Making money online is just like making money in the offline world – if you don’t have a plan you’re going to do a lot of fumbling around in the dark. You might get lucky and make a few bucks, but if your intent is to build a business around your blog, then eventually you’re going to need a business plan – and the sooner you get to it, the better.
How do you want to make money?
And don’t say, “With a blog, you ninny!” because that’s not enough. To make money you need to sell something – either a product, a service, or advertising space. All three are equally viable options in the blogosphere and eventually you’ll probably be using a mixture.
Who do you want to sell to?
This is a make-or-break question. Defining your market is crucial otherwise you’re going to be wasting a lot of time writing content that’s useless.
For example, if you’re promoting your writing service you want to write content that’s relevant to people who would want to hire you for your writing skills. If you spend all of your time blogging about how to write killer content then you’re going to attract people who want to learn how to write. Instead, you should blog about various ways to use content to get more traffic and increase conversions, and the benefits of outsourcing your content. Then you’ll attract readers who want to know how it would benefit them to hire a freelance writer.
No matter what you’re selling on your blog, you need to identify the group of people who would be interested in buying it and create content that’s relevant to only that audience. Everything else is just a waste of time, and when you’re talking about business, Time Equals Money.
What is your unique selling perspective?
Choose any product or niche and you’ll find dozens of competitors. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of room for everyone, but how can you make yourself stand out from the crowd? What makes your blog unique?
For example, in the city where I live there are a dozen grocery stores nearby but I go to the same store all the time. Why? Because they’re known throughout the city for their huge selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. No other store compares. Everything else is the same as any other grocery store, but they have this one unique selling point that sets them apart from the rest.
Keep in mind: This unique selling point is only relevant to a small segment of members in this overall marketplace. It’s a vegetarian’s dream come true, but someone who prefers steak with every meal would go to a store that specializes in meats.
How will you promote your business?
Search engine traffic is important but more and more bloggers are finding that you build a much more stable and sustainable business if you develop multiple traffic streams. It only makes good business sense. If all your traffic is coming through Google and Google decides to close up shop you’re out of business.
Before you decide how you’ll promote your business it’s important to identify your audience so you know the best way to connect. You could spend months building up a huge Facebook following but it won’t do you any good if your audience hangs out at LinkedIn or Pinterest.
Brainstorm your brand
Spend some time thinking about your long-term goals. Very few bloggers hit the big time with just one blog promoting just one product. Where do you see your business in the future? For example, the folks at Pepsi started out making Pepsi-Cola years ago and now you see their logo on clothing, household goods, snack foods, sporting goods and dozens of other products. You might be the next Pepsi – but you won’t get their without a business plan.