How do you create a blog business plan?
What’s the best way to start a money making blog?Want to start a successful blog? Be sure to create a blog business plan BEFORE you start. Here's how! #blogging #bloggerlife #bloggingtips #blogClick To Tweet
One of the most overwhelming parts of blogging is…well, actually starting a blog.
There’s so much info out there. There are so many blogging resources, right?
Sometimes you don’t know who to turn to or listen to. You’re worried you’ll make mistakes. You’re wondering how to turn all that info into actionable steps.
But after poring through tons of info online, you end up back where you started: Lost and confused.
I realized most newbie bloggers feel this way because they’re not approaching blogging from a business mindset.
When you treat your blog like a business from the get-go, your vision for your blog becomes clear.
And the way you do that is by creating a superstar blog business plan you can refer back to whenever you’re feeling even a tad confused. Business plans exist to keep business owners on track.
Below, I’ve outlined the *most* important steps to create a stellar blog business plan that’ll give you clarity, vision, and direction.
Ready for a fresh look at your blogging dreams?
Then let’s begin with Step 1 below.
Step 1: Define Your Brand Identity
Branding isn’t just your visuals and how your blog looks. It’s how your blog makes your audience feel.
So, how does good branding relate to your blog business plan? Believe it or not, a successful brand boosts customer loyalty and improves your blog’s relatability.
Think of good branding as the way your audience connects to your brand. The stronger the connection, the better the brand loyalty your audience has.
Every successful blog has a defined brand identity. You can get a glimpse of a blog’s brand identity based on personality traits that come to mind when you interact with a brand.
Let’s take a look at the brand identity of It’s All You Boo:
What are some brand personality traits that come to mind when you read this snippet from Nadalie’s homepage?
Notice how these personality traits make Nadalie, and her blog feel soo approachable. You relate to Nadalie almost immediately just based on her warm introduction on her homepage, making you want to stick around her blog for more.
Blog Business Plan Action Step 1:
Define the top 5 personality traits you want people to associate with your blog. Make sure these are traits you value, too, since you’re going to be the face of your blogging brand. Down the line, make sure each interaction you have with your readers allows those personality traits to shine through.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to "Make It" with a Powerful Brand Mantra
Step 2: Research Your Niche
If you’re just starting out blogging, how do you know what’s the “standard” for your niche?
How do you know the kinds of services bloggers in your niche provide? Or the way these bloggers monetize their blogs?
An essential step of creating a blog business plan is knowing your niche inside-out.
Here’s the good news:
Getting to know your blogging niche is easier than you think. Why? Because you have a world of successful bloggers in your niche already!
Here’s what to look for when you’re doing niche research:
- The blog’s target audience: who the blog is written for (you can usually find this on the homepage or about page)
- Any opt-in offers: the lead magnets the blog owner uses to get visitors to subscribe
- Monetization methods: how the blog owner monetizes his or her blog
- Product and service price points: the services and/or products the blog has for sale and how much they cost
- Your opportunities: anywhere you feel the blog doesn’t provide full value (this is where you can fill in the gap with your own blog)
Great business owners understand the standard for their market and niche so that they know exactly how to stand out. This step is crucial in your blog business plan.
Let’s say I’m a budding food blogger, and I want to get to know my niche better. I’ll do some research on several big food blogs. I know a popular food blog is Pinch of Yum:
Based on my research, I find:
- The blog’s target audience: people who want to cook simple and healthy recipes
- Any opt-in offers: one primary lead magnet for a free e-cookbook featuring a collection of top 25 recipes from the blog
- Monetization methods: display advertising, food blogging online course, affiliate marketing, brand partnerships/sponsorships
- Product and service price points: food blogging online course (price unknown — the course is closed for now — but estimating it is $499+)
- Your opportunities: hard to say; Pinch of Yum has great photography, recipes, and resources. However, they offer one main lead magnet — a collection of recipes — maybe there’s a better lead magnet I can offer here? Maybe a grocery list plus a collection of recipes?
See how much information you can gain just by doing a bit of research from one blog?
The lesson? Get to know your niche!
You’ll be happy you did, and you’ll be prepared to take on the gaps in value for your audience.
Blog Business Plan Action Step 2:
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Start a Profitable Business That You Love
Step 3: Create Your USP
Ah, the USP. So misunderstood.
And so often neglected by new bloggers as part of their new blog business plan.
What’s a USP, you ask?
World-famous business strategist Jay Abraham couldn’t put it any better in his book, Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got:
“You must identify and understand what it is you or your company do or can start doing for your clients that provides them with a result or an advantage superior to the competition’s. This is called the unique selling proposition (USP).”
The USP is what sets you apart. It’s the thing you want to be known for.
It’s the thing you will be known for as your blogging biz grows. If you define your USP early on, you’ll be clear on the value you provide in your blog.
If you don’t define your blog’s USP, then you’re in big danger of confusing not only your audience but also yourself!
So, think about what it is you want to be known for.
- Do you want to have the most comprehensive collection of blog content for your niche?
- Do you get your audience fitness results in 30 minutes or less a day?
- Do you have the first-ever (proven) system for beating procrastination?
- Do you have lead magnets that are as good as paid products?
Can you figure out what Natalie Bacon’s USP is based on her homepage?
Natalie offers blogging and marketing advice on her blog. But a lot of other bloggers do, too! How is she differentiating herself from the competition?
By having a USP.
Her blog’s USP is along the lines of: “A blog that helps you redesign your life by teaching you how to build a blog.”
Natalie approaches teaching blogging from a lifestyle design aspect. This is what sets her apart and makes her stand out in her niche.
There are limitless ways you can frame your USP for your blogging biz. Follow the exercise below to get ideas for yours.
Blog Business Plan Action Step 3:
Define your USP! Jot down 10 different ways you can differentiate your blog from the competition. Just keep writing, even if the ideas sound crazy. Glance over your brainstorm when you’re done and ask yourself: What do I want my blog to be known for?
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Really be a Unicorn
Step 4: Get to Know Your Audience
Your audience is what keeps your business moving. Treat them right, and you’ll treat your business.
The same goes for the converse: Neglect your audience, and you’ll neglect your business.
That’s why it’s key to get to know your audience like the back of your hand.
After all, if you don’t “get” your audiences biggest wishes, desires, pain points, dreams, hopes, fears, and pet peeves, how will you possibly provide services and products they’ll need?
Doing a bit of research on your target audience goes a long way in your blog business plan.
Don’t have an audience yet because you just started blogging? That’s totally ok.
You can get to know your would-be audience by checking out the comments in popular blog posts in your niche.
Chances are, you’re solving similar problems as your competitors (but differently, of course). You can infer what your audience’s biggest problems will be based on what they talk about on fellow blogs in your niche.
Go back to the blogs you researched in Step 2 and find their most popular blog posts. Check out the comments section and start to get a feel for how your audience talks and the issues they struggle with the most.
Let’s say I was starting a blog that teaches how to be a successful blogger. Here’s one comment I found from a blog post titled, How to Write A Blog Business Plan.
Notice the wealth of info you get just from one blog comment.
Specifically, look at the highlighted part: The reader says, “It’s a bit overwhelming if I am honest…”
From this one comment, we’ve learned that people who have already started their blog procrastinate writing a blog business plan. It seems overwhelming and scary to start, feelings echoed in multiple comments.
You now have inspiration for a series of blog posts, lead magnets, and even a paid product just by paying attention to what people are struggling with in blog comments.
Blog Business Plan Action Step 4:
Read through the comments from a popular blog post in your niche. Write down 10-15 things (big or small) readers in your niche seem to be struggling with. You can quote them directly, too.
Step 5: Decide How You Want to Make Money
You wouldn’t have a blog business plan if you didn’t know how you’d make money, right?
Thankfully, there are tons of way to monetize a new blog.
And no: You don’t need thousands of page views to make money on your blog.
You don’t need to sell a high-priced course.
You don’t need to become an affiliate for every affiliate program out there.
You just need to see what works best in your niche (based on research you did in Step 2) and go from there.
Here are some common ways to monetize a blog, to get you started:
- Display advertising
- Brand sponsorships
- Influencer marketing
- Paid products
- Online stores: physical products
- Online stores: printables and digital products
- Affiliate marketing
👉🏽 RELATED POST: 7 Steps to Making Extra Money on the Side
I’ve found that most niches do well to start with a small introductory product, like a mini-course or an ebook, in the price range of $7 to $37.
How do you come up with an idea for a product?
Go back to the blog comments you found in Step 4! There’s plenty of inspiration in them for a paid product.
And the best part is that you know your audience is genuinely struggling with this problem because they’ve voiced it in the comments.
Blog Business Plan Action Step 5:
Go back to the comments you found in Step 4. See if you can group several of those comments together based on a central problem readers are trying to solve. See how you can package the solutions to these problems as a small information product (<$37).
Step 6: Follow a Doable Social Media Marketing Strategy
You need to know how you’re going to get traffic to your blog. That’s why every blog business plan needs a doable marketing strategy.
Many newbie bloggers make the mistake of trying to be everywhere on social media.
They’ll start a Pinterest account and start pinning.
They’ll post to their Facebook page 2x a day.
Or they’ll tweet 17 random quotes and generic links back to their blog.
Here’s the problem with this approach: You’ll burn yourself out just as quickly as you started your blog!
Here’s the reality: You do not need to be *everywhere* on social media.
You just need to master one social media platform from the start. Why is that?
Because every social media platform requires a certain skill-set for you to learn to grab that social traffic and redirect it back to your blog.
Successful bloggers know where to place their emphasis on social media from the start. Take a look at how active Adrian of Adrian’s Crazy Life is on Pinterest:
- 1.7 million monthly viewers on her Pinterest profile, with 27,000 followers.
- And her Facebook profile? 363 ‘Likes’ from the date I wrote this post.
Now, this doesn’t mean the monthly viewers on your Pinterest profile or your follower numbers are a sign of blogging success (most of these numbers are vanity metrics).
I’m showing you these numbers to prove that smart bloggers choose where they spend their time the most on social media. Pinterest clearly gives Adrian good results, which is why she spends most of her time there.
I suggest beginner bloggers start off with Pinterest because it’s relatively easy to grow your organic traffic on Pinterest compared to other platforms.
Blog Business Plan Action Step 6:
Start your Pinterest business account or current your current profile to a business one (it’s free). Add searchable keywords to your name and Pinterest page description. Next, create boards related to your blogging niche with searchable keywords, too. Start to pin relevant content (starting at 15 pins/day) to these boards, including your own. Do this consistently, and you’ll build your Pinterest traffic over time.
How to Create a Blog Business Plan
If you want to have a clear vision on your blog, then a solid blog business plan is a must.
Just to recap, here were the steps to creating a stellar one:
- Define your brand identity
- Research your niche
- Create your USP
- Get to know your audience
- Decide how you want to make money
- Follow a doable social media marketing strategy
Have any questions about your blog business plan? Having trouble finding a profitable blogging niche? Maybe you need some clarification on your blog strategy? Then ask away in the comments below!
Ready to create your blog business plan?
More About Guest Contributor
Alex runs the marketing blog, Unicorn Copy. Want to work out your blog’s business plan even more? Then download the One-Hour Blog Business Plan here.