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Want Better Results? Treat Your Blog Like an Actual Business

Posted By Guest Blogger 2nd of May 2017 Blogging for Dollars 0 Comments

This is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

There are millions of blogs on the internet. Some are nothing more than creative outlets for people who are interested in hobby blogging. Others are successful brands that produce millions of dollars in revenue each year. If you want your blog to be successful, you have to stop treating it like a hobby. In other words, you need to treat your blog like an actual business if you want to get real results.

Five Signs Your Blog is a Hobby

Having someone tell you that your blog is more of a hobby than a business can be infuriating. After all, what do they know about your blog? But if you fear that your blog isn’t on the right track, then it’s possible that you’re treating it as more of a hobby. Here are a few signs that would reinforce this possibility.

  • Generic email address. Does your blog have a @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, @yahoo.com address? Generic email addresses like this may be free, but they don’t look very professional. This harms your brand’s reputation and is one sign that you probably aren’t as business-oriented as you’d like to believe.
  • No accounting records. Do you have any accounting records to track revenue and expenses? Even something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet will work. A lack of accounting records shows you aren’t treating your blog’s finances like business revenue.
  • Very little consistency. Do you spend time with your blog every single day? If you spend an hour on the blog one day, two hours the next day, take off four days, and then spend 30 minutes on the blog the following week, your inconsistency is a sign that you don’t take the demands of blogging seriously. You’re fitting it into your schedule, as opposed to setting your schedule around it (which is what should happen if it’s a business).
  • No investments in growth. When was the last time you paid for something that you believed would elevate your blog? It could be marketing, advertising, or a blogging course that’s aimed at bettering your results. If you struggle to remember an investment in growth, then you aren’t doing what’s needed to make your blog a business.
  • Little attention paid to analytics. Blogs thrive on analytics. In order to attract advertising dollars, sell products and services, or bring in revenue via any other means, you need visitors on your website. A failure to pay attention to analytics means you aren’t interested in making money.

If one or more of these signs ring true in your situation, then it’s time to consider that your blog may very well be a hobby. This doesn’t mean it’s destined to remain a hobby, but should indicate that something needs to change.

Here’s How You Can Turn it Into a Business

If you want to keep your blog a hobby, that’s fine. Just know that it won’t ever become a consistent source of monthly income for you. If, on the other hand, you hope to turn it into a business and produce real results, you need a plan. Here’s where to start:

1. Create a Concrete Work Schedule

Have you ever held a job where you simply decided when you wanted to go into work, how long you wanted to stay, and whether or not you wanted to get anything done on a given day? If you treated a job with this sort of attitude, you’d be fired quicker than you could spell “lazy.”

The only way to really treat your blog like a business is to create a concrete work schedule that doesn’t bend or falter because of outside factors. You may be working another job and only be able to dedicate three hours a day to your blog, but make sure you’re setting aside this time and only using it for blogging. Actually write it into your daily schedule to hold yourself accountable.

2. Set Objectives and Deadlines

“Don’t just blog aimlessly without a plan in place. In order to truly treat your blog like a business, you’ve got to serious about it,” says one blogger. “Set a goal of the things you want to achieve in blogging. Is there a certain amount of pageviews you want to hit or a number of posts you want to write? Whatever it may be, having a goal gives you something to work toward. Just make sure to set a deadline so you can achieve it in a timely manner instead of procrastinating.”

Goals give you something to reach for and allow you to measure your success. The more specific you can get, the more likely that you’ll be able to meet your goals. But even if you fail to meet your goal, at least you know you’re doing everything possible to make progress.

3. Seek Outside Help

You may be able to run your blog like a one-man shop most days, but a red flag begins to emerge if you never seek outside help.

“In order to offer amazing value and content to your target market, you should always be growing both personally and professionally,” career coach Elizabeth Smith says. “This means you have to continue to learn new ideas, products, and strategies!”

While smith suggests getting a mentor, you have to let mentorship happen naturally (and it typically takes months or years to come to fruition). What you really need to do is hire a consultant to help you with areas where you struggle. You’d be surprised how many qualified consultants can be found online at decent prices.

Why not just hire an employee to handle the issues you’re faced with? Well, you have to pay an employee on a consistent basis – regardless of whether or not you need them. With a consultant, you get specialised advice for a period of time and can then part ways with no strings attached. Consultants are especially good for things like big-picture business strategy, marketing, legal issues, and other complicated challenges.

4. Make Marketing a Priority

Speaking of marketing, it needs to be a big priority if you’re focused on growing your blog and building a brand. While writing may be the bones of a blog, marketing is what ensures people are reading what you’re publishing.

Feel free to have a consultant walk you through some marketing strategies, but this isn’t something you should outsource. Successful bloggers need firsthand knowledge of things like SEO, content marketing, PPC advertising, and search marketing in order to create a sustainable business.

5. Carefully Track Expenses

“When you start making any kind of income for your blog, it’s important to start tracking the income that’s coming in, and the expenses you’re incurring to keep the site operational,” blogger and finance expert Peter Anderson says. “The reason? You’re going to need to pay taxes on your income when tax time comes around. In fact, if you’re making enough money on the side, you’ll need to be making regular estimated tax payments during the year as well.”

A failure to properly track income and expenses could prove to be a fatal mistake. The IRS doesn’t care if you’re making $5,000 or $500,000 per year, they expect you to pay your taxes and provide documentation if asked.

6. Give Yourself a Paycheck

There’s always the debate over whether or not you should give yourself a paycheck or just pour all of the profits back into the blog. For the first few months that your blog experiences positive cash flow, it may be smart to put the money to work. However, after a while, feel free to start paying yourself a modest sum of money.

The reason you should give yourself a paycheck is that it solidifies in your mind the idea that your blog is indeed a business. If you don’t achieve the results you need each month, your paycheck is in jeopardy. If you exceed expectations for an extended period of time, a raise may be on the table.

7. Be Religious About Analytics

Any thriving company develops monthly, quarterly, and annual reviews to understand the health of the business and see where things are. For bloggers, one of the best ways to conduct performance reviews is by accessing analytical data from your blog. Throw these figures into a spreadsheet so you can quickly see a snapshot of what’s happening over time. This is just another way you can treat your blog like a fully functional business.

It’s Time to Take Blogging Seriously

If you talk with other people who made the decision to take blogging more seriously, you’ll see that the results are nothing but positive. Just ask blogger Rachel Green.

“Earlier this year, I took a step back and looked at what I was doing with my blog and how I could make it work better for me,” she says. “I started writing posts with more value and found my niche audience. I also started listening to what my audience wanted by analysing which posts got the most traffic and interaction and listening to what people where saying in the comments about each post.”

In other words, Green started to take her blog seriously for the first time – and the results left her pleasantly surprised. “Since making these changes, I have noticed triple the blog traffic I was getting before and an increase in new clients and shop sales as well,” she happily reports. And while a lot of other factors played into her growth, the fact that she sat down and made the conscious decision to take her blog seriously certainly played a part.

If you want to see your blog finally take off, then it’s time that you do the same. Start treating your blog more like a business and less like a blog. You’ll love the success and hobby blogging will no longer be something you’re even remotely interested in.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
  • This is a great post, Larry! I agree with all of the tips you shared here and I appreciate you quoting and sharing my blog post, 8 Ways to Treat Your Blog Like a Business. Setting objectives and having a plan with deadlines is a fantastic way to ensure you’re staying on track with what you want to achieve and really making the most of your blog!

    Seeking outside help is also a good one. There are so many amazing coaches and courses out there that we can invest in. And after all, if you want to be successful, you have to be willing to invest in your skills and your blog.

    xx

    • You’re absolutely right. Blogs are as much a business as any other website. Just like Non-Profits should be treated just like a for profit in the management sense. This is a very good blog post :)

    • Thank you so much for sharing the knowledge you have. I’m sure many will benefit.

  • I take the approach of being all in Larry. This works for me.

    Example; when I opened this post I set a timer for 15 minutes. That gives me 15 minutes to read the post, process the information and publish a comment that makes an impact for the readers here, and adds value to the blog post and helps me spread the word too. This is being all in. Similar to your point above about setting the schedule.

    Some bloggers equate the ease of which you can whip out a credit card and start a blog within seconds, to the ease of which you will create content, make connections and grow a thriving business. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    This is different than growing a brick and mortar business. But it also takes hours of work every day. Not any work. Smart work. Fun work, and freeing work, but uncomfortable work too. This is the difference maker, being willing to time tasks and work on a sked as you would with any offline business or job to make things grow, to make them go.

    This is not easy at all. But it is rewarding and it gives you a level of freedom that you cannot experience if you were working a 9-5 job. No one tells you when to work, or where to work, or when you can take vacays, or for how long. But you need to be that person for a while, until you build a profitable blogging business, before you dive in and really enjoy the fruits of your labor.

    Fabulous points Larry. I am so big on working. Not to kill myself with stress or work myself to the bone, but as the time expires on each task related to my blog I feel like I’m making a real impact and helping folks and expanding into new audiences with this work-like mentality.

    Heck yeah I have fun doing it too. I love creating. I love connecting. But I also need to commit fully to creating and connecting – many times when I don’t feel like it – to make this profitable blogging business go.

    Signing off from Thailand.

    Ryan

    • Blogs are definitely the best way to inform a crowd of information. As I said in a previous comment it’s just like a business website. It takes work in all aspects. Love this blog so far. so much to learn here. I plan to start my own. Thank you for the great info.

  • Hi Larry, thanks for this post.
    I think focus, consistent and patience are most important things along with great content, with good SEO strategies to get success with the blog.

  • Hi Larry,

    These 8 ways are actually great and should be considered on blogging, totally agree with you.

    • Yes they are really helpful.

      • Darshan Gowda

        Thanks for linking me Rajan! :)

  • Hey Larry,

    Everyone is trying to build a blog which can stand but most of the people fail. It’s because of the lack of consistency.

    Spending only a few minutes on your blog post in a week wouldn’t do. You have to set a perfect post schedule.

    I publish every day and it’s one of the best strategies to have.

    Spending some money is a must. It’s an era of Facebook ads where you can generate the revenue with a little bit of money.

    Even LinkedIn and Twitter have started to provide an option to run your ads.

    Thanks for sharing with us.

    ~Ravi

    • I agree 100% with the fact that using social media as an avenue for generating revenue. It’s one of the least expensive ways to do it and you can reach so many with it. Some social media allows you to focus your ads to a group of users that would actually consider it relevant to there preferences which is exactly what everyone should do whether you’re running a blog or a brick and mortar business.

  • I’ve really got to get better with analytics. I feel like no one is reading even though I have a following. And I need to put my marketing efforts on steroids to get more traction.

    Thanks for these reminders, Larry.

    • Social media is a huge avenue you definitely should capitalize on. really in my mind other then off site SEO and direct email marketing the social media road is a definite need to do part of your business/blog.

  • Hi Larry,

    Good points here

    I know a lot of people that treat their blogs like a hobby and expect the results of a real business

    I used to have this exact mindset, which I believe it’s a failing mindset and will never pay off.

    Nowadays I am VERY serious about my business and I treat it like a business, I’m also a bit addicted to Google Analytics and I try to use it to decrease bounce rate and make people stick around on my blog

    Thanks for this great piece of content!
    Anis

    • combination of using your blog as a business, capitalizing on analytics as well as social media is the three things that are a must do in any type of business or blog. On top of taking it seriously lol

  • Eh. I think this is advice is more practical to a somewhat established blog with some sort of viewership already.

    • Definitely not. This information is for new and established because new blogs need to focus on these avenues to become an established blog.

  • Its really true that when we give importance to online business then business start giving importance to us. “It’s Time to Take Blogging Seriously” and I totally agree. Thanks for amazing post.

  • If you are doing something do it seriously. The same principle works in the case of blogging.
    Now a days blog is very important thing for small business.Yes I agree to the author that people do not spend quality with blogs! This is a problem, even I suffer from the same problem. I am working on it. Even last month I included google Analytics to my blog! Now I am finding more time for my blog.

  • I am running an online business since 2009 but I confess it is just my part time business or hobby.
    But now I want to make it professional full time career.
    Thanks for this eye opening article. Be This will be a great help to me

    • Social media is a good way to go if you want to take this business more seriously.

  • Tom

    Some good stuff here. The only thing I’d challenge is the need to have a ‘Concrete Work Schedule’. One of the huge benefits of being a blogger is that you don’t have to adhere to a strict work schedule. You can be much more flexible with your time and still get the job done. If you are too rigid with your time, like it is a 9 to 5 job, it takes some of the enjoyment out of being a blogger.

    • Another common mistake people making running their own blog/business is the thinking that you can do the work whenever you want. Not the case at all because your customers have a work schedule and especially if your business has to with selling products or services to another business you need to work in their time frames. It works the same for blogs. your readers are more then likely in a certain time zone or area based off of what your blog is about. So you need to blog in the time frames your readers are most likely going to read about you.

  • 100% correct

  • I loved the article, to have a successful blog that makes good money, it is necessary to focus and treat as a business, to blog every day, to create content to heal user doubts, to do SEO, to invest in paid traffic and natural links I love blogging and that’s my business today in Brazil

    Congrats to the blog

  • Hi Larry,

    Awesome tips on how to treat your blog like an actual business. I agree, it’s important to be consistent, this is one of the things that I’ve been seeing helping me grow my blog.

    It’s a lot of hard work, especially, when the blog is brand new. However, if you’re consistent in your blogging activities you start to see the results. Just give it time and eventually, you’ll start to get visitors.

    When your blog is brand new, you basically just have to guess what your niche audience would want to hear. Once your blog gets a few months old, you start to see a trend of which posts are driving the most traffic.

    It’s pretty amazing, I’ve written blog posts that I thought would be popular only to realize that they’re not as popular as I thought.

    Now that I’m actually getting some traffic, I am starting to pay closer attention to my Analytics to see how I can piggyback off of my most popular posts. Great idea about seeing what type of comments people are leaving behind.

    They may be able to help me come up with some more content that my niche audience will love.

    Thanks for these tips, I know that they will help so many people improve their blogs. Totally agree on spending money on the blog that will help you grow. You can’t do everything for free and it boggles my mind on how many people try to do everything for free.

    Have a great day :)

    Susan

    • That is the most common mistake people make. Thinking that because you got your product for free you should be able to everything else for free and just start making money. This is an extremely bad way to think because companies provide free products to get you hooked. It’s very simple marketing to provide free trials and free products so that way you vest your time into the free product then hit a wall because you need a service that’s paid. So going with a free product is a good way to get your feet wet in online presence but it never is the full on way to go unless you have unlimited time to spend hours trying to do everything on your own. The easiest route to start in is just paying for the products you need and maybe not going on a long term basis starting out.

  • Hey,
    Thanks for the amazing post.

    This is really important to treat your blog like a business for its growth. It will require initial investment for better results.

    Thanks Again!

  • Great post Larry! It is important for bloggers to know the purpose of their blog right from the start. Blogging as a hobby is very different from blogging professionally.

  • Great post Larry!

    Its very important to many people that are starting out or even for people who have a blog for awhile to understand how to make a business from it.

    Its quite amazing that many blog owners don´t know how to make a business from it. Many bloggers just want to monetize without having a structured business plan.

    Many of my readers asked me about it and i have the feeling that more then 90% of the blogs out here don´t have any business plan for their blog.

    Thanks once again for sharing a brilliant guest post.

  • For the longest time I had been so inconsistent in blogging, and treated my blog as a hobby rather than a business. I decided things had to change this year. I’ve been focusing on building relationships and marketing my blog, but while others are addicted to Google Analytics, I only take a peek once in a while. Time to take a 360 on that. Thanks for those awesome pointers.

  • Vivek Kairi

    Thanks for this article
    Time to make blogging a serious bussiness
    Thanks mate
    It motivated me a lot

  • These are definitely all important differences between our blogs being a hobby one or a business. I need to get better at tracks stats and being consistent.