Remember our friend Serena who prompted me to put all these emails online? Well our chats continued and a bunch of other *GREAT* questions came out it which I’m sure has gone through your minds at some point too :)
Here’s our latest strand on business stuff:
Oh. WOW….You just hit the nail on the head when you asked: “If you weren’t doing THIS, what would you be doing that’s better?”
My response is–NOTHING!!! This IS what I want to be doing! So there is no room for discouragement, because there *is* no Plan B. Hahahaha. You really have inspired me so much with this email (and I never would have guessed that writing is the hardest part for you, because you make it seem easy). For me, I LOVE LOVE LOVE writing (in fact, at one of my H.S. reunions, someone asked me if I was a writer because she remembers that is what I did best back in ‘da day, LOL).
Anyhow, you are totally refueling me, and opened my eyes to the fact that I must keep going. I once asked myself what my life’s purpose what, in terms of “themes.” And I came up with 5, but only 3 have stuck to this day: TO CREATE….TO INSPIRE….AND TO EDUCATE. And my blogging is the perfect platform for that.
I realized the other day, however, that I have been treating blogging as a HOBBY, but expecting it to reward me as a BUSINESS. Wth…..? Going forward, I am going to treat Thrift Diving, and any subsequent blogs I start, as a business, with missions statements, and measureable goals!! :)
Oh, and one more question: At what point did you treat your blog as a business, and what steps did you take to make it legit? Do I need a lawyer? Do I need a tax ID number right now? Do I need to hire someone for a pretty web design?
Thank you so much!!!!!! :) Okay, gotta get this report done for my “9-to-5″ before I leave early today. SIGH….the life of a blogger who only works at night. LOL
My response: Hehe so glad it helped!!! and that you actually RESPONDED BACK too – you’d be amazed at the people who ask me a billion questions and then never email tell me thank you or anything. After I spent like an hour or so on trying to help them (arghhhh))).. so you’re already on my “favorite people” list ;)
The smartest people ask questions when they need help too, so I’m glad you’re continuing to shoot them over. Regardless of my time crunch I will always find a way to respond and help out where I can – we’ve got a loving blogger community so we gotta hook each other up!
RE: Your questions… You’re totally right – you DO have to treat your blog as a *business* if you want it to act like one, good reminder! I’m totally gonna use that line for future emailers, haha, thanks :)
At what point did you treat your blog as a business, and what steps did you take to make it legit?
I probably started thinking of it more business-like after the first year when I realized there could be something “bigger” there. Both my readership, and income, was going up pretty consistently over the months, so I figured I should probably pay more attention to the biz side of things and try and be more strategic if I could figure out how (always the hardest part, right? :)).
At the same time though, I also wanted it to STILL be a hobby #1 and a business #2 – as the community and fun parts of it were – and still are – my main driving forces behind the site. Which complicates things more because business does NOT always mix too well with fun, haha…
But at any rate, yes – I did officially create a legal entity around it by creating an LLC which seemed to make the most sense for what I was trying to do – especially protection wise. Any site or company or whatever that brings in money is already technically a business in the IRS’ eyes, but forming something legally helps protect you more when it comes to liability and other things… And as I started to lean towards blogging full-time for a living, of course those things became more and more important over time. But I’m no lawyer or legal person, so I’d refer to your own Google searches on what entities are the best, and for what reasons/etc.
Right now in your stage though, you probably don’t need to even go down that route until you start bringing home a lot more money or you want the liability protection in case someone sues you for whatever stupid reason. You can have an incredibly successful “company” as a sole proprietor and not have to deal with any of the hassles of legal stuff if you don’t want to. It just depends on what you’re comfortable with or not. Know what I’m saying?
Do I need a lawyer?
You could, but I didn’t. I just read up on it a lot and asked a lawyer student friend of mine, and then filed all the paperwork (which wasn’t much) with my state’s small business office along with cutting them a check (the non-fun part). That pretty much *formed* the legal entity, and then every year I have to pay the taxes on assets/etc as with all businesses. You could also use places like LegalZoom.com which will walk you through the steps and do it all for you which is nice and easy, and you just pay them a premium to do so. It all depends on what you prefer. (And again, at this stage I really don’t think it should be a high priority for you, at least from what I can tell.)
Do I need a tax ID number right now?
Once you set up the legal entity, you can then file for a tax ID – if I recall correctly it was free. Until then, your company is automatically a sole proprietorship (I’m pretty sure at least – don’t quote me!) and your income/taxes/etc go through you as an individual using your Social Security #. As long as you’re reporting all your money which you should be! (That becomes a whoooooole other topic which a lot of people/bloggers like to “forget” about ;))
Do I need to hire someone for a pretty web design?
If you want to! But it’s totally up to how you want to brand yourself and the reasons for it. I, personally, like sites/blogs/companies that come across as super personal and down to Earth – so for me anything too fancy or “corporate” looking just turns me off from the start. I’d rather see a crappier-designed site but with GOOD content over a fancy pants one. But I may also not be your target audience ;) That’s for you to figure out and decide on.
Though you could always spruce it up and have someone tweak things out for you to still keep it “yours” you know? All depends on what you’re going for. If you need recommendations, I can intro you to a few designer friends I know who may be able to hook you up…
Hope this helps! Just remember to always be YOU and do what you’re comfortable with… The more you get into *other* stuff that takes away your time and energy/excitement, the less you have to pour into the core of your site. So makes sure you’ve got that on lock first, and THEN consider doing all the rest. Your content and community is #1!
[Photo by hyku]