HELP! HAAAALP! AN ALIEN IS TRYING TO DO EXPERIMENTS ON ME!!!!
Did I get your attention?
Good, hehehe. Thankfully, no aliens are trying to do experiments on me- that was just one of my slightly weird and random outbursts! Today we're not talking about aliens, (we can talk about them later), but about the importance of creating a detailed business plan for your blog or online business!
(And of course, HOW to create one that you will actually follow and use to achieve your goals.)
As I mentioned in this post on how to grow your blog's readership, my blog grew more in the first 4 months of having a business plan (over 800%), then it did in the FIVE YEARS prior! Holy pink-spotted cow.
And I attribute that rapid growth to finally sitting my butt down to create a detailed business plan for my blog (which I wanted to turn into an epic online business.)
And then I actually showed up every day and FOLLOWED said plan, of course. :-)
Consider your business plan as the roadmap to your dreams complete with fluffy clouds and rainbows that you can slide down!
A detailed business plan is SUPER DUPER important because it will:
- Help you to actually treat your website like a business so that it will BECOME ONE.
- Give you a clear picture of how you will promote your blog or online business to take it to the next level!
- Give you a roadmap of the exact steps that you need to take in your business and when so that you can accomplish your goals.
- Provide you with a clear VISION, which is really important for having FOCUS.
- Help you to conquer the feeling of overwhelm since everything will be out of your head and onto paper.
- Encourage new blog or business ideas to flow.
- Help guide you through future business-related decisions.
- Provide a lovely benchmark to track your progress.
- Help you to discover and analyze your growth.
- Give you a budget to keep you on track so that you're not overspending.
- Make you feel super awesome and official.
- Give others a reason to see that you're super awesome and official.
- Plus let's face it, creating one is super fun and satisfying!
The list in this post that you will go through to create your business plan might seem overwhelming at first, but don't panic!!!!
Take a deep breath. Grab your favorite beverage. Put on some comfy pants (or if you're like me during the summer, no pants), and create your plan over the course of a few days.
(By the way was admitting to the 'no pants' thing weird? Too much info perhaps? Sorry!)
Alright, now that you are pantsless with your favorite beverage, (ha!) let's get started. We're gonna break this down into list format because everyone knows that lists are super fun!!!! And we'll create your awesome business plan in 10 easy steps.
1. Create a document for your business plan.
You can create a document in your favorite computer program, or write your business plan down in a purdy notebook! The two main things I'd recommend would be:
- Make it so that you can modify it throughout the year. You'll want to view your business plan monthly (at the very least) to track your progress and have the freedom to modify your goals and steps. So if you are writing it down in a notebook, write it in pencil.
- Keep it in an easy to view/access place. D
If you want, you can customize the business plan template that I've already created to make it extra easy! Just click the lovely pink button below to grab it.
PLEASE NOTE: In order to be able to edit it yourself, when you're viewing the template go to file > make a copy so that you can edit and customize it to your own needs. Or you can simply copy and paste it to your favorite program!
2. Record your business summary.
Now that you've created your business plan document (or are using the template that I created), it's time to fill it in with all the juicy stuff! Let's start off with a summary of your business, mmmkay?
- Your dream statement. What's the dream that you have for your online business? Dream big, but at the same time be practical. Think about questions like,
what's the purpose of my business? Where do I see it going? What difference do I want to make for my audience? What are my long-term goals? What would be the ultimate end goal?
- Your mission statement. While you dreamt big in your dream statement, your mission statement is where you will actually list the practical ways in which you will achieve your dream! Questions like, what does my business do and what makes it unique and totally awesome? HOW specifically will I move towards achieving my dream in my day-to-day activities? What are my responsibilities to my audience? What am I trying to help them with and what are my core values?
3. Summarize your ideal reader + dream client.
How can you create awesome content and/or products if you're not sure who you'd like to create them for? Well ... you can't. At least not very well! You need to discover who you'd like to be creating for! Questions to consider are, how old are they? What are their aspirations? What is their current job? What do they love doing in their free time? What do they struggle with? What are some of their biggest frustrations and how can I help them? (Psssst I also wrote this post on HOW to attract your ideal reader so you should check that out later!)
4. Write down your business + brand goals.
Creating these goals will help you with future business decisions, help you manage your time PLUS they will get you thinking about ways to make your brand kick some major derriere! You'll want to write down these things ...
- Your brand's vibe. What is the FEELING that you'd like to create like? Questions to think about include, what tone will I write in? What quirks will I show? What type of pretty pictures will I use? How do I want my followers to FEEL when they interact with my brand? (Speaking of branding, I've got lots of free branding resources to help you right here!)
- Your objectives. I LOVE writing out objectives! Write down at least 5 measurable, achievable objectives for your business for the next 6-12 months. And be specific dag nabbit! Examples of measurable objectives include: gain at least 20+ new e-mail subscribers a week, increase your website traffic by 15% a month, etc.
- Your road to making the dream happen. You know those specific objectives that you just recorded above? Well now it's time to write down the specific steps that will help you achieve those! You need to write down the specific steps that you need to take in order to make each objective that you just listed happen. Examples include: Increase your Pinterest traffic to get more website traffic, (check out this post to see the 28 Pinterest tips I used to massively grow my blog's traffic!) and create a super sweet offering for your opt-in to get those 20+ new e-mail subscribers each week!
- Your plan to take over the world. Or at least, to expand your blog/business. What are the crazy hopes and dreams that you have over the next 5+ years for your business? Would you like to branch out in your business to another area of expertise? Do you want to hire employees? Do you want to start selling products? Do you want to go global? Do you want to become like Dr. Evil and build a giant laser?
- A brand style guide. Strong brands are consistent! Make sure that you create a super snazzy style guide so that all the elements of your brand (design elements for your blog, website, promotional materials, etc) are cohesive. I wrote an entire post on how to do that right here.
5. Record the offerings + monetization ideas for your business
What are you going to do to help bring in the moo-lah? Writing out how you will make the big bucks will be a huge help when it comes to deciding what type of content you should create! Plus it's kind of fun. Write down all your juicy ideas on:
- Services. Will you be offering any? What about in the near future? Record any and all ideas! Get creative and don't censor yourself when brainstorming.
- Products. Will you be offering any products? Digital things like ebooks, guides and workbooks? Tangible items? Memberships? Record all the goods that you might like to create, yo!
- Affiliate programs and adds. Will you sell adds on your blog like many do using a site like Passionfruit? Will you display a 'Pay Per Click' add like from Blogher?
- Sponsors. Will you do things like sponsored posts and reviews?
6. Write down your financial deets.
Speaking of making money, you didn't think that I'd skip the importance of creating a budget to keep you grounded did you? Bahhh hahaha! This will be a great way to not only track your income and expenses, but having this info will be super necessary at tax time. (Just the words "tax time" sends a shiver down my spine!) Write down details on:
- Your start up expenses. Write'em all down, baby! And I do mean everything. Things like hosting fees, computer software, office supplies, business cards, etc.
- Monthly expenses. What are they? If you have an annual expense, simply divide it by 12 to get your monthly average.
- Your monthly income. Be sure to record the income that you make from all the different aspects of your business! Things like advertising, sponsors, digital products, etc.
- Your payment options. How will you accept payment in your biz? Will you use Paypal? Square? Wave? Will you offer any sort of payment plans?
7. What will you do for social media promotion + marketing to get the word out?
I mean ... you can't just create things and expect people to flock to you in large hoards! (Speaking of hoards, I had a terrible nightmare last night which involved hoards of terrifying zombies coming after me!) If you're working hard to create awesome content/products than you need to make sure to get the word out! Write down your specific strategies for:
- Social media strategy. What is it? Write down which social media platforms that you'll use and record your strategy for each! For example, for Instagram you could write something like, '"spend 10 minutes a day liking, commenting and interacting on Instagram and post at least 1 awesome image a day."
- Your e-mail list plan. If you don't have one, it's time to start growing that list baby! Don't put it off forever like I did. You should definitely check out this detailed blog post on how I like to grow mine!)
- Marketing. What are you gonna do in the next 6-12 months to spread the word about your awesome-ness? Think about both online and offline ideas! (Btw if you're not using Pinterest strategically then you are missing out! It is FREE marketing and my biggest source of traffic.)
8. Record your business guidelines.
Doesn't that sound official? Hehehe. (Well it totally is!!!) You might be tempted to skip over this, but don't! It'll save you pain and frustration down the road, plus it'll make things run smoother, I promise! So you'll want to be sure to write down things such as:
- Your schedule. Consistency is really important for building trust with your audience! This means showing up every day, being consistent with your chosen social media accounts, being consistent in your blog post schedule (if you have a blog for your business) and consistently showing up in your Facebook group (if you have one) etc.
- Your workflow. Creating a solid workflow is a HUGE timesaver in the long run and ensures consistency throughout your brand! Take some time to write down each and every step of your different business workflows. Examples of different workflows might include: the steps you go through with a design client from start to finish, the steps you use to edit your photos, the steps you use for each blog post (before and after) the steps you use for posting on social media, etc. (P.S. I also wrote a post on how to speed up your blog's workflow!)
- Guest post guidelines. Will you be posting for others or vice versa? Write down any guidelines that you can create to make the process as smooth, beneficial and fabulous as possible!
9. What will you do to continue your education?
I don't know about you, but if you truly love something then learning about it is SUPER fun! I could spend hours on end learning about something I love.
And not only that, but it's also extremely important to your blog or online business that you keep learning, improving and staying relevant. You gotta keep your brain's creative wheels turning, ya know?
So. With that in mind, write down what you will do over the next 6-12 months to continue learning! Make a list of resourceful blogs that you enjoy or an online class that you'd like to take. (Ehem ... I've got step-by-step courses to help you grow your online business right here!)
10. Create a separate, detailed action plan that will grow your business on a quarterly basis.
I swear, I would feel so overwhelmed and lost (and not even get HALF the amount of shiz that I get done on a daily basis) without a detailed action plan to grow my online business for each quarter!
While your overall business plan that you just created covers the general guidelines and types of things you'll do throughout the year, your quarterly action plan breaks everything down into specific steps and tells you what to focus on each quarter for the most growth.
Creating a detailed, quarterly action plan is super important and will allow you to:
- Break the big goals that are inside of your business plan down into small, specific and SCHEDULED steps.
- Prioritize what needs to get done and when for your business so that you can figure out the most important growth-related tasks that you should focus on first.
- Adjust your business growth strategies throughout the year as needed. Evaluating your strategies by quarter gives you enough time to implement something to see what results you get and also gives you time to change tracks throughout the year if needed.
- Save a TON OF TIME. Man ... if I had to choose just ONE pet peeve, it would be wasting time! When you have a detailed quarterly action plan, you know exactly what you need to work on everyday to grow your business so that you don't waste an ounce of time. :-)
Whew, that's it!!!! Congratulations, you did it! You've now got a solid plan for your blog + biz to really starting making your goals happen!
YOU DID IT. You created a business plan. It feels SO good right?
Almost as good as a back massage would feel right about now.
And a leg massage.
Actually, let's just go with a full body massage.
Don't forget to go over your business plan at least once a month to remind yourself of your goals, make any modifications and to track progress!
And now, it's time to go eat something. I'm kind of ravenous.