Hey. You. We need to talk. See, I heard you might be a blogger. This works out nicely, because I happen to think bloggers are pretty freakin’ awesome. But one thing I know that many bloggers want is the ability to turn their blog into a part-time or full-time business. I hear you, sister. You’re not alone.
If you want to grow your blog’s income and start rockin’ out as a blog business owner, then you’re going to love these 9 tips (and the free workbook at the end!), which are full of things you can start doing today to up-level your blog and start treating it like a business. Ya feel me? Sit down and relax — we’re going to be chatting for awhile, friend.
1. Hone in on what makes your blog unique.
Also known as…focus on what you have to give in particular. I see so many well-intentioned bloggers looking to earn money from their site, which evidently has a weak or confusing focus.
Here’s the problem: If your followers can’t trust your expertise on something in particular, then it’s not likely that they’ll buy from you.
Think of it this way — my niche is in providing strategies and guidance for bloggers and online entrepreneurs. If I suddenly came out with a cookbook? Well, first of all it would be really random. Secondly, it wouldn’t sell as well as if I came out with an e-book geared toward bloggers or business owners. That’s because I haven’t built up any authority on “cooking.” My peeps would have no idea what to expect from it.
Now consider your own blog and situation. Are you creating a strong focus on your blog? Is it easy for your readers to describe your niche or the specific value you offer them? If it is, then you’re on the right track and likely building an audience that would like to purchase your products or services. If it’s difficult for your audience to describe what you’re all about, then work hard to hone in on what makes YOU unique. What specific message, advice, and skills do you want to share with your readers? If you’re struggling with your blog’s focus, then I highly recommend starting here.
2. Set specific goals.
If you’re planning to run a business, then goal-setting is going to become your new BFF. If you’ve ever made a business plan, then you know that setting specific goals is a large part of a business’s overall plan and strategy. Rather than just hoping for certain things, like “I hope I earn money from my blog one day,” put your thinking cap on and start making plans.
There are numerous things you can set goals for, from how largely you want to grow your audience to how many sales you hope to make on your first e-course. Here are a few specific suggestions to get the juices flowing:
- How much money do you hope to make from your blog?
- How many followers would you like to have on each of your social media accounts? On your email list?
- How many pageviews or unique visitors would you like to receive on your site?
- How many blogging buddies would you like to collaborate with?
- How many guest posts do you want to write?
Now, for each goal that you set, it’s important to set a deadline or timeframe for when you will complete it.
After that, map out each of the steps involved in completing this goal by your given timeframe. If you want to start earning $500 from your blog each month within three months from now, then what exactly are you going to do to make it happen? Step one might be to research ways that you can earn income from blogging. Step two may be as simple as picking one of those methods — for example, writing an e-book. Step three may be that you create an outline for your e-book, with all of the main topics you plan to talk about, and so forth.
Because I love you and really want you to succeed with this, I created a free workbook to help you map out your goals, which you can download here.
3. Invest any money you make right back into your blog.
If you’re already making some moo-lah from your blog, then instead of pocketing it for a new pair of Nikes, I recommend investing back into your site (you’ll get the Nikes one day, promise). From what I can tell you, each time I invested into my blog and business, I found new ways and tools to save time, up-level my biz, and help me grow my revenue even more. It’s tough to let go of the initial income, but oh so worth it. Another side effect of investing into your blog is the fact that it will cause you to look at your blog baby with new eyes. No longer is blogging a free “hobby,” but it’s something that you’ve decided is worthy of part of your paycheck. That matters, friend. That matters a whole stinkin’ lot. Looking for some of my favorite investments? Check out this post where I share all of my favorite tools for running my blog.
4. Assess any money-making strategies you’re currently using…are they working?
As a business, it’s important to always assess what you’re doing and see how it’s actually working out for you. Otherwise, you may robotically end up putting time, energy, and credibility into things that just ain’t worth it. Many bloggers who want to start earning an income will slap a few ads on their site and hope it eventually turns into a thriving biz. I’m not trying to crush your dreams here, so imagine me putting my arm around you and letting you down gently, like a pal. But friend, filling your site with ads is not a solid business plan and probably will never earn you a full-time income. There, I said it! Don’t hate me, k? If you have ads or affiliate banners on your site right now, then take a few minutes to see how much they’ve earned you in the past 30 days. In my experience, the numbers are usually lower than my expectations (and not worth my time!). Bottom line: It’s tough to grow your own business when you’re busy growing someone else’s with ads and affiliate banners. (tweet that!)
5. Start or join a mastermind group.
The name “mastermind group” always reminds me of the old cartoon, Pinky and the Brain, and their catchphrase about what they do every night, “try to take over the world!” But mastermind groups are a bit more simple and less sinister than two rats with an attitude. Essentially, a mastermind group is when 3-4 people meet up (even through Skype!) on a consistent basis to discuss their business plans, ideas, and struggles in order to get feedback and support from people who “get it.” If you know of other bloggers who are as dedicated as you and who want to turn their blog into a full-time biz, then reach out to them to see if they’d be interested in starting a mastermind together. I recommend contacting people that you have some sort of relationship with, even if it’s small (as in, you’ve chatted on Twitter a few times and regularly share each other’s work). Masterminds are incredible tools to grow your blog business and create genuine friendships because they allow you to access the knowledge of others on a similar path who can both motivate you and provide you with incomparable feedback. Brainstorm 2-3 bloggers or business owners that you could reach out to for your mastermind group. These people should be around a similar level of expertise as you. Send them emails to see if they’re interested in a weekly or biweekly mastermind. If you’ve never spoken to them live before, then you may want to set up a friendly Skype chat first, just to see if you two would be compatible and if this is someone you’d enjoy speaking to and learning from on a regular basis.
6. Look the part.
The scary thing about spending money online? There isn’t a cashier ringing you up, showing you face-to-face that your transaction is valid and that you’ll actually be able to take home that can of Coke you just paid for. Nowadays, online shopping is common, so consumers are used to purchasing products and services from people they’ve never met. But even still, if your site looks cluttered or unprofessional, then people may not take you as seriously as you’d like or may not totally trust you, which could both be costing you in sales. Here are a couple ways you can look the part, if you really want to create a business out of your blog.
- Get quality photos of yourself. Now, you don’t need to spend hundreds on a professional photographer to get great headshots. If you have friends who know how to wield a DSLR or can find a spot with natural light to take a bangin’ photo with your iPhone, then you’re definitely on the right track. The point is to get a friendly-looking headshot that you can use on your blog and social media profiles. It truly makes a difference.
- Invest in a pro blog design. Depending on where you’re at with blogging or financially, hiring a skilled designer may be out of the question — that’s okay, too! When you can afford it, I recommend a quality blog design as one of the first things to invest in, but until then, there are tons of beautiful templates out there. Themeforest.com is a great place to look for WordPress themes. Also, Squarespace allows you to create a pro-looking site in a snap (especially for all my non-techie friends out there!).
- Create a professional email address. This is one of the little things that goes a long way. When I see a blogger whose email address is “firstname.lastname@example.org,” I don’t really think anything of it, good or bad. But when a blogger emails me with an address like, “email@example.com,” it stands out because it shows me that they care about the little things that go into creating a business. If you want, I have a tutorial which shows you how to set up this type of email address using Gmail. Woohoo!
7. Focus on building a brand, not just a blog.
Anyone can write a blog, publish articles, and interact on social media. But if you want to kick things up a notch (I know you do, bud), then focus on building a consistent brand. Your brand is the personality of your blog. It’s how your readers talk about you and what they expect when they interact with you. It’s the way you write, your aesthetic style, and even the way you sign your emails. Good branding is all about consistency — you can’t show people who you are if you’re always changing things. In order to build a strong brand for your blog, I recommend creating a style guide. Lucky you, I’ve already created a style guide to help you nail down your branding — from your brand’s personality to the colors you use in your logo. You can download it right here, sister.
8. Make the time
It may sound simple, but if you don’t make the time to turn your blog into a thriving business, then it just won’t happen. Blogging is far from a “get rich quick scheme” and takes genuine time and effort if you’re really looking to turn it into a business. Since you may already have a full-time job, school, a family, or other time-consuming responsibilities, then adding a blog into the mix shouldn’t be taken lightly if you really want to make a stable income from it. It may involve some sacrifices, late nights of blog editing and social media, and a revamping of your current schedule. But before you chase me down with a pitchfork, let me share a few time-saving strategies that you can use on your blog, so that you can make the time without having to spend the time, ya dig?
- Batching. This strategy can save you a LOT of time if implemented effectively. Here’s the deal: most of the time, we jump around to different tasks throughout the day, which slows us down. Think of your blog like an assembly line — wouldn’t it be quicker if you grouped similar tasks together so you could get in the zone and knock ‘em all out at once? For that reason, it’s best to “batch.” Try blocking out a certain amount of time each week for blog post writing, taking photos, and any other tasks that your blog requires. I also added a handy little batching worksheet into the free workbook I made for you,so that you can pinpoint all of the tasks you can batch and get them in your weekly schedule.
- Schedule your social media. Without a solid social media plan, keepin’ up on every network can feel like a full time job itself. To save time, start scheduling a majority of your daily social media postings. There are scheduling programs for just about every platform you can think of, but especially the “big four” — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. You can check out some of my favorite social media scheduling programs here.
- Hire help. If you’re at the point where your blog is earning some money or even growing like a weed, but you simply don’t have the time to truly invest in it because you have other non-negotiable responsibilities, then you may want to consider hiring a Virtual Assistant to help out. VAs can assist with a medley of tasks, from keeping your inbox at bay to creating graphics for your site. Yes, it’s an investment. But if you’re dead set on creating a business out of your blog, then investing money into your blog baby is part of the game, pal.
9. Grow your email list
An email list is a critical component of an online business. Think of it this way: a person’s email inbox is like their private online home. Giving you the right to email them is like inviting you into their house — it’s special and meaningful. Not to mention, your email list is typically full of the people who are most likely to purchase your products or services in the future. I’m not lying — there’s even research to back it up! Still need some convincing? Read this.
Now, hopefully you’re on board with the power of email lists. I’ve definitely seen how useful they’ve been in my own business, too — there’s really nothing like it. Since we’re in fist-bump agreement about why they rock, here are a few essential tips to actually get your list growin’.
- Create a strong lead-magnet that relates to your blog’s focus and potential products. A lead magnet is something that you give away for free in exchange for someone’s email address. You don’t need to go crazy here — an extremely useful one-page PDF is all you need. Make sure your lead magnet is on-point with your overall niche and something that will attract potential clients and customers (aka it’s relevant).
- Add content upgrades to your posts. A content upgrade is the same idea as a lead magnet, but instead of being something that you offer for general signups, it’s a freebie that you offer within your actual blog posts, related to the post itself. Essentially, it’s a way to “upgrade” the content in the post and comes in the form of checklists, worksheets, infographics, printables, or anything that your audience can download for more information or action. The free workbook I’m offering at the end of this post is an example of a content upgrade. Woo!
- Mention your email list on social media. You have tons of options here, friend. First of all, I recommend creating a call to action in your social media profiles, which lets potential followers know about your lead magnet and shares the link where they can sign up. Similarly, keep your social media followers updated about your email list. Before you send out a newsletter, give a teaser to your followers so they can subscribe if the topic interests them. Also, let them know about any content upgrades you’re offering, which will encourage them to sign up, too.
Dang shorty, if you made it here then I applaud you. I can tell that you’re serious about this whole blogging thing. Please imagine me throwing some virtual confetti your way. Also, a virtual vacuum cleaner because I think we both know that confetti gets absolutely everywhere. If you want to take things a step further, then I’ve created a free, printable “From Blogger to Business” workbook, which you can get right here.
Fist bump. You got this, yo.
p.s. Already a subscriber? You can login to get the free workbook here.