On writing for Forbes.com

The Big Cheese is interviewd in The Guardian.

It all started in 2010 when Forbes threw its website open to bloggers, academics and experts from all sorts of areas relating to investing and entrepreneurship.

In total DVorkin now has 1,000 contributors – he hates the word \”bloggers\” – alongside a core staff team of 100, of whom about 50 are reporters.

And here\’s where the difference starts – not only do contributors self-publish, but they are paid according to the size of the audience they attract. He declines to reveal exact rates, but each contributor gets paid a certain number of cents for every visitor per month. There is a clear incentive for them to get repeat custom, as they get paid 20 times that amount if the same person reads another of their posts during that month.

The beauty of the arrangement for Forbes is that it encourages contributors to increase their traffic through social media and whatever other self-promotional outlets they have. In 2012 two contributors made more than $100,000, several made $75,000 and 25 made $35,000. One of the most popular individual blogs last week was a piece on the world\’s most valuable football teams, starting with Real Madrid.

Newspaper editors in the UK would be aghast at the prospect of 1,000 unedited journalists roaming freely on their websites with access to the internal editing and publishing tools

It\’s not unedited. Rather, it\’s post-publication edited. It is entirely possible to publish the wrong thing and get unceremoniously dumped (as I believe Ritchie did). And there are most certainly editorial staff who cast an eye over what has been published.

But those earnings numbers look about right. It\’s a good gig. Indeed, given what freelancers usually earn it\’s an extremely good gig.

Which leads to the fun about how I got the gig. I saw that Richard Murphy had got hired to do this. And he noted that he was going to get paid to do this. So I scratched around to find Mr. DVorkin\’s number and made a call. \”Given that you\’re hiring the UK\’s number 1 economics blogger shouldn\’t you also be thinking about hiring the UK\’s number 2 economics blogger?\”

\”Err, yes, OK then\”.

In fact, if memory serves me right, it was Arnauld telling me that Murphy was streets ahead of me because he had just been hired to write for Forbes that prompted the call. So thanks for that Arnauld. I\’m not quite one of the several so many tens of thousands of thanks in fact.

13 thoughts on “On writing for Forbes.com”

  1. Glad to be one of the repeat readers to your Forbes stuff. So easy to sign up to get alerts and comment. Some relatively intelligent commentators on there too. Should I carry on with the promotional stuff? 😉

  2. I really hope the big cheese doesn’t read this, but Forbes is one of very few publications I’d pay for. Head and shoulders above most of the rest these days.

  3. Surreptitious Evil

    I must admit that I read it less now they’ve gone to extracts on the main page and those silly “watch before you read” videos. (Yes, I know, they’ve got to pay for it somehow.)

    And you get a better class of lunatic commentator than we seem to have here.

  4. Tim

    Would you take some time to give us some contrasting ways of paying bloggers, say for example Telegraph blogs, which is where I first read you. Oh and do tell us is there a standard fee for writing with passion on Liberal Consiracy?

    Tim adds: Telegraph blogs is a flat weekly fee which ranges from nothing to perhaps London rent on a flat. Only a couple at that top end most are on beer money. Last time we spoke about it I make more at Forbes than Dellers does at Telegraph. ASI is beer money as a fee. Forbes is as above, based upon traffic. Lessee: other places. Examiner.com is traffic based. Different calculation method than Forbes but comparable. Examiner is no longer worth writing for since Google downgraded the results from the place so v. little traffic. But while the Sun shone on it good money.

    Spectator blogs, flat fee. Beer money again.

    There was one entirely barking mad company. They wanted bloggers to post ads on their sites. OK, they paid reasonably well for those ads too. “Sponsored posts” sort of stuff. They noted that I was posting lots of these ads so they made me an offer. $1,500 a month to post, erm, three ads a month. Paid that for over a year they did the silly boys.

    The real comparison though is between these sorts of gigs and traditional freelancing. A piece in the local paper might make you £70 (that’s NUJ rate for 1,000 words). The Times is £300-£500, dependent upon length. Mail is £1 a word, which is the very top end in UK papers (except for star columnists etc). Speccie and Telegraph £250 a piece I think. Express 50 p a word. The Register is comparable when you consider that there’s no space restraint. Thus you don’t have to spend the time to cut to fit (as Sam Clemens said, sorry this is so long, didn’t have time to make it shorter).

    I’ve not really worked for the technical magazines (well, I have a little bit) and they seem to pay £150-£200 per piece.

    As you can see, freelancing is just great if you’re getting four or five pieces a week into the press. Or, alternatively, if you’ve got some other real job and get a piece in a week as extra spending money. What’s very not fun at all is struggling to get one or two pieces a week in as the only income. And thus the joy of the online jobs where you’re your own boss to a great extent. An interesting income without having to convince an editor of the joys of each and every piece that you are pitching: indeed, no pitching required.

  5. Surreptitious Evil


    I think, for LC, you get paid by the number of ‘fundamentally erroneous but widely believed by the unthinking left’ memes you can incorporate per paragraph.

  6. So, those of us that mostly read the RSS should try to click through a couple times a month anyway as you get paid a lot more if we do so twice or more? Good to know-I would got there more often but the comments feature is so crappy there seems little point.

  7. So the one commenter that has financially benefited you is Arnauld! The world is truly a stranger place than I suspected. I shall read his comments with more charity in future.

  8. Surreptitious Evil

    I used to get GBP250 per article writing for Elsevier. The rate dropped to GBP190 and is now at about GBP150. This was done on a capped per word

    Usually expressed, chez nous, in ‘words per case of wine …’

  9. The name’s Arnald.

    I don’t recall the reference, but I’m pleased to be of assistance.

    I do good stand up as well.

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