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?
Hello Emma, awesome article with great tips. I like that you started with getting a domain name because that for sure has to be the starting point since it has so much influence on performance and branding of your blog. Also having a great content on your blog and good social media content strategy is a must, that’s why I always suggest hiring professionals copywriters http://wordsbynuance.com.au/ that can provide great content for bloggers and website owners.
You are great! Just go ahead, make it happy to you.
This helped me a lot as a new blogger. Thank you:)
Stay fabulous x,
Y // http://daristo-chic.blogspot.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!
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
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
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.
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!
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.
Great tips. I definitely think the domain name is an important one!
Erin | http://beingerin.com/
Ya’ll always have great tips! These are all things I’m working on right now and I can’t wait to see where it takes me and my blog!
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!
There is a lot of great advice here. My email inbox can get a bit hectic and then it becomes a source of anxiety so I’m trying to tackle that.
Great tips, thank you sharing 🙂 I got the blog life course quite some time ago and I found it really useful 🙂
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! 🙂
Great post. I’ve pinned for future reference x
Love those tips and advices! At the moment I try to improve in the social media area.
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 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.