9to5Mac has been one of the most influential websites on the internet since 2007, consistently breaking exclusive news about one of the biggest companies in the world — Apple.
But Seth Weintraub, the 40-year-old founder, publisher, and editorial director of 9to5Mac, didn’t have any prior experience in owning a media company. So when it came time to hire writers, he needed to figure out how to pay them fairly, based on his advertising setup with Google AdSense.
“I thought, ‘Just give them an ad,'” Weintraub tells us.
According to Weintraub, every 9to5Mac writer has their own AdSense ads on their posts. Some get more or less ads — senior writer and editor Mark Gurman, for example, contributes more than the average reporter, so he gets an extra ad on the homepage.
Weintraub believes this is the “fairest way to pay a writer.”
“I’m honestly surprised more people don’t do it, because it actually takes away a lot of the complexity, because if people say ‘I’m not making enough money,’ I’m like, ‘Write more stories, get more page views.'”
9to5Mac’s staffers can make a lot of money. Gurman, for example, has “never had a sub-$US10,000 month,” Weintraub says. In September, four writers made over $US10,000, while another one made over $US20,000. He also told us some members of his staff make “over six figures.”
Weintraub applies this same pay model to his two other “9to5” properties, including 9to5Google, a blog dedicated to Google news, and 9to5Toys, which highlights popular deals for gadgets, technologies, and more. The two latter sites are newer, but all three sites, which are only staffed by 20 total people, attract more than a million visitors a day.
As for those in the editorial department that don’t nearly write as often — 9to5Mac’s copy editors fall into this category, for example — they won’t get ads, but they’re paid in cash.
“They write their own stories sometimes, and they get ads like everybody else,” Weintraub says. “And that for them is huge, because the site is not a hockey stick, but it’s pretty healthy.”