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How to Treat your Blog like a Business

ramped-reviews-cover.jpgIn this post Robb Sutton – author of the ebook Ramped Reviews. A very helpful ebook that I’ve just read that has some great ideas on how to get products to review on your blog, how to write profitable reviews and much more. It’s a great read on a topic that I think a lot of bloggers will find helpful.

As you take a look at your blogging habits in your quest to become a top blogger, you need to ask yourself several questions that will determine how you need to shape your blog for the future.

  • Are you going to pursue direct advertising on your blog?
  • Are you going to attempt to generate revenue through affiliate promotions?
  • Are you going to open the doors to review product from companies in your niche?
  • Do you want your blog to become a sustainable source of income and someday…just maybe…support you and your family?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you need to look at your blog seriously and start treating it like a business. Each of those questions directly correlates to a function that takes you out of the pleasure blogging world and into running a secure business that generates profits. As we continue on this path to creating a source of cash revenues, what do we need to look at specifically to treat our blogs more like a business and less like a hobby?

How to treat your blog like a business

Planning

Every successful business has a laid out plan of attack and blogging as a business is no different. You need to have an idea of where you want your blog to go in the future and the steps you are going to take to get to that goal. Plans change and adapt with the times, but the end result is often one in the same.

Are you trying to build a successful review blog on fishing equipment? You have to lay out the steps required to get to the top of your niche. What products are you going to need to review? Which interviews do you need line up? Which companies and blogs do you need to work with to create more traffic and subscribers? Are you going to hold contests and giveaways with some of the industries latest gear? These are all types of questions that you need to answer for yourself and create action steps to carry out as you continue to grow.

This long term planning and focused goals are what sets the successful blogs apart from the vast wasteland of un-updated waste that plagues the web. Each of these blogs had grand plans of making it big, but by not having a defined plan that required action…they become unsuccessful and ignored in pursuit of the next big thing. By creating these action steps that lead towards goals, you are developing a business plan for the future of your blog. These actions steps need to be written down on a whiteboard, digital checklist or any mind mapping generator you feel comfortable with to keep the goals at the forefront of your thoughts. Cross the goals off as they are achieved and create new goals for the future.

Organization

For your blog to be taken seriously as a business entity, there needs to be a defined organization to the content. By having clearly defined categories, archives and design layout, you are insuring that your content will be absorbed in the most efficient means possible by your readers. This organization in your blogging also bolsters confidence with potential investors, product companies, advertisers and future partners. When it comes down to it, the more serious you take the outward appearance of your blog, the more it pays off when you venture into outside business relationships.

Branding

It today’s marketplace, branding makes or breaks a business. With the thousands of blogs that are started with each fleeting thought of creating content, it is becoming more important to set yourself apart from the pack. If you are really going to take blogging serious as a business, your own domain name is going to be a must. Your cute setup on Blogger is not going to instill long lasting confidence in your blog from an outside perspective. If you are not willing to throw down the pennies it takes to self host your site, then you are not willing to make the investments needed to create a successful business in the eyes of potential business partners.

Create a brand around your blog url and have a defined logo. This logo will be used in the future for business cards and letterheads, but more importantly…it brands your business in the eyes of your readers and potential business partners. Successful logos are often simple, so there is no need to get extremely ellaborate. If you can not come up with any ideas, enlist the help of others.

Building Credibility

As you continue to treat your blog as a business, you are going to start building up your credibility as a serious pro blogger. Credibility is something that can be won and lost in seconds as you continue to build something that you can call your own. To keep your street cred high, you need to consistently pump out positive results. Get in the habit of under promising and over delivering as you take on more affiliate promotions and advertisers. You need to continue to churn out quality content on a regular basis that consistently adheres to some sort of schedule. As you continue to build upon your credibility, more doors will be opened with even more avenues of revenue generation. You will start to see the snow ball effect take place as your readers and partners continue to be drawn to your success and quality content.

Create A Business

Turning your blog into an actual business entity is a crucial step. While creating a business to house your internet ventures has obvious tax and protection benefits, there are some non-legal aspects that you need to consider as well. By creating a business, you are now protected your own personal information. You no longer have to give out your personal and sensitive information to advertisers and affiliate programs as all they need is your tax ID to generate payouts. The outward appearance of your blogging is also secured through advertisers and affiliates as they are now dealing with a business and not a blogger. Again, you are strengthening your brand in the eyes of the businesses that you are going to rely on to generate income.

I would also recommend setting up a business checking and paypal account to handle the money transfers. This keeps your blog revenue separate from personal accounts and creates a lot easier organization during tax time.

A Completely Different Mindset

When you are just blogging for fun (which there is nothing wrong with by the way…just a different goal), you have a completely different mindset than when you are blogging as a business that creates income. You are stepping into a completely different world as you are now managing, running and producing in your own small business environment. Even the hugely successful personal blogs on the net are run like a successful business on the back end. You now have to take your future seriously and continue to take the steps to see success.

Like any business, you are going to see your share of failures, but a successful business will analyze these failures and learn from them for the next round. Bloggers and business owners that learn more from their failures than their successes will enjoy the fruits of their learning through increased success.

As you go to publish that next blog article, are you keeping your goals close or are you just putting up another article as you go through the motions of pumping out more content?

Check out Robb Sutton’s great ebook Ramped Reviews.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Matt Harris says:

    I try to treat my blog as a business. I wake up everyday with the idea of taking care of my blog as part of my routine, just like eating and going to work.

  2. Sudeshna says:

    I’ve been blogging for just over a year now. My niche is Bengali Food (Bengal is a region in Indian subcontinent encompassing eastern India and whole of Bangladesh). Though the regional cuisine is very rich, I find very few voices in the domain. So, after a year of blogging for fun, took it a little seriously – I mean bought a domain, hosting etc.

    Problogger has been a real help in the journey. This article touched the right chord and I’m tempted to comment now. I’m currently concentrating on building traffic rather than anything else. But this post really help me channelize my thoughts in the right direction towards creating a business.

    Thanks again.

  3. Before starting your business planning, you need to have a life plan. What you want from your life and then set about investigating how to get there using your own business as an enabler. If that is on-line, blogging, web design…then great!

    Then the business plan can show where you are, where you want to get to and how you are going to get there.

    One more thing I learned from a UK famous author friend. He once said to me…never say how income you want to earn. Your plans should include what you would actually do with the income….like buy a new house with indoor swimming pool.

    Andrew

  4. Zach Dunn says:

    More than anything, I’d say planning has grown my blog to a good place. I think sometimes there is a weird “rush in” mentality to get content out there at all costs. Slowing down and building a long term strategy (in my experience) produces results that stick.

  5. Evan says:

    One of your best posts.

    Thanks for putting the information up

  6. Jon says:

    I think this ties in well with what John Chow is always saying: If the upstart fee for a blog was thousands of dollars, people wouldn’t so often treat it like it didn’t matter if their blog failed.

    If you treat your blog the same as if you were opening a legitimate showroom-esque business, you’re much more likely to succeed. Mr. Chow emphasizes things like having a separate Paypal and bank account for your blog/online business, as any normal business would.

    Your last paragraph/question really hits home: Are you just going through the motions to push out another boring post or are you keeping all goals in mind and producing quality content?

    That truly is the ultimate question with blogging.

  7. Bruce says:

    I like the post, and I agree somewhat with Andrew, about not just thinking about what income you want to earn, but matching it…

    But what about matching it with people, the people we want to help: our families, friends, religious institutions (if you have one), charitable organizations and people in need? The material posessions are just the by-product!

  8. Yes if your intention was to make money from your blog, then you must treat it like a business.

    If your intention is only for passion, fun, or hobby, then you will not be able to earn money from your blog.

  9. Robb Sutton says:

    Thanks for the feedback on Ramped Reviews Darren and the opportunity to guest post on ProBlogger.net!

    I find that the more we take our blogs seriously and less like a hobby…the more success we see.

  10. Great post. I’ve been blogging just for fun for the past several years but I just recently started a new blog that I’m trying to develop into a business type blog with advertisers and profitability. I’m studying problogger a lot and I’ve bought both of your books. Thanks for everything.

  11. iGoMogul says:

    Robb,
    These are some great tips about blogging as a business and ones we generally advise our clients to utilize.
    Especially liked setting up separate accounts for you and your blog as a business, definitely creates credibility. Thanks!

    Sara @ iGoMogul

  12. This information is informative and concise…not pushy ! Thanks so much !

  13. I treat my blog like a business in the respect that i wake up thinking about it, and go to bed thinking about it, how to improve it, how to further it, im still in the early stages of my new blog, so i have alot of exciting things to look forward to, although, like most businesses lately i seem to be struggling this time around, traffic wise anyhow. I think it feels like a business, but im not planning it like a business, which is probably where im coming unstuck, great post. Thanks

  14. Robby G says:

    That last question is great to ask yourself each time you post a new article. Thanks, this was very motivational and keeps me on the right path. Cheers!

  15. When I saw the title of this post, I thought, “Geez, that’s what I’ve been blogging about for years.” Then when I read it, I was very surprised. It’s a well-written post, for sure, and congrats on being on ProBlogger, but you forgot the most important aspect of treating your blog like a business: businesses sell things.

    You don’t have a business unless you’re selling something. You have to know what that something is, and you have to know why people want it. This is EXACTLY what most blogs don’t have, and will NEVER have. Most blogs are just content dancing around an empty core.

    I don’t want to sound overly critical, this is the biggest “pro blogging” mistake people make. The way to fix it is to turn it completely around:

    You have a content business and a blog is the marketing vehicle. Know and understand the ways in which content is sold in the form of services and products. Learn how to market that content.

    For some of the other details, such as legal entity, etc., your post is excellent! Look forward to more from you and happy to discuss this any time. :)

  16. Treating a blog as our business, or taking it with all seriousness as a daily 9 – 5 office job could be a hard task, but one that differentiates a good blog from a great one.

    I try to give my blog a professional kind of attention by imbibeing some extent of official discipline. I firmly stick to my set out post schedule as an officer would never miss going to office any day. I also maintain a file where I document stuffs like my post manuscripts, mind maps, print-outs of my daily mails of 31 DBBB – something I don’t joke with, drawn strategies et all.

    Discipline is one factor that would want to elude the propositions of any blogger. To get things done, I usually paste daily to-do’s by my bed side, so it’s the first thing I wake up to daily.

    By religiously sticking to my official blog hangs, I notice some traffic growth as the days roll by. What a nice piece from Robb. Thumbs up!

    Ugo.jar,
    http://www.javamobilecrunch.com

  17. I’ve added several other writers to the staff of The Casual Observer and have a document that outlines a lot of the details, including profit sharing (assuming that profits exist at some point). With a multi-author site, it’s much better to get these details hashed out up front rather than later.

    I also use Gravatars in the byline, so that that author’s picture appears next to the story – so that the readers can put a face to the name (or pen name) in an effort to allow all of my writers to gather a fan base.

  18. Hi Darren,

    To be very truthful, a greater percentage of people those who visit your blog want to earn money from their blog. But to make money from blogging we certainly need to treat our blog or websites as a business….

    If you are a celebrity, your blog will be popular automatically, but if you are a common man and wants to be a celebrity blogger, then you must start planning for your serious.. business….blogging…

    Yours
    Rajput

  19. I took the leap and created a business with my blog six months ago. It has been very successful and rewarding. Having created the business has also forced me to be more focused and attentive to my blog. I also sleep much better at night knowing I have protections in place to protect myself personally. Great pointers!

  20. Great guest post, Robb. I strongly agree for the need to plan things out. It doesn’t need to be a business plan per se, but at least a document of some kind which has different goals and milestones which one would have for their blog. I have one and I regularly refer to it to see if I am on track.

    Another suggestion I would throw out there is to have a professionally-designed theme for your blog if you use WordPress. There are some great affordable ones out there (such as the Thesis theme) which will give your visitors a better impression of you and your business.

    Again, great post, Robb, and best of luck with everything.

    Wesley Craig Green
    The Geek Entrepreneur

  21. jenny says:

    wow! great article! I found it very useful!

  22. I agree. I treat mine like a business as well. But a personal business. I blog about what I like and what I’m into, and I have a fantastic network of people that guest blog with tips and information.

    My blog is called the Little Pink Book and I work very hard on it. It keeps me up late at night and I always try to schedule things well in advance. This way there is at least one post daily Mon-Tuesday. I also have niches that I blog about.

    My main topic is public relations, however, I do delve into trends, beauty, literature and music.

    I try to make my personal, personable and lots of fun as well.

    I really love your article because it definitely doesn’t hide the fact that some blogs take a lot of time and effort to run efficiently and effectively.

    Best wishes,

    @SashaHalima

  23. Mama Zen says:

    Excellent article! I can definitely see some areas where I need to improve.

  24. I’ve always found the planning side of a business challenging, mostly because of how quickly things change. This is even more so in the online world.

    One thing that I’ve found helpful with this though is to condense your business plan to one page. I’ve tried it and found it to be effective. Not only is it easier to keep the plan up to date but you tend to review it more. I got the idea from a great book about how modern day businesses need to operate called “ReImagine” by Tom Peters.

  25. Mike says:

    Robb – I think that this post could easily turn into your next ebook. Just in case you weren’t busy enough. I really found this one helpful with things that I can apply right now to my blog.

  26. Dj RyB says:

    You make a good point about personal blogs still potentially being a “business” once you get to a certain level/size. You can still make money when blogging for fun but it just isn’t the focus, at least in the beginning.

    Eventually you have to consider the business side of things if you are going to take your blog to the next level and really earn some nice revenue.

  27. mike says:

    Organization is important. Everything should be neat with no spelling errors.

  28. KellieS says:

    I really appreciate this information. I am starting to understand more about the income potential that my blog has. There is a lot to think about, but I’d rather be prepared than not.

    Thanks.

  29. I personally blog purely because I genuinely like helping people and feel I have great advice to share… not to try and make money.

    Regardless of that, I still think the best mindset is to keep that genuine value element going. I’ve seen so many blogs decline considerably in quality as they ‘sell-out’ or become a business as you say.

    It’s fine trying to make money from a blog (although it’s rare that it doesn’t affect the reader’s experience in some way) but remember the real reason you should be blogging (in fairness you did touch upon that point in your post but I feel it needs more precedence to hit home with the money-hungry). :)

    Thanks,

    Sam

  30. Terry says:

    The sad part about it is that a lot of people want a magical fix to a problem. They don’t want to hear about the work involved or using your conscience. They want lose 20 pounds in one day. So that is the dilemma in business, provide common sense solutions or attract them with a bit of common sense and excitement.

  31. I love this part: “Credibility is something that can be won and lost in seconds as you continue to build something that you can call your own. To keep your street cred high, you need to consistently pump out positive results. Get in the habit of under promising and over delivering as you take on more affiliate promotions and advertisers.” Under promise and over deliver. I just wrote a post yesterday entitled, “Are You Marketing With A Clear Conscience?” I think what you said here is an ideal way to market with a clear conscience. This post has been bookmarked.

  32. Isaac Yassar says:

    Hello! We can set up a scam business or a a business that honestly helps people. If we do the second type, there is nothing wrong with earning profit from it. Still it’s a business and require hard work. When I start up my blog Go Blogger (dot) net, I aimed to make it a solid business where I help other bloggers by sharing positive blogging ideas.

  33. All fair enough, but interesting reflect that the people who have ACTUALLY made it big in blogging are those who have started out for fun and made it into a business later.

  34. I wasn’t sure what my blog was going to be when I started three months ago but now it’s clear that it’s an author’s blog. The business is to sell my books. I have not advertised; that will be happening soon.

    I have learned a great deal from your blog. Thank you.

  35. It’s hard treating your blog like a business when you don’t have anything at stake.

  36. Mitch says:

    Honestly, I think most of this post detracts from the more important things. I sit down and just do what needs to be done for the day. I concentrate on 1 thing, serving my readers. No need to make it more complex than that.

  37. Haris says:

    I planned to grow my blog as a business. it’s already four month year old and gains nothing yet. but i believe, it also very much depending on my efforts. this is still a part time activity for me because i am doing full time job completely different. i do care my blog, and on the way of making it big. i hope so.

  38. Haris says:

    I planned to grow my blog as a business. it’s already four month year old and gains nothing yet. but i believe, it also very much depending on my efforts. this is still a part time activity for me because i am doing full time job completely different. i do care my blog, and on the way of making it big. i hope so.
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  39. S.K SHARMA says:

    I am a blogger,my blog is like my baby because I establishing my blog as a business.I am agree with your views about business blogging.
    I know any job/work is not easy in the world.All the work need hard work,dedication, scheduling and care like a care of baby.
    Time to time need attention for blog.If Problogger,Mashable,labnol (others more) can stand on the top among the crowd of millions blog then why not mine or your blog?
    Of course.But need all the things like the care & attention of a baby …..
    How is the comparison of your or mine blog with a baby?

  40. i would like to setup a blog for my hosting business, but still in learning process about blog, above tips are greatly appreciated, extremely useful..

  41. I know Robb well. He started with his mountain biking blog and was a great student in the blog mastermind coaching program! His ebook is a great read for those who want free product reviews!

  42. What I was more trying to say is that before starting a blog for business (just like real-world businesses) make sure you learn the particular craft inside out first. Blogging makes it all too easy for charlatans to crop up just trying to make a quick buck.

    I spent 5 years working as a dating coach and studying relationship psychology before starting my blog as I didn’t want to be anything short of an expert on the subject before expecting any return on my efforts.

    Likewise, anyone who has a blog around the theme ‘blogging for money’ and hasn’t already made a considerable amount of money doing it (ie: experience) shouldn’t be blogging for business in my opinion! :)

    Sam

  43. I try to amusement my blog as a business. I deathwatch up accustomed with the abstraction of demography affliction of my blog as allotment of my routine, just like bistro and traveling to work.

  44. Excellent post. There are definitely some points where i need to stop and contemplate on what I’m doing at my blog.

    Sometimes we’re heading forward so fast that we don’t think about where we’re heading for!

  45. Thoufeeq says:

    That’s really nice. I also want to treat it like a business. But I could not succeed in this section. Hope, I will get it soon…

  46. well honestly my next post is just to pump out more n more content while hoping traffic comes through search engine…
    still dont have any idea on how to refresh n develop my blogs

  47. fas says:

    More than anything you need to behave like a professional which will help in building credibility and thus rewards you with long term loyal readers.

  48. Casey says:

    Great article! It just goes to show that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

    I’ve just started my blog this week, so I’m not sure there is much to show yet to gather advertisers, but its definetely one of my goals!

  49. ITrush says:

    Thanks Darren for these wonderful tips, I really agree that we bloggers should treat blogging as a business and not just for fun although we need it to keep the ball rolling but still the best action is to have a very goal.

  50. Ganesh says:

    Interesting Read. Treating blogging as a business is important and the essense is well captured in this post.

    I too once wrote a guest post here – http://myblog2day.com/blogging-is-a-business.php stating my thoughts on treating blogging as a business.

    Thought of sharing it here, for the good of all.