Influencer Marketing: Are Blogs a Better Opportunity than Instagram?

Instagram gets all the hype with influencer marketing but, as we'll see here, maybe blogs are an overlooked, higher value, and lower cost opportunity.


Impressive Stuff

If you’re interested in influencer marketing but are worried that Instagram is overhyped and oversaturated, I have an untapped opportunity for you:


Yeah, blogs are boring and old-school, but their results may be anything but.

They can be surprisingly impressive. And impressive means impressions and impressions mean customers, which is what you want.

As we’ll see with a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, a blog post from an unknown site can quite possibly compete with (or even beat) an Instagram post by an established influencer with 100,000 followers.

It’s impressive stuff.

person looking at an instagram post by an influencer
What do companies get for the money they pay Instagram influencers for posts like these?

How Much is An Instagram Post Worth?

When a brand pays an influencer, it’s buying the attention of that influencer’s audience. The more of their attention the brand gets, the more the brand can sell.

So the question is:

How much attention is a brand really buying, and at what price?

Let’s do a quick 3rd grade level calculation to find out.

The Value of the Post Itself

If a brand wants an influencer with 100,000 followers to do a single sponsored post, it can expect to pay about $1,000.

That doesn’t get the brand 100,000 people’s attention, though.

Because Instagram is so crowded these days, only about 30% of those followers (30,000 people) will ever have the post cross their feeds.

And even if the brand manages to pick an awesome influencer with an audience that’s twice as engaged as average, only 5% of them, 5,000 people, will actually stop scrolling long enough to like or comment on the post.

Hopefully, those people will see the brand and not get distracted by the scenery, bikini, food, or other distractions.

If we estimate these 5,000 people each spend on average 3 seconds liking or commenting on the sponsored post—and we also assume these are all real people and not bots—the brand’s $1,000 bought it 15,000 seconds of attention (5,000 ppl x 3 sec/ppl).

That’s 250 minutes of attention.

But that’s not all the brand gets.

The Carry-Over Value

Of the 5,000 people who liked or commented on the sponsored post the brand paid for, some will click through to the brand’s Instagram page.

If 10% (500 people) do so, that would be a pretty rousing success.

And if the brand has awesome content on its Instagram account (a big if), maybe 50% of them, 250 people, will decide to follow it. That’s great for the brand, because it no longer needs to pay an influencer for the attention of those 250 people.

They’re “theirs.”

Even so, those new 250 people won’t see or engage with every post the brand puts out.

Let’s be generous and assume these new followers engage with 20 of the brand’s post. Again assuming 3 seconds per engagement, that means the brand gets 60 seconds of attention per new follower.

That means the total carry-over attention of new followers the brand got from their influencer’s Instagram post is another 250 minutes.

The Total Instagram Post Value

Adding the 250 minutes of attention the brand got from the influencer’s sponsored post to the 250 minutes of carry-over attention, the brand ends up having bought 500 minutes of attention.

And since it paid $1,000, the effective cost of attention is $2 per minute.

Now let’s use this number to see what this means a blog post could be worth to the brand.

someone looking at a blog post on their phone
How does the attention generated by a blog post stack up to that of a sponsored Instagram post?

How Much is Being Featured in a Blog Post Worth?

Compared to an Instagrammer with 100,000 engaged followers, my travel blog, The Unconventional Route, is nothing.

We only have about 1,300 Instagram followers.

But even though we have 1% of the Instagram influencer’s following, when it comes to getting attention, we can put up a decent fight.

A below-average post of ours, say this one on 8 Only-in-Vancouver Dining Experiences, gets about 500 page views per month. And, according to Google Analytics, those viewers spend an average of 5 minutes skimming through it.

Five minutes per viewer multiplied by 500 views per month… 

That’s 2,500 minutes of attention right there!

That’s five times as much you got for your 100,000 follower Instagram post!

But wait a second…

Unlike the Instagram post the brand paid $1,000 for, our blog post isn’t 100% promoting any single brand.

We recommend 8 places, so only 12.5% of the post would be about a single brand. And if we remove the intro and conclusion, it’s less. Maybe 10%.

So the brand’s only really getting 10% of the 2,500 minutes—250 minutes—specifically for its brand.

But wait a second…

That’s 250 minutes in one month.

Unlike Instagram posts, blog posts stick around for a long time, especially if they’re well written (like, ahem, ours are).

In just two months, our blog post will match the 500 minutes of attention the brand would get from an influencer with 100,000 followers.

At least.

It’s likely that traffic to the blog post will grow over time, especially if the site you work with is up-and-coming. So while our example blog post might get a brand the same attention as 100,000-follower Instagram post in two months, in a couple of years it could get as much attention as an additional post on a 1,000,000-follower Instagram post.

Or more!

Better yet, small-time bloggers like us definitely don’t charge $1,000 per post.

Not even close.


Wait, There’s More!

Before you empty your wallet onto bloggers’ laptops (if you’re a marketer) or sign up for a Wordpress account (if you’re an influencer), it’s worth considering some nuance I left out of the above analysis:

  • Level of influence: An Instagram influencer may have a stronger relationship with their followers than a blogger does with readers who stumble on their site from a Google or Pinterest search.
  • Quality of attention: People go on Instagram to zone out on sexy, cute, funny, and gossip-worthy photos. They go to blogs (via Google or Pinterest) for answers to specific questions. Advantage, blogs.
  • The value of discovery: Consumers may discover some brands on Instagram that they’d never think to search for online and find on a blog.
  • Different audiences: Some people spend tons of time on Instagram and prefer not to read. Others are the opposite. Marketers may want one demographic over another—or both.
  • Images versus text: Since “a picture can say a thousand words,” the value of attention focused on images (Instagram) may be higher than that spent reading blogs. Blogs have images too, but generally not to the extent of Instagram.
  • Through traffic: A blog post typically includes a link that will bring a slow, steady stream of traffic to the brand’s site. An Instagram post will only very briefly (if at all) include a link on the influencer’s profile.
  • Attention doesn’t matter: At the end of the day, attention doesn’t mean squat if people don’t buy, so you could argue this whole analysis is moot and all that matters are click-through and conversion rates. I’d argue blogs have the advantage there, since influencees are fewer clicks away. If you have any ideas on how to compare the influencer marketing value of blogs versus Instagram on CTR or conversion please enlighten us in the comments.

Why This Matters to You

In case you “suck at math” or got bored by my analysis, here’s the important takeaway:

Doing influencer marketing with bloggers instead of Instagrammers is likely an untapped opportunity…

…For now.

Eventually—hopefully, for us bloggers!—marketers will realize the value of blog posts and start bidding up their rates until they’re on par with those of Instagrammers.

But that hasn’t happened yet.

Marketers: Now’s your opportunity to take advantage of this untapped opportunity to get more attention for less money.

Potential Bloggers: Now’s your chance to get a headstart before it becomes a lot more competitive than it already is.

Have You Been Influenced?

Brand marketers, does this compel you to work with bloggers more? Or what are your doubts, questions, or concerns?

Influencers, what do you think? Do you agree with my super biased pro-blogger analysis, or do you think I’m being a “jealous hater”?

And how would you improve this analysis?

Contribute to the discussion in the comments below.

Blogs vs Instagram Pinterest pin image.

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  1. @yulia_brat Avatar

    Interesting analysis, about what i needed to read being a growing up influencer considering an idea to expand my wings into a text blog. So thank you for your work.
    What I would add is that from what I understand – when you are just an IG blogger – if one day for some reason you loose an access to your account there – let’s say the shut down the whole IG – you won’t be able to reach out to all those tens of thousands of people that you have been building for so long. versus with the regular blog you would through the email database, am i right?

    1. Chris Avatar

      That’s exactly it Yulia. With Instagram you don’t “own” your followers; they do. It’s definitely to your long-term advantage to form a direct relationship with your followers through your own website and email list. The only potential negative, which I tried to point out with this analysis, is in the short-run it seems influencers get paid more for having their audiences on Instagram than on their own channels. I suspect that will change in the long-run, though.

  2. Debbie V. Avatar
    Debbie V.

    I want to thank you for answering my suspicions about these subjects. I am starting my blog, “Always Smart Shop” with Bluehost & WordPress and am experiencing some difficulties building the website. When I asked a friend for her advice, she went on about how Instagram would work so much better for me. I had my doubts. So I Googled my question to compare the two & your website was right at the top. I’m very grateful for your answers. I will forge on with building my website. Thank you so much for clearing up my mind. And thank you to Yulia for bringing up that point about Instagram too. Great advice!!

    1. Chris Avatar

      Glad to have helped clear some things up for you, Debbie! Make no mistake: getting started with a blog is a big investment but, if you stick with it and continue on improving your skills, all that work can pay off and, unlike Instagram, continue paying off month after month. All the best!

  3. blog Avatar

    whoah this weblog is fantastic i really like reading your posts.
    Stay up the good work! You understand, a lot of persons are looking
    around for this information, you can aid them greatly.

  4. Bria Avatar

    I had my suspicions too. A friend and I are planning a podcast and web series and I needed some confirmation that a blog would be good for us. She is big on IG and has tons of followers. I was thinking we needed a kind of ‘home base’ for our creative endeavors. A blog seems like a good fit and I figured it would be a great place to get a little passive income and sell merch. Your analysis was great and I will definitely be sharing it with her. I think it will help us use a two prong approach for connecting with people. Thanks! I’m looking forward to reading more.

    1. Chris Avatar

      I’m glad to hear it, Bria. Definitely set up a blog. It doesn’t take much to start up (but does take A LOT to make good), but having something at the very least opens a lot of doors and, like you say, is the best possible home base for your projects. Let us know when your site’s live. I’d love to see what you’re up to.

  5. Brett Avatar

    Really great article, it erased the doubts I’ve been having about setting up a blog. Can you recommend a good platform? I was goi to use Wordpress but Squarespace looks like it has better design features and security. I don’t want to have to use loads of plugins on Wordpress as I know these can make a site vulnerable. I’d want to try and make a bit of money through sponsored posts and Adsense. Thanks.

    1. Chris Avatar

      Hey Brett. I’ve had sites with Squarespace and WordPress and would say 100% WordPress for a blog. More flexible, cheaper, and way more resources on whatever question you can imagine. All the best with your blog.

  6. Debra Turner Avatar
    Debra Turner

    I found the discussion most interesting. Although I have an Instagram account, I rarely post on it. Your work is mostly photos and so temperary on Instagram. It’s the writing that is satisfying to me as an Influcer … small fish that I am. You wouldn’t have an interesting blog without appealing photos, but it’s the writing, the substance that sticks with a reader, I would hope. And like a good book, you can always return to a blog. Try this with a dedicated Instagram post — it tends to disappear fast. Making money is another thing, isn’t it?

    1. Chris Avatar

      Totally, Debra, thought I think you can still tell a great story or convey a message with purely photos. But with Instagram you don’t control the platform and the audience like you do on your own site.

      All the best with going from small fish to whale shark!

  7. SFA Avatar

    Thanks for the thorough analysis and direction!

  8. Abdullah Avatar

    Great article. I am going to try to do implement some of these tips effective immediately. I will hit you up with the results in a month of doing this. I found the discussion most interesting. Although I have an Instagram
    account, I rarely post on it. Your work is mostly photos and so temporary on Instagram It’s the writing that is satisfying to me as an Influencer.

  9. VB Avatar

    Good analysis! How the future holds, no one knows. But it’s good to do what you enjoy doing the most and work on these things as a side project as success in these things is not guaranteed and things can get frustrating. But if done on the side, it can be fun.

    1. Chris Avatar

      True. Even better if you can do what you enjoy the most full-time. No matter what you do full-time, there are no guarantees, right?

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