Are you looking to create a blog business plan? Why, you savvy blogger, you! Having a plan in place BEFORE you start trying to monetize your blog is the fastest way to profitability. Read on to see how to create one, and I’ll even give you a free blog business plan PDF for FREE.
Blog Business Plan? Why Bother?
Every business has a business plan. If you want to make income from your blog, you have to make that mental shift from “this is a blog” to “this is a business.” If you have an income goal (which you should), your blog business plan is your roadmap to get there.
Starting a blog without a blog business plan in hand is like going on a road trip without a map or GPS. It may be fun, but you’ll never get to where you want to go.
*This post has affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase through a link I provide, at no extra cost to you!
Key Elements of a Blog Business Plan
#1 Who is your target audience?
Everything you do with your blog will stem from who your target audience is, what problems they have, and how your blog will solve them. Fail to get this step right, and you will fail to have a profitable blog.
It’s best for you to think of one person who would be the perfect reader for your blog. It’s even better if you know this person in real life. Ask yourself these questions about your target audience:
- What is their gender?
- How old are they?
- What’s their job?
- What are their hobbies?
- Where do they live?
- What frustrations and problems do they have?
- What were their last few purchases?
#2 Who are your competitors?
I prefer to think of them as your inspiration, rather than your competitors. Look for bloggers who are writing about the same topics you want to write about. The aim is NOT to copy them, but to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie, and how you can fill those weaknesses with better content.
It will also help for you to look at how they are monetizing their site.
- Who is their target audience?
- Do they have income reports? Analyze these.
- Do they sell products?
- Are there ads on their site?
Looking at all of these elements will give you an idea of how profitable this niche might be.
#3 How will you get traffic?
- Organic search – Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo. Mainly, though, your search traffic will come from Google.
- Social media – Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat. These are all social media.
- Referrals – Referral means traffic that comes from another site linking to you. This can come from guest posts that you wrote that include a link to your blog in your author bio, or interviews you did with another publication that include a link to your blog.
Keywords you can rank for:
For this section, you need to understand SEO, or search engine optimization. To do keyword research, I highly recommend Jaaxy or Keysearch (less expensive than Jaaxy).
Best social media platform to target:
If you want fast traffic, I recommend Pinterest. Every blogger talks about how amazing Pinterest is, right? If you haven’t heard yet, Pinterest is great because, unlike other social networks, it is optimized for clicks. Every image you pin can lead to your blog post. So for each blog post, you need to be creating vertical images with the blog post title and sharing it on Pinterest in a very strategic way. I use Tailwind to schedule my pins. Click here to learn about the ONLY Pinterest marketing course I recommend.
Guest post and collaboration opportunities:
Reach out to bloggers in your niche to see if you can guest post on their site or collaborate in some way. PERSONALIZE each pitch so you don’t end up sounding spammy. I get dozens of guest post pitches to my inbox each month, and most are spam.
#4 What will be your blog income streams?
Display ads via an ad network
Everyone says display advertising is dead, but I made $1,000 in October 2017 without lifting a finger. How? I’m a member of Mediavine, an ad network for bloggers.
To start with, you can apply for Google AdSense since there are no minimum traffic requirements. You do need to make sure you have a few blog posts up though and that your blog looks legit; otherwise, your application could be rejected.
You can also try Media.net, a great place to start since they too don’t state a specific minimum traffic requirement.
Popular ad networks:
- Google AdSense
This is another route some bloggers take. You can sell ad space in your sidebar or something but directly approaching companies you think might be a good fit for your audience. Simply send them an email with your offer.
Sponsorships can be paid in cash or “in-kind” compensation. Example: A new hotel in Budapest wants to get coverage by a popular travel blogger. The hotel could pay the travel blogger, but more likely, the hotel will offer a complimentary 3-night stay to the travel blogger for her to review the place.
Alternatively, you can offer sponsored blog posts. Sponsored posts are when bloggers either write a blog post for a company or publish a pre-written post by the company on their own blog. When you get paid to publish a post on your blog, you must disclose by saying something like, “This post is sponsored by [company name].”
Lastly, you can offer sponsored posts on social media. Instagram is a very popular channel for this. If you have tens of thousands of followers, brands may pay you to post a photo of you using their product. Again, this can be in-kind compensation (free product) or paid.
Ways you can find sponsorships:
- Cold pitching
#3 Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is when you recommend a product and get a commission for each sale made via your affiliate links. When you share affiliate links, you must disclose (it’s an FTC requirement!).
Affiliate marketing is one of my favorite ways to earn income from blogging, because it doesn’t require you to create a product. It allows you to simply earn income from recommending products you use and love!
Products I recommend for learning more about affiliate marketing:
- My biggest recommendation if you’d like to monetize with affiliate marketing is to sign up for the Pajama Affiliates online course.
- I’ve also taken the very popular Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. You can read my full review of the course here.
Affiliate programs I recommend you sign up for:
- Amazon Associates – This is a very popular one, and of course, Amazon has almost everything! I use Amazon Associates to recommend products I use when I travel, for example. Just keep in mind that before you apply you must have several posts on your blog and look legit. Otherwise, they may not approve your application.
- SkimLinks – This is one large affiliate network that automatically transforms any link you have on your blog to an affiliate link! This saves you time because instead of applying to each affiliate program individually, you just apply for SkimLinks, and they’ll take care of the rest for you.
- Any of your favorite products, just Google “[product name] affiliate program” to see if one exists.
Selling services is the FASTEST and simplest way to monetize your blog. This is because you don’t need to apply for any network and you don’t have to create a product.
Freelance service examples: Blog coaching, business coaching, tech support, proofreading/editing, content marketing, social media management, copywriting, web design, graphic design, virtual assistance
- I sell freelance copywriting services.
- MeeraKothand.com sells blog coaching services.
- SmashYourToDoList.com sells content writing services.
#5 Your Own Products
Selling your own digital products on your blog has the highest potential of earning the most income. Why? Unlike affiliate products, you’ll get to keep 100% of the sale from your own product (minus payment platform processing fees). Plus, you’ll have more control over the product, and you’ll be able to see more information, such as email addresses of your own customers.
Digital Product Examples: Online courses, eBooks, printables, pitch templates, contract templates
- I used to sell a book about how to start freelancing and a Cusco, Peru, travel guide.
- CreateAndGo.co sells awesome online courses, such as Pinterest Traffic Avalanche (which I LOVE!).
- MeeraKothand.com sells online courses as well as physical books and planners, such as the CREATE Blog & Editorial Planner (that’s the planner I use!).
Physical Products Examples: Physical books, planners, T-shirts, mugs, office products
#5 What are your specific and actionable goals for the first 3 months? 6 months? 1 year?
If you don’t have a destination in mind, how will you know if you’ve reached it? You must always begin with goals in mind for your blog. I like to set goals by quarter (3 months) and by year. It’s OKAY if you don’t reach your goals or if your goals change.
Question 1: What is my blog’s mission? What’s my “why”? You need to know WHY you’re starting your blog. There are a million ways to make money, and believe me, blogging is not fast. It can be a slow and painful path to profitability, BUT it’s the most rewarding, to me, because you completely control your schedule, get to help people, and are building an asset that will continue to grow and make money for you (if you do it right). So why are you starting your blog? Yes, it’s to make money, but WHY? Why not just start a design agency? Or a freelance writing business? Both would be faster.
For me, I started my blog because I want to help others achieve freedom through remote work and travel. And the reason I want to monetize my blog, my BIG goal, is to retire my parents. They’ve worked so hard all my life to provide for me, and I want to be able to provide for them. What inspired this goal? I read a blog post by JohnnyFD about how he set up monthly automatic payment of $1,000 to his mom, so she could quit her job and finally relax. How did he do this? Through his blogging business! I dream of one day being able to do something similar.
Question 2: What will success look like in 3 months? You NEED to define success. Right now. Because if you don’t, you will constantly feel like you’re not doing “enough.” You need to know when you’ve reached the milestone. Make it specific. Don’t just say, “In 3 months, I’d like to make money from my blog.” Wrong. Write something like, “In 3 months, I’d like to reach 10,000 monthly pageviews on my blog.” Or “In 3 months, I’d like to have made my first $100 from my blog.”
Repeat that question for 6 months and 1 year. I prefer to set quarterly goals, so if you want to do that, have goals for every 3 months.
Download Your FREE Blog Business Plan PDF!
If you’re looking for an in-depth, physical blog planner, I use and HIGHLY recommend the CREATE Planner by blogger Meera Kothand. I ordered and looked at several blog planners, but CREATE is the best blog planner I’ve found.