Determining Return On Investment With Your Blog

by Derick Schaefer on December 13, 2009

blog return on investment
This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Business Mindset

If you’ve read our post on domains and hosting, you know that a domain name and decent hosting cost under $100 per year.  Upon reading the title of this post you are probably asking, “Why are we having this conversation?”.  The answer is found in the age old saying of “time is money” and blogs take a lot of time.

One of the biggest benefits of having a business mindset at the on-set of your blogging adventure is to help you convert the time suck that a blog can be into something rewarding.  If you like to blog, that reward should be something that buys you more time and allows you to blog more often.  I’m going to encourage you to evaluate a return on investment (ROI) based of one of three things a blog can do for you or your business:  improve you or your company’s brand, provide cost savings, and make money.  If these three categories do not work for you, leave a comment as the more scenarios the better.

Blogs and Your Brand

Web 1.0 improperly trained all of us to think about our website and our home page.   The fact is, however, that 92% of daily internet users are using a search engine to find something.  Of the 250M estimated daily searches on the Internet, 25-50M of them are for proper nouns.  In discussing the importance of search engines and online brand, How-To-Blog.TV author Matt brilliantly stated, “Google is your new home page!”

Blogs provide both  individuals and companies a platform for building Internet presence.  Whether you or your company chooses to author on someone else’s blog or start your own, the information and dialog on the blog will serve your brand.  Where Web 1.0 encouraged us to build bullet pointed websites that talked about how great we are, Web 2.0 requires us to prove our worth by adding value.

To exemplify the importance of blogging and building an online brand, I will use CorporateComplianceInsights.Com, a blog Jerod manages, as an example.  Jim Nortz is the compliance director for Bausch and Lomb.  If you Google “Jim Nortz” the first hit is the following:

cci-serp

What do these results tell you?  Are they more powerful than a Linked-In entry and a Facebook page?  My answer to the question is YES!  Jim Nortz has written several articles or posts for Corporate Compliance Insights (CCI) that demonstrate his knowledge of compliance and commitment to the profession.  His association with CCI in Google’s search results help his brand and the quality articles on CCI serve as proof of his expertise in the industry.

Though there are more benefits to blogging than just brand, this could the aspect of your blog that simply makes the ROI model work.

Stop Repeating Your Self and Save Some Money

Blogs can save you and your company money.  To make my point, I’ll use the legal industry as an example.  Most consumer focused attorneys provide a free consult to prospective customers.  In the legal services profession financial success is ultimately based on a billable hour.  Thus, free consultations have a hard cost to them as they use an hour in the day that could have been billable.  If you were to ask a divorce attorney or a bankruptcy attorney, 95% of the information they provide in a consult is repetitive.  Furthermore, the information they provide is just enough to leave a prospective client asking questions; questions that they’ll have to answer before they write that retainer check.  [Blog enters stage left]

My attempt at theatrical comedy aside, a blog is a great communications tool for providing prospective clients with the information they need to get up to speed.  Furthermore, demonstrating knowledge and expertise allows you to build credibility with a prospective client before they walk in the door.  If a prospective client sees you for a free consultation already having a base set of knowledge acquired from your blog, your free consult has transformed from being an exchange of you talking “at” them with repetitive information to one where you can listen and provide consultative insight to their specific situation.  Not only does this save you both time and money but it helps you to expedite your sales cycle.  Though this example is based on a pre-sales scenario, it could very well have been a post sales support scenario where you or your company spend margin decreasing time answering repetitive questions that your customers have.

When evaluating your blogging efforts based on cost savings, set a baseline based on your time cost and what you estimate you are spending in providing repetitive information.  Then, look for specific data points after you have established your base blog such as increased customer satisfaction, time savings, and shortened sales cycles.  When Jerod, Hannah, Matt, and I decided to put an extensive effort into How-To-Blog.TV, time savings and customer satisfaction at Orangecast were our primary drivers for return on investment.

Make Money

I always try and caution that making money on a blog is hard and that you shouldn’t expect to quit your day time job.  With that said, it can be done.  I will have several series dedicated to this topic on How-To-Blog.TV.  For now I’ll simply summarize that the monetization of a blog can come from sponsorships, impression based advertising, affiliate marketing, or simply drawing more customers into your own traditional or online business through search engines.  The key to determining ROI when looking to a blog to generate revenue is to be very honest into the time cost involved with creating and maintaining the blog.

Exercise:  Throw $10,000 At Your Blog

Before starting your blog, open a spread sheet and invest a pretend $10,000 into your blog.   Once you subtract $10 for a domain name, $70 for yearly hosting, and $100 for a professional WordPress theme, you will be left with $9,820.  Pay yourself $25 per hour and track your time accurately.  If you are a professional, use your actual billable rate.  By the time the spreadsheet has $2,000 left on it, you should ask yourself if you have revenue, cost savings, or brand impacted revenue that is starting to offset the $25 per hour spend.  If the answer is NO, it is time to re-adjust your time investment as your marketing and online efforts might be spent in another way.  The best thing is that the $10,000 that I asked you to invest was pure monopoly money as it was mostly your time.  But, the string of zeros and watching the number diminish kept you in a business mindset throughout your blogging venture!

Summary

Determining Return on Investment is an important part of having a business mindset with your blog.  If your blog is pure hobby or a stress reliever, return on investment will obviously be less important to you.

Series Navigation«Blog Ownership: Start With A Business MindsetBlogs: A Few Legal Thoughts»

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