Do you have lovely, technicolor dreams about turning your blog into a business? Or perhaps you currently work a 9-5 and you dream of starting a blog and turning it into a business so that you can LEAVE your 9-5? Maybe you dream of owning a rainbow colored unicorn that will poop delicious sprinkle-infused custard at your command? (Sorry I can't help you with that last one!) But if you dream of turning your blog into a business, read on.
After blogging for over 6 years, a year ago I finally made the decision to turn my blog into a business. Originally I started this blog as a way to share the weddings that I shot in my photography business and as a personal online diary for documenting and sharing whatever the heck I wanted! But deep down, I knew I wanted to make blogging my number #1. I was so passionate about teaching and helping other creative entrepreneurs and I was READY to go steady. (IF you know what I mean!) ;-)
And one year later? I am officially able to make blogging into my full-time business! It started with a dream that was followed by perseverance, a plan, actionable steps and MORE perseverance. And you can totally do it too, (that rhymed!) IF that is also a dream you share. So are you ready to read one of my most juicy blog posts ever?! (We're talking just over 5,000 words of juice here, people!) Read on for a complete guide on how to turn your blog into a business!
(And yes these steps are in logical order of what worked for me!)
1. Check your reasons.
Okay so ... this might sound a bit counterintuitive, but don't start a blog (or any type of business) just to make money! Running a blog and business is a LOT of time and hard work, and if you're not super passionate about the purpose of what you're doing, you will burn out very quickly. Like ... about as quickly as a pile of soggy twigs that have been lit with a match! Indeed, it will be a nice and slow, soggy burn. (Yeah that was kind of a stupid comparison, just bear with me!)
2. Get into the right mindset.
Blazing your own trail and creating a business can be super scary (but it's also SUPER EXCITING!) In order to push through the fear, doubt, hard days, comparison to others and any other road blocks that will inevitably creep up, having the right mindset is KEY. Check out this post on 8 tips to developing a successful, dream chasing mindset!
3. Join a mastermind group for support.
Joining a group for support is great for SO many reasons! Would you like me to share some of those reasons? Good! (And if you said "no," then too bad, hehehe.) Joining a group of other like-minded individuals is great for support when you feel alone, brainstorming when you feel stumped, problem solving when you run into an issue, feedback when you need opinions on something, inspiration for the days when you feel uninspired, tips on a subject or area you need help with and plus they're amazing for getting the extra push that comes with surrounding yourself with others that have similar goals! If you're a creative lady boss who would like to join a group, feel free to join my Facebook group of Creative Superheroes if you wanna! We do weekly live chats (aka 'Coffee Talks) in the group and they're so much fun!
4. Define your blog's purpose.
Yo, this one is SUPER important! (Actually all of the things on this list are super important. So DO THEM ALL, I command you! :::starts waving hands around in a weird, spell-casting fashion:::) You need to know EXACTLY what the purpose of your blog is so that you can create your brand and all of your content around it. Your purpose is what will give you a CLEAR direction! (Check out this post on how to define your blog's purpose.)
5. Figure out who your ideal reader is.
Once you know your blog's purpose, you also want to know exactly WHO your ideal reader/client is so that you can make sure that, once again, your brand and all of your content is created with them in mind. If you don't know who your ideal client is, then you're gonna have a miiiiighty hard time attracting the right people! (That was said in a thick hick accent, just so you know.) Check out this post on how to figure out your ideal reader and this post on 6 steps to attract your dream client!
6. Write a business plan for your blog.
Now that you've gotten into the right mindset and also know your purpose + ideal reader, it's time to get serious by creating a business plan for your blog! This is a must, ya'll. A business plan gives you direction and actionable steps on how to achieve your goals, plus it makes you feel super official. (Just say'in!) Check out this post for how to write a business plan- there's even a free editable template for you to use!
7. Get a planner to start scheduling your actionable steps in.
You know all of those actionable steps that you wrote down in your business plan? Perhaps you also have a mile long to-do list? If you're not currently using a planner- time to start, baby! As Marie Forleo says," if it's not scheduled, then it's not real." If you want to turn your blog into a business then you need to take the actionable steps in your business plan and actually schedule them into your planner. Make a list of ALL the things you need to do and then schedule them in! Seriously. Doing this will not only ensure that things get done, but it will keep you organized and free up lots of valuable brain space! I created a colorful and quirky Blog + Life Planner that you can check out right here, (it also includes pages for your blog's business plan, your ideal reader etc.), but there's also lots of other planners you can buy- just choose one that you LOVE. :) And if you're into doing it digital, use a digital planner on your phone (like Planner Plus, for example!)
8. Create a strong brand + style guide.
Once you've got a specific purpose and your ideal client in mind, it's time to create a SUPER STRONG AND AWESOME brand! If you've been reading my blog for awhile or have looked through my posts, then you probably already know that I have a small obsession with branding. Like ... I'm almost as obsessed with branding as I am with cats, and that's saying A LOT. Hahaha! Ehem. Just to get clear on what a brand is, a brand is how people think and FEEL about you. It's the experience you give them. In other words, your brand is YOU. You brand includes visual things like specific colors, fonts, design elements etc. but it also includes things like your tone of voice, your vibe, the way you interact with people, the experience you provide, etc. Having a strong, consistent brand is essential in standing out and kicking ass!
If you're just starting out, check out this post on 10 steps to create a kick-ass brand. If you already have a brand but want to make sure that it's clear, consistent and totally awesome, you can enroll in my self-paced, online branding course for free.
9. Have a kick-ass website.
Pardon my bluntness, but your website needs to ROCK THE DAMN SOCKS OFF PEOPLE. There are a bazillion blogs and websites now adays, and in order to both stand out and take things to the next level, yours needs to both LOOK and FUNCTION great. Whether you are just starting out or have been blogging for a long time and want to take things to the next level, one of the MOST important investments that you NEED to make is in your website. When I first started this blog 6 years ago, I invested over $350 on a Wordpress template because I knew that having a killer website would be crucial in standing out and growing a following. So ... let me nail this into your head one more time ... do not skimp on your website!!! If you have ANY website shame, it's time to do some revamping. You can get a gorgeous website with hosting for $10-$30 a month. Doooo it.
My two favorite platforms for amazing blogs/websites are Wordpress.org (not Wordpress.COM) with BlueHost for hosting and Squarespace. Wordpress is what I use (with a template from ProPhoto that requires no coding to customize), and I love it! In general, Wordpress is ultimately more customizable and you can do more with it, but it has more of a learning curve. Squarespace is less customizable and flexible, but is easy to use and looks great!
10. Create beautiful templates for your blog post photos.
In creating a strong brand, consistency is super important! Creating beautiful templates for your blog post photos is great for not only consistency, but in making sure that you have lovely, pinnable images for Pinterest! (Plus having pre-made templates saves you lots of time each time you write a blog post!) I like to create blog post image templates over at Canva, it's totally free and they've got lots of beautiful, pre-designed templates for you to use and customize with your brand colors! They even have a template that's specifically sized for Pinterest. Woo hoo! Ideally, you want to start each blog post with a nice pinnable image. (A vertical image that can be either just text with the blog post title or a combo of a high quality photo and text.) Speaking of high quality photos ...
11. Use high quality photos for your blog posts.
People are visual creatures, let's face it! If your blog photos are low quality, your blog is going to suffer. You want to use high quality images that also reflect the vibe of your brand! So for example, if your brand's vibe is happy and colorful, use brighter, more colorful images! If your brand's vibe is dark and moody, use dark and moody images. Savvy? You also want to make sure that the photos you use within your blog posts are the exact width of your blog post. (So no more using oversized or undersized images, pretty please?)
Taking your own images is great because then you can customize them to fit your brand, PLUS no one else will have them so you'll stand out more! Check out the ultimate guide to shooting pretty, styled blog photos if you need more help with learning how to take lovely photos! Or if you'd prefer NOT to DIY, check out a site like Pexels for free, high quality stock photos.Other sites for free, high quality stock photos include:
12. Start using an editorial calendar.
If you're not doing this already, doooo it! Creating an editorial calendar will ensure that you are posting valuable content that's inline with your purpose (and ideal clients!) PLUS, you'll never have to have that horrible, frantic feeling of waiting until the last minute. (I've been there SO many times over the years- blegh!) I'd suggest creating an editorial calendar for the following month at least 2 weeks in advance and also keeping a running list of blog post ideas. Things to consider when creating an editorial calendar:
- Consider how much time you have. I know you might be really excited to blog, but be realistic about the amount of time you have to spend! When in doubt, QUALITY over quantity.
- Think about future launches. Do you have any upcoming launches for products, services, courses, etc? Can you write some blog posts in the weeks leading up to the launch to get people in the right mindset of what you're going to be launching? (For example, if you're launching a course on branding, write some really juicy blog posts on branding in the weeks leading up to the launch!) You don't need to specifically mention that you're going to be selling something, just focus on providing as much value as possible.
- Always plan your editorial calendar with your ideal client in mind! What would they find to be helpful/entertaining/valuable?
(pssssst, check out this post on how to never run out of content ideas if you're feeling stumped on what to write about!)
13. Use a well branded, high quality bio photo.
Alright you little buttercup, make sure that your blog's bio photo is high quality, fits with your brand and showcases your personality! Also, make sure that you are using the SAME awesome bio photo across ALL of your social media platforms. Remember: strong brands are consistent, baby!
I actually had a brand photoshoot where I had photos taken specifically to use on my website, social media, etc. Notice how they fit my brand! I'm dressed in one of my brand colors and my photos have a quirky, colorful and fun vibe! (AND you can bet your last cup of coffee that I create consistency by using this same photo across all of my social media platforms!)
14. Update old blog posts and write quality content.
If you've been blogging for awhile, go through your old blog posts and check to make sure that they're still relevant to the purpose of your blog and your ideal client. If so, can you update them? Beef them up a bit? And don't forget to make sure that they each have a lovely, high quality and pinnable image! When writing your content, focus on QUALITY (preferably 700 words or more), and making sure that everything you choose to share and write about has your ideal client and main purpose in mind.
And if you need help creating blog post titles that stand out, check out my post right here which includes some free templates to get the juices flowing!
15. Start & grow your e-mail list.
Yeah, you've probably heard this one if you want to turn your blog into a business. I'm not gonna lie, I resisted doing this for WAY too long! I mean ... I didn't even know how to make a damn opt-in on my site, I didn't know what to send my subscribers, I hated the idea of a newsletter ... I literally used every excuse in the book!
But. Having and growing your e-mail list is essential if you want to start selling things like products, services or courses! And not only that, but think about how often things like Facebook and Instagram are changing. For example, if you rely on Facebook to promote yourself, it just takes one simple change that Facebook decides to make to potentially screw you over. Or even worse- what if your preferred social media platform dies all together?! Gah. So doooooo it!!!! Pretty please with chocolate covered sprinkles on top?
So ... start by choosing your e-mail service provider, my lovely pea pod! Mailchimp is perfect if you are just starting out because it's free for the first 2,000 subscribers! That's what I started out with and it worked great. If you've gone beyond 2,000 subscribers then I recommend switching to something like Convertkit (which is what I currently use and LOVE!) It's got easier automation, allows you to tag subscribers and has more advanced e-mail marketing features.
Need more help growing your list? I wrote a juicy post about the 7 strategies I use to get around 3,000 new subscribers a month right here!
16. Create your e-mail list opt-in.
After you sign up with an e-mail service provider, you wanna create easy to find, beautiful opt-ins in multiple places on your website! Make it EASY for people to find your e-mail list opt-in, so have it easily visible in 2-3 places on your site. Consider places like your sidebar, the top of your site, your footer, as a pop up, at the end of blog posts, etc. For my opt-ins, I create custom graphics in Photoshop and then link them to Leadpages (Leadpages also includes beautiful opt-in forms for you to use as well!)
See the lovely opt-in box that pops up when you click "get on my Wonderlist" over in my side bar?
I created it over in Leadpages and it was extremely easy to do!
If you use Mailchimp, check out this tutorial on how to create a lovely looking opt-in for your site!
17. Create a super awesome opt-in gift.
Now adays, there's so many dang opt-ins that most people aren't just going to hand over their e-mail address for promise of a "newsletter" or a couple of tips. You need to gift people something really valuable in order for them to join the dark side! Know what I'm say'in? And not only that, you want to blow them away by how amazing you are by providing them with such an awesome resource for free! Looking at the photo above, you'll notice that I offer a workbook and a resource library that's full of free goodies (in addition to my weekly business + blog tips) for the people who opt-in. Hot diggity dog! When thinking about ideas for what to create as your opt-in freebie, consider these things:
- What could you give your ideal client that would be super helpful to them? For example, Dana over at The Minimalist Baker offers a 42 page detox guide book!
2. Do you have a paid product that you could lead into? Remember that 42 page detox guide book that I just mentioned? Well, Dana and John just released their first tangible cookbook. You bet your britches that their free opt-in gift is the perfect lead-in to their new cookbook!
3. Think about all the options! Some things you could create include a super spiffy ebook, guide, templates, resource library, workbooks, checklists, a video tutorial, a workshop ... get creative!
4. Choose your creation platform. You can create all sorts of things (like ebooks, PDFs, guides etc.) in Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, or you could also use a free platform like Canva! Apple Pages is also great if you have a Mac. For a tutorial on how to create digital downloads using Apple Pages, check out this post by Regina!
18. Write valuable e-mail newsletters for your subscribers.
Whether you send e-mails to your subscribers once a week or once a month, try to be consistent and ALWAYS provide value! Don't leave a bad taste in people's mouths (like brussel sprouts- blegh!) by writing about something that is light, fluffy and has no real value or take away. You want to use your newsletter as an opportunity to build trust, give value to your people, show them that you're an expert in your field and for them to get to know you and your brand better! So incase you're feeling stumped for ideas on what the sam hill to write about, here's a few ideas to get the ball rolling!
- Share a personal story. Is there a specific turning point or valuable lesson learned that you could share? As long as it's relevant, this is a great way for people to get to know you better on a more personal level!
- Struggles. Ask your readers what they're currently struggling with using a survey, (you can use Survey Monkey, it's free!) The great thing about doing this is that by finding out what people are currently struggling with, you can get lots of valuable ideas for future blog posts and other content!
- Freebies. Make something awesome and give it to your subscribers! For example, tons of people on my e-mail list love it when I send out a good 'ol downloadable checklist. Again, get creative- the sky is the limit! (Actually, why stop at the sky? The outer Universe is the limit!!!!)
- Use old blog posts. Do you have any older but still relevant (and totally awesome) blog posts that your subscribers might enjoy? Use that in a newsletter! (But don't make it super lengthy- try and condense the post if it's super long.)
- List your favorite tools and resources! I recently sent out an e-mail listing my favorite tools and resources that I've used to grow my blog + biz, and my subscribers loved it! Bonus points if you can include a tutorial or two on how to use one of those resources.
- Bust some myths. Are there any myths about your industry or area of expertise that need busting? Are you launching a product or service soon that people might have reservations about? Time to bust 'em, baby!
- Upcoming events. Do you have a class, webinar, speaking engagement (in person or online) etc. that you could write about? Let people know!
- Blog post introduction. Do you have a super juicy blog post that you just wrote recently? Write a nice'ol introduction to that post and then link to the rest of it!
19. Make and use content upgrades in your blog posts.
This is a great way to grow that e-mail list, baby! A content upgrade is when you make something (like a workbook, checklist, guide, etc.) to go with your blog post but make it so that the reader has to opt-in to your e-mail list if they want to get it! I do that throughout my posts by creating a graphic in Photoshop and then linking it to my Leadpages opt-in box, so sometimes when you're reading my blog posts you might see me give away a goody, like this:
Grab the super awesome (and free!) goal setting workbook so that you can learn how to set kick ass goals and actionable steps so that you can actually achieve them!
As I mentioned, I use Leadapges to create my e-mail opt-in boxes, but you could also use a Wordpress plugin like this one and there's a tutorial on how to create content upgrade boxes in Mailchimp right here!
20. Continue to grow that e-mail list, baby!
Yep, you wanna keep doing everything that we just talked about! But just incase you forgot, here's a couple ways to grow that e-mail list like an out of control bean stalk!
- Make multiple opt-in forms throughout your site. Think about adding it to places such as your sidebar, header, footer, at the end of blog posts, inside of blog posts as a content upgrade and as a popup when guests visit your site! (I know popups work well for some people, but after trying one myself for several weeks it drove me bonkers so I took it away, haha. But you should definitely experiment with what works best for you!)
- Check Google Analytics to see what your most popular blog posts are. After you check, not only should you beef up those posts with MORE juicy content, but create fabulous content upgrades for them! To find your most popular posts, just go to your main Google Analytics dashboard and then "behavior" > "site content" > "all pages."
Want even MORE ways to grow your e-mail list? I've got a free workshop replay that you can watch by clicking right here! I went from a list of 28 subscribers (and it took me over a year to get those 28 subscribers) to now getting around 3,000+ new subscribers every month. Hot dang!
21. Start doing webinars
Speaking of growing your e-mail list ... webinars are absolutely freak'in amazing for growing your blog + business! I was super opposed to doing them at first (because I was dumbfounded by the tech, terrified at the idea of live broadcasting, scared crapless at the idea of selling anything etc.) but yo ...
webinars LITERALLY exploded the growth of pretty much everything! My e-mail list, my income and the opportunities that started coming my way ... just woah. And fast. I literally get over 3,000 new e-mail subscribers a month because of how I use my old webinar recordings on my site. So ... :::looks you square in the face::: try one, pretty please?
I've even got a free webinar crash course to get you started! It's a 9 day email course with tons of info, video trainings, checklists, cheat sheets ... ya know ... only the good'n'juicy stuff. Just click below to get started kicking butt!
22. Create an effective social media strategy.
Like it or not, social media is extremely valuable for getting traffic, connecting with your ideal clients, promoting your stuff and about ten million other things! In other words, creating an effective social media strategy for your blog + biz is extremely important, mmmkay? Just take my word for it! You NEED a plan, yo. When creating your social media strategy, consider these things:
- Figure out which social media platforms are right for you and your blog + business. Where does your ideal client hang out the most? What types of content will you be posting? (For example, you probably don't want to use Instagram if you don't have lots of photos to post!)
- Make sure that all your social media accounts are well branded. Use the same high quality, branded profile photo across all of your platforms, make sure each platform includes what you're all about, a link to your website, etc. If your platform has a header image, make sure it uses your brand's specific colors, fonts ... you get my drift?
- Plan out your social media posts each month. Take a day each month to plan out what you will post to each social media platform and when! Remember not to over promote yourself (because that starts to feel icky to people real quickly!) Share other people's useful content that is relevant to your readers in addition to sharing personal tidbits about yourself to help people get to know you better!
For more tips on social media, check out the 28 Pinterest tips I used to massively grow my site's traffic and these 11 tips for Instagram!
23. Create something great to sell.
Now that you've built a solid foundation by doing the things on this list so far (in addition to growing your e-mail list!) it's time to get to the money making part of blogging as a business. Woo hoo! Are you feeling excited? YOU SHOULD BE!!! First, you need to decide WHAT type of thing you want to sell. Do you want to sell digital products like ebooks, workbooks and guides? Do you want to sell crafted goods on Etsy? Do you want to sell tangible products in a shop on your website? Do you want to sell freelancing services as a graphic designer or a coach?
So many options. To help you out, check out these handy resources depending on what you choose!
- Info products. Do you want to create and sell digital info products? Check out this post!
- An ecourse. Wanna create a super amazing online course? Check out this post!
- Coaching services. So you wanna coach people? Awesome! Check out this post!
- Etsy shop. I absolutely adore Etsy! It's the black hole of online shopping for me. Ehem, anyway! Check out this post!
- Freelance services. Whether you're a graphic designer or want to offer some other type of service, check out this post!
24. Create beautiful mockups of the stuff you sell.
I don't know about you, but I get WAY more tempted (and excited!) to buy something when I can actually SEE it first and picture myself using it. So you are DEFINITELY going to want to create some beautiful mockups of the stuff you create!
(P.S. also notice that I made the mockup fit the colorful, fun vibe of my brand!)
I love to take my own mockup photos, but you can also EASILY create them yourself! Here's some super spiffy sites where you can both create mockups and buy mockup templates ... (by the way, please note that if it's a PSD file then you need Photoshop in order to open and edit it!)
Mockups are great for using on social media, your website, sales pages, in your e-mails ... any place where you wanna give a sneak peek to get people pumped!!! Ya feel me?
25. Promote your amazing products + services.
Once you've created something great to sell, you need to promote the shiz out of it, baby! But you don't want to be obnoxious about it- nobody likes that. And if you DO like obnoxious salesy people then well ... um ... that's cool! Hahaha. But MOST people don't. So you definitely want to check out this post on 10 tips to promote yourself without being annoying! Here's some other resources for ideas on promoting your products and services ...
- 7 ways to promote your products for people who hate self promotion!
- 75 ways to market your business (on a small budget!)
- Go through old blog posts that are relevant to your new product/service and create a link leading to that particular product/service!
- Be sure to point people to your most valuable resources AND your new products/services on your sidebar and around your website!
- Create e-mails that "soft sell" your products and services, but make sure you are providing tons of free value for your e-mail subscribers on the regular and not just bombarding them with salesy e-mails! (Because blegh.)
I'd recommend scheduling several different ways to try promoting your products/services inside of your planner! Remember, if it's not scheduled then it's not real. ;)
26. Keep Going.
The people who succeed are the people who don't give up!!! "Failures" are seen only as learning opportunities to figure out different ways to get something to work. Having a bad day? (Or WEEK?) Keep going. Feeling like a failure? Figure out why, and change anything necessary. Feeling unsupported and alone? Join a group of like-minded individuals that can support you! (If you're a creative ladypreneur then feel free to join my group on Facebook!) Going through a horrible bout of depression? Read this post and keep going. Feeling uninspired? Read this post for 15 ways to get inspired and keep going. Are you starting to get my point yet? Because my point is ... KEEP GOING! Through the good shiz and the bad shiz ... just. Keep. Going.
27. Keep learning.
Sorry to break it to you my little rosy-cheeked kitten, (sorry I have no idea where that came from!) but just when you THINK you've learned everything, just know that you haven't. Things are ALWAYS changing and you'll never need to stop learning. Plus, learning makes you grow, get better at your craft AND it gives you super powers!!!!
Well, not literally. But kind of in a way!
Just remember this: apply as you learn. For example, after you take a helpful class or read a very valuable blog post, take a moment to actually implement what you just learned. Whether that's doing something or changing something immediately or scheduling it in your planner to do/try whatever you learned at a later date, don't forget to implement as you go. Otherwise your brain will be completely overloaded with tons of valuable information that you're not even putting to use!
And then you'll go into overwhelm. And no one likes overwhelm, am I right?!
28. Enroll in my free mini course.
Feeling extra serious about turning your blog into a business? Click here to enroll in my From Side Hustle to Success e-mail mini course! It's got video, fun adult home work and is packed with info to help you on your merry way.
And if you'd like to get extra serious and experience the satisfaction of crossing things off as you turn your blog into a business, just click below to get a handy checklist!
Welp my friend, you made it through this epic 5,000+ word blog post. Congratulations! And now, is there anything in specific that you need help with in relation to turning your blog into a business? Please feel free to let me know by leaving a comment below!