This is a summary of the Blog to Business session presented by Caz Makepeace from ytravel at #pbevent 2015. Don’t forget to check out our earlier summaries of Making Your Blog Shine, Building Your Community, Metrics that Matter and Email Autoresponders.
Caz opened her session with this piece of advice – treat your blog like a business from the start and intend for it to be successful. If you are serious about drawing an income from blogging you need to treat it like a serious business.
Starting out, you need to identify your vision. Be clear on what you want to create and dream big and with passion.
What’s your motivation? To be successful you need a “why” that’s bigger than yourself. Lean into the future and identify how you are helping others. Try to project an image of what your life will look like and aim to live it.
Why can’t you fail? What will your legacy be? Have a clear picture in your mind of what will happen should you fail. This will go a long way to increase your motivation to succeed.
Know your mission. What’s calling you? Whatever it is, don’t ignore it. Understand who you are serving and uncover exactly what they need.
Utilise a 3 question strategy to understand your readers and identify their problems. Ask them in your email welcome series:
- who are you?
- what are your hopes and dreams?
- what’s getting in the way of you achieving them?
Chart the following answers to better understand your readers. This can be done in an excel spreadsheet to help you to always know your customer and to refer to as guidance in the future. Collecting and saving this information will allow you to give your readers what they need by identifying their:
- post ideas
Develop an email strategy. Own it and control it. It allows you to direct message your readers and provides a more personalised platform for interaction. An email list really is where the gold is in every business.
Make sure YOU set the culture of your community. Set the tone, manage the content, provide leadership, create rules and enforce boundaries. You must control the boundaries – don’t be afraid to send trolls and difficult members of your community on their way.
Make sure you share your mission – this will help your community understand what you are doing, encourage them to support you and understand you better as well.
It is crucial to have a money plan and, to succeed, it needs to be driven by the vision and mission identified above. What resonates with you? How can it help your audience? What can give you immediate cash flow? In asking these questions also ensure you also think about the long term strategy as well. Is your plan sustainable?
Ask yourself – what’s your action plan? Do you need to build a brand and/or authority? Do you need a large community influence? What do you need to create? What systems do you need to put in place? What relationships do you need to develop?
It’s essential that you track and evaluate your progress. Ensure you are continually aligned with your mission, vision and values. Look at the income you have now versus the income you want to earn. Stack the odds in your favour – your vision + mission + money plan = clarity and direction.
If you want to build a business and make money on your blog you have to be okay with selling. Understand how you feel about money. Make your peace with wanting to make money.
You need to build authority. The pillars of selling are KNOW LIKE TRUST. Let your brand speak for itself. Align your values, your story and your authority.
Remember, if you help your readers they will want you to make money.
Leveraging your blog to grow can be done in multiple ways.
- Maximise your time – don’t try to find balance in life, it’s impossible – prioritise your time instead.
- To gain authority and exposure:
- build trust with your readers and be useful
- enter into guest posts and interviews with others
- engage with traditional media
- collaborate with other bloggers and creatives
- get on the speaking circuit
3. To aid in business growth and development:
- consider scaling – how will you effectively grow your content and your income in the future
- look at tools and systems to streamline your effort and your time
- investigate outsourcing
Ask yourself – what’s your time worth? This will help decide when it’s time to outsource. Outsourcing normally occurs when limitations in your time and skill levels start to impede your business’ growth.
To begin with the idea of outsourcing, consider the following:
- what things do you dislike doing?
- what things are you not very good at?
- what would give you the most leverage?
- what extra jobs could you take on to cover the cost of a VA?
Consider your own burn rate. Start small. Understand outsourcing will come with a cost but will also allow you to reinvest time and money into your business.
You need to find the right people to help you along. Often the right people will be people you know or known to people you know – personal recommendations go a long way.
Before expanding your team consider the time it will take to train new starters. Ensure you have comprehensive systems and processes in place to make the change as smooth as possible. Place a priority on clear communication to reduce the risk of confusion or issues in the new arrangement.
Remember – you are the CEO and the CFO of your business.
To grow and evolve your business you need to continually build relationships. When pitching to others or making proposals, do your research and find common ground. Be yourself. Meet face-to-face where possible and ensure you come up with a win/win scenario for each party.
Caz talked about the concept of CANI – Constant And Never-ending Improvement.
Look inside yourself ask these questions:
- What skills do you need?
- Where are you stuck?
- How can you improve?
Your roadmap to clarity should rely on the following:
- reader surveys – regularly ask for their thoughts and continue to get to know them and their issues
- Google Analytics – identify the posts getting the most attention, what people are searching on your site and the channels they are using to find you
- social networks – ask questions of your followers
Caz ended by emphasising the power of a positive mindset and learning to better understand yourself as a business owner:
- Look for the power in the negative.
- Recognise that fear is the lack of belief. Great power lies in fear.
- Reflection teaches you how to refine and how to improve.
- Overwhelm means that your priorities are wrong – take the time to refocus and find your clarity.
- Frustration is a sign that something needs to change. Listen to your emotions – don’t let them rule you.
Caz’s session was timely for me. As a new business owner and as an aspiring monetised blogger this was a great session to see how I could better target elements of my business to yield greater results.
To be honest, I do have some issues with money – I struggle to feel qualified enough to earn it and to ask for it – I need to get over that.
I also need to prioritise better and be more focused on my vision and mission.
Lots of work in front of me but Caz has laid out a great roadmap for me to move forward.
Are you trying to move from blog to business? What did you take away from Caz’s words of wisdom?