The Value of Your Time

Over the last few weeks, I have been sent requests for articles from a variety of people, for many different reasons. In each case, there was to be no direct compensation for my work, though there would be significant exposure and references back to my website. As the revenue model of my site itself is mostly indirect, the conversion rate on my site from viewer to client is extremely low. The one direct revenue model, being an Amazon affiliate, has shown minimal value to me over the time I’ve been recommending products on their site.

When the most recent request for articles came in, I decided to run a basic calculation of what that article would cost me, and whether or not it is worth my while to write for yet another site. Essentially, I was trying to predict what the return on my investment, or ROI, would be based on the new exposure.

The first part of this was fairly simple. Writing an article for another site, once I have a topic or subject selected, takes me about 15 to 30 minutes on average. Writing one such article a week puts the cost of the article at about $50 of my time, considering that I will also have to spend some time thinking of a topic to write about. For a given site, I would write about one article a week, which translates into an annual cost of $2,500 worth of my time.

The second part was harder – how do I compute my conversion rate for my site? As mentioned above, the purchases made on Amazon are negligible, and so do not factor into the equation. What I needed to determine was how many people would contact me, via my site, for more information about a service that I offer, and how many of those would eventually become clients. Additionally, since some projects are really small, and others fairly large, determining the average revenue generated by a single client is a fairly complex task.

Additionally, many of the clients I’ve acquired via my site have required additional work on my part, and have actually been driven to my site by my efforts elsewhere on the web. Gaining additional readers on my site might have a measurable value, but without direct interaction, it could have no value at all.

The question bothered me – how can you calculate the potential ROI for gaining additional exposure for a site which has no direct revenue model, and is being used almost exclusively as a networking tool to gain introductions to new people?

Through discussions with several other people, I determined that the question I was trying to answer had no simple answer – it was asking what value I place on an introduction, and what value I might place on getting thousands of introductions in a short period of time. Does this have value? Absolutely, but perhaps not one that can be quantified.

The value of my time, therefore, could not be measured against the potential return, since there is no metric available for this purpose. As a result, I decided to take the opposite approach, and determine my potential loss if I did not write additional articles.

In this case, the loss would be exposure of a non-quantifiable value, but I would gain 30 minutes per week. Since I don’t have additional writing to do, I would also reduce any associated stress. I could focus on writing articles for this site, which would improve the quality of content here, thereby increasing the likelihood of gaining introductions to my readers.

As such, the case was closed – for the purpose of marketing, I didn’t really need the additional exposure, and so would not, in general, write more. For other reasons, such as supporting a cause, I might write, but it would not be for the sake of additional leads.

I value my time higher than those abstract potential returns.