Blogging for bucks?

You’ve heard that blogging is the next big business necessity, but you’re not sure it’s right for your business. Is there a way you can measure your blogging ROI (return on investment) before you start your small business blog?

It’s tempting to say, “No,” and many blog consultants have rushed to offer that as an answer without much further investigation, but I believe you can measure blogging ROI before you get started. It all boils down, like any business expense, to expenses weighed against income or increase in profits. Let us consider the benefits of a small business blog:

-Increased traffic for your website
-Unpaid exposure for your small business when a member of the press calls for a statement
-Higher search engine positioning
-Brand recognition among readers
-Immediate customer feedback
-More sales
-Decrease in marketing collateral expenses

When you calculate your blogging ROI, keep in mind that many of the variables reduce your current expenses as much as, or more than, increase your bottom line. That must be considered as a part of your overall blogging ROI.

Look at this way. If you were to spend $15,000 to $25,000 on a focus group study or market research and instead placed a poll or survey on your small business blog, receiving as many, or more, responses than you would have received in your focus group, then you can say that your small business blog helped you save that much money in company expenses. There’s an ROI, right?

So don’t fixate on how many sales you are making through your small business blog or how much profit you have earned. You have to look beyond the bottom line on your income statement and look at the big picture.

One variable that isn’t easy to measure is your search engine positioning. Your small business blog can increase your ranking in the search engines for your important keywords. If you go from Page 3 to Page 1 and realize a jump in traffic of 10,000 new eyes, that amounts to an ROI, but how do you place a dollar figure on that? It helps if you have conversion tracking on your website so that you gauge the number of those visitors who actually make a purchase. Still, some visitors may not make a purchase for six months, coming back to your website several times in the interim before making that purchase. It could require some digging to get to the truth about your blogging ROI.

But what about expenses? Some people would tell you to spend thousands to set up your small business blog, but you don’t have to spend that much. A free blog on one of the free blog hosts is – well, free. But you can also download WordPress, perhaps the best and most versatile blog software on the planet, and it is also free. Download and install WordPress on your own domain and it will cost you nothing. Purchase and host a domain specifically for your small business blog and it will cost you about $50-$75 per year. That’s the do-it-yourself version of blogging. Pay a ghostwriter to write your small business blog for you and it will cost you anywhere from $300 to $5,000 per month (I recommend the lesser amount – after all, you do want to save money and increase your ROI, don’t you?).

Some considerations you need to watch for in determining your ROI are:

-What would a pay-per-click campaign cost to get you the same amount of traffic?
-How much would advertising cost to get you the same number of calls from members of the press?
-What would you have to pay to a search engine marketing expert in order to increase your search engine positioning to the same level?
-What was the cost of your sales process prior to starting your blog?
-Did you cut paper expenses for marketing collateral after getting your blog going?

These are just a few of the considerations, but they are important. Remember this, when it comes to blogging, it isn’t so much about how much money the blog itself brings in that counts, but how much money it saves you in other areas. Almost every small business can realize a savings in marketing expenses in a matter of a few months after starting their small business blog. Your blogging ROI is determined more by what you don’t spend than by what you do.

Caroline Melberg
www.SmallBusinessMavericks.com
Back to Small Business Marketing Mavericks Blog

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