Writers business models

Q. I want to get paid for the blog I write, what is the best way?

A. Easy! There is no best way.
Fortunately for you there are more and more models being created everyday as people try to figure out this question. As with every model there are pros and cons. I may not have gotten the model names correct - but I wanted to name them based on how I think of them and then give some information about the differences. Here are a few business models to consider.

  1. Ads/RSS sponsorships: I think this is probably the most common model you see on blogs. There are several strong ad networks you can look into if this is your choice. The problem is generally if you want to add these type of advertisements you need to have significant traffic in order to make money. Google Ads are an option but I think they clutter up your site and distract the reader from your writing.
    Membership cost: Free

  2. “Direct support” membership model: ShawnBlanc.net: Shawn is a full time writer now and he has a membership to support his work. Some may refer to this as the freemium model but I am not fond of that word and I think this is more than that. Shawn’s site is open to the public. All content on the site is free. [1] Membership gives you access to a private podcast that is created several times a week called Shawn Today. There is also an optional Members Journal email that you can sign up for.
    Membership is $3 a month.

  3. Full text RSS Model: The Loop : The loop insights model is similar. If you go to the site directly all the content is free. If you are accessing theloop via an RSS reader you will get the excerpt view but you can access the full site by clicking on the link and going to the site.

    As a member of The Loop, you will get a full text RSS feed, allowing you to read all of the stories in your favorite RSS reader. An email with the members-only feed will be sent once your payment has been made.

    Membership cost: $3 a month

  4. Newsletter Subscription: This is one of the methods Patrick Rhone uses. Patrick sends out a newsletter called Reflection. It is a combination of his thoughts, research and essays. Occasionally he will offer members giveaways or sneak peeks into what he is working on or books.
    Newsletter cost: $5 a month

  5. “Modified Paywall”: brooksreview.net: Ben’s model is the newest model I am aware of. Ben was tired of selling ads. He did not want them cluttering up the site. He created what I think could be called a “modified paywall”. Signing up to become a member allows you access to the site and get all the content in real time. The modified part is that non-members still get access to all the information but there is a seven day delay. As Ben mentions on the post that describes the changes is “I am not a news site. And since my opinions should stand the test of time, I do not need to move at the speed of light”.
    Membership cost: $4 a month

None of the models work if you don’t have a readership. Readers expect high quality writing. At this point there is no wrong model. Whichever you choose will depend on your site, your traffic and how you want to engage with your readers.

Update: I finished writing this piece and turned on the B&B podcast for my commute home and Shawn and Ben covered this in more detail.


  1. 52 Tiger has a similar setup.  ↩