. TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR BLOG BUSINESS PLAN .
Recently i’ve started to think about the future of my blog, a lot more seriously than I had done before. I’ve always strived for success, growth and achievements with my blog, non stop in fact and if you know me at all you’ll know how hard I work and how much I put into this little www dot, but these goals and achievements have always been within the parameters of my blog being a hobby and a side to my career in the media industry. And whilst that’s not likely to change in the short term (after all i have some exciting developments coming up which I hope to share soon on the work front), i have started to think a lot more seriously about the ‘pipe dream’ of one day running my own business and how my blog and this industry could be a perfect opportunity (even sitting along side my career, i have become the master of juggling both over the last three years after all).
Having started my blog three years ago i’ve had exposure to the growth of the industry (coming from a small insular little community into a huge, international, billion pound industry) and whilst i’ve not had the same ‘success’ as others who may have been blogging longer or ‘got lucky’ on the way (my blog is still small in the grand scheme of things I know), my blog is in a relatively stable and established space now, where if I was brave enough, and ready to make a big change, I could look to take it a little further and make it into something a little more ‘official’. Moreover, i’ve spent my career working with clients, developing communications strategies and recommending innovative yet highly effective media strategies, which has of course over the last year or two heavily orientated towards the influence, endorsement and reach of bloggers not only in the UK market, but across the globe. It’s an industry and subject I have experience in, so i’ve been thinking maybe I should start to use this experience to my own benefit a little more …
So whilst I was on holiday last week I started to make a little blog strategy, the future of mediamarmalade.com, the A-Z of the next 12 months, braver goals, and tactics for achieving these! I won’t be sharing these on my blog today, they’re hidden away in my secret little note pad, but I thought i’d share the key things I started to think about, so you too can get inspired.
. WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR BLOG TO ACHIEVE? .
– BUSINESS OBJECTIVES –
A simple question, but I suspect one that all of us bloggers wistfully pass of with ‘oh, a success’ or ‘my own business’. But what does that even mean, what is success for you? Is it a financial target, a reach target, a clientele target? And what do you mean by your own business? If you were to go to the bank with a pitch for a new business, or looking for a business lease … they’d expect to see a business plan. A proposition, a fully fledged, detailed proposal for your business. So if you want to get serious about things, first step is to think about what you want your blog to become? What do you want to achieve? If your blog is to become a business, you need to develop a business plan to work towards.
. WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE? .
– OBJECTIVES & TARGETS –
Once you know what you want to achieve, you can start to put measurable targets against it. Not just the long term end goal target, but milestones too for you to work towards along the way. Bitesize, chunk-able objectives. It’s sometimes hard to think so far ahead, but push yourself and your targets, nothing comes to anyone easily and so if you really want to achieve success (whatever your success looks like) then you’ll need to work hard, and really go big and commit!
These objectives and targets should be the key things which will help you achieve your business plan. So for example if you’re overall goal was to become a successful blog consultant, then you’re objectives would be tailored to this and might include things like developing a client portfolio, establishing yourself as a credible consultant or growing your social following to have greater influence & contacts. Equally your business objective might be to make your current blogging model (e.g. content production) monetisable, and your objectives then would feed off this and would be more orientated to increasing paid for posts, building an advertising income or gaining accreditation through key ‘recognised’ industry people (magazines / journalists / brands / PRs etc). Whatever your objectives are, they should be the key things which will ultimately help you achieve your business objective!
These objectives might sound pretty scary or hard to achieve when you first start out, so why not break your goals into 3 or 4 milestones, which ultimately lead you to your end target. That may be after 3 months you want to have grown your reach by 25%, or maybe it’s achieving 15% of your financial targets or it may be around delivering the ‘ground work’ to set you up for your hard deliverables (design, content, contacts etc).
. HOW ARE YOU CURRENTLY DOING? .
– STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES –
Arguably this element of the process could be done up front, to help you find a niche or an opportunity to grow your blog business into and therefore help shape your business plan, but equally in this sense, i’m assuming the business plan is focussed on monetising the content you’re already producing, less around changing your proposition to find the most money making opportunity (e.g. opposed to diversifying what you’re already doing to make money, you’re using what you’ve already got and building on it).So once you’ve developed your business objective, and identified your goals and objectives, you need to start developing your tactics of how you’ll deliver against these. But before you get into the details (which might be, blog 5 times a week, develop 1 video a week, attend 4 events this month etc), it’s worth analysing what you’re already doing and seeing what you’re doing really well (and should continue to do) and also what perhaps you could improve a little to help achieve your goals.
When developing any strategy it’s always worth analysing things before hand, the market, your audience, your offering, content, work load, process, income etc etc. I’d urge you to take a look at your blog and proposed business plan and think about the things you’re already doing well to help contribute to your end target. Is there a type of content post which gets you lots of traffic, a format which gains the most traction (twitter, bloglovin, instagram, Facebook etc), a PR company you work well with, a frequency or phasing of blogging which gets you the most engagement, a topic of conversation which your blog most suits. Whatever it is, there’ll be things that work for your blog and you as a brand, you should leverage those and focus on generating more of that X Factor content.
In doing this process, you’ll also give yourself a little well deserved pat on the back, by taking note of all the great, fantastic hard work you’ve put in!
. HOW WILL YOU REACH YOUR GOALS.
– TACTICS –
Obviously one of the most important things once you’ve decided your end goal, set your objectives and key milestones and analysed the areas to grow and improve, the next natural step is to turn these into formalised tactics which will overall help you deliver against your objectives, which have been defined to help you deliver against your business plan and business objective. This approach is how many businesses work anyway, I in particular work in this manor with my clients when developing communications strategies, working from a business target and through analysis and understanding develop a suitable strategy, with series of objectives and tactics which will help deliver against it all!
Your tactics are the small, tangible things that you can physically do day to day to help achieve your goals. If one of your goals or objectives is around driving reach, then your tactics may include things like regular content posts across your blog and social channels, if an objective is about engagement, perhaps your tactic may be to join in more blog conversations, or equally if an objective is to start monetising your traffic, maybe a tactic would be to join an affiliate programme or start taking ad space.
Your tactics need to be specific, achievable and measurable, and most importantly lead up to your objectives. Your tactics are in place to deliver your objectives, which in turn will help to hit your over arching business target!
. MEASUREMENT & CELEBRATION
– REWARD –
These things take time, christ i’ve been blogging for three years (as a hobby) and would be absolutely no way near in a position to quit my career and earn millions off my blog, no where near. So it’s really important that you accept this up front, some businesses take 2-3 years to become fruitful and break even. So you need to be realistic when setting targets and measuring success, but also of course keep ambitious.
It can be extremely hard, draining and demotivating to work your arse off and see no results or super slow results (trust me …), but keep going, and continually review your objectives and tactics. No business invests tons of money into a new venture without continually reviewing its progress, success, failures and optimising almost on a daily basis. If you’re blog was to become a business, you’d need to be taking the same approach. Reviewing things constantly, analysing whats working and whats not, and tempering your tactics to adjust with learnings.
Most importantly, and something i’ve always done throughout my career, is to also reward yourself. No matter how big or small your achievement, make sure you reward yourself when you achieve a goal, hit a target or earn your first pound. I’ve always celebrated every promotion in my career with a designer hand bag (they’re my tipple of fancy) and it really helps celebrate and reward myself for all my hard work and effort. Plus of course keeps me motivated for the next! You’re reward doesn’t have to be big, just something that’ll help you feel rewarded for what you’ve achieved, a dinner out, a new jumper, a cocktail with friends etc.
And of course, keep going. No business ever settles once it’s achieved it’s business target, it reviews opportunities and sets a new one, and then focusses and develops a strategy to achieve the new target. Imagine if we all settled and never continued to expand … a business is a long term venture, so you need to continually grow and evolve your plans!
– – –
So there you go. It’s by no means the only way to do it, but this is how I approach things within my work, and how i’ve started to think about my blog. For the last three years i’ve been working my butt off to produce daily content, hoping one day to make it … but even I know that I need to be a little more specific with that ‘wish’ if one day I did want this to become something more than a hobby. I’m not sure it would ever replace my career which i’m extremely committed too, but seeing as i’ve juggled both for three years already, i’m sure I can manage for a little while longer.
Now it’s time for me to start taking my own advice …
I’d love to hear what you think about these tips & my process for making a business plan and helping you achieve your goals. If you have your own plan or tactics, i’d love to hear what you’re doing?