Watch the video here

If you are looking to take content like a blog, youtube channel, or a news company to the next level and turn it into a full-fledged business, there are some specific things you need to take care of. Many content creators start as a hobby but have no idea what it takes to turn their passion into a legitimate business. In this start-up guide, I will show the 5 steps to get your media business started and what you need to know to operate as a legitimate business. So let’s get started.

Business Concept

The very first step is to come up with a business concept. Many of you watching will already have this down if you have an existing blog or youtube channel. Beyond your concept, you may need to research if this is a sustainable topic that will last or if it’s just a fad.

You also want to make sure the content you create is fresh and not being talked about in a saturated space that will increase your competition and make it harder for you to make money once you monetize your content. You will also need to think about what your main customer demographics are and if they are receptive to this content enough to grow, this will be useful later.

Costs & Revenue

With your business concept written down and some customer information, you now need to track your costs and revenue. This may not need to be as crucial if you already creating what you need. If you are just starting out let’s give you an idea of what might need. For a blogger or news site: a domain and hosting will cost a minimum of $150 per year. You will also need internet service and maybe a camera ($600 at least) to capture images or to procure them from sites like Getty or Shutterstock. 

For a Youtube channel, you can get away with using your phone for video but may need a mic or recorder ($200) to get good audio and a computer with iMovie (free) or more advanced editing software like Final Cut Pro X ($200). So unless you have this stuff ready to go, starting up from scratch can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. 

The next thing you’re going to have to think about is how are you going to make money? this is the number one question that everybody who creates content for business is going to ask. For example, many content creators on YouTube look to YouTube advertising as a source of revenue but you shouldn’t limit yourself to just that. More sophisticated content creators will grab sponsors if they have a big enough audience to pitch them their products every once in a while. 
Besides that, the other type of ways you could use to monetize the content you’re creating is through subscriptions for more exclusive content to your members or to create a digital product like an ebook or worksheet for purchase. The biggest thing with creating a product is how much you going to charge for it. You want to see what costs you incur through your process and what tools are you paying for and factor that in. Check out our video to get started with pricing in the card above.

Licenses and Permits

So, you know your costs and how much you’re going to be charging for your products it’s time to start that business, how are you going to do that? Now you can start as a sole proprietor if you’d like to avoid too many costs right at the start. If you want a little bit more Liability protection and legal avenues to protect your copyright, then setting yourself up as an LLC in California is fairly easy to do. 

Not only will you need to set up a business but you also need to grab an EIN and set up a bank account so you’ll be able to separate your business funds from everything else. You also want to grab a business license for the city were going to be working in and you can get that video on our youtube channel as well.


The next step is to figure out how the operations are going to work, this means how the business is going to be run. For the most part you probably already have a system in place to track how you’re creating your content or a show but if you don’t then you may want to invest in some kind of project management software. Products like Asana or Trello will help you visualize your process and track everything you need for production and are free to get started. 

You also want some kind of accounting or bookkeeping software Like Quickbooks or Wave accounting to keep track of all the money you’re going to be making when monetizing your content. You may also want to consider hiring some contractors to delegate certain parts of your creation process. Depending on how you do this you may want to start using freelancing websites like Fivver or Upwork or hire full-time employees. You may want to use a service like Gusto or Bambee to set up those employees with HR and get set up with the State of California. 


Now that we have your business set up it’s time to start growing. Now, you probably don’t need too much help in this department since you’ve grown your subscriber or reader base before you started setting up your business.

Remember your target demographic from step one? This information will give you some insight on where you can expand or distribute your content beyond your main platforms like a website or Youtube channel. Social media is a free way to distribute your content. You can create teasers, snippets, or full stories to entice prospects to follow you or even subscribe to get more exclusive content. You may also want to branch out into other shows or types of content like interviews, podcasts, or vlogs to reach a wider audience.

If you are looking to expand your distribution, test it out first and look at your analytics before shifting completely. Not everything will work right away but if you do get a good response then go for it. The biggest thing you can do is to poll your audience with email or on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube and get some insight on the direction your audience is comfortable with and give the people what they want. 


Starting a media company like a blog, youtube channel, or new site is harder than it looks. It’s not just taking money for content you are creating but there are important steps to laying the groundwork to actually operate as a full business. You also need to think about different strategies based on your type of business since none of these is a one-size-fits-all approach. If you are looking to start your media business you can always contact us here at the University of La Verne SBDC and get help with starting up. Check out the links in the description below.

Let me know what you think. Are you a content creator looking to go full time or are you in the process and need help to get up and running? Let us know down in the comments below.

Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.