If you read my post from last week about making plans, you know I’m on a mission to get my finances in order. And as I learned last year, blogging is expensive. One of my blogging priorities this year was to create a blog budget (and just as importantly, stick to it). Coming up with my blog’s budget was eye-opening, goal-defining, and even a little inspiring.
I’m going to share some tips, and I’ve got a printable blog budget template for you, too – so you have no excuse and can get started working on your own blog’s budget right away!
But first, let’s talk about WHY you need a budget.
Last year was the first year I spent “real” money (and time…OMG, so much time) on my blog. Previously, it had been a hobby (I’ve been blogging, off and on, since 2007), and a free hobby at that. But when I realized I wanted to make money blogging, I learned (quickly!) that I would need to spend money blogging, first.
So, I spent money. And eventually, I started making money, too. Not a lot, but enough that I set up a separate bank account for my blog so I could track expenses and income. And this worked okay, but…I was never really sure when to pay myself. I wasn’t sure what upcoming expenses I might incur, when my next job might come, and all that fun stuff. So, I made up a super random formula to determine how to pay myself, and a couple of times each month, I’d deposit this random amount into our family account and hope that I was leaving enough in the blog account to cover future expenses.
This year, I sat down and penciled in my projected costs for 2014. Once I had an annual budget amount, I figured out the monthly cost. And now? I know how to pay myself. Any amount I make over the monthly cost will go towards my family’s finances (and ultimately, paying off debt – woohoo!).
Sounds so obvious and simple, but really…until I had a budget worked out, my financial “program” was random and inefficient.
If you blog as a business, you need to treat your blog as a business – and that includes having a budget. If you blog as a hobby, but spend money on your blog, you can still benefit from a budget. Your blogging money has to come from somewhere, and I believe it’s easier to manage your personal finances if you have ALL of your expenses accounted for and mapped out…and that includes your blog’s expenses!
And now, let’s talk about HOW to budget. It takes some time to get it all worked out, but it’s pretty painless!
- Write it down. It does not have to be fancy…mine isn’t!
- Spend some time really thinking about all of your expenses. Mine took several days to write (and it’s short and sweet) because I kept thinking of things I’d left off, or wanted to add for the new year.
- If you think you’ll need something, or want to go somewhere, but you’re not sure (for example, attending a conference or buying a new laptop), include it in your budget.
- Share your budget with someone if you’d like feedback. I made sure to share mine with my husband, because A) I value his feedback, B) he was able to think of a couple things I’d left off, and C) how much money I will be making matters and impacts our monthly family budget.
- Edit. When I looked at my monthly operating costs (which I determined by simply dividing my annual cost by 12), I realized I was going to have to really hustle to make the income I want to make – and all that hustling would take away from a couple of other large projects I have in the works. So, I cut some costs and reduced my expected annual expenses by 20%.
- Stick with it. This is the hardest part for me – budgeting is eye-opening, and helps draw clear lines about needs vs. wants and all that good stuff. But if you don’t stick with it, it’s useless.
- And at the same time, be flexible. If you have an unexpected expense, you can always re-write your budget to include the new expense.
Some things to think about when budgeting for a blog:
- Future technology purchases (will you need a new laptop this year?)
- Ongoing monthly subscriptions (I have several low monthly fees I pay to various websites…but they add up!)
- Things you need help with (need to hire an accountant? want to hire a virtual assistant at some point? need legal advice or want to set your blog up as an “official” business?)
- Continuing education (if you’re investing in your blog, you might want to attend a conference or take additional trainings)
Is your head spinning yet? If you’ve never budgeted for your blog before, it might. You’ll have your own unique expenses, but if this is all new to you, I put together a template that should help you get started.
So, tell me – have you made a budget for your blog yet? How did it go?