I think we’re experiencing a golden age of movies. There’s so much good stuff coming out. And I’m not just referring to superhero movies and summer blockbusters. It isn’t hard to find good, quality entertainment for a wide variety of preferences. Even long-dormant franchises are making a comeback.
If it’s a golden age for movies, it’s also a golden age for… sharing opinions about those movies. Just check your social media feed whenever a big movie starts screening. People go nuts trying to dissect the movie and share opinions about every aspect of it, from the production to the actor’s bad accents.
I’m actually guilty of doing this. (What can I say? I’m pretty opinionated) Someone tried to shut me up by saying I should get off social media and become a professional movie reviewer. And you know what? I actually took that person’s advice! I did it on a lark, but surprisingly, being a movie reviewer actually pays well! I’m sure my earnings are nowhere close to what someone like Roger Ebert made, but they were enough supplement my income.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves sharing opinions about movies. If you’re one of those people, you might want to try becoming a professional movie reviewer. You get paid to watch movies and share your opinions about them — what’s not to love?
If you want to give this a try, I’m providing four general methods for earning from your work. I gave all these a try (and then settled on one), which means I can help you make an informed decision about which method to pursue.
But before we start, I’d like to emphasize the word “earn.” Anyone can start a blog and start uploading reviews. But they may not necessarily get paid for it. My goal is to teach you how to get paid for your work.
You ready? Let’s go!
1. Start Writing Movie Reviews in Revenue Sharing Sites
This is the best place to start if you’re still building your portfolio of reviews. Revenue sharing sites are just that: sites that share revenue. You post your works on the site, and you get paid a monthly royalty based on the number of page views your work generates.
I’ve tried quite a few of these sites - there are a lot of legit ones - but I highly recommend HubPages. The site, which used to be known as Squidoo, has a thriving community of content creators. Yes, there are a lot of writers competing for attention, but the site also has a lot of readers. I think that’s a net advantage.
HubPages gives you a cut of advertising revenue. It may sound swanky, but it’s not that big. But considering that you’re only starting out, small money is better than none. Hopefully, you can get the ball rolling and move on to the next method.
2. Start your own movie review blog
Once you’ve built your reviewing skills through those revenue sites, it might be time to start your own blog!
The benefit of this is that you’ll have more freedom to write whatever you want. (With revenue sharing sites, you will have to work according to their terms of usage) Plus, you won’t have to compete with other writers on the site who are reviewing the same movies.
The downside to this is you will now be competing with the entire internet! You will also be in charge of designing your blog and promoting it. You will also have to monitor your own website traffic and tweak your content strategy accordingly. You’ll definitely need a strong DIY (Do It Yourself) ethic to go at it on your own.
That said, I started building an audience through my own blog. There was only so much exposure I could get on revenue sites. I strongly suggest you give this a try. Here are a few tips on how to start and monetize your blog:
I suggest starting out on a free blogging platform, specifically WordPress. The platform has lots of nice-looking themes you can use. Just because these themes are “free” doesn’t mean their not good. Even when my blog started making money, I stuck with my free theme. Not because I was cheap, but because the theme was awesome, and my readers kind of associated me with it.
Starting a WordPress blog is super-easy. If you know how to use MS Word and Facebook, you’ll be able to create a cool-looking blog on WordPress in about 15 minutes. I’m not exaggerating. That’s how user-friendly WordPress is.
Monetizing Your Blog
Now that you’ve got your blog up, it’s time to monetize it. Here are two ways to do that:
This is basically an affiliate link program. You add the shopping links to your site, and you earn a commission whenever the item is sold. In effect, this turns your site into an advertising platform.
You can also integrate the links to your reviews. For example, if you’re reviewing a famous director’s most recent movie, you can add affiliate links to the rest of the director’s filmography. This way, you monetize your content without actually disrupting it.
CJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction)
This is another affiliate program you can try out. They have lots of products and advertisers. There were times I used them over Amazon , and earned a good deal of money.
3. Become a freelance movie critic
This is the last item on my list, but it’s the one with the most prestige. When you’ve built your name and following through the first two methods, you can start writing reviews for the larger online publications. (Or even the smaller ones… those sites still pay pretty well.)
How do you get this job? Well, if you’ve already built a sizable audience, chances are those publications will go to you. If not, you can always pitch to the editor. I suggest looking for the editor’s name in the website masthead, and sending your proposals directly. I also suggest getting a feel for what the publication likes to publish. Your Italian arthouse film reviews may not be of interest to a website that publishes popcorn movies. So target the appropriate website.
After years of writing in revenue sharing sites, I eventually got an email from the editor of a major pop culture website. They liked my reviews, particularly the ones I wrote for cheesy horror movies from the 1970s and 80s. They commissioned me to write a weekly column about whatever movie caught my fancy.
The pay will be great, although not enough for you to quit your day job. But this job is prestigious because it opens you up to a wider audience and puts your name out there. And having that exposure could open up more opportunities, like book deals, speaking engagements, and even TV.
If you’re in it for the long-haul, I suggest paying your dues in smaller blogs, then try going for the largest sites. It’ll take a lot of work, but in the end, it’ll be worth it.
The Verdict: Legit or Scam?
All the methods and websites listed here are legit! I’ve tried all of them, and managed to build a career reviewing movies. You need to put a lot of time and work into it, but when you do, you can only go up!
This review is based on my own experiences working as a movie reviewer. How about you? Do you write reviews for money? Where do you publish them, and how much have you earned?
Let’s hear your stories!