5 Ways to Treat Your Blog More Like a Business

Tips for bloggingLet me start by saying that I realize not everyone wants to treat their blog like a business. Many blog purely for fun and have no intention of changing—which is great! But, I know that many of you are interested in turning your blog hobby into a potential revenue stream because we get questions about it all the time. 🙂

Maybe you have goals to monetize your content? Or maybe you just want to use your blog as a way to promote your real passion—a clothing line/shop, a handmade business, photography services, books you write, etc. Whatever your goals, if you're looking to make your blog a bit more polished and professional, here are five tips to get you going!

1. Get Your Domain

I think there could definitely be a healthy debate on this point, but from our perspective if you want your website to feel more legit, get your domain name (and get the dot com if you can!). This may require you to buy it from another owner, or you may have to update your site to allow/account for the url change. Also if you haven't chosen a name for your blog yet, then you are in a great spot because you can find one that you can easily get the dot com to. 

Not only does owning your domain name signal to readers and potential customers or sponsors that you are a more professional site, it also helps to safeguard you from others who might want to use your name for other purposes later.

And once you have your domain name, make sure you have it on auto-renew so you don't ever lose it!

2. Answer Emails in a Timely Manner

If you just let out a little groan, trust me, I know how you feel. This tip is simple, but sometimes really hard to do. It can be easy to think, "I just don't have time to answer ALL my emails today." But then it's also easy to let a lot of those kinds of days pile up, and before you know it, opening your email box gives you nothing but anxiety. 

You never know when the next email might be a great opportunity for your brand, so don't let it get buried for days, weeks, or months at a time! Imagine receiving a dream opportunity, not writing back for a month, and then finding out that they've moved on to someone or something else. That would be a total bummer! Clean out those email boxes and stay on top of them as best you can, friends—it will likely pay off one day. 

3. Plan & Make Big Picture Goals

One of the biggest differences between a hobby and a business is having short term goals that get you to your long term plan. If you really want to jumpstart your brand this year, make a five year plan. It can be harder than you think, but it's so helpful. 

Once you have that big picture goal for your brand, make plans to work toward it. For example, let's say I have a goal to run a marathon next year. OK, I have my big picture goal. Now what if I just started running whenever I felt I had enough time. I don't really keep track of how far I run, I just try to "do a good time" each time. Do you think I'll be ready for my marathon next year? Nope, me neither! What I need is a specific plan of action. I need to know exactly how many days a week I plan to run and how far I will run each time. If I have a goal for how fast I want to run my marathon, I need to put that in the plan too. That way, when I have those days (and they WILL come) when I feel too busy or too lazy, too bad. I know I have to run anyway—it's in the plan. There will be days I don't want to run X number of miles. I feel tired or maybe distracted by something else from my day. But I have to run a certain distance because, well, it's in the plan. Now do you think I'll be ready for my marathon? The truth is, I don't know for sure, but I have a WAY better shot at achieving that goal than I did before. There aren't a lot of guarantees in life, but you give yourself the best possible shot but putting in as much as you want to get out of something.  

It's simple, obvious to some, and it's certainly been said before, but having a big picture goal and then a specific plan to get you there is the difference between "kind of, sort of" doing something and actually doing it. Don't stunt your brand by failing to plan!

4. Track Expenses & Income

Not only is this good advice for any small business, you also could get into some trouble if you fail to do this. If you want to treat your blog like a business, you must face the business side of it and not just the "fun side." We love coming up with blog post ideas, making content, taking pictures, writing, etc. That's the fun part that gets us excited about blogging! But the other side is the responsibilities that still exist even if you get to do a fun job, one of which is keeping track of how much you spend each month and how much you make.

I like to track this monthly, and I usually make it a goal the first week of every month to get these records in order. Save all your receipts, invoices, and other documents that will help you track these numbers. It can also be helpful to print bank and credit card statements and add notes so you can remember what specific transactions were all about months or years from now. Get a big accordion folder or a file cabinet depending on your needs. Hire an accountant when it comes time to do your taxes, and they will be impressed with your thorough record keeping. 🙂

5. Use Social Media to Build Your Brand

We all like being on Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites because, well, they're fun! You get to share and connect with family or friends all over the world. But it's no secret that social media is also a great tool to grow your brand. I feel like this could easily be a whole different post, or even a small course, because there's just that much to say about it.

Here's the number one rule: you should take your social media as serious as you take your blog. If you plan out your blog posts (and I hope you do if you're wanting to grow it and make it into more of a business!) and allocate time and resources to those posts, then you should also do this for your social media. Plan out what you will post on IG, FB or Twitter this week. Make mini goals to grow those platforms. And as you do this, make sure they all easily and clearly point back to your blog (or main venture). 

What about you? Are there any big (or small) steps you've taken with your blog recently that have made a huge difference?

P.S. Ready to take your blog to the next level? Check out our Blog Life e-course

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photo edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • thank you for this! Love the last point especially – it’s one that I don’t get as excited about but treating it as seriously as you do your blog.. will work on that!

    therossettoblog.com

  • I always enjoy when you post blogging and business related topics so thanks so much! It came at the perfect time for me, as I’m getting back to my roots by blogging a book series that I’ve had on the backburner for many years.

    I’m really great at keeping track of my business expenditures but I have to admit, being a creative type and all, the business side of my blog biz does intimidate me. I know it can’t be avoided. Any chance ABM could write some thought provoking posts about purely the business side in the future? I have a feeling many of us would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

    Sincerely,

    Laurali Star

  • I am fairly inept when it comes down to online stuff and having to learn quickly. How do you buy your domain name?
    Thanks! 🙂
    Inma x
    sunshineandglow.blogspot.com

  • I know I can always use some help in the social media department to grow my blog. Things change all the time, including the trends to post… but I truely believe there is a different use for each of the different platforms out there!

    Thanks for sharing these great tips!

  • Yes, we agree. Summer tends to be a bit slower for our site as well. I think more people are off work, outside (off the internet), or on vacation. Which has nothing to do with your blog, so don’t get too discouraged during the summer months. 🙂

    -Emma

  • Great advice!
    I’ve just started my blog and I’m looking for support!
    I don’t want to build a brand or a huge business but just to have a renowned blog where people can get fashion inspirations.
    I’m looking for someone who is known in the blog zone to help me and recommend my blog.
    If you are interested, check out my blog: mathildescloset.over-blog.com

  • In a nutshell, first you search to see if it’s available and if so then you purchase it through a hosting service like GoDaddy or Bluehost.

    -Emma

  • Amen to everything written here! I’d definitely develop the issue of monetizing the blog, though. If the blog is a business, it’s time to start earning from it like a business 🙂

  • Speaking of emails, I actually emailed you guys a month ago and haven’t heard back? I know you’re busy but I was wondering if there was, perhaps, a better email to reach you about post ideas??

  • Hi Johnna! Sorry about that. We check our business email accounts everyday. If you could resend it to support AT abeautifulmess DOT com, that would be great! 🙂 -Jacki

  • I am interested in starting a blog! I honestly don’t know where to start. I think I remember you saying before that you use Typepad. Is that right? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

  • Great tips! I am doing good on most platforms, except Instagram. I can’t seem to grow that platform. I’m working on it, though. 🙂

  • I’m taking your Blog Life e-course! I also read up on the marketing and business methods of other writers, fascinating. Currently, I’m studying James Patterson’s interviews for business and marketing tips from a savvy ex-ad exec turned best selling author.

  • Hi Emma,

    Thanks so much for responding! You are always so kind and intuitive. I was thinking business related products to the blog, how to file for taxes, how to promote your site without paying a dime (since, I think its safe to say that biz promotion is always warranted), book proposals within the blog (I mean look what happened with ABM. You guys landed a book deal!), and maybe notations on independent health insurance as a blogger for the self-employed. These are just a few off the top of my head. What do you think???!

    Sincerely,

    Laurali Star

  • Hey Emma! I’m currently going through your Blog Life e-course and it’s been really helpful. Do you all ever update your e-courses with new info that you learn along the way for those of us who have already purchased it? For example, a lesson about social media use could be helpful. Or something else timely to what you’re learning as you continue. Just a thought, thanks!

  • I needed this post! I’ve had my Etsy shop for a few years now and treat it as just a hobby(I get super excited when I make a sale and get really into it then step back when it gets slow) I want/know it can be SO much more then that. I love the idea of the short term and big picture goals and will be working on this asap! Although it’s a little different then a blog these tips can for sure be applied so thank you for the inspiration and motivation.:)

    Andrea

  • These are such great tips! I really need to track my income vs expenses a lot better! I think I’m too scared to find out I go shopping too much! But I think I’m definitely going to start next month!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  • Fantastic recommendations. But oh my goodness…a FIVE year plan? I barely know where to go with a one year plan:) Just thinking about it puts it all in such a different perspective. Thanks for the paradigm shift!

  • Gaahh this is such great advice. I’m fairly new to getting serious about goal planning – making big goals and smaller-scale goals to reach the big ones. And one of mine is to finally get organized enough to plan out my IG feed!

  • Thank you for great tips. I agree especially with the domain name. It’s impossible to be taken as a professional blogger if you don’t own your domain name. It’s a must thing when you want to grow your blog.

  • I’ve had a personal blog for a year and I feel like I’m still feeling it out, trying to see where I’m going. I have been working through Blog Life (which has been SO GOOD and challenging). One of the funnest things (though totally unrelated to this post) has been figuring out what I can share with my readers. Today I posted little watercolour doodles for desktop and phone backgrounds. It’s been really nice to create a venue for myself, something that allows me to share creative things, mine and other peoples.

  • This is a really great list! I’ve learned in the last few months how important social media really is.

    Kristi | Be Loverly

  • I think the one thing I’ve done recently is heed the advice I’ve read here on A Beautiful Mess, heard from Elise Blaha Cripe of Enjoy It and her podcasts, and the podcasts of Grace Bonney at Design Sponge. Because of these I’m using social media more efficiently now and actually seeing the result on my blog!

  • This is such a great and timely post for me. I always, always put off the business side of things – record keeping, tax, that kind of thing. It just does nothing for my right brain ways. However, if I’m to take my business seriously I really need to get cracking on this. I love the idea of getting it all sorted at the start of the month. I will attempt to take this advice on.

  • Thank you so much for sharing these tips! I’ve been trying to make our blog a little more professional for the future, and I know social media is really important! x

  • Thanks for the great tips! I actually just started researching getting my own domain today, so perfect timing!

    What are your thoughts on using Facebook to promote your blog? Do you use your personal Facebook, or do you use a page that people then like and follow? Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to bother friends or relatives with a recent post, but am I worry about self promotion too much?? Any advice would be helpful!

    Thank you!!!

    http://www.engineeredperfection.blogspot.com

  • I always enjoy reading your advice on blogging, so thank you for writing this post. I think getting my own domain and creating a self-hosted site was a big step for me. It seemed really complicated at the beginning, but I learned a lot and it just made me feel more confident as I gained new skills. The biggest challenge for me is being consistent with posting and also developing social media channels. I’m doing my best to learn how to promote myself right and avoid being spammy.

  • These are really great tips!I’ve just started getting more serious about my own blog. I’ve created my 3-5 year plan, got full control of my domain, and started working on tracking my budget. The hardest part starting out is really getting a following. I currently have an Instagram with a name to match my blog, but your tips do make me think of how I should do a better job promoting myself using that platform. Scheduled posts would probably help a lot.

  • Super helpful! Thank you <3
    I am definitely making a conscientious effort to treat my blog more like a business. I'm going to implement these tips!

  • I started my blog in January 2013 for fun, I already had a succesfull webshop with my partner. Within a year I realized I loved blogging more, so in February 2014 we sold the webshop and since April 2014 I am treating my blog like a business. I just signed an amazing deal with a media agency that will be representing me and I’m so proud 🙂
    I would not have succeeded, without making mini goals and long-and short term planning. You guys have been an inspiration to me ♡ Thanks!!!

  • Great Post and tips! I recently bought your e-course “Blog Love” and it really helped me plan the launch of my new blog (which i did Monday this week! Whoop Whoop!) I’d toyed with blogs in the past but never got them up and running properly, but the e-course really help focused what i wanted to do and get everything planned. Now I get to indulge my passion for History and Craft! Can’t recommend it enough, thanks!

  • Love your blogging about more serious and business related topics. This might be something you can develop more in the future, Emma. It can be a new role for you. I think I am not the only one interested in that. (I am not that type of woman that needs another hair tutorial, no offence).
    Looking forward to read how you girls are going to manage and come up with solutions while having two locations (ABM midwest-ABM south). In the meantime enjoy te summer.

  • Great post! I’m always looking for tips from other bloggers and love seeing some tips over and over. It really is about focus, planning and promoting!

  • Love those tips and advices! At the moment I try to improve in the social media area.
    xo Kristina
    thekontemporary.blogspot.com

  • Love this post (as usual)! I’ve been working on building my blog for the past few months or so and have recently discovered the beauty of social media! I am now focusing on how I can make each platform unique while still getting the same information across. It’s a fun work in progress! 🙂
    Jen
    http://www.beautifuljunk.net

  • Great tips, thank you sharing 🙂 I got the blog life course quite some time ago and I found it really useful 🙂

    xx
    Cheryl
    DaisyCandle

  • Oh gosh thank you for this. I am somewhat new to blogging and while very committed to blogging at least 3x a week, having a domain, a nice looking designed site, utilizing social media etc etc etc… Is till feel like I have a log way to go to cultivate the image I have in my head. I am trying out to find a place in the web where I share about chronic pain while still sharing rad stuff like music, crafts, home decor etc. All of your tips have been really helpful to me so merci!
    -genevieve

    http://www.shipwithnosails.com

  • Hey Laureli,

    Have you check out ABM blog class. Its so helpful and they have a few great post on back end stuff that I found so helpful! Check it out if it’s still available.

  • I love this! I think I hopped on the blogger train a little late.. there are so many blogs out there I feel a little shy. I think right now I’m working on finding my internet voice. I have a niche in place, now just trying to communicate my voice and presence on my blog.. if that makes sense. Having a schedule is helping with that I think!

  • I’ve noticed that if you get involved with other blogs and give your feedback, this also helps get your name out there and by giving your opinion or simply leaving a sweet comment, you’re blog will have more chances of getting traffic.

    http://www.thrumypeepers.com

  • I never thought that planning blog will be that important, i mean, this is not the first tips i get about domain or blog plan. But since you guys post it, i just it is that important! Hahaha, we should take everything seriously (fun) if we put our heart into whatever we do, including blogging. This is great tips! Thanks for sharing

  • Great tips! Me and my friends who run our blog are only 14 so right now we are sticking with the idea of doing this for fun but maybe we’ll think about changing that when we are older.
    Aleeha from HALE, xXx
    http://www.halesaaw.com

  • Have you ladies ever thought about doing a post on personal finance management and tips? Moving into adulthood, looking at purchasing houses and starting businesses, etc. I would be very interested in that!