Over the past few years, many of us have jumped into blogging, social media, and self-publishing. It’s been a wild ride, with much to do and learn. It’s been exhilarating and exhausting all at once. And now, the end of the year is approaching again. With a little experience under my belt and a goal to control the craziness, I’ve decided to create a written business plan to help direct my business efforts for both books and blog. No more shooting from the hip. Time to get organized!
Develop a strategy that will guide your efforts
The reason to have a comprehensive plan is to free your mind to focus on implementation. The goal of a well-written business plan is to develop a solid strategy, define how this strategy will be implemented, and provide a practical tool that will guide your daily activities.
A plan will help you see the big picture: what needs to be done and when, the channels that will generate revenue, and how energy, focus and resources will be allocated. Based on realistic, well-defined goals, a great business plan can be a solid guide to get from where you are today to where you want to go.
Why take the time to make a plan?
Why should you take time to develop a business plan when you could be writing something tangible that can generate dollars now? Simple. People and businesses that lack direction often don’t have the ability to stay on course. A strategic business plan can be an integral guide for long-term success.
Before you begin writing your business plan, consider these core questions:
- What are your current financial resources?
- What is your desired monthly and yearly income?
- What products and/or service(s) will your business provide? If you’re just selling books, in what formats? Print, ebooks, audiobooks? If you plan to make money on a blog, how will you go about it?
- What niche needs can you fill?
- Who are your current, past and potential readers/supporters/customers?
- Through what channels/platforms/sources did you acquire your current customers/readers?
- If you were in business last year, what did you learn about revenue streams and promotions? What worked, what didn’t work, what will you repeat and what will you discard?
- Why do your current customers/readers follow your blog or purchase your books, and why will they continue?
- How will you reach potential NEW readers?
- How will you stay in contact with current and past readers?
Once you’ve determined how much you want to earn, both short-and long-term, your business plan should:
- Project estimated revenues and describe and budget costs.
- Define your market, decide who your customers will be, and devise (and schedule) effective marketing strategies.
- Anticipate potential problems and establish contingency plans to overcome these challenges.
- Analyze your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the competition’s. You can do this via a traditional …
Strengths: Define the characteristics of your business or books that give it an advantage over others.
Weaknesses: What elements of your business place you at a disadvantage relative to others?
Opportunities: What current or upcoming opportunities can you take advantage of and leverage?
Threats: Define potential elements that could cause trouble for your business.
Your business plan should not only define your business and identify your goals, it should also demonstrate how you will allocate resources, handle possible complications, and move those goals forward. Your success may depend on the quality of this information, including your income forecasts. These forecasts will project how much revenue is expected, from where, precisely how your marketing will generate sales, and the infrastructure you have, or will need to acquire.
Ready to write? Aim to accomplish these basics:
- Establish and define financial goals and desired achievements.
- Create a well-defined map and timeline for achieving each goal. (Break goals down into smaller increments achievable on a monthly basis.)
- Identify the technology, knowledge, information, and/or assistance you’ll need to hire or acquire to reach each goal.
Have written goals and a plan to achieve them
Break both your document and the processes you’ll use to achieve your goals into small, manageable sections so you can map your progress on a monthly basis.
How many books are you going to produce in next year? What length, what genre? How many guest posts do you need to place on high-traffic blogs to drive traffic to your website? What book promotion schedule will maintain the sales ranks of your titles? What will your blog post publishing schedule look like? How much time will you spend on social media, and which platforms? How can you re-purpose a percentage of your posts into another title you can sell for additional revenue? The answer to all these questions and more will help you produce a business plan that can keep you on track.
Note: While you’re working on a your business plan, don’t forget about the importance of putting your business affairs in order with a will. For more information, read Joe Konrath’s article about Death and the Self-Pubbed Writer.
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