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, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  1. That’s some great advice. I know a lot of people get frustrated with how long it takes to start earning any decent money with blogging. Most of us aren’t going to hit it big right away, after all.

  2. I had never considered staff-blogging seriously.

    Your advice about contacting bloggers through “Submit Article” and similar pages is excellent. What do think about cold calling? Do you think its good for contacting local bloggers who might hire?

    Getting disciplined looks good point for me. Thousands of times, I plan to write a post but then pause saying, “Hey, its my own blog! No problem if I finish it tomorrow!”

    Thanks to this great post, now I will look for such oppurtunities.

  3. Having bought your Staff Blogging Course Ali, I can vouch for all that you’ve said. I’m staff blogging for a blog already but your course convinced me to not only look for more staff blogging opportunities but to figure out ways to earn more from the one staff blogging job I did have.

    All I had to do was suggest a few options and I’m on my way to earning more than I was from the job.

    The worksheets that you’ve provided in your course are extremely beneficial and are on their way to working wonders for me.

  4. Nice article. ^^

    You could benefit even more from it if you do staff blogging AND run your own blog. Once people start to recognize your staff blog posts, they probably also will take a look at your own blog.

  5. I’ve never considered this before. As a humor and sports blogger, I’ve always sort of looked at it as a shortsighted and dead end way to earn money blogging – as it seems counterproductive to the growth of your own blog. But if it gains you credibility in your niche, I can definitely see where it would be beneficial to do so – at least for a little while.

    I’ll give it some serious consideration after reading this post.

  6. I think this is a good idea for a lot of people. There’s really not much downside. Situations with good upside and minimal downside are the epitome of a “good opportunity”.

    Unfortunately, my employer at my “real job” would probably frown at the idea of having me do freelance work for another company :)

  7. Hello Ali Hale

    That was fantastic, it is the best money making tip i ever had from any one. there are many way to make money online. But this one sounds to be more promising then all of them.

    with other strategies come many burdens like building traffic(reader base) finding well paying advertiser. And God knows how many other task. but this staff blogging idea sounds to be great alternative.
    All you have to do is approach right editor at right time and you start making money from day one.

  8. I agree that blogging for someone else can start paying off immediately, and has some other advantages as well, but I believe this should be pursued only if the objective is to just make money.

    Let’s not forget that a blogger has many other goals – and the sense of satisfaction is one of the most important ones (at least for me!).

    When your blog grows, it is like a baby growing up in front of your eyes – the process itself is very good, even if it is painful!! The sense of achievement that you get when your blog grows can’t be matched by anything else.

    The initial pain period in the growth of the blog (where there is little or no money) is part of the process – let’s enjoy that as well.

    After all, we don’t want our babies to be born as 5-year olds, do we?? :-)

  9. fantastic advice! I’ve never really looked into staff blogging, but I might have to give it a shot.

  10. I’ve considered staff blogging before, but I would only do if I were able write AND run my own blog, just like Davey said. I’d hate to abandon what I’ve taken so long to build up, just to make a quick buck.

    The biggest hindrance to doing this, however, is finding the time. I’m already swamped trying to keep my primary blog current. Squeezing a couple extra hours into my blogging schedule (on top of my full time job) would be tough. I realize Darren’s written about this before, but it’s still a hard principle to put into practice.

  11. It might be okay for the experinced bloggers but what about the beginners?

  12. She’s a smart woman. Is it OK if I admit that I’m just a teensie bit jealous?

    Go Ali! LOL!

  13. Really nice post. As much as possible I don’t want to put ads on my blog and staff blogging can be a good way to make money. This article really make me think about getting into staff bloggin. Thanks Ali. Btw very nice introduction.

  14. Great article and well written. Adding my 2 cents to it along with paid writing or ghost writing people can also make money by participating in revenue sharing blog which are very popular among budding bloggers.

  15. This all sounds great but where do you even start? is it for all different types of blogs? Because I don’t know any blogs in my industry (forex) that have so much traffic to pay guest bloggers..

  16. Funny – I was reading a favorite design magazine yesterday and wondering how I could become a staff blogger for the magazine. I have no intentions of giving up Creative Perch but hope to instead build some credibility and consistent traffic by staff blogging for sites who already have a large following.

    Thanks for posting this. I purchased and downloaded the e-Book b/c of the 90-day guarantee – I’m in classes now, so spare time to work through it may be sparse in the next two months. However, I’m hoping to really ramp things up this summer.

  17. These are great tips. I think it does help to see how a blog in full operational mode operates when you are starting one of your own.

  18. Lately I have been kicking around the idea of staff blogging more and more. Not just to try and supplement my income, but to also get a little more exposure. Get me name out in other circles. It’s still something that makes me nervous though.

    I have to work a full time job and I’m having a hard time to to good work for my own blog, let alone someone else’s. But maybe Ali is right. If you have an editor waiting on a deadline just having that pressure and a goal to shoot for might motivate you even more.

    Thanks for a good article!

  19. That’s exactly what I do – a mixture of both. Great article on the benefits.

  20. I’ve just gotten into staff blogging and can agree on many of the benefits. I’ve even done a few unpaid gigs for the benefit of improving my blogging skills and the extra exposure to my own blog. It’s definitely worth it, even though it might be a bit of work. This is a well thought out post, with plenty of insight.

  21. im blogging over one year, im chosen various platform for blogging and the blogs are very functional and useful to read some of the readers only,because not reaching most of the people. i want more traffic for my well organized blog can any one help me…

    My blog:

  22. Its interesting to hear about another side of problogging that I never really have given much consideration to.

    I have very recently (within the last week) launched by own blog and so far readership has been dismal. In fact, I have only received one or two Google referals in the last two days.

    I am confident that the material I am writing about has value, and that readers will eventually come, but I do have a long row to hoe before I start realizing the fruits of my labor!

    One way to generate a little interest is to write “guest posts” as you have done in this aritcle. If you can get a link to your site from providing a guest article, that in itself may be compensation enough in the ends of building your site’s profile in Google, Yahoo, etc…

  23. Was expecting something like this from problogger. I have already started my search for guest posting and i must say if you have got some spare time why not use it earn some extra cash.

  24. Great article, guest posting is not something I have considered until now. I didn’t realise it could bring in a noticable amount of money.

  25. Nice post Ali!

    Staff blogging sounds good, especially in the short-run.

    There are two sides to a token though. A popular post has the potential to earn hundreds of dollars over a few years – even on a small blog…

  26. Becoming a staff blogger is a nice idea, but it’s not for everyone and it won’t work everywhere.

    You need an astounding amount of discipline and brain power to maintain the client’s blog and your own at the same time. Most of the writers do not really have that.

    Also, there are countries that do not see the blogosphere as something noteworthy. It is all second class for them. You can’t become a staff blogger there, because of a lack of potential clients.

    Fortunately, there is the Internet, so you can do it online, but then you have a lot of competition. As I said, it’s not for everyone and you can’t do it everywhere.

  27. Thanks Ali. Great tips for an area I don’t really have much knowledge on. I’ve just started looking into guest posting and staff blogging could very well end up being an off-shoot to that.

  28. Thanks for your help.

    God knows it take a lot of effort writing for your own blog let alone someone else’s.

  29. If people are out there looking to be paid for articles, posts or business tips, I may be one of the people you need to aproach.

    My days are getting busier and busier, and outsroucing the writing of my blog would be a great time-saver for me.

  30. I’m not convinced the market is large enough for mediocre talent to make a living.

  31. If you can write well enough, I would not understand why your focus must be writing for somebody else. I agree that if bloggers need money right now, then the best way would be combining the writing for your own blog and being a “staff blogger” at the same time , but the main focus should be the creation of your own online business in the long-term, not only the creation of a source of income that always will need your physical effort and that, at the end of the day, depends on somebody else.

  32. Great tips I just started my own blog to tracking my stock trading experience and your post is very encouraging to me.


  33. I just started wriitng guest post on some famous blogs to get exposure and also to earn some monley let me see how it goes.

  34. I think that if you can write and make $1000 a month in income then you have the ability to put your ability to produce content on a regular base to use for your site and it may take a while, but at least you are building something that belongs to you!

    Miss Gisele B.

  35. I’m not convinced the market is large enough for mediocre talent to make a living.

  36. As a new blogger, I never considered having someone PAY me to write since I’m not an “skilled” writer. It may be something for me to consider in the near future once I work on my writing skills a little more.

  37. I’m one of those outsourcing content for my various blogs…one thing I find difficult is paying for a new blog which doesn’t bring any income like my new blog, it’s now the second month since launching and it hasn’t started generating any income.

    We agreed on a three months period (paying him a monthly retainer), where he submit an original story per day. Initially thought this is a good approach, however now I feel I’ve limited the blog’s growth, as opposed to say getting three bloggers spread across a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday meaning in a week, I would have received three original stories from three bloggers with different writing styles…which is how I’ve done with my travel blog which is able to attract interest from advertisers and new traffic.

  38. Thanks for all the comments, all, and sorry for being a little late in replying to them (was at an anthology launch for my creative writing course all afternoon/evening yesterday!)

    @Mr. I – I’ve never tried cold-calling bloggers. I personally find emails less intrusive than phone calls, and I’d suggest emailing.

    @Samar – Woohoo! Thanks for buying the course, and it’s great to hear you’re finding it useful — I look forward to seeing your rise to staff blogging stardom :-) Also very much hope you end up paying for the course many times over from the extra staff blogging money…

    @Davy, @Mike, @Chip, @Andy et al – I’ve wound down my own two blogs, because I lost interest rather than because I didn’t have time. There’s no reason why you can’t staff blog AND write for yourself – yes, it takes time, but you could just do one or two staff blogging posts per week. It is a great way to subtly promote your own blog too!

    @Dee Wilcox – I did a few blog pieces for a magazine which paid better than anything else I’ve done … if you can get a foot in there, it’s a great opportunity. It is more competitive though, and the standard is a lot higher than regular blogs.

    @myddnetwork (and others making similar points) – I agree that building your own business is ideal, but it takes time. Staff blogging is a handy way to keep paying the rent whilst building up your own blog or business!

    @Yum Yucky Thank you! :-)

    @carla You might be better than you think … if you are looking to ramp up your writing skills, Daily Writing Tips is a great blog to start off with, and CopyBlogger and Men With Pens are packed with advice too.

    Thanks again to you all for the comments – I’m so pleased to see that I’ve opened up some possibilities for a few of you! Best of luck with your blogging endevours, whether for yourself or as a staff blogger.

  39. Interesting ideas in this post. I have never really considered staff blogging but I can see some of the benefits that you are puuting forward.
    I definitely think that the extra exposure that you would gain could be quite beneficial to your own blog as well.
    Like most things I guess you have to find someone that you can work with and you may have to trial and error a few employers to find the right blog for your skills and interests.

  40. Interesting ideas in this post. I have never really considered staff blogging but I can see some of the benefits that you are puuting forward.
    I definitely think that the extra exposure that you would gain could be quite beneficial to your own blog as well.
    Like most things I guess you have to find someone that you can work with and you may have to trial and error a few employers to find the right blog for your skills and interests.
    Oops…forgot to say great post! Looking forward to your next one.

  41. I wasn’t aware of staff blogging at all until this moment, until this article. I suppose it is a nice way of earning some dollars before personal blog hits some traffic and some earning power. Also it is a helpful way of perfecting the writing skills.

    Thank you for this article and for quality new information.



  42. The first thing to do if you want success is find out what is your niche market. After that you can build the blog with that keyword as main domain.

  43. Very nice post. I’ve been making some money writing articles for others, and now I’m trying to find blogs to manage for people who want one, but don’t have the time to actually do the writing. I know they’re out there, and I’m going to find them. :-)

  44. Great post, i am making money via ads. I didn’t try to write any guest post.

  45. This is such a wonderful article and quite helpful to me since I am interested to do staff blogging.

    Thanks for the great tips. Keep it up and more power!

  46. I’ve made a comfortable living as a freelance writer for many years and blog to promote my business and because it’s fun. I can’t understand why anyone write posts for others at such a low rate. Blogging is creating a generation of MacWriters. Fries with that? So sad.

  47. Well thats a pretty good idea, but then you don’t get to learn the basics.

  48. Interesting article. I would say the key is quality. I’ve been approached by many guest-bloggers but I unfortunately the calibre of their work hasn’t been up to what my readers are used to.

    Perhaps it is because of the nature of my blog in that it requires a certain amount of specialized knowledge. Or maybe that it is a matter of time the right guest blogger finds me.

  49. I guess I enjoy writing my posts too much to have anyone write for me. But getting paid to write for other people sounds promising

  50. Great read! Being 17 I’m trying to keep my options open in regard to making money from writing. My ultimate goal is make a solid income from my blog but obviously this is going to take some time. Since I’m going to college next year paid blogging would be a nice method for me to make some extra spending money, and considering I like writing so much it wouldn’t be that much of a problem to do on a regular basis.

    For those who think they don’t write well: STOP THINKING and just WRITE. If you read and write everyday it is impossible for you not to improve.