30 Minutes to save humankind $270,000 per year

My website is a bit of a joke. I don’t intend to ever make money off it and I mostly use it as a running experiment. If I put Adsense on the site, it’ll be for the experience, not for the dozens of dollars the site brings in. But the articles are real. The information sharing articles I write are interesting and I wanted to know if they were helping people. I could see that people were using them, which was nice, but what’s the value of it all?

First off; the most popular topics were difficult to measure. The value of helping someone pick the right set of golf clubs? I’d find it difficult to tell. The value of helping someone figure out what Android app to use for podcasts? Could be anything. Some of my articles buck this trend and lend themselves very well to measurability. One such article is the “How to extract a broken spark plug“. Written half decently, with some good picture backup, this article helps users through a harrowing experience with a spark plug half stuck in an engine block. I am a fairly average user, with a decent tool selection and a Canadian Tire only 10 minutes away. Between research and going to Canadian Tire, I spent 8 hours on extracting my spark plug, and I’d consider this a good average. Not everyone has the selection of tools that I have and conversely, not everyone is extracting a spark plug in a blind location at the back of a Buick engine. Now, that article receives 10 unique visitors per week from Google on searches like “snapped spark plug”, “broke spark plug easy out”, and “can I drill spark plug porcelain”. Everyone making these searches will benefit from the article, but let’s assume that only 7/10 actually heed the advice. After the correct selection of tools and technique, the actual work of extracting the spark plug took 1/2 hour. So let’s assume that we’re reducing the time to fix from 8 hours to 1 hour total for users who visit that page (giving 1/2 hour for research that leads to my page). Some will be quicker, others will need more time.

63 users/week X .7 heeding the advice X 7 hours saved = 311.15 hours per week and 16,179.8 hours per year. I can’t imagine rich people would be fixing broken spark plugs, but let’s use the US median wage anyways to figure out what this is worth. Average US earnings as of Sept 2011 is $16.80/hr, so this article saves $271,820.64 per year for backyard mechanics. I spent 30 minutes taking pictures and writing that article, so I’m going to count it as a big win. 30 minutes of my time properly documenting and sharing the solution to a common problem to save the equivalent of $271,820.64 per year.

So, what would happen if we all shared our 30 minutes of time to save everyone else $271,820.64 per year? What happens if the altruistic information sharing nature of the internet becomes even more ubiquitous? I believe we all stand to benefit. The barriers to entry are small, and the values that we end up with are large. What’s stopping you from sharing your 30 minutes?

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