Remember when we used to learn stuff like that from the nature channel? On the teevee?

by • December 14, 2011 • Best ofComments (39)4438

Blogging for your business is worth it even if you get no traffic

I used to blog out of guilt. Every now and then, my investors would sternly suggest I blog more. I’d grumpily obey and then point to the flat traffic graph as clear evidence of blogging’s fruitlessness.

It was a self-fulfilling prophecy of fail.

I’ve written previously about my first month of serious blogging in terms of performance & initial thoughts. A couple months on, I now see a clear ROI — even if you have no traffic.

My process

Posting used to take me 4 hours. Now it takes about 20 minutes. You’ll get faster. My process is:

  • Capture every idea
  • Don’t wait for good ideas – shipping regularly creates quality
  • Don’t obsess — publish posts on the 2nd draft
  • Watch realtime analytics and heavily polish only the posts which start to take off

Blogging makes money, sort of, eventually

The advertising value of blogging is essentially nil. I put an ad on my site and it just about covers my coffee budget[1].

If you have a product, blogging is an awesome source of leads — but that depends on traffic. Some niches are able to tap into sites like reddit or hacker news to get a nice initial traffic bump, while others just need to slog through it for a couple years, building an audience the slow way.

Leads are going to be the winner in terms of financial ROI eventually, but it can take so long to get to a reasonable quantity that it’s easy to get discouraged.

That’s why I want to draw some attention to the two other big perks which are traffic-independent.

Blogging makes you better at your job

I’m a better writer now than I was three months ago. Turns out, a lot of business is writing.

I’m also a much better marketer. And I don’t mean that in the sleazy sense. Marketing comes in many forms, and if you aren’t doing direct sales, then you’re relying on marketing. It covers everything from crafting & distributing a message to understanding analytics, setting up good funnels, running tests, and doing optimisations.

I’ve learned where the stuff I care about overlaps with the stuff other people care about. Every blog post is a chance to test the appeal of a worldview or a value proposition.

Blogs are a better learning environment than a real business because you aren’t constrained by the product roadmap — you just write something and have a whole new batch of visitors and data to play with.

Blogging closes deals

Blogging is planting a flag. You’re saying you exist, and you care enough to form and share your thoughts, even if nobody is listening. Soon, the right people start noticing and coming to you — no hustle required. Your traffic graph isn’t going to spike or hockey-stick, and that doesn’t matter one bit if you’re talking to the right people.

I get occasional emails from founders, which is fun and has led to some cool collaboration opportunities.

Plus, quality people will often check your email domain before meeting with you. If they see an active blog with good content, they’re going to go into the meeting considerably more eager to work with you.

I had a watershed moment when I was about to begin pitching someone on how great I was only to be cut off with something like, “No no, it’s cool, I read your blog.”

 $500 an hour

I once overheard someone say that blogging is so important, you should value it at $500/hour (as in, if someone paid you $450 to skip your blogpost for the day, you would politely decline and get to writing).

I’m not sure I would quantify it quite like that, but I definitely consider it a crucial part of my day and think it’s worth the time investment for just about every new business.

I can’t think of a quicker way to bootstrap your credibility and make opportunities appear.


[1] The guys who are making a living directly from blogging have 50k+ subscribers and give advice which involves buying lots of things via affiliate links. They also tend to talk about how to make money through blogging, which I realise is a line I’m dangerously close to walking here ;)

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39 Responses to Blogging for your business is worth it even if you get no traffic

  1. Great post. My business partner and I at have talked about the need to blog more consistently for years. I really like the points you make here because they bring some practicality to investing time into it. Entrepreneurs usually have at least 10 things they need to do yesterday, so it’s easy for the “non-revenue-generating” activities (like blogging) to get the ax.

    I’m feeling encouraged. :)

    • robfitz says:

      Yeah, it’s discouraging when the traffic is low until you realise that you can get legitimate value in the short term even without them. Makes it a lot easier to dig in and keep producing content for the long haul.

  2. Joe H says:

    I love posts like this. Just went and set up my own subdomain for a blog for Aeir Talk. Great reminder and reason to keep on writing about what you are doing. Rob, you are the man

  3. Bojan says:

    Thank you Rob for the post. It definitely validates and reinforces many of the thoughts I had on this subject. For me I just started blogging and yes I don’t have that much traffic or a real product to sell (although I do have an email list). The important part for me is to get my name out there, get better at writing and hopefully in the process of writing constantly I can find my niche or true calling. Great article this is definitely a blog I like to check every day!

    • robfitz says:

      Hey Bojan, glad it was useful — thanks for letting me know. Looks like there’s some great stuff on your blog. I look forward to seeing one of your posts top out on hacker news in the near future ;)

  4. Chad Tabary says:

    DEFINITELY improves writing! That’s probably overlooked reason number 1 I encourage people to blog/write. It also captures ideas, like you said earlier. I too publish on revision 2 (more like revision 4, but I definitely believe in publishing, then polishing.).

    If you want to really up the blog gems, drop your Facebook account. I found that micro-blogging was sapping a big chunk of my creativity. I would just drop a quick note in the ole FB and that thought seed would never grow into a lasting tree.

    Thanks for blogging ;) I subscribed via Twitter. Please post them there.

    • robfitz says:

      Hey Chad, sorry for the delay getting back to you. Just wanted to say that’s an awesome point about facebook/twitter eating ideas in their infancy. Happy holidays!

  5. [...] Fitzpatrick at the startup toolkit tell us that blogging for your business is worth it even if you get no traffic. He says that [...]

  6. Max says:

    Helps with SEO as well! There are plenty of hidden benefits from blogging :) I need to start making time for it…

  7. When I began blogging, I realized its value in helping me think in a more organized way. Initially, there was a certain anxiety to please potential visitors; and there were none. Inevitably, what I wrote then were not very coherent. Over a period, though, I grew comfortable with the idea of writing for myself first. Presently, I began having visitors. The affectation of value gone, my blog began slowly becoming useful to at least a handful of visitors. Today, there are a few who recognize me by my blog. Financial ROI – no, not yet. But, I agree with your line of argument.

    • robfitz says:

      The personal comfort with writing and publishing is hard to imagine until you’ve been through it a bit. Thanks for sharing your experiences with it.

  8. rishi says:

    Do you have a content calendar? or do you just write whenever?

    • robfitz says:

      Everyday unless I particularly need a break (I took a week off before christmas). I dont think daily is necessary, it’s just what I like.

  9. James Yu says:

    I’m a big believer in evergreen content. To that end, every blog post has a chance of teaching lots of people over a long span of time. Measurement, as you said, is key, but so is patience. Quality posts over time will blossom interest from a future audience in unexpected ways.

    • robfitz says:

      I haven’t seen any real value from search yet, but I’ve only been writing in earnest for about 3 months. It’s one of the things I’m really looking forward to seeing unfold over the next year or two…

  10. The fact mentioned is realized at a certain level of experience and maturity and you should be patience enough to wait for the right time and in the meantime delivering the best and maintaining a rhythm

    • robfitz says:

      Rhythm definitely helps. I try to post daily unless there’s an awfully good reason not to ;). It’s made a world of difference for posting to be my default instead of my exception.

  11. Great post.

    I have found that blogging actually helps me cement which ideas are most important to my business. It really helps remind me why I am doing this and where I need to focus my time.

    • robfitz says:

      Hey Scott, thanks. I’ve found the same… As I continue to write, I’m building up a larger and larger set of concepts which I’ve thought deeply about, to some extent at least. I find those topics acting as anchors in conversations and strategic choices. Happy new year!

  12. This is well done and I think you are exactly right. In a day where there is little chance of getting a bank loan to start up or expand and venture capital in highly selective, one has to find other ways to expand their business and get their name out there. Trouble is that either you can write or you can’t. The latter group either needs to some serious help along the way or to just farm it out. I am not of the opinion of that everyone can blog.

    • robfitz says:

      Gary Vaynerchuk said in his book that the reason he started a video blog was because he’s such a bad writer, and would have been miserable for 10 hours a day just trying to write a post. So he watched blogging pass him by with a bit of regret until video became a solid option.

      You may be right that text isn’t for everyone, but I do think there’s a relevant means of useful expression & value creation, even if it’s as simple as thoughtful link or media curation.

  13. MadamTidy says:

    Thank you, Rob. I have been in the dumps because of low traffic to my blog lately and forgot the reason I blog in the first place. I love it! I blog professionally and have a personal blog and I’d become consumed with the number of hits after each post. Your post has brought me back to my original motivation – to write for the love of it. Many Thanks!!

    • robfitz says:

      Hello Madam ;). Your site looks great! Really happy to hear this post resonated for you. Keep it up & let me know if I can be helpful somehow. Happy new year!

  14. While it is hard to remember… the turtle won the race!! When you see analytic numbers explode for a day or two your adrenaline rushes and sends you into ‘hare’ mode… creating disappointment when normalcy sets in. Every day I need to remind myself that we are in the middle of a process and solid sustainable growth takes time. Blogging is a way to help us feel that we are contributing every day to something sustainable (at least for me)!

  15. Harrison says:

    Hi Rob, just happened across this post randomly through Twitter, and glad I did. Validated what I believed in terms of improving my writing skills through practice and being able to connect with others for mutual opportunities. Thanks for that boost in confidence & motivation! Happy New Years to you!

    • robfitz says:

      Hey Harrison, glad you bumped into it and thanks for letting me know it was helpful. Happy new year & hope to see you here again!

  16. [...] “Blogging for your business is worth it even if you get no traffic” is a glimpse into what he shared with us. Add lots of pacing back and forth and waving of [...]

  17. [...] I read a marketing guru recently who said that you should value a blog post at $500. Every blog post you have is worth $500 in what you might spend otherwise on advertising or [...]

  18. guga says:

    Hey Rob! Happy chinese new year =) I’ve been trying to blog for sometime now, but it takes me soooo much effort, it feels like it is agains’t my nature, but this is really a great post. Gonna keep trying!

  19. Lillian says:

    This is a great post! Blogging is certainly a valuable resource for businesses, but it can be hard to find time, and sometimes it makes more sense to allow writers to handle the blog content.

    Blogmutt ( is a blog writing service for companies with a need for a blog, but no time to keep it up. Blogmutt uses a crowd of writers to create original posts.

  20. Cadye Serifu says:

    I have observed in the world of today, video games will be the latest phenomenon with kids of all ages. Occasionally it may be not possible to drag your kids away from the activities. If you want the best of both worlds, there are plenty of educational video games for kids. Thanks for your post.

  21. Rocio says:

    Would you say this is true even for a business to business? Or is blogging more for B2C?

  22. Robert says:

    I would say that $450 an hour is a bit exaggerated in my opinion, for blogging.

  23. [...] Blogging For Your Business Is Worth It, Even If You Get No Traffic Is Blogging Worth It? Even If No One Is Reading It [...]

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  26. Thank you so much for this post! I am a couples therapist in private practice and started blogging to boost my seo. It’s an awful lot of work to then go to analytics and see my very low numbers. But to be honest I was looking for inspiration to keep writing when I googled “is blogging worth it” and you gave me exactly what I was asking for. If one couple finds my site and sees all the articles I’ve written they will know how passionate I am about my work.

    Many thanks! Laura