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How to Make a Blogging Business Plan … Whether or Not it’s a Business Blog

This guest post is by Kelly Watson of onewomanmarketing.com.

Blogging can be a great hobby. But treat it like one, and you may not get the traffic and attention you want. Treat blogging like a business, however, with a detailed plan and scheduled check-ins, and you’ll see results in no time.

I learned this the hard way. When I first started blogging 10 years ago, I dove in without knowing how to sustain regular updates or gauge my progress. Many failed attempts later, I looked back on my early blogging efforts and wished I had created a plan to give my work direction.

As a beginner, I wouldn’t have known what to include in that blogging plan. Today, I do. That’s why I’ve created the blogging business plan: a series of 36 questions to help you flesh out your blog’s theme, its goals and the shortest path to achieving success.

Completing the blogging plan will take time and thought. But in the end, it will save you countless hours of wasted effort. When answering the questions, feel free to skip around – just be sure to answer each one. Some may seem unnecessary or irrelevant, but each one is specifically designed to help you lay the foundation of a thriving blog.

Part one: the big picture

1.     List your three top goals for blogging in order of importance.

2.     How will you measure your success in achieving each goal?

3.     What will be your blog’s focus? Explain. (Examples: Acme Company, medical technology, home pet grooming, beauty product reviews, etc.)

4.     Who is the target audience for your blog? Think of your ideal visitor and list his or her age, gender, income level, profession, hobbies, etc. Be as specific as possible.

5.     What problem(s) will your blog solve for this person?

6.     What action(s) do you want this person to take after visiting your blog? (Examples: sign up for the e-newsletter, call to request a consultation, purchase the featured product, etc.)

7.     How will you encourage visitors to take this action?

8.     What’s the main way people will find your blog? (Examples: through the web site, via search engines, from business card, word of mouth, etc.)

Part two: the competition

9.     Do an Internet search for blogs in your industry or field, and list three.

10.  What features or content do these blogs have that could be included on your blog? List up to six.

11.  What do these blogs do wrong? Where do you see room for improvement?

Part three: the content

12.  What kind of content will your blog have? Choose all that apply:

  • Company news and updates
  • Industry news and updates
  • Instructional/how-to posts
  • Interviews/profiles/Q&As
  • Product reviews
  • Case studies
  • Other: ____________________

13.  How often will you update your blog? Choose one:

  • Several times a day
  • Once a day
  • Several times a week
  • Once a week
  • Every other week

14.  How will you get ideas for new content? List up to four ways. (Examples: company meetings, competitor blogs, SmartBriefs, trade magazines, customer feedback, etc.)

15.  List the titles of your first five blog posts.

16.  How many blog posts will you have “in reserve” upon launch? List their titles.

Part four: the structure

17.  What blogging platform will you use? Circle one:

  • WordPress
  • Blogger
  • Moveable Type
  • TypePad
  • Other: ___________________________

18.  Will your blog be hosted or self-hosted?

19.  If your blog will be self-hosted, who will install the blogging software?

20.  Will you customize your blog’s design? If so, who will do the design work? Who will make the changes to the blogging software?

21.  What will the domain name be?

22.  Where will you purchase the domain?

23.  Where will you purchase the hosting service?

Part five: the budget

24.  If using a self-hosted platform, what will the annual costs be?

  • Domain: _________________________
  • Host: ____________________________
  • Platform Fees: ______________________
  • Installation: _______________________
  • Graphic Design: _____________________
  • Customization/other fees: ____________

25.  How much time can you reasonably spend on your blog per week?

26.  How will you allocate this time? Can you schedule these tasks into your calendar each week?

27.  Are you concerned you won’t have the time or experience needed to handle one or more aspects of blogging (i.e. content creation, proofreading, formatting, design)? If so, list these aspects.

28.  Do you have a budget for hiring outside help? If so, what is it?

29.  Look at the concerns listed in question 12, and brainstorm several options for delegating these tasks that fit within your proposed budget.

30.  If hiring outside help, list the tasks to be completed, where you will find this help, and an estimate of cost.

Part six: success metrics

31.  What link building strategies will you be using to increase your blog’s SEO?

32.  How much time will you spend link-building? Can you schedule a regular time into your calendar each week?

33.  What main keywords and phrases will you use for your blog’s content? List up to 10.

34.  How will you track your blog’s success? Circle the methods you will use and write down a goal for each one circled, if desired.

  • By RSS subscribers ________________________________________
  • By e-mail subscribers _______________________________________
  • Through Google Analytics_____________________________________
  • Through Alexa web stats _____________________________________
  • Through comments and feedback ________________________________

35.  Will you be doing any special promotions during your blog launch? If so, write down the details.

36.  Besides SEO strategies, how will you continue to grow your blog’s audience over time?

You’ve just finished the blogging business plan. Congratulations! To get the most from your work, tack the completed plan to a bulletin board or similar place where you’ll see it often. Then, check back every few months to make sure you’re still on target.

Have you planned your blogging efforts? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Kelly Watson is a freelance copywriter and longtime blogger who writes about marketing for small business owners.

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Comments

  1. This is just too good. People often talk a lot about internet companies, media companies and their business models, but translating that with respect to a blog is not that easy. You have done an amazing job by putting this forward and getting it out. Thanks for the effort and for the HUGE help to my blog and my community.

    Cheers to you and Problogger :)

  2. beer belly says:

    Great Post ! I really like your post and regularly read your post. Keep sharing……

  3. Tammy says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this information. This will be so helpful to me.

  4. Rob Cornish says:

    Excellent guest post and needs some good ruthless action on my part to consider these points and implement them! Thanks for sharing. Cheers, Rob.

  5. Jason Hussey says:

    Thank you so much . I wish i had this information earlier in the days when i was starting out. I didn’t have this resource and the research i use to do on freelance work was completely different. I took it seriously and today we’ve made a name for it by blogging http://www.iAmAnArtist.com the way you have shown here . Just need to spend some time and if you’re serious you can get it done.

    Thanks again. Very helpful information for everyone.

  6. I’m pretty much confident in answering all the business plan questions, except for the link building strategies and planning *whoops*. There’s always something you’d learn or miss from others, cheers for the post

  7. ALex says:

    Thats awesome.Great info and very resourceful.conglats.

  8. Roger Scime says:

    I love this post. I’m in the process of writing a business plan for a venture that will have a strong Soc-M (social media) component. I now plan to scrap what I’ve written thus far and incorporate many of your suggestions. Great work!

  9. Minna says:

    Thank you for sharing this list, it looks very comprehensive. I think the list works as good check list and I need to say I have some lesson to do with my own blog…

  10. Viren says:

    On top of all the things mentioned in the article, which are no doubt must for aspiring new blogger, the most important thing is your ability to handle early set backs and failures. If you can handle and still persist after those failures, then I think the road to success won’t be a difficult one.

  11. Chris York says:

    This blog post is an awesome reference. As a new blogger, I find this article in valuable. This site has by far the most informative information on how to set up a blog efficiently and properly. Awesome work!

  12. Megg says:

    Thanks so much for this article! The timing is perfect as I started blogging 8 months ago but just recently decided I need to organize myself. When I started blogging, I didn’t know what I was doing really, but by now I’ve had enough trial and error to figure out what my goals are. Now I just have to actually lay those goals out.. and I’m definitely printing this to help in the process! Thanks!

  13. David says:

    Awesome I just copied and pasted this, and I’m about to start filling this out. Then I will print it out and put it on my wall. My blog is on its way already, so many of the numbers here are irrelevant. Do you think I should start going after keyword terms in the search engines for a blog about affiliate marketing? Because I feel like it’s almost impossible to target search terms for people trying to find information for affiliate marketing without first establishing your sites credibility with Google, so you will naturally rank higher for any post you make. My blog is linked in my name if you want to check it out. I’m loving this site, can’t wait to send in my guest post!

  14. Jerrick Yeoh says:

    You may use 5 question to ask yourself before you build your business blog,
    what, where, when,who, how for every step you go. Plan properly because it not your personal blog, it is for business purpose, it will influence your business on what you had wrote.
    Business blog mostly write about your product and service, company background, company growth, problem solution, marketing for your business and so on. So it need to be formal and professional blog. So that people only will trust in your business.

  15. This is one of the best yet most simplistic list on how to get started blogging. It’s a long list and its true that if you truly want to gain readers and engagement all of these pieces are important.

  16. This was so useful, I think I will be using this list of questions for years to come. Thanks!

  17. Samantha says:

    This is SUCH a helpful, organized form. Thank you for this! Extremely helpful!

  18. Tom says:

    This is fantastic. Exactly what I’ve been looking for. Just started a new blog which I wasn’t entirely sure which direction to take it in. I now have the road laid out before me. All I need to do is start up the engine. :)

  19. Wow. Using this checklist to plan out my next site right now. Thank you for sharing!

  20. ansar says:

    On top of all the things mentioned in the article, which are no doubt must for aspiring new blogger, the most important thing is your ability to handle early set backs and failures. If you can handle and still persist after those failures, then I think the road to success won’t be a difficult one.

  21. Debra says:

    This is an excellent check list. I stared blogging about two years ago, but it has remained more of a hobby than a business. Thanks to the checklist, I see what I am missing from being able to move from playing around to building it into a business. Thanks so much for the helpful information!

  22. This is going to be fantastic. I’ve been working on something similar, but this will be more structured; thank you for sharing this information!