Let 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.