Why I Turned Down This Lucrative Blogging Gig – And You Should, Too

Carol Tice

One way you can tell your blog is becoming successful is that you start to get job offers from people who’ve seen your blog posts.

If you’ve set up your niche blog right — you’ve got a ‘hire me tab,’ your design is clean, you write great headlines, your posts are scannable and stick to your topic — it impresses readers that you get how to do this.

You start to get comments, and people share your posts

Then, some of those readers realize they’d like you to work this magic on their blogs, too.

That goes double if you guest post on any of the big-name blogs.

Sometimes, these offers are great — they pay well and/or will put you in front of a large, new audience. One of the first offers I got was for three posts a week at $100 per, on a site that gets 1 million views a month. The exposure there got me even more clients.

While blogging isn’t the best-paid type of business writing out there, the advantage here is the steady, recurring income. With a few paid blogging clients, you start each month with some nice revenue pre-booked.

Sounds great, hmm? Don’t get too excited yet.

Not all blogging offers are legit

Just because someone offers you a bit of money to blog for them doesn’t mean you should jump at it.

An increasing number of scam artists and self-promoters are getting wise to blogging as an avenue for promoting their stuff. Often, they’d like you to do that in ways that are unethical or at the very least in a gray area.

I got one of these reach-outs in the past week. It sounds great on the face of it. Here’s the email I got (names have been ommitted to avoid promoting the culprits’ site):

I came across your blog and wanted to get in touch and ask if there is anything you could do to help us get our new guest blogging platform off the ground – <sitename>.

I see that you’ve written for some well known sites and what I have mind is coming up with some post ideas that can include a reference to <sitename>, and getting these published on top sites (your byline).

We might also need some help with content for our own blogs and would be interested to hear what you charge for ghost writing posts.

Cheers!

Just to parse this out a bit, this prospect is asking me to write some guest posts for top blogs like Copyblogger or Problogger in which I just happen to mention their new site. Just drop it in, as if I’m not getting paid by this site to promote their URL.

Anytime you have a paid relationship that you fail to disclose, it’s like you’re lying to your audience.

This is unethical

It’s right up there with failing to disclose affiliate links you put in posts, where you earn a commission if people buy.

These sort of moves put your reputation as a blogger at risk.

That’s crazy.

Your reputation is all you’ve got. It’s everything in the world of online business.

If you’ve managed to build relationships with some of the top blogs online — blogs that give you huge exposure and bring you new readers and customers — why on earth would you risk that for a few hundred bucks from some client?

Talk about short-sighted thinking.

Sleazebags who reach out about this have figured out how precious these relationships with big blogs are. Instead of building a successful blog and then pitching big blogs, they’re hoping to ride your coattails in the door right away.

They could give a rip about what that might do to your reputation and how it might kill your own blog.

I couldn’t say no to this guy fast enough. I’m betting his “we need ghost-blogging help, too” line is just a ruse to get writers more interested and thinking it’s a bigger-money gig.

I’m never risking the reputation I’ve built to promote some new online platform I’ve never even heard of.

Once those big blogs figured it out, I’d probably never get to post for them again.

No amount of cash is going to make this worth your while.

Have you gotten scammy paid-blogging offers? Leave a comment and let us know what you’ve seen.

55 Comments

  1. Rob Schneider

    “the blogging I read about just seems like a lot of work for very little money compared to the going rates for professional writers.” – that’s kind of a snooty way to define a professional writer.

    • Barbara Saunders

      What I meant by “professional writer” is the entire umbrella category “people who write for money.” When “the going rate” (setting aside the Stephen Kings of the world) ranges from cranking out dozens of pieces per week to add up to a minimal salary to a breadwinner-level salary, I don’t understand the appeal of choosing the former.

    • Rob Schneider

      The “appeal” is simply doing what you have to do to make a living. I’m particularly sensitive about the subject because I found myself in a position where I had to make money fast to survive and got caught up in the content mill/bidding sites world for over a year. Hard work (like 80 hours a week) and research helped get me out of the trap. Carol’s Writers Den and encouragement from a former editor have helped me see the possibilities for better pay and things are okay now, but I still see red when someone implies that writing for peanuts is not professional writing. For some of us, it has to be a step-by-step process. Apologies for my over-reaction, though.

    • Barbara Saunders

      Hi Rob, I get where you’re coming from now. Thank you for clarifying. I suppose I’m in a different situation, in that I have turned things outside of writing when I needed quick money. I live in a very expensive area of the country. I couldn’t have paid my bills on the rates people are describing here. It was a more realistic survival option to pick up fitness training clients part-time while pushing on the higher-paying writing for the long term.

    • Carol Tice

      Well, that’s why I included the “get a part-time job” option. For some, especially if you have a good-paying alternative like it sounds like you did, that may be a happier way to go.

    • Carol Tice

      I’ve made pretty nice money from blogging at some points, if you’ve read my popular post How I Make $5,000 a Month as a Paid Blogger, Barbara. And that was about half my income at the time, so it still left time to do other types of writing.

      I know people who’ve made $300 a post, too. So you can’t assume blogging is always a bad deal. I’ve never had to churn out dozens of posts a week to make that, either.

    • Barbara Saunders

      Thanks, Carol. I think I’ve been caught in a semantic error, tripped up around the title “blogger.” I’m gathering that some positioning in writing pays well and other positioning does not. Whether or not the medium happens to be a blog doesn’t seem to be a factor.

      E.g., Column writing for a top-tier magazine (like Entrepreneur) will pay well, whether in print or in a blog. Marketing writing, whether a white paper for a Fortune 500 or content marketing for a small business, will pay well. “Filler” content, whether on a content mill or a local newsletter, is not going to pay well. (And of course some bloggers make money using the blog to sell some other product or service.)

      I wonder … general curiosity do you think that it’s easier for most people to get to the $5,000 month level from blogging versus other types of writing? Maybe I am just old! It seems easier to me to go the route of selling functional expertise and content knowledge writing in whatever media (including blogs), than to try to “be a blogger.” I’ve gotten the impression that it becomes a dead end for many people.

    • Carol Tice

      You know, I’ve found what’s easy for one writer may not be for another. Some writers love blog style and that format comes easily to them, and developing post ideas, and they find it an easy way to earn if they connect with quality clients. For instance, at one point I was making $100 a post for a major lender writing posts I could do in about a half hour, on topics I’m very familiar with. So the hourly on that works out great, hmm?

      I don’t know what works for ‘most people.’ Everybody’s journey is different.

  2. Barbara Saunders

    Hmm … agreed 100% that the offer you describe is unethical. For me, though, it brings up another question for my fellow freelancers: What is the appeal of a blogging gig over corporate work?

    I completely understand choosing not to do corporate work so as to focus on efforts to get creative work published or cover topics you care about in magazine and newspapers.

    I would much rather earn $500 a day or $75-100 an hour or $5000 for a one-month, part-time gig than churn out three blog posts a week for $300 a week. Neither kind of assignment helps much with promoting myself as a literary writer; both are “day jobs.” But the blogging I read about just seems like a lot of work for very little money compared to the going rates for professional writers.

    • Carol Tice

      Well…it’s true that blogging is generally on the lower end of business writing. So to be clear, often blogging for clients IS “corporate work.” Yes, it often doesn’t pay as well as writing white papers or direct mail packages or something…but not everyone wants to do that.

      For people who’ve started in blogging, paid blogging is a natural first step into paid writing…and can be a foot in the door to do more and better-paid work for that same client.

      Blogging can be quick and fairly easy work where the hourly rate works out very well, once you’re up to speed on a client’s needs.

    • Barbara Saunders

      Hi Carol,

      I guess it comes back to each individual’s strengths and talents. Doesn’t it always? 🙂 Shifting gears never comes “fast” for me. Three different short blog pieces, including gear-shifting time, would be a whole day’s work, maybe two. By contrast, if my assignment for the day is a single marketing letter, I don’t have to shift gears twice.

  3. Charley

    This is why I love your blog posts, and why I love the Freelance Writers Den. You tell the truth about the dark side. I’m pretty new into learning about freelance work, so I’ve been doing an awful lot of studying (more studying than writing at this point, I’m afraid). But along the way, I’ve come across hundreds of articles, techniques, white papers, and self-proclaimed “subject matter experts” that I’ve found questionable, unethical, or just plain fraudulent. It’s been kind of like sorting through junk mail, or trying to get the news from supemarket tabloids. Make-a-Living-Writing, and the Freelance Writers Den have been like the mother lode to me. Thanks for the advice. This lifts you up another notch on the Trust Scale.

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks Charley! Trust really is everything online. Those people who approach bloggers and want to put an ad on are usually to be avoided as well.

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