Pretend You’re a Startup: How to Model Your Blog After Venture Capital Seekers By GuestAuthor on November 4, 2013
Whether you plan on writing about cats or corporate finance, one thing remains steadfast in the blogging world: if you want to monetize your efforts, you need to approach it like a business. And what’s more business-like than building a company from the ground up with the acquisition of venture capital in mind?
While you’re not actually seeking out venture capital here (unless you have a majorly impressive monetization plan for your blog), you can definitely take inspiration from startups looking to get a foothold, claim their piece of marketshare, and attract the attention of venture capitalists.
It is estimated that just 2.5% of companies that get angel funding ever get around to raising venture capital. This may be largely due to the fact that venture capitalists are looking for much more–as in, they want a return on their investment. This means in order to secure VC funds, a startup needs to have a plan in place that outlines exactly how they will make money. So, too, should you develop a plan for your blog that accounts for market relevance, budget, expansion, and numerous other areas of concern.
What follows are six ways you can formulate the voice, style, and operations for your blog with the qualities VCs look for in mind:
Know Your Audience
Or know your market. Basically, you need to have a good understanding of who you’re targeting with your blog brand. When a VC looks at a startup, they want to see a real market opportunity. They want to see that a lot of people are interested in this product or service and that it has demonstrable success with a test market.
When approaching your blog, you need to ask yourself, “Who are my readers?” Who are the people that will be bookmarking your site to visit over and over again? Are they moms? Lawyers? Soccer coaches? If it helps, picture your potential blog reader and consider whether or not they’re even the type to visit a blog on a regular basis. It’s a harsh truth but not every niche has a viable market for blogging. It’s important to consider this before registering a domain or
Find a Need and Fill It
Regardless of industry, one of the most common attributes all companies that have received venture capital share is a precise awareness of the market and how they fit in. A good company has identified voids in the marketplace where consumers need something (usually, their product). With this need identified and a product developed that satisfies that need, a company has a much stronger chance of success than one without a clearly unique offering.
The same goes for starting a blog. It’s not enough to rehash content from other sites or blogs in your niche. It’s not enough to post every day if your content isn’t valuable. You need to create posts that resonate with readers because you’re offering information they need. Your posts need inherent value. So, before you install WordPress or brainstorm blog names, take some time to ask yourself the following questions:
• What are things other bloggers in this niche do that I enjoy?
• How can I replicate their success?
• And most importantly, what can I offer my visitors that no one else can?
VCs are always on the lookout for the next big, unique thing that no one else has done before. Find that unique aspect for your blog and you’ll develop a dedicated readership as a result.
Create a Budget
If you’re not planning on monetizing right away, then don’t worry about it. However, why aren’t you planning on monetizing right away?! If you’re creating a blog with worthwhile content, you should be able to find a way to turn a profit from your efforts.
When a VC looks at a business, they want to see a clear structure for spending and when you anticipate to turn a profit. As with anything in business, you need to spend money to make money. So set a budget for your blog to keep your efforts on track. Be sure to account for things like web hosting, domain registration, web design or a WordPress theme, guest posting, marketing, and social media.
Have a Value Proposition
In other words, be a leader in your niche. Or, have something to say and say it. This is definitely related to the “find a need” tip listed above but delves a bit deeper. In venture capital land, a value proposition refers to a company that is different from its competitors and understands how it’s better. Basically, you need to know what sets your company apart and what makes what you offer more appealing than anything similar on the market.
In blogging terms, you need to know what makes your content special and why people will seek it out, share it, and discuss it on social media. Not sure if your blog has a value proposition? Ask yourself this: would visitors be willing to wait for your content? Would they come back on a weekly basis to learn more from you? Bringing your customers or readers back time and time again is crucial for your long-term success.
When a venture capitalist examines a startup, he or she is interested in scaleability. That is, can the business expand rapidly if the need should arise? Are there enough people actually interested in your business and what you offer to see it expand beyond startup levels? If your business doesn’t have a plan for growth, it’s never going to get VC funds.
The same goes for your blog: if you don’t have an idea of how to scale up operations and increase readership, you don’t stand a chance. Beyond knowing who your audience is, you also need to know the size of your target demographic and what percentage of that audience you can capture.
You’ll need to do research on your competitors to get a sense of your blog’s scalability:
• How many views do they get per month?
• How engaged are their readers? Do they post a lot of comments? Do they share content on social media?
• How long have they been in operation?
• How long have they been monetized?
Answering these questions will give you a better sense of where you need to start and how to shift your thinking from “startup blog” to “startup business.”
Brenda Barron is a writer and editor from southern California. When she’s not hunched over her laptop, she’s spending time with her husband, daughter, and two cats. You can find out more about her at The Digital Inkwell, Twitter, or Google+