Every Blog is a Business. Here are the Top 10 Reasons to Start Minding Yours.
Here is what it means to think of your blog as a business:
10. Taking yourself and your work seriously.
In any activity we undertake repeatedly (cooking, driving, yoga, knitting) there is the underlying assumption that hopefully some level of mastery will be achieved. Blogging is no different. By thinking of a blog as a business, you will get there more directly and you will be able to measure your progress along the way. Knowing where your site ranks with Google and Technorati, knowing how many visits and page views you have each month, having a clear “About” page on your site: these are examples of taking yourself and your blog seriously. When you begin to do this, those around you will naturally follow suit.
9. Factoring intangible expenses into the larger picture of your blog.
For instance, think of your work in terms of billable hours. If minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and you work 10? 20? 70? hours a week on your blog, that means each year you are giving away at least $3625, $7250 or $25375 of your time. But would you actually work for minimum wage? Probably not. When you factor in what you would realistically make at a paying job ($25, $35, $50 an hour?), the bottom line for your blog is sobering. By assigning a dollar value to your time, you can be clear about what you are donating to the foodie community. How long will you be willing to work for free?
8. Beginning to think of the bigger picture and your long term goals.
One great way to do this is to create a mission statement. This is invaluable for any blogger. You can read this article for an in-depth discussion of the whys and hows. Viewing your blog as a business from the outset will help you craft a more compelling mission statement. In turn, your mission statement helps you focus on what is important and strengthens your brand.
7. Creating systems within your blogging
Instead of recreating the wheel every time you are asked for a marketing piece (bio, stat sheet, blog overview, writing history, recipe portfolio, etc), have all of your materials written out, polished and ready to go. This should carry over into your blog, as well. Have something written to cover an area where you will have repeated demand without having to rewrite or edit every time you respond. Another way to consolidate tasks is to pick one time of day to do certain things, like answer emails, and only do that during the allotted time. There are many other ways to streamline your processes if you just give it some thought.
6. Putting your blog to work for you
Thinking of your blog as a business will allow you to open up to new opportunities to develop your brand. You will become aware of and open to unique opportunities to market your site and make money with your blog. Writing for other blogs, consulting for other bloggers, reaching out to your local business community with your particular expertise (recipe development, event planning, social media integration, website design): these are all opportunities that will appeal and make sense when you are thinking about your blog as a business.
5. Making yourself more attractive to potential business partners
Sponsors, publishers, print media and PR agencies will want to work with you when they see that you know why you are a blogger and you are clear about what you can offer them. Business partners will know that you are worth investing in because: you have presented a unified, consistent message (because you have taken the time to craft and follow a mission statement); your marketing systems are streamlined (which makes you more efficient in responding to their inquiries); and you have a handle on the data they want to see (such as your stats and rankings).
4. Carrying yourself in a manner now that will positively impact your future
Imagine negotiating your salary at a new job. If you accept $50,000 a year instead of pushing for $70,000 the difference will impact your wallet multiple times over your stay in that position. When the yearly 3.5% cost-of-living raise rolls around you will lose $700. Compound that by the 5-7 years of working at that job and you have forfeited thousands of dollars. Even worse, imagine the cost of living raise is a 10% holiday bonus each year and now you have passed up tens of thousands of dollars by undervaluing yourself from the beginning. OUCH!
The sponsorship deals you make now, the rates you set for your advertising space today will all influence the deals and negotiations to come. Remember that when you are tempted to undervalue yourself and your work.
3. Making some money
While not everyone needs to make money working on their blog, it is still an important goal to have. It will help you clarify the worthwhile opportunities vs. those that are simply time and energy wasters. It will validate your hard work and create more flexibility for you. Right now your blog is potentially a pile of expenses (website design and development, hosting, internet service, etc.) Business and money go hand in hand. Turn your blog into an asset rather than a liability.
2. Realizing that your blog is NOT a hobby
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a hobby as: a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation. Nothing about blogging matches that definition. Staring at a blank post screen is not relaxing. Capturing the perfect photo on your point and shoot is not relaxing. Repeated rejections from FoodGawker are NOT relaxing.
If you are lucky, you may enjoy working on your blog, it may even bring you happiness. When you start to make money with it you will be one of those rare individuals who gets paid to work at something s/he loves. Forget pretending to be a hobbyist. Be a role model.
1. Putting an end to denying or excusing bad behavior
Hobbies, being casual expressions of our creativity, have few boundaries imposed on them. It is probably not a big deal to knit at the dinner table while your kids and spouse finish their meal. But taking a business call or answering a corporate email on your iPhone during family dinner is a different story. Continuing to view blogging as a hobby is a subtle form of denial for many bloggers which allows their blogging to encroach on time that should be reserved for other things. Businesses need a general schedule, appropriate business hours, holidays, personal days; and non-business hours should be free of business deals, calls, emails, transactions, and other interruptions.
You will find as you view your blog as a business and not a hobby, you will set clearer boundaries about your time and resources. As a result, those you connect with through your blog will respect your time and value your work more. This brings you right back to number 10, creating a beneficial cycle that, if you let it, will help you continue to evolve your business.
This article has also been published by The Top 10 Blog.