I’ve been blogging now and then for AOL’s WalletPop and finding it fun and even reasonably lucrative.
As a long-time journalist, when I first started blogging, I found it difficult to inject opinion and personality into these short pieces. While I spent years writing editorials for small newspapers, which is similar work, even those don’t allow for much personal input. I’m still not altogether sure that this approach, which seems to be taking over all kinds of journalism, serves readers as well as the inverted pyramid, hands-off, just-the-facts, ma’am style of stories I grew up writing. But it is undoubtedly where the most freelance work can be found, so I’ve learned to do it and to like it.
AOL pays me somewhere between $50 and $100 for most blogs — less if I don’t do any kind of research at all. But I find it hard to write 500 words right off the top of my head.
If I keep the time spent on the blog, including research, to less than a couple of hours, which for an old dog like me is pretty easy to do, I make a decent hourly rate.
One of the things I like best about this kind of work is the instant gratification. I write, an AOL editor (most of the editors are also freelancers) saves me from mortifying mistakes and the piece is up and finding readers in three or four hours. If I later see an error, I can fix it myself.
AOL’s content management system offers a graphic interface that shows how many people are reading the piece over time and it sends reader comments directly to my e-mail. Sometimes that can be irritating. For instance, Saturday morning a piece I wrote about Saturday mail delivery was on the page that AOL subscribers see when they log into their accounts. While it was gratifying to think that thousands of people were reading something I’d written, the constant flow of reader reaction coming into my e-mail was distracting me from my Saturday morning coffee and surfing.
Another advantage to working with AOL is the highly visible archive of published pieces. The ease with which I can send anyone to it has led to a couple of other opportunities being offered me.
A lot of Freelance Success subscribers find this kind of blogging work to be too low paying and too demanding of mindless production of meaningless content. Even the word “content” offends some as too generic. But I think that you have to go with the flow. I’d like to have more work from publishers that want long, thoughtful narrative journalism, but not much of it comes my way these days. And I’m not holding my breath for that to change.