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4 Business Principles for Building a Blogging Empire post image

4 Business Principles for Building a Blogging Empire

One question I continually get asked by my blogger friends is, what can I do to grow my online business? My response is always the same …think like a businessman and act like an entrepreneur.

You see, when it comes down to it, we’re all selling something. Whether your company helps businesses develop an online presence or you’re a blogger who sells someone else’s products, the basic underlying principles of business can be applied to help you build a massive blogging empire.

Here are four important business principles you need to know.

Principle #1: Always start with a great product

You MUST start with a great product.

Of course, you probably already know that, right? If you’re a blogger, the real question is, what is your product?

In most cases, you’ll likely make money in one (or both) of the following ways:

  1. You sell other people’s products (affiliate marketing or ads)
  2. You funnel people to your products

In either scenario, like any entrepreneur, you need to make sure that the products you’re selling work great for both you and your clients.

Here are a few key characteristics of great products:

  1. Valuable – A great product is one that delivers a good deal of value to your customers. Of course, what people value can differ depending on who you are selling to. This means that you’ll have to get to know your audience and will need to only sell them products that offer to solve their specific problems.
  2. Reliable – Let’s face it, people buy things from people they trust. Just because you sell someone else’s products doesn’t mean you are off the hook after they’ve made the purchase. If things go south between your blog reader and the products you are pushing, you may end up losing a blog reader. Be sure to do your homework before selling someone else’s products to make sure that they are reliable.
  3. Profitable and Financially Stable – As an entrepreneur, you need to consider whether or not this product you are selling is a wise financial move. As your blogging empire grows, what’s considered a “wise financial move” may change. You may discover that you can make a higher profit margin by making one time sells. However, in almost every case, it’s a wise move to have at least 60% of your income come from recurring revenue. This will give you a solid foundation to build your blogging empire from and will keep you in business during periods of drought.

Principle #2: Master marketing and sales

I tell this to business owners all the time; if you want to continually and predictably make money, you need to build a marketing and sales process and then continually optimize that process.

As bloggers, you are, essentially, acting as marketers. So in all reality this should be your bread and butter.

Whether you sell directly to consumers or to other businesses, here are a few important things to keep in mind:

  1. Understand your target market – Before you can sell something to someone, you need to have a good understanding of who they are. This starts with market research and then continues to evolve as you grow your business.
  2. Identify the product life cycle objectives – It’s important to remember that a product won’t last forever. This means that you’ll need to identify the product life cycle objectives and then appropriately adjust your marketing strategy to best accomplish those objectives.
  3. Crunch the numbers – Business is a numbers game. As a marketer, it’s important to keep in mind the basics such as customer acquisition costs and customer lifetime value.

Principle #3: Be obsessed with customer service

Unless you have a large marketing budget, you’ll need to be a bit creative in order to generate prospective customers.

One of the best ways to get new customers is through your current customer base. In most cases, customers that are referred to you by a current customer are cheaper to acquire and will likely stay a client for a longer period of time.

So how do you get customers to tell their friends? ….by providing excellent customer service and making it easy for them to share.

Let’s say you’re a blogger and you’re trying to sell an ebook to your readers. How would you go about providing great customer service to readers who purchased your ebook?

Here are a few thoughts that you may want to consider before launching your ebook program:

  • Pre-purchase experience – Great customer service isn’t just about keeping clients happy. It’s also about keeping potential clients happy. Before you launch your ebook program, make sure that your marketing and sales process will ensure that each lead has a good experience. Also, you may want to consider testing your landing pages and such to ensure that users can easily make the purchase decisions they are trying to make.
  • Post-purchase experience – Once someone has purchased your ebook, you need to consider two scenarios; someone who is happy with their purchase and someone who is not. Before you sell even one ebook, make sure that you know what you are going to do in both scenarios. Consider how you can leverage the moment when someone emails you and tells you how great your ebook is. What will you do to get that person to tell others?

Principle #4: Leverage technology, people, and success

Once your business starts to gain momentum, you’ll find that you have less and less time available to get things done.

While growing a business is certainly a good thing, if you don’t manage this transition carefully you could end up damaging your business credibility.

In general, there are basically two ways you can go about this:

  1. Leverage technology – When you first start out, consider what free technologies exists that you can use to help speed up your business operations. As you grow, start to research different technologies that will make your life easier.
  2. Outsource – Another way to get things done is to have someone else do them. Of course, this will cost you money. As you start to accomplish things, consider how you can leverage that success to get people to help you do the things you have to get done. For example, as a blogger, you need great content to continually generate traffic. As your blogging empire grows, show off your site’s growth and try to attract guest bloggers to contribute to your blog.

In most cases, I would typically recommend a mixture of both. The main point, however, is that you’re going to need help if you want to continually grow your business.

Make sure that you lay out your IT strategic plan ahead of time and consider how it may evolve with your business over time.

Conclusion

You see, building a blogging business requires the same fundamental business principles as any business.

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. As with anything, it’s important you continually grow and develop your skills over time. There are certainly many more business principles that can be applied to blogging and, as an entrepreneur, you should be focused on perfecting your craft.

What are some additional business principles that you’ve applied to blogging?

Image © James Thew – Fotolia.com

Thom Holland is the co-founder and CEO of Beckon.

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{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Ramit October 2, 2012, 6:38 am

    Hi Thom,
    Greetings!
    You have focused on an important area related to building a successful blogging website or rather a blogging empire. The business principles discussed by you are simple but unique and can be highly useful for budding bloggers.
    Thanks for an enriching article.
    It has been a learning experience for me.
    Regards.
    Ramit
    Ramit recently posted..10 Best In-Text Advertisement ProgramsMy Profile

  • Grady Pruitt May 17, 2012, 12:44 am

    I really like the idea of mixing one off sales with recurring income. I think I need to make sure that I’m getting a bit of both as I work on building my own income.

    Right now, I’m mostly promoting other people’s stuff, but I could see a day when I’m doing my own. I still feel I have a lot to learn before I’m ready for that, though.

    As I’m going about my business, I’m trying to learn more about running a business in general as well as marketing, which I think are two things that you must do if you want to be successful in the long run.

    Thanks for sharing these tips!
    Grady Pruitt recently posted..What Are You Grateful For?My Profile

  • Karan Labra May 15, 2012, 9:05 am

    I guess these tips are applicable to all business opportunities. :)

    But yeah applying them to blogging can be easy yet tricky. Just need to brainstorm some unique ideas to get out of saturation.

  • mitz May 14, 2012, 9:35 pm

    Customer service is my biggest business principle!! I believe that everything boils down to this because some people have great products but do not know how to treat customers. Even great marketing can be ruined after bad customer service..

    After all we are marketing to please the customer, making products to please the customer, doing business everyday to attract a customer… :)
    mitz recently posted..Writing SEO Content to Please The Search Engines and The HumansMy Profile

  • David Frey May 14, 2012, 3:59 pm

    Thom, I like your principles 2,3, and 4. But I\’m scratching my head on principle #1. If I was coaching someone about building a blogging empire, I would always start out with getting the market right and understanding the market first. Once you understand the marketing and create an audience in that market, coming up with great products is simple.

    • Thom Holland May 14, 2012, 4:50 pm

      Good point, David. I shouldn’t have said “always START with a great product”.

      I tend to think in the “Launch lean” mentality, though, where you consider post-launch research to be more meaningful that pre-launch research. I think for most companies, meaningful market research and product development tend to happen at the same time.

      You’re right though; you should at least have an educated guess of who you are selling to first.

      Thanks for the feedback :-)

  • Joe Boyle May 14, 2012, 3:24 pm

    I can really summarize it down to one point – quality, quality, quality. Quality product, quality marketing, quality support, and that’s as much as you are required to handle.
    Joe Boyle recently posted..Generating Massive Traffic With SEOMy Profile

    • Thom Holland May 14, 2012, 4:53 pm

      Do you think there would be any instances in which it would be appropriate to push lower quality products?

      Thanks for the thoughts Joe.

  • Sara May 14, 2012, 12:07 pm

    Nice post Thom and the principles that you listed are very true and helpful.A blogger is selling something as you say and must understand his audience and what type of goods should sell. I think targeting the customers and selling valuable and tested product are necessary and are good steps to success. And I’m telling this, because of my personal experience.
    Sara recently posted..Vertical Gardens: What you need to knowMy Profile

  • Kimberly Gauthier May 13, 2012, 10:50 pm

    Love the new site design.One thing that I\’ve struggled with is finding a product. I now have a product that I truly believe in and I have no idea how to market it. I don\’t want my blog to be only me writing about the product, but I\’m at a loss as to how to best market it to my audience.You\’ve given me a lot of material to consider. Thank you so much, because I\’m at a loss over here :)
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted..Dawg Pound Bags Helps Dog Owners Protect the EnvironmentMy Profile

  • Jamie Northrup May 13, 2012, 8:37 pm

    My main principle is to be genuine and treat people how they want to be treated and not necessarily how I want to be treated, different people have different personalities and you have to learn to adapt. You may not like how they are but you have to be able to satisfy them.
    Jamie Northrup recently posted..Blog Comments That No One Talks AboutMy Profile

    • Thom Holland May 13, 2012, 8:44 pm

      I like your style Jamie.

      Believe it or not, I actually had a conversation with someone today about how important it is for businesses to just be “human”. I think that, when combined with a little humility, it can certainly make for a good outcome.

      Thanks for your feedback.

  • Shekhar May 13, 2012, 3:08 pm

    Thanks Thom for sharing these awesome business tips.I think these are the rules of thumb and if followed with passion, perseverance and patience can take anyone to great heights.
    Shekhar recently posted..Meet Facebook App Center, the new Social App Store from FacebookMy Profile

    • Thom Holland May 13, 2012, 3:23 pm

      Hey Shekhar:

      Thank you for the kind words.

      A little bit of luck never hurt anyone either ;-)

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