I have been thinking a lot lately about becoming a blog overlord. There seems to be some options in how you pay others to blog for you so I thought I would discuss them here to see what you think.
First off before we get into the options I am thinking of I will explain what I am thinking about doing. Writing quality posts on your own takes a lot of time. Even blogs that do not have the word count of Performancing posts take time because even with linkblogs you need to find the stuff to link out to. We all have a finite amount of time and I don’t want to produce something mediocre just so I can produce quantity. This means I need to bring in other bloggers.
While I know people will blog for nothing, just for the joy or recognition that comes from blogging, this is only usually with an established blog. There is no cache with a startup blog until down the line and then, even though obviously being my blog it will be brilliant, there are no guarantees.
So I need to find good bloggers and I need to find a way to reward these bloggers.
If the blog monetization strategy, at least initially, will be from advertising and affiliate sales, then the revenue will be slow to start while the blog is established. I do not have any startup capital. On the other hand I need to believe the income will come eventually.
On to the blogger rewards.
Blogger Payment Strategies
It looks like the majority of the blog networks they are paying their bloggers a fixed salary. That might be a viable option for companies with VC capital behind them but not something I could foresee for a little while.
Pros: Predictable, monthly income will attract bloggers with a certain mindset and will also be a predictable expense. It would also allow fixed terms and conditions so would provide potential for strict posting schedule etc.
Cons: Expensive option, at least initially, unless it is possible to find great bloggers for low monthly fees. Would need to pay out a lot of money from day one without knowing what revenue is going to be for a fact. Requires risk and a lot of faith. And a tax headache. More messy, but not impossible, to fire them.
Thinking about the monthly salary option there is another option with less of a tax headache and that is to pay a work for hire retainer contract to bloggers. This might be an option. If they don’t work out it’s less messy to get rid of a bad blogger too. Still many of the same downsides though.
Pay Per Post
Rather than pay the blogger and setting a fixed posting schedule there is the option of taking freelance submissions. So someone would submit a post and you would pay up a fee. This is how it works in magazine world and it seems to work quite well, particularly when you can vet the authors writing style and agree on a topic.
Pros: Only pay for work produced and only if it meets your criteria. Also, as Andy likes to say, the main money is in the archives so eventually you ought to make your money back. Freelance networks already exist so ready source of authors.
Cons: It’s difficult to estimate how much to pay, some posts will be real money spinners while others will drop off your homepage never to be read again. Still got that up front cost. You need to be strict with your criteria of what a good post looks like. Might be difficult to get a loyal set of bloggers?
That last point worries me. Many blogs get popular because of the personality of the bloggers as much as because of the topic or content. How do you maintain a loyal blogging team when you are paying by the post?
One option might be a profit share arrangement. With channels you can even divide up the revenue right in the advertising network consoles.
Pros: Bloggers know if they write good posts they will earn more. Success and responsibility is shared. They will not only post but actively promote the blog. Bloggers might even be incentivised to attract advertisers. Transparency builds trust.
Cons: You no longer get the ongoing passive archive income. How do you cover overheads?
That last point needs consideration. Obviously you would not payout 100% of the income, so maybe the bloggers get a percentage of a pot rather than their complete share of the total.
I am leaning towards the profit share model until my blog business empire is more cash rich! Which of these options would you consider from a bloggers point of view or from the blog overlord point of view? If you are already paying for content, how do you do it?