is required
  • Whether or not the topic fits well with what I’m already doing or is a departure
  • The length of the post
  • The “finishing” work required (adding images, formatting, etc.)
  • Whether or not I have to pay an editor
  • The size of the site where it will be published
  • Whether this is a one-time gig or a long-term gig
  • Whether or not the client is a friend
  • Whether or not social promotion is requested
  • Other perks I receive (such as free items to review)

It’s not an exact science. If you want to hire me for a $15 per post gig, I’m probably going to say no unless all of the above points are in your favor (i.e. I get a bio, I have to do little research, the post is short, etc.). On the flip side of things, charging $500 per post is rare! Usually, for a 1000-ish-word post, I change around $100 – $200.

But how much should you pay someone to blog for you? The answer is not $100 to $200 per post. The answer isn’t $15 per post or $500 per post either. The answer, surprisingly enough, is this:

You should pay the least amount possible for the quality you want.

There’s this big movement in the freelance world where people are promoting that writers are paid fairly…but fair is subjective. If I can write a post for you in one hour and you pay me $30, I consider that fair (especially if you have long-term work available for me), because $30 per hour is a pretty good rate in my opinion. That works out to around $60,000 per year salary, if I worked a full 40 hours per week at that rate.

Now, if you’re a freelancer yourself, you know that part of your time will be spent doing unpaid work (searching for jobs, educating yourself, etc.), and most of the time it’s going to take a lot longer than one hour to write a post, but the point here is this: what I think is fair may not be what someone else thinks is fair…and that’s okay.

As someone hiring a freelancer to write for you blog, you have to keep in mind that quality is everything. You won’t entice readers to buy a product, join a mailing list, or even read to the end of the post if your quality sucks. And typically the bloggers who are willing to work for very low fees, the bloggers who think those rates are fair, are not going to turn in high-quality content. So, if you set your price at $5 per post, expect low-quality work, for the most part.

But don’t get sucked into the idea that you have to pay a writer exactly what the blog post is worth, because that’s no way to run a business. There has to be some meat on the bone for you. Otherwise, you’re just throwing money into an abyss.

Test, Track, Analyze

How much money, on average, do you make per blog post? If you don’t know, then you shouldn’t hire a blogger yet because it is impossible to set the right price. You need to test methods to see what converts better, track conversion rates over time, and analyze your results. Only then can you truly understand what a blog post is really worth.

First, find out a few conversion numbers:

  • How many people click a link on your blog and go directly to a pay to make some kind of purchase?
  • How many blog readers sign up for your mailing list, and how many subscribers make a purchase within, say, 3 months?

Let’s say that you sell widgets for $50 each. Over the course of three months, you publish 30 blog posts and make $12,500 in sales (meaning, you sold 250 widgets). 15% of those sales came from your blog and the rest came from other sources. That gives you a base value to your blog of $1875 over three months, or $62.50 per post.

Let’s say also that 50% your email subscribers are from your blog, and you know that over the course of 3 months, about 5% of subscribers buy a widget. If you have about 5,000 subscribers, that adds another $12,500 to your 3-month total, and if half of those sales can be contributed to your blog, that adds another $6250 to your total (or, about $208.30 per post). We’re now up to $270.80 per post.

You could track even more. For example, what percentage of first-time readers go on to follow you on social media, and what percentage of those followers go on to make a purchase? But for now, let’s just assume that you make about $271 per post.

Does that mean you should pay the blogger $271 per post? No freakin’ way.

 So What Should You Pay, if not $271?

Well first, what is the cost of that blog post before the writer even gets involved? Did you pay someone for keyword research? Do you pay a VA to help with blog publishing? Do you purchase images for your posts? What are your hosting and domain name costs?

Even if you do some of this work yourself, think about it in terms of paying yourself. Let’s us a base rate of $30 per hour, which is a nice little income.

  • You do the keyword research yourself and spend about 5 hours per month on this task…15 over the course of 3 months for a total “cost” of $450, or $15 per post.
  • You hire a VA to do finishing work on your posts (tagging, categorizing, formatting, etc.) and pay $1 per post.
  • You purchase images for blog, paying for a $30 per month for a subscription service to a stock site and an average of $100 per month for a photographer to snap images of your products. You also pay around $3 per month for basic photo editing through PicMonkey. That all works out to around $13 per post.
  • You pay about $50 for your blog hosting and domain name, specifically for your blog. That works out to $5 per post.

All of that taken into account, your costs before the writer is $34 per post.

So does that mean you should pay your writer $237 per post? Again, no freakin’ way.

Because, while you might get the customer to spend $50 per widget, that’s not your profit. Widget cost money to make – materials and labor. There are sales reps and marketing staff and other personnel to pay. You have to keep the lights on. Let’s say that your margins are incredible and you make $25 profit per widget, 50%. That means that your profit per post is just over $100 per post.

Is that what you should pay writers?

Well…maybe.

Normally, you’d want to leave some meat on the bone for yourself, but let’s say that a high percentage of your customers end up buying again and again. In that case, it might be okay to break even on first-time buyers, if it’s pure profit going forward. Or, if a high percentage of blog readers become loyal fans who promote your brand to their fans, the word-of-mouth marketing might be worth breaking even on the blog posts.

So $100 might be your magic number.

But…

There’s always a but. And this blog post has a REALLY BIG BUT.

I Like Big Buts and I Cannot Lie

The but in this case is this: You’re a business owner, not a charity.

While I do believe that you have an ethical duty to pay your workers fairly, exactly how much you make per blog post should not necessary dictate how much you pay per blog post. The research you do to figure out how much you make from each blog post can help you ensure you aren’t paying more than you’re bringing in, but it isn’t necessary part of the equation when figuring out what to pay. If it is, your blogger is essentially making a commission.

Now, that might be the best option. If you have a blogger who is bringing in lots of traffic and doing an amazing job coming up with post ideas and executing, you might want to pay a certain percentage. But if that’s how you think about paying for a blog post, then logically, the payment should go down if the blog conversion rate goes down.

Instead, what’s fair is to find out how long the blogging work takes and pay people a fair rate based on their experience and quality of work. This is, in my opinion, anywhere between $15 and $50 per hour.

If you do all of the above tracking and analyzing only to find out that you can only justify paying a lower amount, say $15 per blog post, NEVER compromise on quality. You can teach someone how to use WordPress, and people will, over time, get more Twitter followers. You can even hire a much less expensive VA to do the finishing work on the blog post, like adding images, to cut down on the time your blogger is working. But if the writer turns in crap, you don’t want them. Trust me. You might as well be throwing your $15 per post into a black hole.

I wish I had a more black-and-white answer about payrate for you, but the truth is, that it’s just too subjective of a question. My best advice is to look for someone who cares about their work, and who will continue to improve and grow. Send them to blogging conferences if you can afford to do so. Invest in online education. Reward them for a good job. And when you find a good writer who works hard for you, do what it takes to KEEP THEM! Writers are a dime a dozen online, but the good ones who will actually help you build your business are few and far between.

Get More Long-Term Readers with the Soap Bubble Approach to Blogging

This post was originally published on the NMX blog. It is reposted here with permission.

Traffic spikes can be exciting. It’s fun to watch a post go viral, especially if those new readers are also leaving comments. But when those people leave your blog, they often don’t come back. Getting more long-term readers is a lot harder than getting more traffic.

Ten long-term readers who will become a part of you blog community are better than 100 readers who read one post and never come back, though. It’s hard to grow your blog if you don’t build a solid foundation of readers who are addicted to your posts. One of the techniques I use to convert first-time readers into long-term readers is what I call the soap bubble approach to blogging.

Blog Structure for More Long-Term Readers

The net time you work up a lather in the bathtub or splash some suds on your dirty car, take a close look at structure of the soap bubbles. You’ll notice that it typically isn’t a collection of air pockets that are all the same size. Instead, you’ll see mostly small bubbles that make up the foam with occasional mid-sized and larger bubbles. The small soap bubbles are what creates the sudsy power. Without them, your larger bubbles aren’t very effective.

I find that a lot of bloggers are obsessed with creating epic content. I’m a firm believer that every single post you write should be your best work. However, not every post your write has to be a “big bubble.”

Big bubble content is typically long, evergreen content that is highly sharable and often a comprehensive list or guide to a certain topic. An example of big bubble content is this post: Link Earning: The Ultimate Guide to Link Building in 2014.

But “small bubble” content is just as important. This kind of content is still high quality, but aims to teach a single tip or skill or cover a single topic. An example of small bubble content is this post: Let It Go.

Whenever you write a big bubble type of post, you should be able to link back to at least five other supporting posts on your blog. Think of your big bubble content as a hub for the small bubble content you’ve written in the past.

Why This Leads to More Long-Tem Readers

In general, I’ve found that if someone reads three posts from me, they are likely to come back and read my posts again and again. In many cases, people who read at least three posts are so hooked that they read several posts on your blog. They’ve discovered your content, and they can’t get enough.

Internal linking encourages them to read more content, but this isn’t just about making sure you link to previous posts in every blog post you write. It’s about making sure that you have related posts to support the epic content that is going to get the most attention. Super relevant posts that first-time readers can visit to learn more is going to be extremely enticing.

So, the next time you sit down to write a list post or an ultimate guide or another type of post that you know is going to bring in lots of traffic, ask yourself this question: Do I have enough small bubble content planned on my editorial calendar to support the post?

If not, plan some content before you publish so any post that goes viral encourages people to read more instead of bouncing on to the next website.

This post is part of my personal Year of Blogging challenge. Read about it here!

Review: PicMonkey Online Photo Editor

This post was last updated May 2017, since so much has changed since I first wrote this review!

I’ve already mentioned on this blog how much I love PicMonkey as a photo editor, but I wanted to sit down and do a more formal review of the product. Although this is the right tool for me, it may or may not be the best option for you. So, without further ado, let’s talk about PicMonkey!

Wait…What is PicMonkey?

For those of you who’ve never heard of PicMonkey before, this is essentially an online tool that allows you to do basic photo editing without downloading any kind of software. The best part, for many people, is the price point: free. For those of you who want more function, however, PicMonkey does have a premium version, which I happily pay to use (yes, I’m an affiliate). Unless otherwise noted, everything I’m covering in this review is included in the free version.

picmonkey home pagePicMonkey has three main functions:

  • Edit/Touch Up
  • Design
  • Collage

Edit and Touch Up are listed separately on the homepage, but they’re really the same thing: manipulating your photo. Through this menu, you can crop, resize, add text, change the colors, and more. They even have a special set of tools for touching up images of people, which allow you to make simple changes like removing blemishes and whitening teeth.

The Design function allows you to start with a blank canvas instead of uploading a picture. They’ve also added templates, which are pre-made posters, invitations, and more. Most of these are not relevant for bloggers, but templates are nice if you also want to use PicMonkey for personal projects.

Lastly, there’s the Collage function, which gives users the ability to edit several photos together to make a single larger photo. Once you’ve chosen the layout, you can also choose to go into the Edit functions, where you can further manipulated your images.

Let’s take a close look at these functions, along with some pros and cons of each:

Edit/Touch Up

picmonkey sidebarThe Edit function is split into eight categories of options (one of which is Touch Up – if you choose the Touch Up option on the home page, you’ll simply be take to this group of options first). If you pay for a premium account, you’ll have more options, but even with just a basic account, there are hundreds of ways to manipulate your photos. Here’s a quick overview of what’s available:

  • Basic Edits give you the abilities to crop, change the canvas color, rotate the image, affect the exposure, manipulate the color, sharpen, and resize.
  • Effects allows you to easy change an image, similar to the options available on Instagram. However, on PicMonkey, you have TONS of other options and a lot more control. You can fade effects to be extremely minimal and choose other options based on the effect.
  • Touch Up effects are specifically for portraits. This group of effects includes blemish fix, teeth whitening, and lip tint.
  • Text options allow you to add words to your image. There are dozens of font options, and you can change the color and size. You can also use any font installed on your computer.
  • Overlays are shapes that you can add to your images. You can also add your own here.
  • Frames are exactly what they sound like – different frames you can add to your photos, including drop shadows and simple edges.
  • Textures add entire new looks to your images. Most are premium, but there are some simple free textures to play around with as well.

There’s a tab for Themes as well. These aren’t really different options, but rather compilations of options found on other lists. For example, the “Winterland” theme collects effects like snowfall, overlays like holly, and more all in one place so if you’re editing holiday pictures, you have all the relevant options in one place.

Lastly, you can also access the Templates function from this screen. It’s the final tab on the left-hand sidebar.

Pros

What I love most about the Edit options is the sheer number available. Unless you’re doing extremely advanced photo editing, you don’t need a high-priced option like Photoshop. PicMonkey has almost everything you need! On top of that, PicMonkey is extremely easy to use. Even if you have no experience editing photos at all, PicMonkey makes it easy. Even the premium version is only $33 per year, which hardly breaks the bank.

PicMonkey has so many options, it can actually take some time to find them all. This post on the PicMonkey blog is filled with tips for some not-so-obvious ways to use the different options.

Cons

While I do LOVE PicMonkey, nothing is without its flaws. The biggest one, in my opinion, is the lack of more options for text.  PicMonkey has begun to remedy this. If you are a pro user, you can create simple drop shadows and other effects. This feature alone is worth the price of premium.

The other major flaw is that some of the pre-built overlays do not give you the option to choose colors easily. Instead of being able to simply pick the colors you want, you have a slider, which only allows you to pick a color theme. I like having complete control.

Design

The design function allows you to start with a blank slate instead of starting with a photograph of your own. After that, all of the options are exactly the same, so no need to go through them again!

One additional “pro” that I’ll add here, though, is that when you hover on the design button, it brings up a few of the most commonly used options, like the size you need for a Facebook cover photo.

The design function now also gives you several pre-built template options, which are great if you are designing a poster, invitation, business card, etc. I especially love that they have some templates for digital graphics, like Facebook covers. Most of the templates are only available for premium users, but there are a few free options as well.

Collage

Lastly, Collage is for mashing pictures together, which is extremely useful. You don’t have to worry about getting the spacing right, and PicMonkey has tons of options for pre-made collage templates. You can also choose to edit a template as you go by adding more photos or playing with the sizing.

When you go into Collage, it will automatically ask you to upload some photos. If you just want to play with the function, they have some test photos to use as well. You can always add more photos later. You’ll see a basic template to start, but you can easily change that by choosing one of the other templates, which are organized into categories. Here’s where I’ve found that having a premium account comes in really handy, since there are lots more templates available. PicMonkey also has “swatches” (i.e. background patterns) you can use if you don’t want to use a picture in every spot.

Want to change the dimensions of any of the template’s spots for pictures? Simply position along the border until you get the little arrows and then drag left, right, up, or down. The template will change (and your pictures with it).

Lastly, you can choose the spacing and color for the background. If you change the overall size of your collage to be bigger or smaller, you may want to change this spacing, since these won’t change relatively. You can also move the spacing to zero, which puts the images directly next to one another, or you can choose a transparent background.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the Collage feature:

Pros

I love, love, love that this is a simple drag and drop. It’s so freaking easy! You can also make basic edits to each individual photo (resizing, rotating, exposure) without leaving Collage mode. The ability to zoom (which is effectively resizing the image) directly within Collage mode with the images exactly how you want them, is especially helpful!

Cons

Actually…there’s not much I can say here as a con. I do think they could stand to add a few more template options, especially to the jigsaw category, because if you’re not skilled and making your own layouts, the choices are limited. But really, I’m nit-picking. I think it’s much more urgent for them to add better functionality to the text feature than it is to worry about adding more collage templates.

The Hub

PicMonkey recently introduced a feature called “the hub” which is AH-MAZ-ING. The Hub is only available to premium users, but it allows you to save your images within the PicMonkey application so you can work on them again later. This was one of the MAJOR complaints I used to have with PicMonkey. Once you save a file to your computer, it is a flat image, which  means that you can’t edit the layers anymore. There is no “PicMonkey” file format, like there is with Photoshop.

But, if you save in the Hub, you can come back to it later, and your layers will be there as though you never left. This feature is AWESOME. I’m not sure how much space you get with the Hub, but I haven’t run out of space yet.

Mobile App

PicMonkey recently released a mobile app, which is free. If you have a premium PicMonkey account, you can log into your Hub from the mobile app. The mobile app does not have all of the options you get with the browser version (not even close), but it does give you pretty much everything you need to edit a photo on the go for posting to Instagram, Facebook, etc.

From the mobile app, you can access:

  • Crop
  • Adjust (brightness, contrast, clarity, levels, saturation, temp, and blur)
  • Effects (there are 17 options)
  • Draw
  • Stickers
  • Text

Stickers are fun little graphics you can add, and they switch them out all the time. As of writing this review, there are a bunch of winter stickers, for example. The text option allows you to choose from one of their 24 most popular fonts, and you can also justify the text, change the color, and add a drop shadow if you want.

All in all, the mobile app is bare bones compared to the desktop version, but it has everything most people need when on the go. They didn’t have a mobile app at all for a LONG time, so developing one was a huge step forward.

If you are only going to use the mobile app, I still recommend premium so you can save things to your hub and access your hub. That way, you can save work and come back to it later, instead of being forced to do all your image editing in one sitting.

Conclusion

If you aren’t using PicMonkey already, you don’t know what you’re missing. This is hands down the tool I use most often. I would give up just about any other online tool to continue having access to PicMonkey. Adding images to my blog posts isn’t my favorite task (understatement of the year), but PicMonkey makes it 100 times more pleasurable. And if you’re tech-challenged, it is amazingly easy to learn how to use.

While free PicMonkey is awesome, I highly recommend upgrading. Seriously, I would gladly pay twice as much…even three times as much…for an annual subscription. Shhh…don’t tell the PicMonkey people! 🙂 My point it, I get so much value out of my premium account that it is, to me, worth much more. And while I am an affiliate, I would promote PicMonkey even if they didn’t have an affiliate program.

Here’s the link to sign up for an account – either free or paid. I hope you check it out and leave a comment below with your thoughts!

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