Blogonomics: Gawker’s Payroll, Redux

You wanna know how much Gawker writers get paid? Well, let me tell you. Remember that they don’t really get salaries any more, just advances. And it’s been widely reported that bloggers on the flagship Gawker site get $7.50 per thousand pageviews. All we need to know now is how many pageviews they get, and, well, it turns out there’s a public webpage detailing that information.

In the month of February, Gawker’s most-read blogger was Richard Lawson, with 1,208,704 pageviews: he earned $9,065 for the month. Ryan Tate, in the number-two spot with 970,219 pageviews, earned $7,277. The least-read blogger was Nick Douglas, who got 267,570 pageviews. My guess is that his base salary is more than $2,007 per month, which means that he can’t be feeling very secure right now – especially since he’s bottom of the league table in March as well.

Total payroll for the month of February was $33,294, plus some extra for people whose base pay is more than their earn-out: call it $40,000 in total. Gawker received a total of 14,088,429 pageviews in February, which means that Denton is paying his writers about $2.84 per thousand pageviews that he receives.

In any case, take that $40,000 per month, and distribute it among six bloggers: that works out to an annualized $80,000 apiece, on average. Which is really not at all bad for the kind of people Gawker hires, who are often talented but unproven twentysomethings.

You can reasonably expect that the $80,000 figure is going to remain roughly constant, even if pageviews steadily increase. The pageview rate ($7.50, at Gawker) gets reset every quarter, and is calculated essentially by taking the editorial budget and dividing it by the number of eligible pageviews. So if pageviews go up, then the pageview rate goes down: you can be sure that the staff over at Gizmodo, seven of whom got over a million pageviews, and one of whom (Jesus Diaz) got 3.1 million pageviews in February, don’t get paid $7.50 per thousand.

Still, cruising around the Gawker Media stats pages (just put /stats onto the end of the domain in question) does make you realize how the Gawker-obsessed media misses much more important writers for the network as a whole. Do you know who Adam Pash is? He’s a blogger at Lifehacker; he got 5.2 million pageviews in January. Dashiell Bennett got 2.8 million pageviews at Fleshbot.

I’d assume that Pash and Diaz are making comfortable six-figure incomes blogging, and that a good few of the "site leads" (Gina Trapani, Brian Lam) are as well. Conversely, some of the less popular bloggers are likely getting paid $50-60,000 per year.

Gawker Media as a whole is holding reasonably steady on about 210 million pageviews per month. If Denton’s payroll is $3 per thousand pageviews (remember he has to pay his site leads as well, on every site other than Gawker), that would mean he’s paying about $630,000 a month in editorial salaries – which is pretty close to the number I arrived at at the end of my first post on this subject.

What are the effects of making bloggers’ pageview figures so transparent not only to themselves but also to the general public? I can’t help but feel that it must mean more competitiveness, and less helpfulness and collegiality, among bloggers on any given site. With the total editorial budget largely preset, there is a zero-sum game being played between bloggers, over time: a successful blogger’s gain will be an unsuccessful blogger’s loss. It’s certainly not an atmosphere I’d like to work in.

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