Part one was all about business plans (why you need them, how to create them and more), and today, we’re all about getting things done. I want to help you create an action plan on steroids so you can execute on your business plan and make money with your blog f’real.
First, I’m going to share some things that will help you approach making money from your blog from a goal-oriented mindset. Then we’ll dive into the actual steps to kick your b-plan into action.
Ready for it? Good! First, let’s walk through the blog profit plan mindset so that you can get the most benefit from your action plan.
[ THE BLOG PROFIT PLAN MINDSET]
1) Blog Income Formula
I came across this simple formula just a few weeks ago and am in looove. Seriously, I think I’m going to plaster my apartment with formula post-its. 🙂
Income = Number of Email Subscribers x (.02 x Price of Product)
Pretty powerful stuff, no?
This formula literally gives you the ability to predict your income, and create a road map for making it happen.
Knowing that an average of 2% of your subscribers will purchase your product (the common range is 1-3%), if you want to make $3K this month and you have a product that is $100, you know you’ll need 1,500 subscribers to make it happen. This assumes that your product is relevant to your readers, which of course it will be!
So the blog income formula tells us what areas to focus on for growth:
- Awesome blog and content
- A product
That means that every goal, task and item in your blog action plan should be around these 4 areas in order to make money with your blog. Ideally, you will address each bucket every month, meaning that you set specific goals that you plan to achieve for each focus area, each month (blog, traffic, subscribers, product). This way you’ll be covering all bases and moving them all forward.
Note: Income from affiliate programs and ads is more complex because there are so many variations in payouts, cookie lifetime and other things I’m still learning, so I’ll save those juicy nuggets for a later post!
2) Start With 12-Month Goals
Time to start planning! Now that we’re clear on our focus areas, let’s create your 12-month blog goals. Nothing fancy here, all you need is a simple spreadsheet. Then take those 4 buckets and map them out across every month to get a high-level view of your goals.
For instance, you might say that starting in month 4 you want to make $3k, and by month 12 your money goal is $10K. Or, you might say that in month 1 you want to launch your blog, and by month 3 you want to be blogging twice a week. The point is that every focus area has a goal attached to it for each month.
What should you do first? Great question! If you’re feeling stuck on which comes first – the chicken or the egg – the answer is really both. It may seem like a lot to juggle, but as I explain (Step #3 below), even though you’ll be dipping into all of your buckets each month, some will have a priority focus over others. For instance, if you’re starting out with blogging, in months #1-3 you may have a priority focus on:
- Building your blog (content)
- Creating epic content (content)
- Building a following (traffic)
Now at the same time you will doing things like:
- Building your list (subscribers)
- Brainstorming content funnels (subscribers)
- Researching products (money)
See where I’m going with this?
The difference here is that you’ll be full-steam ahead with your priority focus items, and not so much on the others. Think of it like you’re building a runway for the others to take off, while you’re at peak altitude with the others. Make sense?
3) Break Those Down into Bite-Sized Steps
Next up: time to break the goals down into smaller chunks. We’re talkin’ 3 months, then 1 month, and then weeks.
What does that really mean? To start, just take a mental snapshot of your priority focus areas for the next 3 months. This works fantabulously well because it’s a small enough time frame where you can feel positive and excited about your action items, rather than stressed and defeated because you start getting ahead of yourself. Been there, done that. At the same time it’s gives you high-level view of where you should be putting your focus.
Once you have that, you want to start working on one month at a time. Take one month from your blog goals and break it down into bite-sized steps. What that looks like is you pick a priority focus for each week, and that one priority drives all of your actions.
I generally have a larger priority goal for the month as well. For instance, if I’m rebranding or creating a new product, I want to keep it front and center in my mind, so I’ll make sure it stands out on my calendar.
Each month/week your priority goals should get done first, meaning that when other things come up you turn them down (or shift them around) so you can focus on the things you really need to achieve.
Now that you have the success mindset, let’s look at action steps to creating a profitable blog.
[ BLOG ACTION PLAN STEPS ]
1) Choose your niche
I’ve written about the importance of defining your niche and target audience pretty extensively in other posts, so I won’t go into it too much here. Hmmm…or will I?
The thing is this. Finding your blog’s focus is a biggie.
This is a step that every successful business faces, and if you really want to turn your blog into a business, it’s a step you simply can’t skip. I say this with complete confidence and after years working with brands who put so much effort into marketing and then later realize that they’re missing the mark. I don’t want this to happen to you, so here’s the deal…
You absolutely have to be BFFs with your audience.
What we’re really going for here is to drill down on specifics. First of all, I would start with the basics like age, job title, income level, gender, and so on, then move beyond that to how your audience is feeling, what they’re struggling with, and how you help.
You should be able to answer these questions:
- How is your audience feeling right now?
- What are they trying to do but can’t?
- What’s stopping them?
- How can you help them?
- What will change for them after YOU?
- How will they feel when they’ve overcome this problem?
2) Choose your name
When you’re starting out your name feels like all you have, so you hold on to it and drive yourself a little nutso (at least if you’re me you do!) But, really, your name is a name and that’s it. Other people don’t care what you name your blog, and that friend, is just the bottom line.
Your brand is so much more than a name, meaning that it’s really everything attached to your name. It’s the way you speak to your audience, your logo, the colors you choose, what you stand for, your mission, your values…all of that exciting brand stuff. 🙂
Now, whether you use your own name or a product name for your biz really depends on which you prefer. I recommend choosing a name that makes you feel 100% authentically YOU, and at the same time encompasses your longer term vision. For instance, if you plan to grow your team beyond just you, a product name might be the way to go. Try to include keywords related to your blog’s focus so that people have an idea what your biz is all about.
3) Build your blog
Now we’re going to roll up our sleeves and build your blog! I recommend using a self-hosted WordPress site because you’ll have access to functionality that you need to grow your business. We’re talkin’ plugins that will put your biz on autopilot ’round the clock.
Having said that, I know many people love SquareSpace, and there’s definitely a lot to be said for getting your website up quickly, which you can do easily with SquareSpace. WordPress is a bit more techie and will take longer, so if you’re up for the challenge, I say go for it!
Not sure which one to go with? byRegina has a free course that shows you both platforms to help you decide. And if you’re sold on a self-hosted WordPress site, I’m your girl (wink, wink)! This post will help you get up and running.
4a) Build a following
Now we’re revvin’ up the traffic engine of the blog income formula (first part, step #1). First things first, let me say when it comes to driving web traffic, social media and content are interrelated. Where one goes, the other must follow, which is why step #4 is broken down into two parts. In case you’re wondering which part to tackle first, I say both, friend. You really can’t have one without the other.
With that said, let’s dive into building your following so that your content gets found by more people, ev’rywhere. From your niche research, you should have a good idea where your audience hangs out. So now we’re going to create profiles on those sites and start building an audience.
Heads up, you’re going to have to spend some time on each social media platform. It might seem like your entire day is devoured by social media at first, but it won’t be forever, I promise! You’ll get your days back soon! Really, you just need to spend enough time to learn the ins and outs, share some content, see which types of content perform best, and most importantly, which sites give you the most bang for your buck.
Need help finding your audience? There’s a great course called Find Your Tribe with includes over 400 Facebook and Pinterest groups to help you get started.
Now let’s look at the content part…
4b) Create and share content
How frequently should you write new blog posts? I think the question here is really “How frequently CAN you write new posts on the regular?” If you can commit to writing a new post once every 2 weeks for now, perfect. That’s your magic number. Over time I recommend ramping up to once or twice a week as you get comfortable with your blog schedule. Whatever you do, please don’t write 6 posts in 2 weeks and then disappear for 3 months! Creating a schedule and then sticking to it is sooo key when it comes to building trust.
One thing that saves me oodles of time is working with themes. I find that my brain works 24/7 behind the scenes when I work this way, so by the time I sit down to write my next post, the words flow freely.
Curious what a theme is? I’m glad you asked! You’re reading a post from my theme right now – The Blog Profit Plan Series. Seriously, though, themes are just subtopics where you take readers on a journey and one post feeds naturally into the next. So if you’re a fashion blogger, you might plan a theme around stripes one month and then colors the next.
Oh, and, I promised you’d get your days back, right? Once you’re comfortable on your social media platforms, scheduling tools will actually automate your content sharing for you, so you don’t have to do it manually. Who’s a game-changer now? My favorite tools are SmarterQueue and Buffer for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn; BoardBooster for Pinterest; and Planoly for Instagram.
If you’re ready to step up your traffic game even more, these two posts will help:
- 14 Things to Do to Every Blog Post Before You Hit Publish
- How to Promote Your Blog Posts Effectively on Social Media
5) Build your subscribers
High five! Your traffic engine is hummin’ and you’re on your way to wrapping up the blog income formula. Time to crank up the subscriber engine! Let me just say there’s no magic pill for building your list. But there are a ton of ways to do it, just like there are a ton of ways to market your business. So nothing to be overwhelmed about here!
Start by adding a freebie (content upgrade) to your posts. This can be anything, really: cheat sheets, ebooks, printables, planners, checklists…anything that will provide meaningful value for your readers.
To do this, you’ll need a few tools:
- Software to create your freebie – Canva, InDesign, Google Docs
- Opt-in form/landing page – Leadpages, ThriveThemes
- Software to create a pretty image for your opt-in – Canva, Picmonkey, Photoshop, Pixlr
You’ll also need an email marketing platform like MailChimp, ConvertKit, or Infusionsoft to create automated emails and campaigns so you can build a relationship with your subscribers while you create products to offer them.
That about brings us to…
6) Create a product
Woot woot! You made it, at the finish line, just one more step. You can do it! Let’s tackle this one step by step, k?
How do you know what products to create? First of all, you can send a survey to your subscribers asking them what their biggest challenge is, and then brainstorm products you can create to help.
You can also look into pre-selling your course. What this looks like is you create an outline of the course idea, then a sales page and a webinar, and if people buy, you know you’ve got a winner! Just be sure that you can actually deliver your course in the time frame you promise, so you won’t lose credibility with people who register for it. If this seems too scary, why not create the first few modules? This way you know you’ll have something to deliver while you’re doing your pre-selling.
What if you don’t have a list yet? No worries, just start tracking which posts get the most shares on social media and have the highest page views in analytics. This is a super easy way to get some insight into the content that people are responding to.
What tools should you use to create your course? I break it all down for you in this post.
Should you create an ebook or an ecourse? It’s really up to you. Ebooks take a bit longer than ecourses, but you can always turn your ebook into a course, like Start a Mom Blog did with the Blog By Numbers course.
I’m so excited for you! I can’t wait to hear about all your success. As you move through these steps, remember to work in bite-sized chunks and keep the blog income formula plastered to the top of your brain. And always, always, execute on the priority focus areas you set for each month. Don’t go skippin’ steps and getting ahead of yourself. 🙂