When you set out to write a blog, one of the most exciting things that can happen is for you to start growing an audience.
Naturally, part of the appeal of a project like this is simply to share your thoughts, and set up a place online where you can have full control over what you write and why.
But if your blog starts to grow — gaining readers and keeping them around as regulars — you have the opportunity to turn your project into something bigger, and ultimately develop a business.
If and when this happens, some of it will happen in the normal course of events. You’ll gain visitors, you’ll keep doing what you do best, and you’ll find yourself blogging to a steady and reliable readership. If you’re really aiming to grow though, there are some questions you’ll need to ask yourself during the process.
1. How will you monetize?
Growing a readership isn’t enough on its own to turn your blog into a business. Naturally, you’ll also have to find a way (or possibly multiple ways) to monetize the attention your writing is generating.
We’ve asked ‘What is More Rewarding for a Blog?’ when it comes to monetization before, with some of the main options being advertisement and affiliate marketing.
Beyond these, you can also build in a subscription service, put up a donation button (asking readers to contribute whatever they feel comfortable with), or even sell merchandise, if it seems appropriate for your subject and audience.
But you’ll need to do some thought about which of these options best suits your project. Most profitable blogs will engage in at least one of advertising or affiliate marketing, to begin with, and consider premium subscriptions or newsletters further down the line.
2. Should you stick to a niche or spread out?
As you may well know, most successful blogs start out on particular niches. The idea, generally, is to establish authority on a given subject, build up a readership, and then look into additional topics if you’d like to.
And citing experts in the field, Lifehack’s discussion on the niche question comes to the same conclusion: It’s wise to begin with a niche, but expansion can be an option once you’re established.
In the best of cases, it can help with growth as well — though thoroughly dominating a niche is always a good option too!
3. Do you need to form a business?
Most bloggers operate as freelancers, working on their own time and categorizing any earnings essentially as a side income.
If you start to grow your blog and profit reliably from it though, it may be time to give some thought to turning it into a legitimate business entity, or “real job” per se. This can seem like a big step to take, but there are actually some simple options that can make sense.
Per a ZenBusiness write-up on business structures, some of those options include forming an S Corporation, establishing a sole proprietorship, or forming an LLC (this last option being the write-up’s main focus).
These structures work differently, but each one can help you into a more appropriate tax situation for a business and prepare you for any growth or expansion that may occur.
4. Should you hire contributors?
The decision of whether to hire contributors will depend on how well the blog is doing, and how you project to grow it.
Some successful blog owners will hire employees to manage site maintenance or financial matters. Some will start to run their sites like businesses and hire writers to manage day-to-day blogging.
Forbes recommends guest bloggers who can help you to write more content without sacrificing or altering the tone of the blog. All of these are reasonable options, and it’s also fine to go it alone! But if your blog is growing, this is certainly one more question to consider at some point.
The good news is that if you’re asking these questions, your blog is probably in pretty good shape! Addressing these matters, though, can help you take it to the next level.