Tips for Turning Your Blog Into a Business – Not Just a Hobby
First, you must start thinking like a businessperson or entrepreneur:
“Part of being an entrepreneur, above and beyond having the next greatest product or idea, comes down to being dedicated and persistent. It is those core qualities that will often make or break an idea or business.” ~ Danielle Babb, PhD.
Danielle Babb founded several online businesses; she’s a professor, author, public speaker, and consultant. Her most recent book is The Online Professor’s Practical Guide to Starting an Internet Business.
If you want to blog full-time, read books about small business growth and marketing. Blogging is one of the best small businesses in the world – especially if bloggers think like entrepreneurs, not hobbyists.
5 Tips for Blogging as a Business – Not a Hobby
First, I think you should figure out your definition of success. Maybe it’s money, or personal fulfillment, or number of readers, or number of posts. It can be anything…
“Success to me is not about money or status or fame. It’s about finding a livelihood that brings me joy and self-sufficiency and a sense of contributing to the world.” ~ Anita Roddick.
If you need a push in the right direction, read Blogging Goals – 7 Types of Goals to Set for Your Blog.
And, here are a few tips for blogging full-time…
Be aware of your constraints
Your blog is your small business, and you are free to take it in any direction you choose! You’re not inhibited by the normal constraints of running a business (startup up costs, advertising budget, bank loans, etc). But, it’s also important to be aware of your constraints. Your kids, full-time job, volunteer responsibilities, and life goals are all vying for your time – and your blog may be low on the priority list.
This doesn’t mean you can’t be a full-time professional blogger…you just need to pace yourself. Create a realistic blogging schedule (write articles once or twice a week, for instance), and stick to it. Don’t forget to build in time to experiment with ads, fix broken links, answer comments, and look at your blog stats.
Make sure your blog doesn’t look like a blog
“You have to decide what tone you want your blog to take,” writes Dr Babb in The Online Professor’s Guide to Starting an Internet Business. “Informal? Formal? If you want it to be formal and on the more serious side of things, you cannot write sloppily…The tone you set will carry through your work.”
The more professional your blog is, the more seriously you’ll be taken by readers, other professional bloggers, news sites, and even syndication aggregates. You don’t necessarily need to purchase a professional theme for your blog to make it look professional. But, the paid ones sometimes offer more and better options (such as a tabbed box for Most Popular Posts, Most Commented Posts, Search, etc).
Make sure your blog is organized logically, so readers can easily navigate it. Do a speed test to ensure your blog loads fast and isn’t getting “hung up.” If you want to turn your blog into a business and be a full-time blogger, keep it clean, simple, and uncluttered – like a well-organized, welcoming shop or home.
Edit, edit, and edit some more
You don’t need to be a writer to be a professional full-time blogger, but you’ll go farther if your posts are free of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. If readers can’t read your writing, they’ll leave. And, poor writing reduces the quality of your blog.
“If you run your own blog, you are your own editor,” says Leo Babauta. “Be careful, read every sentence, revise, edit, rewrite. You’ve got no one to blame but yourself. Put your best stuff out there. Just because you can shovel any ol’ drivel onto a blog doesn’t mean you should.”
Edit before you publish your post – and make sure you edit again after it’s live! You’ll spot mistakes you’ll swear weren’t there before.
Use Excel to track your blog income and payments
I have a pile of cheque stubs waiting to be entered into the Excel spreadsheet that itemizes my earnings and payments. It’s a pain to be precise, but tracking income is an important part of making money blogging! I pay taxes on my blog income every year, and I have to make decisions about GST/HST and other taxes (if you earn more than $30,000 CAD a year in Canada, you have to charge GST/HST).
Create a simple spreadsheet to track which types of ads you’re running, what the results are, how much money you earned, and whether you’ve been paid. This isn’t just good for you and Uncle Sam, it also helps you keep track of what advertisements and affiliate programs are working for you. If you’re blogging full-time as an entrepreneur, then you need keep records like a business person.
Learn how to analyze your blog statistics
Google Analytics is free, quick, and easy to set up (especially with a Google Analytics plugin!). You don’t need to spend hours looking at your stats, but it’s good to know how your blog is performing over time. Look at how much time readers spend on your site, their entrance and exit posts, how they found you, how many return visitors you have, how many unique visitors you get, and how your marketing campaigns are doing. You can even look at your overall keyword conversion to see how your keywords are performing. This information can give you important information about how to improve your blog and keep it interesting.
Are low page views driving you mad? Read Reasons Why Your Blog Isn’t Attracting and Keeping Readers.
Bonus tip for full-time blogging:
To avoid wasting time wondering what to write about (a HUGE time suck), create an “idea file” that consists of ideas for blog posts that came to you at odd moments. For help, read What Should I Blog About? 5 Tips for Bloggers Who Have No Ideas.
What do you think about blogging full-time – is it a dream come true, or are you happy with a “hobby blog”?