Sketch up at the drawing board
Building a business and making money needs considerable thinking, experimentation and of course, lots of efforts. It seems like the witchcraft that few of entrepreneurial wizards have managed to master. If you are planning to start a blogging business, this article will serve you as a high-level guideline for your plans.
Your idea may not so uncommon and the technology is more or less with every business. Your focus must be on the execution. That is the unique differentiator for a successful business. It boils down to your passion and perseverance that will make you successful in your entrepreneurial journey.
Are you sure if your current 9-to-5 job is the right for your career – head to the 9-to-5 job article.
If you are an entrepreneur (or planning to be one) foraying to the Internet space, my suggestion is that you should consider blogging as your first business. Blogging as a business is less risky, possibly least capital requirements and relatively requires less of your time. It offers a tremendous experience to learn how to start a business out of thin air, experiment with own unique techniques and possibly, strike it rich.
Welcome aboard. In this article, I have captured my experience and tried to formulate of what it takes to build a successful blogging business.
Step 1: Testing the waters
This preparatory step is crucial for you in understanding your business and helps you draw out a map for the future initiatives.
What is your niche?
Every blog is specific to a certain topic (known as niche) – cooking, parenting, personal finance, so on. At the first, make a list of four-five niche topics and research them on the Internet. Pick up the niche that you are passionate on and that which interests a sizable number of readers.
Who is your customer?
Every business needs customers and only the customers who are ready to listen and pay to the business are really required. This leads us to the following important questions.
You need to be very clear who is your customer that you are after. It helps to know their profile – education, gender, interests and so on. When you are aware of the information, you can plan your blog to match their requirements.
Where can you find them often?
Your customers are likely to have common interests and most of them will be part of same groups in different social networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit and so on. Your task is to identify all such congregations. Later, you know where to find your customers and target them.
What are they interested on?
Now, that you are aware of your customers and also where you find them, you need to make a list of the topics they are interested. This will help you later when you are writing the content for your blog.
Step 2: Setting up the blog
In this step, you start concretizing your plans. You need to register a name for your website, buy hosting space from a provider and then install the required software to run your blog.
You may want to brush up some skills related to Internet technology.
The blog is the face of your business. You must take care to ensure it is professional and clearly organized. I have observed that all successful blogs are built around a “Main character”. This character can be the author himself or a fictitious character (like mid age individual for personal finance blog). The character is the main actor of the blog and he speaks for your business. Your blog readers must be able to relate to this character.
Step 3: Make it friendly
There are two groups of readers who are likely to land up at your blog – human readers and the bots (which are managed by technology and advertising companies). You need these both groups of readers and your efforts must ensure it is easier for them to find the content that they need.
The human readers can be classified into following categories
- New visitors
- Repeat visitors
- Referred visitors
You need to ensure your blog has an About page, a Contact page, a Search tool, a Content index based on categories and/or post date. It will also help to provide tools for the readers to share or bookmark your articles.
The bot readers will help you to get new visitors from different sources – Search engines, Social networks, Commenting system, … At the initial stages, you can stick to the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools that will help you to manage the required changes.
Step 4: Add content
The content is the core product that you are offering to your blog customers. As a business, you need to provide content that your customers need. Starting writing content for the topics that you had earlier noted in Step 1.
Your content must be engaging so that the readers spend enough time at your blog. Remember, the content must always relate to the main character (as described in Step 3) and the reader. Ideally, it should seem like a personal conversation between them. Avoid writing out content like those corporate websites. Add enough white space, relevant images, statistics to prove your point and remember to add a conclusion section at the end.
With my experience, I agree it is not easy for the first time blogger unless you are naturally gifted to write great articles. But with practice and feedback, I have been able to learn and write better articles. Remember, never give up. It is the perseverance and not just the talent that wins the race.
Step 5: Invite Traffic
You may have the best content in your blog and there are billions of online users on the Internet, then what could be wrong that are no visitors to your blog.
Here is what the traffic (i.e. visitors to your site) looked like for this blog after two months when it was launched. I quickly realized that you may have built the super landmark (mall, business park, …) in your city but you also need to have good roads that lead to your landmark.
Now, you need to wear the marketing cap of being a blogging entrepreneur and start attracting traffic to your blog. This was the hardest part for me – being a qualified software developer did not help nor did I have my own natural instincts of being a salesperson.
Remember, if you are the entrepreneur, you must learn to sell your product to the customer. You will quickly realize that you cannot delegate this to others. There is no better person than you to do this job. It is again hard work that brings success to you.
Starting reaching out to your family, extended family, friends, colleagues, ex-colleagues, students, seniors and whoever you can reach. Talk (or mail) to them and request them to read and share your blog with their friends.
Meanwhile, you need to get creative, reach out to your customer congregations (described in Step 1) and start pitching about your blog to them. Start answering questions about the problems in your niche in Q&A sites like Quora, StackExchange, Reddit, Facebook groups and many others.
As a starter, paid advertising may not be an option for you. Reach out to other bloggers for guest posting, media sites and so on.
Remember, you need to try as many ways as possible to drive traffic to your blog. You are limited by only your creativity. If you need inspiration, watch the movie – “The Founder” – McDonalds.
Step 6: Monetize your traffic
Integrate measurement tools to monitor the growth of your blog. Google Analytics is a free and easy-to-use product. When you see sufficient traffic, you can start monetizing them. Now, start seeing real bucks in your bank account.
If your business execution has been good, you should see few couple of 100 dollars to few thousand dollars within few months of launch. Many existing bloggers who have been able to sustain the initial momentum have been able to earn over 100,000 dollars per month. Again, this number is not an upper limit for the blogging business but limited to your business acumen.
Established blogs with over 10,000 daily visitors have a defined, multi-stage process (known as the funnel) that convert prospective visitors to paying customers.
If you are a beginner, initially you can stick to low-hanging channels to make money. You can subscribe to Affiliation networks, direct advertising, sponsored articles, Google Adsense, …
Remember, do not go overboard and display advertising all over your blog. That will certainly tick off your blog visitors.
Step 7: Engage with traffic
The secret of multi-million/billion business is to have customers come over again and again and spend a significant amount of time at the place of business. It is no different for businesses such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Amazon or Walmart.
Customer engagement at your blog should be your top priority when you have enough traffic.
Apart from quality content, your blog should provide the ecosystem to retain the visitors. Provide options to readers to subscribe to email newsletters, browser notifications, allow them to share to different social networks and make sure you engage in lively conversation with their comments.
The Steps #3 to #7 will be your daily routine when you are running the blogging business. Spend your time in improving the quality of content, stay on top of new developments in your niche, be aware of any changes in SEO algorithms and tweak the blog configuration if necessary, look out for opportunities to drive new traffic and finally, experiment to fine tune your monetization techniques.
Step 8: Grow and delegate
This step should be your goal. You have been successful and are probably earning 5-digit or 6-digit dollars every month. As I said earlier, there is no limit to money-making potential. Now, you need to change your strategies and put your blogging business into auto-pilot mode with help of automation services. You may want to freelance or hire staff for basic services and free up yourself for higher challenges.
Being an authority in building a blogging business, you can start replicating your success in building many such niche blogs, take up paid opportunities as speakers at conferences or any of many limitless options. The world is your playground. Head out to Internet economy for a high-level overview of the industry and innovate your own way to financial success.
As with any other business, building a blogging business needs right preparation and execution. This article provides a rough outline or a roadmap of how to get started, what to expect and how to move ahead with your plans. Let me know about your blogging dreams, how long have been blogging or share your personal experiences in building your blogs.
This article may contain affiliate links to few recommended products. At no extra cost to you, the merchant may prefer to pay a small amount as commission to me. Please refer to Disclaimer page for the complete details.