This is a question that any marketer who has discussed the prospect of blogging as a marketing tactic will be familiar with.  Many consultants are well accustomed to selling the many "soft" benefits of blogs such as starting a dialogue with customers, demonstrating transparency and having a soapbox on which to distribute your corporate point of view.  The saavy clients are already starting to understand these benefits.  But when it comes to hard and fast impact on the bottom line, it’s a far grayer area.  So are there examples where blogs have truly made the bottom line difference for blog authors and companies?  Here are three great blog examples of how the blog authors have translated their efforts into real dollars:

  • John Trosko and Organizing LA Blog: A blog I have followed for some time now, just today it received a link from the Daily Candy site which resulted in lots of inquiries for new business.  In all probability, will continue to result in new clients and be a source for gaining new client inquiries from around the world for John. 
  • Guy Kawasaki and Let the Good Times Roll Blog: After only 100 days of blogging, this blog has vaulted to the top of many blog lists with most posts having a "bookmarkable" quality rarely done as consistently on any other blog.  As a result, sales of Guy’s books (now several years old) have rebounded on Amazon, with his sales rank vaulting from being in the 2000s to being in the top 500 titles sold on Amazon.  I imagine Seth Godin has seen similar benefits from his blog.
  • Ana Marie Cox, Jeremy Pepper, Steve Rubel, and more:  It’s becoming obvious that a good blog can get you hired.  All the people in this list and lots of others have used their blogging efforts to vault themselves into the next phase of their careers – most with more seniority, dollars, and visibility.  It is perhaps the biggest individual bottom line impact you can have.

So can blogs help your bottom line?  Well, there is a theme in the examples above … they are all professional services (not products).  I am not suggesting blogs can’t impact bottom line sales for products – but that tends to be far harder to attribute to just the blog, particularly if the sales process is removed from the blog.  As I tell every client I work with, the real important thing is to understand what impact having a blog can make on your business.  For some, an impact on the bottom line will be the ideal result.  For others, a more indirect connection to the bottom line may make blogging only one element in their strategy and arsenal of communications tactics to promote their business or product.