You've all seen the adverts. "Freelance writers wanted!" they scream from the pages of just about every freelance jobs site on the Internet. "Get paid to blog!"
To many people, this sounds like some kind of dream job. If you keep a blog yourself (and Google says that a few thousand of us do), then the chances are you're currently blogging for free, either because you see blogging as a good opportunity to drive traffic to your website, convert traffic that's already there into sales, or just because you feel you have something to say.
If this sounds like you, then of course you're going to jump at the opportunity to get paid for something you'd do for free. Who wouldn't? And if you're a freelance writer looking for work, you're probably going to jump at the opportunity to: you write, you make money. What could be simpler?
Well, the paid-to-blog business isn't quite that simple, unfortunately. You see, you're technically not being paid to blog. What you're doing is blogging on someone else's website, and being given a share of the Google Adsense profits your posts make in most cases, 50% goes to you, the rest to the web page publisher.
Still sound good? It may well do. After all, on the Internet, content is king. There's good money to be made from Google Adsense (the program whereby you displays Google adverts on your website and are paid every time someone clicks on them). Isn't there?
Well yes, there is. But in order to make money from blogging on an Adsense site, you're going to need to be able to do more than just write. First of all, you're going to have to be able to identify a niche to write in. This can't be just any old niche, either: it has to be one which you can churn out content on, day in, day out and content which people will want to read.
You also have to know how to drive traffic to the content you create. On the paid-to-blog sites, some of the traffic is already there: but in order to make real money from this type of writing, you'll need even more traffic than that. Where are you going to get it? What do you know about internet marketing? About driving traffic to websites? What do you know about search engine optimisation? You'll need knowledge of all of these things if you want to make money from blogging and even if you have that knowledge, you'll still need the energy and enthusiasm to blog every day.
Say you have all of that. What can you make?
Theoretically, there's no limit to what you make. There are people out there making a very nice living from blogs and adsense. There are even more people, though, who aren't making a cent. Realistically, you're much more likely to fall into that second group.
So, is blogging for money a great freelance writing opportunity?
In a word, no. Blogging networks are great places for people who'd like to make a few dollars per month doing something they'd happily do for free anyway, or for people looking for a lively blogging community to join. They're not for serious freelance writers who want to make a living wage from their writing.
Still want to make money from blogging? Find a corporate giant who needs someone to maintain their blog and is willing to pay for it. Save the paid-to-blog network for your free time.