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Blogging shares a similarity with golf.

A zillion people enjoy the activity, but only a chosen few make money at it.

This point recently got hammered home when I stumbled across an ad on Craigslist recruiting bloggers for Intuit’s small-biz property.

Intuit pays 100 bucks per post.

I already knew it’s the rare blogger who can quit his or her day job.

But only 100 bucks for crafting a 300-word post?

Now, Intuit might argue an efficient blogger can crank out a post in a couple of hours. Secure enough gigs like this and theoretically you’re generating $100K in annual income based on a 40-hour work week over a calendar year (20 posts per week = $2K per week X 50 weeks, and you can still enjoy two weeks of vacation time).

If people were machines, I suppose this would be true.

This got me thinking.

Maybe the economic downturn pinched Intuit on the financial slide.

But a quick look at revenue shows FY2010 was a banner bounce-back year.

intuit financials

OK, maybe Inuit is still digging itself out of a cash-flow hole.

intuit financials

I think it’s fair to say that’s not the case.

So what can we conclude from this riveting dot-connecting analysis?

The commoditization of blogging makes newspapers look like a growth business.

Apparently, this is what the market will bear.

To Intuit’s credit, they got Tom Foremski’s memo that every company needs to be the media.

Hence, the company’s quest to build out a site around the small-biz industry. (That tag line “We’re talking about small business success” could use some work.)

While each post gets 100 bucks whether it’s average or a great, Intuit does acknowledge the importance of storytelling techniques:

We want posts to be fun and easy to read, not stuffy and dry. You must have a good ear for language, but you should also be cognizant of online publishing realities and can use key search engine keywords in your posts and headlines without sounding robotic.

Sounds like a cross between Demand Media and Stieg Larsson.

Wonder if Oprah will apply for the gig.

Update (Dec. 16, 2010)

Gregg Morris shared with me that the pay for blog writting can fall far below the $100 per post from Intuit.

As exhibit A, check out another listing on Craigslist called Writing Articles (any).

Here’s the punchline:

Pay is $5 for 500 words, and 3.50 for 300-350 words.

I suspect even Dickens made more than a buck per 100 words.

Update (Dec. 18, 2010)

Christopher Null from Intuit was good enough to answer my question about response to the ad.

In short, Intuit received over 100 resumes within a few days prompting the company to take down the ad.

Again, another proof point that demand exceeded supply for Intuit’s proposition.


Comments

  • Fred Fnord

    If you want to be REALLY depressed, check out CloudCrowd and its ilk. (I’m not going to link them here, no need to provide free publicity.)

    People who work there can frequently come within, say, an order of magnitude of the US minimum wage, sometimes earning as much as a dollar an hour. If they become trusted they can actually earn more, but since you can become untrusted again if one person makes a single mistake in reviewing your work, you are lucky if you’re consistently making a buck or two an hour.

    And people actually do it. It’s amazing. People’s time is really that valueless.

    Compared with that, $100 for 300 words of semi-coherent writing seems like a bargain. Hell, this is 150 words or so, and it only took me two minutes… maybe I should try out for the gig?

    Reply
  • Lou Hoffman

    That is depressing.

    Gregg Morris also enlightened me (on twitter) that in the context of the overall market, Intuit actually offers a reasonable arrangement.

    If companies are striving to stockpile content with SEO as the primary objective, I suppose it’s inevitable that the price point for writing would be driven downward.

    Reply
  • james

    Still more than I’d make on Ad Sense for a post on my blog. haha

    My favourite are the unprofessional websites that want to pay you only for the traffic you generate–yeah, I bet you’d like it if I brought you 20,000 views to your typo-invested, clumsy “cell-phone news blog” for $25.

    It is amazing that people are willing to pay 2 dollars for a click from Google Ad Sense, but don’t value the organic traffic that good content brings.

    @jamesmulvey (former low paid SEO writer)

    Reply
  • Lou Hoffman

    No dearth of unprofessional sites and commoditized writing.

    Reply
  • Paul Roberts

    Great piece Lou. Depressing, but a great issue to discuss. I’m not a very fast writer, so I guess if I need a second job I’ll be better off heading to the mall to stock retail shelves.

    Reply
  • Lou Hoffman

    Thanks Paul.

    Like you, I can’t crank out blog posts like clockwork.

    I read somewhere that blogging should be just as much about entering a conversation as starting a conversation.

    Theoretically, it takes less time to enter a conversation.

    Reply

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