How to Start a Blogging Business in 2021
We’ve all heard the term “blogger” before or perhaps you have a favorite blogger whose site you frequent regularly for their content.
Bloggers create fresh, original content such as blog posts or blog articles that are consumable by anyone who visits their web page.
Blogging has expanded over the years and now includes more than just writing – it can include photography and other media that is self-published online.
But, blogs should not be mistaken for websites.
Blogs are updated frequently and create room for reader engagement either in the comments section or by sharing or engaging in other social platforms such as Instagram or YouTube.
For example, a mommy blogger may share daily life as a mom, fashion finds, recipes, or other tips and tricks.
You can reach out to the mommy blogger for comments, questions, or perhaps to click on links and purchase products that are seen in their blog posts.
Websites on the other hand generally have “evergreen” content which is more generic and not updated as often and they often are a one-way communication.
For example, a business website will feed the reader information about the business or a specific topic, but the information presented on the website stays relatively unchanged.
This is why many businesses add a blog section to their websites, because the audience engagement is very different.
Blogs generally offer more room for conversations and interactions with readers than websites do.
For this reason, blogs can actually be a very lucrative business venture and many people make a great living from their blogging business.
If you have been blogging or are considering it, and want to officially turn it into a business, you’ve come to the right place!
Today we are going to give you a step-by-step guide for starting your blogging business.
Perhaps you are a foodie sharing your favorite recipes or maybe a fashionista who has built a following blogging about your fashion finds and deals, or maybe you are a fishing and wildlife enthusiast and you have so much knowledge to share on your adventures.
Whatever it is that you want to share on your blog is up to you – we will just cover the logistics of forming a legitimate blogging business so that you can focus on growing your blog and your audience.
Let’s get started!
1. Write a Business Plan
Every entrepreneur should spend some time creating a clear business plan for their business venture.
Business plans helps you map out the details of your business as well as bring to light any unknown factors that could impede your growth or success.
Here are a few topics a solid business plan should cover:
- What is the business name?
- What are the startup costs and ongoing costs?
- Identify the target market
- How will the business make money?
In terms of a blogging business, we’ve done some research to help you answer these key questions.
Choosing a business name
Choosing the right name for your blog is one of the first steps because it will essentially become your identity and how people remember you or know where to return.
You will want to select a name that is easy to remember and easy to spell.
Once you decide on a name for your business, you will want to make sure the following items are available:
- Make sure the business name is not already taken by another blogger or brand – you can do this by doing a search at your local secretary of state website
- Look for the domain name by doing a domain name search. If you want your blog to be “This Foodie Girl”, then your domain name should be www.thisfoodiegirl.com or www.thisfoodiegirl.org. This will help your audience easily find and remember you.
- See if the name is available on other social channels that you plan on using such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube. Being consistent with your name will build a more solid brand, larger following, and clearer online presence.
- Consider a DBA – more on this in a moment
Here is a little checklist of places to check for name availability:
- Local secretary of state business records
- Federal as well as State trademark records
- Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, etc.
- Web domain name availability search
Startup and Ongoing Costs
Each blog is going to have unique startup and ongoing costs, but to give you an idea, here are some common costs that you should expect:
- Blog design and theme (varies)
- Domain renewal – $15/year
- Hosting – $15/month
- E-mail hosting – (varies if applicable and using a @yourblogname.com e-mail address, which we recommend)
- Content creation (varies)
- Advertising and marketing (varies)
- Computer and internet expenses (varies)
- Photography equipment and expenses (varies)
- Stock photos (varies if applicable)
Blogs can reach pretty much anyone in the world as long as they have an internet connection.
But knowing your target market is going to come handy when it comes to the monetization methods of your blog.
For example, a worldwide travel blogger could use affiliate links to popular amusement parks, cruises or other travel accommodations.
If your blog is more focused on local attractions, you can target your audience based on local attractions such as day trips, local spas, and local accommodations.
A mommy blogger will want to grow their mommy audience and can monetize with baby and family products, etc.
Blogging is able to reach a vastly huge audience, and understanding your audience can help you monetize in a way that is profitable and successful.
To do this you will want to know your target market (travelers, moms, fashionistas, etc).
How does a blogging business make money?
Another reason why blogging has such great income potential is because there are several ways to make money:
- Affiliate links – bloggers use affiliate links to receive commission on referrals or items sold via links to products or services in their blog posts. For example, a software blogger might receive referral or download commissions from affiliate links placed in their blog posts or a fashion blogger might use affiliate links for fashion and beauty products they share that their readers purchase. Affiliate links are great for blogs that have topics focused on tangible items. Amazon Associates and ShareASale are two popular affiliate sites.
- Ad hosting – there are many different types of ad hosting but the most common are based on pageviews or PPC (pay per click). Google Adsense and Chikita are two popular advertising platforms.
- Selling e-books, guides or other digital products (e.g. how to start a blog guide, meal plans or recipe books, etc.).
- Brand deals – brands will reach out to bloggers for paid content. For example, a laundry detergent brand might reach out to a lifestyle blogger and pay for a blog post featuring their product.
- Memberships to exclusive content (monthly, yearly, quarterly subscriptions) – this is harder to do and works best when the blog is providing niche information that is not easily accessible for free online.
As you can see, there are several ways that a blogging business can make money and I’m sure are are many more that are not mentioned here.
The key to growth is to pursue multiple monetization methods.
For example, some blogs incorporate both affiliate links and ads into their posts as well as take on brand deals that fit their niche and audience.
2. Officially Form your Business
So you’ve decided on a name, you know your niche and audience, and you have a great idea on ways you can make money as a blogger.
Now let’s officially form your business!
The first step to forming your business is to pick a business structure.
Most blogging business fall under either a sole proprietorship or LLC.
If you decide to register your blogging business as a sole proprietorship, but your blog is going to be called something other than your legal name, you will need to register for a DBA.
Registering your blogging business as a limited liability company is the choice we most often recommend.
Limited liability companies are easy to setup, easy to maintain, and provide the best liability protection for the owners.
In other words, your limited liability company protects you from being personally liable if your blogging business gets sued.
You can setup your LLC yourself and pay the state fee or hire a business formation service to set it up for you.
LLC’s require a registered agent.
3. Get an EIN
Once your business is formed, you will need to get your EIN (Employer Identification Number) and this can be done with the IRS here.
Getting your EIN is fairly simple and once the online application is complete, you will receive your EIN immediately.
It is important that you get your EIN because you will be required to have an EIN to open a business bank account or pay taxes.
A business needs an EIN to file tax returns and pay employees.
Partnerships, LLCs, Corporations, S Corporations and Non-profits must obtain an EIN to do business and open a business bank account.
The only business type that does not require an EIN to open a business bank account is a Sole Proprietorship.
If you are a Sole Proprietorship and do not have any employees, you can open a business bank account and file your taxes with just a Social Security number.
4. Open a Business Bank Account
Opening a separate bank account for your blogging business is going to help you track your income and expenses and will also provide personal asset protection.
Mixing your personal and business expenses is never a good idea.
Not only can it get confusing, but it could possibly pierce the corporate veil should your business be sued.
You may also want to consider opening a business credit card to help build business credits and get some rewards like cash back or frequent flyer miles.
Here are some great small business bank account options!
5. Licenses and Permits
Licenses and permits are required by federal and local government and you will want to make sure you apply for the correct ones in order to avoid any fines or the threat of being shut down.
You can find necessary licenses and permits at your local secretary of state website.
Furthermore, the FTC has some operations that are regulated and you will want to familiarize yourself with those here.
6. Setup your Accounting
Now that you are a legally recognized business, you will want to keep track of your income and expenses to report come tax time.
There are many ways to keep track of your accounting from a simple excel spreadsheet to using an accounting software program like Quickbooks.
Perhaps accounting isn’t your thing, you can outsource your accounting needs to a bookkeeper or CPA.
Whatever route you choose to take, just be sure to keep track of your bottom line and any corresponding receipts or invoices.
7. Business Insurance
While business insurance isn’t necessary for every type of business, we like to mention it in case you feel like you need the additional coverage.
If your blogging business has employees, your state will most likely require you to have workers compensation insurance.
General Liability Insurance is another commonly seen insurance coverage for business owners because it covers “general liability” issues that could come up.
If you aren’t sure what coverage you need, you can always contact your insurance specialist or provider.
8. Setup your Website
Your blogs website is going to be where most of your audience spends their time and so you want to make sure it is visually appealing and easy to navigate.
You will want your blogs name clearly visible at the top and perhaps some nice simple navigation menus.
Most bloggers like to put their most recent post at the top on the home page so that your audience knows when new content is live.
You can hire someone to create your website for you, but with WordPress Themes available and website builder tools like GoDaddy Website Builder, you can take the DIY route without too much trouble.
9. SEO and Marketing
We aren’t going to go into much depth on this topic because it is too complex for today’s post, but we highly recommend that all bloggers plan their content on keyword research, effective blog post titles, and internal linking, among other common SEO practices.
There is so much good information that can be found by doing a simple web search on boosting your blogs visibility online.
Spend some time reading about how to use SEO and marketing to grow your blog and reach a wider audience.
10. Fine tune your brand
As a blogger, you will want to continuously fine tune your brand.
This can be done by simply analyzing your audiences behavior.
What posts are most popular?
What products do I get the most clicks on?
What is my audience saying in the comments section?
Your audience can provide invaluable feedback about what is working and what is not working – listen to what they are saying and use it to fine tune your brand.
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IRS.gov "Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) Online" Page 1 . July 21, 2021
IRS.gov "Starting a Business" Page 1 . July 21, 2021
SBA.gov "Register with State Agencies" Page 1 . July 21, 2021
IRS.gov "State and Federal Online Business Registration" Page 1 . July 21, 2021
FTC.gov "The FTC's Endorsement Guides: What people are asking" Page 1 . July 21, 2021