Objective setting should become your first step when planning a business blog, just as you’d do with any mortar-and-brick business endeavor. In the simplest terms, you should determine:
* Your target market: You should define your audience clearly. First build an ideal visitor profile, which include age, level of income, interest, and others. By creating a tangible description of those you’re trying to reach, it will be easier to determine the best conversational tone for your visitors. You’re communicating with people, not lifeless statues.
* Your content or product: You may have advices, experiences or stories to share, or it is likely that you also have products and services to sell. Your target audience should have matching desires, needs and interest.
* Your differentiation: You should be unique and have stories that only you can tell. This what attract visitors to your blog and don’t compete in heavily saturated areas. Find areas where demands for information and products are not fully satisfied.
The strategy should fit your audience and blog goals the best. Assuming making money is among your primary goals, you have a lot of options.
Your standard for success
Readership? New business opportunities? Revenue? You should define the meaning of success based on your ideals and goals.
Be specific and as concise as possible, however, you shouldn’t treat the plan as something inviolate. As you go through the design and development process, it is common to find new, interesting things along the way about your audience, your market and perhaps even yourself. Some of these new discoveries may suggest a change or improvement in plan. Do change or improve it when it really makes sense, but never change your development plan on a whim.
For example, your blog may discuss about women’s fashion and style. One of your goals might to see whether your blog can establish you as an expert in women’s fashion, although you don’t have a formal education in style and design. With enough effort, you can succeed almost beyond your wildest dream.
Finding your niche
For decades, marketing experts use the proven strategy of narrowing their scope to gain an effective differentiation and improve the chance for success. This strategy is also applicable for your blog.
You shouldn’t try to please everyone. To separate your online business from the pack, you should focus on smaller target group and find unmet demands in the market. Don’t do what you want, do what your site visitors want! For example, you may want to establish a leading review site for gadgets and electronic products. This is a saturated area in the Internet and many leading review sites are already strongly entrenched. As the owner of a new review site, it is unwise to confront them directly if you have limited resources. Don’t try to review everything, you should focus your site on things that other sites fail to cover thoroughly, such as gadgets and accessories from less popular manufacturers. You can find unmet demands, since some users prefer less popular brands when buying electronic products to get a better balance between features, quality and cost.
Niches do work! Many new sites can gain sizable revenue by deviating from contemporary topics. You should segment your market either by interest or demographically. If you have an interest in a saturated market you should start small and narrow. Develop your expansion plan, achieve your goals and stay focused.
Defining your monetization strategy
Even if you don’t sell anything in your site, your monetization options are still diverse. You may choose affiliate commissions, advertising, freelance writing, consultancy fees, in-kind compensation and sponsorships. When deciding on the monetization option that makes sense to you, you should take into account your audience, topic and personal inclinations. For example, if you have an international audience, you can safely choose a general advertising.
You should prepare a no nonsense plan. You should continuously make a slight improvement and small corrections without significantly affecting your long-term plan. A long the way, you may find something that has caught your attention, however, if it doesn’t fit your site, you shouldn’t force it. However, sometimes a game-changing event may force you to do things very differently or it will significantly affects your ability to reach your goals. It should be significant enough, that it can stop you on your track and stop you from continuing on the business operation, unless you make necessary adjustments. For example, if your suppliers are no longer be able to provide products at sufficient quality or quantity, you should take a step back, deal this problem first and temporarily reduce your online marketing efforts. Fortunately, this won’t happen to us every day, even in the fast-paced online world.
Other likely, but not-so-common, problem is when you find out that your brand name is already trademarked previously by another online establishment. In many cases, rather than engaging in an exhausting and a likely losing legal battle, you should rebrand your fledgling online business and make sure you have a unique and legally indisputable brand name. Another option is to hold a contest for a new brand name and you can offer a reward for a customer who is able to provide the best brand name and logo. This is definitely a far more cost-effective method and with a contest, you can better publicize your rebranding move. Just because a domain name is available, it doesn’t mean that you will be completely free of possible copyright issues.
Setting realistic goals.
By having realistic goals, you won’t get frustrated and abandon the effort before your online business has had time to succeed.
These are a few useful tips when planning an online business:
* Organize your long-term plan into a number of milestones.
* Achieve a mini goal and move on the another. Many owners of online business have a simple long-term goal, which is to make a living from their blogs. If this is the case, your first milestone should be to gather enough audience so you can get enough revenue from contextual advertising or attract new advertisers. If you want to sell products in your blog, your sales forecast should be on the low side and adjust your sales target realistically based on the past sales records.
* Consider your own style or personality. If you hate criticizing people around you, it could be a bad idea to start a review site. Consider topics that allow you to comfortably share your opinions and experiences.
* Never try to achieve a goal overnight. Many bloggers have huge, steady income, however they need to work hard to achieve success. Overnight success rarely happens, although, based on an observer’s perspective the success of a blog may appear to be quite easy and fast. To get to the top, you need to work hard and once you get there, you need to defend it. People who make a living from their blogs, treat them as their job. You should be honest about the effort you’re willing to put in. People don’t come to your blog simply just because you’ve just built a blog. Just like a full-time job, you should be prepared to work hard.
Sketching a preliminary plan
After defining your objectives, you should know how to achieve them. This is the nitty-gritty of establishing a strategic plan for your business blog. However, before diving into the detail, you should sketch a good strategic plan, you should answer these questions first:
* What are your passions? What topics do you want to write about? What is the best way to share your thoughts in a meaningful way?
* Who will read your blog? What do readers want that other blogs aren’t delivering?
* If you have an existing website, how your blog will fit into it? Is it possible to use them together to reach long-term goals?
* How does your blog fit into the long-term strategy?