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A recent survey of bloggers revealed nearly 80% of them want to turn their blog into a full-time business that pays all the bills. That’s a pretty amazing figure. Nearly all of the remaining 20% said they were already making a full-time income from their blog
What made the difference? Why this huge gap between those who wish for something and those living the reality of their wishes? Is there something different the minority group is doing? Whatever that is, a lot must have gone into solid strategic planning which was faithfully adhered to and smartly implemented.
So today’s post will help teach you how to create a Blog Business plan that can turn that side hobby (and hustle) into your full-time business that pays all the bills and more.
Nearly all successful mega businesses today use business plans, which experts agreed factored into their success. (A business plan is also a requirement if you plan to approach a bank or other investor for a business loan) Writing a business plan is a time for pinpointing the specific aspects of the blog, researching all relevant areas, and creating smart strategies to make these plans realities. Spending time on this can also help your business be more successful, having thought about a bunch of the details rather than winging it as you go. It might be important to consider intranet solutions for small business if you wanted to make a business out of it. Because then you’ll be able to share files on a secure system with co-workers.
A business plan charts a roadmap that your blogging business will follow to get to that place you desire. Remember, however, it must be written with your target audience in mind. There is a lot of information out there for anyone who is interested in setting up their business and requires smart contract development services to help you along.
If this seems like a lot of information, no need to worry. I’ve got a free worksheet to help you step-by-step in creating your own blog business plan. Just get signed up for access to my Resource Library, download the worksheet and you’re on your way!
Up next are seven key steps for creating your blog business plan. While I will mostly use the term blog instead of business, much of this can apply to other businesses.
FIRST STEP: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The term executive summary might make you think, “but it’s just a blog!” You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company before you write an executive summary for your business plan. Yes, even if it’s a business plan for monetizing your blog.
While it’s the first thing you encounter in a completed business plan, it’s usually written last after all other parts have been completed. Don’t get carried away by the fancy term. Include the following items in your Executive Summary:
1. Mission Statement
Your Mission Statement is a brief explanation of what your business/blog is all about. What purpose will it serve? Why did you create it? What problem was noticed and what is the solution your blog intends to offer? You get the idea. Putting together answers to these questions will form your mission statement. The mission statement is a very important part of your blog business plan.
2. Growth Highlights
Has your blog been around a while? If so, this is where you mention the growth you’ve already achieved. Growth here means any sort of growth. Was there an increase in the money you earned from your blog? Was there an increase in email subscribers? How about an increase in social media followers or page views? Mention them all as they each contribute to your overall blog growth.
Depending on whether you’re using your blog business plan to get financing, this can be a very important part of your business plan. Investors like to see growth because it helps show you know what you are doing and shows the potential for profit.
However, even if you’re new at blogging, don’t worry too much. If you had a successful business before, consider including a specific example or two of growth highlights of that business. While not related to the exact business for which you have created the current blog business plan, showing a prior success can be better than leaving it blank.
3. Your Products And/Or Services
This just need a brief summary about the products and services you’ll be using to monetize your blog. There’s another section in the business plan where you’ll have ample opportunity to talk about your products and services in detail.
The last executive summary section are your goals. Share your plans for the future of your blog, and any exciting goals you wish to achieve. What are those dreams that keep you awake at night?
While you should be specific on your goals, this doesn’t mean your blog business plan should show a list of 100 goals!
What happens to this section if you’re brand spanking new to blogging? You may find it difficult to fill all the points we’ve just discussed, but it doesn’t mean you can’t create your business plan. You absolutely can!
This is the perfect time to focus on any past valuable experience and brainstorm on ways you can turn these experiences into a blog. Get serious and be detailed on your research. Find out the things that will make you succeed in that niche, as well as what will make you fail.
Whether you’ve been blogging a while or just starting, make big plans for the future!
SECOND STEP: BUSINESS DESCRIPTION OF YOUR BLOG
This section of the business plan is where you’ll tackle the organization and culture of your blog. Don’t worry if you feel like you don’t have a “company culture” yet. You’re building a brand, which is almost the same thing.
1. Differentiate Your Blog From Others
To guide you in correctly answering the above question, spend quality time asking yourself (and answering) why someone would prefer to read your blog rather than a competitor’s with similar content.
Again, for investors reviewing your business plan, they’ll need to see why you are different and can stand out and succeed rather than being one of the masses and never really make a profit.
In the fourth step we’ll spend time carrying out some serious competitor analysis. But for this step, only focus on what makes your blog different and what you can do to make your blog standout and separate yourself from your competition.
2. Who You Serve
Your target audience of course! Remember, I said your blog business plan should be drafted with your target audience in mind. So whatever you include in the business plan, it should basically revolve around your target audience.
To monetize your blog you need a loyal community ready to buy because they value what you produce. That community is formed from your audience, so be clear and specific about who you serve. You must be able to give a clear answer to the following questions about your audience.
- What’s their age?
- What’s their gender?
- What is their educational background?
- What do they do for a living?
- Where do they live?
- What information were they searching for that brought them to your blog?
- How can you help them?
- What are their future goals or aspirations?
- What are their hobbies?
Whether you’re an experienced blogger or total newbie, you can still carry out this exercise to analyze your target audience. Most people erroneously assume blogging is just putting up whatever content comes to mind then later figuring out the people who like the content. However, blogging is very different from that. It must first focus on who you wish to serve, followed by creating content that appeals to those specific people.Thinking of this now as part of your blog business plan can help give you ideas and keep you on track in the future when creating content.
3. Your Brand Personality And Company Culture
As mentioned earlier, even if you feel you don’t have a “company culture” yet, you’re still creating a brand which has a personality and culture to uphold. To help you structure this section of your business plan, work on answering these questions:
- What purpose does your blog serve?
- How do you want people to feel when they interact with your blog?
- What words describe your blog’s personality?
Consistency is essential in developing a true personality for your blog. When you first start out you can experiment with several styles to find the best fit. However, well-known brands have a consistent personality that makes it easier for their audience to identify them in the midst of the masses. You want to follow that route, too.
This may not be as important a part of your blog business plan, but it is essential when developing your blog.
4. Organizational Structure
I’m not giving financial or legal advice here or in the creation your business plan. I encourage you to consult a specialized licensed professional (attorney or accountant) when the time comes to tackle this section. They can help you understand potential tax and legal ramifications of the various choices. If you’re working with employees, it might be helpful to have a service to CloudPay at hand that’ll help you process payroll internationally.
This is a time when being a do-it-yourselfer can really bite you in the behind later (even if you use a handy dandy do-it-yourself kit). If you start that route, at least have a professional help you at the end.
If you’re fairly new to blogging it may not currently be a primary concern. But new or not, calendar a date or revenue goal to revisit this issue in the future. Be sure to enter it into your blog business plan.
The more clients you deal with, the higher the possibility of a lawsuit. Remember, anyone can file a lawsuit (whether it’s later determined to be frivolous or not), and that can cost you a lot of time and money, along with creating a lot of stress.
To protect your business and your income, consider turning your blog into a recognized business structure. A licensed professional can help with this. Also remember that the law (at least in the U.S.) requires you to file taxes on all income, regardless of the avenue through which they are earned.
If you’re in a blogging niche that has some sort of high risk, getting a structured business with the protection of the law is definitely a smart step. Consider doing it sooner rather than later.
THIRD STEP: ANALYSIS OF COMPETITORS
Going into battle knowing nothing about the enemy is insane. The same applies to a blogging business. Including competitor information in your business plan is very important.
Before launching your blog, and most especially before turning it into a business, it’s essential you carry out research of your competitors and similar blogs. This analysis is important if you want to stay ahead of the game. However, be careful to do your research the right way.
Here are things to watch out for:
1. Do not research using an “idea generating” or “copying ” mindset. Peeping at a competitor’s site can get the creative ideas flowing. However, you’re there for research analysis and nothing else. Don’t get distracted.
2. Don’t feel discouraged if competitors’ sites looks better than yours. It’s perfectly okay to discover your competitors have more followers, more clients or any other statistics that may make you feel inferior. Knowing this shouldn’t put you down, but rather motivate you to do better and surpass your competitor’s success. So resist the urge to get into a comparison game and instead focus on your analysis and getting needed information.
Besides, it’s great knowing your competitors have a lot of clients and followers because that reinforces that you’ve chosen a niche where people do indeed want what you have to offer! For example, if you were blogging about underwater basket weaving and found only one or two competitors and hardly any followers, you should rethink your niche because there’s probably no market. (This doesn’t apply if you’re an engineer or programmer creating the next Microsoft or Facebook. But you get the idea.)
While competitor analysis is an important aspect of your business plan, don’t run your blog with a competition mindset. A collaborative mindset gets better results as you build lasting business relationship with those involved in similar topics. Do your research and get to work building a solid foundation for your blog.
Conducting a proper competitor analysis means taking the following steps:
1. Identify Your Competitors
Don’t just have a vague idea of who your competitors are. That will be of no help in your business plan or building your blog. Instead, make a list of each one you consider to be a competitor (without going overboard). These are typically other bloggers in your niche doing something similar to what you’re doing or want to do. They’re bloggers who have similar products or offerings. Be sure to include links to their websites, including in your business plan.
For blogging newbies this may sound like Greek. But hang in there. There are some simple ways to find your competitors.
- Join Facebook groups. Facebook has gone beyond being more than just a social media account. Over time, Facebook groups have turned out to be an amazing place to learn more about your audience and competition. Just as we’ve discussed for social media, do same in Facebook groups, pay close attention to what is going on. Most groups allow participation, but do that in compliance with the group’s rules. Use Facebook to get information to help you properly analyze your competition.
- Befriend Google. See what pops up when you search for relevant keywords. This method of gaining information on your competitors is the easiest of them all. Type keywords related to your blog or niche into the search bar. You can also follow these steps on Pinterest and see who/what pops up.
- Be active on social media. As you actively use social media to share your niche’s content, you’ll come across competitors. Pay close attention to what is happening. What are they saying, what are their followers saying, how did their fans find them, and how are they keeping their followers engaged?
2. Research Their Goals And Strategies
Now that you have the “who,” the next step is to research their strategies and goals. (This is also an important part of your blog business plan.) You can find this information from their websites and social media accounts. There are also a number of competition analysis tools, many of which are free.
Think about these questions during research:
- What sets apart each competitor from the others on your list?
- Which products or services do they promote and how do they do it?
- What strategies do your competitors use that appear to be successful (hosting podcasts, webinars, workshops, courses, etc.)?
- What are their goals? (This one can be tough to figure out. However, by thorough research you should be able to get a general idea of what each competitor may be trying to achieve.)
3. Know Their Price Points And Ranges
Does your competition sell any products? Do they instead sell services? Make a list of these products with price ranges for each of them. (Be reasonable in this task. If they have 100 products, choose those closest to what you offer or perhaps just choose the top 10, or one or two of each “type” of product.)
Your lists will give you an idea of the usual retail prices so that when you start creating yours, you’ll be well-informed on what to charge. Being well-informed on pricing is important whether you want to be competitive with similar pricing, or whether you want to price yourself at two or three times as much, or even more (which can be a marketing strategy in itself).
This is an important part of your business plan as it shows market info, as well as profitable potential for you.
4. List Their Strengths And Weaknesses
If you’ve carried out the previous exercises, by now you should have a clear idea of what exactly exists in your niche and how your competitors are creating communities for their blog. But don’t stop there! Dig a little deeper.
Select up to five competitors and write a detailed list of strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what they excel at and what they can improve upon will give you the smart knowledge to come up with your own, well-rounded strategy. (It can also help fill gaps the niche may have.)
Competitor analysis also helps you get more tuned into the current trends and strategies in your niche. In most cases doing this once is enough, so don’t get addicted to competitor analysis just to monitor or keep tabs on what everyone else is up to.
This is also be a helpful business plan section as it shows what you’re up against and can help you shine!
There’s a free worksheet to help walk you through this whole process. It will also help you answer the relevant questions to get your blog business plan created. For a free copy of the worksheet, click on the link to the Resource Library.
FOURTH STEP: AUDIENCE RESEARCH
In the second step I talked about needing to be clear on who you serve, which happens to be your audience. Let’s dig deeper.
1. Conduct An Audience Survey
To know more about and understand your audience better, surveys are a smart option. It also eliminates guesswork. Creating surveys is easy and fun, plus you can create them with free sites like KwikSurveys, SurveyMonkey or even Google Forms. Simply share the survey with your audience through your mailing list, blog posts and social media several times within a short time span of one to three weeks.
To get started, tick these off of your checklist:
- What tool/website will you use to create your survey?
- How will you make your survey available? (link in a newsletter, post, etc.)
- How will you entice your audience to take your survey? (Hint: Making it a 20 question survey taking an hour to complete won’t cut it!)
- What are 3 to 5 of the most important questions to ask? (While you don’t need to limit yourself to these, again, see the above hint. You can always do another survey, or do a follow-up survey for one segment based on replies. )
You won’t need a survey with a small audience or none at all yet. Just pay close attention to social media, especially in Facebook groups and Twitter chats. You’ll learn valuable information about your target audience.
While this isn’t as important a business plan section as others, be sure to use it.
2. Specific Ways You Can Help Your Audience
Consider your brand personality along with all you’ve learned from your competitor analysis in the third step. In what particular way can you help your audience? The key here is specific. What specific thing can you do to solve the problems of your audience that your competitors are not doing?
This will help you stand out, which is an important part of your business plan. Even if you don’t have an original solution, execute an existing solution in a fresh and easier way that is flavored with your brand’s flair and personality!
FIFTH STEP: BUILD A STRONG COMMUNITY
It isn’t helpful to launch a product on a blog with little or no audience or community. You must first grow your community (prospective clients) before launching a product for sale. So in addition to creating products, you need to grow your traffic and build a strong community. Otherwise who will buy your products and services? A rainmaker blog needs both a dedicated community and an awesome product or service.
Let’s look at ways to help you do that.
1. Social Media
Harnessing the power of social media is usually the most common way to build a blogging community. Employing the right tactics can help grow your tribe and increase your traffic. You can specialize the functions of each social media account. For example, LinkedIn for sales, Pinterest and Instagram for traffic growth, Twitter for news updates, and Facebook and Instagram for finding and engaging with your audience.
As you proceed with drafting your blog business plan, it’s equally essential you create your social media strategy. Let these points guide you:
- On which platforms does your target market most hang out?
- How will you locate your target audience on each platform?
- What strategies will you adopt on each platform to grow your audience and community?
- On which platforms will your presence be the strongest?
2. List Of Subscribers
You know you don’t really control your social media accounts, right? You could be left without an audience if Facebook or Pinterest pack up shop. The reason is you don’t really own those accounts on their websites.
Email is different. You own the list (hopefully along with regular backup copies!) and can reach your audience whenever, wherever. An email list can be crucial for selling your products and connecting with your audience, whether formally or with a personal touch.
As you set up your list of subscribers, keep these points at the front of your mind:
- What will you use as your lead magnet?
- What strategies will you use to grow your subscriber list?
- How often will you mail your subscribers?
- What kind of content will you send?
Don’t include your list in your business plan, but show that you have one.
3. Humanize Your Brand
Gone are the days of dealing with brands where no one knew who “that man behind the curtain” was. Customers want to know who they’re dealing with and who they buy from. They prefer to know they’re dealing with a real person rather than a faceless corporation. (Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard of Amazon). That’s partly why so many people take to social media to communicate with companies.
That’s also part of the reason startups and small businesses are so successful today. To build a true blogging business and a strong community, you must humanize your brand. This simply means you take candid steps to make your audience feel connected to you, and that they should also be able to relate to you as a person.
SIXTH STEP: YOUR PRODUCT AND/OR SERVICE
Yay! This is the dough we’ve all been waiting for, right? It’s exciting having a blog that fetches you a full-time income and pays all the bills! This step will teach you what to do to turn your blog into a rainmaker, a money spinner and your full-time business.
So what will you do? Create a digital product? Offer a service? Whatever your answer, here are tips to get you on your way.
1. What You Will Sell
What service or product will help your target market? Is it something you discovered they would need from analyzing survey results, or an observation you carried out on them? This is a blog business plan section where you should be completely detailed. To help you, use the following points:
- What type of product (webinar, workshop, or perhaps an ecourse)?
- How many hours will the webinar or workshop run? How many modules will the ecourse have?
- What topics will be covered?
- What is the purchase price?
- When will you launch?
- Will you also offer services?
- If so, what kind?
- What are the components of your services (documents, recordings, etc.)?
- What type of package(s) will you offer?
- Within what timeframe will the services be delivered?
- What is the price point for each?
- What will you do to handle customer service?
2. Benefits Your Clients Receive
Always remember that your blog business plan revolves around serving your audience. Without them, you wouldn’t have a blogging community or even a business! So it shouldn’t be only about monetizing your blog. Your services and products should also have an evident impact on your blogging community members. What you offer must be able to answer why they needed or wanted it in the first place.
3. Your Offerings Should Be Different From Those Of Your Competitors
You’re not the only one selling that product or service, so research what makes yours different from the crowd. If there is no obvious difference, then ask yourself how you can make it different, or what extra value you can add to make it different. People love to follow trail blazers. Be creative and think outside the box!
Again, this is a great business plan section to make yourself shine.
SEVENTH STEP: SALES AND MARKETING STRATEGY
This is also an important business plan section, so don’t give up now! I applaud your determination, especially if you’re new to blogging and a lot of this seemed intimidating. It’ll pay off sooner rather than later.
In this final step you’ll be learning sales and marketing strategies for those services and products you’ve created. If no one knows you’ve got those amazing services and products, you won’t make any sales!
1. Marketing Your Blog, Services And Products
As ideas come to you, write them down immediately. Whether it be creating social media strategies, content marketing strategies, scheduling of social media posts, promos, contests, discounts, etc. Be sure you capture ideas to promote and market your services and products, not just your blog.
Remember, it’s easy to cross things off the list later, but it can be hard to remember a great idea you let slip away! (Consider keeping a small recorder on your nightstand or get an app for that.)
2. Daily Hours to Spend On Marketing
If you fail to specifically plan this you could end up overspending precious time better spent on something else. Everyone is busy, but if you want to convert your blog into a rainmaker, you must create time for marketing your blog, products and services. When planning, set realistic daily and weekly hours, even if it involves making some sacrifices. Once you make that first sale, which usually leads to more sales, you’ll know beyond a doubt it was worth it!
Again, be realistic. Don’t choose numbers based on what you think you “should” do. Starting slower is fine, but be consistent. Not overdoing it gives you a better chance of reaching your time (and effort) goals, and reaching goals is always great! (And a lot better than beating yourself up if you don’t reach the time goal you set.)
In a business plan, this isn’t a motivation yardstick that will reflect poorly to others if you start slow. It’s about making realistic goals and meeting them. Also be sure you’re consistent across the business plan in how this ties in. Meaning, showing a goal in your business plan of $100,000 in one year while working 2 hours a week probably isn’t as realistic as 30 or 40 hours a week.
3. Launch Strategies
Whether you are a blogging newbies or an experienced blogger creating a brand new blog, you need launch strategies in your blog business plan. It’s possible to launch your services and products even before you officially start your blog. Think of ways to get your target audience excited about your “coming soon” blog. (And get them on your subscriber list while doing that!)
There are some simple techniques to achieve this and sustain interest going forward. One way is to keep your visitors and soon-to-be blogging community occupied with up to ten amazing relevant blog posts that makes them hungry for more. It helps them get hooked on your brand while being on the lookout for your blog’s launch!
4. Your Growth Strategy
After amassing followers, you need strategies to continue recording growth. Static growth is not good for business. Growth needs to be increasing, even if slow and steady. Research techniques to keep your audience (and invariably your income) constantly growing. Consider ecourses, webinars, guest posts on other sites, or even hiring an assistant to free up your time for money-making tasks.
Do all you can to keep it growing and thriving. Getting 1,000 followers within 4 months of launch but then recording no increase to that figure over the next 4 months is not really growth.
Tracking your growth is also important, as well as tracking what works and what doesn’t. Simply logging in looking at numbers every once in a while is not enough. This is especially true when trying new strategies. You need to know how the new strategies stack up against others you have used so you’ll know whether they are worth using again.
It’s been a wonderful journey. So get to work, draft that blog business plan and make it happen! Turn your blog into a money making rainmaker. Make it your full-time business and income generator!
Be sure to check out the accompanying worksheet in the Resource Library. It will make drafting your blog business plan much easier!
PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW. DO YOU HAVE A BLOG BUSINESS PLAN YET? IF SO, HOW HAS IT HELPED YOU?
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