Copyblogger recently released their 2015 “Cost of Online Business” survey. Overall, the survey yielded some interesting data about online businesses. While most website owners reported that they were struggling to make a living online, more and more people are choosing to enter the online business realm. Most respondents reported that the biggest challenge of running an online business involves successfully and consistently generating traffic. Here are some of the main takeaways from the survey report.

  • Most online businesses are barely breaking even. In fact, of those surveyed, 48 percent reported that they are barely able to pay the bills. Around 23 percent said that they are living very comfortably, while 0.9 percent claimed to be “living like a superstar.” However, the failure rate is notably low, as only 3 percent reported that they are failing and/or planning to shut down in the near future.
  • The greatest challenge to online business success is generating traffic to a website. Of those surveyed, 26 percent reported this. Other common challenges include: finding enough time to publish content (14 percent), converting visitors into leads (13 percent), converting leads into paying customers (12 percent), cash flow (10 percent), creating products people want to buy (8 percent), balancing the management of technology and content creation (6 percent), and engaging in social media (1 percent).
  • Most website owners don’t use research tools to guide their content creation. Notably, in fact, 41 percent claimed that they just wrote the content. Another 35 percent said they relied on keyword tools such as Scribe and Google. Other common research tools used include social trend tools (6 percent), trending topics tools (5 percent), and competitive intelligence tools (2 percent).
  • Content is still relevant. In fact, when asked “What’s the main purpose of your website?” 45 percent of respondents reported that their aim is to build authority through published content. Around 12 percent listed their main aim as selling digital products, while 6 percent used their site as an online business card. Additionally, 5 percent sought to widen their customer base beyond the local area, 2 percent to raise business visibility, and 2 percent to increase customer support. Other reasons listed include: to sell physical products, lead generation, and to keep up with the competition.
  • Email marketing lists are still relevant. In fact, 82 percent of respondents reported actively building a list, only 14 percent were not focused on email lists at all, and 4 percent didn’t know.
  • SEO satisfaction is mixed. Of those surveyed, 49 percent reported being anywhere from somewhat satisfied to extremely satisfied with the results from their SEO efforts. In contrast, 36 percent ranged from somewhat unsatisfied to extremely unsatisfied, and 14 percent reported not having any interest in SEO strategies.
  • Most website owners regularly change up their site’s design theme. In this group, 31 percent reported changing their theme “when I feel like it,” 21 percent every two years, and 16 percent on an annual basis. Only 23 percent of website owners reported never changing their site.
  • Podcasting has yet to catch on. In fact, of those surveyed 76 percent don’t podcast at all and 10 percent expressed a desire to podcast and don’t know how. Of those who do podcast, 6 percent edit and publish it themselves, less than 1 percent publish the podcast on a third party app, and likewise less than 1 percent pay someone else to edit and publish it.

The “Cost of Online Business” 2015 report was based upon 449 responses. Of those, 26 percent were small business owners, 18 percent were writers, 18 percent were content publishers, 12 percent were marketing professionals, 8 percent were consultants, 5 percent were web developers or designers, 2 percent were agency professionals, 1 percent were CMOs, and 10 percent described themselves as “other.”


Farnworth, Demian. “Announcing the 2015 Cost of Online Business Report [Infographic].” Copyblogger.