This summer officially made it 4 years since I’ve become a full time blogger + influencer. One thing that’s helped me maintain success since going full time?
An influencer business plan.
After reflecting on my journey, I noticed that I started making six figures only after I made a plan. It was nothing remarkable, I just wrote down how I wanted to profit as an influencer plus who I wanted to work with and how much I wanted to make. Last summer, I streamlined that written plan into a business plan. I wrote it as a business plan for a style blogger. As I’ve recently revised my business plan, I realize that it’s actually a business plan for an influencer.
The great thing about an Influencer Business Plan (vs a style blogger one) is that it works for any niche you’re influential in. Whether your influence is in parenting, food, beauty or something other than style, the overall focus for most influencers is working with brands to make an income. That includes pitching, planning & creating content while also setting income goals.
During a recent Instagram live someone asked me how I make money as an influencer.
In short, I make money as an influencer by:
Working with brands via paid campaigns. That includes a variety of content such as sponsored blog posts & YouTube videos or paid Instagram Stories.
But here’s the number one thing I’ve learned as an influencer:
You can’t charge people for something you don’t know how to do well. Well, you can, but not many people will trust or pay you.
I understand that when you’re first starting your journey as an influencer everything is so fresh that you may not know where to start.
For me, my blog and social content 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 to accomplish as an influencer. I didn’t realize that essentially I was creating a 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 influence even on a part time level. In the beginning, I was creating content just for the sake of creating and had no direction of where I wanted to take my little blog.
That’s what the influencer business plan does for the influencer: it gives them direction.
Even though I had written down what I wanted to accomplish 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.
Since Q1 of 2018, I’ve made 5 figures as an influencer consecutively without any additional income from masterclasses, online courses, affiliates or other endeavors. It feels good. But I know that I wouldn’t have gotten here without my influencer business plan.
Whether you want to become a full time influencer or create a solid side hustle from your blog and/or social content, 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 your influence your business, you can skip through 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 As An Influencer
While it may not seem that “serious,” a business plan is necessary if you want to seriously profit as an influencer especially at a full time level. You could just wing it and it would take you twice as long to “make it” (if not longer) because you had no idea on what steps to take next.
And yes, you can make your blog/Instagram/YouTube channel your business, but there’s a lot more to it than money and pretty pictures + videos. If you don’t understand the market & industry of influencer marketing, how to leverage your value 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 Influencer Business Plan and there's even a template for you to fill out yourself!
What To Expect Out of Your Influencer Business Plan (IBP)
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 and influencer business grows. To get started, take 1 to 3 hours out of your day to start your Influencer Business Plan. (In my template, I give you a step by step process on how to fill it out in 30 days.)
If you’re actually serious about taking your influence to the next level, gather yourself because this is not a post to be played with. It’s longer than the average.
Ok, let’s break the Influencer Business Plan down:
Let’s break down even further what each part and section means and why it’s important for your growth as an influencer.
This is where you want to write out what kind of influencer you want to be. 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 influencer 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, then it’s too complicated. Revisit and simplify it as much as possible.
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 career as an influencer. Essentially, this is where you should answer the question: “where do I see my influence taking me on a long term basis?” or “how many people do I want to influence in the next 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 PASSION and the dream portion of the business plan.
Now, if you’re like I was in the beginning, you’re probably a little confused and wondering what the difference between a vision and mission statement is. Your vision is where you want your influence to be (end up) and your mission is why you became an influencer in the first place.
Vision = where you see yourself
Mission = why you’re taking action
Again, this can be a sentence or short paragraph, but you should elaborate on the actions that will be taken to achieve the aspirations of your vision. The mission statement of your blog or influencer business is the entire purpose of it.
INFLUENCER GOALS & DEADLINES
Outline (Weekly & Monthly)
In this section, write down the deadlines you aim to meet on a weekly and monthly basis. Do you want to write 1 post a week? Film and post 5 videos a month? How do you plan on actually increasing engagement with your social media followers? 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 online 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 what you want to accomplish, what all goes into your creation process? Writing all those steps out - research, prepping, location scouting, content curation, filming, 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 presence as an influencer 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 as an influencer. Is it watching certain YouTube videos, following certain Instagram accounts or listening to certain podcasts? Saving certain posts 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.
Internally, how will you expand your team? Do you need an assistant? Interns? Graphic designer? Photographer(s)? Spoiler alert - you will definitely need an accountant and attorney. 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.
INFLUENCER MARKET + AUDIENCE
The one thing you should absolutely know as you grow as an influencer is who your competitors - aka similar and like minded influencers in your demographic - 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 follows me, whose else are they more than likely following?” List them out (including their handle and/or URL) and study them from time to time to ensure you know what’s going on in the influencer space.
Who are you trying to get to follow you and consume your content? Everything ain’t for everybody, your content included. Get very clear on who the content you create will help. Is it an up and coming influencer? 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 content helps solve it. This is a great place to include a target follower “avatar list.”
Who are you attracting on social media? What about YouTube? Even if you don’t create video content, you should be on social media if you plan on being visible (and valuable) as an influencer. Not everyone who follows you on social will read your blog (or even watch your YouTube channel), so it’s important to differentiate the strategy for the two.
What attracts people to follow you on each platform that you’re on?
Think Instagram. Think your blog. Think your Twitter or Pinterest (if you have a following on either platform). It’s important to break down your audience 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.
As an influencer, working with brands is important. In most cases, it’s the way you will become profitable - from brand partnerships. But first, you should be clear on who you are as a content creator and who your content attracts.
In this section, 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 content in a way that attracts brands that you actually want to work with as well.
As an influencer and 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 organized and easy to access for your audience on your blog and/or Instagram.
Thank goodness for categories!
This is the section where you outline how you will organize your content so it’s easy for followers 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 where it’s tags/categories on your blog, Instagram Stories highlights or even playlists on your YouTube.
Categories don’t have to be complicated - in fact, the more simplified the better.
Should your categories be beauty, family and self care? Maybe videos, outfits and style? Whatever the categories, they should make sense for your content (don’t just copy another influencer’s categories or highlights if you don’t create that type of content.) Think about the content you create consistently and break it down into 3-5 general categories or highlights, max.
Of course, creating content consistently is what will make your blog and Instagram grow. But consistency is sort of tough to accomplish without a schedule. An editorial schedule is when your content (on your blog, social or even YouTube) 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 reach + impressions and condition your followers to visit your blog or profile more often. But be realistic and start off with a schedule you can actually commit to and write it out.
MARKETING + GROWTH STRATEGY
Blog & Instagram Growth Strategy
Here is the section where you want to identify what you’re going to do to ensure your following 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. Identifying your annual goals and then working backwards is best. Include whatever software, apps and plugins will help you accomplish your growth strategy so you can reference them as your following grows.
Social Promotion Strategy
It will be impossible to grow your following without promoting your content 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. How you promote your content on Instagram isn’t how you’ll market on Pinterest. It’s so important to promote in a way that’s compatible with the platform to maximize your reach. Maybe you have more followers on one platform (for me that’s Instagram) while another platform converts the most for you(for me, that’s Pinterest).
This section is dedicated to how you will market your blog and blog posts (or even podcasts and YouTube videos, if applicable) on social on a daily and weekly basis. Include what software and/or apps that will help you execute your promotion 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. Even as an influencer, growing your email list should be priority because you own your email list unlike and of your followers on any social media platform.
You should also include what kind of content you’ll put in emails you send out to get subscribers to read your blog and follow you on social. Will it be previews of IG posts? Screenshots of YouTube videos? Exclusive posts? The more specific the strategy, the better.
Be sure to write down which email marketing software you’ll be using (Mailerlite, ConvertKit or Mailchimp) 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.
Brand 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 online brand.
What are the fonts you’ll be using on your site or blog?
How about the colors?
This is also where you’ll want to include the types of photos (aka references!) you want to share in your content 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.
INFLUENCER OFFERINGS & STREAMS
Potential Streams of Income
In this section, you want to get realistic and decisive when it comes to making a profit with your content as an influencer. Sure, there are many ways to make money as an influencer, 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 content 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 (explained in the next few sections) if you would like to monetize in other ways including brand partnerships & more.
What can you offer as a service because of or via your influence? Can you consult brands? Offer styling services? Creating blog or social content to market specific products or services for brands for a designated rate is a brand partnership. Brand partnerships are a service. But maybe you’re also into closet organization. The possibilities are endless. Write down your service ideas here along with how to market it to your audience.
What physical products can you offer your audience? Do you want to own an online boutique? Sell t-shirts? Women’s apparel? Accessories? Beauty products? Write down your product offer ideas and include research with how much it would cost to get it off the ground, when you would launch and how much you would price items.
Consider the affiliate programs that could help you make passive income with the content you create. There are tons of affiliate programs like Amazon Affiliates, ShopStyle, rewardStyle, liketoknow.it 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 and social content to create a consistent stream of income.
Are you interested in selling classes, eBooks, courses or info products? This is the section where you want to include that. You may not want to teach other influencers how to work with brands (and that’s ok), 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 you’re best at teaching and best serves your audience.
If you’re someone who loves to transition the energy from online to in person, events is a potential stream of income idea for you. Event planning is a different level of work than content creating that requires a high attention to detail. If this is not something that naturally comes to you, hiring an event planner to partner with to help execute your event idea is best.
Your event ideas can range from informational events (think conferences, workshops, etc) to social events (thinks brunches, dinners, tours, etc). If you know how to successfully get people out to your event, then this is something to seriously consider.
Starting a blog, Instagram or YouTube channel 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 or video 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 section is more so for bloggers or influencers just starting out.
What is often overlooked is the cost of producing content. For influencers, 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 content - Outfit Post, YouTube video, flat lay, etc - and break down the cost. Include labor (for you or any team member/freelancer you work with) and the cost of props and tools. These things add up as well.
Month to month, how much does it cost you to be an influencer? This is where you want to explicitly answer that. Write out all the tools, software and even staff/freelancers you use to produce content and what that total number is every month. Then you’ll know how much money you need to make at the very least to cover expenses. (I suggest thoroughly fleshing this section out before pricing out your SPACE offer so you’re clear on the value you’re offering your audience, customers and/or clients.)
You can continue the expenses portion here in the budget section and include savings (a must!) 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 single month. They should be as close as possible. This section is best as a spreadsheet of some sort.
So, you wanna make money as an influencer? 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 strategically how you will accomplish that.
INFLUENCER ANALYTICS + DATA
Blog & Instagram Reach, Engagement + Impressions
Recording your blog and Instagram (YouTube if applicable) metrics is vital, if you’re an influencer with a blog (and I highly suggest you have one). You have to know where you are to reach. If there’s three metrics to keep an eye on it’s reach, impressions and engagement rate. This is great to know as you set goals and add stats to your press kit.
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 & Instagram analytics.
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 creating content for the sake of creating content. This seems like a small thing to do as an influencer, but will make a difference in your results.
Whew, that was a lot. But we got through it. And again, take your time with it. Tackle this in several sittings a couple hours at a time.
Now that you know what should be in your influencer 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 Influencer 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 become a next level influencer?