In college (twenty years ago) I took a course called "Better Business Practices," where having a plan was lesson number one.
At the time of this course, however, I had my eyes on New York (a different plan) and didn't pay enough attention to the good advice of Mr. Knowledgable Teacher.
These days, floating in between two worlds; the married stay-at-home-mom world and the your-own-your-own-babe world; I realized I'd better get serious about what it is I'm choosing to do with my time.
Unfortunately, my forty-one years of life on this planet has ingrained some behaviors that have been somewhat tough to kick.
Stubborness a.k.a. I'll do it my way, mixed with seat of my pantsness?
Life on your own babe means that usual procrastination is over. Better organization is the key to the future, and time management is a must (get control, girl).
Based on loads of research and a year and a half of willy nilly blogging, here's what I've learned, some of which has already been accomplished.
1. Get a LLC.
LLC stands for limited liability company. Sounds complicated, but isn't.
Like a corporation, a LLC is "its own entity" and therefore protects its owner's personal property should the LLC ever have debts it can't pay, or get into legal trouble for which its held responsible.
Once you choose your LLC's name and pay the fee, you receive a tax identification number, open a bank account, and do business all under the company's new identity (this protects your personal privacy, too).
After lots of google searching and conversations with blogging buddies (who'd already created their LLC's), I chose to go the Legal Zoom route, which was so easy I was able to do it over the telephone in the back corner of my bustling Starbucks. I settled on Wills Media Group, of which I am the CEO.
In one month I received a complete kit inside a box, with my LLC etched in gold letters along the spine.
For now, its been tucked away as I line up the rest of the necessities to get this business ball rolling.
2. Complete your press kit.
My press kit's been done for months, but I've been sitting on it, afraid to send it out.
The truth is that my numbers didn't look that great; my bounce statistics need some attention, and I've got to find a way to recruit returning users (looks like I need to do a newsletter, but ugh to newsletters).
I've recently gotten over myself enough to send out a few, but so far no bites.
After another round of discussions with my blogging buddies, it turned out that I didn't have my stats correct. Foolishly, I'd only included my page hits since moving to self-hosting.
Since I'd only had google analytics since January, I negated to mention that I'd actually had over 40,000 page views. My messed up stats told a different story; one of a baby blogger with hardly any readers.
Press kit cleaned up, I'm again sending them out like resumes. My old school opinion about job procurement is that if you send out a few a day, someone will become interested. Let's hope this holds true in today's struggling economy.
3. Figure out what you're selling.
When I started to blog, creating a business was nowhere on the radar. I wrote as I ran, documenting the story of pudgy girl who liked to run, and always wanted to race that magical mileage, 26.2.
This re-awakened my love for writing.
Which then re-awakened my love for learning.
One of the biggest hurdles for me has been to get my brain around what it is that I'm trying to do.
- I want to write a book, must make the time.
- I must continue to blog, not only because I love it, but because of the contacts and friends I've made. It also keeps my name relevant; any business owner today needs a blog/website.
- I want to use my skills in writing, editing and marketing to help people with their businesses (have you entered the Little Bits Giveaway yet? Do it for a friend if you don't have a baby!) .
- I want to rule the world.
D is a little joke, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I wanted my expertise to be noticed and utilized.
4. Get a schedule.
If you asked my mother, much to her chagrin, she'd say I'm on the computer all day.
Yes mother, I know.
Social media is a time suck, because the information coming through the web is lightning fast. The ginormous amounts of literature on any subject becomes a force field that learners have trouble separating themselves from.
Most of the folks you'll meet in social media are life-long learners. We learn from each other's mistakes and triumphs, each other's techniques and experiences.
One of the most important lessons I've learned, heard often, is that an editorial calendar is key.
With my LLC waiting patiently on a shelf, nothing else can move forward until my calendar has been planned.
Google Documents has loads of free editorial calendar templates that I'm presently sifting through. The trouble is finding one that works for my business, which encompasses many areas from book writing to marketing to editing to straight blogging, and the always important attention to social sites.
Looking back over number 3 (above) is imperative to your plan. Here's what I'm working with ...
- Schedule blog posts, 2-3 per week.
- Schedule time for book planning.
- Decide what times and for how long will I give to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Tumblr.
- Figure out when I'll collaborate. Write Christine's guest post? Meet with Lauren (LouLouBean) about giveaway number 2? And so on.
- Do research.
- Read and respond to other blogs.
- Answer job listings via Craig's List (or other job offering sites). You'd be surprised the connections I've made with up and coming companies looking for writers and marketing assistance in my area.
- Analyze blog settings, widgets, etc. Periodic clean-up is necessary to keep a blog looking fresh.
5. Get paid for my work.
At this point, the payments are trickling in. Just this week I printed out and sent my very first invoice for two hours of content and copy editing, done for a business owner who reads my blog.
To say it was fun is an understatement. Getting paid for my work; empowering.
Other ways that bloggers (and I) get paid is through joint marketing and blog advertising.
Last month I worked with BlogHer Publishing Network to help promote the re-release of Disney's Moulan, and there are more opportunities coming down the pike.
I signed up, and within days was given approval for some of my favorite brands' ads now linked to my site. When a visitor clicks on an ad, they're taken to the website, and if a purchase is made, I can make a small commission. There's not huge money in this unless your blog is receiving a ton of traffic, but it is something and important part of blogging as a business.
6. Accept that I need a real job.
This one was tough. When you like what you do, it's all you want to do. But starting a business not only takes time and hard work, it takes cold hard cash.
Looking at my skill set I've chosen to focus on areas that will bring satisfaction, but also allow me some time to continue to work on my first love and passion; my biz.
What's your plan? Have you taken any of the steps above? Please share!
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