Starting your own blog can be a fun hobby, a serious business endeavor, or a combination of each. Regardless of your reasons for staking your own little piece of cyber real estate, it’s important to develop a plan of attack.
In fact, the lack of proper planning is the biggest reason many blogs fail. Therefore, before you even begin searching domain names and WordPress themes, you need a blogging business plan.
Fortunately, unless you’re applying for a business loan or line of credit, a business plan for a blog is quite simple. There’s no need to worry wording, structure, or content requirements, so it should be quick and easy to prepare. For most bloggers, all it takes is seven simple steps.
Why You Need a Business Plan
Every entrepreneur needs a business plan. On an elevated level, a business plan is needed to obtain startup or operational capital and expand operations. However, for the majority of bloggers, a business plan serves several other useful functions, such as:
• Encourages you to take a realistic approach to your business.
• Provides you with an overall idea and direction for your blog from a purely business perspective.
• Allows you to better understand the requirements for a successful blogging business.
• Offers insight into the cash flow of your blog, including how much you plan on investing and how much you anticipate earning over a specific period of time.
• Helps identify future challenges in regards to the business aspects of the blog as well as the blog itself.
How to Prepare an Effective Blogging Business Plan
Researching your target market, determining the startup and operational costs, and other business-related activities will need to be done when creating a blog, so why not create a plan beforehand and track everything along the way?
The SBA states a business plan should contain the following:
• Executive SummaryCompany Description
• Market Analysis
• Organization & Management
• Service or Product Line
• Marketing & Sales
• Funding Request
• Financial Projections
However, a business plan for a blog is much less formal. There’s no need for a graphing calculator or detailed profit forecasts, just a few steps and the basics will do.
Step 1 – Develop a Business Idea
Begin by developing a business idea and noting your thought process along the way. It should be short, sweet, and to the point.
Here’s an example:
“Equestrians and horse owners are a passionate group who don’t mind showing off their love of horses and the countryside everywhere they go. To tap into this market, my business plan is to launch an online store selling horse-related merchandise. I’ll use a blog to entertain, inform, and engage with my target audience to build a loyal following, capture leads, and advertise products available at the online store.”
Step 2 – Identify the Business Requirements
Every blog business plan should include the requirements needed to launch the blog and get started. Things like your domain name, hosting, WordPress theme, email autoresponder, and so on should all be listed. Having timeframes to complete each task is also helpful, but don’t worry about costs at this point.
Step 3 – Create a Business Model
There are several business models for a blogger to follow. You can sell your services, sell other people’s products as an affiliate, sell your own products, make money from display advertising, and more.
According to Social Media Examiner, you should find a blog role model. If you find a successful blog you like that earns its money selling products as an affiliate, simply follow their lead while making your site as unique as you can. You get the idea.
Whatever you choose for your blogging business model, make sure it clearly defines how the blog will generate income. Try to follow your business model as closely as possible to remain focused and on track to reach your blogging goals.
Step 4 – Define Your Costs
Next, it’s time to focus on the startup and operational costs of your blog. Go over the numbers and do some research to figure out what it will cost to get your online business going and keep it growing. Cash flow and profitability are crucial for any business, including a blog, and crunching the numbers will give you an understanding of each.
As your blog grows, you may require better hosting, the need for more features, and an advertising budget to attract and gain even more followers. This means your running costs will likely increase over time. However, the added traffic, leads, sales, and value of your blog should ideally make up for any added expenses.
Step 5 – Set Business Goals
Your business plan should also include the goals of your blogging business. When setting your goals, ease up a bit and make them achievable. After achieving your initial goals, set new goals and go from there. Regularly referring to your business goals will help you stay focused and on track to achieve them.
Step 6 – Outline Your Marketing Strategy
Here, you’ll explain how you plan on marketing your business. While some details are important, try not to go too in-depth when outlining your marketing strategy as they often vary over time. Simply state the main points and be ready to revise the strategies or add more details as you begin implementing them.
Step 7 – Develop an Exit Strategy
Every blogger, or business owner for that matter, should have an exit strategy. However, very few ever develop one when launching their business due to starry eyes and the perception of a negative vibe, which is a big mistake.
With an exit strategy, you can avoid a ton of stress if things don’t go right and gracefully exit stage left rather than getting disheartened and abruptly giving up. If your blog doesn’t succeed, the following exit strategy will serve you well:
• Sell the blog.
• Cancel all blog-related services.
• Take a break before venturing into another market.
It’s as simple as that. If your blog gains any search engine traction, there will always be a buyer.
That’s all there is to it. Seven easy steps and voila, it’s done. With a solid blogging business plan in place, you can get to work and turn your plan into a reality.
Does this sound like something you can do? Have questions or anything to add?
Feel free to respond and get your blog on!