11 June 2009

Blogging Tips : Business Model

Why You Need a (Blogging) Business Model ?

Today Shaun Connell from Learn Financial Planning shares some thoughts about blog business models.

After managing a website or blog for a significant period of time, it becomes extremely easy to assume that because we do our business online, that we aren’t engaging in ‘real’ business, and all of the ‘real’ principles of business don’t apply. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

You need a (blogging) business model.

This post explains why you need to actually write out your own business plan - even if you’re ‘just’ running an online business. Without a specific business model, you’re chances of success are greatly diminished.

But first, let’s dig a little deeper before we talk specifically about blogging. Let’s look at the fundamentals of science, business, economics and the Universe itself.

How the Universe Works

The most important concept I’ve ever read about was explained in a book by Richard Maybury, a popular author, investor and economist. In his book, Maybury explained that the world operates in terms of what he called ‘models’, or systems.

There’s the solar system, the system of natural selection, the system of economics, the systems of business - everything operates in terms of a system. Everything from door knobs, to atoms, to TVs, to Wal Mart - there’s a system to everything.

Maybury explained if you want to accomplish a certain goal, the most important thing you can learn is how the systems operate, and implement them for yourself. Timothy Ferris has taken this to the extreme, deconstructing everything from learning a language, to wrestling, to building a business based on logical system.

I know, I know — the word “system” is often used by scammers to lend credibility to a get-rich-quick program. Feel free to think the word “plan” instead of “system” and we’ll both be on the same page.

In the same way the ’system’ of a motor has fuel, a framework, pistons, etc - a typical business model has funding, a location, employees, etc. You’re blogging model will need content, marketing and monetization — a system.

Everything operates systematically. Everything.

Why Bloggers Often Fail

Let’s face it: most bloggers fail to earn a full-time income. Some spend literally years trying to make it. The statistics are “against” blogging success.

But it’s not because of a lack of information. Yaro, Darren, Brian and dozens of other successful people have poured their guts into free content and relatively inexpensive courses, explaining the ins-and-outs of building a successful blog.

Success certainly isn’t distant because of a lack of data.

But raw data is useless unless we know what to do with it.

A business is a business, whether it’s on a blog or in a ‘brick and mortar’ building. Blogging without a general business plan is akin to trying to start a ‘regular’ business without a plan. Success is possible, but much, much less likely.

How to Get a Blogging Model

A business “model” is basically just a plan — a roadmap that details every step and action you take in your business that leads to the end result of a profit.

There are dozens of popular ways to turn a profit online, with models based on affiliate marketing, pay-per-click advertising, search-engine marketing, social media marketing, etc. Most blogs mix-and-match the various tactics into a model they are most comfortable with.

As you write your own model, make sure to be as specific as possible without being restrictive. Here are some of the concepts your model will need to consider:

  • Content Model. Who will write your content? How often will your content be published? What’s the purpose of every article? Will you do straight-up blogging, or a little bit of traditional webmastering? Will you be doing “open-ended blogging” without an “end date” for your content to be roughly finished? Will you accept guest posts?
  • Marketing Model. Almost all traffic is good, but what kind will you focus on? Will you build links? Will you pay for ads? Will you write guest posts? Will you spend a majority of your time doing keyword research? Will you focus on social media?
  • Monetization Model. Some “gurus” claim the need to focus on content now, and think about monetization later. That’s risky, and for many small niches it’s a little naive. Will you use AdSense? What affiliate programs will you focus on? How will you get visitors from your “regular posts” to your money-making posts? Will you focus your web design on usability?

These questions are just the beginning. Most of us have a general idea of what the answers to these questions are, but putting them into concrete form helps “seal the deal” and gives us tangible steps to take in order to achieve our goals to make money.

Last Thoughts

Being a beginner blogger without a blogging plan is like learning to cook without using any recipes - success is possible, but not probable.

I’m not saying you should restrict yourself into a little box — that’d be counter-productive for obvious reasons. A good blogging model doesn’t restrict you, but allows you to focus on the important steps you need to take to achieve your blogging goals. That’s it.

This isn’t revolutionary material, and has been explained in literature from the Bible, to business textbooks, to self-growth books like “Think and Grow Rich.”

So what’s your blogging model? Have you ever spent a few moments to write down what your goals are? What your marketing strategy is? Any tips on writing a blogging plan that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.

This post was written by Shaun Connell, the webmaster of Learn Financial Planning, where he writes about everything from picking a savings account to learning how to make money online.

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