When I first went into business for myself (full-time PR firm, part-time business writing and blogging), I had a pretty standard formal business plan.
Later, and I expanded my Web publishing efforts, I started using a much simpler model -- one page versions that help me map out my plans and ideas on a project by project basis.
I've even released the templates I use here, so feel free to use them for your own short-form planning.
Free One Page Business Planning Templates
Here are the one page templates available:
While I still use these templates for new projects, I've moved back to long-form planning for my bigger blogs. And in talking to other bloggers I realized that having a blog business plan seemed to be an exception rather than a rule.
That seems silly to me given how many bloggers are hoping to make money blogging, and how few actually do. If you want it to work for you like a business, then you have to treat your blog like a business. That includes having a blog business plan in place.
I'm hoping to help you create one.
What a Blog Business Plan Should Include
A blog business plan should include much of the same information as a business plan for a traditional small business. But it can help to look at some of the sections a bit differently. Here's a list of what you might want to include -- finding your own balance between formal structures and a casual short-form plan.
This is often called an "executive summary," but just think of it as an intro to your plan for the year. It should be the last thing you write because you'll need some of the information you come up with for later sections.
In this section you'll offer basic background information about your blog. For example, you'll note whether you work as a sole proprietor, an LLC, or corporation (and you might want to note your reasons for that choice in case you want to reevaluate it later). You'd mention when the blog was launched, what the niche focus is, how many bloggers contribute (and a bit about their background), and other tid bits that might prove useful in planning or evaluations. You would also include information on your own background -- such as past blogging experience or credentials in the niche of your blog.
You don't necessarily have a product or service to sell like a traditional small business owner would. But if you're treating your blog as a business, you should have some revenue streams in mind. Here are a few examples to point you in the right direction: site memberships, contextual ads, affiliate ads, e-book sales, and webinars. This section could also include the "4 Ps of Marketing" in a general way where appropriate.
In this section you'll talk about your competitive position in the market. For example, you'll post statistics that show a market actually exists for your blog's specialty. You'll also identify major competitors and your strengths and weaknesses in comparison to them. You can do this using our SWOT Analysis worksheet.
Goals, Strategies, and Tactics
This is largely the marketing plan portion of your blog business plan (alongside your market research). You'll map out specific and measurable goals, your general strategies for reaching those goals, and the specific tactics and tools you'll use to meet the business goals you set for your blog.
In this final section of your blog business plan, you'll cover your financial plans. For example, you might set your budget for hosting, domain renewals, Web design work, advertising, file hosting for e-book sales, payments to blog contributors, or payment processor fees on the payments you receive. You'll also include financial projections noting how much you intend to earn over the year (and you can stretch that into 3-5 year projections if you want to).
These are some of the bare bone basics you'll want to include in a blog business plan of your own. Need some additional help? Download my free blog business plan template to help you plan and build a more successful, income-generating blog.
Note: This post was originally published on December 12, 2012. Content was updated and it was re-featured on its currently-listed publication date.
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. Through her company, 3 Beat Media, she operates All Indie Writers, NakedPR.com, BizAmmo.com, and numerous other blogs.
Jenn has over 15 years experience writing for others, over 11 years experience in blogging, and 9 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.
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