At its core, blogging is free. You can sign up for a free blog via WordPress.com, Tumblr, or Blogger in just a few minutes. You don’t even need to buy a custom URL. You can just use a generic one. Then you just write some words and push enter. Boom! Free. But the best blogs on the internet cost money, lots of money.
So what are bloggers spending money on each month? And how much? Blogging is a relatively low cost endeavor. I’ve built blogs in the tens of thousands of visitors for less than $1,000 a month. But some of the top bloggers have been known to spend tens of thousands of dollars a month. That’s a lot of moolah. When you’re so used blogging for free, it’s hard to imagine a $20,000 monthly bill for your blog. So here’s what two bloggers are spending on their blog.
Let’s start with Jason Lemkin. Jason is a venture capitalist at Storm Ventures. He previously started and sold several companies, including Echo Sign to Adobe. His blog, Saastr is one the most highly read blogs regarding SaaS businesses. I’ve read many of his blog posts and Quora answers and learned a great deal.
Here’s a tweet he sent out the other week, shedding some light on his blog numbers.
I was unable to get any follow up information from Jason regarding the breakdown of his costs. I’d speculate that the brunt of his costs revolve around two things, hosting and email delivery. He’s not creating fancy infographics or guides. It seems like it’s just keeping up the infrastructure for the 1 million visitors.
Neil Patel is another blogger that I admire and read religiously. Neil has been an entrepreneur since he was 16 and has started two successful SaaS companies, CrazyEgg and Kissmetrics. A catalyst to both companies’ success has been the blog.
Neil Patel via Kissmetrics
Neil is very transparent and has been gracious enough to share his costs openly on his blog. According to Neil, his blog generates over 700,000 visits a month. Here’s a breakdown of some of his costs (according to his blog):
Creating a guide is great marketing collateral for your company. Easily one of the top pieces companies use to entice visitors to give them their email address. But a guide is not cheap. According to Patel, he pays $4,000 to a writer, $20,000 for design, $2,500 for coding the design, and $700 convert interactive design into PDF. In total, that’s $27,200 for one guide! Sure, you can do it for much less, but you will still run into costs similar to these.
Here’s what one of Neil’s finished guides look like. You can tell he didn’t hire someone off Fiverr to complete this.
Neil doesn’t typically pay writers, simply because a guest post on one of his blogs is great exposure for your personal brand. But does state that they will pay writers who have strong networks for sharing purposes. These posts range from $150-$400 a post.
I have been paid $75-$125 a post (minimal distribution expectations). But I also have friends that command anywhere from $500-$1,000 a post. A variable that drives up cost (aside from distribution) is expertise. Like in any other industry, expertise comes at a cost.
Getting visitors to your blog is just half the battle. Converting them to customers is the other half. That doesn’t happen overnight. Once you get someone’s email address, like with a guide, then you can set up a drip marketing campaign (marketing automation) to send that person automatic messages to nurture the lead into a conversion. Neil’s company, Kissmetrics, uses Pardot, which costs them $2,000 a month. There are plenty of other options, like MailChimp, if you can’t afford $2,000 a month. Marketing automation in itself is a complex topic. It’s something that I’ll tackle on its own at a later date.
On average, Neil Patel states that he spends about $5,000-$6,000 a month on the Kissmetrics blog. This results in over 770,000 visitors and just over 5,000 leads. Let’s speculate that they only convert 2% of those 5,000 leads. If the average price of Kissmetrics software is $200 a month, that’s $20,000 a month in sales coming from the blog, or 4x what was invested. Granted, these revenue dollar figures are purely speculative (and I’d guess they’re low). But it’s clear that a blog can be expensive, but also pay off.
What does all this tell us? For one, top-notch content is not cheap. Second, it takes a solid infrastructure to handle a large scale blog. But most importantly, it’s clear that blogs are a great lead generator. That’s for sure. But that you also have to have a solid plan as to how you’re going to get a return on your money.
It’s fun to say you have a blog that has hundreds of thousands of readers, but what good does that do you if you lose $250,000 a year? There needs to be some return. If you plan on using your blog to generate leads, make sure you calculate potentially high monthly costs that go along with a successful blog.
[Featured Image Courtesy of Business2Community]