Have you created your blog business plan yet?
You probably don’t think you need one.
But, there’s a reason all businesses have one.
Your business plan allows you to map out your entire blog from start to finish.
That’s from the time you begin doing research all the way up to what and how you’re going to sell your product.
Doing so early on gives you a path to follow. More importantly, an action plan to execute.
Here’s how to create yours.
Decide on a Niche
This first section is all about choosing the what you’re going to blog about.
Your niche is your blog’s topic.
As such, it can be about food, personal finance, camping or homesteading.
That’s up to you.
But, it does help to do some research beforehand to see whether a niche is worth going into first.
Identify Your Audience
Who are you catering you?
Your blog, its content, where you promote and what you sell are all based on your target market.
In short, everything you do in blogging is geared towards them.
This is why it’s important to identify who you’re serving.
To help you get started, here are a few simple questions to ask yourself (and figure out the answers to):
- Who exactly are they?
- Can you describe them?
- What do they do for a living?
- What age bracket do they fall under?
- Their likes and dislikes?
- What are their dreams and goals?
Define Your Audience’s Problem
Knowing this kind of background information about your target market allows you to figure out other things that are more important.
One is: What is a big problem they have?
That’s the goal of your blog – to serve them by helping them with a problem or pain they have.
Knowing who your audience is and how you can serve them allows you to know what kind of content you need to create.
How Will Your Blog Help Them Solve Their Problem
In addition to identifying your target audience and their problem, there’s one last thing you want to know…
How are you going to help them solve the problem they have?
Ultimately, it’s your solution they’ll be coming back to your blog for. And, that will likewise be the product they’ll be willing to buy.
Research Your Competitors
After you’ve identified your audience, there’s another group of people you want to get familiar with.
That’s your competitors.
In general, your competitors are other bloggers in your niche.
And theoretically, they’re they ones you’ll be “competing” with for visitors.
But truthfully, the word competitor is somewhat misleading. That’s because in blogging, your competitors actually turn out to be your friends.
They’re the people who you end up working, collaborating and partnering with. Often, you’ll find yourself promoting their content and vice versa.
And, most importantly, you’ll be friends.
But, when starting out it’s important to research other blogs in your niche in order to:
- Understand what topics people in your niche like
- What works and what doesn’t work?
- Where are they promoting?
- Why do people like and return to their blogs?
- What’s unique about them?
- Their strengths and weaknesses
This will help you get started on formulating your own strategy.
But, here’s one warning. Avoid the temptation of just copying them.
Instead, use it to understand the the niche and find inspiration for your own approach.
Is There a Way to Monetize Your Blog
You don’t need to go into details at this point. You’ll do that below in the section labeled Monetization.
But, it’s important to know that there’s a viable way to make money in your niche.
The best way I’ve found to research this is by looking at your competitors.
Check their websites. And, see how do they make money? Is it with:
- Display ads
- Affiliate marketing
- Their own products including ebooks, courses or physical products. (For the first 2, you’ll likely need to sign up to their email list and go through their sales sequence)
- Coaching or consulting services
- Or other ways
From there, you’ll have a basic idea of how bloggers in your niche monetize their blogs.
After checking about 5-10 sites, you’ll likely see a pattern.
That’s the case for most niches. The reason being that certain monetization strategies work better than others depending on your topic.
The goal here is two-fold:
Know if there is a viable way to monetize your blog.
What kind of profit potential there is. Often the profit potential can vary significantly per niche.
You’ll which methods you should be focusing on
Here’s how to do it:
Check the income reports. Not all blogs will have income reports. So, make sure to include a few that do in your research.
If majority of blogs are making anywhere from $1,000-$3,000 a month and the bigger ones are hitting $10,000 a month…
Then, you know there’s money to be made in that niche.
It also tells you that reaching $10,000/mo. may be tough.
In contrast, if you see a lot of bloggers reporting monthly earnings of $3,000-$10,000 while the biggest ones make over $100,000 a month, then…
You know you’ve got a better chance at earning $5,000-$10,000 a month or more.
What’s Your Unique Selling Proposition?
The last part of this section is about your USP or Unique Selling Proposition.
In short, what makes your blog different?
More importantly, why would someone choose to read your blog instead of others in your niche?
Brainstorm a few reasons why.
Then narrow them down until you get to ONE main reason.
You can likewise have a few secondary reasons.
Bottom line here is to come up with a compelling reason why someone should read your blog.
A good way to go about it is to put yourself in the readers’ shoes. And, ask yoursefl, “Why would I choose this blog over the others?”
Once you know the market or niche you’ve selected is viable, it’s time to go more in depth into your blog.
This time, it’s all about branding.
Your brand is your blog’s identity. As such, it includes:
- The symbol or logo people associate your brand with
- The blog’s or company’s name
- Your products and/or services
- The mission, purpose and principles you stand for
- How you advertise
- How people see your blog/company as
- And many more
All this begins with a few things.
Your Blog Name (Your Brand)
This is your Brand Name.
It’s what people will refer to your blog or company as.
It will likely be your domain name as well.
So choose carefully.
Check out this article to learn more about how to choose a blog a blog name.
What does your blog set out to be or do?
One easy way to do this is to do what many startups pitching to VCs do. They use a well-known brand to describe their goals.
For example, your blog could be the Uber of E-Commerce. Or, it could be the Instgram for Video makers.
Those are just examples but you get what I mean.
Basically, ask yourself: What do you want do you want your blog to do or be?
Are you bold or do you prefer being subtle?
Your blog’s design and images often provide a hint of your style.
In addition, how your social media accounts are set up also offer a depiction of your blog’s style.
In addition to this, are you more vocal?
And, how do you communicate with your readers. Is it through messages, video, audio or something else.
Finally, there’s your content. Is there a lot of graphics? Or is it mostly text?
Then again, it could be videos, Facebook Lives or podcasts.
Your approach and how your blog looks will determine your style.
Your Personality, Voice, And Values
These are some of the less tangible elements of a brand. Yet, they’re very important to identify in order to stay consistent with your overall goals and purpose.
Your brand’s personality represents how you want people to perceive you/your brand as.
In some cases, you are your brand.
For others, the brand may be completely separate from the person.
One example of the former is Oprah and Ellen. Both are the faces of their brands. Meanwhile, Facebook, Google and Apple are examples of the latter.
While you can argue that Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs are/were the faces of their brands, there’s a distinct difference between them and Oprah & Ellen.
After they leave, their brands can still go on. That’s not likely the case with Oprah or Ellen.
That said, your brand’s personality, voice and values include:
- How you “speak”. Are you funny, professional, informal or something else.
- What 3 words do people use most to describe your brand
- What do you stand for
Set Up Your Website
Now, it’s time to plan your blog’s infrastructure.
While that sounds a little daunting, it isn’t.
That’s because much of the technical stuff has been streamlined to make set-up easy. As such, installation often involves one click of a button and not much else.
That said, you’ll need a few things here.
Web Hosting Service
Your web host is where your blog’s software and all your files will be saved.
Basically, your blog will be housed in server farms that have been configured to allow websites to be seen online.
That’s why you want to sign up with a web hosting service. This simplifies everything.
And, as far as services go, I highly recommend BlueHost for beginner bloggers.
At $2.75 a month, it’s very affordable.
Plus, it makes installation, maintenance and customer help easy.
Just as importantly, it offers excellent performance. That is, fast loading page loading time and 99%+ uptime (so your blog won’t be down).
WordPress is the blog platform used by majority of bloggers.
And, it’s what I highly suggest you use also.
To explain, your blog hose provides the hardware framework for your blog’s files. And, to make it easier, almost all hosts have installed configuration software, often in the form of cPanel.
cPanel is a software that lets you easily install blogging platforms, set up email and transfer yoru files much like Windows and the Mac OX do.
As such, you don’t have to know any coding or technical stuff to install, edit or delete things.
Among the software your blog host will provide is WordPress, which is an CMS (Content Management System).
WordPress lets you write, edit and publish posts much like you do in Microsoft Word. This means no coding or HTML needed.
That makes it easy for you (and every other blogger) to write articles.
Your WordPress theme is responsible for the design of your blog.
This is why blogs all look different.
The theme you choose will allow you to change the format, sidebars, logo, colors, fonts and everything else.
But, not all themes are created equal.
Some are better than than others. By that I mean,
- They load faster
- They’re optimized for SEO
- They are set up for mobile devices
- They’re responsive
And, as far as customization goes they will:
- Let you change fonts and their sizes
- Adjust spacing
- Drag and drop components
- And make more modifications
That’s why I like Divi Theme for this purpose.
It lets you control everything so you can personalize the look, style and feel of your blog.
This is the part where you plan out your content.
- What will you be writing?
- Which keywords will you be targeting?
- What kinds of blog posts will your blog include?
- How often will you publish?
- How much time will you spend writing?
- When are your writing sessions?
Basically, you’ll be outlining your overall content strategy.
All of these will give you an overview of the content your blog will have. In addition, how you’ll be creating it (the execution phase).
Notice that the last few items are all related to your content or editorial calendar. This will help you stay consistent with your content creation process.
In contrast, the first few items define your content strategy. They’re the “What” part.
Like it or not, your blog needs traffic.
It’s your visitors who’ll eventually become your prospects. And, if you’re lucky, they’ll grow into loyal fans.
This is why driving traffic to your blog is a crucial part of the planning stage.
It’s what allows the other components like your email list, products and making money to work.
So in this section, you want to figure out what traffic sources you’ll be focusing on:
- What traffic sources you’ll be focusing on
- How you’ll get and grow traffic from those sources
As a beginner blogger, social media will likely be your best bet.
That said, social media is only a part of your overall traffic plan. Because, in the long-term, you’re better served complementing it with SEO.
When it comes to social media, it’s easy to get tempted to try to be everywhere.
But, doing so can put you at risk of spreading yourself too thin.
As such, it’s often a good idea to choose 2 platforms to focus on when you’re starting out. This lets you learn everything about them. And, how you can drive traffic to your blog from them as well as use them to increase audience engagement.
Here are some of the options to start with:
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is all about getting organic traffic.
That is, traffic that comes from search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo Search.
That said, since Google control over 90% of the search market, you’re better off focusing your SEO efforts on it.
SEO traffic is more difficult to obtain compared to social media traffic. That’s why social is often the better option for beginner bloggers.
Additionally, SEO traffic takes a long time to build. As such, driving social media traffic early on while working on your blog’s authority allows you to gain SEO traffic later on.
So why bother with SEO?
That’s because SEO traffic, when done correctly, is a lot bigger than social media traffic.
Just as importantly, once you get it, as long as you hold your keyword rankings, your traffic will be consistent.
In general, SEO is broken down into 2 categories:
- On Page SEO: This means optimizing your blog and blog posts so that search engines know what keywords you’re targeting. Similarly, it optimizes your website and its articles for readers and link juice flow.
- Off Page SEO: This is outreach and networking. In short, it’s all about getting backlinks. Baklinks tell Google that your site is important and relevant. That’s why people link to it.
The latter is by far the tougher of the two.
And, it takes time to build relationships and obtain backlinks from other websites.
But, you need to craft a plan right from the beginning on how you’re going to go about things.
Finally, there’s paid ads.
Paid ads work if you have the funds for them. The moment you stop paying for advertisements, traffic dries up as well.
Here, it’s all about:
- Facebook Ads
- Google Adwords
If you’re going this route, you need to figure out a few things:
- Who you’re targeting
- What kind of ads are you going to make
- Your daily and monthly budgets
- The ads themselves – the images, copy, titles and/or video
- And a few other factors
Additionally, what’s your goal for creating these ads.
Hint: It shouldn’t be about traffic.
Using ads to drive visitors to your blog and for no other reason than traffic is a money-losing proposition.
As such, it’s a better idea to direct visitors from ads to:
- Your email landing pages and opt ins
- Sales pages
- Somewhere you can earn money from them now or later on
That way you get an ROI for your advertising expenses.
Building Your Email List
Once you get some traffic to your blog, it’s time to put a lot of focus on building your email list.
Your email list does two things:
- It lets you make a deeper connection with your readers. This is because you can directly email them.
- It’s the biggest tool you have for selling your products
And, considering that it’s your biggest fans who’ll likely be buying your products, it makes sense to devote majority of your efforts in knowing them as intimately as possible.
So here are a few things to consider when it comes to your email list:
- Growing Your Email List– what strategies will you use to build your list
- Freebies– Brainstorm core and secondary freebies that will lure readers to subscribing to your list. You can likewise great content upgrades.
- What Forms Will You Use– Will you use pop Ups, feature boxes or scroll mats? Also, what kind of opt in forms will you use and where will you put them? Finally, do you want to create landing pages?
- Your Email List– This is all about your email list. How do you plan on segmenting and/or tagging them? How often will you analyze your stats and clean your list among other things.
- What Will You Be Emailing Your Subscribers– These are your regular updates and broadcasts. What do you say in them? Do you only email them about new blog posts or something else?
- How Often Will You Be Emailing Them– Are you emailing them once a week, every day or once a month? And in addition to the regular schedule, do you plan on emailing during promo periods, seasonal times of the year and holidays?
- Funnels– The most of these will be your sales funnel. But, there will be others as well. The goal here is to set them up so that when users sign up or as assigned to certain segments they’re put into a funnel that’s already set up.
Unless you started your blog as a hobby, you likely planned on making money with it.
As such, it’s crucials to plan your monetization strategy before you you get stared.
This allows you to align your blog, it’s content and promotional strategies towards how your going to make money with your blog.
Here’s how to go about doing this.
How Do Will You Make Money With Your Blog
Will you be:
- Selling ebooks, courses or services?
- Including ads on your site?
- Doing affiliate marketing?
- Offering memberships?
- Or something else?
One of the reasons you did competitor research earlier is to give you a better understanding of how bloggers in your niche make money.
This allows you to formulate your plan in this section.
If you want to learn more about monetizeation strategies, check out my article on the many ways blogs make money.
If You’re Selling Something, What Will It Be?
Selling products and services are among the most lucrative ways to make money blogging.
But, they’re also among the toughest to set up.
That’s because there’s often a lot of preparation needed ahead of time.
- Ebooks – you need to come up with a topic, outline the contents, write it, have it proofread, add images and create a book cover
- Courses – you need to think of a topic, outline your course, create the content, record the videos, edit the videos, upload them, set and organize the course withing the software platform
Only after these steps will you be able to go on to the next parts:
- Figure out a payment processions/checkout system
- Set up how you’ll receive payments
- Set up how/where to house your product
- Create sales pages for the product
- Make bonuses and extras
- Craft freebies to make people want to sign in
- Set up sales funnels
- Figure out how you’ll promote it, which will be a completely different set of tasks
Compare that to display ads or doing affiliate marketing, both of which require a lot less work.
What Does Your Product Offer Your Readers?
What will your product be solving.
This will be at the very core of your product.
Again, this will come from some of the steps you’ve done earlier, namely
- Identifying your audience – you know their problems
- Building your email list – you get to know them better, survey them, ask them what they need most from you and other things.
Why Should They Buy Your Product Instead Of Your Competitors’?
Additionally, why should they buy your product.
In short, why choose yours over similar competing products?
This will be what separates you from similar offerings in the market.
Often, you will likewise want to offer bonuses which are related to solving their problem.
Sales & Marketing
Here’s a newsflash for every new blogger out there.
Once you start creating content, you’ll need to start marketing and promoting it.
Some successful bloggers will even argue to say that you should start marketing even before you launch your blog, which I would never argue against.
Just because you wrote the most awesome article in the world, it doesn’t mean anyone is going to read it.
Let me say that again.
Nobody is going to read your content.
Not unless you were already well-known before you started your blog.
Otherwise, you’ll need to market and promote it before you’ll see trickles of visitors come in.
I’m not kidding with the trickling part, especially in the beginning.
So the big question here is…
How Do You Promote Your Blog, Brand And Blog Posts
This is the biggest part of blogging.
In fact, my experience tells me that marketing is more important than writing good content. Although some will argue with that statement.
If you want proof, just go and search Google.
If you look around enough, you’ll see that many of the top 10 article aren’t always the best ones. But, they’re often written by huge, high authority blogs.
That’s how they got to positions #1, 2 and 3. It’s their marketing.
That’s the reason why many bloggers will tell you that:
- 20% of blogging is writing content
- 80% is promoting
So, here’s what you need to figure out for your business plan.
How Many Hours a Week Will You Be Promoting
Will you be spending an hour a day or two hours of say, Wednesdays and Saturdays for marketing and promotion.
The goal here is to make a realistic schedule you can follow.
This allows you to stay consistent.
What Will You Use To Promote It?
Before you’ll be able to figure this out, you should already have identified your audience.
Knowing who your target readers are allows you to figure ou where they hang out.
As such, that’s where you focus your promotional efforts.
Make sense, right?
This lets you decide whether you’ll be putting more effort in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LInkedIn or YouTube.
Additionally, which groups withing these platforms will you focus on?
How Will You Scale?
Finally, how do you keep on growing?
This, along with a few other items above, will likely change or transform into something else as your blog grows.
But, it’s a good idea to have it in place right from the beginning.
This gives you a basic plan or outline on your growth strategy.
As such, you know what you want to do after you’re gone through the setup and beginning stages of your blog.
- How will you promote your blog to ensure that it keeps growing?
- What will you do in order to expand your audience reach?
- As you grow, you’ll get more work? How are you going to delegate and to whom?
- How many courses or eBooks do you plan of launching?
Thinking about these things, even if they’re still int the future you to plan ahead of time. Plus, it lets you steer your path along the way.
At the onset, creating a blog business plan may seem like a waste of time.
But, it’s the opposite.
Doing so allows you to understand what you’re about to do from start to finish. It also gives you an idea of what successful people in the niche are doing.
By following the steps above you’ll be able to craft your own blog business plan.
In the process, you’ll be able to outline the milestones and tasks you will be doing in your first year or two of blogging.
Which part are you struggling with most? Let me know in the comments below.