Writing a business plan isn’t just for businesses. In fact, I’ve worked for many businesses that had no business plan in sight – and I’ll be honest, they weren’t run very well.
A business plan for your blog will help you to keep your content on-track, keep you writing to the right audiences, and if you’re that way inclined, help you to monetise your platform too.
What is a business plan?
As a Business & French graduate, I learnt all about running businesses during my time at university. I’m fortunate to understand how to put together a business plan for a small business – and it’s something I’ve done behind the scenes with my own blog, Curiously Conscious, as well as for the community here at Ethical Influencers.
A business plan is a document that summaries what your business does, why it does it, and how it will stay afloat. Originally, these were used to source income, usually from a bank, and it gave the bank an insight into how well a business may do in the future.
Nowadays, a business plan is created by the founders of an enterprise to define its mission, goals, and planned activities. For bloggers and content creators, a business plan will help you to define what you do, why you do it, and what you’re going to do in the coming months. It may also include a section on the financial aspect of your platform.
Why does a blog need a business plan?
Quite simply, a business plan will enable to you focus on your blog every time you start writing, photographing, and sharing content. It will keep you on track, and headed to your chosen destination – that may be a certain number of followers, a certain amount of revenue, or simply the number of blog posts/pieces of content you want to share in a chosen timeframe.
The benefits of writing a business plan for your blog include:
- Clearer content focus
- Defined audience
- Measurable targets
- Implementable ideas
- Legible data for potential investment
How to write a business plan for your blog
Your blog’s business plan doesn’t need to be very long at all – one page of A4 should do it. Here’s what you will need to include:
1. Executive summary
An executive summary is a paragraph that explains exactly what your blog does. It’s the what, why, where, when, who, and how of your blog. The aim of writing this is to give somebody who has no idea what you do all the information they need to know. Here’s my blog’s executive summary:
“Curiously Conscious is a London-based ethical fashion and lifestyle blog documenting modern conscious choices made by its author, Besma Whayeb. Its aim is to regularly provide kinder ways to live that educate and enable readers to reduce their impact in easy, sustainable ways.”
The what: ethical fashion and lifestyle blog
The why: educate and enable readers to reduce their impact
The where: London
The when: regularly (I’ll admit, this could be better. I share posts 2-3 times per week)
The who: Besma Whayeb
2. Origin story
The next section should give a bit of background as to why you started your blog, and why you are doing it today:
“Curiously Conscious started in 2014, when Besma was living in Paris. During her time there, she started changing her own habits to more sustainable ones; buying fresh food from the organic market, bringing her own bags to the shop, and buying investment pieces over fast-changing trends.
Today, she documents her conscious choices on the blog, as well as positive actions we can all take to reduce our impact and improve the livelihood of others.”
Now, I think that’s enough about me! It’s time to focus on who you are writing for. You can do this in one of two ways:
- If you are just starting out, choose your ideal audience (very often, they will fit the same demographics as you do)
- If you have been writing for a while, use analytical data to find out the characteristics of your main reader base
I use a combination of Google Analytics and Instagram Analytics to decipher who my blog’s audience is. (You can enable Analytics on Instagram by creating a Facebook page and linking them together in Settings). Here’s my audience summary:
“Curiously Conscious’ audience is principally made up of women aged 18-34 who are based in the UK. They value options that are convenient, ethical, and eco-friendly, that are of a high standard. Their main interests are Beauty & Hair Care, Fashion, Food & Dining, Green Living, Home Decor, Shopping, and Travel.”
4. Blog niche
If you’re reading this on the Ethical Influencers site, you are probably already aware of your blog niche (!)
However, there are many, many topics that ethical bloggers and content creators focus on, and it may be worth deciding which suit you. Not only will this help you to plan your posts, but it will also help readers know what you stand for, and how to navigate your site.
My blog niches are:
- Ethical fashion
- Sustainable living
- Natural and organic beauty
- Good food and seasonal recipes
- Ethical homewares and interiors
- Eco travel
This is actually quite a lot. I often worry that I’m spreading myself too thin, but I love all of those areas, and want to share ideas for each of them. There are influencers in this community who really own their niche, for example, focusing purely on thrifted fashion, or cruelty-free beauty. Decide what fits for you, and stick to it.
5. Blog objectives
Now it’s time to set your blog objectives. What would you like to achieve by writing your blog?
Setting objectives is different from the aim/mission statement you will have included in your executive summary. You have an overall goal, but what are the smaller milestones that will help you get there?
My current blog objectives are:
- To post blogs 2-3 times per week
- To write a newsletter once per month
- To reach 5,000 followers on Instagram by the end of 2019
- To focus more on green action and activism
These four objectives keep me committed to a schedule, provide an aim for one of my social channels, and also a content aim (which is actually more of a life goal).
You’ll notice that I have left out any financial objectives – after running my blog for just under 5 years, I’ve found that brand partnerships and sponsored content come and go, and it’s better to focus on consistent content creation, as well as keeping up good relationships with brands, who will approach me when they’re ready. I’m still able to run my blog in this way (and work for myself full-time) as I also work as a Content Manager & Copywriter on a freelance basis, which provides a more consistent income.
For your objectives, make sure you make these “SMART”. That means:
This will help you to stay on track, and when looking back at your business plan, see where you have succeeded and where you may need to focus more.
6. Monetisation strategy
If you are looking to make money from your blog, a monetisation strategy is vital. (If not, skip this section).
Most bloggers and influencers who make money from their content do so through sponsored content. This includes:
- Sponsored posts
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling your own products
Personally, I only use the first two types of sponsored content. Banner adverts are relatively difficult to make money from these days, especially when many people use AdBlock, and if you can’t tell by now… I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my blog’s layout.
My monetisation strategy limits sponsored posts to a maximum of 25% of my blog’s content, and I also make sure that the brands I’m working with genuinely fit (i.e. they’re ethical brands with ethical products that I genuinely use and like). For affiliate marketing, I’ve only just started seeing the reward for linking back to products in the last year or so. As a rule of thumb: if you’re looking to make money quickly, blogging is not the best option. It’s a slow burn, but that also makes it really rewarding when things start working out.
For all forms of sponsored content, make sure you stay legal in how you present it – you can find out all you need to know in keeping your content legal in our guide to sponsored content.
7. Marketing plan
Finally – how are you going to get noticed? In my first year of writing, I actually had no intention of being noticed – I was living abroad, and wanted my friends and family to know I was getting on ok, and also use it as a place to document the changes I was making.
If your aim is to grow your blog, your readership, and your following, you should consider creating a small marketing plan. You may want to keep things organic and free, and you can do so by using:
- Sharing content on social media channels
- Writing search engine optimised (SEO) posts
- Telling friends, family, and anyone who listens (!) through word of mouth
- Collaborating with bloggers similar to yourself
- Responding to journalists looking for people like you – keep #journorequests bookmarked on Twitter
If you would like to grow your blog and turn it into a business, you may also want to consider paid-for options. Personally, I have only used Instagram ads to share my giveaways, but perhaps I could be putting some budget into paid marketing to achieve my above objectives.
How to use your business plan
Once you have created your business plan, save it on your computer (don’t print unless you need to) and put an alert in your calendar for a few months’ time. Whatever timeframe you choose, make sure you return to your business plan to see how you’re getting on with your objectives, and if there’s anything you’d like to change.
Also, if you’re ever stuck with writers’ block, or you simply feel demotivated, try reading through your business plan. It will remind you why you’re doing what you do, and will hopefully spark some new ideas!
About Besma Whayeb
Besma is an ethical fashion and lifestyle blogger at Curiously Conscious, and the Founder of Ethical Influencers. She has been blogging since 2014 and went full-time in 2017, focusing on her blog, and freelancing as a content manager and copywriter for ethical brands.