“What the heck were you thinking???” That’s what my wife’s pastor asked her after we got engaged. Except “heck” wasn’t the word he used. I wasn’t hurt by that. Considering …
Is Blogging a Business? Or Podcasting, Creating YouTube and other Content?
At what point do you call it a business when you’re writing blog posts, putting out a podcast, creating videos for YouTube, TikTok, or any other social media content?
Maybe you’re making a little money from your content. You’re getting a little compensation here and there. Or perhaps you’re thinking of monetizing your blog or podcast.
But isn’t it overkill to call it a business? Is it unrealistic? Are you giving yourself too much credit if you say that?
I have good news: The first thing is, it’s very realistic. If your high-quality content has the potential of generating income, that’s a good thing. You can do this business thing.
Let’s talk about what it means to think of what you’re doing as a business. We’ll discuss why it’s important to start mastering your business attitude early on. Then we’ll explore the idea of using business ideas to help you grow as a content creator.
Ideas on whether blogging, podcasting and other content are really a business.
There are a lot of interesting ideas out there about blogging, content, and when it’s a business (and when it’s not). I think it’s natural for us to resist this idea that we’re running a business.
Some think it’s all about hard work, putting out lots of new content over a long time. If you build it, they will come. Sometimes it is as simple as that.
I read a writer who pushed back against that idea and claimed a blog is not a business. The way he looks at it is that you build your business first, and your blog should just support the business.
The other end is a blogger who said she stopped blogging as a business. My take on it is she felt like focusing too much on the business of it was taking away from the enjoyment of blogging.
The same feelings are out there about podcasting or any other form of content creation. Some will tell you to simply do it because you love it. Others will tell you that you’ll rarely get anywhere just putting out content.
So which one is it?
I think the truth is somewhere between all these philosophies about the business of blogging, podcasting, YouTubing (is that a word?) and other content creation.
That’s the great thing about content. You can make it what you want it to be. My idea of content marketing and how things work for me don’t have to be your ideas.
Your ideas are probably better.
Some folks are great about business blogging. They build a marketing strategy around their social media accounts. They have search engine optimization down to a T. It’s all about keyword research, affiliate marketing, creating online courses, developing an email list, and focusing primarily on creating a profitable business.
Others struggle with the idea of being a business. Maybe they see themselves as a hobby blogger or Youtuber who just loves the process. It’s more about creative ways of developing the type of content that their audience will love.
For a lot of us, it’s a lot of both. Maybe even a lot of other things. The beauty of content is, it can be what we want it to be.
There are really two things at play:
One is the content and the other is the business.
You may have your own blog, you’re trying to find your target audience through search engines and all that. What’s the best blog content you could put together? Whether you have a food blog, travel blog, lifestyle or an informative blog in any other niche, both the business and the content factor in.
Maybe you’re a Youtuber trying to find the best way to build your audience, get more views, and provide fresh content on a particular topic or set of topics. There’s a great deal of creativity behind your content. At the same time, you’re thinking of how to develop all this into an income stream.
Maybe you’re a business and you think a great way to get new customers is through a podcast. One of your biggest challenges is to establish yourself as a thought leader. You feel the best way to do that is to provide relevant content that provides value to potential customers. Maybe you’re business first, trying to support your business with good content.
Maybe you do all of the above and then some. There are a lot of good business models and ideas and philosophies around how to blend content and business.
Whatever your philosophy, it’s important to recognize you’re running a business.
Because here’s what it boils down to:
If you are receiving income because of your content, it’s a business.
By income, I mean profit. If the money coming in is greater than what it costs, you have a profit.
A key feature of a business is that people do it to make a profit. People engage in a hobby for sport or recreation, not to make a profit.
You may love the creative process. Maybe you fear that over-stressing the business side of things interferes with the creativity. That’s fine. However, if you are bringing in more than you’re spending, it’s a business.
But that’s okay. You don’t have to be all about profit over everything. You can still decide to focus first and foremost on the creativity. There’s nothing about it being a business that says you can’t do that.
Here’s the thing you want to keep in mind. If you’re receiving more than $600 from any one source this year, that income is going to be reported to the IRS. In the past you could get more when paid through Paypal or Stripe, however a hidden piece of the American Rescue plan changed all that this year.
And what that means is, Uncle Sam is going to treat you like you are running a business.
Welcome to the world of business owners.
Which is The Reason for the Content MBA Series.
My purpose here isn’t to tell you what kind of business you should be running. I’m not going to tell you whether you should base your business on blogging, podcasting or content creation, or whether you should build your business on something else and use your content to support that.
You can make a strong and legitimate case for either.
I won’t tell you that it should be money first at the cost of creativity. Neither will I say to ignore the money and only focus on creative.
I don’t want to try to tell you how to do content. This is not about what income strategies you should use. You won’t find an ultimate guide on how to set up affiliate links or create memberships or any of that. A lot of people are better at that than I am.
All of the different ways you can go are decisions you have to make for yourself based on how you see yourself.
This is about the reality that, no matter what your philosophy of content, if you envision making more than you spend you’re running a business.
It’s about balancing that reality with your own thoughts, ideas, dreams, and outlooks.
MBA = Mastering Business Attitude
If you’re still reading this, I’m assuming that your content is either helping you make a profit, you’re close to making a profit, or you’re expecting to soon be profitable.
That means I assume you’re running a business.
This is about helping you figure out what to do with that fact.
Whether this has been a long slow growth for you or the income potential came out of nowhere, however you look at it, you’re running a business.
What do you do with that?
That’s what this is about. The Content MBA series is about looking at that reality. It’s here to help you think of yourself as a business owner but to do it in context of what you want to do with your content.
There’s a time to create. To put your voice out there in your podcast or videos, or write it out on your blog. And there’s a time to manage the business.
This is about recognizing your business, treating it like a business, and working on your business. It’s about understanding the basics of what it is to run a business. And then it’s about applying those basics to what you do.
Doing that helps your business feel less like a business. Instead, you can make it what YOU want it to be.
The articles in this series will fit into three categories:
The elements of a business plan
Business plan? Isn’t that overkill?
It’s an intimidating way to put it, isn’t it? Aren’t business plans for getting investors or obtaining a business loan?
We’re not doing any of that. However, there’s incredible value in thinking through what you want your business to look like, and where you want to go with it.
At some point you have to ask yourself, what am I doing here? Maybe even more important: Why am I doing this?
We’ll talk about different parts of a business plan and how you can apply them to your content creation. It’s a good chance to sit back and look at everything that’s involved. Sometimes when you get your head around everything, it’s easier to go forward.
In most cases, those of us who create content as bloggers or podcasters or via social media aren’t concerned about investors.
However, one investor is extremely important in this whole process:
You invest your time, your money and your dreams into this.
Getting a better idea of what your business really is will help you protect that investment.
You’re doing this for the most important investor there is.
Understanding the finances and money
Here’s the thing about money and business:
You don’t have to be an expert. That’s not what this is about.
But you know there are always those little money questions. How do you handle the money? How do you stay out of trouble? What about taxes?
The purpose here is to get a feel for how the money works. Even a basic understanding of the money side can go a long way in helping you run your business.
Applying business ideas to the operation of your business.
In the end, everything you do with your content will come down to some kind of business decision.
If you’re the blogger who decided to quit stressing over income generation and just focus on content, you’ve still made a business decision. If it’s the best decision for you, it’s the best business decision you can make.
The podcaster who starts with an established business and who decides that the purpose of content is to support the business also made a business decision.
The things you do and the way you do them are the nuts and bolts of running your business. We’ll look at using your time as an asset and how business ideas help you make the business decisions that make sense for you.
You’re the boss
There’s a point where you find that your content creation is starting to run you more than you are running it.
My purpose here isn’t to tell you how to do what you do. You know your content far better than I do.
Even more important, you know YOU. I cannot begin to go from my perspective, experience and values to tell you how to do the things that you are already good at.
The fact that you’re reading this tells me you’re already somewhere with what you’re doing. Either you’re making money or you’re on the brink of making money with what you do, write or say.
Do you know how far ahead of the pack you already are?
That tells me you’ve got this.
What I hope to do with this series is to help you embrace the fact you’re running a business. Then, in so doing, you can apply all that to what makes you already incredible at what you do.
I’m giving you some tools. You’re the one who will use the tools and do some pretty amazing things with them.