After hearing the numerous accounts of bloggers making six figures and beyond, there seems to be a surge of aspiring online entrepreneurs and for good reason. There has never been a better time to start a business. With very little start up fees, anyone with the determination, skill, and knowledge can become an entrepreneur. Many people read the income reports of small and big bloggers alike, eager to make the transition from hobby blogger to business owner. But how do you make that transition, and how do you prepare? Keep reading to dive into the seven questions you need to consider before building your business.
What does your audience want from you?
I’ve read countless stories of bloggers scaling what was once a small, barely read website into a thriving, successful business. Even some bloggers who never intended to make a profit have detailed accounts of a successful business transition. After reading so many of these stories, I noticed a common theme: the blogger had a deep understanding of their audience while the blog was merely a hobby, which allowed for a successful transition to business. Any business, whether online or not, can only thrive if the owner has a clear understanding of who they are trying to serve.
Pay attention to your analytics and the engagement on your website. What are your most popular blog posts? Is there a central theme that your readers are drawn to? What questions are your readers asking you? What problems do they have?
This kind of “market research” is critical because the more you understand about your target audience, the more likely you are to develop a product or service that fits their needs. This is undoubtedly the number one thing you must be clear on before transitioning your blog to a business. If not, you risk facing the consequences of developing products and services that your target audience will have no interest in.
What is the purpose of your business?
Building your blog into a business also entails having a plan, not just an editorial calendar. Instead of just planning blog and social media posts, you have to consider a lot more.
Before you dig into the nuts and bolts of a business plan, it’s important to identify the mission of your business. Why is a blog not enough? What is your purpose for building a business? Who are you serving and why? How do you plan to serve them?
Is your why strong enough that you would continue to develop your business for months without seeing a significant return? It's very important to pinpoint just how passionate you are before you begin to develop your business. Business will come in waves. It ebbs and flows. If you predict difficulty weathering the storms ahead, it’s better to admit it before you even get started.
How will you monetize your blog?
Blogging as a hobby to blogging as a business requires the identification of a monetization plan. After you have researched a match between your knowledge and skills and the wants and needs of your audience, you have to decide how to generate income.
Blogging offers a multitude of options for profit. Deciding how you want to make money from your blog should consider your personality, your strengths and skills, and the mission and core values of your business. You have to decide the purpose of your blog and the role it plays in your business.
For example, your blog could showcase your expertise as a designer by featuring your portfolio and articles about branding. Or perhaps your blog could be used to house the reviews you write for brands in exchange for money. Whether you are offering products, services, or both, your blog should convince potential clients/customers that you have the skills and knowledge to help them solve their problem.
What is your content strategy?
Understand that the transition from blogging as a hobby to blogging for profit means that you have to be more strategic with the content you produce. Everything that you publish on your blog will point back to the integrity of your business.
Your blog posts also have to reflect your goals. If you want people to buy your products and services, your blog posts should convince them. The content on your blog, social media, and newsletters should not be selected randomly. The content you produce has to align with your mission statement and serve the wants and needs of your audience instead of your own interests.
How will you invest in your business?
As you prepare to blog for profit, you have to get comfortable with the idea of investing in your business. A portion of your profits will need to be reserved to pour back into the development of your business.
Why is it important to invest in your business? If you have any hopes of continuous progress towards your goals, developing high quality products/services, creating a memorable client experience, and staying on top of your education, you are going to have to invest in yourself.
The most successful business owners realize that their business is worth the investments. Running a business smoothly and setting up the systems you need to make progress require tools, programs, and apps that cost money. But you would only invest in these tools if you believed in the future of your business.
Making investments also helps you eliminate wasting your own time trying to figure out everything on your own. Investments such as coaches, strategists, online courses, ebooks, etc. are great ways to keep you on the right track by reducing your learning curve and closing the gap between you and your goals much quickly.
As your business grows, you will find that you can no longer do it alone. Expanding from hobby to profit means greater risk, more tasks, and more knowledge required of you. Don’t allow your business to become stagnant due to lack of investing. Treat your business as something worthy of investment.
How will you build your network?
Networking is a major component of any business. Building relationships as you transition from blogger to business owner is beneficial. There will always be someone who knows things that you do not. By cultivating relationships with fellow business owners, not only do you get a chance to learn from their mistakes and receive valuable guidance, but you also have a chance to collaborate and learn about promotion opportunities, conferences, and other events that you otherwise would have never known.
Networking may feel uncomfortable at first, especially if you’re an introvert (like Kleneice and I) but it doesn’t have to be dreadful. You can easily start by joining a smaller Facebook group related to your business (or one of your interests) and participating at least weekly. You could send a thoughtful email to a blogger whose content has helped you reach your own goals. Or perhaps there is an account you follow on Instagram that resonates with you daily. Why not send that person a direct message and tell them so? The more you practice connecting with others, the easier networking becomes.
Which business entity is best for you?
Perhaps the most important thing you can do as you transition your blog to a business is to make sure everything is legal. Do your research and determine which business entity is best for you. Will you become a sole proprietorship or the popular LLC?
Just make sure that you have the legal aspect of business accounted for before you sell products and services. This is for your protection in the event you have a less than satisfied client. Unfortunately, horror stories of bloggers with no legal foundation or protection are common. Do yourself a favor and make sure your business is official and legal before taking money from anyone.
Deciding to start a business is a huge decision. The careful planning, strategy, marketing, and investments involved are the very core of the difference between blogging as a hobby and blogging for business. It is key that you understand the transition doesn’t have to take place overnight.
If you successfully designed a business around your blog, what did you find helpful during the transition period? If you haven’t started the transition yet, what is holding you back? Let us know in the comments below!