Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
I hope your pencils are sharpened and you have a brand new notebook ready for writing in. Wait, does anyone other than me even use paper and pencil any more? For this endeavor, putting together a business plan for the pet blogger, I certainly did use pen and paper because it’s easier to jot down every idea, see them all in one place and then cross them out if necessary. With a paper document you can keep the copies to look back on later. Chances are, if you’re writing your ideas on a document on a computer screen you will delete what you’re not using and the original (which in some cases is the best!) idea will be lost.
Before we jump into this week’s assignment for your pet blogging business plan, here are five reasons (although there are many, many more) why you need one:
- You need to set specific goals if you want to be successful. Without goals you will wander aimlessly and at the end of each year when you reflect on what you’ve accomplished you’ll wonder, “where did the year go and what do I have to show for it.”
- There will come a time when you may need to form partnerships in order to grow your business, but if you don’t know what you need you won’t know with whom to partner.
- To grow your blog into a money-making (if that’s your goal) endeavor.
- To be able to understand what opportunities to pursue and which simply don’t fit your vision and mission.
- To give you laser sharp focus on your ultimate business dreams and put steps in place to help you achieve milestones toward those dreams.
As a writer I am a “creative type” and because of that, the idea of sitting down and writing a linear business plan scared me off. I need to play with concepts and even create a vision board. I love to use sticky notes to jot down concepts that I am not quite certain where they will fit, but am certain they will come into play at some point. If you’re a linear thinker you can certainly follow these steps and put your entire business plan in writing without any visual aids. Your business plan can start its life on a vision board, which can be as simple as a piece of construction paper or poster board or a chalk board… or in a note book or on an electronic document. The choice of how you do it is yours, the choice of having a business plan is truly no longer an option if you want to stand apart in the competitive pet blogging world.
First three steps for your business plan:
- Develop, or articulate, your pet blogging persona. There are myriad social media-obsessed poodle bloggers out there I imagine so if I want to set myself apart from the pack I need to know what makes me and my blog unique. Take a bit of time to determine what makes you unique. What sets your blog apart from the other cat, dog, ferret or other pet blogs that are online? What unique perspective do you have on the niche in which you’re writing? Is it your humor? Your take no prisoners approach to blogging? When I think of my blogging persona I think of it as my tagline. If I stand up in a networking group and introduce myself I’d say, “I’m Robbi Hess, owner of My Divas Dish a blog that highlights my two diva pets dishing on life, social media and current events.” With that statement I’ve marked my territory and my niche. ACTIVITY: Develop a tagline that shows your business blogging persona. If you already have one, great! If you have one make certain it reflects who you are and what you’re doing on your blog right now.
- Vision and mission statements are typically part of a business plan and have typically been a stumbling block for me when I’ve been tasked with developing them. I think it may be because the words are so “corporate.” Break it into small chunks and consider what the “vision” was when you started your blog. Was it to assist in finding shelter pets new homes? Was it a platform to blog about social media? Was it a way to show the world your sense of humor in a pet-centric endeavor? Was it to make money? ACTIVITY: Write down the first three things that originally prompted you to start your pet blog. Once you’ve done that, look at your blog and see if you’ve lived up to your original vision. If so, congratulations. If not, why not? Did your vision shift once you started blogging? That’s great, but it may mean you need to change your vision statement. Now for your mission statement. Look at your “mission” as what you are passionate about and what your purpose for blogging is. My passion is my diva pets and social media — mission achieved. ACTIVITY: Toss out the word mission and write down your “passion and/or purpose” statement. This is from a book I read about the Right Brain Business Plan and part of the activity was to write down and answer these questions, “I am passionate about…” and “My purpose is to…” Yours don’t have to be lofty, “I’m passionate about life and my purpose is to save the world,” if that is your mission then thank you, but if it’s “I am passionate about my poodle and my calico cat and my purpose is to share social media tips and tricks and share what happens in the lives of my pets…” (As I do on my site) then I am achieving my mission. (Whew, I realize this was a long bullet, but necessary)
- Who’s your competition? It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there (not really though, because I have found members of the pet blogging community to be more than helpful and I’m sure you will agree!) That being said, you need to take some time to analyze your competition. ACTIVITY: Choose three bloggers that you admire or a combination of those you admire and those who are in your niche — the two may not be mutually exclusive. Jot down their blog name, if the blog has a tagline, and then jot down three similarities between their blog and yours (if any) and then jot down three things that set you apart (whether it be your writing skills, design aptitude or frequency with which you post). Now for the next set of ACTIVITIES. Write down whether there are any barriers to your being able to compete with those bloggers you noted. Then write down: a) the strengths you bring to the table to overcome those barriers; b) the challenges you may face along the way; and c) the opportunities that may come your way as a result of meeting these challenges head on. Note, the opportunities may be to be eligible to participate in the BlogPaws Professional Blog Network and be chosen for programs, to up your blogging frequency, to have your name show up first in a Google search of poodle pet bloggers… whatever your goal may be. ACTIVITY: Customer insight. While a pet blogger may not have customers in the same way a retailer would, a pet bloggers’ customer is the reader of that pet blog. Make note when you’re perusing the other blogs of who is commenting on those blogs; do you note a trend, ie the same people commenting across all three of the blogs you’re analyzing? You will want to keep this information handy as it will come in useful when we get to the marketing section of your pet blogging business plan.
Who’s ready to take the weekend to jump into these activities? There will be ongoing discussions in the BlogPaws Community Blog Talk Group and it will be a forum where you can share what you’ve discovered along the way with your business plan, ask for help if you’re just not sure what your business’s mission or vision is or if you need help articulating it. As pet bloggers who want to be taken more seriously, we need to treat our blogs as a business and these are the first steps!
To take a bit of the fear factor out of creating your business plan, remember this is for your eyes only, unless you’re looking to work with investors at some point, then you will share it. For now, consider this your business success diary and put it under lock and key if you want to… just get started on it!
PS: If you’re making a vision board, feel free to snap a picture and share it with us!
(Photo Shutterstock Collaboration Board) (Photo Shutterstock Ferret on Keyboard)