Monetizing blogs seems to be on everyone’s agenda. Besides “how can I take better photos” the top question I get as a blogger coach is “what should I charge for a blog post?”
Before we get into the math of it I want to explain my rationale for pricing based on your expenses instead of readership. I can boil it down to one mantra:
a rising tide lifts all boats
Even if full-time blogging isn’t your end game there are some bloggers out there who DO want to reach full-time status. If you’re not blogging to support yourself or your family you still need to charge a comparative rate as those bloggers who are. Notice I didn’t say competitive.
Think of it this way. If you’re shopping for fleece lined mittens and you go into a store and one pair is $45 and the other is $3.99 you’re going to stop to evaluate if the investment is worth it. Brands are doing the same thing.
But readership isn’t always a strong representation of your audience’s engagement. Yeah volume is great and a brand can pay $500 to reach 100 readers or 10,000 readers but if only 7 of the 10,000 will take action they’re ROI is low. Where the blogger with 100 readers knows exactly what their readers want and can deliver a much more tailored/less salesy post. (I suppose that’s a topic for another post but remember Content Is King)
Anyways, when you left college and got your first job there was an “entry level” salary that you were expecting. It was a range, and it probably wasn’t much. But nevertheless you have the salary and the job and you can pay your bills. When you got your second job you moved up the ladder a bit and could afford some fun. But then you started your blog and realized there was a potential to make money but you charged based on the readership instead of meeting your needs?
Time is money friends. Time is money.
If a brand wants to pay for space on your website don’t charge based on the eyes they’ll reach, price it based on the time it takes for you to put that post together. (Hold your questions on “should I blog for exposure“.) Once you reach the highest eschelons of blogging you can add your reach into your price but if you’re just starting your reach may only get you “$25” for a post if you calculate it based on readership alone.
I’m here today to recommend you calculate your HOURLY FREELANCE RATE and use that to price sponsored posts. This way those of us in the Chicago market will be charging relatively similar rates and we can all raise the tide for bloggers together!
The math is relatively simple. Even if you have a full-time job I recommend doing this calculation instead of just figuring out what your salaried hourly rate is (because that rate doesn’t take into account self employment taxes and that self employment doesn’t always mean a steady 40hr week). What you’re calculating is the rate you’d need to charge to pay your bills based on the amount of time you spend blogging. It gets a little grey and there is room to fiddle but I bet you’ll be surprised that you can command such a rate… and you CAN!
To Find Your Hourly Freelance Rate:
- Add up ALL of your monthly expenses. Utilities (including your internet), Funtivities, Netflix, Business Cards, Blog Supplies (photo backdrops, memory cards, props, DIY supplies). If you don’t pay for some of these things monthly then use an estimated amount. (Like if you buy business cards once a quarter then divide that amount by 3 and that’s your monthly average)
- Multiply your monthly expenses by 12 for your annual expense total.
- Multiply the number in Step 2 by 1.3 Why? Because on average someone who is self employed will owe 30% of their income in taxes so you want factor for that amount so you can still pay all your bills and your taxes. Save this number.
- Estimate the number of hours each week you spend blogging. Include photoshoot time, email time and writing/editing time. It is almost impossible to add in social media time so just skip trying to figure out how many cumulative hours you spend each week on instagram and twitter. Do you really want to know that anyways? #addicted
- Multiple your average hours spent blogging by 50. Or 52 but wouldn’t it be awesome if blogging full-time came with two weeks standard vacation like every other job?!
- Divide your annual expenses with taxes (step 3) by your average annual hours blogging (step 5). And you’ve got your sustainable hourly rate.
Do your posts usually take more than an hour from start to finish? Mine do! I’d say I spend an average of 90 to 120 minutes on each. So my post rate would start at 1.5 or 2 times my sustainable hourly rate.
Are you surprised by what you should charge for a blog post?
And I’ll share straight up. My sponsored post rate is 3x my hourly sustainable rate and then rounded up to the nearest $50. In 2014 I experimented and kept adding $50 to my sponsored post rate each time I got an opportunity and let me say, buy the end of the year I was able to charge $300 for one post. If I had just used my readership numbers I would have never reached that amount.
Brands are paying for your endorsement to your readers, not your readers, so charge what your voice is worth.
It’s worth a lot.
This calculation is adapted from Lauren Venell’s Bookkeeping for Crafter’s class on CreativeLive.
Erin Bassett is blog coach/mentor, a blogger at Color Me Styled, WCBC founder and jewelry maker. She’s also a wife, dog person and trying to figure out everything she’s allergic to (so far trees and grass and pecans and pistachios and tree fruits and cats).