How to Make $5,000 a Month With Freelance Blog Writing

Carol Tice

Are you looking to find some great-paying blogging clients? Join the club! Business blogging is one of the best entry-level types of writing when looking to become a freelance writer. When I got back into freelancing in late 2005, paid blog writing caught my eye right away.

As someone coming off 12 years as a staff-writing journalist, I was fascinated by the breezy, casual, short blog-post format. So I dove in.

Soon I was earning quite a lot blogging for clients. I documented what I was doing, and the post How I Make $5,000 a Month as a Paid Blogger became one of the all-time most popular posts here at Make a Living Writing.

Recently, I got to wondering what I’d do if I wanted that level of monthly income from blog writing clients now.

My approach would be completely different, because the world of blogging has changed so much. Also, the way I did it a decade ago was a recipe for burnout. I had to churn out nearly 60 blog posts per month to make that money! That’s not sustainable.

Here are the strategies I recommend now, for learning how to make money writing and becoming a well-paid freelance blogger:

Looking for ways to increase your freelance writing income? Become part of the Freelance Writer’s Den online community!

How to Make Money Blogging: 10 Tips to Up Your Freelance Game

how to make money blogging illustration

Quick blogging tip: don’t forget about multimedia options! Videos, podcasts, embedded whitepapers/PDFs, etc.

1. Document your blog writing wins

Better-paying blogging clients are actively seeking writers with a proven track record of getting a ton of comments, social shares, traffic, and clicks to opt-in pages.

If you have any blog posts online that fit this bill, start a link archive. These are what you’re going to send prospects, to impress them that you deserve top rates. For instance, if I’m going after a blogging gig now, I send them the stats on how much traffic I drove with my Forbes blog channel, with a relatively small number of posts:

Don’t have big wins yet? Start thinking about where you could guest, even for free, and get some. Increasingly, great blogging clients are actively approaching (and poaching) the writers they want, from wherever they’ve seen them driving tons of shares or massive traffic.

Even one post you wrote that got 1,000 or more shares or 100 comments is a good starting point for impressing prospects.

2. Seek better clients

There are blogging clients, and then there are good blogging clients. That first category of client wants you to write ‘a blog post’ for $50. The second wants you to write 4-8 a month or more, at $150-$300 per, and up.

Luckily, more and more companies are upping their game and paying more, as blog posts become more like articles.

If you’re getting low-paid blogging work, you’re probably looking for clients in all the wrong places — Craigslist, UpWork, and content mills.

Applying to mass online ‘opportunities’ in a race to the bottom on price is not the route to great pay. Instead, identify your own clients. Lists of successful public and private companies abound — check out the annual lists from Inc., your local business journal’s Book of Lists, or from trade publications in your chosen industries.

The ideal prospect has an abandoned blog — it’s up and running, but not getting updated — and is big enough to have a real marketing budget. Or they have a busy blog with multiple topics, authors, and channels, and may need additional assistance. Think companies with $10 million to $100 million in annual sales.

3. Write sponsored posts

Stop trying to talk small businesses into giving you professional rates for writing posts on their tiny little blog. Instead, tap into the booming market in writing advertorial-type sponsored posts on popular sites for major companies.

To begin, sleuth out the popular platforms that accept sponsored posts (which are also known as native advertising). Then, connect with the agencies or departments overseeing sponsored content development for that site.

For instance, Forbes BrandVoice oversees content creation for many big companies placing sponsored posts on Forbes.com — and writers report to me they’re booking tens of thousands in income per year, writing for top brands there.

Rates for sponsored posts should range from $200-$600 and up. Sponsored-post rates are better because it’s essentially advertising, though the post should still be focused on delivering useful content. Companies understand the connection between ads and revenue, so they pay appropriately.

4. Work a niche

I’ve never shared this little secret before…but for a while, I had several small-business finance blogging clients. And I wrote the exact same post topics for all of them, every month!

I would take the topics I’d blogged about for Entrepreneur, and write those topics again for my small-biz clients.

Completely different headline, post, and quotes. A total rewrite, usually with a slightly fresh slant on the topic, designed to appeal to their audience. But in essence, the same post idea.

If you gather blogging clients in a single niche that aren’t directly competitive with each other, you can retool the same ideas and save yourself a ton of time. Your clients will never be the wiser, while you can reuse links, experts, and tips.

My hourly rate on writing the second and third iterations of those topics was upwards of $150 an hour — sticking to my niche made earning well from blogging super-easy.

5. Think longform

The days of 300-word posts are over. Google now favors 1000-2000 word posts, and there’s a ton of demand for freelance writers to create these more sophisticated, high-value posts. You know the CEO doesn’t have time for this level of content development, and probably can’t write well enough to pull it off, anyway!

Look for good clients in this niche by studying popular platforms on topics that interest you. Look for site ranking charts for blogs in your niche — or hit your favorite analytics tool such as SEMRush to find the big players.

Subscribe, read, and see who’s featuring longform posts. You should be earning $300-$600 and up per post for these — or more, if the subject is particularly arcane or complex.

6. Connect with digital agencies

A number of digital agencies have sprung up in the past few years that specialize in better online content development — a recent guest post here profiled 4 emerging agencies. They’re serving as intermediaries between writers with a track record of driving engagement with blog posts and companies that need that help.

These agencies are a step beyond content mills, and don’t make you bid competitively against hundreds of others — prices are set, and they hand-cull who they invite to do each gig. I’ve gotten $300-$400 per post from one of these scenarios, and am hearing about $500 gigs, too.

Yes, these agencies don’t take all comers. If you don’t have the resume to get in with these yet, be working on building your track record so you can impress them soon.

7. Get a retainer — or three

Good blog clients are looking for an ongoing commitment from you. They understand building engagement on a blog takes time. I like to see a 90-day initial contract for 12 posts, or I’m not interested. Then, it’s renewable on an ongoing basis.

The other advantage of signing a retainer contract is that it should come with a 30-day notice clause if they want to drop you. This helps you avoid sudden drops in income and keeps your income more stable.

Most importantly, retainers help you avoid stress and start each month with a big chunk of your income already booked.

8. Grow the relationship

These days, many content creation companies oversee multiple platforms. Once you’re in at a site, start looking around.

Does this company run other blogs, too, for different target clients? Does this agency have other blog clients? Start asking for referrals and see if you can leverage that one blog writing gig into more.

9. Don’t forget to upsell

Once you’re writing blog posts for a client, it’s time to look at their marketing and see where else you could contribute. For instance, creating a free special report, white paper, or case study for their subscribers is a natural segue, once they already know and love your work.

Pitching additional projects that complement their content marketing strategy and take it beyond “just blog posts” can easily add $1,000 or more to your monthly income.

10. Anatomy of a $5,000 blog writing month

If you’re getting $300 a post, doing 4 posts a month, that’s $1,200 a month from one client. You can see that it’s not hard to build to $5K a month at this rate — and at this point, $300 a post is on the low end of what better blog writers are getting. It would only take 4 clients, maybe even less if you’re proactive at upselling.

At rates from $300 and up, it also means you’d only need to write 15-17 posts a month, to earn the pay that took me 60 posts to achieve a decade ago.

I feel thrilled to write that! I’ve been advocating for better writer pay rates and encouraging blog writers to ask for more for years. And remember — if you do an upsell and have a special report or short e-book in the mix, then you get there with even fewer posts.

Finally, professional pay for blogging is becoming a reality. Interested? The question of how to make money blogging is no longer as mysterious as it once was. Go out and get your share of it.

What’s the most you’ve been paid for blogging in a month? Share in the comments and tell us how you’re doing it.

98 Comments

  1. Amanda Rothman

    I just landed my first “real” freelancing gig! But my question for you is: what payment methods do you offer your clients?

    I don’t feel quite comfortable yet giving out banking information for them to send money that way. They don’t want to create a PayPal business account but would like to pay through their card instead.

    Do you have any suggestions? I didn’t see this topic covered in your blog. Maybe you could make this into an article! But in the meantime, I’d appreciate some advice.

    Reply
    • Firth McQuilliam

      If you’ll permit me to answer with some amusement, Google for “PayPal Payments Standard.” It might meet your needs. I say “with some amusement” because your very same comment links to a post about credit cards. It reminds me of the old saying about missing the forest for the trees. ^^;

    • Carol Tice

      Good catch, Firth — and that link is gone now. I don’t permit links to feeds, or to spammy-looking sites where you can’t figure out who the author is, which that seems to be when I click through. I think perhaps that was a disingenuous, off-topic comment meant to make us all want to go read about credit cards on that link. Sigh.

      Want to enlighten us on your relationship to that life-hacking site, “Amanda”?

    • Amanda Rothman

      Good Life Hacking is my personal blog where I’m giving advice on how to improve your credit rating the same way that I did, from college doldrums until now where I have an 800+ credit rating. I am the owner and author, and I don’t even have Google advertising running on the thing.

      I’m sorry that you and your readers were made to think that it was a spammy site. It isn’t.

      It’s pretty much an experiment for me. One of the steps I’ll be writing on is showing readers how to increase their income, so I do have some affiliate links and I’m currently experimenting with eCommerce so I can write articles on how various methods work, or if they aren’t worth my readers time.

      Notice the “Resources I Love” link in my navigation? I took your advice. I’m one of your faithful readers, “Carol”. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable, “Firth”.

      And sorry that I had linked to a feed; your wicked cool commenting program wasn’t able to find my blog on my website. Might it have something to do with it being on Shopify or due to one of the website add-ons? I don’t know. I think it’s working better this time, although I do wish I could send it to the first article in my series.

      It’s a good thing I came here to check for answers to my question; I hadn’t been notified through my subscription that there had been replies. Thanks for your advice.

    • Carol Tice

      You have a blog…and it’s on Shopify? That’s a new one on me. Possibly that was another part of the issue. Why would you have a personal-finance blog on Shopify, what are people buying from you?

      Afraid I don’t allow commentluv links to posts that appear to advertise products or offer product reviews with aff links, so you can stop trying on that.

      Recommend putting up an about page with a picture of you and your full name — I have a post coming up about how scammy sites seem that don’t have that.

    • Amanda Rothman

      Hi Carol!

      As I already explained, my experimental website is so that I can explain advantages/disadvantages to using different methods for supplementing income through different methods such as Shopify. To do that, I need to try it out. My main blog is on WordPress. Right now, no one is buying anything from me.

      I’ll take your advice about putting up pages with my picture and my name, especially after reading your article on creating an online writer’s portfolio.

      I’d appreciate it if you’d refrain from phrasing things the way you have. It’s made me feel as though blogging in an attempt to help people is instead being labeled as being scammy. I’m not ‘trying’ anything. To that end, I removed the website URL stored in your comment system.

      At any rate, I’m rethinking my subject matter if I’m going to continue getting hurtful reactions to my work. Thanks for that wake-up call.

    • Carol Tice

      I’m ‘phrasing things the way I have’ because that’s how your blog comes across to me, Andrea. I’m glad you’re finding it instructive and taking steps to be more authentic and useful, I’m sure it’ll help you build an audience.

      I think all of us who have informational blogs have to look closely at how we present ourselves so that we’re not lumped in with the great number of microsites stuffed with aff links, where every post is a bald play to make sales. I get a great number of Commentluv links that say things like “Review of Samsung Galaxy Phone” and the like…and especially when it’s not germane to my niche, I delete them all. I’m sure I’m not the only one with that sort of policy. So you want to make sure headlines promise useful info not found elsewhere.

      All of us who allow tools like CommentLuv are facing challenges because we don’t want to be penalized by Google for linking to spammy sites. So if the headline I see seems more like somebody selling something than useful info for my readers, I spike it off.

      If I can give you a free blogging tip (of the kind I give to my blogging mastermind over here) — your blog name ‘Good Life Hacking’ doesn’t seem to have anything to do with ‘improve your credit score.’ If you pick a URL that speaks more directly to your focus, it will seem more aligned and people will be less suspicious about what seems to be going on there.

      If you’re stuffing aff links and ecommerce links on a brand-new blog with no audience yet…you’re trying to monetize too early, which is another thing I talk about in the Small Blog, Big Income ebooks. You really need to build some reputation and trust before you start trying to sell us things — you can see how that backfired here.

      I think the final nail was the seemingly disingenuous question about how to collect payments from clients, which seemed to be a gambit to get us to read your credit card post.

      If it makes you feel any better, if you look through my comments, you’ll see I was recently accused of being a liar about all the big-money success stories I’ve posted here, that those headlines were too clickbait and no one is really making those rates! So it does happen to all of us…and I made some changes in reaction to that feedback, too.

      Best of luck with building your blog —

    • Carol Tice

      Amanda, I think I’ve used Square for accepting credit cards now and then — it seemed pretty simple. But remember, cards charge fees. If it were me, I’d GET comfortable with doing bank transfer, it’s the fastest and lowest cost method, usually. If it’s a legitimate, established company, I wouldn’t be worried about that.

      Since you have ‘real’ in quotes, I’m not sure if maybe you DON’T get a legit feel out of them. If so, be sure to get at least 50% of your first month’s fee as an up-front payment before you start working. And if they balk at that…they weren’t a real client, anyway.

    • Sara

      Hi Carol, I’m really enjoying your site and signed up for the Den waitlist!

      I’m a newbie and had a question about payment too. Are you saying bank transfers are the best way? Doesn’t that mean I’d have to give my routing and acct number? That doesn’t seem safe! Just asking though. And In your experience do clients use paypal?

      Thanks for any advice and feedback.

  2. Kaitlin Morrison

    Thanks again for the insights on earning more, Carol!

    I’m seeing a ton of comments here from folks who can’t believe professional rates actually happen. It’s VERY hard work to market yourself, but the market pays you accordingly. I started two years ago on 500 word posts that I wrote for $4. Now, I’m charging at least $100 for similar posts and actually getting paid.

    It’s real, but many people would rather pretend it’s not so they don’t feel guilty about doing zero marketing. I say, to each their own…you can keep writing for peanuts or you can hustle a bit more and grow your income.

    Reply
    • Carol Tice

      That’s basically it, Kaitlin. And I agree — it’s so much easier to spread the gloom-and-doom and say oh, isn’t it awful that nobody pays writers anymore. And stay stuck in that limiting belief, than to stick your head out of the content-mill cave, and go try to get some better gigs. But everyone who takes the leap seems to end up making SO much more!

      There’s basically a divide in our market between passive writers and active business owners who write. If you only take what flows in the door (or you find on Craigslist, etc), you’re not really in business. Businesses do active marketing. You’re a hobbyist. And earn hobby money — for a date night a month or something.

      I’m here to help writers who want to be in business, and pay all their bills with their writing.

  3. Valerian Okee

    Nice write up @Tice! I have long looked foe advertisers that pay over $100 per post. Could you be having some sort of list of advertisers you can share? I will gladly appreciate

    Reply
    • Carol Tice

      Not sure what you mean, since I don’t have any ads on my blog, Valerian. Maybe you mean you’re looking at online job ads on mass boards like Craigslist? You’ll rarely find good pay on there.

      Earning pro rates isn’t about responding to job ads — it’s about proactively marketing to find your own clients, identifying bigger companies that have the marketing budget and understand writers’ value. Hope you can come to today’s free training on writer rates! We’ll be talking a lot about this.

  4. Mike Watts

    Hi Carol,

    Excellent article! Very informative.

    I often find myself thinking about the gap between the have and the have nots and my feelings and thoughts on this subject matter provoke me to want to begin blogging just to get these feelings and thoughts of my chest.

    I’m a big fan of financial literacy books and how financial education and the lack thereof contributes to spiritual warfare.

    Anyway, I don’t want to go off on a tangent, I just want your thoughts on my motivation for wanting to start blogging.

    I just have a lot to say.

    I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad books by Robert Kiyosaki so his content gets me revved up to express myself in the form of blogging.

    Making $5,000 a month expressing my feelings about capitalism would be a dream come true.

    What do you think?

    Reply
    • Carol Tice

      Mike, personal finance sites are big business — Mint.com sold for a fortune. If you think you’ve got a fresh slant from everything that’s already out there, you should go for it.

      That wasn’t what we’re talking about in this post, which is paid blogging for clients…but I have resources for bloggers who’d like to create a blog that earns of itself, over at http://smallblogbigincome.com.

  5. Firth McQuilliam

    As I’ve said time and again, I’ve been wandering deep in the forests of the web for nigh on these many years now. I’ve waded through virtual cesspools like Warrior Forum and Black Hat World in sheer fascination at the greed, amorality, and occasional brilliance exhibited therein. I’ve found delight in the sternly ethical approaches of WAHM and Make a Living Writing, the latter of which has been a uniquely educational experience. ^_^

    While my ultimate goal is marketing a destination loaded with useful, accurate information that’s fun to read, my focus for the moment remains sharply on freelance writing. I must first pay pressing bills before ranging afield, a state of affairs no doubt familiar to the majority of readers here. ^^;

    I guess my aim in this post is to remark on how difficult it’s been to accept that my writing might be able to pass beyond the odd strictures and demands of “content-broker” clients into the fabulous realm of big-league writing, otherwise known as approachable writing that conveys the desired information with a few well-chosen words and then stops without fuss.

    It’s not a dark art that requires eye of newt and feather of chicken. It requires only experience, research, practice, and confidence. That’s it!

    Yet it was hard to move on from the stagnant ponds of low-paid, anonymous ghostwriting. Why would it be so difficult to accept that I do indeed possess a tiny spark of talent at top-shelf writing that needs only to be fanned into a steady flame?

    That’s a question for the psychologists, I guess. I’ll ignore this irrelevancy and move on to the practicalities of settling on a likely niche or three, building a writer’s portfolio, researching potential markets, and then pitching to those markets. It’s all logical and straightforward.

    As for Textbroker and ArticleBunny, I’ll continue to do the best job I can for clients while also evolving my writing style into another level. The former of those two companies has been a marvelous way station at which to hone the art of brevity and clarity, and the latter has been a great opportunity to acquire comfort with writing article pitches. I don’t mind accumulating a little more practice for the real world while earning money to buy num-nums and to keep the bad men from coming to throw my butt into the street. -_-

    Naturally, as soon as I make my first major sale as a real author, I’ll pounce on the next opening to the Freelance Writers’ Den. It’ll be a right proper hangout that can be written off on my business taxes as a professional expense. :^)

    Now, it’s time to dive into the ocean to swim with the whales.

    Reply

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