Brian’s Paradox: Your website or blog probably won’t make you any more money, but…

In discussing websites, blogs, and professional branding with many of the professionals and business leaders that I advise, there is a phenomenon that I have observed, which I call Brian’s Paradox. The basic concept is this: Your website or blog probably won’t make you any more money – there is no guarantee that you will increase business, or even necessarily be able to calculate a clear Return On Investment (ROI). However, without a decent-looking, responsive (mobile-friendly), regularly updated online destination for you and your firm, you are going to work much harder to close deals.

This idea, that an effective web presence has more of an indirect benefit, is a topic that some folks I respect greatly have recently written about. Let’s take a look…

Matt Mullenweg: Bloggers make money because of their blog, not necessarily from it

As the fearless leader of the company behind WordPress (arguably the best blogging software there is), Matt Mullenweg obviously has some opinions on the value of blogging. In an interview with LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, Mullenweg says that successful bloggers earn money because of their blog, not necessarily from their blog. Here is the full 50-minute video:

Kevin O’Keefe: Blogging is about relationships and reputation

The video above was shared by Kevin O’Keefe in a blog post he wrote called, Non-monetary benefits from blogging are greater than the monetary. O’Keefe is someone that I credit with having more to do with mainstream acceptance of blogging in the legal industry than any other single person, through his company, LexBlog.

In his article, he makes the following points:

Much like authoring a book or speaking at a conference, blogging is a reputation enhancer. You don’t make a lot of money from either (unless you’ve achieved star status). You make money because of being an author and speaking…

Blog because you have passion, care, expertise, and a desire to share not for immediate gain. By doing so you can achieve a lifetime of significant earnings doing the type of work you love for the type of clients you want to represent.

More recently, O’Keefe took apart some perhaps misguided statements about the value of social media made by a “Legal SEO Consultant” in his post, Social media for business development by lawyers is a big lie? (Considering the negative reputation lawyers have going all the way back to Shakespeare, and the nasty reputation that most SEO consultants have, a mortician seems like a livelier guest at a dinner party than a Legal SEO Consultant, but I digress…)

The best lawyers get their best work from relationships and a strong word of mouth reputation. Not advertising or overt marketing. It’s always been the case and always will be the case.

It was true before legal marketing was permitted in 1974. It was true before the advent of the Internet in the mid-nineties.

Putting blogging and the entire social media “thing” in context for professionals, he says:

Social is all about relationships and reputation. If you’re not not nurturing relationships online, you’re going to lose opportunities for business. If you’re not building a reputation online that’s the equal of your offline reputation, you’re not getting that reputation in front of a lot of people that matter.

Chris Brogan: I’m not into social media – I’m into people and businesses

Another person who looms large in the blogging and social media space is Chris Brogan, author of several great books (speaking of which, he has a new one called The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators) and someone who just can’t seem to shake off the label of “social media.”

In his recent post, Shaking Off the Social Media Label, Brogan writes:

I don’t care about Klout. I find things like Facebook security updates boring. It doesn’t matter much how many people do or don’t follow me. None of that’s interesting. What’s endlessly interesting to me are human stories and businesses that treat people like they matter.

By treating “people like they matter,” it helps to build trust. Trust is the basis of any relationship, but is especially important when it comes to handing over our or our company’s hard-earned cash. Together with the amazing Julien Smith, Brogan wrote a previous treatise on the role of trust in business and how to build it in Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust

Mitch Joel: Trust. It’s what it all comes down to.

Founder of Canadian digital marketing agency, Twist Image, Mitch Joel is a blogger, podcaster and also the author of two different books. The first, Six Pixels of Separation deals with the fact that all people and businesses are connected in one way or another to all others online. His newest book, Ctrl Alt Delete, recommends that businesses and the people behind them reboot, and reassess their strategy in the wake of unprecedented change in the marketplace in order to remain relevant in the future.

In a recent post, Joel asks, Who do you really trust?

Trust is everything. Whenever I think about trust, I think about something that my dear friend, Jeffrey Gitomer, would often say in his public sales presentations: “All things being equal, people will do business with those that they know, like and trust. All things being unequal, people will do business with those that they know, like and trust.” Trust is a topic that isn’t approached or appreciated nearly enough in the business world, especially if you consider how important it is.

The statement above is how Joel introduces a video of David DeSteno speaking at Google on the topic of Trust, below:

What’s the Point?

Your website, blog, Twitter feed, Facebook page, Google+ placeholder, or other artefact of your online presence, won’t likely make you any more money, but without it, you’re going to have to work a lot harder to close the deal with prospective clients. Why?


Your clients hire you because they trust that you are going to improve their situation. They trust that you will have their best interests in mind. They trust that you know what you are doing and have the expertise to accomplish the task at hand.

Social media gives you an opportunity to demonstrate who you are to facilitate the trust-building process. But it is just a tool, in the same way that your computer and phone are tools.

Anyways, that’s my take. What are your thoughts?

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