Blog To Business: 10 Ways To Start Treating Your Blog Like a Business
Many people start blogging as a passion project, creative outlet, or simply a hobby to pass time. And of the millions of blogs that exist on the internet today, many are still just that, a hobby. That is, little to no consistency, no investment in your growth, never tracking expenses and the list goes on.
But if you’re looking to take your blog from a passion project to a major source of income, then it’s important to build habits that reflect that goal and start treating your blog like an actual business.
HOW TO TREAT YOUR BLOG LIKE A BUSINESS.
If you’re looking to turn your blog into a profitable business, here are some strategies, tips, and ideas on growing a successful platform and running your blog like a business.
1. CARVE OUT YOUR OWN CATEGORY
If you’re looking to turn your blog into profitable business, it’s important to be clear on what you do, why you do it, and who exactly you do it for. In other words, having a clear niche in which you are solving a problem for a specific audience. Here’s why.
People like to know exactly what they are going to get, where they’ll get it, and from who they’ll get it from. But if they are unsure about which way your content will be swaying this week or the next, they’ll pivot their attention to someone who they know can help solve their problem.
When the focus of your business is clear you:
Attract the right kind of people who ultimately will go from browsers, to brand evangelists, and eventually buyers.
Build authority and become known as THE person known for THAT thing.
Build trust with your audience which allows you to create and sell products they believe in.
Moral of the story, when you’ve carved out your own category and your focus is clear, then so is your content. All your blog's categories all come together to support your niche and your bottom line. So no more mystery posts or playing the guessing game about which content will stand and what won’t. You’ll be able to easily create content your audience loves because although you may be talking about a lot of different topics, you are directing it to one SPECIFIC type of person. And this person will always choose your business over everyone else's. Because when people like you, they’ll listen to you. But when they trust you, they’ll buy from you. If you’re struggling with how to create your own category,
2. FOCUS ON PROBLEMS, NOT POPULARITY
The most impactful content creators, entrepreneurs and bloggers aren’t a raging success because of their pretty logo, catchy tag line, or aesthetic Instagram feed. They consistently grow in influence (and income) because they are solving a problem. I was able to turn my knowledge into a profitable idea by focusing on a category that offers value to specific type of person and adding value to her life.
When we fail to communicate the aspects of our brand that adds value to our audience (or why in fact it’s even relevant at all), people won’t feel invited into our story, and can’t create the connection necessary to engage with our brand, join our community or purchase from us.
So what do they do? They move on to another brand that is clear about adding value to their lives, and intentional about making them feel seen, heard and understood. So when we position our brand as anything but solving problems people care about, the chances of building a business and a memorable brand that your audience loves go from slim to none.
Real businesses know that the goal of their blog isn’t about popularity. But finding a problem people care about, and positioning themselves as the solution.
3. CREATE A CONCRETE WORK SCHEDULE
The beauty of being a blogger and creative entrepreneur is that you get to be your own boss. But the paradox is that often times that’s the biggest burden.
No one is there to enforce deadlines, make you create content, force you to go the extra mile, edit your work or anything for that matter. And for a while it feels like a good thing because you get to let your creative mind roam and leisure.
But then there are the moments when you don’t “feel” like doing the work, going the extra mile, or even hitting goals on your content calendar. And you realize that part of being your own boss means YOU have to hold yourself accountable and you will only reap the benefits of the actual work you put in. That means treating your blog like a business by managing your time appropriately and creating a concrete work schedule that conducive for you, but also challenges you to stay consistent.
So just like you wouldn’t stroll into your 9-5 in the middle of the day. Take spontaneous naps, ‘as you wish’ lunch breaks, or put off work your boss handed you till “when you feel like it.” Then that shouldn’t be the case for your blog. If your blog is your business whether full time or part time, then you should set up time blocks through out your day with specific dead lines so when it’s time to work, you WORK.
I share some of my favorite content scheduling apps HERE
4. SET S.M.A.R.T GOALS
When you’re running a business, ‘hope’ isn’t much of a strategy. So casually voicing out vague expectations like “ I hope I make some money this month” simply won’t cut it. That is if you plan on keeping the doors open, or in this case your blog running.
Apple doesn’t hope people walk into their store. Chic-fil-a doesn't hope people come through the drive through. Nordstrom doesn’t hope people shop and purchase products. And the list goes on. Running a business involves setting S.M.A.R.T goals. That is
Specific. Nothing vague and ambiguous like “I want to make a lot of money”.
Measurable. What has to happen to determine that you've met your goal. In other words "How much money?"
Attainable. How do you plan on achieving said goals. Is it attainable? For instance, planning to do a million dollar launch to a list of 300, and a $15 product, with no marketing budget doesn’t quite cut it.
Realistic. This is not to be confused with realistic in terms of setting limits on the possibility of your growth. But setting an objective that you are both willing and able to do the WORK. In other words, if you hardly write 500 words a day, setting a goal of drafting ten 2400 word count blog posts every day wouldn’t be a realistic goal.
Timely. In order for a goal to be an actual, well goal, it must have a time frame attached to it. “Someday” might as well be “I hope”. And we already established that is not a strategy for achieving your goals.
So when you’re running a business, it’s important to start making plans for growth if that’s in-fact what you plan to do. Your goals can be anything from revenue, profit, personal development etc. Some ideas of questions to help you start deciding what goals you want to set for your blog are:
How many blog posts do you want to publish? (This could be divided into monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals).
How many page views do you want to receive on your site?
How much do you want to grow your email list per month?
How much money do you want to generate from your blog (whether that’s through sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, product sales etc).
5. GET LEGAL
I know it sucks to hear this, but stamping hashtag #GirlBoss at the end of your captions, reposting motivational quotes, and writing “CEO” of such and such in your Instagram bio does not in fact solidify your blog as an actual business. And since we’re being honest simply getting paid doesn’t quite do it either.
In order for you to go from hobby blogger, to ‘business,’ your platform has to in fact, be a business. There is so much that can go into starting and solidifying a legal business but these are the basics to get you started.
Go to your Secretary of State’s website and register your blog as a business. Now if you know that you don’t see yourself running “cutiepiecupcakes” for the long haul or you think you’ll be changing your brand’s name in the future, then you could name it under an umbrella company such as “Your Name” Media LLC or something of that nature.
Next once you’ve filed your business, apply for an employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. This is the number you add to I-9 forms when working with brands in replace of your social. lso needed to help with the next step which is..
Open a business checking and savings account. Yes no more paying for website domains, outfits for speaking engagements, graphics, and work computers out of pocket. When your blog is a business, you treat it as such and therefore business expenses, come out of a business account.
6. TRACK YOUR EXPENSES
When you run your blog like a business, that means carefully tracking your expenses and in the words of the infamous Tiffany The Budgetnista, ‘ no co-linging accounts.’ That is, keeping your personal income separate from your business income and keeping track of every penny.
When your blog is run like an actual business, you keep track of how much income you’re earning from product sales, advertising, affiliate marketing etc. But not just that, also the expenses you accrued from keeping your blog up and running. From e-mail service providers, graphic design, social media scheduling etc.
Why? Because You’re going to need to pay taxes on your income when tax time comes around. And you want to be ready to not only pay those taxes, but provide the documents illustrating your income and expenses if required.
7. CONDUCT MONTHLY REPORTS
Every successful business is committed to developing monthly, quarterly, and annual reviews to provide accountability, check the progress of their business, and direction for the future.
As a blogger, it’s important to consistently conduct reviews of the different aspects of your business to know what you’re doing well so you can keep doing it, what you’re struggling with so you can improve on it, and ways you could possibly scale your business.
These monthly reports help you know what your audience is interested in, what type of content impacts them the most and or drives the most traffic, their buying patterns, your highest converting leads and so much more.
So what exactly goes into a monthly report?
Your report can include blog analytics, social media growth, target audience profiles, sales and new customers, e-mail list growth and so much more. The idea is to segment different parts of your business that in one way or the other impacts and drives growth. Also to help see an overall review of how this changes over time in order to improve the general health of your business.
8. INVEST IN YOUR GROWTH
Let's be honest, no one cares or is committed to things they don’t work for, and or pay for.
For instance, you wouldn't think twice about skipping a leg day or two.. or possibly even a week when you have a free gym membership. Paying $200 a month for a personal trainer? Not so much. The money you invested in your health drives your commitment to achieving your goals. Same goes for your blog.
Point is, when we're ready and I mean REALLY ready to elevate our brand, business, and over life, we’ll pay for the knowledge, and accountability to get to that next level. And like most life changes, the the bridge between where we are, and where we want to be comes with an investment to get to the other side.
Problem is, most people don’t believe they’re actually worth the investment so they say things like:
"Wow this is expensive" "Yeah I definitely can't afford this" "I know I really need this... if only it were free.” And I get it, we’ve all been there. But if you truly want to experience growth, you first have to change your mindset in regards to paying a cost vs. making an actual investment. Think about the value -- what can this course, conference, book, or website help you earn? What can it help you avoid? Who can it potentially help you to become?
When you start thinking of your brand, business, and SELF that way -- as something and someone worthy of investment, everything changes. So instead of using your first bit of income to purchase that Louis bag, or yet another pair of “nice" to have items that you don’t “need" to have, consider using that money to invest back into your blog (I promise all the splurge spending will come).
Here’s some ways you can invest in your blog
Learning: Successful bloggers need firsthand knowledge of things like SEO, content marketing, scaling and so much more. So this means you have to invest in learning tools such as books, courses, coaching etc in order to create a sustainable business.
Accountability: Masterminds are a great way to surround yourself with like-minded people who are headed in the same direction as you, and committed to making sure you get there. The thing is, they often don’t come cheap. And with good reason. This is more than having a casual accountability partner with no consequence whether or not you show up. But investing your hard earned income to surround yourself with like minded people who have also made an investment in solidifying their commitment to growing and scaling their business, and personal life.
Mentorship: As you grow in your business, you have to continue to learn new ideas, products, and strategies. And one fo the sure fire ways to get where you want to go, is to learn from someone who’s already been there. This is why having a business coach can be a transformational invest for your business.
Marketing: Whether that’s ads, paying graphic designers, building sales pages, and paying for web hosting. Marketing is the thrust of your business, so you should never skimp out on ways you can put your product in the hands of new people and place your brand in the faces of a bigger audience.
Branding: Websites, logos, templates, photography all play a major role in the way you brand yourself in the mind of your audience and build a platform that they can connect with and remember.
Accounting: As mentioned before, accounting plays a major role in the overeall health of your business. Keeping up with your books, expenses, and income can save you a ton of time and trouble during tax time. And also helps in setting goals to scale your business.
Now sure what you start investing in?
9. INVEST IN YOUR BRAND
According to the marking genius Seth Godin,
So if we internalize this, your brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that taken together, account for a reader's decision to choose your blog over another. Or a customer’s decision to choose your e-book, e-course, or service over another blogger's. Or a company’s decision to partner with you over another influencer, and the list goes on.
Needless to say, branding plays a vital role in going from hobby blog to thriving business. And investing in your brand is essential to building your blog’s engagement, connecting with your audience, and just overall growing a loyal community around your blog.
If your audience doesn't connect with your brand's visual identity, your voice, or values, they won’t develop the loyalty necessary to return to your blog or make a repeat purchase of your product or services.
So although much of branding is about stories, and building meaningful connections, there’s also the part of building a strong visual identity. And if you’re serious about running your blog like a business. Then you’ll be sure to invest in your brand as well. Such as
Investing in professional photography. Because sending iPhone selfies to the coordinator of a speaking engagement gives the impression that you either don’t take your brand seriously (so why should they) or that you aren’t committed to investing in building a quality brand.
Owning your domain name. You can purchase cheap domain names at GoDaddy
Creating a professional e-mail address. Sorry firstname.lastname@example.org isn’t going to convince brands to take your seriously.
10. GROW YOUR EMAIL LIST
Social media is fun and gives you a platform that makes you feel influential. And the bigger your following, the wider your influence, and the more we assume we are making an impact. But if you want to talk about impact that actual builds income, your focus should be on your e-mail lists.
Well what if your blog is in fact a business and you generate income solely off of sponsored posts. You’re probably thinking, I don't sell any products so I don’t need an e-mail list. Well here’s the thing. When you DO actually have something to sell, how exactly do you plan on selling it?
If you want to go from hobby blogger, to business. Then it’s important to start generating leads and building your list! Why?
An message in 5x more likely to be seen in an e-mail than through your social media platform.
72% of people prefer to receive promotional content through e-mail.
66% of customers have made a purchase from an e-mail.
An average of 2% people from your e-mail list are likely to convert from brand believers to actual buyers.
So yes, building an email lists are a critical component of an online business. And In the words of Jeff Walker “It’s like a license to print money.”
What are some practical thing’s you’ve done to turn your blog into a business?