You started a blog with the dream of making a living from writing about something you love. A month, or six months, or two years down the line, you’ve got a handful of subscribers, a few pennies accumulating in Google AdSense, and a growing sense of frustration. The gurus touted blogging as an “easy” way to make money: frankly, digging ditches is starting to look more appealing.
Even if you are willing to put in those early months of unpaid hard graft before you find an audience, you might just not have the time. In the current economy, you might need your blogging to start paying off now – not in two or three years.
I’ve got good news for you. Instead of struggling your way to an audience, you can start with a ready-made crowd of 50,000+ readers. Instead of watching those AdSense pennies trickle in, you can receive a fixed sum per post.
Staff Blogging – The Other Side Of ProBlogging
You might have noticed that ProBlogger has job boards. You might even have applied for a few jobs through them. This is just the tip of the iceberg of a blogging industry out there, where writers are hired and paid good money to write posts for large blogs.
If you love writing – and dislike the process of marketing, building traffic and doing techy things – you’ll find that staff blogging lets you have all the great bits of blogging without the tedious ones.
It’s not just about the money; it is also a lot of fun, especially if you enjoy writing and variety.
(Chris Garrett, ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income, p124)
So what exactly is staff blogging? It’s sometimes called “freelance blogging”, but bloggers often use that phrase to talk about traditional ProBlogging too – writing for themselves and making money through ads.
Staff blogging is writing regular posts for a blog (anything from several per day to one per month), and receiving a set fee per post.
Can You Really Make Money Like That?
Yes, you really can – and good money, at that. I’m paying my rent and bills purely from my staff blogging work, and I live in London in the UK – hardly the cheapest place in the world!
There are numerous blogs which pay writers a decent rate (I wouldn’t advise blogging for less than $20 per post, unless the posts are extremely short). Big names in the blogging industry advise high-powered bloggers to “outsource” the writing of content – and in many cases, the editing of the blog.
If you have cash to spare (err…invest) then paying for blog content is a great way to motivate people. If you are serious about building a blog network then you better be serious about rewarding your writers very well. (Yaro Starak, How To Grow A Great Blog Without Writing It Yourself)
How Do You Find Well-Paying Blogging Jobs?
Whenever I talk about staff blogging, this is what everyone wants to know: where are the well paid jobs, and how do you get them?
First, be proactive. Don’t sit around hoping that your dream job will appear on the ProBlogger boards: instead, look at the blogs which you read and see if any use multiple writers. If they do, there’s a good chance that they pay. Hunt around for pages like these:
Send a guest post to blogs which look promising, and mention that you’d be interested in becoming a regular, paid writer. Be a good guest blogger and don’t make careless mistakes that spoil your chances of success.
I’ve found all my best jobs through contacting editors personally in this way – not through trawling job boards. In a couple of cases, I didn’t even ask for a job: my guest post had landed in an editor’s inbox at just the right time, and I was offered a paid position:
I first met Ali Hale via a guest post submission. She sent an article to be published on Daily Writing Tips, and it was so good that I offered her the chance of becoming a paid staff writer on the blog. (Daniel Scocco, Daily Blog Tips Interview With Ali Hale)
Even if you’re applying speculatively, take the time to write a good email, to follow any guidelines (blogs may request guest posts or speculative posts in a certain format), and to behave as professionally as you would if you were applying to a blogging position listed on a jobs board.
Do I Need To Be A Great Writer?
One thing that worries a lot of potential staff bloggers is whether their writing is good enough. Of course, you need to have a good grasp of the English language – but you definitely don’t need to be the next Shakespeare. Blog readers want posts that are written in a clear, straightforward and engaging manner – and editors like to give their readers what they want!
Don’t try to use long, ponderous or difficult words in an attempt to impress. Sonia Simone calls this “fancy nancy” writing and warns against it on CopyBlogger, telling bloggers that instead they should just keep things simple and direct:
Write plainly and with vigor. Get your point across directly, with as much grace as you can muster. You can’t make a connection if your reader has no earthly idea what you’re talking about. (Sonia Simone, Are You a Fancy Nancy Writer, CopyBlogger)
If you do want to improve your writing style, these blogs are packed with tips and advice:
- Daily Writing Tips (especially good if English isn’t your first language, or if you need to brush up on the basics)
- CopyBlogger (which has a focus on blogging for marketing purposes, but lots of general advice too – good for intermediate and advanced writers)
- Men With Pens (a mixture of writing and freelancing advice, much of it aimed at bloggers)
These two posts are particularly worth a look for some quick tips:
- CopyBlogger’s The Inigo Montoya Guide to 27 Commonly Misused Words
- Daily Writing Tips’s 34 Writing Tips That Will Make You A Better Writer
How Staff Blogging Can Help Traditional ProBloggers
Perhaps you don’t get a thrill just out of writing: you’re motivated by the idea of owning your own Technorati Top 100 blog, like Darren. You might have thought about writing for pay, but it seems like a waste of your time. You may even have been advised not to work for other people’s blogs, with warnings that staff bloggers work for
…a flat one-time fee with no residuals. If such bloggers stop writing, they stop earning. And apparently there’s no shortage of bloggers willing to work for such rates. (Steve Pavlina, How Much Is a Blog Post Worth? Would You Believe $2400 Each?)
Steve goes on to recommend that bloggers stick with writing on their own blogs, citing himself as an example of how this would be financially beneficial – he calculates that each post on his blog has brought in $2400. (This was in 2006, I imagine it’s considerably more by now.)
I’m going to have to disagree with Steve here. Most of us don’t have the writing and business talents that he does, and most of us aren’t anywhere near making $24/post on our own blogs, let alone $2400. Besides, getting some staff blogging experience is hugely beneficial for your own blogs. This could mean:
- Improved skills: The more you write for blogs, the better you’ll get at blogging. Writing for several different blogs gives you the chance to try out different styles and voices – this could help you to discover your blogging voice. And having your posts edited can teach you where you’re going wrong: writing for Dumb Little Man taught me to craft more engaging introductions to posts.
- Better discipline: Have you ever run out of ideas? Suffered from “blogger’s block”? Have you felt uninspired about your own blog, and lacked the motivation to write? Have you been “too busy” to blog? Getting a staff blogging gig will drive all your excuses away: when an editor’s expecting a post every week, you’ll find that you can write to a deadline.
- Traffic for your own blog: Some blogs which I’ve written for (Dumb Little Man is a good example) give me a short bio line as well as paying. This means I get great traffic and exposure.
- Google juice for your own blog: Most blogs that use staff writers will have a page listing those writers’ bios and linking to their sites. Since blogs that can afford to pay tend to be long-standing ones that rank well in Google, that link will improve your own Google ranking.
And, on top of that, staff blogging can give you some vital extra cash early on in your journey towards the blogging A-list. You can staff blog and write for your own blog as well: it’s not an either-or decision.
So what are you waiting for? Take a browse through some of the blogs that you love, look to see which have several regular writers, and shoot the editor a great guest post. Follow it up with a polite enquiry about getting paid to write for them, and you may well hit lucky…
Bio: Ali has been paying her rent and bills through staff blogging since September ‘08. She’s just released the “Staff Blogging Course” – a short, self-study ebook course packed with advice, tips and practical exercises and handouts. The course sells for $19, but ProBlogger readers can get a $5 discount by entering the code “ProBlogger” (no quotes, not case sensitive).