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.
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.
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.
 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 ;)