How to treat a blog like a business (and your writing like a job)

Laptop on desk with plant

So you’ve got a blog with potential. You love sharing what you know, and people want to listen.

If only you could focus more on your blog, you could turn it into a source of full-time income… but to get to where you want to be, you need to do the work.

You need to maximize the hours you’ve got. You need to treat your blog like a business.

Now, a quick disclaimer. Not all blogs need to be treated like businesses. In fact, the majority of blogs shouldn’t be treated like a business. It’s absolutely fine to share your writing and ideas just because you enjoy it.

But if you do want to turn your blog into a source of income, whether full-time or part-time, here’s my guide to doing just that.

This is based on what I’m doing right now and largely consists of lessons I need to remember.

Behind these lessons is the presumption that your blog already has:

  • A high ratio of great content
  • Regular new posts
  • Simple but solid monetization

To maintain a high ratio of great content, you can optimize existing content to keep it relevant and to match search intent. By doing so, you raise the overall standard of your blog in the eyes of readers and search engines.

With regular new posts, you keep your blog fresh, offer readers more value, and increase your earning potential. With each new blog post, you gain a new revenue stream.

With simple and solid monetization, you have a straightforward but diversified selection of revenue streams.

Maybe you offer a range of different products like workshops or books, or perhaps you display ads on your blog with a partner like Mediavine or AdThrive. You might belong to affiliate programs.

The goal is to not spread your attention too thin, but equally not be too reliant on a single revenue source.

Here’s how to make these things happen, keep them happening, and get the best results from the time you spend working on your blog.

How to treat your blog like a business and generate a good income from it

Hone your focus and make your working hours productive

To treat your blog like a business, you need to dedicate time and attention to it. You already know this, but we could all do with a productivity pep talk.

Maybe you’re lucky enough to be able to spend all of your working time on your blog. If so, make the most of that!

If you have other commitments – whether that’s a full-time job, part-time job, being a parent, or anything else – then you have even more reason to be efficient with the time you’ve got.

Now, this isn’t about hustle and grind and spending all your waking hours slaving away on your website. Rather, it’s about making your working hours count, no matter how many you have.

One hour of focused work can be just as valuable, if not more so, than eight hours of sitting at a desk without a clear focus.

Some strategies to be more productive when writing blog content:

  • Have daily work hours. Even if you only work an hour a day, it can be helpful to know when that hour is and how structured it is. When do you work best: morning, afternoon, or evening? Do you need more or less structure to get good work done? If you need to do your hair and put on work shoes to make it feel like you’re going to work, do that.
  • Go to a workspace outside your home. Whether it’s a coworking space, rented office, coffee shop, or quiet spot in the library, leaving the house to go to work can help you be more productive. I work from a coffee shop most mornings and find that when I’m there, I rarely procrastinate and scroll Reddit (even if that’s just because I don’t want others to judge me).
  • Trick yourself into productivity. One of the best parts about strategies like the Pomodoro Technique is that they trick you into being productive. With a Pomodoro timer or Chrome extension, you can tell yourself that you’re just doing 25 minutes of work. Then you can rest. Or even stop. But you need to do 25 minutes first, without checking your phone or getting distracted. Often, doing that first 25 minutes is enough to get into the flow of things and want to continue.
  • Have a structure for breaks and finishing for the day. Some people have an imaginary (or literal) “school bell” that marks when to start work, have breaks, and finish up. The bell rings at 8.30? You go to your desk. The bell rings at 10.00? You have a tea break. 12.00? Lunch. 15:00? You close your laptop and call it a day.

To treat your blog like a business, commit to honouring your time and your focus. But you should also pay attention to what you’re doing with that time. Here’s how.

Focus on what moves the needle (spoiler: it’s not refreshing your analytics)

The best way to treat your blog like a business is to publish great content. For most blogs, this is what really moves the needle, not optimizing your logo, checking Google Analytics for the fifth time before 10am, or in many cases posting on social media.

If, like me, you monetize your blog with ads, affiliate income, or product sales, every new blog post is a new way to make money. You’ll likely need to wait at least a few months or even a year, before the post reaches its full potential organically, so the sooner you publish, the sooner you earn more.

If your income is based on your blog traffic, you’re losing out by not focusing the bulk of your time, attention, and energy on publishing content.

Those times of day when you feel the freshest and most productive? Prioritize publishing new content or optimizing existing content.

Obsessively checking your analytics and creating fancy spreadsheets is mostly just a waste of time and energy that won’t benefit your readers or your income.

Know what your readers want – and why they want it from you

If you wanted, you could use AI to churn out hundreds of blog articles. But I’m not convinced this will work out great for you.

As you treat your blog more like a business, keep the human side of things in mind. You can do this by asking these questions:

  • Who are the readers you’re writing for and building a relationship with?
  • Why do your readers want to read your writing?
  • Why do they want to read it from you, and not someone else?
  • How is your writing different than what an AI could come up with in seconds?

Zen Habits. Tim Ferriss. Ahrefs. They all have blogs that most likely receive a hefty chunk of direct traffic each day. Why? Because people remember the brand, love it, and keep coming back.

Are you turning your blog into a memorable brand? Or are people landing on your site once from organic search, leaving with no impression whatsoever, and never returning (*cries softly*)?

One way to measure your blog’s memorability is to check your repeat visitors % in Google Analytics and monitor this over time.

Think about the unique experience and perspective that only you can offer. Get this across in your writing and you’ll be in the best position to turn your blog into a brand that people bookmark and keep revisiting.

Know what’s working and double down on it

Okay, so I’ve said several times to stop checking your analytics and focus on publishing. As with many things in this post, this is a lesson as much for me as anyone else.

But that said, you should still know how you’re doing. You can get all the data you really need from Google Analytics and Search Console. And checking it once a day is just as useful as checking it 10 times.

Here are some prompts to help you do more of what works and scale your blog traffic:

  • What keywords does Google Search Console show you’re ranking 1-3 for and getting decent traffic from? How can you rank for more keywords like this? What similar posts can you publish? What does Google already see you as an expert on?
  • What keywords does Search Console show you’re ranking for unintentionally? Can you add these keywords to a post or create new posts around them to rank higher?
  • What keywords are you ranking for in positions 4-9 that you can optimize to rank higher?
  • What keywords are you ranking for in position 10 or lower that you can write about or optimize to move to the first page of Google?

If you have an established blog, often the best way to scale and decide what to write about is to do more of what works. This includes: what your readers love reading, what you find easy to write about, and what Google thinks you’re an expert in.

Create the groundwork for sustainable long-term success

What are you working towards? What’s the point of treating your blog like a business and pouring your time and energy into it?

I want to support myself comfortably while sharing what I know and making useful things: something I’ve always found easiest to do via writing. I also want to do it on my terms, with the most freedom, and without having to spend all my time sending emails.

Perhaps you want your blog income to fund your travel or another life goal. Maybe you want it to cover your main expenses so you can work as a barista the rest of the time and not worry about cash.

Maybe you want to eventually sell your blog so you can invest the profits and retire early and spend all day hiking, painting, or hanging out with your kids.

Only you know what success looks like for you, both short-term and long-term. Only you can tell if the short-term success you’re chasing is leading to your idea of long-term success, or hindering it.

For more like this, you might like reading…

And maybe also my book, Simple Business: How to Build a Business for Ease, Freedom, and Living Simply. You can get the ebook on Amazon, AppleBarnes & NobleKobo, and Scribd.

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