The ROI of Blogging for B2B, B2C, NFP and Solopreneurs
Blogging well takes time, effort and skill to keep up with the latest trends and news, craft strong blog posts, promote your blog articles and engage in the conversation related to your posts. Therefore many bloggers think “What’s in it for me?” (aka WIIFM.)
Whether you’re blogging for yourself, you’re a solopreneur or you’re writing for a business (B2B, B2C or NFP (Not-For-Profit)), you want to see measurable results from your efforts.
As a blogger there are a variety of ways to measure your blog’s results. (Here are sixty-five blog metrics organized by category.) The most critical element for tracking your blog’s success is knowing your blog’s goals. If you don’t know what you want to accomplish by blogging, it’s difficult to develop a strategy to achieve your objectives.
Blogging ROI stands for Return-on-investment from blogging. Since it can be difficult to measure your blog’s results as well as the value of your investment, here’s help.
Revenues or sales can be difficult for many bloggers and/or businesses to track. Here are three different categories of revenue you can tap into with your blog.
1. Direct revenues
This translates directly to Money! There are several ways to generate direct revenue from your blog (Of course, it’s useful to include a trackable call-to-action):
- Advertising. This is a traditional way media entities earn money by showing ads to readers in blog posts or emailings.
- Affiliate sales. These are revenues you get by referring customers to other businesses.
- Own products. This includes selling physical products and content products. Many bloggers create books and other information products. For example, retailers discuss how to use their products and include links to specific product pages. Marcus Sheridan built his pool business during the economic downturn this way.
- Sponsorships. Another organization pays you up-front to display their message and/or logo.
- Donations. Just ask your readers for their contributions to support your continued good work.
2. Less direct revenue forms
Often used by solopreneurs, these methods can be important to other types of businesses. These options yield measurable revenues.
- Consulting assignments. This works for solopreneurs and consulting, marketing, PR and advertising agencies. Prospective clients contact you to help them with their business issues either because they read your blog or found a blog post via search (see below). For example, Joe Pulizzi started Content Marketing Institute (CMI) with his Junta42 blog (which has become CMI’s blog.)
- Speaking engagements. Bloggers gets these opportunities when event managers are regular readers of their blog. These engagements are easily tracked when you have a special form on your About page or Speaking tab. Also, they may specifically mention your blog when the conference manager reaches out to you. Even without fees, speaking engagements are important for businesses and solopreneurs since they provide broader exposure and establish you as an authority in your field. Further, your blog can get additional promotion in the event’s collateral such as the event website, emailings and printed catalog. So ensure your blog’s URL is incorporated in your bio. (BTW – I met Connie Benson when we both spoke at the Dialogkonferansen conference in Sweden in 2011.)
- New positions. This works for individuals and solopreneurs looking to get a new employment position. Your blog provides recognition and proof you’re an expert in your field. Community organizer Connie Benson mentioned this. Measure the blog’s benefit in terms of the number of job offers, your salary increase, your title improvement, time to get a new job, or ability to get a job in a new field.
3. Indirect blog revenue formats
These options support your personal goals or enhance your business without being able to assign direct revenues. Often they support your business with negative costs (aka saving expenses). If you must show value for your blogging efforts, use the cost to pay for equivalent social media, marketing, advertising and/or PR expense. (In other words, how much extra would you need to spend for the benefit your blog yields.)
- Establishes your expertise. By regularly providing quality content, your audience gets to know you and considers you an authority. This works for all types of businesses. For example, this blog was just short listed for Social Media Examiner’s Top Social Media Blogs of 2013. (Big round of thanks to our readers!)
- Builds your email house file. While it’s not sexy to discuss email, having a blog provides a great mechanism for building your email list. At every blogging and affiliate event, this is at the top of mega-bloggers’ list.
- Feeds social media. Blogs provide content on a regular basis that gets shared on various social media platforms. Further, this provides social proof for prospective buyers and readers and extends your audience.
- Supports your content marketing efforts. Over 90% of businesses use content marketing. Blogs should be at the heart of your content marketing strategy. (BTW—I’m speaking on blogging and content marketing at Social Media Examiner’s Content Success Summit. Please join me!)
- Aids your business ranking on search results. Blogs support search optimization in a variety of ways. (Here’s how fifteen experts say blogging helps search optimization.) For most businesses, blogs help them rank higher for targeted keywords. To prove the improvement, show a search for specific terms before and after blogging. It takes time for the search implications to kick in. (Here’s Mack Collier’s example.)
- Serves as a sounding board for writing a book. Several bloggers use their blog posts as the basis for writing a book or ebook. This also helps build an audience interested in buying the finished version. Even though readers may have read articles included in the finished product, they appreciate the value of the added organization and content. For example, my friend Lee Odden wrote blog posts about areas he needed to explore for his book, Optimize.
- Provides a forum for engaging with readers and the public. The comment section enables all types of bloggers to interact with their readers. This is one of the reasons blogging is a form of social media. That said, from a business perspective, comments shouldn’t be used as the measure of your blog’s success since only a small proportion of readers actually comment.
This is the cost of creating, publishing and marketing your blog posts. Investment costs fall into several categories. To get the fully loaded cost you must add all of the costs you use. Before you jump to the conclusion that you don’t have any costs because your employees are creating your content for free, consider their hourly rate times the number of hours they worked. (BTW—If you discover that these blogging costs are high, here are thirty-three ways to get help for your blog without breaking the bank.)
- Blog post creation. This is bloggers’ time to craft the blog posts.
- Copyediting. This is the expense for checking that the blog post is grammatically correct and in line with your blog voice.
- Creative or graphics. This is the cost of developing your branding and images as well as any related image fees.
- Technology. This is the cost for your webmaster or developer to create your blog and to keep it updated. These fees may only occur a few times a year.
- Other blog costs. Include fees for your URL, webhosting, widgets, other software, email and analytics.
To calculate your blog’s ROI, take the revenue your blog generated in terms of the amount of direct revenue, indirect revenue or the value of the positioning and/or savings then divide it by the fully loaded amount of expenses.
BLOGGING ROI = [Total revenues (or savings) attributed to blogging] / [Fully loaded cost of blogging]
- Total revenues (or savings) attributed to blogging = Sum of all revenues and savings.
- Fully loaded cost of blogging = Sum of all costs. (Remember you need to annualize the cost of blogging, etc.)
Blogging has an ROI for both bloggers and their businesses (solopreneur, B2B, B2C and NFP). Even better, blogging continues to yield a benefit after you stop blogging regularly (as Mack Collier and Connie Benson mention). The challenge for most businesses is it takes time to see measurable results. As a result, they often stop before the long term benefits kick in.
How do you measure your blogging ROI and what’s your experience been?
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