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February 06, 2006

Financial model for blogs/podcasts

After attending ASAE & The Center's Technology Conference last week, I have technology content galore to share.

The first thing I want to blog about is: Can associations make a profit by blogging or podcasting. A gentleman who attended my panel discussion on Web 2.0 Social Media and the Long Tail seemed resigned that there was very little possibility to make money from blogs and podcasts. I replied to his question, stating that I felt that the finances would work themselves out in the end through better member engagement. Better engagement = better renewals. Our moderator chimed in to say that blogs and podcasts aren't expensive to set up, in terms of hardware and software costs. That's true, but as any blogger will tell you, blogging takes a lot of time, and that's where your expenses will be greatest.

I went on to offer two alternatives, that I think are both prudent association management approaches to blogging:

  1. A blog or podcast should supplement an association's core mission. If your association has a core mission to educate people (members or the public), use a blog or podcast as part of your strategy to help achieve that mission. A fundamental association management principle is: The association's budget is secondary to its mission. And there are ways to repurpose other association content for blogging to keep the amount of time creating new content down.
  2. Explore revenue possibilities for blogs and podcasts. Try some stuff. Last year, ASAE & The Center got their Annual Meeting blog sponsored by the Milwaukee CVB. And a blog I subscribe to about restoring an old home in Richmond makes enough coin from Google AdSense to pay for hosting and buy a circular saw. I would estimate this blog has fewer than 100 subscribers. So, if this blog is making a small profit with a small subscriber base and a volunteer blogger, your association can certainly do better with paid staff and an army of members to promote it to.

Here's another point I didn't mention during the panel. Don't forget about the search engine rankings! Let me tell you a story: A few years ago I Googled myself, and I found myself on a late page. Nowhere near the front. Now, if you Google me, my Blogger profile comes up 5th overall.

How much do you pay for SEO? I didn't pay a cent.


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