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October 6, 2017

A Blog Business Plan For Style Bloggers

 Blogging

During a webinar Q&A I held last week, someone asked me if my intention was to “get free clothes” when I started my blog and if they should “charge a fee” even though they were just starting their style blog.

My answers?

1. No, my plan was always to blog full time, so I was in it for more than just free clothes. I needed income.
2. You can’t charge people for something you don’t know how to do well. Well, you can, but not many people will pay you.

But I understand that when you’re first starting your style blog everything is so fresh that you don’t know where to start.

For me, my style blog didn’t start generating real income (you know the kind you can pay your rent or mortgage with) until I wrote down what I wanted. I didn’t realize that essentially I was creating a style blog business plan. I just knew that I wanted to leave my 9 to 5 and make more money from blogging than my job was paying me at the time.

Truth be told, it took me 3 years to monetize my style blog even on a part time level. I was creating content just for the sake of creating and had no direction of where I wanted to take my little blog.

While I had written down what I wanted to accomplish with my blog 3 years after I started blogging, I finally wrote them all out in an organized and intentional document at the top of this year – a business plan.

This month, last month and next month will be the first time I’ve made 5 figures as a style blogger consecutively without the income from my masterclasses, courses or other endeavors. It feels good. But I know that I wouldn’t have gotten there without my plan.

Whether you want to blog full time or create a solid side hustle from your blog, you need direction. The only way to get that direction is to have a plan. A very detailed and strategic plan designed specifically for you.

If you’re interested in making an income from your style blog, you can skip through the experience of having no direction for 3 years and get straight to the part where you get clear on the right next steps. Just keep reading…

Why You Need A Business Plan For Your Style Blog
While it may not seem that “serious,” a business plan is necessary if you want to profit from your style blog especially at a full time level. And while faves like Regina and Melyssa have broken down how to write awesome blog business plans, this business plan breakdown is specifically for style bloggers. You could just wing it and it’ll take you twice as long to “make it” (if not longer) because you had no clarity on where you stand.

And yes, you can make your blog your business, but there’s a lot more to it than money and pretty pictures. If you don’t understand the market & industry of blogging and where you fit in it, it will certainly be difficult to stand out in it.

In this blog post, I’ll be breaking down exactly what you should have in your Style Blog Business Plan and there’s even a template for you to fill out yourself!

What To Expect Out of Your Style Blog Business Plan (SBBP)
I’m sure you’re thinking, “a business plan is kind of serious and will take me forever to complete.” You’re right. Well, sort of. A business plan is serious but more in the “this is more likely to become a reality than just a thought in your mind” kind of way.

And yes, this will take some time. But this isn’t a said and done kind of document. It should be a fluid document that changes as your blog grows. To get started, take 2 to 3 hours out of your day to start your Style Blog Business Plan.

If you’re actually serious about taking your style blog to the next level, gather yourself because this is not a post to be played with. It’s longer than the average.

Ready?

Ok, let’s break the Style Blog Business Plan down:

style blog business plan

Let’s break down even further what each part and section means and why it’s important for your growth as a style blogger.

BLOG OVERVIEW
Summary
This is where you want to write out what your style blog is. Nothing to overthink here – but believe me you will because it is one of the simpler portions of the business plan. It may be best to fill out the rest of your blog overview (or even business plan) first and then come back to this. This part of your overview should be 1-2 sentences long. If a middle schooler can’t comprehend, it’s too complicated. Revisit and simplify it as much as possible.

Vision Statement
The keyword here is “vision.” Whether it’s a single sentence or short paragraph, this is where you want to acknowledge the aspirations of your style blog. Essentially, this is where you should answer the question: “where do I see my style blog going on a long term basis?” or “where do I want my style blog to be in x years?” Don’t feel like your vision should be one thing or another. It should be what you would like to accomplish. It’s much more the PASSION and dream portion of the business plan.

Mission Statement
Now, if you’re like me you’re probably a little confused and wondering what the difference between a vision and mission statement is. Your vision is where you what to your style blog to be and your mission is why your style blog exists. Again, this can be a sentence or short paragraph, but you should elaborate on the action that will be taken to achieve the aspirations of your vision. The mission statement of your blog is the entire purpose of it.

BLOG GOALS & DEADLINES
Outline (Weekly & Monthly)
In this section, write down your deadlines you aim to meet on a weekly and monthly basis. Do you want to write 1 post a week? Are you aiming for 4 posts a month? How many times do you plan on actually posting? This is where you’ll want to answer those questions. You’ll also want to write why you want to post as often as you will. (To grow readership? To increase visibility to brands?) Isn’t staying consistent with your blog much harder than you thought? That’s because you haven’t actually written down your goals and connected them to the big picture. It’s important to acknowledge these goals – in written form – and when you’ll accomplish them.

Practices & Processes
So you now know when you want to post, but what all goes into your post creation process? Writing all those steps out – research, prepping, location scouting, etc. and how long it takes you to complete the entire process – will give you a clear idea on how much time you need to invest in your blog day to day (or week to week).

In this section, you’ll also want to write down the practices that keep you motivated and inspired to create content for your blog. Is it listening to certain podcasts? Reading certain posts you’ve saved from Pinterest?

It would also be in your best interest to write out how you do each step in your content creation process to reiterate clarity.

Mid & Long Term Goals
This is one of my favorite parts of the business plan – GOALS. Specifically, mid and long term. When you discuss goals you usually talk about immediate goals or long term (5+ years) but there’s never really an opportunity to acknowledge what you want to achieve in the next 24 to 36 months. Use this section for it. Write what you’d like to accomplish in 2 years up to 5 years. This can be as simple as a bullet point list.

Expansion
Internally, how will you expand your team? Do you need an assistant? Interns? Graphic designer? Photographer(s)? While you may not need them now, it’s great to know who you would want on a team once you build one. And when you get to the full time level, doing it by yourself won’t be ideal. Also think about expansion externally. Will you always work from home? What about an office space? Maybe a showroom? Consider your internal AND external expansion plans in the next few years and who + what you would actually need to accomplish your goals.

BLOG MARKET + AUDIENCE
Competitors
The one thing you should absolutely know as you grow as a blogger is who your competitors – aka similar and like minded style bloggers – are. This is key so you’re aware of what’s going on in your industry. Some of these people may be your friends and some might be complete strangers. They may have started when you did or maybe even before or after. A good question to ask is: “if someone reads my blog, whose else’s blog are they reading?” List them out (include the URL) and study them from time to time to ensure you know what’s going on in the style blogosphere.

Target Reader
Who are you trying to attract to read your blog content? Everything ain’t for everybody, your blog included. Get very clear on who the content your blog provides will help. Is it an up and coming blogger? An established designer? Millennial women? A mix of 2 or 3 types of people? Whatever the case, be sure that you’re clear on who they are and how you’re helping them. That includes their position in life, position in career, age, location, their biggest problem and how your blog solves it. This is a great place to include a target reader “avatar list.”

Target Follower
Who are you attracting on social media and on YouTube? Even if you’re not doing video content, you should be on social media if you plan on making your style blog visible (and valuable). Not everyone who follows you will read your blog, so it’s important to differentiate the two.

What attracts people to follow you on each platform that you’re on?

Yes, break it down per platform so you’re clear on who is following you where and how to create platform appropriate content that keeps them coming back for more.

Target Brand
As a style blogger, working with brands is important. In a lot of cases, it’s the way your style blog will become profitable – from brand partnerships. But you should be clear on who you are as a content creator and who your blog attracts.

In this section, you should include a brand bucket list. What brands would you like to work with? Is your aesthetic compatible with theirs? Why would they want to work with you? Pinpointing the answers to these questions will help you approach your style blog content in a way that attracts brands that you actually want to work with as well.

BLOG STRUCTURE
Categories
As a content creator – you’re probably a creative by nature which means ideas come to you all the time. That’s great, but it’s important to make sure those ideas that become posts are organized and easy to access to the reader.

Thank goodness for categories!

This is where you can organize your content on your site so it’s easy for readers to find. This is also great if you need to point a brand to the certain type of content you create – it’ll all be filed under a certain category. Categories don’t have to be complicated – in fact, the more simplified the better.

Should your categories be beauty, outfits and lifestyle? Maybe shopping, tutorials and style? Whatever the categories, they should make sense for your blog (don’t just copy another blog’s categories if you don’t create the same type of content.) Think about the content you create regularly and break it down into 3-5 categories, max.

NOTE: Categories = general; tags = specific

Schedule
Of course, creating content consistently is what will make your blog grow. But consistency is sort of tough to accomplish without a schedule. A blog schedule is when your blog content will be posted.

Will you post every Tuesday? Maybe every Monday and Thursday? Every weekday? There is no right or wrong approach.

Of course, the more frequently you post, the more likely you are to increase your impressions and condition your readers to visit more often. But be realistic and start off with a schedule you can actually commit to and write it out.

MARKETING + GROWTH STRATEGY
Blog Growth Strategy
Here is where you want to identify what you’re going to do to ensure your blog continually grows. This can include anything from post consistency to SEO strategy, etc. But you are more likely to do what it takes to grow your blog when you write it down and clearly acknowledge it.

You can certainly break this down weekly, monthly and annually so you have specific goals to work towards. Include what widgets and/or plugins will help you accomplish your growth strategy so you can reference them as your blog grows.

Social Promotion Strategy
It will be almost impossible to grow your blog without promoting it on social media on a daily basis. Each platform is like it’s own different language, so you have to make sure you have a strategy for each individual platform. Maybe you have more followers on one platform while another platform converts the most for you.

This section is dedicated to how you will market your blog and blog posts on social on a daily and weekly basis. Include what software and/or apps (think Hootsuite, CoSchedule, Buffer, etc.) that will help you execute your strategy.

Email Marketing Strategy
Nothing connects you with your audience and readers quite like email. This is the part where you want to talk about how often you’ll email your audience and what techniques you’ll use to grow your subscriber list.

You should also include what you’ll put in emails you send out to get subscribers to read your blog. Will it be previews of blog posts? Screenshots of YouTube videos? Exclusive posts? The more specific the better.

Be sure to write down which email marketing software you’ll be using and how you can maximize it. Copying and pasting links and even screenshotting tutorials on how to use the email marketing software you have is great for this section as well.

BLOG IDENTITY
Blog Style Guide
This is just what is sounds like – a style guide. This is where you’ll want to list out and include the visual components of your blog brand. What are the fonts you’ll be using? How about the colors? This is also where you’ll want to include the types of photos you want to take for your blog to capture a certain feel or mood. Again, it doesn’t have to be complicated – just done so you have something to reference as you create content.

BLOG OFFERINGS & STREAMS
Potential Streams of Income
Here is where you want to get realistic and decisive when it comes to making a profit with your style blog. Sure, there are many ways to make money as a style blogger, but that doesn’t mean ALL of them are for you. However, I encourage you to stay flexible and allow your strengths to shine even if you figure out a way to monetize your blog differently than the rest. Write down all of your ideas (even the crazy ones) of monetization here. And don’t forget to examine your SPACE (in the next few sections).

Services
What can you offer as a service because of or via your style blog? Can you consult brands? Offer styling services? Maybe you’re into closet organization. The possibilities are endless. Write down your services ideas here along with how to market it to your audience.

Products
What physical products can you offer your audience with the help of your blog? Do you want to own an online boutique? Sell t-shirts? Apparel? Accessories? Beauty products? Write down your product offer ideas and include research with how you would get it off the ground.

Affiliates
Consider the affiliate programs that could help you make passive income with the content you create for your style blog. There are tons of affiliate programs like Amazon, ShopStyle, rewardStyle and Share A Sale. Pinpoint which one(s) you’re eligible for and that you know you can convert your followers with. Write out your strategy for including affiliate links in your blog content.

Curriculum
Are you interested in selling courses or info products? This is where you want to include that. You may not want to teach other style bloggers how to blog, but maybe you want to create a fall style guide or even teach people how to find clients as a stylist. Narrow down what you have experience in and what you’re good at before deciding to teach it. Then figure out what kind of curriculum is best for you and your audience.

Events
If you’re someone who loves to transition the energy from online to offline and in person, events is a potential stream of income idea for you. This can range from informational events (think conferences, workshops, etc) to social events (thinks brunches, dinners, tours, etc). If you can get people out to your event, then this is something to seriously consider.

BLOG FINANCES
Startup Costs
Starting a blog is relatively cheap in comparison to starting other types of businesses, but it still costs money. From buying a domain and hosting, to your tools – camera, clothes, photo editing software – the startup costs start to add up. List them out so you’re not overwhelmed or surprised when you have to start buying these things. You’ll only go through this part once – and this is more so for bloggers just starting out.

Production Costs
What is often overlooked is the cost of producing content. For style bloggers, often various types of photography – flat lays, outfit posts, product shots – not only takes time but it takes money. Itemize each production scenario for your style blog – Outfit Post, YouTube video, flat lay, etc – and break down the cost. Include labor (for you or any team member/freelancer) and the cost of props and tools. These things add up.

Upkeep Expenses
Month to month, how much does it cost you to run your style blog? This is where you want to answer that. Write out all the tools, software and even staff/freelancers you use to execute and what that total number is every month. Then you’ll know how much money you need to make at least to cover expenses.

Budget
You can continue the expenses portion here and include savings and how much you pay yourself as well. You want to make sure you list out how much you want to spend every month then record how much you actually do spend. Compare the two every month. They should be as close as possible. This section is best as a spreadsheet of some sort.

Revenue Goals
So, you wanna make money with your style blog? Ok, that’s great. But how much money are we talking? In this section, you’ll want to write out exactly how much you want to make in certain time frames (weekly, monthly and/or annually) and how you will accomplish that.

BLOG ANALYTICS
Blog Impressions & UMVs
Recording your blog metrics is vital. You have to know where you are to know where you’re going. If there’s two blog metrics to keep an eye on it’s monthly impressions and unique monthly visitors. One tells you how many views you got vs. how many people actually visited your blog. This is great to know as you set goals and add stats to your press kit.

Social Following
Between a rise or drop in post consistency or a change in a platform algorithm, keeping an eye on social analytics will help you stay on track to achieve your goals as well. Numbers aren’t everything but they sure are something. Again, these are stats that can be added to your press kit. This section is best as a spreadsheet coupled with your blog analytics.

Monthly/Annual Goals
As you keep a pulse on your blog and social growth, you certainly want to acknowledge your growth goals. This is where you should record the weekly and monthly goals of your growth/promotion strategies. Setting goals will keep you working towards something versus just blogging for the sake of blogging.

blog business plan, business plan for bloggers

Whew, that was a lot. But we got through it. And again, take your time with it. Tackle this in several sittings a few hours at a time.

Now that you know what should be in your style blog business plan, it’s time to put what you’ve learned here into action.

There’s nothing to it but to do it.

I’ve created a 20+ page Style Blog Business Plan workbook just for you. Again, you don’t have to finish it all in one day. Pace yourself and “complete” it (remember, it is a fluid document) in small chunks of time.

Ready to get organized, focused and take tour style blog to the next level?

Go ahead and sign up with your email below to get your Style Blog Business Plan workbook!

comments +

  1. Charlene

    October 17th, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    These are great tips. Could any of this be used for blogging in general.

  2. Nicole

    October 19th, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Wow Mattie!!! God Bless you abundantly for making this readily available and free for us. X

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