What’s a blog worth??

By February 11, 2009Blogging

Anyone who writes a blog or (I would guess) reads a blog like this one wonders occasionally what the monetisation potential is.  Annecdotally I have known for a while that the answer is ‘not very much’, and that has certainly been my experience.  Last year I earnt what turns out to be the average for blogs that adverstise – £150 (which I gave to charity).

Webpronews has some real data subject, prompted by the announcement of Dan Lyons (aka Fake Steve Jobs) that he is quitting the blogosphere because there isn’t enough money in it:

The day the New York Times blew his Fake Steve Jobs cover, Lyons says, “more than 500,000 people hit my site—by far the biggest day I’d ever had—and through Google’s AdSense program I earned about a hundred bucks. Over the course of that entire month, in which my site was visited by 1.5 million people, I earned a whopping total of $1,039.81. Soon after this I struck an advertising deal that paid better wages. But I never made enough to quit my day job.”

And they also quote some more general data from Technorati:

The message here is clear.  Apart from a very small number of top-top bloggers we are all doing this for reasons other than money!

I think my reasons for writing The Equity Kicker are:

  • To develop my own thinking about where the trends in media and technology are taking us – both via the conversation that happens in the comments and the process of forcing myself to write things down
  • To get to know interesting people who share a passion for the subjects I write about
  • To build profile for DFJ Esprit and our portfolio companies

When I started I had dreams that it might turn into a significant money earner, but those days are long gone 🙁

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
  • Funnily enough I've been doing some research into this myself the past week, specifically related to 'entertainment and celebrity' type blogs – Perez Hilton, DListed, TMZ etc. Trying to figure out how much money they make, what the CPM rates are.

    The results were fairly shocking. Using publicly available data, I was able to ascertain that even DListed, the number 3 celebrity blog site, which is doing 35 million page impressions a month, is only making around $13,000 a month – or a page eCPM of $0.37. Actual ads cost as little as $0.13 CPM.

    Yet, as you indicate, there are exceptions. In that vertical, which has dozens and dozens of big sites, the number 1 is PerezHIlton.com and that does 235 million page impressions a month with ad rates suggesting it's making $250,000+ a month.

    The problem for that vertical is the subject matter and the intense competition which leads to very low CPM's. You need monster traffic to make a buck. Very few of these sites run Google Adsense (likely) because the subject matter is prone to violating Adsense T&C's – swearing, booze, drugs, etc. And unfortunately the other advertising network options are dire. To this day Yahoo!'s Publisher Network is still not readily available to anyone outside the US and is still 'in beta'. It's been that way for three years! The other options are orders of magnitude smaller and don't have the scale needed to offer compelling CPM's.

    I'm glad to say we do much better than these rates on our own network of sites, with the bonus that many are semi or fully automated. The thought of getting lower CPM's and having higher labour costs to run a professional blog site definitely give pause for thought.

  • I think a blog is also an important tool for developing a brand – it can help build personality e.g. The Equity Kicker portrays a friendly face which is not always the general perception of VCs.

  • Thanks Henry

  • For blogs that are journals or write various types of news articles in popular but non-product based niches, the numbers are probably quite accurate.

    Where things get very interesting are in affiliate marketing with product based sites, and where a blog is used as part of a much more sophisticated marketing strategy… as a product launch platform, for lead generation, delivery of premium content etc.

    I know plenty of “bloggers” who use a blog as a focal point of their online marketing strategy who are earning high 6, 7 or even 8 figures anually.

    Then you get the large information media groups – a couple of examples

    Agora Publishing – last I heard their turnover was something like $300M with individual divisions such as Early To Rise http://www.earlytorise.com/ earning $20M+ anually (yes that is a WordPress blog)
    Incisive Media – not sure how much of their revenue could be attributed to online activities which are not far removed from being blogs, and does include some.

  • Pingback: broadstuff()

  • If I were to disagree with this article more, we would have to have a fist fight. 🙂 Blogs are excellent money earners and can and do make many people very rich. If you take some of the bigger blogs like boingboing is estimated to make over a million dollars a year others I have seen at around 40k a month.

    I personally own a couple of smaller blogs that both make over ten grand a month each and they are less than a year old. Its not that blogs can't make money, its just that many bloggers don't know how to build money making blogs.

  • Tks Patrick 🙂

    Do you think it is that most bloggers (like me) could make a ton of cash from their existing blog, as is, or would we have to change what we write about?

  • I think that you could earn a pretty decent income from this blog as is(not riches) but enough to have a little fun with. You cover a semi-decent paying niche already on the blog, you just need to put up a source to make money with.

    In your case, I would highly recommend setting up an Adsense account, and placing a 336 x 280 rectangle directly under the title on each post, you can place this directly into your code. With that placement and your current traffic levels I wouldn't be surprised if you made around $500 – $1000 per month right away, of course depending on CTR you can get.

    Once you had all of this established, I would buy a keyword rich domain name in the equity/financial niche, do some strong keyword research here to find a profitable search term with little competition(they are out there) and then launch a new blog built around that search term. Place adsense on it in the same manner as above, and drop a keyword rich sitewide link from this blog. The idea is to leverage your work here to build up some authority on the new domain.

    Once you have done this, I would highly recommend that you study some seo principles and start doing a little link building for the new domain to continue building authority. After a while, I would not be surprised to see your new blog making two or three times what you can make here.

    Once the other blog is making some money, you just need to rinse and repeat, do it all over again. Eventually, you will have built a network of mini niche blogs that will pay your bills and then some. It takes work, but it can be done fairly easily once you grasp all of the concepts.

    Hope this helps. 🙂

  • Thanks patric. I will give it a go, at least the first part. Leaving that much money on the table is criminal.

  • I would take a different approach certainly on what you would call the “monetization” aspect of the blog.

    Assuming your primary business is as a VC, and in your investments, and whilst this is a private blog, the benefit to your professional profile far outweigh any monetary gain from direct monetization.

    1. Personal branding in the tech and VC community
    2. Company branding in the above
    3. Competence
    4. Personal and company “outlook” – for a startup, knowing more about you, your thoughts on the growing online marketplace

    These factors I am just going to call the “Fred Wilson” effect as Fred is a prime example. The investment deal flow he sees is probably 1 tier higher than he might otherwise have seen if he wasn't so accessible with his blogging.

    I believe your focus should be on 2 things

    1. Subscribers – you write some great content, and it should be seen by more people – the more people see it, the more links you will get, and lots of the SEO to bring in yet more traffic and subscribers is taken care of. A self-propelling deal flow machine.
    The revamped theme will expose a little more content to the search engines as previously there were some bugs preventing crawling beyond the first page in the archives.
    2. Your portfolio e.g. you could have highlighted the Zeus/Joyent announcement in some way – it didn't get a lot of press outside the Joyent and cloud computing blogs.

    You could probably achieve more than 10x your current opt-in / subscriber rate

  • Thanks for the kind words Andy, and I should definitely get something about the Zeus-Joyent deal up here.

    I think I agree with pretty much everything you say with the exception that so long as I don't overdo it monetisation houldnt be an alternative to the primary objectives.

  • I think blog is most effective marketing tool in web 2.0 era. It can build content, links, and social as well.
    Surveillance System

  • I think blog is most effective marketing tool in web 2.0 era. It can build content, links, and social as well.
    Surveillance System

  • Take a look at semrush.com and see what your blog are worth.