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What does treating your blog “Like a Business” really mean?

Guest post by Mike CJ.

“Treat your blog like a business” is something we’re told all the time. It’s solid advice, assuming you want or plan to make an income from your blog, and adopting it as a mindset often leads to the successful transition from a blog into a business.

But what does it actually mean?

Have a proper accounts system

Record income and expenses as they happen. Monitor cashflow – every day if things are tight. There are so many tools out there to help you do this, and many of them are free to use. Outright is one of the easiest.

Set objectives

The blogosphere is full of objective-setting posts at this time of year. Most of them revolve around traffic and subscribers. And that’s fine, but if you do want to blog professionally, you need to have financials behind those. You need to know what you’re going to earn over the next year.

Set budgets

Once you know what’s coming in, set yourself some spending budgets. How much of your income are you going to re invest in the business? For training? Software? Marketing? By setting budgets, it makes buying decisions so much easier. Do you want to advertise your new book here on Problogger? Don’t waste hours wringing your hands trying to decide. If it’s in budget do it, if it isn’t, don’t.

Seek opinions and advice

Most “real” businesses, even small ones, don’t run in a vacuum with the proprietor making every decision. And yet many blogs do just that! Get as much advice as you can, from your partner, your bank, your accountant and from other bloggers.

Produce reports

Monthly or quarterly, produce a report showing how the business is performing against the various targets. Examine what went well, and what didn’t. Use the findings to inform your planning for the next period. The act of producing the report itself is effective, but it’s even better if you have to present it to someone else – even if it’s your partner.

Enter into collaborations

Working with other bloggers can really accelerate your success, as well as theirs. Seek out opportunities with like minded people you see around the web.

Use professional tools

It’s too easy to let yourself down with poor design, a tatty invoice or by not having a business card. None of the accoutrements of being in business cost a fortune – they’re a small expense compared to the loss of image when they aren’t right.

Invest in training

Every business should have a training budget – choose the right books, courses and memberships and you’ll get a far greater return than the initial cost.

Treat your readers like customers

Typically only a very small percentage of blog readers will ever become customers by buying something from you – most will simply enjoy the mass of free content you put out there. And that’s fine. But treat every one of them as a potential paying client, and that percentage will slowly increase over time.

Those are my thoughts about treating your blog like a business. What would you add?

Mike CJ is a full time professional blogger and author. He lives in the idyllic Canary Islands, just off the coast of Africa. You can find out more about Mike on his blog Mike’s Life and catch up with him on Twitter @mikecj

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Comments

  1. HI,
    great advice that you mention here. Not only in business i think to take seriously but because in this section talk about business so in specially put in it.

  2. We’re always told that we should create great content and care for others. Of course, they’re important, but you could monetize your site or blog at the same time too.

    Some people believe you shouldn’t do that. I think you can have your revenue generating pages or elements from the beginning, but not in an aggressive way. Then, it won’t hurt and bring the cash flow you’re looking for.

  3. @Meg “blogging itself is not the business…blogging is the platform for your business.”

    I so agree. As a visual artist, I’m finding that building a fan base and keeping them informed, entertained and involved in my art career using my blog is paying off. It leads to credibility, trust and an ongoing relationship with my collectors and would be prospects.

    @Mike CJ Thanks for such a useful post. I will definitely try the Outright software. This is the kick in the pants I needed today to tighten up my operation!

    @Darren Thanks Darren for sharing this with us all.

  4. Treating readers like customers is very good, people like to be treated well and they can turn be your loyal customers then. So maintain a good relationship is a must in blogging

  5. Very useful post. Love the call to action: If it’s in the budget, do it; if it’s not, don’t.

    In terms of “Invest in Training,” I wholeheartedly agree. I’d love to hear you and others talk about what percentage of their profits they designate for the learning bucket. And I suppose when one is planning for a growth surge that number might go up.

  6. Mike CJ says:

    @janet Great Question! I went and checked as I hadn’t thought of it as a percentage. To be honest I set my budget for this year on the basis of an amount I was comfortable with.

    It’s as near as could be to 5% of my expected turnover from blogging.

    I’m interested in how that compares to others? Anyone?

  7. Brandy says:

    Such a great post! I use Outright for my blog and VA business, I love that program, especially since it’s free! Great way to monitor where I am at financially with my business and my blogging business!

    Great article!!

  8. r4 kaart says:

    I try to treat my readers like customers but getting the feedback you want is not always easy. Thanks for the outright suggestion :)

  9. You should update your blog daily and read other blogs and most important thing is to be specific on the topic of your expertise.

  10. Eric says:

    I would add here that you should treat everyone who reads and comments to any of your posts as customers because by doing so I believe they might buy from you later on and you want those who do end up buying from you to get full enjoyment from your products – whatever you sell.

    Besides this, each and every commenter of your blog adds some kind of value, hopefully, to each post and therefore makes or breaks your blog. By making it, if they eventually buy from you that’s good. If they never do, they’re still coming because you’re giving them something they really want or they wouldn’t come back.

    Treat everyone as equal but give extra attention to those who do buy.

  11. Sarah Baron says:

    Set up systems and a schedule and stick to it. In all my businesses, that seems to be the secret to success. For example, write for 2 hours on Monday, add 30 new Twitter followers, respond to weekend email, and record cash flow. Tuesday, study analytics, etc. You’ve got the idea. Of course, writing this is harder than sticking to it. It is always easier to give advice than to take it.

  12. It means to not spell things wrong. To take pride in your work. To always make small tweaks to see if it makes you more money. To not be lazy and to bring your audience what you promised them. And to work hard

  13. If your business address is down the hall from your kitchen… you do need to develop a business focus.

  14. Sammy says:

    To maintain the blog creativity, one must first be passionate about the topic and the business side of things will fall in to place. Whether you succeed or fail in making a business profit, at minimum you enjoyed the work!

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  15. Aqif says:

    There a lot of advantage if we do talk blog as a “Business”.

    I heard once John Chow mention that

    “People will take seriously with their blog if the cost of starting the blog is worth 10k”.

  16. Contemporary filmmakers tell their stories using the latest tools, including everything from digital cameras to computer animation. The way they tell their stories has been shaped by the rise of short-form and user-generated content, video games, and virtual worlds that invite audience participation. At the same time, audiences are expanding their role by making films that are just one piece of a larger project.

  17. Well I think don’t give up on long distance affairs. Although it might not have worked out, don’t let that keep you away from prospective dearest. It isnt fair to you or the girls who might get interested in you. If you can, think of what you have learned from the past family relationships (other than “long distance relationships are hard”). I, myself, am in a long distance relationship at the consequence. We are halfway across the world from one another. It’s hard, but so incredibly worth it. So, I know what I’m talking about. So long distance love graphics by all odds trusts on fibre of partners.

  18. Mike CJ says:

    @ Sarah. I agree, you need a routine. I use Remember the milk for mine.

    @ Office Furniture. I agree, and that can be hard. In fact I’m building an office in the garden later this year.

  19. Aglolink says:

    Sometimes using a professional tool does not help much against what we do. Without interesting content, it is impossible to get a lot of readers.

  20. Blogging like a business is super important if you ever want earn money from blogging. If you blog for personal reasons then who cares about thinking like a business… but if you care at all about profits then you should think like a businessman.

  21. Using professional tools will help you grow your online business and make it easier to run as well. A blogging platform can help to produce customer loyalty.

  22. A few of these don’t really relate to me at this point, as I am so new. The training one is something that I am definitely immersing myself in at this time. I am reading all of the books I can get a hold of to improve my ability to create a quality product.

  23. Blogging is the easiest and most effective way to communicate with your customers, clients or prospects. One of the key factors for many business bloggers is that blogs can be a very inexpensive form of marketing, a lot of value for a relatively small investment.

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