When it comes to managing and running your own business, there are countless lessons I have learned. When I graduated running my own business was the last thing on my mind. I saw design as an additional skill set I was good at, but I was far more concerned about finding a job as a pastor than I was about numbers, sales, and setting my own hours. Two years later life had taken a few surprises and here I was, a 1099 designer for a company. How would I grow my business? What did taxes look like? Where would I even begin? Simple day in and day out tasks have learning curves. In a perfect world, I would love to focus solely on content creation, art direction, and clients. In reality my days are filled with emails, pitches, media kits, contracts, invoices, and bookkeeping. How do you keep moving forward? I love dreams and putting action steps to them. Meet the blog business plan.
Every year I sit down and write a business plan for the blog. This includes collaborations, ways to have passive income, and engagement goals. By writing things down I have a solid idea of what I’m going to do and direction each and every year.
What systems are working?
What are natural growth points for my business? What are the natural pain points?
Once you’ve figured out the answers to these questions, it’s time to dive deeper.
Every creative offers either a product or a service. How do you want to focus on goals for each quarter?Break your long-term production projects down into deadlines that can be accomplished in month or three month increments. Keep these milestones in front of you. For me, it’s important to look a spots to fill, collaborations to build out, and financial sales goals to hit, so I have a bulletin board that helps me build these out. I know where money is coming in and where it is going out.
Discover where you thrive in the creative process. Are you someone that is methodical and fluid in your client onboarding? Do you gather inspiration, placing long hours in the strategy at the front end of a project, building creative energy? Do you prefer long-term projects or smaller projects with tighter deadlines? What is it that you love to create? How do you free yourself up to focus on what you love this year?
I find that I love art direction and content creation. The administrative work behind it can zap all of my creative energy pretty quickly. I find that while season things on Pinterest are great and can be click bait in the blogging world, I don’t love doing craft projects and things that are overly fussy. My house isn’t seasonally decorated and I love food that is simple and fresh. With this in mind, it’s easy to schedule out a quarter of an editorial calendar and fill it with things that aren’t true to me or my brand for the sake of readers. Finding a blend of what I love to create and what readers love is the sweet spot in curating editorial content.
What starts as a love for blogging, once it evolves into money becomes part of your job. While it’s fun and inspiring (I absolutely love this part of my job.), every post you see on the blog serves a purpose. Whether it is the continual resume for my design studio, positioning myself as an expert with consulting, or partnering with affiliates, each post is thoughtful and intentional in the takeaways for the reader and myself. What is the purpose behind your blog? Is this message clear to readers?
As a creative who works from home, it’s far too easy to be somewhat isolated from the creative community. Find companies, local brands, and creatives to collaborate with. Whether it’s guest posting on other blogs, foodie collaborations, or maker interviews, champion the creatives in your town. I try to add 10 new collaborations a year. This lends itself to phenomenal cross-traffic, gaining new readers, and building a phenomenal creative community.
Review your social media. How many followers do you have? What is your engagement rate? What content do people love and on what platforms? This is a great way to gauge what content your audience loves and direct how you plan for the next year.
As you blog grows, so will the hustle. What do you say “Yes” to and what do you say “no” to? How do you determine your capacity of time and money? At what point do you hire a VA, an accountant, a web developer, etc to help you make things happen? This year I learned the value of having an personal assistant and I can’t tell you the difference it has made. I’ve been able to free myself up for clients on retainer, putting in long hours, rather than being buried in administrative tasks. As your business grows, recognize when you will need to bring on help, even if for solely 12 hours a week.
Ready to start your blog? What questions do you have? We’re starting a series on blogging basics. Send us your questions.