Three and a half years ago I was on maternity leave. It was my third maternity leave so it was nice and chilled. I knew what I was doing on the baby front by then and after a few months I started to get itchy feet.
I needed something to keep my brain occupied but this DID NOT mean going back to my day job at EE!
I had always been obsessed with saving money and thought there was something I could do to share this with other. A lightning bolt struck – a friend and I came up with the name over a glass of wine and Mrs Mummypenny was born.
I bought the domain name and set up social media accounts the very next day. Job done.
I spent the next two years running the blog as hobby. I would update the content every week, whenever I had some spare time from the busy full time day job. I always knew it had the potential to be an incredibly successful business.
In July 2015 I was able to negotiate redundancy from EE and this allowed me to launch the business properly. One year on, I am running a successful business that brings in more than enough income to pay the bills.
How to Turn your Blog into a Business
Here are ten things I have learnt from my blogging journey:
1. Plan, plan and then plan some more
I spent last July and August setting everything up for success. I worked with a business advisor on a business plan, cash flow forecast and survival budget. This helped focus the mind and work out the plan for the next 6-12 months and beyond.
The business plan was signed off and my reward was a National Enterprise Allowance from the government. £65 per week for 13 weeks then £33 per week for 13 weeks – a great help with set up costs.
2. Speak to trusted advisors
I am a great networker and work hard to maintain that network and build relationships. I have two mentors who helped with the business plan stage in particular.
They tore it apart and made me start again. They questioned my values, beliefs and confidence in the business. They pulled my financials apart. It was amazing and they really made a difference at the beginning of the business.
They are extremely successful self-made businessmen, the perfect people to understand starting your own business.
3. Keep all costs to a minimum at the beginning
This means set up costs and stock costs. At this point you are not earning any/much money so these costs will hurt you. Do not spend any money unless it is key to the running of the business.
I needed a laptop (my old one died a nasty death after downloading Windows 10), a tablet, a new mobile phone. A desk. That was pretty much it.
4. Employ a great accountant early on
I have a really good one, Christian Elmes, based in Stevenage and London and I highly recommend him, check out his website here.
The accountant can help with financial advice, structure, company set up, payroll, planning. He has been a huge help to me.
I am a qualified accountant but I feel much more comfortable having him there to check what I do. He also knows all the rules about income I have to declare and expenses to claim.
5. Work out who your customers are and reach out.
My customers are brands, PR Agencies and small business owners. They pay me to review their products or services. To reach out to these guys I needed to do all sorts of stuff.
My main way was to build my social media channels, focussing first on Facebook and Twitter. I grew my numbers through my friends and network, then competitions then Facebook-targeted advertising.
I have spent around £200 on Facebook advertising in 1 year and maybe another £200 on competition prizes. Twitter was organic growth rather than paid. My Facebook page now has 4k likes and Twitter is at 2.5k.
6. Go to events
One of my defining moments was working with Aldi. I joined the Aldi Wine Club, I reviewed wines and then I entered a competition to be a wine panel taster for an Aldi You Tube video.
The rest is history. I met the PR team at the filming event and I started reviewing products for Aldi. They invited me to events they held such as wine tasting evenings and I talked to people.
Simple as that, I engaged with other guests and told them all about Mrs Mummypenny. This has led to so much other work such as BBC Good Food Live show and Women & Home magazine.
7. Engage with your local small business community
They can help with advice and you might even be able to do an exchange of services. I help out my local butchers with marketing, and he throws in the odd freebie sausage or burger!
I would avoid working with people who take and don’t give, i.e. those who want stuff for free and will give nothing back to you. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, like charity work or local community work.
I organised a charity event in January that raised £2800. I used my Mrs Mummypenny link to Barclays bank to get a £1000 donation from them for the charity.
8. Keep track of your expenses and income
I have completely failed at this and my books are a mess. Set up your banking from Day One (separately from your personal banking) – pay all expenses from there and put all your income into this account.
My income is all over the place, sometimes in business account, sometimes in personal, sometimes PayPal. It’s going to take me forever to pick it apart. And only I can do it.
My expenses are at least sorted into monthly envelopes. I have had to ask a bookkeeper friend to help me sort it out so this tip is really important – don’t get into this position.
9. Cash flow is king
Do not run out of money. Chase invoices and if they are not paid add on late payment charges. If you run out of money your business will fail so keep afloat and always have a positive balance in your account.
10. What if you need money?
I got to the point where money was getting tight. I spoke to my bank, Barclays, who told me I needed at least one year of accounts to get an overdraft, not helpful.
But I was able to get a Barclaycard with six-month’s of interest-free purchases, which has a limit of £3k. You can take out personal credit cards, as there are tons of great interest free rates that last for ages. Consumer rates are often better than small business rates on most things.
There are also grants and loans available if you search carefully online. I am always on the lookout. Maybe you have a nice rich relative or friend who might loan you some money on a short term basis, but remember you must agree payback terms though.
Check out our handy guide on how to borrowing from family and friends without ruining the relationship.
The past year of running Mrs Mummypenny has been my best year of my working life and long may it continue. I appear to have found my calling in life, finally I do what I love, I am my own boss and have the ultimate flexibility to do what I want when I want. Want to know more? Visit Mrs Mummypenny.
Over to You
Have you started a blog or a small business? What obstacles did you come up against? Share your blogging tips with us – we’d love to hear from you.
About the Author
Lynn is a personal finance expert who founded Mrs Mummypenny. She is a personal finance lifestyle blogger with content featuring her family of 3 young boys. Lynn is a qualified management accountant of 17 years who left the corporate world in 2015 to run her website/social channels and now offers a social media/blog/marketing consulting service. You can buy her new book Blogging Your Way To Riches, an essential guide to blogging and making £££s.
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