Why you need a blog business plan
“He who fails to plan is planning to fail” Winston Churchill
You need to start seeing your blog as less of a playground and more of a business, and there is one thing every successful business needs: a fabulous, feasible and coherent business plan. Your blog may not require each section of this plan, to begin with, but it’s a good idea to keep on adding information as you go along. Chances are, your blog and your business will evolve over time and your business plan should change accordingly. A good blog business plan is meant to help you on your daily decisions in order to accomplish your goals.
For example, when you consider a new idea, blog post, brand request or opportunity, you can check out your blog business plan and ensure everything is in line with your ULTIMATE GOALS. Yes, you read this correctly. You need to decide on your end goals, what is the purpose of the blog and what is the short and long term business vision.
Consult your blog business plan at least once a month. This will help you stay focused and will remind you of your goals and objectives.
Without further delay, let’s dive in and find out what should your business plan contain.
At the end of this chapter, you will find a link to a downloadable copy of a business plan structure.
1. The Almighty Blog Business Plan: Summary
This is where you need to establish why your blog exists. What is it that you want to achieve, who is your target audience and what message do you wish to convey. We’ve already discussed purpose, mission and vision statement in the previous guide. Here is where you are going to reiterate them.
1.1. Purpose Statement
WHY - why is your business going to make a difference? The purpose is there to guide and tell you why you do what you do. In your case, tell people why you want to blog about your chosen niche.
When your audience knows why your blog matters, they will know if your cause is meaningful. When a reader connects with your purpose, they will inevitably believe in your mission.
1.2. Vision Statement
WHAT - What is your business goal? Your mission is your vision in action, connecting your purpose with your impact. Your vision statement is where you want to be in the distant future. What is the ultimate goal for your company? Write down what is your vision for your blog and business.
A vision statement is a company's road map, indicating both what the company wants to become and guiding transformational initiatives by setting a defined direction for the company's growth.
The best visions are inspirational, clear, memorable, and concise.
Here is an example of a vision statement:
Creative Commons: "Our vision is nothing less than realising the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.”
Your turn now. What is your vision statement? What will your blogging business want to achieve?
1.3 Mission Statement
HOW - how will your business achieve its goal? The mission is there to drive you. The mission statement is what you do to accomplish your purpose and how you are different from others. Tell the world how you are planning on achieving your purpose for your blog. The mission is there to deliver results and impact, it’s your strategy.
Your mission statement has to set you apart from other blogs and businesses and show practical ways on how you will accomplish your overall vision. So ask yourself, how will you achieve your vision during your daily operations? What is your commitment to your readers? What are your responsibilities as a business?
Here is an example of a mission statement:
Creative Commons: "Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximises digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.”
What is your mission statement? What will your business bring to the table and how will you accomplish your vision?
1.4 Target Audience
This is a rather difficult task, to begin with, and it’s ok to create an idea for now and then come back to this section once your blog starts to take shape. For now, it’s important to write down who is your ideal target audience. Who is your ideal reader? What is their age? Why would they be interested in reading your blog? Why will they consume your product (in this case your writings)?
As you grow, it will be easier and easier to understand who your target audience is and you will be able to focus on a smaller segment of people than just a generalised idea.
I can’t stress, however, the importance of understanding your target audience. For example, say you discover that young professionals between the age of 25-34 read your blog. You can’t start selling cruises which are mainly filled with pensioners. You get me…
Your business and your blog are there to solve a problem. By knowing your audience, you know exactly who's problem you are trying to solve and you understand what solution they need. Your blog and business act as facilitators. You link people with solutions.
Ok, so I am telling you that is important to understand your target audience but how do you even begin creating one? Let me give you an example and guide you step by step on how to create a persona for your target audience.
First, according to The UX Review: “a persona is a representation of a particular audience segment for a website/product/service you are designing, based on various types of qualitative and quantitative research. It captures a person’s motivations, frustrations and the 'essence' of who they are.”
Personas should always be created based on real users. Here is what you need to know to get started.
Say we have a business which wants to blog about green tea and ultimately sell this product to the relevant readers. So far, so good. So who will be your target audience? Well, everyone who likes green tea you might say. But that's wrong.
Your product is only relevant to a narrow segment of the population. For example, you figure out that you want to tackle young professionals which can afford to spend money on this commodity. Then you dig further. You want to appeal to women in their early 30s who like yoga, fitness and running and want to stay healthy. Essentially you want to target an ideal audience who actually has a use for your product. Once you figure out who your audience is, you can start thinking of ways on how your blog will become the link between the right product and the right person who needs that particular product.
So what are the elements of a persona?
- A person’s goals on your website/service/product
- A person’s motivations for using it
- A person’s current pain points or frustrations
- Some demographic data such as age/location/sex
- A short bio about their background
- A person’s technical ability along with which devices they use and how often
- Other brands or websites they may like (your competition for example)
So let’s create a persona based on some of the above.
Laura, 31, from the UK, is interested in yoga and fitness and started looking into the link between antioxidants and prolonged health.
Laura learned that green tea has a lot of antioxidants and wants to read more about it. Laura's ultimate goal is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Laura knows her way around the internet and likes to research a product before buying it. Once she likes a product, she becomes loyal to the brand.
Right...so what? You now have Laura as one of your personas. How will that help you? Well, I want you to know imagine that you are Laura. Put yourself in the shoes of this individual and think...if I was this Laura, what would I search for? Where will I gather information from? What topics will I want to find?
Start searching for all of these, until you understand Laura's needs. Once you do, you are now ready to serve a solution for Laura's needs.
In this case, you can start writing about the link between antioxidants in green tea and prolonged health. Then, create more articles serving Laura the information she is interested in consuming.
We will tackle keyword research in an upcoming guide to help you understand how to marry SEO skills with persona research.
Repeat these steps until you have 5-6 personas which will essentially give you a very good idea of who your target audience is.
1.5 Blog Niche
This is your unique selling point. What is your niche? Are you a travel blogger? What type of travel blogger? Will you be using images on your blog? How will your images be like: colourful and vibrant or black and white, will you be using pre-set filters etc? How will you write?
This is the time to decide what your product should be like. This also ties in with your target audience. You can’t decide you want to attract 18-24-year-old solo female travellers and write about adventures for mature couples.
By following the previous step, you should now have 5-6 personas for your blog. Based on this, you should be able to come up with the right niche for the right audience.
2. The Almighty Blog Business Plan: Brand Goals
This is where you will be thinking about your business goals. You will write them down and measure your success based on your accomplishments. Think of this section as your blog KPI (key performance indicator).
2.1 Blog Objectives
List a few objectives which you want for your blog for the next 2 quarters. It is important to keep them fairly short so you can remember and act upon them as soon as possible.
Here are a few examples:
- Grow my traffic to 1000 unique visitors in Q1 (first quarter)
- Find 10 bloggers in my niche which will allow me to guest post on their website
- Grow my social media presence by 5% each month
2.2 Keys to Success
Think about a few crucial aspects which will make your blog successful. You can tackle social media following, or people finding your blog via organic search or readers buying your products. The keys to success are relevant to your brand vision. In a way, you are offering here a detailed way in which your mission statement works.
Here are a few examples:
- Establish a following on Instagram which comprises my blog’s target audience.
- Create a following on Pinterest
- Be featured in print by a *niche* magazine
- Create a blog which has a beautiful design
- Have a fantastic user interface for my blog
- Create a branding and identity which makes me stand out
Once you have your objectives and keys to success, make sure you take your time to actually detail how you are planning on achieving them.
Create a following on Pinterest
I want to achieve 2000 Pinterest followers by the end of Q2. That's roughly 350 followers a month, which translate to 11+ followers a day. In order to do so, I am going to keep a spreadsheet with all follower count and update it daily. To achieve 11 followers a day, I will create 10 dedicated boards based on my target audience interests. I am going to join 10 group boards to share my own pins. (etc) You get the idea...
Be as detailed as possible. And don't forget to break your tasks into manageable chunks. When you think about getting 2000 followers, it might seem crazy. How could you even begin to achieve that? But once you put things into perspective, and break your task into small chunks, you realise everything is totally possible. Rather easy and manageable actually. From 2000 followers in 2 quarters (6 months), you now need to get 350 followers a month. That is as little as 11 a day. That's a much better number to work with, right? The smaller the chunk, the more you can target the task and the more you can create strategies to achieve the results.
2.3 Long Term Objectives
This section allows you to aim big and write down your bigger picture. For example, what do you want to achieve with your blog? Do you want to establish your name in your chosen niche? Why do you want this? Do you want to become a writer for print and wish to attract editors? Do you want to write a book? Do you wish to create an online store and sell your branded products?
The idea is to create a long term strategy (usually 5 years) for your business. Use the small objectives to achieve the ultimate goal.
This is where you can allow your imagination to run wild and write down how much money you want to make our of your business (but be reasonable and realistic).
Tip: Don’t be upset if you don’t always reach your goals. It can happen to everyone. It doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t work hard enough, it could mean that you set unattainable goals. In the blogging industry, it’s easy to look at readily established celebrities and want to become them overnight. It takes years of mistakes, practice and networking. As long as you work hard and celebrate the small successes along the way, you will get there. Patience and perseverance are the two most important tools of the trade.
3. The Almighty Blog Business Plan: Blog Guidelines
By now you should have thought of a niche. It’s time to decide on your main categories for your menu items on the blog. Categories should all be interconnected and relevant to your niche. Furthermore, add categories and pages which are relevant to your brand: “about”, “work with me”, “press”, “contact” etc.
Make sure your readers can easily understand your categories. Another important factor is to create a user journey for your reader. Use visual cues and the aid of categories to guide your reader and have a top-notch experience on your blog. The better the experience, the more page views you will have, which should be one of your main goals. Hook people right away, so they want to come back for more.
Please don’t forget to make your website as responsive as possible. It’s all great that people on laptops can interact and understand your categories, but don’t forget that nowadays, most traffic comes from handheld device users.
3.2 Design, Branding and Identity
We already covered this aspect in the previous guide, how to start a travel blog. For the sake of your business plan, I will reiterate that consistency is key. As such, your brand should be consistent across all platforms. In order to do so, you need to include the brand guidelines for your business. This includes how to use the logo, how to use your colour palette, how your social media posts should look like etc.
The more detailed you are with these, the better. Remember that once your business becomes a success, you will want to outsource tasks. In order to avoid mistakes, having brand guidelines in place, not only will guide you in your journey, but also your employees and future contractors, as well as clients you will be working with.
For a good brand guideline document, be prepared to pay a designer. Here is an example of a travel brand guidelines.
I know you will be tempted to write on your blog ad-hoc at first. DO NOT DO THIS. Create a schedule that works for you and stick with it. For example, figure out the days you want to write on your blog. Your readers will get used to the way you post and will want to come back for more. Maintaining regular post will establish readers trust and value. All these come with time, so for now, your main focus should be consistency.
3.4 Business Tasks
You decided to create a business through the means of your blog, which means you need to keep tabs of your outgoings, income, invoices etc. You need to schedule in tasks such as responding to emails, marketing, following up with potential clients, customer service and so on. It is incredibly important to schedule your social media for example, but follow up on a daily basis to ensure you actually interact with your readers. Don’t do things as and when you remember, because it will create chaos and it will only delay transforming your blog into a successful business.
I urge you to create an editorial calendar and write down all your tasks which you need to perform for your business. Now spread these tasks throughout the day /week/month and stick with the schedule.
Please note, that with time your tasks will change and evolve. As soon as this happens, go back to your editorial calendar and make the necessary changes. Also, once you start making money, outsource the work you like the least, and focus on what is important to you.
3.5 Guest Post and Social Media Takeover
There will be a time when you will want others to guest post on your blog or take over your social media accounts. This is a great time to set up some sort of guides for this.
For example, if you want people to submit their guest posts, you should create parameters and guidelines.
Here’s a quick example:
- We’re looking for a minimum 800 words
- Please include a minimum of 3 photos total. Please include one vertical image for Pinterest. You must have full copyright of your pictures
- Photos should be at least 2000 px wide
- We are only accepting original content. Please don’t submit an article which has already been published somewhere else
- Please include a picture of yourself, a short biography, a link to your blog and three social media of your choice.
Craft your own guidelines to be in line with your blog. For social media take over this is relatively similar. For example for an Instagram takeover, you can ask for three pictures for a duration of three days, which include an inspiration caption, a specific set of hashtags (you can provide a list with the tags you use) and the use of a preset filter.
Make sure these guidelines are there to complement your brand and not add chaos to it. You want your branding and identity to shine through all your processes.
4. The Almighty Blog Business Plan: Market & Readers
4.1 Leading Blogs in Your Niche
This is a fun little exercise.
Make a list with 5-10 leading blogs in your niche. Now figure out 5 key points on what these blogs do really well and 5 points on what you would change about these blogs if they were yours.
Now also pick 3-5 small blogs in your niche. Note 5 points on what you would do to increase their readership and awareness about them.
The point is not to criticise here, but to pick up ideas which can be beneficial for your blog.
4.2 Comparable Blogs in Your Niche
Based on your previous exercise create a list with everything you learned and implement them to your blog. For example, if a leading blog has great imagery but you don’t like the way these bloggers interact with their readers, make sure you create immersive photos for your blog and create a better relationship with your readers. Your aim is to do it better than everyone else.
Now create a list with about 5 blogs with similar size as yours. Start interacting with the owners, support their effort and create a relationship. Networking is key in this industry.
The point of this exercise is not to copy, but simply outshine everyone else in your niche by being better than they are.
4.3 The Benefits of Your Blog
You have a blog and some people read it. That’s great. This is the time to ask yourself: Why are these people benefiting from reading my content? Am I solving a problem? Am I helping people with tips and tricks? Am I offering a solution to an ongoing issue?
Take the travelling industry for example. There are countless travel bloggers out there, but the leading names all have their unique selling point. They all targeted a specific problem and tried to offer a solution. For example, you have budget bloggers who created a website to guide travellers around the world for very cheap. You also have fashionistas who wanted to infuse the love for glam travel, and so on. Always find a way to improve your reader’s experience. Find their problem and offer them a tailored solution. Don't waste your time writing about what YOU care about. Spend your time wisely by writing about what your audience needs.
For example, there is no point writing about 3 things to do in Paris, if nobody searches or cares about the topic.
4.4 Your Traffic
Create a spreadsheet with your traffic goals. Again, don’t be unrealistic. I appreciate you probably want to have 100k monthly visitors in year one, but unless you hit the viral lottery, chances are, you need to take it slow and steady. Create a plan on how many unique visitors you want on your website and how you are planning on achieving this.
Say you want to improve your traffic by 10% on a monthly basis and you are planning on achieving this, by targeting other blogs in your niche who accept blog posts. Create quarterly goals and break them down into monthly, weekly and daily goals. It’s hard to imagine achieving 6000 monthly unique visitors in Q2. But it’s not unrealistic. This is the equivalent of just 200 visitors a day. To achieve 200 visitors a day, you need 100 of them to come through organic search (search engines serving your content), 20 from Facebook, 20 from Twitter, 20 from Instagram, 20 from Pinterest and 20 from referral (niche blogs you have your guest posts on) or Flipboard or whatever other social media channel you settle on. Now figure out ways on how to achieve this traffic. We've already done this exercise, so you now know how it works. Again, the smaller the chunks, the easier to achieve and manage.
Once you get the grasp of it, you will understand that running a business is like putting the right puzzle pieces together.
5. The Almighty Blog Business Plan: Marketing Strategies
5.1 Online Marketing
It is very important that you create great content for your blog, so Google likes your site and indexes you properly. This will, in turn, allow for readers to search for relevant content and find your site via search engines. This equivalates to getting organic search on your website. Trust me, this is the best type of traffic you can get, as you don’t rely on any other third party services. It is traffic in its purest form. We will touch base on SEO in an upcoming guide.
So let’s talk about what happens when you are a little too new for organic traffic. You created your blog, you have a few articles and nothing happens. This is usually what drives bloggers mad at the beginning. And rightfully so, you put a lot of time coming up with the best brand and content, yet nobody visits your website. Well, this is when you need to create a strategy and come up with a great online marketing plan.
You need to figure out what social media channels are going to be your best friends and how you will utilise them to drive traffic to your website.
The first step is to secure your username on all social media platforms. This is exactly why coming up with a great and unique blog name is paramount. Consistency is key and you have to make it easier for your readers to remember and find you. Say your name is “Postcards From Carla”, you want this exact username across the internet. Try to avoid “postcards-from-carla” or “postcrdsfrcarla” and so on. People will know you by your blog name and try to find you this way.
The second step is to figure out a social media plan. You need to record details on how you will use each social media account. You will have general guidelines, what tools you will use for scheduling, what are your image sizes, styles, filters and so on. It is incredibly important that you create a sort of brand guideline, to begin with as previously discussed. This will make it easy for you to stick to your plan and create nice and immersive imagery from the beginning. Don’t confuse the reader as this will diminish your brand. Figure out what you like and stick with it. It’s ok to slightly change styles along the way, as your brand evolves, just avoid radical changes.
5.2 Email List
If there is anything more important than your social media presence, it is your subscription list. Subscribers are your dedicated followers who want to know more about your blog. These are the loyal customers who will come back, buy your products and ultimately, make you money. Say you have 1000 subscribers and you send a monthly newsletter. Some will open your email and will come to your website right away. Say you want to promote a brand and you get paid to send out a newsletter relevant to the brand. The brand is guaranteed to reach your loyal audience.
I experimented with quite a few things and I noticed that, although everyone hates them, popups work the best. As a UX Designer, I did a lot of A/B testing on my website and still trialling new things on a daily basis. You need a strategy and you need to keep on trying new things until you find what works for you.
The good news is that there are a lot of free newsletter aids out there such as MailChimp (which is what I use) and SumoMe for Wordpress users. I hardcoded my newsletter popup, but you don’t have to do this. Check out SumoMe, they seem to work really well for a lot of bloggers.
There are a few things you need to be aware of. Google, for example, announced that starting in January 2017 will demote in ranking certain websites which obstruct content on mobiles.
Make sure you don’t enable the subscription pop-up the moment a reader comes to your website. Always think like a user. Would you sign up for a random newsletter, on a website you never visited until now, before you even got to read their story? Of course not, you would be silly to.
So here is what you need to do. Allow your user to be on your website for at least 15-30 seconds (or even longer) before you ask them to sign up for your newsletter. This will give them time to connect with your story and be captivated by it. If they like what they read, they are more likely to signup.
Another thing which works is to offer people something in exchange for their email address. For example, give them a FREE photo album or a FREE course. You can give them anything you want. You will notice a boost in your subscriber numbers the moment you start offering something of VALUE to your readers.
Here comes the difficult part: designing the right signup pop-up. Analyse your target audience and your readers and figure out who they are, where they come from and what are their interests. You can do this by checking your google analytics on a regular basis.
This is something I trialled and tested and noticed that when I changed the colour to match my general readership preference, my signup had a serious increase. It might seem silly, but remember that we live in a world governed by design, colours and numbers. Take note of this and act accordingly.
You might want to do the same design as other bloggers, but remember they are successful because they did what their target audience wanted and didn’t copy other businesses. You need to always cater to your audience and not theirs. This is what is going to set you apart and make you a successful blogger. Please take note below on the Google approved and unapproved popups.
5.3 Offline Marketing
No, this is no joke. You do need to do a bit of offline marketing too, even for your online business.
The most obvious thing to do is to get business cards (and have them with you at all times). Don’t be afraid to throw them in all directions. Did you like a hotel? Give the manager a business card and tell them you would love to promote them. Did you like a dish in that Thai restaurant? Give the manager a card and tell them about your blog. The opportunities are endless and you never know who you stumble upon, who needs a blogger to work with, what newspaper is employing a writer and so on. If it’s one thing I learned from the business of blogging is that everyone makes their own opportunities and don’t just wait for things to happen. You need to be proactive, you need to seek and search for what you want. Eventually, opportunities will knock on your door too, but before that, it’s a tremendous amount of work and a ridiculously uphill battle.
Apart from business cards, search for at least 5 things you can do to promote your blog which doesn’t involve the internet.
One of the things you can do to gain exposure is attending conferences. This is the best way to network, find brands interested in working with bloggers, and bloggers wanting to meet new bloggers. It might seem counterintuitive to become friends with other bloggers, which essentially are your competition. But that's really not the case. Bloggers together are a great resource and remember that most bloggers have their own nice anyway.
Consider this: say you are an extreme adventure travel blogger and you just met a foodie travel blogger. They work with a company which organises food experiences, but then, they are seeking to promote their new sister company which specialises in extreme adventure gear. The foodie blogger will automatically think of you and recommend you. This is the beauty of networking. Bloggers aren’t always in competition with each other, they can be of great help.
Another offline marketing tactic could be to get your name in print. If you want to be a writer, this is probably the most amazing thing it can happen. I still remember the first ever time I saw my name in print. It was one of the most amazing feelings. Probably even better than the first subscriber I ever got (and that called for serious celebration).
Start small with local newspapers, small magazines, new publications. Don’t be afraid to follow up and search for more and more opportunities. Eventually, all this hard work will pay off.
6. The Almighty Blog Business Plan: Blog Financials
I am going to give it to you straight: running a blog costs money. In fact, the more you progress, the more expensive it gets. I recommend creating a spreadsheet and writing down everything you invest in your blog, every little cost, every little hour spent. This may seem pointless, but I promise it’s not. You need to do this because once you start making money (hopefully sooner rather than later), you need to know when your blog actually makes money. Say you make £10 from your blog, but you invest £100 in services, hosting, running it etc. You don’t actually make money then, you are still on minus. You need to understand that blogging is a business and it’s no different than opening a shop or creating a new brand. You need to invest time, patience and money. Most businesses (but not all) start making money after AT LEAST 2 years. Are you prepared to wait this long? Are you ready to invest A LOT of time, money and resources knowing that you might not be seeking results for such long time, sometimes even more? How much are you prepared to invest into your blog?
6.2 Logo and brand identity designs
You need to invest in creating a great brand which stands out. You need to come up with a logo and create an identity for your business. If you are comfortable doing this, then great, otherwise you will need a designer with a lot of experience. They can cost quite a lot. Make sure you don’t go for a “logo for a fiver” because those are not authentic and do not reflect quality. Better to create something temporary for your blog and invest money once you have the financial means, than pay someone for half a job. This is my speciality, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need a quote. Always happy to help and offer discounted rates for new aspiring bloggers.
6.3 Website hosting and domain names
You need your website hosted and you of course need a domain name. Don't compromise on the quality of your hosting. I strongly recommend starting with SiteGround. They don't cost too much, but many of my travel bloggers friends use, trust and love them.
6.4. Website theme
Same as the logo, this will reflect your identity as a brand, hence is paramount that your website doesn’t look like a 90’s bad dream. I can see a lot of bloggers out there with this sort of bad layout. Don't be like them. We live in a technological era where user experience and sleek design is everything. Do it right from the start and I promise, good things will happen.
6.5 Business cards and other promotional materials
Once you have a logo and your branding is in place, it’s time to invest into getting new business cards. Order them from a company such as MOO. They have great quality for incredibly reasonable prices. It’s very important that your business card stands out. Put a pretty picture on the front, research online what’s cool and do it properly. Or hire a designer to do it for you.
6.6 Monthly internet fees
I understand that most of us will pay for the internet regardless, but since you have an online business which heavily relies on the use of the internet, I believe you should expense it and you should put it on the company. I take my internet fees into account when I do my taxes.
6.7 Business formation expenses
Depending on the country you are in, this can be as cheap as £20 (UK) or a few hundred pounds (Romania for example) to form a company. You may or may not need a lawyer to incorporate your business. You need to check with your company house and see what are the laws which govern your country. In the UK things are pretty easy. You go online, register your business and have to file your accounts on a yearly basis. You can do it yourself or employ an accountant to do it for you. There are certain countries where you are obligated by law to have an accountant, hence you might want to consider that before going ahead and incorporating your company. But do bear in mind that it is illegal to make money and not declare it. Whether you wish to run your company as a separate entity or as a sole trader, you still need to file your income.
6.8 New computer and new software
You might be a travel blogger like I am, hence you will need a laptop to be able to take it with you anywhere you go. You might be a photo blogger in which case you will need Photoshop and Lightroom. The point of the matter is that it comes a time when you will have to invest money into either hardware or software or both.
6.9 Office supplies
Do you need journals, pens, notebooks and so on? Maybe paper, colourful sticky notes and a new pair of scissors? All these count as office supplies. As a travel writer, I go through tonnes of notebooks on a monthly basis. I always have one with me to write memos and impressions whilst on the road. Besides, I might meet an interesting character, take an interview and write everything down.
6.10 Material and inventory for your blog
Say you are a food blogger, you obviously will need a lot of ingredients and recipe books. If you are a lifestyle blogger you will need clothes, accessories and other items which will look good and tell a story. You can’t ignore these costs, and trust me, they really add up. For example, as a travel blogger, I need to travel a lot. Plane tickets, hotels, meals, accessories, new clothes, all costs a lot and nobody pays for these when you are new to the industry. Make sure you learn how to expense them through your company. Talk to an account in your country.
6.11 Camera and lenses
In my opinion, blogging and photography complement each other. Unfortunately, everyone (myself included) has such short attention span that you need to be able to tell a story through photography or videos, just as much as text. A glance at your picture and you either captured or lost your reader. So you find yourself in need to invest money in a good camera. Then you need to invest time (or money) to learn it inside out. Here are some great cameras for travel.
Sleep with your camera in your hands and learn every single secret, every single button. Then invest money into new lenses as you go along. Of course, the spending game doesn’t stop here. You need to learn how to post process your photography. It takes time, but once you master this, you are already ahead, because immersive media is paramount in the blogging industry.
Don’t forget to budget new components as your business evolves (such as drones, GoPros, software updates, new lenses etc)
6.12 Conference tickets and expenses
Well chances are, you need to book airlines, hotels, cars and tickets to that conference which may or may not offer you work. It’s a gamble, but one which is worth taking. Even if you create one single contact, or get one single sponsorship, then it was all worth it. Remember that you need to get known and there is no better way to do so than through the power of recommendation. You never know how you make friends with that editor, that blogger who needs a guest post, that hotel manager who needs a bit of a boost. Invest money in this, it will eventually pay off.
6.13 Marketing services
Whether you invest in scheduling services, marketing agencies, promotional services or advertisement, these all cost a lot, so don’t forget to budget for them. For example, I pay for my social media scheduling tools on a monthly basis. If I run a competition, I also advertise it on social media which comes at a cost. You might want to consider buying books, courses or consultancy. These all cost money and they add up.
6.14 Your time invested in your business
Finally, you need to know what you are worth. What is your hourly rate? How many hours are you spending scheduling, writing, photographing? Write it all down. This is very important because blogging can be your full-time job. How much would you expect to be paid in exchange for an article, a photo, a social media shout out?
This is perhaps one of the most difficult things to establish at the beginning. Figure out your outgoings, the money you need to invest into your business and the ideal income to cover your rent, expenses, food (etc) to be able to live comfortably. Don't be unrealistic. Talk to blogger friends and find out what is the current going rate for articles, photos and whatever it is that you wish to sell. Eventually, you will figure out how much to charge companies for your work but to begin with, be humble. Don’t do it for free, but don’t expect them to pay you $$$ when you don't have a large following, loyal readership or zero experience working with brands.
6.15 Calculate Results
This is the best part of your business plan and with time this is going to get better and better. The results section is where I need you to calculate your income, your expenses and your net profit. Please note that you will need to pay taxes on your profit so make sure to check with your local governments on how does this work.
Although this is out of the scope, I strongly advise that you familiarise yourself with the financial side of your business. Learn financial terms and understand that you should focus your efforts onto whatever offers you the most amount of return on investment (ROI).
To reiterate, your blog is your business and the ultimate goal is to make money.
Ready to start your blog business plan?
P.S. Hey gang, note that some of these links are affiliate links. This means that if you decide to purchase something by using these links, I will earn a teeny-tiny commission at NO extra cost to you. This helps me keep this website free and fun for all.