How to Make a Full-Time Living Blogging on Examiner

Computer has the money button

Have you ever wondered if anyone makes a real living on Examiner?

I’d never heard from a writer who made more than a few hundred bucks on this revenue-sharing platform, which pays writers based on the number of clicks they get on their blog posts’ ads.

Until recently, that is.

Then I met Bill Belew at the New Media Expo last month. He is Examiner’s top earner.

He did a presentation on how he earns a healthy five-figure income from each of a half-dozen different Examiner sites, on topics from Christianity to blogging to India. He proudly states that he pays his Silicon Valley (translation: sky-high) mortgage and all his bills from his sites’ ad-click revenue.

In all, his sites have seen more than 100 million visitors.

Belew outlined how he built each site into an earner — and why most bloggers who try this approach fail.

Be warned: This is not a blog-earning strategy for the faint of heart.

Blogging your way to a five-figure income

To build a money-earning site in this model, begin with a topic you love. Why? You’ll be needing to post about it a lot.

How much? Belew says it takes about 1,000 short articles on a site to get to where you’ll rank well and start to earn real money. It usually takes him about seven months to ramp a site to that level.

Do the math: That’s about 143 posts a month — more than four posts going up every single day, seven days a week. Search engines like updates and deduce a site is worthwhile if there are a lot of changes.

Did he write all those posts himself? At first. Now, he works with a team of freelancers who he pays a share of his revenue (one of the few revshare situations I’ve heard of that might actually be worth doing).

The posts can’t just be any old slapped-up crap, either, he says. You have to say something that meaningfully contributes to the conversation or adds information on your topic. You have to build authority in your topic so that readers return for more. Learn how to scan newsfeeds — and then spin current news with your own take or additional facts to make it fresh.

Of course, you also need to know how to write amazing headlines that search engines and people both love. You need to know all the basics of creating posts that get traffic — putting key words in met data, tagging photos with key words too, and making posts scannable and interesting.

And then do them — over and over and over.

Why most bloggers fail

Belew has mentored many bloggers, and says most won’t make it.

Why? They give up too easily. They don’t have the work ethic for keeping at it, posting like mad, month after month, until it pays off and finally starts to get some traction.

Building a successful blog-based business — breaking through the noise and standing out among the millions of blogs out there — takes more than desire, or even drive, Belew says. It takes flat-out hunger to make it work.

When he was starting out, Belew kept a picture of his wife and baby daughter nearby. He thought constantly about how desperate he was to provide for them. Failure, and letting his baby girl starve, was not an option.

“If you have some other way to survive and pay your bills, you probably won’t get this done,” he says. “You’ll give up.”

Is this an easy way to make a living? Belew readily admits it is not. When I described how I earn from my blog posting only three times a week, he replied, “I wish I’d done it your way!”

So consider hard before you devote time to trying to build a blog that earns from getting mass traffic and ad-clicks. There are easier ways, in my view — for instance, developing your own products, affiliate selling a few quality products, writing freelance for clients.

But if you dream of building your own 1-million-view-a-month site to earn off ads, now you know what it takes.

Have you earned from ad revenue? Leave a comment and tell us what’s working.

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98 comments on “How to Make a Full-Time Living Blogging on Examiner
  1. Erin says:

    I love that there are so many ways to make a living online. I don’t think this one would work for me, but what a great success story – and what a lesson on the benefits hard work!

    This post made me think of all the hungry writers out there working for content mills. I’m sure many of them produce 4+ posts per day, but they’re paid a pittance in the short-term and absolute nothing over the long-term. Granted, most mill posts are not of the same quality as Bill’s Examiner content, but the writers don’t have the same motivations, either. Just imagine the payoff of ditching the mills and channelling all that energy into building your own passive income site like what Bill has created.
    Erin recently posted..Are You Committing These 5 Deadly Sins of Business Blogging?

  2. John Soares says:

    Carol, I think it’s very important to note that Bill Below’s posts are all on Examiner.com, which has a Google page rank of 8. Because of the very high page rank of his host site, he’s far, far more likely to have his posts show up on page 1 of search engine results than are people writing on their own blogs.

    Has Bill replicated his Examiner success with sites he created from scratch?
    John Soares recently posted..The 8 Top Ways to Legally Lower Your Freelance Writer Tax Bill

  3. J. Delancy says:

    Not for the faint of heart or fairly well-fed is correct!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yeah, no kidding — but when he said how many posts he puts up, it suddenly all made sense to me, why most Examiner writers I know make a couple bucks. You have to put up a HUGE amount of content, really know about and care about SEO, and be willing to slog for quite a long while before each one starts to earn anything real. As Bill says, most will give up long before.

  4. I was very excited to see this article, as I’ve just received my examiner log on information and will be posting this week. I’m not sure I have the stamina for what Bill did, but the site offers such freedom I’m assuming it can’t be a bad thing. I’m mostly looking at this experience as a way to “build my brand.”

    Thanks again!

    • Carol Tice says:

      I think you’re missing the message of this post, Crystal — we think it’s mostly an awful thing.

      Even Bill, in hindsight, would have used another model to build money-earning websites. Also, Bill is one of the most high-energy people I’ve ever met. You can’t imagine the effort, dedication, and stamina required to make any kind of living on the revshare model.

      Examiner clips are useless in pursuing freelance work, too — the site’s reputation for publishing error-filled garbage is sort of legendary in the editorial world.

      Unless you are planning to post 3-4x a day for nearly a year or so on a tightly focused topic that has a huge online audience, in order to build an actual money-earning site, Examiner gives you the “freedom” to waste your time earning pennies. Instead, you could be out finding clients that pay a real wage, or building your own blog and keeping all the revenue instead of a tiny fraction.

      Your own blog offers the exact same freedom…along with the freedom to own and control what you write, as well as the ads that appear with your content, if you even want to use that earning model. My experience is there are a lot better ways to bring in money off a blog than slapped-up ads and earning penny-a-click.

  5. Terri H says:

    While I don’t think this method is for me, I admire his tenacity. I’m not capable of pushing out 148 blog posts a month! That means all of my other writing would have to take a back seat. I like that he stays motivated by keeping a photo of his baby and wife nearby. I usually copy that method by keeping my student loan bills near me. Boy, does it motivate me!
    Terri H recently posted..Failure Never Looked So Good…

  6. Lisa Baker says:

    Wow, Carol, I’m loving these posts you’ve been doing about the reality of the mills and similar sites. I wrote a few articles for Examner back in the day, but it didnt take me long to realize I’d have to write a ridiculous amount before I ever saw any pay for it. No thank you. Your way is much easier, faster, and more lucrative! And it’s a lot more fun to spend a lot of time on one piece, work with a good editor to get it perfect, and see it somewhere prestigious like a glossy national magazine, than to churn out all that content fast! Heck, the amount that guy is writing, he could have a world-famous blog of his own and several books by now.
    Lisa Baker recently posted..The Brutal Truth About What Babies Eat (and why you shouldn’t feel guilty)

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well, he does have several sites that are off Examiner, as well, but they’re on the same model.

      I think you make a good point though — some of us simply aspire to writing better quality work. We’d like to appear in prestigious publications or write for Fortune 500 companies…and you don’t learn how to write at that level hanging around places like Examiner.

  7. I find it ironic that for years, writers have preached against working for places like Examiner, because THEY didn’t make money. I was having this debate not too long ago, and it’s almost a knee jerk reaction for writers to hate content mills. As with any job, there are people who are successful, your job is to find those people and find out how they did it. That’s the key to any successful business.
    Rachel Rueben recently posted..Newsletters: Great More Crap I Gotta Write! (Part 2)

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well…Bill is clearly an outlier on Examiner, Rachel. And a look behind the curtain at how he did it hopefully inspires most writers to try a different approach rather than to follow in his footsteps. I agree that you want to find out who’s succeeding at mill models and how…but then it’s time to decide what to do with that information. Do you really want to put up 4 posts a day, 7 days a week, all about cricket games in India or something?

      Also, I think it’s important to note that Bill started up a few years back…and the Internet has only gotten more competitive and crowded, and Google less enamored of sites like these. It’s probably harder to ramp it now than when he did it, I’d wager.

      Even on Demand Studios, there are a handful of people who manage to make a good living…but Demand’s own execs will tell you the average writer makes a few hundred a year. Meanwhile, those few success stories lure a teeming mass of writers who only impoverish themselves by spending their time on mill platforms.

  8. Cheryl Rhodes says:

    It sounds like an Examiner blogger could have lots of readers but if none of them are clicking on the paid ads then they don’t earn any money from that reader who enjoyed their article. How many readers actually click on ads on any website they view? I rarely click an ad. Sometimes when I know the blogger might earn a few cents I might click through but I probably close down the new web page before I read anything on it.

    Examiner’s not for me but its interesting to read the odd success story.

    • Cheryl I never click on ads either; in fact I tend to avoid pages that have too many. I often wonder how effective they really are. I long for the day that advertisers realize the market is saturated!
      Jennifer Stewart recently posted..Snapchat Fills the Facebook Gap and Silicon Valley Invests in Privacy

    • Carol Tice says:

      I believe that’s correct, Cheryl, but I’ll see if I can get Bill to drop by and confirm…but don’t think they pay on mere traffic, only clicks.

      • Scott says:

        Examiner pays based on page views, not ad clicks. But they drop the pay rate periodically, another reason why it doesn’t make sense to write there. I still have an account there that I keep active mostly just to get the occasional comped concert ticket.

        I’ve done exactly what some of the other commenters suggested and created my own site because I’d rather own the content myself. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out how to monetize that site yet outside of Google ads, but hopefully that’s coming.

        FYI, I’ve posted articles on Examiner that earned me as much as $90 based on page views (they are very good about pushing articles into Google News), but those are rare cases. Normally it’s just a dollar or two. Pursuing real freelance work is definitely a better option.
        Scott recently posted..Critics Corner: Beyonce Proves Nothing With Staged Anthem Performance

  9. Anything not worth doing is not worth doing well.

    There is far too much meaningless traffic on the Internet already. No need to clog it up with useless drivel to gain ad-clicks.

    I prefer to write directly to the reader, not to a potential advertising consumer… or not write at all.
    Michael A. Lewis recently posted..Rings of Truth

  10. Great post, Carol. Always interesting to find out what really goes on behind the wizard’s curtain! This is definitely not a business model I’d participate in, and when I first read your headline I thought, “Has Carol gone to the dark side?!” It’s curious that people will stick with these mills, grinding it out, when there are much easier ways to make a decent living.
    Laura Roberts recently posted..Naked Montreal: Excerpt 5

  11. Wow.

    This guy will no doubt be making a ton of money soon.

    Imagine if he wrote all of those topics for his own authority blog and 5% where guest posts?

    I don’t think this is the last we’ll here from this guy, thanks for sharing Carol very inspiring.
    Darnell Jackson recently posted..5M 002: Second straight week Increased Visits, Unique Visitors, and Pageviews.

  12. Amandah says:

    Hello,

    I signed up with Examiner.com in 2008 but fell out of love writing for the website. The topics I wanted to write on were taken; I didn’t want to write on any old topic. Plus, I believed it was better to spend time honing my writing, WordPress, social media, networking, and marketing skills. Even though I stopped writing for Examiner, I’ll receive an email here and there asking me to come back to the website. I’ll pass.
    Amandah recently posted..A Simple Plan to Avoiding Cancer of Communication

  13. Ariella says:

    You know those weight loss ads that show people who have lost something like 50 pounds in just 6 weeks? They always have the disclaimer in tiny print that the results are not typical. But people see that attractive “after” picture and think “that could be me.” Perhaps, but you can say the same thing of winning the lottery, and the odds will be against you there, too.

    I’ve been writing for Examiner for over 3 years now. I rank above average in all three of the categories they put me in, 122/564 for “top New York Examiners” and about the top 20% for the other two categories. Still, I average just about $10 a month in earning, sometimes a bit higher, and sometimes a bit lower. The only time I made substantially more was when I earned the $50 referral fee for a friend who signed on.

    In other words, the pay is peanuts. I would say that the exposure is great either. Though I promote my article in some social media sites, I don’t play them up on my professional profile the same way I do the blogs that pay me substantially more. I also have three personal blogs, though one of them is more of portfolio for my online articles.

  14. Mandy says:

    I’m very curious to know how Bill deals with the constant changes in the way Examiner pays people. They are very, very good at making their site seem appealing – it’s like the person said above with the weight loss adds. But then as soon as writers figure out ways to turn their pennies into dollars, the site changes the pay structure. The worst I’ve dealt with so far is the site saying they will no longer pay for international page views outside of the US and Canada. So your article might get 8,000 views, but you’re only going to get paid for a small percentage. Another recent change was the slideshow incentive. Before, you got $1.50 per every 1,000 slideshow views. But way too many people were doing well with that so they cut it to $.50 per 1,000 views and a lot of writers took a major hit.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks for these details, which I didn’t have. Yet another example of why you don’t want to invest a lot of time writing on someone else’s platform — one day they can just change the rules on you.

  15. Do you think it’s harder to make a living blogging on Examiner.com or on your own platform where you have more control, but a smaller audience?

    I’ve managed to grow Financial Samurai to about 300K pageviews a month, but it’s taken about 3.5 years. After about 150K/month did I find the potential income worthwhile.
    Financial Samurai recently posted..Recommended Net Worth Allocation By Age And Work Experience

  16. Lorrie B says:

    Writing to secure revenue from advertising is just a bad idea, period. It encourages huge spending by advertisers going after “clicks”, and exposes readers to advertising while they are trying to read content. Would you want advertising on the pages of your favorite hardcover book? It’s very distracting, and has a subtle influence which is more sinister than most people realize. Advertisers are very happy to have active blogs to exploit (they used to have to pay huge advertising rates to reach us in standard media), and as long as writers are supplying the content for very little (or free), then we are all guilty of supporting this overtly exploitative paradigm. I vote no to ad-based web sites. My two cents, thanks for listening!
    Lorrie B recently posted..Let’s get to the bottom of this.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well…do you also vote no to ad-based magazines?

      Ads certainly have their place, but I think the Web is evolving. More and more of us prefer to hang out on ad-free sites. Ads seem to work for some types of sites — travel comes to mind right away, and personal finance — and not for others.

      The difference with a model like Examiner’s is you don’t share in the revenue of the whole ‘magazine,’ just your page. No magazine makes you do that — it averages all the ad revenue to make its editorial budget. Maybe if an online site did that, they could come up with a winning formula!

      • Lorrie B says:

        Carol, before you think I’m an angry ranter, let me reassure you that I have spent my entire adult life in the advertising industry. I’m well aware of how it works, which is why I yearn for less advertising influence in the world of creativity. If there were ad-free magazines, I would certainly choose them over ad-based ones, but in North American this is a rarity. We have accepted the presence of advertising to a point where we no longer truly object to it. I’m on a mission to wake consumers up from their sleepy complacency. This has nothing to do with your wonderful question about the Examiner, I’m just explaining my point of view. There’s room in this world for ALL points of view.
        Lorrie B recently posted..Let’s get to the bottom of this.

    • I agree Lorrie. I got suckered into using Google ads for a few months last year. But then I logged onto a public computer and saw ads on my site that I was VERY unhappy with. I stopped using the Google ads immediately. They claim the ads will automatically relate to your content, but that’s clearly not true. I was horrified at the idea that those ads might have been ruining my reputation without me knowing. I’m getting angry just writing about it.

      Then on top of that, you have to make like $100 dollars before they even pay you. I would’ve been waiting to see that money for years to come.

      I know there are other forms of ads that you have more control over, but I’m with Carol. I’d rather promote my own products/services, or those of my friends (people I actually know and like).
      Sarah L. Webb recently posted..Re-Routing: How I Got off Track from My Goals

    • I beg to differ. If you provide a solution to a readers problem, then advertisement is perfect.

      For example, in my latest post, I discuss net worth mix recommendations. At the end, I have an affiliate link for a free wealth management tool that tracks your wealth for you and provides you a holistic way to manage your wealth. That is total congruency.

      Sam
      Financial Samurai recently posted..Recommended Net Worth Allocation By Age And Work Experience

  17. Perry Gamsby says:

    Once again, the exception that proves the rule. I make very little from my blog sites that have click-on advertising. Those that actually make double digits ($10-25) have a lot of traffic, but still make very little money. You can replicate Bill’s success but it is a ton of work and there are easier ways to make your living writing, much easier ways. I think we will eventually twig that we need to let the wheel turn full circle and go back to how we sourced work before content mills and crowdsourcing, yet with the speed and convenience of the internet. It is going to be once again all about networks, contacts and constantly putting yourself in the way of work, then remembering you are only as good as your last piece.

    In 2011 I tried to write for Demand and found their editors to be anally retentive and narrow minded. I was dropped for not providing references for my articles on how to fix switchblade knives and build flat bottom boats; both of which I have done myself. One activity is mostly illegal (at least possession of the switchblade is) and the other is like making a waterproof open topped box. How hard must it be and why the references? Bottom line, after hours of arguing and rewriting I realised it wasn’t worth it for $15. Lesson learned. Then I met Julie Scott and bought her ‘Paying Markets for Freelance Writers’ when it was a $2 newsheet. Now you can buy it on Amazon.com for $7.99 and it has well over 100 vetted, non-crowdsource writing sites that pay. If nothing else, that eBook proves Carol’s point every time I get work from one of the listed, non-content mill sites. Use it after reading Carol’s ‘How To’ eBooks and you have your writing business education sewn up!
    Perry Gamsby recently posted..Fishing Where The Fish Are

  18. Bill Belew says:

    Carol,

    For good or for bad, I was the primary bread winner, make that the only bread winner when I started out. Doing it ‘your way’ was not an option for me. For lack of a better choice, it was easier for me to write (before Examiner times) like a mad dog, doing my darndest to always be making a contribution, and chase traffic that would pay net 30 or net 45 or net 90 as opposed to be writing at a more leisurely pace and eventually have it pay. If my wife had been working full time I would have taken a different approach…or done some sort of hybrid. I couldn’t do that back then…or at least I didn’t see it as an option. So, I put my head down and just went to work.

    Bill

    • Carol Tice says:

      I hear ya Bill…I had my freelance writing gigs to keep me afloat in the meanwhile.

      Thanks for checking in here…as you can see my peeps are highly interested in what goes on on content mills and revshare sites. ;-)

  19. This is a great post Carol – I love your ending. Because we are always hearing about how people make money this way, and it seems so doable – right until you drill down to the detail. How many posts a month? Yeah, you start to see why not many people make it, especially if they have a day job that they don’t Really Really hate. Or any other way to make a living really.
    Kirsten McCulloch recently posted..Naturally non-toxic cleaning – start with the oven

  20. Rob S says:

    A couple of things: “Belew says. It takes flat-out hunger to make it work.” – I think that’s the secret no matter which way you choose to go.

    I feel sorry for his team of writers – it’s hard to believe they make a decent income from their work.
    Rob S recently posted..How Much Can a Freelance Copywriter Make in Australia?

  21. Phil says:

    I would agree that investing huge amounts of time in to somebody else’s website doesn’t seem such a good idea.

    But, using this model on your own site seems like it could work for many. 3-4 short posts a day is not so hard.

    Many of us have sites that earn ad income month after month, year after year, and we haven’t touched the site in three years. The problem is that most of us didn’t stick with the site as suggested here, so the income is modest.

    I think the appeal of the blog/ad income model is that you don’t have clients. I can see how working for clients could pay better, even much better, but it can also be a major pain in the butt.

    As example, if someone is 30 years old and full of ambition and energy, building a client list might be the way to go. But if you’re 60 and have already had clients for 30 years, you just might be tired of it.

    It’s good that there are options, and thanks to Carol for shining a light on this one.

  22. Cynthia says:

    I don’t see an issue with content mills in certain situations, I find the problem is that writers have difficultly transitioning out of them.

    Content mills are fine for new writers. They’re not much different than the “exposure” only print publications that have been around for year except you might get paid to write quality samples, develop your voice, and/or get some experience writing in particular niche. You can also write for a small niche site that has a good reputation, but pays poorly if you’re looking to build quality credits.

    The big step comes when a fledgling writer goes to pitch to mid-level web or print publication. Most of them pay their writers a reasonable (not exorbitant) rate, legit resume builder, and offer great networking opportunities. However, a fledgling writer doesn’t always realize that this is a viable opportunity or what some of these pubs pay their staff or contributors.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Cynthia — I have to disagree that content mills are ‘fine’ for new writers (unless, like Bill, you’ve got what it takes to actually make this your whole earning strategy! Or you’re a hobbyist with no interest in a writing career).

      I think mills set new writers up with a lot of bad habits that, as you point out, are very hard to break for many. You don’t learn to market yourself, standards can be very low often for keyword junk, and you get clips that are all but useless…why waste the time? I’ve mentored too many writers who are finally emerging after years stuck on mills earning peanuts, to the sad realization that they are still at the starting line for building a legit writing career.

      You can volunteer for legit organizations and publications — an activity that gets you started pitching yourself — and have a solid portfolio quickly, and move directly to good-paying clients.

      • Cynthia says:

        I agree that content mills offer no training and often have low standards for material submitted. However, if you’re writing for a legit source, you often won’t get any training, and you’ll still have to adhere to high standards.

        I’ve found that a lot of businesses (both on and offline) often want to pay the same rates as what’s shown on content mills. The clips produced will be of a better quality than what you could get on most content mills, but you’re still working in the same range.

        I am by no means advocating that someone builds their career around content mills, though there’s obviously those who have been successful at it. But if you’re going to start writing samples to go with pitches to mid-level or larger publications, getting paid to product those samples (even if it’s peanuts), I feel is better than nothing.

        • Erin says:

          Cynthia, I have to disagree with you on this one as well.

          Editors have told me that they don’t consider writers who send clips from a content mill. In the magazine publishing and journalism worlds, content mills are dismissed as something for amateurs who can’t write. I know it sounds harsh, but that is what people in the business have said.

          I actually know of a few journalism-school classmates who wrote for Demand for some extra cash while in school or right after graduation as they were job hunting. Every single one wrote under a pseudonym. The general consensus was that if their real name was attached to a content mill article, their chances at a job in publishing would be severely jeopardized.

          Basically, even if you’re a great writer and the content mill piece is well-written, the fact that it’s a content mill clip immediately disqualifies you. I second Carol’s tip about volunteering for legit pubs or organizations to get a few decent clips before pitching elsewhere.
          Erin recently posted..UN Report Predicts Continued International Tourism Growth in 2013

          • Rob S says:

            That’s an interesting comment, Erin, and I partially agree with you. I’ve been taking references to my Elance and Demand Studios off my portfolio for that reason, but to be fair, they did help me get jobs outside of those systems. It may be partly because I get most of my work from Australian clients, though. Australians aren’t as “snooty” about things like journalism degrees as some American editors seem to be. Check out my blog for the rates copywriters make in Australia – quite a bit more than the average for Americans! You just need to learn how to spell correctly (labour, not labor).

            Ironic that my Demand articles were published in USA Today, but if I’d contacted them directly, they probably would have snubbed me.
            Rob S recently posted..How Much Can a Freelance Copywriter Make in Australia?

          • Carol Tice says:

            Thanks for adding your perspective, Erin.

            I think as a rule any market where you only want to write under a pseudonym because you’re so ashamed of it…that could be kind of a red flag to maybe NOT write for them!

  23. I just checked out some of Bill Bellew’s headlines on Examiner.com. Many Miley Cyrus boob slip articles and another one on breasts again. Do you recommend we focus on sex and headline grabbers for our content given that’s what sells it seems? In other words, tie lots of what we write about to sex?
    Financial Samurai recently posted..Explaining Why The Median 401(k) Retirement Balance By Age Is Dangerously Low

  24. I wanted to be a writer – not an assembly line producer of words, so when I first heard about content mills I was disgusted. But content mills were everywhere!

    Thankfully things are changing and real writers can now make money WRITING online. I don’t really agree with outsourcing work to make a large income as a writer. I believe more in writing work that you are proud of and building a real reputation as a writer.

    Anyone feel the same?
    Raubi Perilli recently posted..I’m Excited About CopyPress Community… and You Should Be Too

  25. This is great! Thank you so much for sharing this. I have already become somewhat successful with Examiner. I don’t make 5 figures yet but I will get there someday. I have been writing there for a year now but just got a few new channels this year and have become more active with it. In fact, I have the #1 spot for Columbus Weird News already! I love Examiner and will definitely take this advice seriously.
    Clarissa Wilson recently posted..Mexican ‘Ape Woman’ finally laid to rest after 150 years

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Clarissa —

      I’d love it if you’d fill us in on your definition of successful on Examiner. You’ve written how many articles…over what time period…and made how much?

      Being #1 for Columbus weird news to me doesn’t sound like a massive traffic driver…would love to hear if I’m wrong there!

      With most writers, I just find the hourly or per-article rate, any way you slice it, doesn’t pencil out as well as getting some good freelance blogging clients, or writing for magazines, etc.

      • Chrystal says:

        I stopped writing on my website for the most part. I am working on my graduate degree full time and I write part-time at Examiner. I have 4 channels there now and I am constantly #1 and #3 or #4 in Detroit. I started in 2009 but it wasn’t until last fall when I started writing Celebrity and Television news when I started to see more than $100 a month. Now I make 4 figures working about 2-3 hours a day. I take a lot of days off because of school projects. In January I wrote a total of 42 articles. I do have a food and writing channel that I tie into my own websites. So, yes, there are some channels that dont make much money (the whole few bucks here and there) but their are some that make massive amounts of money. I know quite a few folks there who make over $5k a month writing on Examiner. It is possible. Just like it is possible for some on HubPages and Squidoo. It is possible to make a living writing 150-200 word articles on Examiner if you have the voice, know some good SEO, and have some good channels to write topics on.

        • Carol Tice says:

          Fascinating!

          If I wrote 42 blog posts at the rates I get I would make at least $5K or so…just keep thinking the Examiner model is a tough way to earn. But maybe it works well with your need for a flexible schedule.

          • Chrystal says:

            It does. And there are many who make over $5k with less articles than I write. Trust me, they do exist. Honestly, I love writing about gossipy celebrity stuff. It’s fun. But I also have a food and writing channel. I find them both equally as fun. I never did well with my own websites. Examiner is already built. It makes it easier for me while I am in school. Don’t get me wrong, if I could make that kind of money right now on my own website with the minimal time that I have to devote to it right now, I would. Maybe after I graduate from grad school and have more time. Right now I just write there when I can and I link back and forth with Examiner. The top writers on Examiner make 6 figures. A few of them have been in the news. But again, they have top earners like that on other rev share sites. It isn’t for everyone and not everyone will do good. I used to get mad when I saw people writing for Squidoo and HubPages making $5k a month on a handful of articles. To me that was too much like forced writing so it never worked out well for me. Examiner doesn’t feel forced. I have written accounting and tax content for Intuit, Quickbooks, textbooks and ebooks. I have had a few pieces published in magazines. Yes, that money is great; but the effort is more. I just don’t have time for that. I’m also not a fan of querying magazine and clients. It works for some. Sometimes it works for me; others it doesn’t. I know that money is out there, but it’s not really the kind of writing I want to do. Writing for Examiner is quick and easy for me. I sort Google Alert emails, write up a few 150-200 word articles, post them, share them, and move on to my day. A few hours of my time for the money I make is worth it to me when I don’t have to deal with deadlines, snarky editors, and tons of stress. All that stress before was sucking the creativity out of me and I couldn’t work on my novels. I have 24 books published and even though I havent published a new one since October I still make money. We all have our own ways to write and we all have something that we enjoy. In the writing world I don’t think there is a wrong or a right answer when it comes to how one should make their money when “freelance writing.”
            Chrystal recently posted..Dusting This Thing Off

            • Rob says:

              There’s no “like” or “+” button for comments here, so this will have to do. I really liked your final sentence: In the writing world I don’t think there is a wrong or a right answer when it comes to how one should make their money when “freelance writing.”

              I get annoyed with myself and others when we start preaching about what has worked for us and making it sound like it’s a universal truth. Sharing is one thing, but preaching is another. The beauty of freelancing is in the “free” part of the word.
              Rob recently posted..How Much Can a Freelance Copywriter Make in Australia?

              • Chrystal says:

                I’m annoyed on a daily basis about it. I get tired of being looked down on because I am not a traditinal author who published with a traditional print and ink publishing house. Instead, I “indie write” under a pen name for my fiction and self-publish. I am pleased with this process and in my niche I do quite well. The residual income is nice.

                Examiner is fun for me. And I refused to be treated as a “bottom-feeder” just because I don’t freelance write for companies other think are “big-time.”

                I have done the whole “lets-query-the-crap-out-of-magazines” with the hopes of being published. I did. Once. And it took months. I want immediate income, not income that comes 6 months later. While it might look better to some on a resume or in a portfolio, I don’t think the fact I am not published in magazines says anything about me as a writer. It just says that I prefer to go the digital route. And that is perfectly fine.

                At the end of the day if I am happy, not stressed, my bills are paid, my pets are taken care of, my family is fed, and I have shelter than in my eyes – I am pretty damn successful – regardless of where my money comes from.
                Chrystal recently posted..Writing, writing, writing, and more writing!

                • Carol Tice says:

                  As I’ve always said, there is more than one way to make a living as a writer. Freelancing clearly isn’t for you, and you’ve found a route you enjoy. I know few writers who earn anything like a living on Examiner, so if you’re one of the ones who make that work, good for you.

                  One thing I would say though, is beware that all your intellectual property is owned by a site that could be sold, folded, change or vanish overnight.

                  Writing for magazines definitely isn’t a process that’s for everyone. Congrats on meeting your own writing goals!

                  • CB says:

                    “Freelancing clearly isn’t for you” I just wanted to jump in and say that reading her post it looks like Chrystal IS a freelance writer, just not one who writes for magazines.

                    • Carol Tice says:

                      I think when you only have one platform you essentially self-publish on, that to me doesn’t resemble freelancing, which involves continuous marketing and finding multiple clients.

            • Scott says:

              Chrystal’s comment reminds me of something else that must be emphasized when it comes to Examiner. With a few exceptions, the only way to make any significant money there is to write about celebrities, pop culture or television. So potential Examiner writers should know that. Also, most of the top earners do not simply write; they have their own Facebook pages and Twitter accounts specifically dedicated to their Examiner column, which they promote like crazy in order to build up a following. It’s a lot of work, which again greatly brings down the income if you look at it on an hourly basis.
              Scott recently posted..Adele Nominated for an Academy Award; Will She Win the Oscar?

              • Carol Tice says:

                I dunno, those aren’t Bill’s topics and he seems to be doing fine. There are a lot of broad-based topics…but you have to be willing to crank 1000 articles in just a few months to get the needed traction, I gather.

              • Chrystal says:

                Not everyone promotes like crazy. I know people that don’t promote at all and I know others who only use Twitter or Sulia.

                Any topic that you can make newsworthy is the way to go. Yes, celebs and the like are popular but they are not the only ones making the money. Many exist on food, books, writing, and other general topics that make them newsworthy. Some have their own website and backlink. Some already had followers from another place or they built one up.

                It is different for all; but it can be done with any topic channel. It might be a lot of work for some, but I know folks who put in 5 hours a day and still make 4 digits. I only put in a few and I take a lot of days off and I can still pay my bills.

                Everyones experience is different. It doesnt make Examiner a bad place to write.
                Chrystal recently posted..Writing, writing, writing, and more writing!

      • Carol,

        I only write a couple articles a day and just started with it so I am just now seeing a little bit of success with it but it is better than what I make at Hubpages. I made $200 last month within two weeks and so far this month I have made a little over $122. You might not think that is success but I do because I have never made that much with rev share.
        Clarissa Wilson recently posted..A zombie apocalypse? Emergency Alert system hacked

        • Carol Tice says:

          60 articles a month…for $200. To me, that’s just heartbreaking. Even at Demand Studio rates it would be $900. I think your experience is pretty typical based on all the feedback I get, though.

          If you can crank that much content, I would think there are paying clients out there you could make a lot more from.

          • Carol,

            I forgot to mention that I do have a full time job online and my own writing clients that pay well. I do Examiner on the side and think what I make there for very part time is pretty decent. I make a good living from home and use Examiner for fun writing.
            Clarissa Wilson recently posted..Teen girls getting attacked with animal semen

            • Carol Tice says:

              Well, if it’s fun…then enjoy!

              • Chrystal says:

                I think what people don’t realize is that the articles are short; 150-200 words. They dont have to be 400 words to be successful. Most of us can write 200 words pretty quickly and with Google Alerts set up, we can write a few articles in an hour and walk away $100 richer. So, you can either look at it as how many words you write per pay or how much money you can make per hour. Since I write quick and come from a long-term accounting background, I tend to look at how much I can make in an hour. And if I can make $100 for that days work, than that is good to me.

                I don’t feel I am cutting myself short by writing for Examiner or any other revenue share site. Being able to earn residual income allows me to take the rest of my time to work on my novels. It’s a win-win for me.
                Chrystal recently posted..Writing, writing, writing, and more writing!

                • Carol Tice says:

                  I don’t know many writers who are happy writing 200 word pieces…probably why most writers move on from places like Examiner. If you enjoy that form, then cool for you.

                  • Chrystal says:

                    Why would someone be unhappy writing short little news pieces? I’m not kidding I know a few folks like Emma down below past the comments who write a few hundred words – bam! $3k. Who wouldnt be happy by that? I have had content that I write 200 words and I get $100 in 24hrs and 6 months later it still makes me money.

                    We can sit here and nitpick about it all day.

                    And the success with Squidoo is no different. Their is one popular couple who just reported $18k this month. Who wouldn’t be happy about that?

                    I am far from unhappy. And once my MBA is done in June, Examiner will pay of my college loans while I continue to work on fiction.

                    People need to just stop judging where people write for. Who cares? Writers, write. There doesn’t need to be a higher authority or judgement. I did the whole magazine thing. HATED it. Newspapers too. Not everyone wants that life.

                    And if people like CWilson are happy – why does that bother so many other writers? This is something I have been trying to understand since my first rev share account in 2000.

                    I understand that not everyone sees things the same way when it comes to residual income, but we all know there are people who are very successful with it. I mean Seth Godin owns Squidoo. Hello…so many freelancers follow him!

                    We all want money. We all need it. But at the end of the day we are all writers with the same goal in mind. To write and let our voices be heard.

                    • Lorrie B says:

                      Chrystal, you’ve got a lot to say, and I think your perspective is valuable. You seem to wonder why content mills bother writers; it’s because working for nothing (or very little) drives prices down everywhere. There’s a bigger picture at work; one which you may not be taking into account. It’s why US manufacturers can’t compete with China, as one example, and why dollar stores can offer a hammer that would retail for triple the amount in a hardware store. I’m not saying this is either good or bad; it’s a reality of the capitalistic system within which we live. That said, as long as there are writers who write relatively well and are willing to work for this economic model, it will thrive. It is, however, not sustainable in the long run. So enjoy it while you can – which is what I suspect a lot of writers are doing. It’s commodity writing, and it’s worth what they’re paying you. It relies on click counts and advertisers, and as long as readers are curious and advertisers are willing to pay, it can be exploited in this way. However, advertisers are fickle creatures. As soon as they realize that these web sites are not drawing a quality audience, they might start looking elsewhere, in which case the funds will dry up. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, anyone. Carol, sorry if you feel your blog has been hijacked by your readers. :)
                      Lorrie B recently posted..Let’s get to the bottom of this.

                    • Carol Tice says:

                      Not at all, Lorrie — my readers are diverse and I always enjoy seeing what they’ve got to say.

                      I think you do raise some important issues about the world of Examiner and this whole model…it’s all one Google update away from vanishing. As I wrote recently, Demand lost 25 percent of its traffic in one fell swoop on one Google change, and we know Google is hard at work thinking up more ways to screen out low-grade content.

                      Also, sites go bust, so those who count on residual income often wake up to find it has vaporized. I think it’s cool that Chrystal has been able to earn well from it so far, though! Unfortunately it seems to be only a tiny percentage of writers that earn anything substantial with these models. Which is why my general take on them is that there are many other, better ways to earn as a writer.

                    • Carol Tice says:

                      Nobody’s judging…that’s why I presented a case study on how to earn well on Examiner.

                      I’m just here to present options and techniques for earning more money as writers.

                      And if you don’t understand why some writers want more in their writing life than cranking out scores of 200-word news bits, I can’t explain it to you. If you’re happy doing it, and it earns well for you, then you’re set!

                      I’m here for the thousands of other writers who’ve tried revshare and earned peanuts. This post maps out what you have to do if you want to earn more from revshare…and we’ve got a ton of resources on here for the many writers who’d prefer to try another approach.

                      People who earn a real living on Examiner are outliers, is the part I think you’re missing. The norm is earning very little. Congrats on being one of the people who makes it work on there. I enjoyed meeting Bill at NMX and learning about his approach, too.

                    • Chrystal says:

                      @LorrieB

                      Point is – NO job is guaranteed. Your website/blog is no longer popular. There is always something new, fresh, trendier. Your employer shows a decrease in sales. Publishing houses see a decline because of self-publishing. It does not matter what field you are in. It is rare anything lasts forever.

                      The money is good and I’m not killing myself doing it. It serves a purpose for me while I work on other projects.

                      If others are; that’s on them.

  26. Lorrie B says:

    Carol, you started an interesting discussion, and a lot of writers are weighing in with their experiences and perceptions. I guess the bottom line is – it’s a big, brave world, and writers can choose their path. As far as content mills and similar revenue opportunities go, I think Crystal sees writing differently than I do, and she summed it up perfectly with “…the effort is more. I just don’t have time for that.” I read slow, I write from the heart, I am an artistic writer who is interested in the exploration of human behaviour through crafted literature. Reading and writing are part of who I am, and I’m interested in being a better writer, not a faster writer. Writing is not an effort. I have time for it, I make time for it, I love writing. Time spent writing is the best use of my time. To each their own!
    Lorrie B recently posted..Let’s get to the bottom of this.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks — I think not many people like doing the kind of writing that makes a successful mass-traffic site like Examiners’ — Chrystal is in a great position that she does.

      Most of the writers I talk to consider grinding out this stuff a living death, and are looking to move on to write for more prestige publications and sites, and for higher guaranteed pay.

      But as I always say, if you’re happy with your pay and the writing you do — it’s all good! It doesn’t matter what the ‘usual’ norms are for other writers if you like it.

      More on that topic coming Monday…

  27. What an interesting/hard-to-read comment thread! I agree with one commenter who points out there are no hard and fast rules to “making it.” But of course, there’s a BUT. One woman wrote quite a long justification for her Examiner work that sounded tinged with insecurity…

    At a certain point, I decided for myself that I was not into pitching endlessly to magazines(as she did) that journalism wasn’t really my thing as much as I like to read it, so I happily turned to copywriting and make much more than I would on Examiner/DS/etc. I’m still not where I want to be, but with my “business model” I know I’ll get there for sure. And to me that makes all the difference in the world, that kind of control. In terms of the broad assumption that fashion and beauty (and even celeb writing) doesn’t pay and has to be done “for fun” — that’s not true. Whatever your interest, there are avenues to get paid for it. And paid well.

    With as little judgement as possible, I don’t understand why someone would write on their pet subject “just for fun,” making a negligible amount of money when they could put that energy into writing an eBook, a blog or looking for an agent to represent them for publication — especially if they have a day job and don’t really need that extra couple hundo a month to survive.

    I enjoyed writing for DMS a lot when I first started. I liked looking up info on titles I grabbed and writing about it. But at a certain point, you realize you can do better. Why you wouldn’t want to, is really up to you. You can say it’s your family, your day job, your relationship, your friends…your other hobbies. And that’s ALL GOOD. But in that case, you’re not necessarily cut out to be a full time freelancer. There’s no need to be defensive about that. If you’re happy making next to nothing, and treat writing as a hobby, that’s cool, but it is a hobby, imo.

  28. Christa says:

    I think something that is worth pointing out is that a great way to make money is having a “newsworthy” blog. I have several niche sites, but none of them are submitted to Google news because I am a sole author. To get into Google News, you must have a website written by more than one author. I use Examiner to submit newsworthy content. I did fantastic yesterday with one article I submitted. I only submit newsworthy material to Examiner. Evergreen content or affiliate deals goes on my site. I have been blogging since 2010 so I get working on your own site to build it up and owning the content.

    • Carol Tice says:

      And when you say “fantastic,” can you tell us what you mean by that? What’d you make?

      And interesting observation about news vs evergreen posts and how to deploy them.

  29. I have only been writing at Examiner for a little over a year and I must admit the money is outrageous compared to other places, including Demand Studios. I wrote two articles (http://www.examiner.com/article/connecticut-school-shooting-westboro-baptist-church-planning-to-picket and http://www.examiner.com/article/connecticut-school-shooting-protest-planned-to-stop-westboro-baptist-church) in one day, took me about 30 minutes combined, and I made over $3,000 over the course of the next two days.

    Just in case you doubt me, look at the first article. It has over 132,000 Facebook likes, it was tweeted 3,597 times and emailed 63 times. That isn’t counting the times it was shared other places.

    Anytime I can work for 30 minutes and make $3,000, I consider that to be “good money.” I rarely make less than $2,000 per month at Examiner. I only work a couple of hours each day. Easy money. I understand I’m not winning Pulitzers, but my daughter goes to one of the best private schools in the state and we are completely debt-free!

    Of course, the more you write, the more you make. If I worked 40 hours a week and put out articles like a robot, I could probably make even more money. I’m not interested in doing that. I write a couple of hours a day, if that, and have the time and money to do what I want.

    Although many will say my Examiner experience isn’t “typical,” it certainly could be. If writers were willing to actually work for their money, promote their work and brand themselves, writing for Examiner would be very lucrative for them. There is no reason that other writers can’t do exactly what I have done and make “good money” at Examiner. It took a few months to build up a library of work as well as readers, but, after that, my articles at Examiner “took off.”

    If you have any questions about my “Examiner experience,” please feel free to contact me on Facebook. I am more than willing to share what I have learned and, hopefully, help other writers be successful.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Emma — sounds like you’ve really got a handle on what gets traffic for your topics on Examiner. Thanks for your willingness to share your experience with other writers! So many seem to make $5 for 100 articles on there, and clearly need to know how to find the traffic.

  30. Rob S says:

    This thread convinced me to give Examiner a try. Then I discovered it was U.S. only. I guess 99% of readers here are U.S. based, but those who are not — don’t get overly excited about the opportunity!
    Rob S recently posted..Walt Whitman an SEO Guru?

  31. jayne says:

    A crap editorial reputation and encouragement to use your real name are both additional reasons to avoid Examiner. Wow, I had no idea just how much slogging it takes to make it doing that. Surely another eye-opener from you, Carol. I am a professional writer who sometimes just burns out and likes to see the “easy” routes. Here’s a reminder to keep writing the way I know how. Thanks! Jayne

  32. Survivor says:

    Oh gosh, I just finished my examiner application. I’m glad that I read this before I spent too much time actually writing for them! Thanks for the tips!

  33. I’ve been writing for the Examiner since July & I haven’t had any problems. I used this site to get my name out there. I write about holistic therapy people it’s something I love. I only post 2 articles a month. I usually make between $100-$200 a month (it does vary) but at the same time I go to craft shows, networking events & I’m studying psychology so I have people to read my articles. Plus I have my own website yourdevinedestinee.com where my focus of holistic therapy is based off of my articles. I think you just have to write for fun & focus on social media to get views. The examiner is not my only job but it does pay my bills.
    Hope that helps!
    Destinee Coleman recently posted..You need a reality check : Part 4

  34. The one thing that really boggles my mind is that he pays other writers to ghostwrite for him. In my opinion, that seems like it would be much more worth it on a blog or site that he owned, but I could see the benefits of having the work done for him on a site as highly trafficked as Examiner.

    What do you think?
    Sandra Harriette recently posted..4 Signs That You Need a New Job

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well…I don’t think he pays a whole lot, first off. Think he pays writers…in the Third World.

      It’s a tradeoff. On Examiner, you have the chance to take advantage of their search rankings (which when he started were great) and traffic to potentially earn more. I personally have gone with building my own blog and earning from it, and certainly have no regrets.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "How to Make a Full-Time Living Blogging on Examiner"
  1. […] any decent income. In fact, he mentions that in order to make a decent income, he had to post “like mad, month after  month, until it  pays off and finally gets some traction”. The simple idea of having to write hundreds of articles before a decent paycheck even starts to […]

  2. […] certain eras, the site does still pay writers about $5 for every 1,000 hits their articles receive. Carol Tice writes about making a full-time living […]

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