Despite the widely discussed impact that blogs and bloggers continue to have on the digital world, many remain rather skeptical about whether or not that impact actually means anything. As most of the power of the blog is not especially tangible, hidden away as it is inside statistics on page hits and unique views, it can be quite difficult for those who don’t have a particularly good grip on what these numbers actually mean to quantify the power of the blog. The result is often that we can only muster a rather lacklustre approach to maintaining a blog, or we just don’t bother at all.
I can tell you without doubt that the blog is one of the most powerful tools around these days, not just in terms of getting your voice heard and building some serious profile, but also when it comes to generating some pretty tangible benefits. A great example of the kind of fruit that can be harvested from an enthusiastically maintained blog is that of the Huffington Post. Whilst this site may have started out as a humble blog, it was acquired by AOL in 2011 for $315 million, which is a pretty tangible, and rather tidy sum by anyone’s standards. And in 2012 the site won a Pulitzer – it doesn’t get more credible than that.
When it comes to generating profits, the idea that this can be done by simply posting opinions and news online might seem rather an alien concept but again the Huffington Post is a great demonstration of how this can be monetised to great effect. In the year before it was acquired by AOL the Post had revenues of roughly $30 million and almost all of this came from display advertising. This kind of revenue requires some pretty significant page hits – 4.8 billion views during the year 2010 in the case of the Huffington Post. To put this in financial terms, it meant each 1,000 page views was worth $6.25 and, with the number of blogs the site was posting at that time, each blog was worth roughly $13 in advertising revenues.
Obviously the Huffington Post was not worth this much when it started back in 2005 and in fact was just like any other blog out there attempting to have an opinion on a wide range of current affairs. So how did they go about doing it? Many reasons have been mooted as to how the site became so very successful but it basically comes down to content. The Huffington Post has become a master of posting relevant content – fast – and responding to events as they first unfold. The website has a specific team of editors whose task it is to research article recommendations and daily trends to cream off the very best stories, as well as to make sure that there is never a dearth of content. The site tends to keep its team small but takes a creative approach to sourcing stories and making them newsworthy – all the time with an eye on that pot at the end of the rainbow when a story goes ‘viral.’
Obviously we can’t all employ teams of people to find content for our blogs but it can be effectively outsourced to gain profile at the level desired. Having a keen eye on what’s happening in your sector doesn’t have to interfere with your own day-to-day practice – you can just as effectively bring in a PR team to provide that essential stream of information at a fraction of the cost of doing it yourself. And as we have seen from the Huffington Post, the results can be quite spectacular.
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