I mean really…what exactly is the Blog Business Plan? What numbers should be I tracking to grow my blog?
I don’t know about you, but I have kind of a love-hate relationship with data and metrics for my blog. When I first started blogging, I always seemed to get caught up in looking at how many page views my blogs were getting and how many social media followers I was gaining on a daily basis. Are these numbers that I should track?
Then I found out that email marketing has an ROI of over 3,800% (*Reference)! Um, what?
Anybody that uses the word “business plan” must have an MBA right?! There actually is a blueprint for success with blogging, and the best part is that more and more women are turning their side-hustle into a full time income and changing the game. #GirlBoss
I worked in a corporate job for 10 years before starting my blog, so at the time, I was used to looking at numbers. But this was different…this was MY blog, my business…my future! Where the hell is the blueprint? Stay with me!
When I first started out, I fell into the trap of comparisonville, and I was looking at all the wrong numbers. Although rather embarrassing, we all start somewhere.
I was looking at “vanity metrics.” A vanity metric is simply an outward appearance, and it does not translate to making money. For example, many YouTube channels that have a million subscribers barely scrape by with $2,500 per month in ad revenue. Subscriber count is a vanity metric. As a third-party, you have absolutely no way of knowing (nor should you care) what kind of revenue someone is making based on a number such as how many subscribers or followers they have.
I know what you might be thinking, that $2,500 sounds pretty good if you're currently not making any money at all with your blog or vlog. But let's put that $2,500 into perspective.
I am a mentor inside of a private Facebook group for a video marketing influencer and Girlboss (and she is, of course, one of my personal mentors as well) Sunny Lenarduzzi. She has a YouTube channel with about 200,000 subscribers. Compared to the channel that has over a million subscribers, you wouldn't know that channel makes only $2,500 per month while Sunny's channel makes several hundred thousand dollars a month! (And just to be transparent, most of her revenue is not from ad revenue).
This may or may not come as a surprise to you, depending upon how familiar you are with online marketing. Ad revenue is not the biggest source of money for the most successful online entrepreneurs. Learning this one, incredibly important rule…to not look at vanity metrics, is one foundational principle to start with.
Of course we should all look at numbers to guide our decision making, but I was literally allowing my own self worth to be controlled by how many people visited my Instagram profile in the last 24 hours! I was obsessed with looking at the wrong metrics.
But now I know better.
You see, my ultimate goal was to make money with my blog so I could quit the 9 to 5…except I was exhausted all the time…because I was looking at the wrong numbers!
You know how it is…trying to get yourself ready for work and the kids out the door in the morning; the groceries, the laundry, the cleaning, the pets, planning how the kids would get to their after-school activities. If I could just work from home…throw in some laundry between meetings or chop vegetables for my crock pot on my lunch break. Life would be so much easier.
It’s not that I didn’t want to work, it’s just that I desperately needed some flexibility. Having kids is a business of it's own!
Are you still with me? (If this resonates with you, give me a hell yeah in the comments!)
I had already set up some affiliate accounts, I knew which products and services I wanted to offer in my blog posts, and I knew I needed readers to visit those links if I wanted a shot at creating the coveted passive income stream that seemed so elusive when I first started.
But if it wasn’t followers that were going to help me make money blogging…how was it going to happen? I mean, I wrote the posts. I put in the links. Where are my affiliate commissions?
Most of all, what I've learned during these 10 years of blogging is:
There are two kinds of metrics: the kind that matter and the kind that don’t. Understanding this difference is incredibly important for bloggers.
Why? Because before you can grow and scale your business, you need to be proactive about putting a strategy in place first.
Just because you have a content calendar and you're writing on a regular schedule doesn’t mean you have a money-making strategy in place.
If you put a proper digital strategy into place, you’re more likely to build a sustainable and profitable business in the months and years ahead. If you don’t, you’re left with a host of metrics which don’t connect the dots back to revenue.
So where do I find this Digital Strategy (err, blueprint)?
First things first. Your unique digital strategy depends upon your nîche. Now I know you've probably heard about this before…bloggers are always blogging…to nîche or not to nîche? I’m going to ask you some hard questions; these questions are designed to help you recognize what you need to do next to make progress toward your goal. Ready? Here we go:
Do you have a nîche or are you still blogging all over the place? This is all tied together girl, so lets get crystal clear. If you’re still blogging all over the place, you need to stop and take a deep breath. You can go right ahead and take advice from all those rulebreaking, against-the-grain, bossbabe, girlboss, don't tell me what to write about bloggers who want to pave their own way and go ahead and write about about travel, makeup, fashion, pregnancy, and whatever else strikes your mood. If that's what you fancy, you might as well remove the scowl from your forehead and Pin this post for later when you decide that your blog is not profitable enough and you're wondering what the hell you did wrong. Girl, you didn't nîche down to one topic. Pick whatever topic you love, but pick one.
Tip #1: In order to scale up, you have got to nîche down. Period.
It's been proven. Again and again. And again.
How do I know this? I've done it. Again and again. I've done it for small business owners who now make 6-figures a month, and I've done it for global corporations who make 6-figures a day.
You can exhale that deep breath you just took. Your turn is coming!
Here’s what you need to do to get started: take a good, hard look at your top 3 blog posts that have the most traffic. What is the topic? Then take a look at your social media and evaluate your top 3 social posts…the ones with the most comments, likes, and shares. What is the topic? This should help you zero in on exactly what your audience cares about the most.
When you start to notice a pattern, such as when a certain topic consistently has more comments, shares, and interactions, then that is a really good indication that you should create more content about that particular topic.
Once you’ve become crystal clear about your nîche, you’ll need to begin evaluating your data to determine precisely how to move your audience closer to the end goal…the goal of course is selling them your product or service so that you can make money! You may know this already, but if you don't, it's called a “sales and marketing funnel” and while the name may sound seriously old-school, this “funnel” has been modernized through the use of digital marketing techniques that move a consumer on their journey toward purchase through the “digital” funnel.
Although a lot of digital marketers talk about the complexity of the modern funnel, the reality is, as long as you foster meaningful connections with your audience, it still works. Need proof? How about all the people who have have recently sneezed out a six-figure income by blogging? Okay, now forget about those people for the moment. Now it’s your turn to learn the secret sauce that digital agencies use to move their audience through the modern funnel!
Would you like to know more about the Business Plan/Blueprint that successful bloggers use? Join my Free Email Masterclass? I'll send you one email a day for 5 days that teaches you the strategy that digital agencies use to set up successful online businesses for their clients.
But first, another hard question for you:
What metrics are you currently measuring (if any)?
If you're currently looking at the same ones that I was, don't worry, you'll be on your way in just a moment.
What kind of data and metrics should bloggers measure?
2. You Should be Measuring Engagement
The metrics that help turn your blog into a business and help you understand the story that your website data is trying to tell you are the ones that matter. So what are those metrics? They are the engagement metrics. Instead of looking at the number of page views and social media followers you have, pay attention to how people are sharing your social posts and blog posts, and interacting with the content you create. What are people saying and what questions are they asking about your content? How did you get those people to follow you or make a comment? These are the real “engagement metrics”. This leads you to the patterns that will help you produce the kind of content that your audience is looking for.
3. Average Audience Growth
Now don’t get me wrong, I know I said earlier that you should not be concerned about how many followers you have, but it’s still a good idea to pay attention to your overall website traffic and the growth of your email list on a monthly basis. Just don’t obsess over it every 6 hours.
Keep track of these numbers once a month for a broad overview. I do this on the 1st day of each month so that I can compare to my previous month. After a few months, you’ll have a general idea of how much your vanity metrics grow each month. Later, once you know your “subscriber value” then you can begin to make actual predictions about your revenue. Subscriber value isn’t something you will be too concerned with until you have a product or service to sell. If you’re just starting your blog, then it’s likely your income will be from affiliate links as you begin to build your email list.
4. Conversion Rate
While discovering which channels drive revenue isn’t rocket science, putting the right process in place to drive conversions from a sea of prospective leads is worth it’s weight in gold. Instead of focusing on what makes content popular and attention-grabbing, rockstar bloggers focus on what makes content personal and conversation-worthy.
The behaviors of your audience (in other words, where they click, what blog posts they read, what they choose to download) can all be measured and aggregated. When someone signs up for your list, that is one type of conversion. They converted from a reader into part of your tribe. Do you know where exactly they converted? Was it on a particular blog post? Understanding how they found you and what made them go from “reader” to “subscriber” is really important. Figuring that out is the “gold” that I referred to above.
When someone buys something from you, that means they converted from a member of your subscriber list into a paying customer. Something you said or did moved them to take the next action…to open up their wallet and buy. Do you know what it was in particular? Was it a blog post? A call-to-action button in an email? A photo in the sidebar of your blog?
These are the conversion metrics that tell the story of your business. When you know how and why people are converting or not converting, it allows you to make important decisions such as where you may be gaining new customers or losing people’s attention on their “journey” toward the end goal (the end goal being the purchase). Making decisions and adjustments based on hard numbers instead of inferences is a smart way to scale your business.
Marketing Attribution Defined
Marketing attribution is simply the relationship between these online numbers and your sales data. It is the process of determining which of your efforts are succeeding in driving revenue from your blog. With modern digital, it’s not enough to simply look at your Google Analytics account anymore. Smart bloggers use industry leading marketing automation tools to evaluate which touchpoints have direct value in driving sales for their business.
Studies show that while as many as 63% of bloggers say that marketing automation is a growing priority for their business, 67% of them are still using outdated, single-touch forms of measurement. When I worked in agency, I couldn’t believe how many businesses had lists of 30,000 to 50,000 subscribers (who are really prospective buyers of their product or service) but they had an email open rate of less than 25%. That means their list is completely not engaged. In other words, at one time these contacts raised their hand and showed interest in their brand; they never made a purchase, so they are a prime segment of untapped potential.
Speaking of untapped potential, a few years ago a small business owner came to me with a list of 65,000 people who never opened his emails (his list was growing organically every month, and he was sending a monthly newsletter, but he had an email open-rate of less than 10%). Once we fixed up his strategy, his growth exploded. Within 2 months, his revenue soared at a rate of 300%! Within another month, they added 2 more full-time employees to their team, and they have been experiencing month over month revenue growth ever since.
This goes to show you that there is a huge opportunity for bloggers and small business owners to implement the best digital strategy to significantly boost this previously untapped revenue stream. The ROI of email marketing is truly profound, and those who know how to do it right are blowing their competition out of the water.
Interested in learning more about how to blow YOUR competition out of the water? Learn more about the blogging “blueprint” for success in my Free Email Masterclass!
What metrics do you track? Let me know in the comments below! (Or if you're a mom, give me a “hell yeah!”)