This is the first in a series of sponsored posts brought to you by Intel. Along with our event, Inside Generation Style, we're producing content meant to help you build your blog into a business and inspire the entrepreneurial spirit of our community.
Let's get one thing straight right now: starting out on your own as a blogger to create a sustainable business from your site is not for the faint of heart. It's tough, it's hard work, and it's not going to work for everyone. That being said, what kind of help would I be if I just sat over here at the IFB headquarters and dashed your dreams!? I would never. And so, let's have some real talk, and go over some tips that can help you make the leap from passion project to burgeoning business!
1. Create A Business Plan
The most crucial (and probably the first) step you need to take when deciding if you're going to drop everything and start your own business is to draw up a business plan. Figure out for yourself, based on your current finances, your regular expenses, and your expected income – if this is something you can manage. Will ad sales alone be enough? Do you need to set traffic goals first? Don't be discouraged if it seems like a one-way ticket to broketown. Make a budget for yourself, maybe even consult an accountant. What may not be feasible in 6 months may be totally achievable in a year. Envision the end result, and then work backwards to understand the steps you must take to get there. Little things like setting up affiliate links, selling ad space and even refining your content will all contribute to preparing yourself and your site for life as a professional blogger.
2. Become A Hired Gun
What would you say is your most marketable skill as a blogger? Are you an amazing writer? An outstanding photographer? Perhaps you're an incredible stylist! And hey, maybe you're all three. Use your blog as a way to leverage yourself as a professional, hire-able, freelancer. You can be sure that Scott Schueman gets a lot of his photography business based on his blog, The Sartorialist, and last year, IFB hired Susie Lau of Style Bubble to report on NYFW for us because of her great writing. Both Kelly Framel from The Glamourai and Jessie from Style & Pepper are professional stylists. For these kinds of jobs, your blog becomes your resume, your calling card and your portfolio.
3. Network On All Platforms (Online & In-Person)
They say in New York it's all about who you know. When it comes to the internet, that statement is true anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes raw talent and crazy ambition will only get you so far – and you'll need the right connections to take your career and your pursuits to the next level. Real, genuine connections are one of the best and most valuable tools to have when striking out as an independent, entrepreneurial blogger. So who should you know and get to know? Oh, I don't know… Fellow bloggers, communications associates, journalists, photographers, stylists, agents, people in advertising, sales reps, buyers, social media managers, designers… I could go on. And how do you get to know these people? Attend events. Introduce yourself and put a business card in peoples' hands. (Check out my Networking 101 post for more tips.) Email contacts (smartly, like this), ask friends to connect you with people, search around on LinkedIn, send a friendly tweet or Facebook message. And remember, be direct, be quick and always be polite!
To be sure, one of these elements alone may not be (and probably isn't) enough to create a business from your style blog. It's also going to take a dash of luck, excellent timing and the icing on the cake of your site that makes it stand out from the pack. If you're not yet in a place to abandon your day job and focus on your blog exclusively, that's okay! Most of us aren't, either. Focus as much as your schedule and energy level allows on building traffic, refining your content and fostering relationships with your favorite brands.
Also, for further reading, information and inspiration on going pro, I highly suggest consulting some of these previous IFB posts!
- Making Money As A Professional Fashion Blogger
- IFB's Top 10 Fashion Bloggers Who Nail Their Niche
- Working With Companies: Asking For Compensation
- Business of Blogging: How Three Successful Bloggers Monetize Their Blogs
- Marketing 101: Setting and Achieving Goals
- The Rise of The Superblog