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How To Outsource Your Blogging – A Case Study

By Yaro Starak
33 Comments

The recent series of articles I wrote on blogging as a business model sparked a few queries about how I have gone about outsourcing the writing of my blogs. In the article I talked about how it is important to move away from being solely responsible for content output, otherwise you limit your potential for growth and are effectively self employed.

SmallBusinessBranding.com Case Study

Over a year ago I purchased the blog SmallBusinessBranding.com (SBB) from Michael Pollock. When I first took over ownership of the blog I began writing the content myself, doubling my writing commitments since I was also writing to this blog, Entrepreneurs-Journey (EJ), at the same time.

I had a lot of difficulty writing to two blogs. Each time I wrote an article for SBB, I realized it was appropriate for EJ as well. I went from writing one blog 100% of the time to dividing my output across two blogs, and I knew from experience running two businesses at once would end in weakening both sites (see my business timeline for the story of the English School I was running [badly] as a second business). I decided to come up with a solution to keep SBB running without me as the author, since I wanted to devote all my writing output to EJ.

After asking for suggestions in my forums and brainstorming, I decided to bring on one or two bloggers to write for SBB. My initial plan was to advertise for the bloggers and test them for a month. If they proved dedicated I would offer them revenue share of income generated by SBB – I was thinking something along the lines of 50%. I was going to do some number crunching first to work out how many posts were done vs how much they would get paid, but this situation never eventuated.

After placing the ad for bloggers I was flooded with responses and a good 4-6 of them seemed like they could be candidates for the job. At that point I had a different idea.

Instead of hiring only a couple of bloggers who would have to commit to multiple articles per week, I’d take on everyone who looked like they could do a good job and reduce the amount of articles required to one per week each. With up to six writers, one article per week would result in near-daily content, which was my goal.

The problem was how to remunerate the authors. Part of the justification for writing for SBB was the exposure and credibility you can build. There are at least 1000 daily RSS readers of the blog, which for a new author can be a nice boost to their readership. As much as I think that is valuable, I didn’t want that to be the sole motivation behind wanting to write for SBB.

I thought about a revenue share, but with only about under $400 a month coming in from that blog and six authors to pay, it wasn’t going to work out very well. In the end I came up with an innovative way to empower authors with the ability to monetize their content published to SBB in whatever way they chose.

I commissioned Michael Pollock, the original owner of SBB, to do a redesign of the site. Previously SBB looked like a sister site to EJ with a similar design that clearly focused on me. For the new design the focus moved away from me and SBB became a blog magazine with multiple authors profiled.

Each author was provided a homepage [ example ] within the site that lists a history of their articles and other data about what they do and how they can be contacted. Also on this page are designated advertising areas where the writers can decide to promote anything they want to. They can use Google AdSense or Yahoo Publishers Network, or banners from an affiliate product or their own business banners, or text links or any content they wish to promote.

Each article the author writes also has the same adspace where their content is displayed, so effectively every page that author contributes to the blog, contains an area where they can monetize their work.

Example Author Sponsor

The more articles an author writes, the more pages they have online with ads, potentially bringing in traffic and thus income. Add to this the combined efforts of every writer working hard on great content increasing the blog’s overall traffic, *should* result in each author enjoying exponential traffic growth to their individual pages as well. In this way every author benefits from the traffic brought in by the other authors. It pays to be part of the group as long as everyone contributes to the overall growth of the site.

Unfortunately that ideal situation hasn’t quite eventuated yet at SBB because some of the authors had to stop writing or reduce their contributions to focus on their own projects. It takes some testing and a clear purpose/flow from article to advertisement in order to monetize their adspace and I don’t think any of the authors writing for SBB have made much money from it yet. Those who have kept writing are enjoying the more intrinsic value that comes from blogging – exposure, networking and creative expression – like Danielle Rodgers, Nick Rice and our latest team member, Christine Buske.

In future the new authors who join the site will have to be prepared to write often and carefully choose how they monetize their content if they want to make money directly, or perhaps a better strategy, have a way to leverage the exposure and traffic indirectly by promoting their own business, blog or website as the current authors do. Incidentally, if you know a thing or two about small business or you are running one now and want to tell your story, contact me if you are interested in joining the Small Business Branding team.

Locating Talent

Robert KingstonOne very good thing did come of the SBB outsourcing experiment so far – I met Robert Kingston.

Rob lives in Brisbane, like me, and demonstrated great enthusiasm for SBB when he first came aboard as a writer. Because of this I offered him the opportunity to take over management of the blog and he’s also coming on board for some other projects. I’m very grateful that he’s shown so much interest, professionalism and talent too.

I’m sharing revenues with Rob obviously because he deserves it for all the work he is doing running four of my sites and as a form of motivation for him to increase the income the sites produce. If he can help to double the income of the sites he is in charge of, his own income will double as well. I’m still involved and will definitely help Rob with the strategic direction, but it is his job to implement, which no doubt will give him all kinds of experiences that will enhance his Internet marketing credentials and give him a great head-start when he finishes university.

The key ingredients to make blog outsourcing work is managing people well. If you can’t structure something that people want to work for, then you won’t get people prepared to work for you. Many elements, including your blog’s current traffic, revenues, credibility, and exposure can all help to attract the right people and give you tools to motivate others, but it’s not a clear cut area – there are many ways to structure a system and it might take some experimentation and creative thinking to figure out what works.

Now that you know how I set-up SBB, you can see one possible blog outsourcing model. In the next article I’m going to run through the different considerations and models you should contemplate if your goal is to bring in additional authors to your blog.

Yaro Starak
Blog Manager

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Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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33 Comments

  • [...] course, then I find a how-to guide for essentially raping your contributors here. If you don’t feel like reading it or giving this guy more ad revenue, I can sum it up. He [...]

  • Hi Yaro,

    I think your experiment with creating a “blog magazine” was a great idea. I mean, so much of being an entrepreneur is testing and experimenting isn’t it. Very often things don’t go exactly according to plan – which, when you think about it would be awfully boring! But none-the-less wonderful things can still result, and I believe that’s been the case with SBB. So, well done.

    Personally I’ve gained a lot from the experience of writing for SBB. I’ve met some great people, found some very interesting contacts (and they’ve found me!), and learnt a lot about life online. So I can definitely extol the virtures of it.

    Cheers, Danielle

  • Good information. A friend of mine needs to learn the whole “too many blogs” thing. He wants to run them all and get others to write for him, so I’ll be sending him a link. It took me a long time to realize I needed to focus on fewer things for them to get better.

  • Yaro, I like the discussion going on at that first track back. Anybody reading here should click through and read the discussion there on what that person thinks of Yaro’s business model.

  • Blaine – I agree, everyone should go read Don’t Feed the Stereotype and read what Cyndy wrote about this post.

    She has a much different point of view to my own, but I can see how she considers me as taking advantage of people by not paying cash money for blogging.

  • Yaro:

    It’s very nice that you respect Cyndy’s opinion. I, however, have a hard time respecting it. It’s not that I don’t sympathize a little with her situation. It’s just that her opinion is based upon a view of the world that’s out of touch with reality.

    What I know about you is that you’re a good guy, and taking advantage of someone is the last thing you’d ever want to do. And I was happy to see you defend yourself in the comments of her post.

    Thanks for the pointer Blaine.

    Best – Michael

  • Thanks Michael and Blaine for jumping to my defence there, I appreciate the support.

    I’ve learnt that dealing with comments you might not agree with or strong language, you have to avoid hitting back with strong emotional language otherwise a flame war ensues and everyone just feels angry and frustrated – it like shouting at each other across the blogosphere :).

  • Hi Yaro,
    I appreciated your candour. We’re still in new territory. The pathfinders are still at work. And until a viable model is established, we will all have to travel down some blind alleys.

  • Read this post yesterday and just wanted to congratulate you on a great post – which answered by email question perfectly. I would be interested to know any revenue figures that your author at SBB sustained through their blogging.

    The hard part really is finding the people to help you. You say you got them flooding in, but when your site is only semi-popular, its tough finding bloggers who have the energy to write.

    But Im glad you’ve made it and well done to the team for a great content site.

  • I’ve commented on the article from the first track back and as a writer on SBB, I disagree with them.

    I know that the blog itself doesn’t make a lot of money, so I understand Yaro’s position. I’m grateful writing for an established and professional website as the benefits I’ve obtained are far more useful than money.

    Even so, surely it must possible to contribute to a blog without being labeled ‘a rape victim’… Right?

  • This was a great article. I’ve been very interested in this whole series, and I really appreciate you sharing your experiences in such detail.

    I think the real value of these authorships may be what’s misunderstood. The actual cash value may not be that great, but the exposure could easily be worth thousands of dollars a month — not to mention all the residual value as those pages get hit over and over and over again as time goes by.

    Good writers like Cyndy would see the readership of their own blogs skyrocket from just one or two months of writing (10 articles) on SBB (provided, obviously, that the blogs were related). Yes, you can do the hard, hard work of growing your readership organically, but it’s easier to just throw some gas on the fire and throw a match in.

  • [...] Yaro Starak over at Entrepreneur’s Journey is looking for some bloggers who want to write for SmallBusinessBranding.com, a blog that gets 1,000 visitors/day. He’s offering great exposure and revenue generation opportunities, and you can get all the details in his post. [...]

  • A great post. Hope i also do get talented writers like rob. :)

  • Thanks for the compliment, Propet. We’re out there ;)… I’m sure you’ll manage to find one.

  • Hey Joseph – Yes, quite right – still testing and seeing what works, I don’t think that process will ever change.

    Getting warmer in Toronto yet?

  • Wow, that other thread has gotten a bit long winded! Yaro, you should post a follow up article that summarizes Cyndy’s points (and the points of her audience that agrees with her) as well as the counter points made by the people who don’t mind your business model.

    I’d also like to point out that they have no problem with barter and yet they refuse to recognize the value of the traffic that your writer’s get in exchange for selling you their articles.

  • [...] my story with Small Business Branding you don’t necessarily have to build the blog from scratch yourself – you can go out and buy a [...]

  • Good post Yaro. Focus is the key to everything & with blogs too. I’m still messing about with a handful which I think I’ll dump now and just concentrate on one proper blog.

  • Yaro – this a great strategy!

    I liked reading about it hear as well as listening to it via the Blog Mastermind podcasts in your course.

    The one thing I’d be curious to get to see a written article on is something that might be titled “How a to Launch a New Blog and Outsource all Your Content for Free.” (if there were viable way to do that).

    Your system is great for blogs with established readerships. Just looking for something for something that might work for the beginner blogger.

  • Hey Reggie, The simple answer for beginner bloggers if you want to outsource your blog, is do you have a means to pay/reward the bloggers you hired.

    The process of outsourcing doesn’t change if you are beginner or advanced, it’s simply a matter of bringing on the right staff.

    There is an audio coming to Blog Mastermind about how David Krug launched a new blog with a team of six authors from day one. However he paid $2000 a month in blogger fees, so it was no small investment!

  • Thanks Yaro!

    This is very helpful. I’m in the process of using a similar strategy as David and plan to share with the MasterMind group as soon as my model is up and running.

  • This was a great article. I’ve been very interested in this whole series

  • [...] the SBB a custom job? I just read over your artcile How To Outsource Your Blogging – A Case Study

  • Yaro,

    I am very interested in outsourcing blog content, as it will fit nicely in my course I am creating on the same topic.

    Where did you have to go to get the original writers you brought in? Was it an outsourcing writers source or people already on your inhouse list.

    I agree that with monetizing the content, some of the writers will get way more benefits than just some money in the bank.

    Good ideas and I like what I see.

    Jeff

  • Jeff – I advertised on the site that I was looking for guest contributors, so essentially an in-house list.

  • Edy

    Hi Yaro

    Good article post. I’m planning to outsourcing my site. But there are many questions in my mind. I hope you could help me.

    How to get the author to do outsourcing?

    How much do I have to spend on outsourcing (a month) for each author?

    As you said on your post, on SBB you allow your author to monetize their post. How do you arrange it? Do you build your site using wordpress right?

    Do you outsource for all your site?

    Thank you

    • The blog I write for is outsourcing most of their writing and I asked what their model is. They used getafreelancer.com to find writers able to work at $1-$2/post. So with four writers at a combined $6/day (four posts), they are looking at $180/week. Plus $15/day of Typepad fees and they come in just under $200/month. The pillar articles are done by the founder.

    • I think Chris covered some good data.

      I don’t outsource any writing at the moment. I just write to my blog and email list and create products for my customers. However if I was to maintain any other blogs I would outsource content production as I did with SBB, although I’d prefer to find volunteers looking for exposure, which would mean I would have to have a site with some exposure already.

  • Really great post, thank you.

  • best post .

    Thanks
    Misbah Mumtaz

  • What a creative idea for outsourcing! I enjoyed this article. The synergy between a group of people can far exceed the energy one can muster alone.

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