Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Million-Dollar Blogger February 2008 Scorecard

In my consulting practice we use scorecards frequently. There is much more than financial data that is critical to your company, or in this case to your blog. A scorecard is simply an Excel spreadsheet that pulls all of the critical data together on one page. It reminds you to check specific statistics each month, and help you evaluate your progress.

I'm going to publish my blogging scorecard each month; you can see my results.

The specific numbers and statistics that you choose to track are less important than consistency. Tracking an important statistic over time measures success. It's important to consistently track the same clearly defined numbers.

For example, item I am tracking is "page views". Unfortunately, Blogger doesn't have an effective way of tracking total page views. Therefore, I'm using the AdSense page view ticker to determine my traffic. This isn't 100% accurate because the blog was up for a few days before I included AdSense. Additionally, some of my pages may not have any ads displayed if Google had difficulty identifying the keywords for an individual page, or if there were no advertisers currently available to display for that keyword.

While 251 page views probably doesn't include every single review and isn't 100% accurate, the number is still valid because I'll use it consistently. The actual number of page views is less important than measuring proportional growth.

Critical Measures of Success and Key Critical Indicator

For this blog, the Key Critical Indicator is deposits. This is the single most important statistic we will track because ultimate success or failure depends on the statistic. You may choose profits, total revenue, or even the number of groupies hounding you. Find one statistic that is absolutely the most important one for measuring your success.

Other Critical Measures of Success are data points that you will track every time. This seems a little redundant but it's important. To be considered a Critical Measure of Success, it must have two qualifications. It must be important, and it must be measurable.

On its face, this definition seems simpler than it really is. Some critical majors are easy, for instance "profits" is simply monthly revenue minus monthly expenses. Obviously it's important, and is easy to measure.

Other critical measures are not as easy. For example, one of my critical measures is Social Bookmarks Posted. This requires me to record manually every time I post a bookmark on to Facebook, Reddit, Digg or del.icio.us. There is no way to automatically track this important statistic. So my method is defined as "I will mark on an index card taped to my desk each time I publish a social bookmark for one of my pages."

Total pages created would be an important number to track, however proved to be very difficult. For example, I created 24 blog posts in February. This 24 blog posts created a grand total of 68 pages of content. There is a homepage, the 24 individual pages, plus 43 category pages.

While I was able to find this information easily in February, next month will be more difficult because I'll be reusing most of this category pages. Additionally, starting next month I will be connecting content outside of the blog. While total pages created is critical, it's not easily measurable.

However, I am able to easily examine New Blog Posts. Therefore my Critical Measure of Success, New Blog Posts, while not as important as total volume of content, is measurable consistently.

Here are my stats for February. While thoroughly unimpressive, they do create a solid starting point.

Key Critical Indicator: Deposits to My PayPal Account: $0

Critical Measures of Success:
  • AdSense Revenue: $6.61
  • Total expenditures: $20.40
  • Page views: 251
  • New Newsletter Subscribers: 3
  • Net Growth of Newsletter: 3
  • New Blog Posts: 24
  • Social Bookmarks: 3
Notes: I did a little bit of AdSense revenue, but it doesn't show as a deposit because AdSense only pays out after your account exceeds $100. My expenditures included registration of two domain names. As noted above page views is defined by AdSense views. Because I began on February 10. The statistics above are for 19 days. The page views above are for 16 days.

Starting next month I will make my full scorecard viewable. This month the numbers have so little relevance it's not worth the effort to publish the full scorecard.

While February isn't impressive, it's a starting point. One of my goals is to exceed last month's revenue every single month. This will get me to $1 million rather rapidly.

Don't believe me, try this experiment.
  1. On the first day of the year drop a penny in a jar.
  2. Once a week take whatever is in a jar, and double it. (Week two, you only owe yourself two pennies.)
You may be surprised to learn that at week 28 you will have $1,342,177.28 in the jar. By the end of the year you will have $22 trillion, and you're definitely going to need a bigger jar.

Starting small isn't bad, its constant improvement that's critical to your success.
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