Why your pageviews are worthless metric, and other truths no one wants to tell you
Many publishers want to monetize their blogs with ads, sponsored articles and sponsorships but forget the most crucial part of the equation. What value will their blog bring to a brand that partnered with them? Without that knowledge, it is impossible to even think of beginning a business relationship.
Step 1- Time to Get Real about Value
Here are some crucial questions that must be answered before any business partnership can be formed.
Answer these questions before you do anything else!
1. What is the average time a reader spends on your site?
2. What is the average bounce rate of your site?
3. What is the size of your email subscriber list?
4. What is the average click through rate of your email list?
5. When you link out to an article/product/resource, what is the average number of readers that click through?
6. What is the demographic of your readers?
7. What three things do most of your readers love to learn about and/or purchase?
Did you notice I never asked about pageviews or even unique pageviews?
Unless a blog is monetized by an ad network full of display ads (which are a dying model, btw. Good luck with that in the long run) pageviews are irrelevant. Sure, vast numbers of readers are great, but unless those readers take action and can be moved to take an action, they are just readers, and building a business off of hundreds of thousands of lurkers isn't sustainable.
The only pageviews that matter are from people whom you have built trust with, who are genuinely interested in what you promote, and who are buyers of products or services.
Answer the 7 questions above. Seriously, don't skip them.
Step Two- Create a Case Study
Create a case study that showcases how your website provided value for a business partner.
If you do not have an example for the case study, it's time to build one by offering to work with companies for free so you can get some successful partnerships under your belt. Free work gets a bad rap but free work is how people have learned new skills and become masters in their field for hundreds of years.
I answered the question of "Should I work for free?" on my column at Babble recently. In it I advised:
Some Free Work *is* Valuable. Extremely.
There are times when working for free is not only a smart choice, but a brilliant choice. I have even recommended to my coaching clients that they take on opportunities where they worked for no pay and were able to explore new opportunities and test out ideas. The key is to look at potential values in the work, even if they don’t beef up your bank account.
- There is great value working when it gives you access to a new network or contact.
- There is great value in learning new skills, and how to apply them in a real world setting.
- There is huge value in having experience that you can add to your resume that perhaps translates into a career (and a fabulous way to bridge a period of unemployment between jobs, by the way).
- There is tremendous value in getting your foot in the door and your name known in an organization for which you’d like to work; the next job opening just might be yours. Focus on your long term goals when you make this decision!
- And of course, volunteering or donating your talents to a cause you believe in is a worthy investment, but be selective about these scenarios. You don’t want to overcommit or you can quickly deplete your “free” time (see what I did there! )
The difference between being taken advantage of and having the perfect opportunity to earn your chops is in the intention and the resulting outcomes. It’s not based on others valuing your worth, it’s based on the value you get out of it.
Step Three- Build your Media Kit
Don't bother making a beautifully designed Media Kit for potential partners until you've done the foundational work. It is the foundational work that will give you the tools to show the value you can (and have!) provided a potential business partner.
Now, build your media kit beautifully and include a case study, it will set you head and shoulders above 99.9% of the competition. Smart business owners know that working with a 'smaller' site that will drive sales is smarter than partnering with 'huge' sites that offer exposure and nothing more.
A word of caution
This isn't sexy advice. It would be much easier (and profitable) for me to write an article about how to design a gorgeous media kit and let it go viral on Pinterest, but that is like telling people how to build their mansions on quicksand.
The work of really identifying your strengths, your readers' behaviors, and the value your offering provides is the most important step in building a real business. Pay attention to the so-called experts who advise you to invest in all the shiny bells and whistles, but never teach you that real business success comes from the foundational work behind the scenes. Many of my coaching and consulting clients have come to me after losing months of time and thousands of dollars to experts who didn't teach them how to build a business.
Building a revenue stream off of a website with partners is simple.
- Build an audience of people whose interests and needs you understand.
- Test that your site provides more than just 'exposure' and fluffed up pageviews to potential partners.
- Provide a professional case study proving the value you provide.
The key to financial freedom and long-term sustainable business success is multiple income streams. (tweet it) Working with business partners whose products or services are genuinely of interest to the readers your site serves is a great way to build a new income stream in your business.
I'd love to end this article with something flowery and poetic, but at the end of the day talking about hardwork isn't sexy, but the results are. Go do it.