Are We Misunderstanding the Purpose of a Business Blog?

by Mack Collier

Shopping

Earlier this week, Gini had an interesting post on her efforts to drive revenue from her site SpinSucks.com:

We batted around some ideas. Should we sell content? Should we create a subscription-based professional development site? Should we host paid webinars?

The answer to all of those questions was yes and we embarked on trying to generate revenue from each of them.

We created eBooks and sold them for $9.99. We built monthly webinars and charged $50 to attend. We even developed a professional development site calledSpin Sucks Pro that cost $50 per month to join.

It all flopped.

 

I sympathized with Gini’s post because I’ve had the same success in trying to sell digital products and services here.  In fact most of the companies I talk to show little to no direct revenue as a result of their blogging.

So then why the hell are we doing this?

Blogging and social media have never been the best ways to directly sell to others.  Sure some people and companies can make it work, but some people can sell ice to Eskimos.  For most of us, it’s a struggle to use channels that most people view as personal communication channels, and sell stuff via these channels.

The mistake typically happens when we view blogging strictly through the ‘how can this make us money?’ lense.

What about considering the amount of money that blogging can save you?  Blogs are a great way for a business to draw exposure to itself and that exposure is a marketing cost savings.  Or what about using your blog as a tool to provide customer service?  Every call to customer service that’s avoided because someone read your post and solved the problem themselves is a customer service cost savings.

Here’s another example:  Six years ago I wrote a blog post critiquing Dell’s company blog. As a result of that post, I got to know several of the first member’s of Dell’s social media team.  That led to:

  • My speaking at South By SouthWest in 2008 (which by itself led to a ton of other opportunities)
  • Multiple projects with Dell
  • Meeting Michael Dell
  • Getting to know probably 20 or so key members of Dell’s social media team.  Some of those people have moved on to major brands such as Adobe, Citi, Wal-Mart and Perdue.

But I had no idea any of that would happen when I wrote the post.  In fact while most of my efforts to directly monetize this blog have failed, most of the money I’ve made over the last 8 years, in fact probably all of it, has happened indirectly because of this blog.

So instead of focusing on how you can directly monetize your blog, think about how you can directly create value for your readers.  Then once you create that value, the money will follow.

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