I was recently asked by a well known company to review a product of theirs on my site and they offered to pay me for my efforts.
I actually said I’d do it and then they could pay me what they thought it was worth. I’m not sure that was the best idea as I haven’t heard back from them!
I find researching products and writing about them is the best way to learn and getting paid to do it would be a bonus. As you frequently blog for various sites, how do you price your services out? How do you invoice them? What else do I need to know to get started in this area?
Thanks for your time and your blog posts.
Well, first of all, you’re welcome. Thank you for reading them!
Given that I’ve done a fair bit of tech blogging over the years, and that I’ve founded a tech blogging business (we’re looking for authors!), I can certainly speak to this. To do that, let’s do this. I’ll walk through the progression of money making opportunities that you’ll likely encounter as a tech blogger.
I’m going to be switching comment engines soon. Right now, I use disqus, but I received the email below from them recently. The email served as the last straw for me with disqus.
This, in and of itself, might not seem overly objectionable. Sure, it insults the intelligence of anyone reading, but that’s hardly unique. So let me take you on a brief journey to demonstrate why I find them signing their emails “Disqus Publisher Success” to be a big, fat, middle finger of irony.
Disqus: Comments in Exchange for Disqusting Ads
Years ago, I grew tired of fighting the good fight against comment spam. I installed a handful of WordPress plugins that aimed to curtail the spam, but as my popularity with readers grew, so too did my popularity with people peddling mail order brides.
I can recall the endless annoyance I felt at waking up to see that someone had sneaked past the spam filters to pepper my comment section at 3:46 AM.
And then I found Disqus.
I recall hesitating at first because it replaced the standard comment section instead of just working with it. But, at wits end, I signed on anyway. And I felt happy because it pretty much solved my spam problem. It also added some cool features around promoting my blog in other places, and authenticating commenters.
I also saw that I could make a bit of money with ads if I so chose. At the time, I had no interest in monetizing my blog and I didn’t care for the ads, so I passed. I used to have ads on the site, so I obviously have no qualms about ads. I’d just want them relevant to my readers and tasteful.
So imagine my surprise a few years later, when I learned that disqus had, at some point unknown to me, turned them back on as part of some update. My readers at the time found themselves treated to things like this.
I write blog posts on a number of different sites that are not my own, and that is an exercise in pure writing joy. I compose the posts, I submit them, and viola! They’re published on nice-looking sites, promoted by people with reach, and read by many (hopefully) interested readers. Life is good.
By way of comparison, when it comes to my own blog, life is not quite so simple. On my own blog, I have to write the posts and manage all of the details that are abstracted away when I write for other sites. So many things distract from content.
There are the major ancillary concerns like the site’s look and feel and following up on any downtime or outages. There are minor ancillary concerns, like checking for typos, promoting the posts, and making sure no one is inappropriate in the comments. And then there are enigmatic ancillary concerns, like search engine optimization (SEO). My primary concern is content generation, however, so, even with my own site, I seek to abstract as much of this away as possible.
The Weird World of SEO
Let me start off by saying, emphatically, that I am not an SEO expert. Frankly, it’s not a topic that particularly interests me in and of itself… at least not until I had to be interested in it.
I have a blog as part of my website, but from that same website, I offer information about my consulting practice and about books and products that I offer. More readers translates into more engagement, which, in turn, translates into a better living for me. And it was against this backdrop that I became interested in SEO by default.
SEO actually reminds me of the credit score concept, in which a mysterious agency uses a mysterious algorithm to compute a score that has a serious effect on your life. The mystery and complexity of the algorithm and proprietary nature of the score, in turn, create a cottage industry of advice and services aimed at helping you get just a little bit better.
As a blogger and entrepreneur, this is the SEO world for me. Google (and nominally other search providers) have secret sauce algorithms that figure out how to rank content based on its likelihood of being valuable to people using the search engine. I don’t care much about these for their own sake, but I do wind up having to learn enough about how the whole thing works in order to make (what I hope are) informed decisions on how to position myself. Oh, and I have to do that while not wasting a whole lot of time on it and veering into the land of diminishing returns.
This comic from The Oatmeal is one of my favorite pieces of internet. That’s true for a variety of reasons, but one of them is how he explains that it’s much easier to be told what to write than to be given the instructions, “write about whatever you want.” He’s not alone in feeling this way. Strangely, when it comes to writing, I find that restrictions on the content are oddly liberating. And I have a hypothesis that this doesn’t only apply to Matthew Inman and me. It probably applies to a lot of you as well.
This is one of the reasons that I think it’s so hard for new bloggers to get started. You build up a bunch of momentum, picking a host, a platform, a theme, etc. You procrastinate by doing these things, subconsciously terrified of the moment where you sit down, stretch, and say, “everything done — now to produce a little content!” Because then the next thing to happen is a quick moment of anti-climatic dread as you realize you have no idea what to say. Self doubt creeps in, and you start thinking things like, “what could I say that others haven’t already said better than I could?” It’d almost be better if you had a time crunch and content restrictions/parameters.
Well, that’s exactly what I’m proposing. Read More
I’m writing a quick post tonight in response to a question I received today. I actually intended to address this later, but I have a number of posts about what Michael O Church calls CS666 in various stages of readiness, and I’m trying to juggle not offering rabble-rousing cynicism without solutions, avoiding a stream-of-consciousness brain dump of material for my book, and having interesting material to post. My opinions on the flaws of modern corporate structure will have to wait, and I don’t have my Visual Studio setup with me, so there’s no Chess TDD to be had tonight, either.
The question(s) I’m answering, paraphrased: “there seems to be little point to blogging if no one is reading, so how do you get readers?”