Every blogger has one thing or another that they would love to improve upon. January is the perfect time to turn those dreams into goals, and goals into results. A little bit of planning goes a long way, so here are 4 simple steps to guide you from planning your goals to achieving them.
1. Set the Goal
When choosing a blogging goal, try to single out the ones that will benefit you the most. It’s tempting, but unrealistic to try and improve in all areas at once, so limit yourself to two or three. Once you’re on your way to achieving those you can always add more!
Make your goals as specific as possible: think in terms of results you can quantify. “Interact on social media” is a vague goal. A better, more achievable goal is “post x amount of photos on Instagram a week, x amount of pins on Pinterest, and spend x amount of time interacting on Twitter”.
Another vague goal: “Make my blog look nicer”. Better, more quantifiable goals: “Improve my food styling and lighting skills for food photography” or “Redesign my blog banner/blog layout/recipe index”
If you’re not sure where to start, Osmosio has a list of 100 blog-specific goals to inspire you.
Example Goal: Increase blog traffic coming from Pinterest (and here's some tips to help!)
2. Scheduling your Goal Tasks
Bloggers are busy people and often have day jobs, children, or school competing for precious time. Don’t let your goals get lost in the daily scramble to get things done! Break them down into steps/goal tasks and schedule them into your daily, weekly, or monthly routines. Most big goals, blogging or not, are achieved by completing a series of small steps consistently over time.
Whether you use an electronic calendar or a paper planner, take the time to write out your daily and weekly routines and see where you can fit in your goal tasks. Then schedule those tasks in as you would with any appointment. Consistently setting time aside for your specific goal tasks is key.
If you use Google Calendar, take advantage of reminders to schedule in goal tasks. If you are more of a paper planner person (like me!) I’d suggest checking out the Plannerisms Planner and Uncalendar planners which are both excellent tools for goal scheduling / tracking for bloggers.
Example Goal Tasks: Pin 1 image a week from my blog. Pin 3 other images a day on Pinterest. Verify my website on Pinterest. Add Pinterest widget to blog.
3. Track Your Progress
Tracking your goal process motivates you when you’re on the right path, gives you that kick in the behind when you’re lagging, and indicates you may need to rethink goal tasks if you aren’t getting results.
First off, record your starting point whether it be a folder full of your current ‘best’ photographs, a list of your social media followers, or a collection of the blog posts you are most proud of.
As time goes on, take note of whether or not you actually complete the scheduled goal tasks, and any information relevant to your goal such as blog stats, improved photographs, or recipes posted each week.
Example Tracking: Record monthly traffic from Pinterest (stat via Google Analytics). Check-box on daily to-do list to pin 3 images. Check-box on monthly calendar beside each week to pin one image from blog
4. Re-evaluate Your Goals/Goal tasks
As you work towards your goals, use your tracked info to determine whether scheduled goal tasks are actually bringing results. Does that extra 20 minutes/day on twitter equal more followers? Are your photos from this month better than the ones you took last year?
Set aside a bit of time each month or two to review your data, decide if your current goal tasks are working for you, and make adjustments accordingly. If you are reaching your goal ahead of schedule, maybe add a new one to your list. If your goal doesn’t seem any closer perhaps you should switch up the steps you are taking to reach your goal and work those new goal tasks into your schedule.
Example Re-evaluation: Pinning 3 pins a day did not add more traffic because personal Pinterest account doesn’t have many followers. New goal task: Join popular group boards to pin onto instead.
By planning, scheduling, and tracking you will establish a steady, committed route to your goals. You’ll also happily avoid the common crash-and-burn mid- February when piles of overly-ambitious and vague goals seem too overwhelming to maintain. Slow and steady wins the race!
What are your blogging goals for 2014?
Stephanie Eddy is a food blogger and baking columnist from Calgary, Alberta. You can read about her baking adventures and recipes at Clockworklemon.com and on the Globe and Mail’s website. When she isn’t in the kitchen testing recipes she’s probably obsessively reading planning/organizational blogs and dreaming about new stationary. Follow her on twitter @clock_worklemon or on Facebook