This is in response to Kevin Muldoon's post, Bloggers Need to be Realistic About Blogging Rates. What this post takes issue with is the claim that you shouldn't charge $100+ for blog posts, because you'll get outbid, your clients won't earn enough of a return, etc. Read his post to understand where this one's coming from.
As someone who both gets paid significantly more than $100 per post to blog for clients and who comes from a PR background, I have to point out some flaws in Kevin's logic (and I can't blame him for them - these kinds of thoughts run rampant).
The two mistakes are in thinking that:
A) A monetary return is the only kind of return buyers are interested in.
B) Writers who earn a good amount of money through blogging are "few and far between."
While it's certainly true that some (even many) buyers do fit that first scenario, I can tell you from experience that there are plenty who do not.
Money Isn't Everything
A lot of buyers (especially those with bigger budgets who are capable of paying for authority bloggers) are not looking for a direct financial return. This is where the PR element comes in. Blogging is a public relations tool for quite a lot of businesses (including those major corporations slowly coming on board with it). The blogs may not even contain any ads. That's not their purpose.
Their purpose is to serve as a communications link between the company and their publics (customers, clients, readers, members, and even members of their local community and colleagues in the industry). They're used to build further exposure and visibility on the Web. They do that through company news, industry news and commentary, and educational posts often--all things that can be outsourced.
For them the blog is a support tool; not a sales tool (and to many businesses those goals are even more important - one PR nightmare that isn't handled well can swiftly kill even the best sales efforts, and a blog gives them immediate access to those audiences when they need to answer looming questions or put out small fires).
Think of it in terms of other professions. Would you expect to pay $25 per hour for a lawyer? How about an accountant? Neither does anything to directly earn you money, so by that logic their time isn't worth much. You know that's not true. Value doesn't always correspond to direct income.
Those companies looking beyond direct income from their blogs likely wouldn't even think of touching a writer charging $25 per post or less (and even that's on the low end). Many have worked with professional writers in other capacities (either as employees or as contractors), so they're used to a professional tier in rates, and they know the quality they'll get from paying those higher rates. In fact, it wouldn't be unusual for companies to turn to writers they've hired for other projects, already knowing their higher rates, instead of looking for someone new (it's one of the reasons you don't see a lot of high-paying blogging jobs advertised publicly).
"Hidden" Writer's Markets Equal Misconceptions
That's the key in the misunderstanding about the number of bloggers being paid well. Because we don't see a lot of these job offers publicly, it's easy to assume they don't exist. But that's just not true.
My lowest-paying blogging job these days is over $70 per post (due to rates negotiated quite a while ago with a long-term client). Most fall within the $150 - 200 per post range (and more for posts requested on the longer side). No, it's not the highest-paying writing gig in the world, but it's certainly not bad, especially since I love the medium (I'd rather write informational content than sales copy any day).
2013 update: This post was originally published in 2009. My rates have changed. As of this time, my lowest paying blogging gig pays a base rate of $180 (although the lowest rate I offer for shorter posts is $150). You can look at my current rates paid by my clients at any time at ProBusinessWriter.com.
And I've never applied for any of those blogging jobs. They come either from existing clients, referrals from those clients, or from people who sought me out after reading my work elsewhere (my blogs, forums, e-books, etc.--why it's important to build a platform folks.
Are Lazy Bloggers Bringing the Market Down?
Let me be blunt for a moment. If a writer insists they absolutely cannot find blogging jobs for more than $25 or so per post, either they're just being lazy or it's the market's way of telling them they need to up their game on the quality front. Those who do nothing but troll job boards looking for blogging jobs are on the lazy side. That's not how you get the bulk of the high-paying gigs out there (and if you've been reading this blog for a while now, you absolutely know that--if those $100+ jobs were advertised, I'd certainly include them in our job listings).
Look. If you're happy with that $25 per article, by all means take it. It's certainly better than the $5 gigs (and $25 gigs are being increasingly advertised, so they're not that hard to find if you don't want to be bothered with building your platform). Just don't allow someone's bad advice to stop you from charging what your time is worth to you.
You're in Business Too!
The worst part of it was where Kevin suggests we all think about it from the client's point of view, noting that they don't all have big budgets and those supported solely by advertising probably can't afford to pay $100 per post, even if they'd like to.
Want a reality check? Here it is. If they can't afford to pay for a top notch writer, then they don't deserve them. Period. It's not a writer's fault that a business owner got into blogging with unrealistic expectations and an inadequate budget to account for them. Many companies are out there either already blogging or looking to get started, and they have perfectly adequate budgets. And for the record, no, you don't have to look for large corporate clients. Most of mine are small business owners and webmasters. You might be surprised at how many do have sufficient budgets to hire professional writers at professional rates to take care of their blogging.
If some are happy with $25 article writers, let them have them. There's nothing wrong with that. But if your time is worth more than that to you based on your skills, credentials, and demand, then don't lower your standards to meet someone else's expectations. The "reality" is that blogging is only a low-paying job if you allow it to be.
Writers, remember this: if a client can't afford to pay the rates you're asking, move on. All it means is that they're not in your target market. Let the clients worry about their bottom line. You're in business too, so you just worry about yours!
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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