Blogging for Business, Part I: Finding Clients And Setting Pay Rates

This week I’m writing all about the world of blogging for business clients. I’ve been asked about this niche before, and recently got a bunch of questions on this topic from freelance writer Lee Lefton. Today, I’m going to talk about how to spot good business-blogging clients and what pay rates are out there.

As it happens, in recent months I’m earning more and more of my income from blogging for companies and online news outlets. Coming from traditional journalism, I never thought I’d enjoy blogging, but I’ve really grown to love this scrappy new format — and I’ve discovered there are some good-paying gigs in blogging, too. But clearly, that’s not been everyone’s experience.

Lee writes:

I recently had the opportunity to write a blog for two different clients. Both required 1,000 words or thereabouts. One client would provide some input, the other would require that I interview their customers or clients. The first had a budget of $25 per blog, the second, $35. Normally, I would attempt to negotiate, but I really didn’t see any room for that, so I politely declined both.

I’ve since spoken to a writer friend who does a lot of blogging and she said that was the going rate. I just find that very hard to accept. Would you be willing to give me an idea or a range of what you charge?

Let’s start by talking about what a good business blogging client looks like. First off, they understand the blog format — which is not 1,000 words long. More like 300-400 is considered the ideal.

Second, a good client understands that your regular blog entries have the power to potentially make their business happen. As a result, they want to pay a good wage so they can get a pro to write something exceptionally compelling. And $25 to $35 for 1,000 words obviously is not an appropriate wage, especially for blogs that call for interviews!

Third, good business-blog clients make a long-range commitment because they have realistic expectations and understand it’ll take time for the blog to build their traffic. My minimum contract for small-business clients is one blog a week for two months, for $1,000, and I’ve done several of those.

I don’t want to work on scattershot projects that won’t be successful, since I’m trying to build my reputation in blogging. One thing I’ve learned: Each business blogging client requires a huge initial learning curve where you don’t earn as well on an hourly basis, so that’s the amount at which I find it worth my time to get involved.

I’ve earned from $65-$300 for blog entries, depending on the situation, on the higher end of that where interviews were called for. Since I don’t take assignments below $50, I obviously do not agree that $25-$35 is the “going rate”! I think this format is too new to have a going rate just yet — rates are all over the place. It’s up to you to seek out the situations where blogs pay a living wage.

As with online articles, when you’re evaluating a blogging offer, the thing to keep in mind is NOT the per-blog price. It’s the HOURLY RATE. If it will take you 10 minutes to write the blog and you could crank out five in an hour, maybe $25 apiece is a great rate. I generally try to keep my per-blog rate around $100 apiece since I usually write blogs that take an hour or more to create. Blogs that require interviews obviously need to pay more.

The best-paying business-blog clients are in specialized business niches not everyone can write about. I’ve blogged about surety bonds, insurance, business finance, public companies’ SEC filings, and other dorky stuff for good pay. Identify your niche specialties, and then do in-person networking, or look at all the Web sites of companies in your target niche, find the one that needs a blog, and call them.

You’re looking for real-world businesses that sell a real product or service, or established news organizations that are moving online. They want strong posts that will make people hang around their site and buy from them, or their advertisers. If you want to make even more money, sell your blogging skill along with your knowledge of social media — that’s a great package of services that’s commanding good pay.

Later this week, I’ll talk about some of the technical requirements for blogging remotely for clients — the programs and techniques you’ll need to know.

Photo via Flickr user MyEyeSees

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5 comments on “Blogging for Business, Part I: Finding Clients And Setting Pay Rates
  1. Lee Lefton says:

    Fabulous Carol! And many thanks for including me!

  2. Carol P. says:

    Hi Carol: You always have such great helpful advice. Can you tell me, for your business clients, do they have a blog on their company website, or is it something set up separately, or are you writing content for them to post on others’ blogs? At the end of the latest piece, you say you are going to share some tech advice for writing for others’ blogs — I look forward to seeing it.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi other Carol:

      I did do a technical part II to this post — it’s here. To answer about clients, most of mine either have a blog on their main company site, or they’re running a blog on a separate site that links to their company home page.

      I’ve done one client where they had me try to locate other blogs in an industry niche and offer guest posts, but have to say I didn’t feel like I was very good at it! Was a LOT of tough sledding to get one guest post.

      If you ever do work like that, charge a lot is my advice! Increasingly tough to even go comment on others’ forums, everyone is blocking out anything that even smells like spam, and many sites won’t accept any links in their posts anymore because of the spam problem. I can sympathize since I’m getting probably 100 piece of spam comment attempts a day!

      Let me know if you have more blogging questions…maybe could be a topic for another blog here.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for writing this post. I recently raised my rates (includes blogging) and the client is pouting. In fact, he hasn't paid me for web content writing. I sent him an email. He's in Cancun, and he's sorry he won't be able to pay me by my specified due date. I have no idea if I'll ever see the money.

    Freelance writers may think clients are professional because they speak very well and say the right words. But as soon as you raise your rates, they may pout like a five-year-old child. I'm tired of dealing with unethical people. It seems that some clients take advantage of freelance writers for various reasons. Well, this is one freelance writer who will not be taken advantage of again and who will "interview" clients to see if they're worthy of my time, effort, and services.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Rather than thinking in terms of "interviewing," think in terms of getting it in writing. Having a strong contract really helps avoid these situations. Personally, my terms are net 15 days at this point. On day 15, I'm on the phone. If I don't get a prompt response, I send a new bill with a 3% late fee. If it drags on more than a month, I add another 3%, compounded. Usually that's all it takes — they often don't pay the upcharge, but when they see you won't go away, and that they'll owe more if they wait, the check usually gets cut.

      A new rate, of course, calls for a new contract. If the client really doesn't intend to pay the higher rate, they'll probably balk at signing on the dotted line, and then you know where you stand. If they sign, you have a leg to stand on in collecting.

      Sorry to hear about your client! Hopefully he will pay shortly…and next time, you'll have a contract. Contracts — and late fees — are the norm for professionals from electricians to business coaches…there's no reason it should be different for writers!

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  6. [...] For Business Part II: How It’s Done Earlier this week, I answered some questions from freelance writer Lee Lefton about rates and how to find business-blogging clients. After I [...]

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