This is part one of a 2-part series called the Blog Profit Plan that is designed to help you propel your business forward. I’m hoping it will be a jumping off point to get from zero to profit as quickly as possible so you can start making a living with your blog.
The way I see it, there are two parts to building a successful business (hence the 2-part series):
Part 1: creating a business plan
Part 2: executing on the plan
In today’s post, I’m going to cover how to create a blog business plan.
This is the perfect starting point, because having a blog business plan will give you a platform to turn your blog into a business. Without it, you may find yourself stumbling around with what topics to cover, the value you provide, what your peeps really need, and many other things. Or you may spend too much time in one phase of your biz and forget to set a foundation for the next phase…simply because you’re not aware that said phase exists.
A blog business plan only gets us halfway to the finish line, though, which is why I’m making this a 2-part series.
You don’t really act upon them, which means they’re likely to sit in your laptop, inside Evernote, and that’s it. It’s easy to forget that you even have a business plan in the day to day of running your biz.
What we really need is a blog action plan to help us execute on our business plans.
Suh-weet, now we’re talkin’. B-plan + A-plan = Jackpot!
An action plan is where the money is anyway, no? That’s what’s going to whip our butts into shape and keep us accountable for turning our big dreams into a reality. An action plan is about getting under the hood and getting it done – really, a blueprint for executing on our business plans.
If we pair these two bad boys together, I think we’ll have a winning formula for success.
More on blog action plans in my next post… Today, let’s jump in to creating a blog business plan.
[ HOW TO CREATE AN EPIC BLOG BUSINESS PLAN ]
SECTION 1: BUSINESS SUMMARY
This section is a snapshot of your business, kind of like your business “at-a-glance”. You may want to complete the other sections first, and come back to this after you have everything else together. Here’s what you’ll want to cover in your business summary:
1. Mission Statement
This is your “Why”. Briefly explain why you created your business, what it is about, and the purpose it serves.
2. Business Goals
Based on where you’re at now, where do you plan to take your business in the future? Don’t be afraid to dream big here! If you can see it, you can do it! Think about the next year and even further down the road, say five years from now. You can mention things like money you’d like to earn from your blog, to new products you’re thinking of, to how often you will blog and the size of your mailing list.
3. Products and Services
What products and services do you have, or will you have? Briefly describe here how you are or will be monetizing your blog.
4. Your Current + Future Growth
This part is inspiring! You may already have a blog or you may be brand new to blogging. Mention any growth you’ve already experienced…anything from number of page views, to social media followers, list size, money you’ve earned, and so on. From here, how will you take your business to the next level? List specific steps you can take to reach your goals.
5. Your Financial Goals
Being crystal clear about how much money you want your blog to make will force you to you hold yourself accountable to it. Plus it will help you prioritize what to do each day so you can nail it! List how much money you want to make in the short-term and longer-term.
6. Your Expenses
Your blog is your business, so even if you’re just starting out, you have expenses. Some of them, like web hosting, will be fixed and recur every month, and others are more flexible, like hiring a VA. Describe the expenses you have today and will have tomorrow.
7. What tasks can (or do) you outsource?
Every business has 3 primary phases: startup, momentum + growth. The way to build your blog through each phase is to spend your time on the things that only you can do and build a team to help you with everything else. Upwork is a great place to start to build your team. List the tasks that you outsource right now and those that you don’t outsource, but should.
8. Business Structure
If you are currently running a blog and accepting money as a blogger, then you obviously need to file taxes on that income. If you are the only employee of your business and choose to keep things simple, you can file as a “sole proprietor”. As you work with more clients and continue to grow you may want to create an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) or incorporate your biz to protect your income and your business from things like lawsuits.
SECTION 2: BRAND SUMMARY
This section is about setting a tone that inspires and attracts readers to your blog and positions you as the go-to authority. You are building a blog, and at the same time you’re building a brand. It makes sense to look at how you see yourself so that you can teach people how to see you too, and ultimately build consistency and clarity around your blog, because after all, you are your brand, right?
1. What makes you unique?
What sets you apart from others? Remember, it’s not just skills that make you unique, it’s everything that makes you you. Include any personal or professional experiences you’ve had that would make people read your blog over others.
2. What’s your one thing?
I know there are so many things that you’re great at, but you don’t want to try to be all things to all people. It’s going to be much easier to build your blog if you occupy one space in people’s minds. So let’s get very specific! What’s the one word you want your brand to stand for? What’s the “one thing” you want readers to seek you out as the go-to authority on?
3. Who’s your person?
We’re going to just keep narrowing things down. Here’s where you look at the target audience for your blog. You may have more than “one person” you want to reach, but let’s make things simple for now and just include your primary customer or reader. Get as specific as you can about things like their age, income, personal and professional situation, and overall goals. If you need help with this, check out the Niche Research section.
4. What’s your brand promise?
This part is about creating your big promise. Most people call this your core message or value proposition. How do you help your one person solve their biggest problem and what does that look like? (P.S. This is what you want front and center on your homepage. Let people see it right away so they know they’re in the right place.)
5. Brand tone and mood
Developing a true personality for your blog will help you stay consistent and harmonious with all of your brand elements. It’s okay to try on different hats at first, but when you find your sweet spot you want to stick with it. The most successful blogs have a unique and distinctive personality.
SECTION 3: BRAND IDENTITY
A huge part of building a business is branding, that’s why we dig into this so much. Your brand summary is not only about your brand identity, it’s how you attract your readers to your blog and deliver your brand promise. This will help you clarify your true purpose and stay on track with your brand mission. You may switch your brand positioning over time, but your overall brand summary should stay the same. For more on creating your brand identity, check out this post.
1. Fonts and colors
Which fonts and colors describe your blog’s personality? List 1-2 fonts and 2-4 colors you will use for your brand. It’s okay to use the same font family in different weights for headings and body text, and then use a stylized font as a contrast for featured or emphasized text.
2. Types of images
What images and textures will you use for your blog? Dark and edgy? Vibrant and bright? Open and airy?
Your current logo may be perfect already, and then again, it may need work. How well does it communicate your blog’s personality? How can you improve the font to make it better? Will you use other words in your logo, like a tagline? What about an icon?
SECTION 4: COMPETITOR ANALYSIS
As you launch your blog business, it’s important to take a look at what other blogs and brands in your space are doing. This will help you get ideas for how you want to grow and position your business.
1. Who are your competitors?
List 3 competitors you like and 3 competitors you don’t like. Who is in your niche, doing something similar to what you are or will be doing?
2. Analyze their strategy
For the 3 competitors you like, find the common themes or strategies that you can use to frame your own strategy. Do your competitors have products they sell? If so, what types of products and at what prices? Where do they have a following on social media? How frequently do they post and what types of things do they share?
3. What sets them apart from others?
Take a look at what really makes your favorite brands stand out. What do they excel at? How do they structure their blog, business and offers? What can you learn from them and integrate into your own strategy?
SECTION 5: NICHE RESEARCH
The more targeted you are with your blog’s niche, the more you’ll be able to attract and connect with your ideal readers. The trick here is to define a niche that’s small enough to be very specific and large enough to make money over the long term. What we’re looking for is that sweet spot – where the combination of your skills and knowledge intersects with what your audience needs, in a way that is unique enough for you to stand out.
SECTION 6: SERVICES + PRODUCTS
You should have a good idea from your niche research about products that will help your target audience. Think about different price points you can offer so that people can experience working with you at the level they’re comfortable with. Think about low-cost, high-cost, and even VIP packages. What about discovery or strategy calls, will you offer them?
1. How are your products different from your competitors?
Go back to your competitors and take another look at what they’re promoting. How is your offering different? What can you add to make it extremely valuable for your peeps?
2. How do they help your audience?
Go back to your niche research and think about how your monetization method will impact the lives of your peeps. What will they be able to achieve/do/have/save/grow/build through your products and services?
SECTION 7: BUILDING YOUR AUDIENCE
A huge part of building a blog business is building a community with your readers. Otherwise you will be developing your products in a vacuum and not get the same results. You can use social media to get your work found by people, and your website and mailing list is how you’re going to build relationships with your peeps.
1. Your website and mailing list
Your website is the Swiss army knife of your business. If you set it up it right, you can actually have a system that converts complete strangers into subscribers and customers! Look at areas you can and should improve on your website so you can do that. If you don’t have a site just yet, make a note of the things you will need.
2. Social media
One of the best ways to build your audience is by leveraging the power of social media. Social media is an amazing way to get traffic to your blog, especially when you’re new to all the ins and outs of search engine optimization. As you’re building your following, you’re basically building your own traffic source. Pinterest is a phenomenal way to get traffic, but don’t stop there. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter too. And even others like StumbleUpon and Reddit will help you get traffic. If you want to get a peak at how I drive traffic to my blog, this post is for you!
SECTION 8: YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY
You’re doing so good! You have a strong brand foundation, you’re building your audience, the next step is to dig into the strategy for your blog’s content. You want all of your content to be part of a cohesive system. We’re drilling down on more than just blog posts. Everything you create – articles, cheat sheets, challenges, videos, webinars, courses, and more – should form a system that turns complete strangers into loyal readers and ultimately, excited customers.
1. Specify your high-level goals
Goals can look really impressive on paper, but if you’re too ambitious they can actually work against you! The flip side is that you need to have a specific end game in mind if you really want to skyrocket your blog’s growth (which of course, you do!). Given the time you have each week to work on your blog, what specific milestones do you want to achieve?
2. What strategies will you use to achieve them?
List three things you will do right now to change the future growth of your blog and to achieve your goals.
3. How frequently will you create content?
Specify the frequency (for instance, 2x per month) that you will create these types of content. Only fill in the ones you’ll create in the next 6 months and leave the others blank.
4. Time and resources
Turning your blog into a business takes time, especially when you’re juggling a full-time job or clients on the side. it’s important that you devote enough time to your blog. How many hours each week will you spend writing? It could be blog posts, freebies, workbooks, etc.
5. How will you create content that converts and sells?
Time to take a look at your content as part of a system. Looking at your content from a high level view will help you stay focused when you sit down to write and create products. I suggest working from the end first, meaning that you have (or will have) an Ecourse or service offering. What posts, freebies, free courses and challenges can you create to build a content funnel for it?
SECTION 9: MARKETING + GROWTH
You made it this far! Who knew planning a business could be so much work? But really, you are putting in the effort right now and I am so excited for you. Finally (finally!) we’re going to talk about your marketing system, because once you create your products you need a system to promote them. The same way that you need to build your audience, you need a way to connect with them and deepen your relationship. A solid marketing system will let you do both, and most of it on autopilot. Let’s dive in.
1. How will you market your business?
Write down the methods you will use to market your products, services and blog. Think about things like Facebook ads, committing to a full-core Pinterest strategy, and leveraging Facebook (or LinkedIn) groups.
If you’re looking for new ways to market your blog, check out this blog post where I share over 100 ways to market your business on a small budget.
2. What marketing tools will you use?
There are things you need to do after you publish a new blog post so that your work gets found by more people. It can take sooo much time to do these things manually, but alas, you still have to do them! That’s where marketing tools like these come in. They let you automate most of those things you find yourself doing over and over again. Decide which tools you feel comfortable using (or learning).
3. What tasks can (or do) you outsource?
We all have to delegate if we want to grow. There are certain tasks that other people can help you with and then there are things that only you can do (like creating courses!). What tasks that you do over and over again can you outsource to a virtual assistant, blogger, or designer? Think about the things you do every day that if you were freed up, would allow you to focus your time better.
4. How will you promote your blog posts?
Decide which marketing and promotion strategies you feel comfortable with. Will you SEO your posts? What about email sequences and freebies, will you create them? Where and how will you post your updates on social media?
5. How will you grow your blog?
What techniques will you use to continue to grow your brand? Once you’ve been at it for a while (and maybe that’s now!) what marketing and promotion strategies will you use to scale your blog even more? Think about things like monthly webinars, daily posting in Facebook groups, guest posts, creating new products every quarter. What can you add to your offerings to keep your business flourishing?
That’s about everything! Make sure you document your blog business plan somewhere handy, so you can reach for it and reference it as you need. Keep in mind that as your blog starts to take shape, you will need to revise, edit, tweak and modify your blog business plan. I recommend revisiting your blog business plan every 6 months to make sure you’re on track and that your plan still reflects the bigger vision you have!
You did it… Now you have a blog business plan and a solid strategy to turn your blog into a business!
Next up –> Creating a Blog Action Plan from your Business Plan… stay tuned!