Why do you need a Business Plan, anyway?
Oh, that’s why I couldn’t read this. It’s upside down!
Turning a Blog from a hobby to a business is a piece of cake only if you know how.
So, how do you do it?
By creating and following a complete and solid Business Plan.
There is this quote that I read a while ago by Greg Reid and it’s one of my favorite motivational quotes.
“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal.
A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan.
A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.”
Ain’t that soulful?
In order to actually start making a high income each month from your Blog, you will have to create a plan, work on a Business Model and follow it to the bone.
This will help you move your Business in the right direction! Because; not having a Business Plan, is like blogging in the dark.
So, before we get started on actually crafting a business plan, let me cover the pros of having one.
1. You will never forget the actual purpose of your blog
It’s very common for us Bloggers to go through this.
As we spend months and years fine-tuning our blog and writing more and more posts, it can become very easy to get sidetracked and forget the main reason why we started blogging.
Where did I leave my Grandma again?
Having a Business Plan in place will help you remember your blog’s main purpose.
You will have a strong idea of what your Business is about, throughout your blogging journey. This is very important if you want to grow your Blog faster.
2. You will be extremely motivated to blog
As a full-time Blogger, it’s easy to lose focus and get burned out because there is so much to do.
A Business Plan will help you know what to do in order to reach your end goals.
Say you want to earn $10K a month – by constantly being reminded of your end-goals and knowing what steps to accomplish in order to reach them, you will be more motivated to work toward it and not waste time figuring out what you have to do.
3. It will help you align your content to your message
Every time you think of a post idea, or write a newsletter, you can peek at your Business Plan to check if it is aligned to your mission statement and call-to-action.
This will really help you be consistent with your Blog’s Message.
And being consistent builds trust. Trust builds a loyal audience. And a loyal audience will do wonders for your blog’s revenue.
4. It will help you be more organized
You can set monthly monetary goals, for instance:
- $3000 – Consultations (service)
- $700 – Ad revenue
- $2000 – Digital Products revenue
And then focus on each one separately so as to achieve these goals. A Business Plan will help you stay more organized and help you see things clearly.
I’m totally not spying on my Mrs Woods…
Because darling, once you know where your weaknesses lie, you can draft plans to improve those areas strategically.
It was only because I created a Business Plan, I was able to make $3451 in my 6th month blogging.
Now that you understand why you need a Business Plan, let’s dive in to actually learning how to create one.
Now, if you don’t have a blog or are thinking of starting one, I have a free 7 day email course (extremely detailed) that will help you start a blog that makes money on autopilot!
This post includes affiliate links to products I truly (from the bottom of my heart) recommend, meaning at no extra cost to you, I may earn a small percentage which I will use to buy my poor dogs food.
How to Create a Business Plan in order to earn more money Blogging:
In this post, I’m going to show you my process for creating a solid Business Plan for your Blog.
1. Your Blog’s Foundation
Before you plan anything, you will have to decide on your Blog’s niche. Meaning, you need to understand who your Blog is serving.
This is also the section where you will set your Blog’s Mission Statement. So, you can answer questions like:
- What is the purpose of your Blog?
- Why did you create your Blog?
- Who is your Blog serving?
- What will set your Blog apart from the rest out there?
Once you have the answer to these questions, you can build your Blog’s Mission statement.
I just built a Building without a degree in Civil Engineering, hmmm…
For instance, mine is – To help young and bright women build Online Businesses that stand out from the norm. I will use fun and colorful illustrations and humor to set my Blog apart from the rest.
Once you know your Blog’s Mission Statement, everything you build/write should align with it. Like I mentioned before, the more consistent you are with your message, the faster your Blog will grow.
Additionally, you can also take a peek at my 40+ page Business Plan Guide and Workbook which has various exercises that will help you understand how to build a Business from scratch.
2. Evaluating your Blog’s Competition
It can be very daunting to look at your competitors and feel overwhelmed.
But take it easy.
None of those people built their Businesses in 1 day.
They took their time. They started their Blogs from absolute scratch.
Your main motive while looking at your competitors is to validate your Blog’s Niche.
Most of the time, we have extremely far-fetched ideas on what our Niche should look like. No doubt, there is a possibility of making it work, but why focus your hard work on something that may or may not succeed?
Isn’t it better to know for sure that your Niche will succeed?
This is partly the reason why I didn’t start a website that sold socks for dogs even though it’s something that’s super cute and unique.
Sorry Maria, but pink really suits you.
So when you’re looking at your competitors, identify the following:
- What offers are they setting up on their Blog?
- How are they attracting their target audience?
- How are they monetizing their Blogs?
This is how you study your competition. Are they selling their services? Or are they selling digital products? How are they getting people to sign up to their newsletters? What keywords are they using to draw in their audience?
The key is not to copy but to learn what makes these blogs tick.
Do. Not. Copy. Other. Blogs.
This will help you get a keen understanding on you can build your Business Plan.
3. Using a Business Plan to Nail your Target Audience
It is very important to know whom you are talking to.
When you attract the right people to your Blog, you are saving a hell load of time turning away the people who aren’t interested in your offer.
This will make it super easy for you to market to the ones who actually care about your products and services.
Please keep in mind, that traffic alone is not a metric to chase after. You can get just 10,000 pageviews a month and still make more money than someone who gets 100,000 pageviews a month.
Because, it’s about whom you’re attracting and what your conversion rate is.
Which is why, it is important to focus on the quality of your audience and not the quantity.
So, in order to understand who your ideal reader is, you can ask yourself a few basic questions:
- What does my ideal reader do for a living?
- What problems are they facing?
- Which keywords are they inputting on Google Search?
- What is preventing them from achieving their goals?
- What will your readers feel after reading your Blog?
Answering these questions in your Business Plan, will help you know whom to write for. And this will in-turn help you create products that specifically solve problems for your ideal reader.
So, this is basically how you will increase your conversion rate.
Okay, so maybe it’s not as simple as it looks, but this is basically the concept.
4. Building Your Brand
Now, building a Brand is more than just choosing a logo and a beautiful WordPress Theme.
It’s about creating a name for yourself. And defining the one thing that you want to be known for.
The easiest way to do this, is to look at Brands and Blogs that you love.
Really ask yourself, why you keep going back. Is it because you love their Customer Service? Or you love the quality of their feed? Or you love the way they talk?
Here are a few questions that will help you with this exercise:
- What do you want your readers to feel when they visit your Blog?
- What do your friends or loved ones use to describe you?
- How do you really want to be known as?
When I created Stray Curls, I wanted my Brand to be honest, funny and kind. And writing this in my Business Plan has helped me align my Brand to these characteristics.
And every Blog Post I write, resonates with it.
My content is extremely straight-forward. I include humor via my illustrations and I make it a point to reply to every single email and comment no matter how much time it takes.
My point being, everything you do must resonate with your Brand and voice.
Building a consistent Brand takes a lot of time and patience. But it’s worth the effort.
Similarly, you need to be very consistent with your voice. A lot of people find it hard to nail their writing style, but it isn’t so difficult if you pretend you’re talking to a friend.
Okay, so you may have to tone it down, just a bit…
In order to write the way you talk, you need to infuse your personality into your writing.
This will help you stand out from everyone else.
Because people never forget their experience on your website if it’s good. They will undoubtedly come back if you leave a good mark on them.
A brand builds trust and consistency.
So, take your time and decide on your Blog’s business goals for the next 3-6 months. And then, list out your goals for the next 1 year and the next 5 years in your Business Plan.
This will help you know your Blog’s Direction and you will know what decisions to take in order to achieve your goals.
5. Building your Website
Colors and Fonts
This is exactly how I look in real life.
Stick to a 3-4 color palette. Use more colors, and you will confuse your audience.
Your primary color should be on almost every page, and try to include it in your logo. Your secondary color should provide contrast to the first.
And keep your background white and your text black. Always. This goes without saying. I cannot for the life of me read Blogs that have pink or purple backgrounds.
It is extremely cheesy. And a huge strain on the eyes.
Wow, I may need to wear glasses after reading this blog.
So, where do you use color?
Save colors for your menus, your social media icons, your subheadings, links and borders.
Now, when it comes to fonts, keep it simple. Don’t go for more than 2-3.
Your main aim should be readability.
Choose a sans serif font because they don’t have those little hooks that make it difficult to read. Remember, the fonts you choose must be easy to read on mobile devices as well otherwise it will be very hard to keep a low bounce rate.
Choosing a free WordPress theme is one of the biggest SEO mistakes to avoid!
Focus on finding a paid theme that:
- has good customer support
- is extremely easy to work with
- is SEO friendly and lets Search Engines crawl pages and posts easily
- has a lot of demos and cool short codes that provides you with a lot of designing flexibility
- is really user-friendly and helps boost your overall Brand
If you are not sure about WordPress or themes, you may consider outsourcing to a WordPress maintenance company to take care of your installations, maintenance, security updates, backups, and so on.
These are the two themes that I currently love.
What I love about Divi is that, it’s extremely stylish and customizable. And the best part? It’s a drag and drop theme! Meaning you can re-arrange everything while looking at it.
Did I mention that when you purchase Divi, you get over 800+ premade website layouts?
This is super useful if you don’t want to waste time trying to figure out how to design your website!
The second theme that I suggest (and I’m currently using) is Avada. It’s only $60. And you can use it for a lifetime.
There are no additional fees.
It comes with lots of pretty demos.
This makes building your Blog so much easier.
SEO wise, this is one of the best WordPress themes because it allows Google to index and crawl your website very easily.
It’s not a drag-and-drop theme like Divi but it’s mighty easy to set up.
6. Establishing your Blogging Basics
Once you’ve built your Website, it’s time to focus on your blog posts.
Defining your Blog Categories
Just think of all the areas in your niche that your readers need to master in order to become an expert.
So, if I were a Wedding Planner and my blog was about Weddings, my blog categories would be:
- Rings and Dresses
- Wedding Cake
Setting Categories will help you decide on what areas you need to focus on each month or each quarter.
Creating a Posting Schedule
Aim for 1 a week or 1 in 2 weeks and write long-form content. Once you know how to write a viral blog post, publishing them consistently becomes very easy.
If you’re a pen and paper gal, you can download my free printable 12 page blog planner!
7. Planning your Social Media Strategies and Goals via a Business Plan
The best way to grow a loyal following and build a community is to be active on Social Media. Now, it can be very tempting to spread yourself thin and be active on everything.
I’m wagging this finger at you but I don’t mean any harm.
Decide on 2-3 social media (you know your target audience hangs out on) and stick to it.
Once you’ve decided on which social media you’re going to be active on, write down your goals and objectives for each one.
For instance if I had a curly hair blog, I would:
- Publish mini videos of women using curly hair products once a week
- Publish a before/after using curly hair products shots of women on social media twice a week
- Promote my free curly hair guide for Newbies on social media (in order to build my email list)
- Publish Amazon Affiliate Links to products bi weekly.
- Publish extremely funny and relatable curly hair comics once a month on Instagram and Pinterest
P.S. Just for fun, I do post curly hair comics on my Instagram because I am obsessed with hair.
Also create strategies for when you reach certain follower counts. This will help you grow faster.
Once you know what you’re going to post, decide on your posting frequency and stick to it.
8. Building an Email List
Apart from Social Media, you need a primary mode of communication with your readers. Your Email List is where all the money lies, because this is what you will use to sell your products.
Social Media is not very reliable. Tomorrow Facebook can delete your Page and Instagram can suspend your account for no reason and without any warning.
This is why, it is important to never put all your eggs in one basket.
Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your readers. And unlike with social media, you will have access to these contacts forever.
Once you decide on your email marketing software (I highly recommend ConvertKit), you can create a lead magnet (that ties up with your offering) and slowly nurture your readers so that they become paying customers some day.
Try and send a Newsletter at least 2-3 times a month. Here are some ideas on what you can send your readers:
- Talk about your latest blog post
- Focus on a general theme and compile 2-3 blog posts so that your reader can read them all at once
- Inform them about a webinar or other related events
- Tell them a personal story with a morale at the end
- Brief them about a Quick Tip they can implement straight away
Your Email List should be about your readers. Aim to provide endless value in your newsletters. This will ensure that you have a very high open rate.
RELATED POST: HOW I USE CONVERTKIT TO MAKE $600 A MONTH CONSISTENTLY!
9. Deciding your Blog’s Monetization Strategies with a Business Plan
There are tons of ways of monetizing your blog but I’m only going to cover the most important ones.
Ads are a good passive income. Once you start getting good traffic, you can sell your website space to ad companies that you want to work with.
2. Affiliate Marketing
When you’re just starting out, I would recommend that you become an affiliate for products in your niche and then market them to your audience. This is a good way of testing the waters before jumping in completely.
2 minutes later, I realized that I was dipping my foot in toxic waste and not water…
Once you’re confident of selling, you can start creating your own products.
Important Tip: Choose a few affiliates and stick with those. Make sure that the quality is really good because you need to build trust with your audience.
3. Creating and Selling your own Digital Products with a Business Plan
This is by far the most fun I’ve had – blogging. Creating and selling your own products is one of the best ways to make money online.
In order to make products that do really well, take a look at trending topics in your niche. Log onto Facebook Groups and see what people really need help with.
In my niche, it was traffic, so my first eBook was an in-depth guide on gaining traffic from scratch.
When you’re starting out, it’s best to stick to digital products because your cost price is basically zero. Aside from that, you don’t have to keep inventory or worry about shipping.
Selling digital products also means that you get to keep 100% of the profits.
I use SendOwl to sell my eBooks for a few reasons:
- They have a fixed fee that they deduct each month and this does not cut into my profits.
- Their checkout process is very easy and straightforward (which encourages more purchases)
- Their affiliate system helps you make evergreen sales because other people are doing the selling for you.
4. Selling your own Services
Apart from creating and selling products, selling your services is a really good option. I currently sell my services as an Illustrator and Blog Coach. And it’s a great way to earn huge chunks of money.
The only drawback is that this isn’t passive income. So, it’s very time-consuming.
Take your time to really think about what services you want to offer and make a detailed plan on how you are going to market them and gain clients.
10. Understanding your USP
The key to selling is to understand your Unique Selling Point.
There may be tons of people out there selling the same thing you are, but once you understand what makes you different, you can use it to stand out from the crowd.
Apart from your Brand and Voice, you could do loads of other things to attract customers/clients like:
- Do a free consultation call for each client you take on
- Give a freebie with each product you sell
You can always take a peek at your competition to understand what they are selling and how they’re attracting clients and customers.
And try to make it different. Make it more valuable!
After this, write down a marketing strategy for all the different stages of your Business. In the beginning, you can aim to write more articles and offer to guest post on other people’s websites in your niche to spread the news of your offer.
Once you hit a certain income goal, you can slowly start using paid means like Google or Facebook Ads or go all out and hire an SEO consultant.
Following up with your Business Plan
Okay, so I’ve given you the whole hoop-la on creating a Business Plan.
But this isn’t enough.
You need to follow it up diligently week after week to make sure that everything is on track. So, how do you do that?
- Take a look at your most popular posts on Google Analytics and keep updating them so they bring in more traffic.
- If a Sales Funnel is bringing in a lot of sales, then implement it in your most popular blog posts and your newsletters.
- Constantly try out new traffic methods and ditch the ones that don’t work after a month or two.
- Keep monitoring your growth so you can see what changes you need to make your Business Plan.
- Review your Business Plan each year and see if it needs to be modified or updated.
Have you created your Business Plan yet? What are your thoughts on having one? Let me know in the comments below!
And if you want a fun Business Plan Workbook, you can check out this Business Plan Guide I’ve made specifically for Bloggers who want to transform their Blogs into Businesses.
If you’re a Blogger that loves planning, you will also love:
- 27 Hacks to be an Ultra Productive Blogger
- How to Create a Blog Content Plan for the Whole Year
- 17 Easy Ways to get Tons of Blog Comments
- Free Printable 2020 Blog Planner