So you’ve decided that you want to make money with your blog.
In fact, I’m guessing that your goal is to make a monthly recurring income which will make a significant difference in your life.
Am I right?
I’m sure that as one of Sue’s blog readers you’re aware that you need to treat your blog as a ‘business’ and Sue does a great job at advising you on how to profit from your blog with your own products (without feeling cheesy!)
But let’s take one or two steps back for a moment. Let’s take a look at your ‘back office’; your blog set-up and basic business fundamentals.
You see, you need to make sure that these ‘back office’ tasks are put in place because you need your blog to last the long haul, you need it to be sturdy.
You don’t want it to break or fall apart just when you’re starting to earn that monthly residual income you’ve been working so hard to acquire.
So let's go through some business basics to get you off to a good start.
Use this ten-step checklist to help you review your blog to make sure it’s set up as a true business blog, a blog which is built on solid foundations that drives traffic and makes you money!
#1 Blog Research & Basic Fundamentals
Just because you run a blogging business doesn’t mean that you shouldn't do your basic business research as you would with an offline business.
So let’s use this section to help you get clarity about your blog, what message you want to portray and what direction you want it to go in.
Research and find answers to these topics:
Know Your Ideal Customer
What main problem does she have? Get to know her whole persona. Where does she hang out Online?
Know Your Blog Business Model
What product/service you offer from your blog determines the type of blog your run i.e. what elements and components your blog is made up from.
Know Your Unique Selling Position (USP)
A brief outline which sells the reason your blog/product/service is different and better than that of your competitors. Why should they choose you?
Create Your Mission Statement
A two or three paragraph statement which describes your purpose as a blogger. What mission have you set out with your blogging journey?
Devise Your Brand
This is the most important aspect of your blogging business. An effective branding strategy will make you stand out from the sea of millions of other blogs.
By knowing all the above will help when you write any piece of blog content because it will keep you focused and to keep your message ‘tight’ and effective.
#2 Goals & Aspirations
Now it’s time to set your blogging goals. This is really important to keep you motivated and build momentum.
Tip: It’s best to use a blog growth metric as a goal rather than a monetary one. For example, “I want to have 5,000 email subscribers by the end of this year”.
- My Main Goal for the end of this twelve month period is ___________
- Monthly Milestones, e.g. 200 subscribers month #1, 500 subscribers month #2 etc.
Now we’re moving on to the technical side of setting your blog up, don’t overlook this as it’s important.
If you really can’t do any of these tasks, then hire someone to do them for you.
- Register my Domain Name
- Sign up for your own Web Hosting account
- Install WordPress
- Install plugins for SEO & Social Media
- Install Akismet Plugin for Blog Comments Spam Protection
Don’t use a free platform such as www.mysite.blogspot.com or www.mysite.wordpress.com, the reasons why:
- You don’t own them, so you don’t fully own your own business
- The domains look amateurish
- Your free account could be closed anytime without warning.
#4 Design & Layout
The look and feel of your blog is very important as it portrays your brand image and makes your blog look professional.
- Install a theme which suits your niche
- Make sure it’s mobile responsive
- Choose your color scheme wisely
- Easy navigation with plenty of contextual links between pages and posts.
#5 Your Content Strategy
You're a professional blogger so you absolutely must devise a strategy for your blog posts and related marketing content.
- Find Your Voice – what tone will your style be; friendly, authoritative?
- Blog Post Types; case studies, tutorials, list posts, how-to’s etc.
- Blog Post Frequency; daily, weekly, monthly.
- Images & Multimedia; type of images & size, videos, audio etc.
#6 Your Monetization Plan
Please don’t slap some ads on your pages and put banner ads in your sidebar and expect to make a monthly residual income.
Two reasons why:
- You’ll need thousands of daily visitors to make any money;
- You are driving people away from your blog as soon as they arrive just to make a few measly dollars.
Ads and banners used to be all the rage a few years ago, but bloggers are much more smarter now and think of the longevity of the monetization of their blogs.
Sue has written many posts here on Successful Blogging about different ways to make money on your blog, namely by having a strong offer such as coaching, memberships, your own informational products etc.
So take some time and think how you can produce and offer your own products whether that be a service or an informational product.
In the meantime, you can always monetize with affiliate products for the short-term.
#7 Your Marketing Plan
Getting traffic to your blog is the most fundamental aspect of your blogging duties; no traffic = no business.
I would recommend you to choose only one, two at the most, marketing strategies to focus on, day in – day out, until you reach enough visitors to start making sales.
- Guest Posting
- Blog Commenting
- Blogger Outreach
- YouTube Videos
- Social Media
When choosing, keep in mind your strengths and your personality.
Here's a great book on writing a business plan by my friend, Alex Genadinik.
#8 Your Blogging Tools
Start thinking about what tools you’re going to need and use to help carry out your blogging tasks and strategies.
Here’s a little list to get you started.
Admin & Writing Tools:
- Google Docs
- Email Marketing (Aweber, GetResponse …)
- Optinmonster (pop up – annoying but very effective)
- Landing Pages
- Social Management (Buffer, Hootsuite …)
- Shopping Cart
- Membership Site Software
- Client Database Management
- Blogging Outreach Software (Buzzstream)
#9 Creating Your Systems
Now comes the fun part, getting your blog organized and start setting up your systems.
You can’t do this until you’ve completed all the above steps, especially the Content, Monetization and Marketing sections.
Once you’ve thoroughly researched those and decided on your strategies, then it’s time to ‘systemize’.
But first, let’s do a little basic organizing by creating your blogging areas.
Divide your tasks up into areas e.g. Admin | Marketing | Client Management | Finance
Once you’ve got your areas mapped out, create folders on your desktop to keep all your related documents in.
Here’s a screenshot of my blogging areas:
Now it's time to systematize!
Set some time aside and create systems for each of your strategies.
For example, devise a Guest Post system:
|#1 Find 5 blogs for posting||Monday's|
|#2 Write 3 Title pitches for each blog||Tuesday's|
|#3 Email each blog owner||Wednesday's|
|#4 Write first drafts of articles||Thursday's|
|#5 Send over completed articles||Friday's|
You can then follow the same system layout each week which will give you clarity and control over your tasks.
Tip: Don’t forget to file this system into your ‘Blog Marketing’ folder on your desktop!
You can create systems for other areas such as:
- Blog Planning > Blog post creation
- Blog Marketing > Blog commenting
- Client Management > Client intake
- Admin > Email management
- Blog Finance > Invoicing, bookkeeping etc.
Now that you have your systems mapped out, you need to schedule each of the tasks onto the appropriate days in a weekly planner and then a daily ‘to do’ list.
It’s this simple planning routine, which should be done every Sunday for example, which keeps you moving forward pushing you to reach your monthly milestones, then major goals.
#10 Re-Evaluating Your Goals & Progress
The last thing to note when running a blogging business is that you should never be complacent, or your blog will eventually become stagnant.
You should never just ‘plan’,
you should always be ‘planning’
Make sure you track each of your monthly milestones and see if you’re on target. If not, why not? What can you learn from the past month and how can you get back on target?
By monitoring your progress on a monthly basis (even daily basis) and making sure you hit your milestones, will give you great momentum and motivation.
This will help you to keep pushing forward milestone by milestone until you eventually reach your main goal; yay!
When that happens, celebrate and then immediately set another goal – there’s no rest for the ambitious!
So that’s it my friends, it’s a wrap!
I really hope you found this little checklist useful and that you can take it away and use it in your own blogging business to help you get in control, gain clarity and start reaching all your blogging goals.
Claire Bullerwell is the creator and owner of Blogging Toolkits where she endeavours to help bloggers get organized, make massive progress and start reaching their goals through her interactive worksheets and workbooks.
Claire personally invites you to join her in her free 7 Day Blogging Challenge where she helps you lose the overwhelm and get in control; the challenge includes free checklists, worksheets ,and systems.