A growing trend of consolidation in Blogging and in the online world in general has seen many blogs and bloggers join blog networks in a bid to leverage pooled resources (brand promotion, advertising rates, design / programming / promotion help, etc).
Whether you’re starting your own blogging network or just hiring bloggers for your blog, there is one question that always leads to a lot of questions and debate:
How do you compensate the bloggers?
There are 5 different methods of compensating bloggers – let’s look at each of them briefly:
- Blogging for Free
Whether it is out of passion for the subject, love for the blog or because the blogger wants to build their own profile (see yesterday’s post on guest blogging), free content is the cheapest but also tough to manage. Bloggers are rarely consistent if their only compensation is ‘satisfaction’ of writing, and quite often quality control weeds out 90% of submissions.
It may be a smart idea to have bloggers kick off for free if there is already a ‘main blogger’ running the show, but apart from sporadic submissions you cannot rely on free submissions except in a few niches (and then there’s the issue of quality).
- Pay Per Post
$5 / post or $10 / post rates are quite common in blog network circles, and there’s the added advantage of attracting a LOT of bloggers who can work on your blog part time and write as much or as little as they need to.
Personally I’m not a fan of this approach – blogging is a continuous experience, not something that should be broken up in terms of per-post payments. It seems to work for some networks, but out of the 5 options mentioned here this is the one least likely to produce good long-term results. You are better off hiring a blogger and pay them $100 for 20 posts per month than to have 20 different people write 20 posts for $5 each.
- Profit Sharing
It’s a popular way to motivate bloggers to get involved in the success of a blog. This usually works by either giving the blogger a share of the profits (50%-80% from what I’ve seen) or by giving them 100% profits from one revenue stream and reserving another for themselves.
One strategy I’ve used on some blogs is to give bloggers 100% of AdSense revenue but to reserve ad slots in the sidebar above the fold for the network. In the long run, when the combined power of the network (let’s say 2-3 mil PageViews / month) is big enough to command high CPM rates, then those ad slots will earn the network plenty.
- Contract / Salary
Another popular method is to pay the blogger a monthly fee (ranges from $100 to $1000+) in return for a minimum number of posts per month. It’s an expensive but ‘safe’ choice, because you get in people who are committed to doing a minimum amount of work each month and while the blog may now earn much in the beginning this approach in popular niches can allow you to make a lot of profits while keeping bloggers happy.
- Profit Sharing + Salary
This hybrid model is perhaps the most popular that I’ve seen after the contract model. Basically, you pay the blogger a fixed monthly salary plus give them a share of the site profits. This gets you the best of both worlds – giving the blogging financial security AND giving them an incentive to contribute to the blog’s success.
I’m interested in hearing about how you pay your bloggers. Do you use the hybrid approach or pay a fixed amount each month?
From a financial point of view you need some capital to start a blog network and paying salaries can rapidly become the single biggest drain on your resources. If you’re starting out, using the profit-sharing approach (where you give them 100% of one revenue stream and take out ad space in the sidebar, like I’ve done) could be a decent way to go forward and motivate bloggers to grow.
What’s important to remember is that while not everyone blogs for money, money IS a driving force for most people and if someone feels that they are not getting what they deserve for their efforts, then there will be disagreements between them and you and eventually you will lose them. The takeaway is to ensure that a) bloggers know what the benefits are and b) those benefits should make the cost of moving away from the network quite heavy.
Or at least you should get your bloggers to think that way.
Also Read: Chris Garrett on Blog Network Payment Strategies – he does an excellent job of discussing the pros and cons attached with each of the options mentioned above.