What’s The Value Of Your Blog?
This is a topic that I’ve wanted to write about ever since I read Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik but didn’t because I know how uncomfortable this sort of thing makes most MMORPG bloggers. However, after a fascinating post from Tobold and some really interesting comments, I figured what the heck.
As some of you may know, I work in the web industry and thus have a strong interest in web design, development and, especially recently, statistics, analytics and online strategy. My personal blog (this one, duh) combines the three things in life I love most (MMORPGs, writing and the web) and is a perfect outlet for me to experiment with different ideas and be creative, albeit at a very slow pace. As you may have noticed I have a couple of adverts on the site (in places I consider quite low impact, especially when compared to MMORPG.com, WoW.com or Massively) and I know some bloggers totally loathe it although I really can’t fathom why. I don’t buy into the argument that your blog needs to be plain black and white text and that if it’s not you’re somehow “selling out” and not blogging for the pure love of blogging. It’s a silly notion to me as I believe the entire blog or site conveys an experience to the user. Design, aesthetics, usability, interactivity, purpose, all of these things are important to the overarching adventure of the visitor.
However, saying that, of course absolutely, utterly and categorically content is the single most important thing about any blog, including my own. I started blogging 14 months ago with a black and white theme with no images or design and I simply couldn’t maintain this hobby without a vast love for the subject material. If I really wanted to make cash outside of my job, I’d be better off begging in the streets rather than running a blog.
Anyway, I’m starting to digress as the subject of this post was about identifying the value of your blog. Avinash breaks it down into the following:
Cost of Blogging
To calculate value, you need to work out the costs of your blog first and it’s surprisingly higher than you may think. Avinash determines this by either the technology cost and time spent or the opportunity cost.
This is the obvious and easy one and includes hosting and domain registration plus any other hardware (or software) costs you might have. Here are my costs:
Hosting ($20 per month = $240 per year) + domain registration ($10 per year) = $250 per year.
I, as I’m sure we all do, spend a lot of time on my blog. A quick sum reveals that I spend approximately 16 hours a week doing blog related activities which, if I multiple by the amount I could get if I worked those hours instead, is $352 a week or an incredible $18,304 a year!
Opportunity cost is the theoretical loss you incur whenever you do an activity i.e. what could you have accomplished with your time had you being doing something else? Avinash talks about it in more detail but, following his rules, I’m going to estimate my opportunity cost at $9,000 a year, the amount of money I could’ve made had I done something else other than blog.
Your total cost is either technology + time or the lost opportunity cost as you can’t do both at once. For the sake of my example, I’m going to disregard opportunity cost. Therefore the total cost of my blog is a whopping $18,554 a year. Please, for the love of God, no one tell my wife.
Benefit (ROI) from Blogging
Now that we’ve worked out how much my blog costs me, let’s look at how much I make from it.
Again, Avanish talks about this in more detail but essentially comparative value is how much you would make if you sold your blog on to someone else. There are sites out there that calculate this for you so I plugged my stats into the Technorati one and it told me that my blog is apparently worth an impressive $564. Not bad at all.
This is the direct money you make per year via adverts or affiliate links or any products you sell on it. The amount I make from my adverts varies but on average it’s about $30 a month or $360 a year.
This is all of the opportunities in your live that your blog has given you, whether that’s free press passes or review copies of games or books. It’s also the value of skills that your blog has taught you or the work related opportunities it’s opened up. Have you acquired a paid freelance writing job due to your blog? Are you able to apply the skills you’ve learnt blogging to another aspect of your life? Has the simple fact that you have a blog helped you get a job?
This is difficult to put a dollar value on and is really nothing more than “guesstimation”. For me, I’ve gained a couple of “freebies” (I’ve just been offered a free review copy of a book for instance) but, more importantly, I’ve learnt a ton of valuable information that has had a direct impact on my working life. Due to the things I’ve learnt about blogs, WordPress, SEO, online marketing, AdSense, AdWords etc, I’ve actually been able to help create revenue for the company I work for. I’m gonna take a wild stab and estimate all of this to be $10,000.
This, as the name suggests, is everything your blog gives you that you simply cannot quantify. It’s the nice emails you get from readers, it’s the witty and interesting comments you get on your blog, it’s the satisfaction you get from writing a good article, the fun you have from blogging in general and the pure joy you spread across the Internet. Such moments for me include when I got an email from a professor in an American college who enjoyed my article on multi-culturism or when a reader left me a comment saying that they’d laughed so hard at my article they had spat their tea all over their keyboard. Those responses filled me with such positive emotion that it makes everything I do worth while and are, in my opinion, utterly priceless. They are categorically one of the main reasons why I blog.
I don’t know if it’s possible to put a monetary figure against this value but I will tell you this: if the total ‘cost’ my blogging is $18,554 a year and the total amount I ‘earn’ back is $10,924, the unquantifiable value is, without a doubt, completely worth the $7,630 ‘loss’ I make. In fact, I would say it’s worth more by a long, long shot.
So, interesting stuff, eh?
Update: Here’s the link to the, apparently, Technorati powered site that I used to “value” my blog.
Update: I received a nice email from Avinash Kaushik himself explaining that I’d made a small mistake in calculating the cost of my blog. It’s either technology + time OR opportunity cost, not both, which makes sense. Thanks Avinash!