Start a blogging business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your blogging business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the initial costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you. Skip on ahead to the Business Overview for more detailed answers to all your questions.
Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your blogging business is sued. Consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
STEP 8: Define your brand.
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Lots of people read online content about topics they’re interested in on a daily basis. Blogging businesses create blog content around specific topics that inform, educate and entertain people interested in the topics the blogs cover.
Who is this business right for?
Successfully starting a blogging business requires a lot of passion for a particular subject and a desire to share that passion with others. The passion is often more important than what the subject itself is, as there are blogs on all kinds of topics -- and readers interested in all kinds of subjects. Creating content for a blogging business requires a significant amount of time, but the tasks can easily be arranged around a full-time job or other obligations.
What happens during a typical day at a blogging business?
Bloggers spend much of their time creating content, connecting with followers and managing their website. As a blogging business owner, you can expect to:
- Create unique content at least once per week
- Respond to comments and emails from followers on a daily basis
- Send out an e-newsletter at least once per month
- Update your website as needed
- Improve the design of your website and implement new features occasionally
(These are typical timeframes that many bloggers follow. You can be less involved in a blog, but your following may decrease.)
What is the target market?
Blogs can be targeted toward anyone with an internet connection. The monetization method can be adapted for the audience targeted (as well as the type of content). For instance, one travel blogging business that targets affluent travelers might use affiliate links to international cruise booking sites, while a travel blog that targets lower-income travelers may focus on promoting local attractions or gear for day trips -- both things that cost less than a five-star cruise.
How does a blogging business make money?
There are several ways a blogging business may make money:
- Hosting ads that pay based on pageviews or clicks is a viable option for most blogs
- Using affiliate links that pay commissions on sales made through the links is a good option for blogs that focus on a topic that easily relates to tangible items (e.g. tech blogs or sports equipment blogs)
- Selling digital products directly to followers can work for blogs that provide lots of useful information (e.g. blogs on how to build websites)
- Selling memberships to exclusive content can also work for blogs that have a great deal of actionable information
The most well-known advertising platform is Google Adsense, but BuySellAds and Chikita are two of several other options. Additionally, advertising agreements can be arranged directly with advertisers. Amazon Associates is a well-known affiliate program that lots of bloggers participate in, but many ecommerce sites offer affiliate programs.
To convince followers to pay for exclusive content, either through a digital download or membership, blogs must provide expert information that’s not easily found for free online and is highly useful.
What is the growth potential for a blogging business?
Many blogging businesses start as a small, one-person operation, but they can grow to have large followings and generate a lot of revenue. Some examples of blogs that have become very successful include:
- Smart Passive Income, which Patt Flynn has used to help generate an income of $132,179.75 in November 2016 (this figure includes numerous income streams, many of which are directly tied to or greatly helped by Flynn’s blog)
- Tech Crunch, which started as an individual blog and has grown into an online media outlet
- Mark’s Daily Apple, which has evolved from a blog into an online magazine
- BoardingArea, which syndicates blogs from several bloggers
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful blogging business?
A blogging business should know a lot about the topic they’re covering. People who are passionate about a topic typically already have a lot of knowledge on the subject, and they also usually know of resources to use when researching the subject.
It also helps to have a little knowledge about building and managing websites. There are platforms for bloggers who don’t have a lot of experience with websites, though, as well as many free online resources on designing sites. Which resources you’ll want to consult will depend on whether you’re using Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, Wix or another platform, and what themes and plug-ins you’re using on your site.
What are the costs involved in opening a blogging business?
A blogging business can be started with very little financial capital. The two main startup costs are registering a domain (~$15 per year) and paying for hosting (~$15 per month). Even these costs can be eliminated by starting a blog on a free third-party platform, such as Blogger or Wordpress.com, but hosting on a third-party platform can make it more difficult to customize, advertise and monetize a blog. Business owners that have funds available may want to invest in any of the following areas:
- Features that improve the design of their website (e.g. a custom header or theme)
- Content that increases engagement (e.g. infographics)
- Advertisements that increase visibility (e.g. ads or sponsored posts on other sites)
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
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Growing Your Business
How to promote & market a blogging business
A blogging business can be promoted through paid means, such as sponsored posts and advertisements, or through free methods. One of the most effective ways of marketing blogs without paying anything is through guest blogging, in which a business owner writes a blog post that’s published on another site with a link back to the owner’s blog.
Blogging business owners often also have social media accounts to accompany their blogs. Actively engaging users on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other platforms can also increase traffic.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
A blogging business can develop a loyal following by consistently publishing high-quality content. It’s important to both publish pieces that users find highly informative, useful or entertaining, and to do so regularly. Publishing infrequently or at irregular intervals can have a negative effect on traffic.
How and when to build a team
At first, a blogging business can be run by one person. They benefit greatly from hiring people to create additional content, though, as content attracts traffic. Most bloggers that pay for content hire freelancers on a contract basis.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a blogging business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply. For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
Some of a blog’s operations are regulated by the FTC. Here is a description of these regulations compiled by BlogHer.
How much can you charge customers?
Blogs that sell digital products and memberships charge followers directly, but most blogs instead make money through affiliate links, ads and sponsored posts that retailers and marketers pay for. How much a blog brings in through these depends a lot on the blog’s traffic and niche. For example, a blog on food might make an average of $0.05 per click on an ad, while one that’s on education might average $1.50 per ad click.
What are the ongoing expenses for a blogging business?
A blogging business’ ongoing expenses are for domain renewal (~$15 per year) and hosting (~$15 per month). Blogs may also have ongoing expenses for content creation and advertising.
How much profit can a blogging business make?
The profit potential for a blog is highly variable, depending on the blog’s niche and traffic. Some blogs generate just a few hundred dollars a year, while others bring in tens of thousands of dollars (or more) each month. The most successful blogs usually have built up loyal audiences over several years.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Blogging businesses can increase their profitability by pursuing multiple monetization methods. They don’t have to use just one method. Some blogs, for instance, incorporate affiliate links and ads into their posts, and they may even repackage posts as ebooks that can be purchased.