We’re looking for 2-3 bloggers. Details on Problogger Jobs here.
We put off a writer back in January, and it wasn’t something I wanted to do. Our traffic hasn’t suffered badly (it actually went up in Feb, but will be down from that high in March), but the volume of posts has dropped. Couple with the fact that the volume I was pumping out over Dec-Jan wasn’t sustainable and I’ve stopped blogging at night mostly. Volume isn’t the be all and end all, but having large slabs of the day without fresh content doesn’t help things.
The new positions are an experiment of sorts. After 4 months of declining ad revenues, we simply don’t have the margins to hire 2-3 writers on a set rate basis, at least at the same rate our current writers are on. Instead the positions are being offered at $1.50 per thousand page views.
We looked last year at doing some side content on a revenue share model, but rev share doesn’t work well on single blogs vs a blog network, particularly from an administrative viewpoint. We can’t track ad returns per page under rev share, and swapping out ads on a share basis would mean we’d be in breach of our ad supplier contract (not to mention it being messy).
I started looking for models a couple of weeks ago, and noticed sites using the CPM model. It’s sort of like rev share, but isn’t. Bloggers are guaranteed a set rate for their work, and administratively it’s reasonably easy to manage, well it is after I found a way to use Google Analytics to track posts by author.
The other hybrid aspect is the job specs. Many sites that pay like this have dozens of writers who often don’t earn much at all. They’re post volume plays vs quality. I don’t want to diminish the quality of the site with volume for the sake of volume, hence lower number of bloggers with min spec writing rates of 5-10 posts a week. The smaller number also means that each blogger can get individual attention and support, where as larger numbers make that difficult to impossible. Basically I can work with each blogger to get them pumping out great content so they get paid more, and we win with the extra page views.
High/ Low pay?
$1.50 CPM will seem low to some people, and I don’t think badly of anyone thinking that. I looked at a range of sites, from your info/ how-to sites (Hubpages for example), through to citizen journalists sites, a number of which compete on some fronts with The Inquisitr. I also looked higher up the chain at sites like the Huffington Post.
Here’s what I found roughly
- Some sites pay nothing at all, instead promoting the benefits of exposure. It is staggering how many people will work for nothing, particularly if the idea is pitched right. It’s a nice game to get into, but it’s not one I’m comfortable in: I’d rather pay people something
- Some sites pay, but only when the amount gets to something substantial (say $50-$100). These tend to be various rev share or CPM models. Many of these sites promote writers earning $200, or the occasional person hitting the $1000 mark. Most writers are lucky to earn $20 a month. Actually I’d love to get into this space, but not with The Inquisitr. Next project maybe 🙂 Again though: people will work for little, and in this market $50 or $100 a month is money people want
- Some sites pay a set CPM monthly in the 50c-$1.50 CPM range. Hard to pin these rates down, because most don’t advertise the rates, but you can dig up the info on forums. I saw one site offering $1.50, and none higher, although this is not to say that some individual sites may pay more.
- The remainng models are the givens: set rate per post, or monthly set rate with or without traffic bonus
Notably also is the $1.50 CPM in context with the ad market: that’s roughly 5-7x our current CPM with Adsense per unit. Thankfully Adsense is only 5-10% of our ads, otherwise we’d be cutting jobs at the moment; but I digress. While content on an individual site changes the CPM on ads, plenty of bloggers out there would be struggling to get $1 CPM all up with multiple ads on each page; $1.50 is actually a step up. The Inquisitr also gets a reasonable run on Google, Google News, and a range of other sites that many bloggers don’t get; the same post on The Inquisitr vs a smaller blog would have a stronger chance of getting page views, so the difference is potential traffic as well. Higher rates, higher volume.
I simply don’t know how much the new bloggers will be paid month to month in total, but at the lower end I’d be surprised if it was anything lower than say $200 a month; 200,000 page views with 40 posts a month (10 a week) shouldn’t be a huge challenge (and consider we have 3 writers and did 2.3m in Feb) and this improves over time as the CPM rate is paid on all posts by the blogger for the month, so will include posts from the previous month(s) that are still getting traffic.
Applications close end of next week. We’ll see how we go to start with, and if it looks like its working, I may increase the number in the following months. Ultimately I’d like to see us get to 10-12 writers, a mixture under this model, and hopefully more set pay writers as well.
If it fails, so be it, you can only try.
I should have also added: I’d think writing for us vs an info site would be more fun as well. I know I’d rather be trolling for that next weird Japanese video than writing a page full of links explaining why the Palm Pre is better than Blackberry, or a long how to guide that takes hours to get right.
PS: why write this post and expose the pay rate at all, after all many sites never do? Because I’d rather be upfront and transparent then potentially mislead people and sell false hope, which some sites do. People who work with me know what they’re getting into before they start, good, bad or otherwise 🙂