But how exactly do you treat your blog like a business? Does it include hiring people? Is it when you begin paying for services? Or maybe it’s when you’ve become well known, but not sooner?
Believe it or not, you do it right from the start! Or, if you’ve been puttering along for months or even years, you start immediately after reading this. 🙂
Change Your Mindset
The first step is to start thinking of your blog as a business. This reset will change how you’ll work on your blog from now on. You’ll start thinking along the lines of creating strategies. It will also prepare you to thicken your hide, because as any business owner knows, there WILL be hurdles and failures, stops and starts. The “fun” you experience in the beginning might even pause, and seemingly stop altogether, but stick with it. It isn’t going to be easy, but it will be work!
It’s going to be an uphill journey, so you’ll need to keep pushing.
But, keep your goal in sight – in the end, it’ll be worth it!
Make A Business Plan
Raise your hand if you’ve sat down and laid down a business plan when you started out blogging. Was it difficult? Were you flexible?
It was a bit difficult, wasn’t it? Laying down a business plan for your blog, I mean. Starting a blog is so easy, so instant, that it’s the norm to just go with it one day or one evening when you had too much free time and not really give any thought to the business side of it.
There’s nothing wrong with that, though. You started a blog, congratulations! Now you’re going to need to treat it like a business. Go ahead and crack your knuckles. Business are ORGANIZED. And organization starts with planning.
You can grab your business plan, here. Feel free to alter it for your tastes.
My blog persona + reader persona
We’ve mentioned ‘personas’ before: customer personas make it easy for you to create targeted content. Having a reader persona makes it easy for you to have a targeted blog. Everything comes together to please your reader, from design to your calls to action!
- Who’s your target audience? Think of her as a person.
- What does she like?
- What are her other interests?
- What’s her brand of humor? Raunchy? Sarcastic?
- What are her needs? Which of those needs will you fulfill?
Taking things from your reader persona, now you identify the following:
- What will your blog do?
- What will your blog offer?
- What’s your dream for your blog?
- What is your blog’s mission?
The BBB (business, blog and brand goals)
This can all be rolled into one, now that you’re treating your blog like a business!
What You Need to Decide:
- Your blog and brand’s personality and style. To make a mark, you have to be strongly branded, and strong branding comes from consistency. Your colors, your font. Your logo and mascot. Again, it harks back to being organized. Get it all together and launch.
- Your benchmarks for success. Think page views and social shares, lead acquisitions through lead magnets, etc. BE SPECIFIC, and GO BIG. Big picture goals. But don’t forget the little milestones! So many beginner bloggers don’t set these up and become discouraged, not realizing they’re achieving some wins! And so many don’t have a vision at all, so they just amble along in a status quo.
- Your battleplan on how to achieve those goals. Strategy! For every KPI (key performance indicator), you need to have a performer. E.g., If you want social shares, you need to choose which platform is best for you. If you choose Pinterest? Maybe you’ll focus on making gorgeous images linked to how-tos.
- Your offers: Will you offer services or products? If you decide on services, you can start attending classes and webinars that will help make you even more knowledgable in your area of expertise. If you decide on products, you’ll want to attend classes that help you become an expert AND classes that help you put the course together comprehensively. You’ll want to gather competitor intelligence, market intelligence, etc.
- Your passive income: Will you become an affiliate for a few companies that you’ve followed throughout your journey? Will you run ads on your side bar, maybe within your posts. Maybe you’ll offer sponored posts or reviews. Or, you can do a combination of all three, as long as it isn’t the SOLE focus of your blog.
The Money Matters
You can’t think of your blog as a business without thinking of money. And if you’re still only using free services, it’s time to make a big shift.
- Payment options
Come to think of it, everything is an investment, not an expense. If you pay for a graphic designer to design your logo and mascot, that would pay you back down the line as your branding becomes your first greeting to your potential customers.
Now’s the time to have fun dissecting every area, finding ways you can save, and where you should pay, because, in the end, it will pay you back!
Take the time to analyze which sources of income you’ll choose, and when they should start working: i.e., when the money should start coming in.
Blogging = free AND premium content. Think monetization. Your expertise is worth something, don’t give it ALL away for free. Be helpful, but also be professional. Professionals are paid. Think ebooks, content upgrades (free and paid), premium subscriptions for services, guest speaking, webinars, mini-courses, podcasts, videos, etc.
Blogging is social. Business IS social! Especially these days. Your edge over your competitors might well be your social skills! But not in the way of extroverts and charismatic salesmen.
- Social media
- Building your list
- Marketing strategy
What social media platforms will you tackle? My advice? Stick with one or two. It’s better to be sensational on Facebook AND Pinterest than just mediocre on 5 different platforms. With some added tools, it’s possible to be great at 3, but pick those 3 ahead of time, and ensure your strategy is laser-focused.
How will you build your list? Will you have calls to action, a bonus for subscription, or maybe content for lead magnets? These are just a few of the many options out there.
For your marketing, what will you do? Which services or posts will you promote? Google Adwords? Sponsored Stories on Facebook? Guest posts? Write-ups from bloggers and Instagram users? PinGroupie posts? Study your free and paid options.
The Streamlined Workflow
So you’re taking your blog seriously now. You know what’s also very official and serious? An SOP (standard operating procedure).
- Workflows and schedules
- Guest post guidelines (Hey, dream big! You will be accepting them down the line!)
- Blog and business terms and conditions: that doesn’t just pertain to purchases, but comment policies, too.
All this + learning more, more, more. Education should be part of your workflow. Investing in YOURSELF will make you the best butt-kicking blogger ever. That wouldn’t be bad for business, would it?!
Make an editorial calendar, stick to deadlines and promote
Since you took the time to get your branding and reader persona set, planning your editorial calendar will come naturally and easily. You can find some great ideas on content creation tools, in this post.
Take the time to schedule your blogging days to research, draft and write awesome content.
Having a calendar means you’ve got deadlines, and you should stick to them! You shouldn’t have to face the dilemma of whether you can fire yourself for being late.
Refer to your business plan– see the social media thingie? That’s it next. Promote, promote, promote. Tap into social media’s powerfulness! And then do it again. Re-sharing is important!
Schmooze. This was in your business plan, too, wasn’t it? If you don’t have one yet, make a list of all the existing blogs and influencers in your community. You’re going to be one of them, so might as well rub elbows with them!
Don’t forget to schmooze with your readers. Always reply to their comments on your blog and on social media. And, be sure to make them feel special through free stuff! Exclusives. For your eyes only.
Build your list. You do this through great content and lead magnets, smartly laid out calls to action, etc. Your email list is your audience, your inner circle. Without it, you’re just talking to the wind.
Focus and timeframes
Decide on a timeframe for all those goals you named in your business plan. This creates urgency, and urgency moves your butt forward.
Pick a goal, identify the KPI and measure it on your Analytics. Insight is priceless. Here’s where you might want tools to make this report easy for you. What’s great is these tools don’t just report– they also chime in with effective suggestions on how to achieve your goals!
If you’re distracted, go away somewhere you won’t be distracted. It might mean renting an office space, or simply dedicating a room in your house for just your blogging. A room with a door you can lock– that’s all you need.
Invest blood, sweat, tears
Spend money so you can earn money (that’s the blood, haha). Free tools are getting more and more awesome, but their paid versions are so much better. When you look at other blogs wistfully and wonder what they’re doing right, it could simply be that they’re paying to look and be that good!
Buy your domain. This one is so important! People won’t take you seriously if your branding doesn’t start with your domain.
Invest time and energy. No excuses. Hobbyists spend time, energy and money! My friend had a stint with bettas– they’re gorgeous little fish in different forms and colors– and my friend was all in. She became one of the trusted voices on fishkeeping, and she certainly spent a lot of money and effort keeping her bettas happy and healthy. Do you have that same passion for your blog? Are you willing to put that much effort in?
Professionals! Hire professionals. As you grow, you’ll need a VA to help you stay on top of things. I have my own team. It’s important to remember that for every successful blog, there is a team of at least two behind it!
Email management and Social media management — You can do it all yourself, or you can start to build your A-team!
That’s it. Just put the process on repeat and don’t stop. Create, schmooze, analyze, improve. You may have been blogging for 5 years already, you might think you’ve already served your time. But, you’re wrong. Things could turn around and, if you passionately, genuinely follow the tips and techniques I’ve shared here, you could have more growth in the next few months, than in all those years!
DON’T CHECK IT OUT. MAKE IT HAPPEN. Being cautious might serve you well in certain areas, but not in blogging. Make the leap! Blogging has evolved so much that if you love it– it will love you back.
What do you plan on working on RIGHT NOW?
I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!