There are approximately 70 million new blogs started every year on the Internet. Actually, that was nothing new to read; it is the next sentence that I found most interesting. Of these new blogs, half will be abandoned after a year and for the half that make it past a year, most will not make it past the 6yr mark. I wish I had wrote down the URL for this article because it was really informative and filled of other statistics.
Before, I go on to the point of this post, let me give you all a little background information about my how this blog began. When I first began blogging, I run a personal blog. I posted about family, friends, my life, and anything off the top of my head. I was very opinionated, very open, and of course, I shared my love of high heels. I am not going to link to my now abandon blog because, I removed many of the posts and pictures. One day, I will probably revive it but, not until after I build this blog and brand.
How did Queen in Heels come about? Well, I have always used the term Queen in reference to myself (it is tatted on my back). Then one day a friend suggested that since, I am always talking, wearing, and blogging about high heels (yes, I also have a high heel tatted on my back); why not create a blog focused on high heels?
I loved the idea. I sat down one evening and in two minutes, I had the blog title, the tag line, and I knew what I wanted to also represent on the blog – empowerment.
In 2009, Queen in Heels went live. I would like to lie and say the rest was easy and now I am on top, unfortunately, I am not and it is all my fault. I allowed personal issues, work, life, and any other excuses to keep me from focusing on my goal of building a brand. It, was not until 2011, I sat down, with a notebook, revisited my ideas, my goals, and started to implement the necessary changes to make it happen.
In this post, I would like to share with everyone the lessons I have learned about running your blog as a business.
Warning: this post is long, HOWEVER, this post will be helpful to those who are looking to turn their blog into a brand. Yes, I am no expert but, one very important thing, I have learned about blogging is the best thing you can do is share and support others. This is part of my contribution to being supportive. I have not only included personal stories and advice; I have searched the Internet for helpful articles and posts and have included links to them (note: I am not receiving compensation for any of the links you click).
How to run your blog as a business
1. Develop a Blogging Plan
As an entrepreneur, it is Business 101 that every business must have a business plan. It is just as imperative for a blogger who wants to build a brand or regenerate revenue. A blog plan does not need to be as intricate as a business plan but, it should be a visual blueprint for success. It should state, quite simply, what would you like to accomplish that month, week, or day. An example of a goal would be: How would I like to monetize the blog? I have three methods of building blog plans that I like to use.
A. A Monthly Plan: I use a month blog plan to keep track of and set goals for my blog and networking statistics. For example, in a notebook or on an Excel spreadsheet, I may make a list of the following goals: increase comments, increase Twitter followers, and increase pageviews (to name a few). Actually, I avoid broad terms such as, increase followers. Always write your goals as specific as needed for a clear focused objective.
B. Daily Goals: Every evening, I write in a notebook all of the goals I would like to achieve the next day. Then, the next day, as I accomplish each goal, I cross it off. This method serves a dual purpose. a.) I do not have to worry that I may have forgotten to do something I wanted to do. b.) I have a visual idea of everything I still need to do the next day.
C. Editorial Calendar: Blogging is time-consuming. Sometimes, it can take up to 3 hours to research, type, and post. While others less detailed can be written in 20 minutes. An editorial calendar will allow you to brainstorm content ideas to publish and when to publish.
As I stated, I use all three of these methods. You may use all of them, one of them, or create you own method(s). In order, to create your blog plan you will need sources to help you gather the statistics, influence, metrics, and popularity for your blog. Here are a few sites to help you (personally, Google Analytics is the only site I truly focus on).
2. Have the Essential Tools
A. Exclusive Email: The rule is always separate your personal from your business. A blog email shows that you are professional and take your business seriously. I have an email that I use exclusively for business when it comes to blogging. I never use this email for any other purpose than to communicate with the contacts, I need to build my brand (designers, pr companies, sponsors, etc). It will also, save you the embarrassment of sending a mass email to all your friends of that “extremely funny yet, inappropriate” picture and finding out you also included a potential sponsor.
B. Media Kit: In 2009, when I created Queen in Heels, I created a Media Kit (yes, I didn’t have any statistics but, I did it with creative writing). My mistake was that I continued to use the same Media Kit until 2011; I just changed the year. That is definitely a no-no for someone in business. As my statistics, readers, and followers came in and went up, none of these things were represented in my Media Kit. Always update your Media Kit. I have vowed to try to update my kit every six months or at least yearly (we will discuss using your Media Kit shortly.)
C. Business Cards: Part of building my brand requires going to events and networking with others. The worse thing I could do is meet the President of “I want this sponsor so bad” and not have a business card on me.
3. Clean Organize, and Prepare Your Blog
B. Advertise Page:If you want sponsors let it be known. Yes, on your About Me page you may have your contact information listed, however, I like the idea of an advertise page. I list a brief summary on my advertise page of what services I offer sponsors and a link to my Media Kit (discussed later).
C. Links: Make sure that all important links are visible and easy to find. I have the link to my Advertise Page in three easy to locate areas of my blog: the top, side, and in the footer. Also, make sure all your links work and connect to the correct page.
4. Social Networking
A. Twitter: In 2009, when I created Queen in Heels, I created a Twitter profile. The mistake I made was I did not use the Twitter profile. Once I decided to start blogging regularly and really building the brand, I began to use Twitter. There are three observations I would like to make about Twitter:
a. If you do not want to use your face as your profile picture, have a logo made. At the moment, as I am typing this, I follow three people using the same “shoe” picture. It makes it difficult to immediately recognize which person is blogging. By having your own identity as your picture, quickly gain recognition.
b. Yes, it would be nice to have the luck of some who only follow 3 and have 100,000 followers. Unfortunately, we are not all that lucky therefore, if you want to gain followers; follow others.
c. If your Twitter profile represents your blog, I suggest you keep your personal business off of it. If you want to curse out an old boyfriend pick up the phone and tell a friend. When sponsors and others look at your profile, image is everything. I guarantee a big brand company that his built it’s reputation as being classy and prestige, is not going to want to partner with someone who can not control their own reputation and possibly tarnish theirs.
B. FaceBook Page: Create a Facebook page for your blog. Once again, I believe in keeping personal anything separated from business everything. I prefer my Facebook profile to stay just that MY profile. Of course, I still post everything from my blog there however, I am sure potential sponsors could care less about my achievements in Sorority Life.
If you are worried about not having any “likes” on your new Facebook page, I have a solution for you . . .ask. As with anything, you can sit around and hope people will like your page or you can be proactive and ask people to like your page. Who are the people you turn to when you need support? I would hope the answer is family and friends. I asked all of my family and friends on Facebook to like my page. I also asked that they each invite someone else to like my page, that they thought would enjoy the topic of my blog. In the first week, I had 146 likes.
I only touched on two social media networking sites, I truly believe are essential that bloggers have a presence on, however, there are so many others to choose from and join. I just have a few more tips about social networking:
Tip: Be consistent. I use my brand’s name and logo on every social network I join. If I am on there to represent my blog, I want my brand recognized across the board. One of my Twitter followers, sent me a message that she was following me because when my profile came up as recommended, she automatically recognized my logo from Pinterest.
(Shameless promo: Facebook and Tumblr)
Tip: Make sure to “grab” your name on as many networking sites as possible, even if you are not using the site. There is nothing worse than deciding to join a site and finding out that your brand name has been taken.
Tip Stay up to date on social media. Mashable is the site I go to when I want to learn what is going on or about any changes to my favorite social sites.
5. Build the Blog
I truly believe that being supportive of other blogs will help to grow your own blog.
Comment: Visit at least 5 blogs daily and leave meaningful comments that pertain to the post. Visiting someone’s blog and typing, “Nice blog. Visit mine at wwww.iamrude.com”, is not proper blog etiquette. Now blogging, promoting, and social networking can already be time consuming, especially when we need to still live life outside the cyber world; so make sure to schedule commenting time in your blog plan.
Connect: There are so many conferences and events that bloggers can attend and meet others; try to make it to some of them. If you can not make it to the larger conferences make sure to participate in the small local ones in your city. Face-to-face contact is a wonderful way to connect with other bloggers, share ideas, learn new things, and spread the word about your blog.
Share: If you like a post that a blogger wrote, share it. Many bloggers have share buttons on their blogs; many times it is located right below the post. Since, we all love to tweet anyway, Twitter would be a great place to begin. Other great places to share are Digg and Stumbleupon.
Link: There are three basic types of links: Direct links, Backlinks, and Internal Links.
A. Direct links: Created when a blog directly links to another blog, whether in a post or on their blog roll.
B. Backlinks: Can be created when one comments on another’s post.
C. Internal Links: Created when you connect one of your own blog posts to another.
All these links help to build your pagerank. I want to thank Cooking in Stilettos for emailing me (another example of sharing with others) this post she found on properly linking to others to improve SEO.
Guest Post: When you guest post on the blogs of others, it is a win-win situation for everyone. You get the links, you get exposure to their readers, and you get to help another build content. The blog host, of your guest post, gets exposure and new readers because you will share on your social networks with your readers/followers that you have blogged elsewhere.
Contest/Giveaways: Who doesn’t like to get something free. I know I do.
Align your blog with a Cause: This is not only a way to promote your blog it is a way to give back others. Please, do not stick a “cause” sticker on your blog and claim you support this cause unless you are active in making others aware of it. Be involved, not only through blogging, with the cause.
Content: This is self-explanatory. If you write it, and often, they will read. Some posts are very detailed and can take 3 or more hours to research and type. Other posts are very simple and only require 20 minutes of time. Good content is finding a balance between the two. I believe that your readers will appreciate the in depth posts as well as the fluff in stuff.
6. Spreading the Word
When I am reading articles about the business of blogging, I have noticed many bloggers state, in the comments, that they are just waiting for Public Relations companies or the Media to notice them. I, myself, do not have the patience to wait on my brand to be be noticed. If there is one thing I have learned about business as an entrepreneur; if you want to succeed you must market yourself.
B: Media Kit: Remember the Media Kit we created earlier? Well, this is where we discuss what to do with it. I have a PDF copy that is available to download on the advertise page of my blog. I also, have some that I have had printed on quality paper to mail. Of course, I can also email a PDF copy as an attachment to PR companies.
Tip:Always send an email asking the pr company if it is okay if you can send an attachment before you email your kit. Many companies will delete emails with attachments without reading them first in fear of viruses.
There is a huge difference between the Media Kit that I have available for download and the one that I send on my own to pr companies. The difference is my contact information is missing. When I send a Media Kit myself or if one is requested, I include my email, address, and phone number. The downloadable Media Kit only includes an email. We do not want the crazies harassing us . . I know I don’t.
Tip: Do your research. Before contacting a pr company try to get the name of the correct person you should contact and USE the person’s name in your email/letter (If you can not find a name do not let that stop you from sending your email).
C. Get the Word out Locally: Home is where you will find your biggest supporters. Make sure to contact local media, local companies, attend local events, and connect with local bloggers located in your city.
7. Beyond Blogging
Lastly, how can you use your blog to build a career outside of blogging? What skills has blogging given you on which to build other opportunities? Some options include: freelance writing, web site designer, and consulting services to name a few. Take some time to brainstorm on other possibilities you can pursue and soon you will find yourself not only blogging as a business but, owning a business as well.
Well, that is it for now. I will periodically share more links and ideas, here on Queen in Heels, with readers on blogging and business. I hope this post has been helpful. If so, make sure to share this post with others. Also, in the comment section share your advice on blogging as a business, I am always striving to learn something new.