Maybe you’re here because you’re interested in building out a website that doesn’t affiliate marketing. You’re ready to make extra money. Or you’ve got a business idea you need help formalizing. Since you think business, your first step forward, build a business plan.
What you’re going to learn.
- Why business plans are important
- Real steps to reduce risk and increase your chances of success
Why Build a Business Plan for Affiliate Marketing?
If you’re new to online marketing, then you probably think it’s a piece of cake to build out a very profitable online business. The last word, business, is an essential element. It is a business, not a hobby. If you’re blogging as a hobby, then keep doing what you’re doing. Have fun with it – seriously. If you’re interested in building real income, then you have to treat your blog or online business as a business. Companies fail all the time. And it’s not just online businesses, but all businesses fail.
We’ve been in business for a while, and like most entrepreneurs, we’ve failed plenty of times. But as we gained more wisdom and listened to our advisers, we always spend time building and managing to a business plan. Success started to follow more quickly. We had more fun build the business because we were more clear on our objectives and market.
But just because you don’t have a business plan, does not mean failure. A business plan purpose helps to focus you on the market and customer resulting in a streamlined and organized the learning process. Yes, you may very well be successful businss plan, but wouldn’t you like to be successful faster?
Benefits of a Business Plan
Here are several reasons why business plans help your business, especially early.
- Forces you to ask the tough questions about your business
- You spend more time on the customer problem before you build your site
- Helps you better understand how you target a market instead of shooting in the dark
- Keeps you thinking business
- Sets priorities
- Manages your financial growth of a website
- Help keep you aligned with your overall goals
If you think that writing a business plan is too much work, read our article on the Millionaire Mindset.
Your business plan should be dynamic, not static. Keep updating it as you learn more about your business and customers. But do yourself a favor, don’t skip it. Write assumptions in your plan that get proven or disproven as you learn more through the implementation.
Your Desired Outcomes
Before you consider your business plan, make sure you have a target market to address. We wrote out a detailed process for finding your niche. Read How to Find My Niche.
Your Affiliate Online Business Plan
We’ve made this so you can copy and paste into your desired document editor. Take the time to do the work.
Your Business Summary
Write out this part after you complete the rest of the plan
- What are your desired products and services you’re promoting on your website?
- Why will people be attracted to your site?
- What are you an authority for? Why would people trust you?
- What pain is your website solving for your market/customers?
Your Attitude & Your Commitment
Document why you’re committed to your website. Since many people lose interest, make sure you get personal on why this site is essential for you? Business is personal. I know, it’s different than what most people tell you, but we’re here to say to you, get intimate and motivated.
- Why are you building your business?
- Why are you passionate about your business?
- What will you do when you’re successful?
- When will you think you’re successful?
- When you’re bored, unmotivated, and frustrated, what would you tell yourself to get motivated?
A vision statement focuses on the future. A mission statement focuses on today. An example: Our Vision Statement is “Become the authority for affiliate markets who desire to become millionaires.” Our Mission Statement: “We provide our customers with honest education, and the very best advice to accelerate their online business to make millions.”
- What is your grand vision?
- What are your values, how do you want to treat your customers?
- What is your mission statement
Document your customer’s problems. All of them, don’t try to wordsmith, use real words, quotes if you have them, or links to other sites that document it better. But make sure to internalize the problem.
- What are you customers problem?
- What proof do you have these are real problems?
- Would people pay money to solve their problem? Do you have examples?
- Why can you help solve their problem?
- Out of all the problems, what are the top 5 issues?
Product & Company Overview
What are you going to be offering your customers? During this section, we like to have you break down your offering into three segments: initial, future, and potential. It allows you to stay focused early, but have an outlet for future ideas. For example: Initial Offering – Affiliate Products to Make Money; Future Offering – Podcast with Corporate Sponsorships; Potential Offerings: Training Program.
- What are your Initial Offerings?
- What are your Future Offerings?
- What are your Potential Offerings?
Your market overview helps you to understand how big and the potential of your market. For example, if you’re building a blog for dog owners, maybe it would be good for you to understand dog owners.
- What are your market size and prospective growth potential?
- Where are you targeting (specific state? country? demographic?)
- Who is your target customer?
- Male, Female, ? Married, single? Age group?
- What does your customer like to do?
- What do you offer that’s unique?
- Try to offer up why you think your product/service would benefit your market
- What trends are you leveraging?
- What’s happening in your market and customer right now that is a trend you can leverage?
- What other potential markets/customers would benefit from your services?
- What other market/customer would benefit from your service? For example, if you’re marketing dog sweaters? Could the dog owner buy a person version of the sweater?
Market Entry Strategy
Your market entry strategy is how you plan to get your products in the hands of your customers.
- What is your blogging/content strategy?
- What are your top 10 keywords to target right away?
- What is your social media strategy? What social media platforms are you targeting?
- How will you get traffic other than content creation?
- Join platforms like Wealthy Affiliate?
- Are there any partnerships that could help you gain sales?
First off, never be afraid of competition. We’ve built businesses in the past that have beaten the big players in the market. The critical thing about competition, use it as a learning platform.
- Who are your top competitors? Or who is doing what you’re planning on doing? What blogs could you reference?
- How are your competitor’s offering different from yours? How are they inferior? How are you better?
- What strategies do you have to beat them? Why would a customer come to you instead?
- What is your advantage?
We decided not to introduce a SWOT analysis. But if you want a format for competition, search SWOT. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Team? Maybe it’s just you. That’s fine, but we like to have you document your team because it helps you understand what your strengths are and where you have weakness. For example, if you need a graphic artist, but you can’t draw, that may be a capability you want to outsource.
- Who is on your team?
- What capabilities/experience does that person have on your team? Yes, that means you too.
- What help would you need as you grow?
Managing a business means you’re tracking your costs and income, or revenue and expenses. But have you put together a growth plan? What could you make, what are your goals financially? If you want to make money, you need to forecast what you could make.
- What would you want to make over the next three years?
- Where would you want to make your money? What is your percent per offer? Affiliate revenue versus Product sales?
- What are your expenses over time?
- What is your profitability?
- When do you expect to be profitable?
- How much money do you need to be profitable? (Investment?)
Investment? Yep, we mean real investment. It doesn’t necessarily mean investors like those you watch on Shark Tank. But it could mean your own wallet. If you’re building out a blog or affiliate site, you need to consider how much you plan to spend on your site.
First: Read our post: How Much Does It Cost to Start a Blog?
- Who much have you invest so far?
- How much would you invest without making any money? It can also be used for advertising.
- How will you use the initial investment?
- If you need more money to accelerate your growth, when would you need to make that additional investment?
- What is your maximum amount to invest without any returns?
Resources Needed Beyond Capital
What other resources do you need other than money? For example, have you set aside what days a week you plan to work on your business? What are you willing to give up?
- Do you need coaching and mentoring?
- Do you need to join a community?
- Do you need training?
- How much time can I spend on your blog per week?
The exit strategy is to make sure you understand when you’ve had enough.
- How would you get out of your business?
- Would/could you sell your site?
- Would you shut it down?
- What happens to your customers?
- Why would you get out of your business?
It seems like a lot doesn’t it? It is. Running a business is fun, exciting, and rewarding. Here’s how we use our business plan. First, we wrote it; it wasn’t long at all. Then as we start working and building our business, we continuously refine it and modify it. We don’t change the vision and missions. And we don’t change the objectives. But we make assumptions, and we call out those assumptions on target customers, market overview, and other sections. As we learn, we update those assumptions. We learn more about the needs of our market, and refine our future and potential offering.
Keeping an updated business plan allows you to think about your business differently. Matching up finances with your affiliate marketing goals keeps you targeting the right customer. Reviewing the problems of your customers keeps you worried about helping them.
Here is a great follow up article.
We’d love to hear from you. Please comment if you found this post useful. Ask questions, we reply.