Why Bloggers Should Get Paid

Do you run a blog as a business?

If you do, you may have wondered whether you should pay bloggers to write for you or if you should use one of the many forms of free content (including guest posts).

It’s an understandable dilemma.

As someone who has been blogging for five years and whose blogging career has spanned six different blogs (not including guest posts at various blogs) I can say that while free content can be nice, nothing beats a paid blogger.

Let me explain.

If your blog is a business then you need to publish quality fresh content, probably at least once a day. While free content may seem like a great solution to that need, it’s really not.

Here are some of the drawbacks I’ve personally noticed when working with free content:

  1. Timing. An unpaid blogger works on their own schedule. While some may work with you to deliver on a specific date, many deliver only when it is convenient for them. Since they aren’t being paid I certainly sympathize with that–paid work has to come first. But, this can wreak havoc with your blog if you truly rely solely on this type of content daily to get something published.
  2. Agenda. Let’s face it, unpaid bloggers have an agenda. While a few of them are just trying to get some experience, most of them are trying to promote something. It’s either their own blog, their business, a product or service that they sell (or someone else’s product or service), or something else. It’s important to consider whether their agenda lines up with your goals for your blog.
  3. Quality. While there are many excellent guest bloggers who will write a high quality guest post, you will also receive many more poorly written guest posts. Some free content you receive will even be plagiarized, so always check for that if you use this type of content. Plan on spending up to an hour editing and formatting each “free” post that you receive.
  4. Involvement. While most (although not all) unpaid bloggers will come back and answer comments on their own post that is the extent of their involvement with your blog for many of them. A few of guest bloggers will read other posts on your blog, but many do not participate again and do not become part of your permanent community.

In contrast, most paid writers who blog are professionals. (If you do run across one that is not a professional, you should look for another. There are many good writers out there.)

When you have a good paid blogger, you can rely on them to produce regular posts at assigned intervals. A paid blogger generally doesn’t have their own agenda to promote (in fact, most paid blogging assignments prohibit this). As far as quality goes, while all bloggers have a few “off days,” generally speaking, you know what you are getting. A good paid blogger should be able to produce content that is ready to publish. As far as involvement, a good paid blogger understands that being involved with your blog community is part of the gig. They should answer comments and help you promote your blog.

So what’s a blog owner to do? Paid writers are clearly desirable, but they can be expensive. Free content may be of questionable quality, but as I’ve shown, free isn’t always cost-effective.

An ideal (and profitable) solution may be to include both types of content on your blog. For quality, community, and reliability you should rely on a core group of paid bloggers. For variety and spice, you can throw in the occasional high quality guest post.

Do you run a blog for profit? Do you pay your bloggers, or do you rely entirely on unpaid content?

Comments

  1. says

    I try to find a balance for my main blogs. For the freelance writing blog I pay regular contributors. That works out well because each has their own specialty area (some of which I couldn’t cover fairly on my own) and each has their own voice. It gives you multiple chances to bring in regular readers. Even if they’re not interested in the specific things you talk about, they might enjoy a more narrow topic one of your contributors covers. On another blog I hire a regular blogger simply because I don’t have the time to update the site as consistently as I’d like.

    Hiring regulars is preferable to me as opposed to hiring for one-time posts. They tend to be consistent even when you can’t, cover you when you need some time off, bring new ideas to the table, and they stick around to comment more frequently on their posts and others. They’re still in it for something — generally more wanting exposure on another niche site than the pay itself. I try to accommodate by giving them a bio beneath each post, although there are no live links there — they get that on their bio pages.

    Guest post requests have been on the rise lately, and I’ve had to get tougher about what I’ll accept. For some reason I get a lot of requests from people with education-related sites, but spammy looking ones where they promote degree programs with sometimes questionable schools because they get affiliate income for each referral they send. Those I’ve banned. But I tend to be pretty open about those promoting more relevant sites. The big benefit of guest posts is that they deliver something a little bit different than the norm. That might be timely info especially if they’re promoting a specific cause, or just a different kind of conversation. And every once in a while a guest poster promotes that post on their own site, exposing mine to potential new readers. So it’s usually win-win.

  2. says

    Good question, Laura. When I started getting too busy to update Get Paid to Write Online as often as I wanted to, I decided to hire a blogger to join the team and post weekly. That meant I could be sure there was always something fresh on the blog while taking the pressure off me. That has worked very well because it doesn’t blow the budget and also gives readers another voice and perspective. Both writers who have contributed write quality posts and were already part of the community when I hired them – it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

  3. says

    Hi Jenn,

    There’s no doubt that there are some very high quality guest posters out there. But for every one of those, it seems I get three or four of the other type. If a post requires too much cleanup, I just can’t accept it. (Sadly, I learned this the hard way.)

    If your blogging goal is to produce daily posts (I don’t do that here, btw) and you can’t write them all yourself then I think hiring a professional blogger is the best way to go. Plus, as you point out, they add depth to the blog. :)

    I do think it’s a good policy to accept high quality guest posts. They do add some variety that you might not be able to get any other way.

    It sounds like you’re running your blog the same way I would regarding a healthy balance between paid and unpaid content.

    Sadly, many blogs (and even other sites, need I say more?) are relying totally on unpaid content these days. It’s really to their own detriment, though.

  4. says

    Hi Sharon,

    We must have been posting a comment at exactly the same time. :)

    I think that you made a wise move. If you need regular quality content it makes sense to find someone you can rely on. Btw, I’ve enjoyed the quality of your blog and have found the posts to be very useful.

    I was recently asked by the editor of an (unnamed) blog to contribute an unpaid guest post. However, when I took a look at his blog, I noticed that all the posts were full of typos and of generally low quality. I’m guessing he relies totally on unpaid posts. ;(

  5. says

    I can’t imagine running a blog on solely unpaid content. But I do see the ads. I love it when they promise exposure, yet they’re a site no one has ever heard of. Hopefully it’s a “live and learn” kind of thing for the bloggers who do bite.

    Thanks for bringing up this issue. It made me go take another look at our author bio pages on the main blog, and I found some lingering problems either from the recent theme update or a recent WP update. So add that to my neverending blog admin list. That’s another benefit of having contributors; it leaves you more time to handle these kinds of admin issues and marketing. :)

  6. says

    And Sharon, I believe your blogger is actually the same one who updates my small business blog for me weekly so I can keep it alive until I have time to do more with it. Good guy, and always reliable. :)

  7. says

    LOL, if you have a blog there are always neverending issues, aren’t there? Been there, done that. :)

    I consider your blog (and Sharon’s) to be among the higher quality writing sites out there.

    Of course, there are a few sites where nothing but free content works well. (I can only think of one.)

    Most of the time, you do get what you pay for.

  8. says

    Definitely a good guy, Jenn and chock full of bright ideas, too. :)

    Speaking of admin, one of the issues I need to address after moving theme is the author pages – I’d like to beef them up a bit, as it’s the one area I don’t think works well with the current theme.

    @Laura, thanks for the compliment. I don’t think relying on free content entirely works because of the quality issues we’ve discussed. However, good quality guest posts are a welcome exception. Recently, I’ve begun to wonder if someone’s put my blog on a list, because I get a lot of approaches from bloggers offering posts of questionable value. Like Jenn, I’ve had to start turning posts down, though I always welcome a fresh perspective in a related area that’s not something I cover myself.

  9. says

    Sharon,

    I don’t think you’re on a list, although I suppose it could happen. Rather, I think there are many folks who will search on the phrase “guest post” and then methodically email all of the blogs that have ever published a guest post. :)

  10. says

    Hi Laura,

    Interesting thread here, so I thought I’d add my two cents to the mix. :-)

    I think that you are on point when you recommend a combination of guest and paid posts; they each have their advantages. As with all things in life, balance is crucial. Thanks for sharing this.

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