by: Carol Bryant
He who loses money, loses much; He who loses a friend, loses much more; He who loses faith, loses all. –Eleanor Roosevelt
A blog business plan can help you make money but also avoid a variety of speed bumps, road hazards, and hazardous conditions along the way. If monetizing is not on your agenda, a blog business plan is a good idea just to keep your blog on track and headed for success and growth.
Lately, I’ve seen quite a few comments floating around the blogosphere proclaiming, “I quit blogging! I don’t know what to do next, I am so burnt out, sick of the brands and rat race to keep up, and I am so outta here.”
Okay then, go. I want to shake someone who says those things and remind them that nothing worth having in life is ever easy. Blogging can suck. There are haters out there. Brands and PR agents can drive one bonkers: I know, I am blogging with you. If it isn’t for you then simply don’t do it. You are leaving a spot open for someone else who will move in and succeed who wants “it” even more.
I wonder if the folks who bail stuck to their business plan, if they had one, and if so, did it include an exit strategy?
What is a Blogging Business Plan
A blogging business plan need not be as extensive and detailed as a standard business plan, but it should serve as a roadmap for your blog’s overall structure and future. A blog business plan is simply a detailed process that includes the overall structure, revenue goals, market research, along with goals, strategies, and tactics for the blog.
A blog business plan should include a lot of the same elements as a business plan for a traditional small business.Don’t get caught up in the fear of starting one or what exactly it HAS to look like. It can look like whatever you want it to: It is called a plan because the goal is to lessen your stress and create more of a concrete vision. Dorothy never would have followed that brick road were it not yellow: Imagine if the bricks changed colors. Stay the path.
Pieces of a Blog Business Plan
Part One: Define Your Blog and Its Purpose
What is the mission of your blog for your readers (part A)
What is the purpose and mission of your blog as a business for YOU (part B)
Part A is your “elevator pitch” – the statement you can say about your blog if stuck on an elevator with someone and you had to explain it within in 30 seconds. So for my blog, Fidose of Reality, that is “Fidose of Reality is a reality-based health and wellness resource where dog lovers of the highest order unite.”
Part B is more intensive and took me a few days to assemble this. Here, you clearly outline the business purpose of your blog. Why does your blog (as a business) exist? You don’t walk into a retail store and help yourself to merchandise without paying and the same holds true for monetizing a blog: I have eight or nine items on my blog as a business plan in this section.
Part Two: Define yourself and who you are.
How do you want the world to perceive your blog? What is your niche or microniche? Pet blog is a niche but pet-friendly travel is a microniche, for example. Are you a dog trainer who imparts her skills, advice, videos, and techniques on her blog? Are you a health-conscious dog mom or dog dad who incorporates physical fitness into blog advice? Be clear about who you are before you walk any further down the blogging road.
Part Three: Who is Your Demographic/Audience/Target Reader
If you write it, readers will come, right? Not always, so if you want the readers, then identify them and determine how you will find them (more about that in your social media strategy). Who are you writing for? What are your current demographics as indicated by Alexa or Google Analytics? Do you have a younger demographic and want an older one? Are you happy with the readers you have? Are you attracting mostly other bloggers in your niche? If that’s what you want, that’s fine, but define what you want and who you want.
Part Four: Finances and Budget
I could not believe what my costs were for maintaining a blog when I first sat down to do a business plan about two years ago. Prior to that, I was pretty much freestyling it, and I do not recommend this approach. All businesses have some type of fees involved, and blogging is no different. You invest in things like a computer, but so much more, including (well for me, this is a basic list):
- Backup program
- PicMonkey service
- Tech person to help on the back end – if needed
- Server fees
- Hosting fees
- Advertising costs (Facebook, etc)
- Contest fees
- Postage for contest and shipping to winners of prizes
- Graphics, templates
- Business cards
- Membership associations
- Fees to conferences like BlogPaws
- Trademarks, logos, artwork – if needed
- PayPal fees
And so on – this is just a sampling. When you see the fees, you might think twice when a brand comes knocking and finds it acceptable to offer you treats in return for a fantastic review because it would be good for your blog traffic to do so. I say okay now and then to freebies if I have a relationship established and it will benefit me and my blog. My business plan keeps me on track, especially this section. The person pitching you is getting paid to do so and you should get paid to do your job, too. Bloggers are influencers, so keep this in mind.
Part Five: Long-Term Goals
I have a long-term goal section for this year and for next year and the one after – you can choose to do them all at once or just a month at a time. However, I highly recommend you at least have a yearly goal. What do you want from your blog a year from now? Define it before you can pursue it. As I told a blogger this week, you can’t get in a car and expect to arrive at your destination without a clear sense of the route to get there. GPS helps in the car and a blog business plan helps keep you on course.
Part Six: Marketing Plan
Aside from the business plan, a subsection included is marketing plan. My marketing plan includes goals/strategies/tactics to market my blog. Marketing is a combination of product, price, promotion, and distribution (thank you business classes in college). So consider what you are selling, what price points you have set, and how you will promote your blog. For distribution, this applies more to a tangible product, but don’t skip that. The Marketing plan should include a completed media kit, pricing your services, working with advertisers, brands, networks, affiliates, etc.
Part Seven: Immediate and Short-Term Goals
Having a long-term goal in place was done earlier in the business plan because in this section you will develop bite-sizes achievable ways to get to that long-term goal(s). Take it month by month and set those goals for that month only. Do you want an editorial calendar? Do you want to write elsewhere to gain more traffic and name recognition? Do you want to get to BlogPaws in person? How much money do you need to save in order to get there? These things need to be built into your goals. In fact, build your finances into that section. Decide that you are coming to the BlogPaws Conference and then how to make it financially happen. Start saving NOW for the BlogPaws 2015 Conference.
Within the BlogPaws Facebook Community Boost Group, discussion has arisen of late regarding business plans. If you want an even deeper step-by-step analysis, read through each of these detailed blog posts to help you formulate your plan:
If you have a full- or part-time job, chances are you have a set of assigned tasks you perform in that job. You don’t show up and guess at what to do or try to fly by the seat of your pants and hope someone tells you how to do your job. You know if you perform, you get paid.
If you want to make money blogging, a blog business plan functions in the same way as duties at a customary job. You have the tasks in place so you know what to do to achieve your goals. Running a blog means you are an entrepreneur. You have the power to decide how much money you will make and what it takes to make that happen.
What can you do to make this happen?