This is our 500th post. Has it been worth it?

24 Feb

So here we are. Twenty-seven months and 500 blog posts later. A fitting time to ask ourselves – and you, our reader – what the value of all this is.

Here are some telling statistics:

  • Posts a month on average: 18
  • Average time required to research, write and optimize a post: 1.5 hours
  • Total time investment: 750 hours (or 94 work days)
  • Total views: 131,183
  • Total comments: 1,899
  • Total new business wins directly attributable to the blog: 0
  • Revenue directly attributable to the blog: $0

The argument will be made that blogs are not about directly driving new business into your door. They are about positioning, influence and creating relationships. Yes blogs can create relationships.

However, if you are an old school business mind, in a young or old body, you will be scoffing, possibly even braying, at the effort  that has gone into producing no new revenue.

Would our time have been better spent providing greater investment for our existing clients?

Would our bottom line look better if we had used those 750 hours researching and providing spec proposals for potential clients?

Would we have been better placed in the community if we had donated that much time helping to develop a charity’s business?

Should we have found more economical ways of refreshing our website content for search?

Has all this effort been misguided?

I’m interested in your thoughts.

 

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25 Responses to “This is our 500th post. Has it been worth it?”

  1. :]ack February 24, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    I bet $500 that Copeland is 500 times more top of mind than those agencies that don’t blog whatsoever.

    Happy 500th Doug. Your efforts, and insights ARE appreciated :]

  2. Louisa February 24, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Top 500 reasons why I read your blog…maybe I should change that headline.

    Congrats on 500 Doug…If you keep posting, I’l keep reading.

  3. Reg February 24, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    My Top 5 (500 was just too many to consider, despite Louisa’s enthusiastic suggestion) Reasons for why your blog (and your blogging) matters:

    1. Engaging in dialogue and debate over topics that enrich you, your team, your clients, colleagues (etc., etc.) as professionals? Check.
    2. Actually involving yourself in social media (blog, twitter, etc.) rather than just talking about the need to do it? [Read: practising what you preach] Check.
    3. Testing the wind on different thoughts, ideas or concepts? Check.
    4. Developing and stretching your own voice as a seasoned professional, rather than resting on your laurels? Check.
    5. Delivering “value” (an oft-used but tough to measure word) — to clients, colleagues, friends, strangers, and (yes) yourself? [see also #1 – 4 above.] Check.

  4. amy February 24, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Your results fall in line with every other blogger I know out there. I don’t think it’s a waste of time. I personally love reading blogs and participating in them. But the blogs I mostly focus on are news & finance blogs and, interestingly enough, those bloggers have books that they flog. So maybe “successful” blogging is:

    1. Publish 2. Flog 3. Blog

    Or maybe blogging is flogging but with no product to sell for $24.99 it’s harder to measure success.

    Do any of your clients know of you through your blog before they come to your door?

  5. dougbrowncreative February 24, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    > Jack, thank you. I was honestly not fishing for compliments, but it’s nice of you to say. I do wonder if our blog is reaching the right people sometimes. I’m not sure it functions well as a prospecting tool in this market.

    > Louisa, I always appreciate a good comeback. 🙂 Thanks for the support.

  6. maureen blaseckie February 24, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    You are trying to put a quantifiable parameter around something that cannot be measured. It’s one of those “x amount of time spent in lines, or y amount of our lives asleep…look at all that productivity time we’re wasting in these activities” specious arguments…phooey.

    The reality is you are proving yourself in a very new field. 500 posts is a huge landmark but it is just that, a landmark. A mileage post on a road to something is nothing more than a sign till somebody reads it. The guy who paints that sign doesn’t hear the tired mom coming to the end of a big family trip murmur under her breath “thank God” at the sight of 20 kilometres to peace, quiet and 2 kids tucked in bed quiet for the first time in a dark eternity.

    This blog instructs, it demonstrates and if I had a business I would be looking at your company for my next promotional contract. The old measures of x hours returns y dollars through z new accounts no longer holds.

    I will be going to Church & State to watch the raptors, sample the wine and probably take a few bottles home. More importantly, I will be taking my mother-in-law and she will broadcast it on the blue rinse network. Will she mention your campaign to her friends? Will Copeland Communications be mentioned when her friends go visit C&S? Was this blog the catalyst for that traffic? Oh look, a bear going into the woods…

    Ask Rod Phillips how much business he has developed through his use of social media. I’m sure he can’t measure it in terms of billable hours but I bet he would be amazed you’d even raised the question.

    Well done, Doug, you are one of the few folk out here I trust. Considering the huge amount of snake oil being sold on the net through blogs, facebook, twitter and flash ad website “you can own your own piece of the Brooklyn Bridge” promotion, that is a huge statement. It will, in the long run, shake out in your favour.

    love you long time….
    moe
    *steps off soap box, curtsey, buck and wing exit stage left*

  7. dougbrowncreative February 24, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    > Reg, how funny that you used a list! It was so easy to navigate too…
    Your feedback is greatly appreciated, not just here but over the course of the blog. I think the upside for us has probably been how much we have self-educated through researching topics. There is a big world out there connected to our business and the blog has exposed us to it. It’s gratifying to know that passing along that exposure is helpful. Thank you.

    > Amy, that’s a very interesting point. The bloggers who seems to be getting the most traction for their businesses are the self-employed ones with books to flog. These would be the social media blogger-floggers. Agencies aren’t really in it to promote something as tangible. But I wonder if going the route of publishing would serve the prospecting function better. Good prompt!

    > Love you back Moe. That’s a big endorsement and very much appreciated. Rod might agree that questioning the ROI in blogging is preposterous, just as it is in other forms of social media. But when you boil it down to hours and effort, you can’t help wondering how much more productively that time could be used. What role does frequency play in reputation building?

    To all the commenters, do you think we could still be an effective blog if we only published one post a week rather than four? Or is more always better?

  8. maureen blaseckie February 24, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Frequency is a factor in building credibility but it isn’t the sole determiner. I think your blog strikes a nice compromise in that it does not stick to an apparently rigid schedule but it is there often enough to be considered dependable and an authority.

    You bring traffic to your site through promotional efforts and word of mouth but you keep them by quality of posts and being dependable to some extent in maintaining a schedule.

    But that is all stuff you already know.

    The bottom line: I may not have time to read every post you put up but every post I read is worth the time. And that cannot be said about most of the blogs out there.

    xxoo
    moe

  9. DebPound February 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    (I write DebPound as one word because that’s they way Miss Lola says my name – hello Miss Lola!
    My dear and very valued Doug – you know this old warhorse does not work in the new social media (not Facebook, not twitter, not tweet – hell, I barely manage email at the best of times!) but as mentioned by Moe above, I may not read everyone of your blogs, but the ones I read are well worth the read, I trust you, I love your sense of humour, your sense of community, the way you value the wold and the people in it, and my friend, your blogs are THE ONLY ONES I READ – and often pass along – so, for what it’s worth, keep me informed about the world from your very open-minded and wide-eyed enthusiam. EVERY DAY, I miss working with you and seeing you.

  10. Amy February 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    An hour and a half per post? That’s all? How long is your lunch break? And what do you do during that time?
    That’s a small amount of time commitment (and I’m guessing no $$ for the actual blog platform) for what you get in return – feedback, opinions, points of view from people that could be a potential client’s target audience. Also, when researching a blog post, have you ever learned anything new or been pushed in a direction that you hadn’t thought of before? Isn’t that worth while?
    But, even if this blog only serves as entertainment for you and your readers, it’s still valuable. I like to see a company do something just because it’s fun and not because it inflates the bottom line.

  11. dougbrowncreative February 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    > Moe and Deb, it’s gratifying to know you find value and entertainment in the content. I think the whole agency appreciates having such loyal readers. I keep expecting to get a comment from that hard-ass CEO who calls blogging a waste of time and wonders how we can keep our doors open. Instead I get comments like these. Very affirming. Thank you.

    > Amy, I have banged out posts in the shower on my water-proof laptop in between lathering up the shampoo and rinsing off…

    Speaking for myself, I have learned heaps in the process of finding compelling content, but then my brain is perpetually wired to that. I can often be heard mumbling “Hey, that would make a good blog post” around just about everything that happens to me.

    For those who aren’t reading Amy’s blog, it’s not about marketing, but definitely one of the more consistently readable and human posts out there. It’s here.. http://fixitordeal.wordpress.com

    In the interests of full disclosure I should add that her Mom pays me generously to flog her blog. 🙂

  12. Amy February 24, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Alright, alright. You’ve earned your money.

    (thanks, Doug!)

  13. hitgirl February 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    Hey Doug, yes – it’s worth it. I appreciate all your blogs and find them extremely valuable. But, I’ll respond as a blogger who also ponders the value of putting in the time and effort.

    I hope that my clients see my posts as added value and that prospective clients are more inclined to work with us a result – but the measurable value to me personally has been the constant renewal and clarification of my commitment to my vocation.

    Writing has heightened my level of accountability and helps me focus the direction my company takes. It keeps my finger on the pulse. Business is busy work – blogging is time that I take to get to the heart of the matter and keeps me focused on the greater issues behind my product.

    Keep it up and congrats on your awesome proliferation.

    Sandy

  14. dougbrowncreative February 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    Sandy it’s great to have another business-blogger’s perspective here. I take your point and want to acknowledge your success with your blog this year – congrats back at ya for making such an impact in a short time.

    Sandy writes fantastic fitness and personal motivation posts on her HitGirl’s blog. Check it out! http://hitgirl.wordpress.com/

  15. Janis La Couvée February 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    How did I miss your 500th post??

    Congratulations Doug.

    To my mind, in this ever evolving field of marketing and communications, the fact that you’ve reached this milestone says to me:

    1. you are dedicated (and by extension, one would hope, to a prospective customer, that you are potentially dedicated to me, and not just a “fly by the seat of our pants” type person or agency)

    2. you are disciplined

    3. you are determined ( to try in an area where many will not even venture)

    4. you are humble (because you actually respond to the comments people leave)

    5. you value growth and don’t simply rest on your laurels

    These are all excellent values!

    Business will come. And you many never be able to attribute it directly to the blog.

  16. dougbrowncreative February 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    Janis, the unspoken truth – which you well know – is that we bloggers love to blog. I would be doing my company a disservice if I didn’t question whether the motivation to blog is grounded enough in the things that will enhance our reputation in the market and not just indulge our love of writing.

    Your generous comments are appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  17. Murray Kirk February 24, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    We have agonized over the exact same issues and ultimately it would seem that not to have these “instruments” is something like not having furniture in your house. To test this theory out I counted how many designated seats I had in my house coming up with 27 not counting the toilet. Im single, so the question begs, do i have an excess of designated seating? I could throw out the chesterfield but somehow I hesitate. Using our own definitions, things need to fit our own expectations as well as the expectations of those with whom we voluntarily share our experience, the result in the case of my house is an excess of designated seating and in the case of my/your business it is perhaps a blog of dubious merit but necessary nonetheless because we make it so. And, for what its worth I personally enjoy your blog. Wanna buy a chesterfield?

  18. dougbrowncreative February 24, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    It’s an interesting analogy Murray. The only hole in the fabric I can see is that sofas fulfill a need, whereas blogs are fighting to create one.

    And for what it’s worth, I am glad to hear you enjoy our blog. Thank you for reading it, and for commenting today.

  19. Susan Smitten February 24, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    500!? That’s a huge accomplishment – I can’t help wondering how you find the time… much less so many interesting things to say. So, I am personally in awe. And based on the above comments, I think you have your answer. So, now you can relax and let the motivation for #501 flow through.

    Nice work, my friend.

  20. dougbrowncreative February 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Well Sue, I’ve got an agency full of people contributing their ideas and posts, so hitting 500 wasn’t as hard as it seems. And you already know that I write mine at 4 a.m.! Would it surprise you to learn that we are getting set to publish #503 already? Animals. Blogging animals.

    Thanks for your support and beautiful comment!

  21. hitgirl February 24, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Thanks for your kind words (and the plug), Doug.

  22. GV February 24, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    The question that scratches what little cellphone fried grey matter I have left is, has the blog over the period that you have sat up at 4:00 am in the morning when you could have been (well we won’t go there) brought any business into the office or has it just been a labour of love, oops, (went there).

  23. dougbrowncreative February 24, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    If you’ve got 10 seconds I urge you to vote for Sandy’s HitGirl blog in an influential online poll here: http://t.co/JTfSV6p Go Sandy!

  24. Jay Baer February 25, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    Great post, and I applaud you having the courage to examine whether this is just a big waste of time.

    In terms of blogging value, I’d add three other benefits that you didn’t articulate. First, how has blogging changed your search rankings, and corresponding traffic from search?

    Second, how has blogging allowed you and the staff to codify your thinking on a number of key issues, the solidification of which makes you more effective counselors to your clients?

    Third, how has blogging changed the market positioning of Copeland, to increase your reputation as an employer of choice? Does blogging help recruitment?

    Clearly, it would be better if you could say you generated 5 large new clients directly from the blog. But usually, that’s not the case. So you have to look at the “fringe” benefits and see if there is a correlation between your blogging and your overall success. I’d argue that there is, but then again I’m not the most objective person about that kind of thing.

    Keep up the good work. Congrats on a huge milestone!
    j

  25. dougbrowncreative February 25, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    These are great points Jay – thanks for offering them up. I would also add to that list something that popped up a few times in the other comments here which has always been part of our strategy: How is our blog, through form and content, driving our reputation for social media savvy in the market?

    We recommend blogging to our clients for a number of reasons. Never really thought about it’s role in creating discussion, disagreement or consensus on key issues internally. Nice one.

    Something we have agreed on internally is that we are not a social media ad agency. We are a digital ad agency, as all agencies must be now. So the palate of things we can write about is enormous.

    > Jay is the co-author of the just-published The Now Revolution. You can find out more about this trending book by clicking on his name above. Copeland will be blogging a review of the book shortly.

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