Blogging is a wonderful thing. This same medium that can be used as an online diary can also be the source of a lucrative online business. Personally, I can not think of any other medium in the world with that kind of flexibility. However, this same flexibility creates some interesting gray area when you start talking about generating income as a business and just having a couple of extra bucks to throw around for another meal out during the month. The story about the city of Philadelphia requiring any blogger making over $50.00 per year to pick up a $300.00 business license should have some beginning bloggers thinking. At what point do you bridge the gap between a hobby and creating a business?
First…Is Becoming A Business Even Your Goal?
Let’s just get one thing straight. If you really want to generate a profit and create a business with a blog, you are going to have to take that mindset from the very start. There are very few “I started this hobby that just took off like crazy” bloggers out there that were hit with a business out of the blue. 99% of bloggers that generate enough income to quantify it as a sustainable business started day 1 with the premis that their corner of the web was going to achieve that end goal. It’s a mindset thing and without it…you are just spinning your wheels with a hobby.
Ok…off the soap box…let’s get at it…
When you are planning for the future with your blog, you need to have an idea of where you want to head. As mentioned before, blogging is a beautiful online medium in which you can release your creativity in any way you see fit. There is no right or wrong way to do things…it is all just a product of your goals. The vast majority of blogs online make next to nothing, but they allow the blogger to release their words on the web. For some bloggers, that is worth its weight in gold.
For others…we need something more. We want the freedom that having an online business provides. However, we need to be ready for the responsibilities that come along with business ownership at the same time…a part that many beginning (and experienced) bloggers are not ready for…
Bridging The Gap: Blogging As A Business
When you make the decision to make more than just a nice evening out with your blog, you are making a decision to run a business and not a hobby. You are changing you mindset from that of a hobbyist to a business owner and that can be trying for some bloggers looking to keep the fun in blogging and making money at the same time.
So what differentiates blogging as a business?
There are several things you are going to have to start doing as you start to build your business online.
- You will have to come up with an actual name for your business (I am oneninety8, LLC)
- You will have to file taxes and apply for a business license with your local and federal governments.
- You will have to start keeping track of earnings, expenses and other necessary record keeping.
- You will have to start watching statistics and look for new and unique ways to promote growth in those areas.
- You will have to look into producing your own products and diversify income streams.
- You will have to listen to the needs of your customers (readers and subscribers) to start filling their wants and needs through products and services you create or promote.
- You will have to create goals and steps to achieve those goals.
- You will have to be accountable to other bloggers and businesses in your niche.
- You will have to figure out how to generate income outside of just publishing content (newsletter through Aweber, your own products, offline promotions)
- You will have to be able to hire out work to freelancers and employees (the days of doing everything yourself are gone).
Long story short…you are going to have to start treating your blog like a brick and mortar business to be successful. There are a lot of bloggers that want the monetary success, but want it without the work of actually owning a business. Did you know that most successful bloggers have their own accountant, virtual assistants and designers? Did you also know that most of these successful bloggers started spending money in these areas way before they hit it big?!
This brings me to my next point…and probably the most important.
If you are not willing to reinvest back into your blog, you are making the decision to stay small time.
The #1 thing that allows you to bridge the gap between an hobby and a business is the willingness to take your own money and earnings from your blog to reinvest back in and promote faster growth. Blogging…like any business…can not grow quickly without capital reinvestment. The low barriers to entry in blogging create a mass entrance of eager bloggers looking to make it big, but the bloggers that are willing to look past the low cost of entry and start infusing money back into their blogs (design, new products, advertising, etc.) are the ones who make it big. The hard part…you as the reader never see that reinvestment but you are a product of that action.
Reinvesting Without Capital
Now…I know what you are probably thinking. I don’t have any money to put back into my blog and things are tight around the house right now so I need anything I can get to stay afloat. Guess what?! You are not alone and their is one way you can reinvest into your blog and create a business that will not cost you any money at all…just time.
GIVE AWAY THE FARM!
Some of the most successful bloggers online took one solid idea to heart as they grew their businesses. If you do not have monetary capital to throw at your aspiring online business, give away everything you can possibly get your hands on.
When you see bloggers holding contests for free stuff, giving away free eBooks and throwing other objects to the wind, they are doing that because giving stuff away for free is the #1 way to grow your blog without a huge capital investment. All you need…time to get it done.
Here are some examples.
- Give away product you got in to review (can grow things exponentially).
- Give away informational products.
- Give away services (consulting, reviews, etc.)
- Give away your paid products in a contest.
- Have other companies and blogs sponsor a contest.
As you can see…there are plenty of things that you can give away and grow your business…but the key here is to actually grow your business online. Everyday…I see bloggers take the “give the farm away” mentality to heart, but the execution is terrible. When you give things away on your blog, there has to be some action taken on the part of the reader that not only provides you with an asset (newsletter subscriber, twitter follower, etc.), but they also provide you with free promotion (tweet, Facebook share, etc).
The trick with great giveaways is to create incredible value and getting that giveaway to spread like crazy with minimal effort on your part. The solution to that trick? You need to figure out how your readers communicate and tap into that medium of communication. If you do that successfully, you will see enormous growth in a short period of time.
Then…you can use capital to reinvest back in.
Bringing It All Home: Business and Blogging
This article bridged a gap on its own. From talking about setting up your online business to growing your online business, there are many aspects that all play into together that you need to consider before you make your first dime online.
The good news…just like anything else…your plans can adapt and change as you see fit. It is really all up to you and your decisions. Hopefully…I just got you thinking about where you want to end up at the end of the day and gave you some ideas on how to get there.
Bridge Image by esmtll