You’ve decided it’s time to turn your blog into a business and are wondering “what next?” To take it seriously as a business, you will need to change more than just the way you think.
Here’s how to turn your blog into a business:
1. Define your brand
Companies need to create a unique brand that can attract customers.
If you are already a blogger and have some tweaks or followers, you may have a solid reputation – good or bad. It’s time to create a professional figure. Continue with your unique style and voice, but clean up your interactions to create a positive or attractive perception of your brand for your ideal audience. This will mean stepping back and even asking for help to determine what your reputation looks like now and how you should change it.
This summer, in a brand building workshop hosted by Rebecca Parsons of Cre8tive Compass at the iRetreat conference, I worked through in-depth practical exercises to improve my brand. A crucial step that is often missed was prioritizing my most important personal values. It included honesty, family, and hope—and it fits well for a blog that helps mothers raise children with special needs. These values should be clear from my blog and social media.
Rather than positioning my blog as one that would solve all the challenges of raising a child with a special needs, my blog Embracing Imperfect offers moms a place of their own too, something my audience craves. I speak to my audience as if they were any woman who raises children and has many interests and my mantra neatly folded into it:
Help and hope for families of disabled and autistic children
This sentence is an easy and short explanation of my values, my audience, and my blog.
I’ve already been told that this is a “new” niche – and that’s news to me! A little brand brainstorming on your values and your audience will help you create an authentic logo.
2. Risk of failure
Also at iRetreat 2015, guest speaker Holly Homer, who owns the kids’ activity blog and founder of Business 2 Blogger, shared, “Failure is the quickest path to knowledge.”
Now a successful blogger and entrepreneur, Holly shared with us her 50% business failure rate, but she revealed that the good thing about running a blog business is that it requires almost no investment. You can try many different projects with very little capital – all you need is a good web hosting account and a few dollars a year to secure your URLs.
She advised starting with small steps – “Just call her and start somewhere.”
This has been my way of doing business for years. I am still experimenting with new ways of income. For example, I wanted to expand my use of Instagram in sponsored campaigns, so I accepted one that was very suitable for my audience. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until after I committed that I needed to use they Ad image. This advertisement weakened my brand and I learned to avoid these types of campaigns.
It’s okay to fail as long as you learn from it.
3. Know the rules and laws that affect you
one thing i I did Dealing properly with that Instagram campaign was proper disclosure, and it’s something even the major brands struggle with. This spring, fashion salesman Lord & Taylor campaigned on Instagram without disclosing, risking a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) crackdown.
Then, in the summer, Kim Kardashian came under fire from the FDA for a different reason. Although she correctly disclosed, she ignored that the endorsement of her product was not medically proven to achieve the results she obtained.
You need to know these rules if you are going to run a professional blog to avoid legal action:
- Always disclose any compensation – even products or discounts – received on all campaign posts and shares – this includes your affiliate links. Read the FTC FAQ to make sure you’re compliant (Updated May, 2015).
- Learn about giveaway rules on your blog and your state’s social media. You may also need to take advantage of the prizes, even if the seller doesn’t.
- Find out what images you can use for free, what you need to purchase, and what constitutes fair use of images.
- Ask before referring to someone’s content or check the post’s guidelines to make sure you’re not plagiarizing. Always mention the author and copy no more than two or three sentences into your letter.
- Learn when and how to use the “nofollow” tag for equivalent links and other Google best practices.
- If you promote health products that are not FDA approved such as essential oils, be sure to properly state that this is your opinion and that the results have not been proven or approved by the FDA.
4. Create a business entity
Currently, I’m running a sole proprietorship, but as I rebrand and rebrand online, I’m thinking about changing that.
At a local workshop that included attorney and PR expert Danielle Lees of the blogger network FitFluential, he taught law to bloggers. The truth is that bloggers can easily be sued even if they don’t think they have broken any laws.
I’m now budgeting a few hundred dollars to create an LLC, an LLC, that can protect my major assets (like my home or car) in case I get sued. The frequency of frivolous lawsuits makes this a wise choice. Make the best decision for your business.
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5. Get your accounts in order
I recommend a simple spreadsheet to keep your accounts in order: products received for review and dates, sponsored posts or standalone posts, invoice dates, payment dates, business expenses.
Billing through PayPal is a good thing because you can download a file with your transactions for accounting purposes. You may also want to consider an online billing service for customers you need to bill. Lots start at $10-20 per month.
At tax time, you should hire a trusted accountant. Don’t just go to a famous accounting firm or an accountant who has no idea what a “blog” is.
The last time I tried it, the woman gave me a lot of grief over the $29 income I got from an affiliate sale. That particular company called it “Proprietary” and the accountant asked me on several different occasions which book I had written and where my other sales were. Because she did not understand the work, she could not understand it. Contact other professional bloggers in your area for a recommendation.
Also Read – How to Send/Receive Money Internationally Online
6. Professional cultivation
Sometimes in our quest to help our blog stand out from the crowd, we work hard to generate controversy. Your readers don’t want that – and guess what? Other bloggers will call you out for it.
Recently, an article went viral on Facebook written by a mother protesting against a peanut allergy at school. It was very agitating and although it generated a large number of pageviews, it also moved into blogger groups. Public opinion about her post “Click Taste” was extremely negative. We encouraged our audience not to read it. Consider brands, advertisers, and retailers who would also consider this blogger. Do you want to work with her?
what or what can You do to maintain professionalism? You may want to think of your blog as your office.
- If you had a job in the corporate world, what would be inappropriate behavior?
- How will you translate that into writing?
- Do not blog or share while drunk.
- Don’t share difficult photos on social media.
- Keep it clean around children.
You can also be a professional by treating your blogging as a real job. If you had an HR manager, would you get a promotion or a warning?
- Treat other bloggers and all brands and PR people with respect and kindness.
- Meet review and campaign deadlines.
- Take the best photos possible and learn how to improve them.
- Pay attention to grammar and spelling when writing.
- Attend blogger events to establish your brand, learn from experienced bloggers and grow your business.
If you’ve been blogging as a hobby and want to turn your blog into a business, it’s time to get serious and take these steps to get it done.