7 Tips for Managing Your Blog’s Business (and Avoiding Drama!)

 

Blogging can become very inclusive within a niche; within fashion blogging exists a niche of blogs dedicated to Anthropologie. A few weeks ago posts leaked off of Get Off My Internets about Anthroholic (see here, here, and here. Also, don't pretend you don't secretly read GOMI, too.).    Suze also writes a great piece explaining the scandal, while talking about our relationships with personal finance.

 

In short: the young lady running Anthroholic began a personal shopping service on her site– she'd buy things from Anthropologie for those who were unable to get the items themselves (such as for those living overseas).  Then items stopped being shipped, though they had been paid for, and excuses started to fly: “Anthropologie sent the wrong size,” or “Oh, didn't you get my email.”  This happened at an alarming rate, people did not receive products, and many were not receiving refunds.

 

The point of this post isn't to judge the gal behind Anthroholic, and I urge you not to do so either. Rather, I want to use this scenario as a lesson for bloggers running their own businesses off their blogs.

 

I've worked with a lot of indie designers over the years, especially those that make custom items (like corsets and clothing).  In that time, I've come across this problem more times than I'd like to admit.

 

Nowadays many bloggers use their blogs as a platform for launching their own businesses: online shops, style consulting, freelance writing, personal shopping, and more.   For many of us, running those businesses, on top of blogging, other jobs and lives, can prove to be challenge.  This is especially true when we're just normal men and women, not MBA students!

 

These are tips I find can help alleviate the problems that rise when running your own online business:

 

  • Even if it's a hobby or just for friends, treat your side business like a business. Don't change the rules for yourself as you go along.
  • Don't overextend yourself or your business by offering more than you can realistically handle.
  • Always act with your readers & clients in mind.  You're launching this business to earn extra money, to gain experience, build up clientele and your resume.  Don't let your own pursuits get in the way of the fact you're offering a service to others.
  • Build your own standards of ethics of how you would want to be treated & treat those you do business with accordingly.
  • Use contracts to protect yourself, your reputation and work, and your clients.
  • Utilize third party sites for handling financial transactions, such as Paypal, that offer dispute protection for seller and buyer.  And buyers– don't let the dispute period for Paypal slip away from you!
  • Most importantly–always, ALWAYS be open, honest, and communicative with the people you are working with.  Your clients won't bite if something goes wrong.  They won't chase after you with pitchforks if things get delayed.  But if you lie or hide that there is a problem, they'll feel like you are stealing their money.  And that's when the internet WILL chase after you with an e-pitchfork!

 

Any tips you'd add?  What do you think helps alleviate the drama between running your indie business and the expectations of clients?

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20 Responses

  1. MJ

    “Even if it’s a hobby or just for friends, treat your side business like a business. Don’t change the rules for yourself as you go along.”

    I loved the entire article but this part I think is really important. Once you start treating it like a business you can’t help but go about things in a professional manner and all those other things you stated will naturally follow.

    I try to treat my blog and the freelance writing I do as I would when I’m at my day job – being responsive, communicating about expectations, and deadlines, and time management – all of that comes in handy when your running a business period.

    It can behard for creative people to think in terms of business, especially when it comes to something like blogging but it’s critical, especially now when everyone wants to get into blogging and everybody wants to be super popular. If anything, always put yourself in your client shoes or think about services you paid for and see how you liked (and didn’t like) to be treated and form your own business practices from there.

    As always, great article Ashe! We need info like this now more than ever! 🙂

    Reply
  2. CandyForToes

    Another important thing for bloggers who are business owners (like myself, since I own a luxury shoe brand) is to treat your customers like family. If people feel like they’re interacting with someone who respects them, they’ll refer business. If you talk to people like they’re unimportant, chances are you won’t get repeat business. The internet is rather impersonal, and back in the day face-to-face interaction really helped businesses grow. Now it is important to choose your words carefully and always be open and prompt in answering any questions or concerns.

    Reply
    • Suze

      Agreed! And if for some reason you’re super busy, tell your sponsor that. At least respond with a “hey, fabulous idea. I’m caught up at work right now and will get back to you with more detail in a day or two.” Then DO that.
      I work with some great places, and they know I have a demanding 9-5 job and understand if I can’t always respond, but I’ll DM them with a message, or will at least email with a message similar to above.
      And never, never be afraid to admit you need help. People will respect you more if you admit you need help that if you ignore the issues. They won’t just go away.

      Reply
  3. Stylezza

    Every site, especially, blog can come with sparkle news that has in the center the reader and consumer – a “face to face”writing of the articles can come with an appropriate approach and gather lots of fans in time…

    Reply
  4. snapbacks

    ive never really thought of my blog as a business, more of just a hobby. But i understand completely what your talking about. Managing time and customer expectations are all things learned from business, thanks!

    Reply
  5. Anna

    This article is very informative! I think a lot of people(bloggers included) don’t see blogging so much as a full-time job, they see it more as a hobby. I think that if you want to make your blog or website into a real money-making venture, then you have to treat it like you would any job.

    Reply
  6. Shirley from Funchkins

    Hi there, this post was really helpful. I think it is very important to think of your blog as a business, especially if you are trying to monetize it. Thanks for a great, informative post.

    Reply
  7. Ana

    Oh, I’ve seen this problem a lot of times in the indie makeup community (and, as you mention, in the corsetry and some other custom-made branches).

    Sometimes it seems that the people just didn’t know their own boundaries all that well, other times… it seems like they were doing it knowingly and with a very particular purpose in mind – get as much as you can and get out.

    *sigh*

    It just breeds negativity and depletes good faith.

    Reply
  8. Mishka

    Actually, I don’t read GOMI. So much of that blog needlessly criticizes, and the commenters seem inspired by the negative context to be as vicious as possible. It cracks me up that the author commented on how “empty” bloggers’ lives must be if they need to shop/blog about it… when they’re spending so much of their own time compiling an archive of a**hole remarks.

    Reply
    • Mishka

      Also, I agree that being business-minded is the best way to not get upset/dramatized. Remove emotions from the equation. Easier said than done, but it’s a good motto.

      Reply
  9. Rebecca

    Any time you do something and get paid for it – it’s a business, no matter how small. And once you are running a business you have to be committed and efficient and treat it as a serious business even if it started (like mine) as a favour to a friend.
    There is loads of online software that can help to organise businesses of any size. If you are managing projects that involve more than one person, I recommend Clarizen http://www.clarizen.com/ProjectSoftware.aspx
    but it’s worthwhile seeing what’s out there.

    Reply