How Much Money Can You Make Blogging? What Do Freelance Writers Charge?

Carol Tice

How Much Can Freelance Writers Charge for Blogging? Makealivingwriting.comToday, I’m answering a reader question about how to earn more as a paid blogger. But first, I want to apologize — I’ve been neglecting the Make a Living Writing mailbag, which is now bulging! Promise to make mailbag a more regular feature again, starting now.

So — today’s question is on negotiating an ongoing blogging contract. It comes from freelance writer Don Sadler:

“I have an opportunity to become a regular monthly blogger for one of my magazine clients and am trying to figure out a good pay rate for this. The audience is corporate meeting and event planners.

“The client wants to pay by the word, just like they do for regular magazine and  e-newsletter articles. This will be for 2-3 blogs per month, I’m guessing 300 words or so, plus one more in-depth e-newsletter article like I’ve been writing. I’m looking probably at about .40/word, so $250-350 for the blog portion.

“Does this sound decent to you for 2-3 blogs a month? This is my lowest paying client — I don’t make less than $.50 a word anywhere else — but it’s steady, monthly work. Thanks for your input.”

My general rule as a paid blogger is that I try not to take less than $100 a blog, no matter what. Yes, even if you’re looking for freelance writing jobs for beginners you don’t want to get in the habit of undercharging. I’ve made as much as $300 per, depending on what they require. So on the face of it, your rate sounds fine — about $120 per post.

But I see a lot of potential problems lurking here. In the months since you originally sent me this query, Don, I’ve had many small-business and publication blogging clients. And I’ve learned a few things about what makes paid-blogging projects successful, and what makes them fail. My suggestions:

1. Define your project.

You sound like you’re bidding in a bit of a vacuum. You’re guessing how long the posts will be and what they will require. I’ve found that when you guess about blogging gigs, you always lose. Find out and get a commitment on your expected post lengths.

Do the posts require interviews? If so, the rate is definitely too low. Will they hand you the topics, or will you have to run Google Alerts daily and scan them to develop post ideas? This latter makes a real difference in the time you’ll spend on this project.

Do they really want them 1,000 words long? Many outlets don’t really understand blogging or the advantages of having short posts — you may have to sell them on that. If the length is longer than 300 — and in my experience, it often is more like 400-500 words — your per-word rate is too low.

To sum up, don’t imagine you know what your publication thinks of as a blog post. Find out, and then bid accordingly.

Final word of warning on this — I’ve discovered that some publications and companies like to call assignments “blogging” so they can pay less, but what they really want is fully reported stories. Be sure you know which one you’re signing up for before you price this gig.

When you assume about pricing writing jobs…you often make an ass…out of your bank account.

2. Sell them on more frequency.

There’s a real dark side to this offer, Don. It’s that blogging twice a month simply won’t accomplish anything. In my experience, anything below once a week just won’t get any traction. It’s not enough frequency to build an audience, get subscribers to the blog, or ultimately, paying customers. It’s a proposal that is doomed to fail.

I’ve often had small businesses approach me with this premise — that I should post for them once or twice a month. I always turn it down. The most important thing as a paid blogger is to be associated with successful projects. You want projects where you’re able to drive traffic, get retweets, and the client will give you a testimonial about how great you are. So I consider these twice-a-month type proposals to be loser projects from which I run swiftly away.

From hard experience, I’ve developed a minimum blogging contract. It’s for one post a week, or four posts a month, for $500 — for a minimum of two months. My feeling is you have no chance of getting results in less time or with fewer posts, so that’s where I’ve set my bar. Just my personal philosophy on it.

Bonus: Often, clients will buy your logic and commit to more frequent posts — and that means more money for you, and a greater chance of an ongoing, successful gig.

3. Sell them social-media consulting.

Here’s the final problem with this proposal: There is no social-media component.

This is where many blogging projects fall apart. Either the client is imagining you will promote the posts without additional payment, or (more often) they simply don’t understand how blogging works. They think once the posts are up, the Internet will magically bring them new customers.

A quick cautionary tale about this: I recently signed a small-business client to a twice-a-week blogging contract. Unfortunately, they were a startup with a small team, and no one had time to focus on the blog. In the six weeks I worked the contract, they only bothered to put up about half the posts I created. They changed the focus of what the blog should be about twice, and changed its location on their website once as well. No one focused on promoting the posts.

What did I hear next? No surprise — the client wanted out of their two-month contract because “The blog isn’t building traffic like we expected.”

I like to describe paid blogging as creating a tool for clients. The next step: Someone has to use the tool. They — or you — have to get out there on LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter et al and let the world know the posts exist.

At this point, unless the client tells me they have a social-media-savvy marketing team ready to go out and socialize the posts, I insist on at least one hour per month of social-media consulting work in the package. I bill it at $100 an hour, which is my general hourly rate. Then I have a chance to offer some training to their team on promoting the posts. Now, the project has a hope of succeeding.

So to sum up — ongoing contracts are desirable, so that’s definitely worth some modest discount on your usual rate, Don. But find out what this blogging gig really entails before you bid.

Do you have questions about how to earn more from your writing? Learn more in my freelance writer community — take ecourses, attend live events, ask writing pros your questions in our forums, and use our exclusive Junk-Free Job Board.

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Related: How to make money writing

76 Comments

  1. Tia

    Hi Carol!

    I thought your article was very incitful on what to charge clients. I however have a very peculiar situation. I have a personal blog that I turned into an online magazine. Things have really begun picking up for me and I recently got the attention of an online retailer. The company contacted me through an outside PR agency and wanted me to review some of their offers on sale free of charge if I wrote a great story about it on my blog. So I did that and I was so excited I didn’t even think twice about rates or any of those things. I am still fairly new to this realm and still building up my following.

    So when I was asked to do another piece on just promoting a sale they were having on their site I had to stop and think should I start charging them for my services? All of the posts I’ve written has been shared and retweeted through the company and the PR firm so they are definitely using it but at the same time I’m using the content on my own website as well.

    Should I start charging them? If so how can I go from writing for them for free to implementing some pay out of the deal without them fleeing?

    Thank you bunches if you get to answer this question! 😉

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Tia —

      It’s a little out of my area because I do not do product reviews in exchange for product.

      I did have one guest poster do it and write about it here:

      https://makealivingwriting.com/2012/10/24/3-awesome-freelance-writer-writing-free-gear-reviews/

      Hopefully you disclosed in your posts that you received free products in exchange for the guaranteed “rave” review.

      Those of us like me who come out of journalism think that’s unethical, by the way. Your readers deserve unbiased reviews, and you endanger your reputation as a blogger if you’re not straight with them about the post being sponsored by that product maker, so they understand why you are so enthusiastic about it. Because you’ve been bought off for a little free product.

      See the problem?

      Here’s the bad news about getting these companies to pay: They probably won’t. Too many bloggers are willing to do these kind of posts in exchange for free merchandise.

      You have to decide what your blog stands for and whether you even want to take these kind of deals. If you do, be sure to disclose them fully. I haven’t received free gear from anyone, but I do affiliate sell some products and services — all of which is clearly disclosed on my Products I Love and Useful Books pages here on the blog. If I mention those products in a post, the link goes to that page so that readers see my disclosure about my relationship to the product.

      It’s not worth trying to pull one over on your readers. They are the whole basis of your business, and they may ditch you fast if they find out you aren’t honest with them and that your opinions have been bought.

  2. Diana

    Hi Carol,

    Right all the way! I have just discovered your blog. All that you describe, I have been through. Feels great to know someone’s been in my shoes. And thanks for disclosing useful figures that I will certainly take home! All the best,
    Diana

  3. Chris Evans

    It entirely depends on the freelancers said skills and proficiency as the charges that i get on 99hours are much more than what i used to get over elance.

    So its also freelancing sites that make the difference in my case i can experience that working for 99hours has given me job security even when i am a freelancer as they pay me bonuses also for good work.

    Cheers
    Chris

  4. Shaks

    Hi Carol,

    This post has been so helpful for me! I’m just starting off in the blogging world and I was just wondering what was the reasoning behind your $100 per post rate? Is it just that it’s not worthwhile to do it for less? Or is it that you have so much experience? I would love to hear back as I am trying to decide on a base rate at least, that I will not go below (unless under certain circumstances). I’ve got copywriting/content writing experience but not so much on the blogging unless we count my personal blogs.

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