When you write for someone else’s blog, you can be paid a flat fee or you can be paid based on your traffic. Many blog networks pay in a combination, guaranteeing you $X per post plus bonuses based on traffic or ad revenue.

If you’re new to blogging or freelance writing in general, understanding traffic-based blog pay is tough. Hopefully, I can answer your questions on this topic, but I know it is tres confusing, so please leave a comment if you’re still unclear about something!

Traffic Pay versus Sales Pay

For now, let’s forget the flat-fee model. When you’re paid based on how well your blog posts are doing on a site or as part of a network, you can either be paid based on traffic or based on the actual revenue your writing brings in.

I want to cation you against taking jobs based on actual revenue because it gets really tricky to calculate. Will you be paid based on the revenue just from Google Ads or in-text ads? What if your client sells affiliate products via your site? What if he/she makes advertising deals? Signing up to be paid based on revenue essentially makes you a partner in the site, yet you don’t have control over any of the decisions made about the site, nor is there a transparent way to see the ad revenue you’re bringing in. The client might say that an advertiser paid $100 for that banner ad for the week, but in actuality, they might have paid $500 and your client is pocketing the rest of your share.

In short, it’s just a bad business plan to work this way unless you actually legitimately want to partner with someone you trust to build a site.

I’m not a huge fan of payment based on traffic either, but it makes a lot more business sense. It encourages you to participate in social networking and rewards you for especially interesting pieces you post on the blog. You’ll naturally take more ownership of your work when you’re paid based on traffic, which is why most blog networks offer traffic bonuses along with a flat fee.


All the CP-whatevers in blogging make this whole shindig even more confusing. Sometimes, blog contracts are written entirely in acronyms, it seems. Bloody hell. Some quick definitions:

  • CPM: Cost Per Mille
  • CPC: Cost Per Click
  • CPA: Cost Per Action

Unless you’re starting your own professional blog, only CPM is relevant for you right now. Mille is Latin for Thousand, and why CPM is used instead of CPT, I’ll never know. I guess to drive me insane and make bloggers everywhere more confused. Anyway, this is the amount you’ll get paid for every 1000 visitors to something you’ve written.

Just an FYI: CPC and CPA are terms more directly associated with advertising. When you buy an ad on someone’s site, you can pay with a CPM model (how many people actually view your ad), a CPC model (how many people actually click on your ad), or a CPA model (how many people actually take action - which usually means buy something from the ad, so this functions as an affiliate program).

Again, though, if you’re paid based on traffic, only CPM is relevant to you.

Overall versus Unique

Read your contract. Sometimes it is a CPM based on overall pageviews. Sometimes it is a CPM based on unique pageviews, and that means your paycheck will be considerably lower.

Let’s say that your CPM is $10, which means, when you do the math, that ever time someone views your website, you earn a penny. If you’re paid on overall pageviews and someone clicks around on your site to read a bunch of different articles, you’ll earn a penny for every new page they load.

If you’re paid on unique pageviews, however, you’ll only receive one penny for that person’s visit, regardless on how many pages on your site they visit. So you can see how this model definitely isn’t as lucrative - unless, of course, the offered CPM is much higher.


If you’re going to get paid based on a CPM model, you need to have access to the stats that will be used to calculate your payments. Otherwise you fall back into the trap of not knowing whether or not your client is telling the truth.

The stats are also important so you can boost your overall traffic and earn more money. Check out what search terms are bringing people to your website. What social bookmarking measures that you’ve taken are driving traffic? You can look at the stats to see where your traffic is coming from. Are there any spikes in traffic, and if so, what caused them? Replicate those spikes if you can.

Long-Term Blogging

Payment based on traffic makes the most sense if you’re making a long-term commitment to a website. As you blog, the number of posts you’ve written will increase, giving you more real estate for pageviews. Of course, an article you write today is going to get more attention when you post it than it is five months down the road, but if the content is evergreen (i.e., it is relevant long-term, not news related or out of date), you’ll continue to bring in money from that piece over time.

And earning money over time is what this is all about. Let’s say that you write on a $10 CPM model and post something new that brings in 1000 viewers. You earned $10 for that post. Was it worth it - would you see that post for a flat fee of  $10? Maybe not.

But then next month 500 people view the post, so you’ve earn another $5…and after that, the article consistently gets about 200 pageviews, or $2 per month. In a year’s time, you’ve made $35 from that article. Worth it now? Stick with that blogging company for two years and you’ve now made about $60 from that article. Worth it now? Times that by the number of articles you do every year.

In short, you can see how this payment model could snowball to earn you a lot of money. Could. That doesn’t mean it will.

The biggest risk? Your client could change your contract six months from now, offering you a lower CPM or changing the payment structure. Yes, you have the choice to walk away, not accepting the new terms, but if you had determined that payout on an article only makes sense if it earns you money over the course of a year, you’re getting the short end of the stick. That article that would have been worth $60 in two years is now done earning money for you at around $20. Big difference.

Personally, I’m a fan of flat fees. I like knowing how much money I’m going to make every month. I like promoting articles that I think are extra-special, not flooding every social networking/bookmarking site with my work on a daily basis because I want the clicks. I think it means a much better relationship between clients and writers.

But yes, I do understand why the CPM model makes sense for some people. It could be much more lucrative than if you simple accept a flat fee. Is a CPM blogging job right for you? Perhaps - but make sure you totally understand how you’ll be paid before you job in to working for someone based on traffic.

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