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The Other Side Of ProBlogging: Making Real Money Right From The Start Of Your Blogging Career

In this post Ali Hale from the Office Diet shares some tips on how to make money from blogging by being a ‘Staff Blogger’. Learn more about Ali in the footer of this post.

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:

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I was also thinking about staff bogging. It takes a lot of time to build reputation and traffic, not to mention those pathetic adsense clicks not paying anything.

    This is great advice and i have already sent in 2 article to dumblittleman. Hope my articles are approved

  2. Wow. This is exactly beyond my imagination! I’m just writing for fun and sometimes get paid for my articles. But I found blogging is more awesome than I ever though. You inspire me to explore more about blogging. Thanks =)

  3. Ali,
    Thank you for the great post. I have browsed the ProBlogger job boards before but never thought about it seriously. I’m currently trying to get my own tech blog (http://www.poundbangwhack.com) up and running and turned into a good money-maker. I’m really going to have to reconsider looking at some staff blogging positions to start getting some cashflow early and often.

    Plus my wife loves to post on her personal family blog so maybe she’d be interested in picking up a position or two. I think it’d be great for her as a stay-at-home mom, especially since we have a newborn at home right now.

  4. Great article! I recent started doing a small gig for a site I found on your job board. it’s only 5-6 articles a month, but I’m making around $70 per article, and that’s more than any of the sites I own bring in.

  5. Amazing advice. Really made me think about freelance blogging. Maybe one day when I get more time I’ll look into it more. Really trying to push my own blog though and it’s been a difficult ride but I think I’m on the right track now. Thanks for the advice.

  6. “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” – I love this quote here, sums up the majority of bloggers out there.

    Never knew about staff blogging though so thanks for this.

  7. Excellent article and great advice! I never knew that you could make money writing artciles for other blogs as well.

    I believe, This is one opportunity that has been given to all bloggers who make just a little bit of money from their blog…

    I think I should go through your job board and look for a job right now!

    Thanks & Cheers

  8. Great post, but I disagree with floating along with the stream, this shows lack of independent spirit and it sounds like the group thing is more rewarding than the entrepreneurlism powered by a one man army. Do not forget the most famous bloggers started out on their own building the 50000+ subscribers list.

  9. Great post. This has been a big dilemna for me, unemployed and needing to make money but wanting to focus on my new blog. I will look into staff writing after reading this article. Another suggestion is Examiner.com – a national publishing organization that is hiring freelance writers in many cities -pay isn’t great for me yet but it’s another stream and could have significant long-term benefits. Here’s a link http://www.examiner.com/about_examiner/ and if you sign up, reference me pls – 7882- Chicago Food Mom Examiner. Thanks.

  10. I admire your posts; every time I read them , I get lost in your world…wonderful…only word I have

    I am going to use these tips as well for boosting my blogging career…

  11. I would love to do some staff blogging, but I know sometimes I write in that “fancy nancy” method that professional writers love, but which may not be ideal for the widest audience. Plus I know that in my area of expertise there really is no blog market large enough to take on staff for writing their content. I have enjoyed writing for an article site recently, which gave me a feeling of greater responsibility to write quality content than I would normally feel when I write for myself. So writing for others really is a good thing to keep us on our toes to keep producing quality and not to get lazy.

  12. Please forgive me for bumping an older post, but I came across this and wanted to ask the professionals a few questions. I’ve only recently started my blog, but due to the economic recession’s particularly brutal effect on my area I’ve considered staff blogging, as well.

    However, I’m a bit cynical; seems to me that staff writing for another blog would have a possibly detrimental effect on one’s own, especially if it’s an “unestablished” newer blog. Again, I am unexperienced in this area and was wondering if the “conversion rate” from their blog to yours is fairly good?

    Also, if you’ve written an article for someone else, is it bad form to also post that article on your personal blog?

    Responses are very much appreciated and I apologize for the (possibly) silly questions.

    • @The Daily Separatist – Your questions are quite valid!

      First, I’d like to address one question because it’s one of those “soapbox” things for me, and that’s the idea of posting an article you wrote for someone else on your own blog. I’ve got one word for you: Don’t.

      It’s not just bad form, but it’s bad for SEO and will thoroughly annoy the first person you wrote the post for, be it a guest post or a paid for post. Feel free to write a blurb saying something like “I recently wrote a post about _________ over at ________ (with a link to it) and would love to hear what you think!” on your own blog, but other than that, just don’t do it.

      That being said, if you take on a “staff blogging” position, I can pretty much guarantee they’ll make sure it’s entirely out of the question for you to be able to do that.

      As far as taking on paid positions at other blogs hurting your own, I have one simple suggestion: Don’t take on a paid position with another blog that’s in the same niche as your own. That way you have nothing to worry about when it comes down to where the more credible content is. When I was blogging for b5media as a paid blogger, I had a total of 3 blogs (over time) with them that were all in different niches than my own blogs. The threat of “crossover” was eliminated.

      Oh, and as far as “conversion rate” – that’s debatable. I’ve rarely heard of a paid blogging job that allows you to link to your own personal blogs. Some may, but usually that only happens when you’re doing a free guest post for them. If that’s what you’re after, is traffic to your own blogs, then maybe consider offering up guest posts for free, with your only requirement being a link back to your own blog in a byline.

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a freelance writer/blogger who also has a personal blog. As long as you respect your “employer”. Most have contracts that will outline everything for you. When it comes to a newer blog, take on the job if it’s there and leave the job if it’s not working out for you.

  13. Lara,

    That answers everything I need to know in detail! Thank you very much!

  14. Thanks for Your post dear Darren…
    This is one opportunity that has been given to all bloggers who make just a little bit of money from their blog…

    i should look for a job right now

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