By Hilary Rushford of Dean Street Society
Turning your blog into a profitable brand takes more than just style savvy. Before the clock strikes midnight, look back at your last year, ahead to the next, and consider which of these tips could help take you to the next level in 2013.
1. Determine what you’re selling.
Are you aspirational, educational, modest, envelope pushing, urban, vintage, high-end? If having to pick just one or two makes you feel confined, think of a brand like Bethenny Franel’s Skinnygirl. She started with healthy baking, which became low-cal cocktails, then all natural skin care. She’s always been in the “living well” wheelhouse, which has allowed her to branch out, while still feeling “on brand”.
2. Consider ROI.
A good entrepreneur is constantly debating their return on investment. Did the amount of time, money or effort it took to produce “x” lead to an equal or greater pay-off? That payoff could be in traffic, comments, new Twitter followers or just a delightful experience that lit you up. Whatever your goals are, keep your eye out for patterns. Which activities take you a ton of time but don’t make many waves? Which do you knock out quickly and your readers adore? You only have so many hours in a week, so make the most of em.
3. Always be aware of your message.
Ashton Kutcher sent one uninformed tweet about the Penn State football scandal this year, and turned over his account to his handlers. Everything you put out speaks for your brand. When you’re having a bad day, my motto is: Text it, don’t tweet it. That’s what besties are for. Or if you’re always touting the beauty of budget shopping, be aware that talking about how much you’re coveting a pricey bag might bum your readers out.
4. Know what your goals are.
Blogging takes a lot of time and hard work. Before you start missing date nights with your beau and stealing time from your day job to blog from your desk, be clear about what your end game is. What’s your 3 year plan? Do you desire to grow a following so you can launch your Etsy shop? If so, what’s your timeline and how much do you need to sell to turn a profit? It can be easy for a year to pass by without progress if you aren’t clear with yourself about the action steps to make things happen.
5. Invest in a team.
When you first start blogging, you likely have zero budget. But if it's something you intend to use as a business platform, you eventually need to save up the funds to hire help. This might be in graphic design, photography, or web development, but no one is an expert across the board. Every solo-preneur reaches a tipping point where they have to pay for help to become more profitable. That doesn’t have to be in your first month or even your first year, but when the timing’s right know who you'll go to first.