Before we get started with today’s post I want to invite you to join the Content Planning Challenge! December 5 – 9 we’ll be filling in your entire blog content calendar for 2017. That’s 52 blog post ideas in just 5 days.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The time when we splurge on new notebooks, clear off our whiteboards, snuggle up with inspirational podcasts, and create a plan for internet domination in the new year.
. . . Oh yeah and all that hot cocoa and snow stuff too.
But seriously – looking over what I’ve done in the past year and creating a game plan for what I’d like to accomplish next year is one of my favorite things. So today I’m sharing the list of questions I’ve been working through myself in the hope that it will spark some insight into how you can grow your blog + biz next year too.
Get out your writing implement, ladies and gentleman, it’s time to get down to business!
What worked last year + why?
Traffic, sales, clients, etc. What made you feel like a superstar? What put you in the right place at the right time? What gave you the motivation or inspiration to seriously get shit done? And what strategies sent your stats soaring?
Whatever good stuff came your way this year I HIGHLY recommend doing more of the same and aiming higher next year. Pick a few items and plan how you’ll go from 2x to 5x to 10x.
One thing that REALLY worked for me this year was to finally start scheduling posts (as photos, not links) to my Facebook page. For some posts this QUADRUPLED my engagement. Facebook really appreciates consistency, so I’ll be putting more time into scheduling content and hopping on Facebook Live to make sure more “likers” see more of my posts.
What didn’t work last year + why?
What did you try that was an absolute fail? What made you feel embarrassed, shameful, and like a mega loser? What did you know you should have done but didn’t? The bad is sometimes more telling than the good when it comes to creating a plan to level up. It shows us where we need to improve, change, or just hire someone to do the damn thing for us.
For me this was the year of procrastination. Ugh. You know when you write a great blog post and make a course about something and then fall off the bandwagon yourself?? Feels great . . . This year I got really good at planning in advance and then equally good at moving my schedule around at the last minute. And it made me feel even worse because I KNOW how to plan and prioritize and check things off (I nailed my to-do list like a PRO today!), but my energy and motivation just wasn’t consistent enough to make it happen month after month.
What do you want to accomplish in 1 year?
I invite you to be ambitious on this one and then break your goals into monthly and weekly increments to stave off the panic. Yes, gaining 2,000 email subscribers might sound insane, but when it’s around 50/week, that’s not so bad. Make sure to be specific with your goals. “Grow my Instagram following” isn’t as easy to track as “gain 1000 followers by December.”
My list of 2017 to-dos includes re-branding my courses (everything will fall under the “Dare to . . .” name), seriously increasing the number of students I’m working with, and doubling the size of my email list (20k in one year – OMG…what did I say about breaking down goals again??). I plan to travel (two conferences booked so far!) and improve my public speaking skills, go live on Facebook more often, and create social media content in advance so I can spend more time chatting and less time scheduling.
What do you want to accomplish in 3 years?
Aka – what do you want to be known for? If you’re going to put time into these big goals, it needs to be your bread + butter. Think about your overall purpose and mission with this one. You can even get wild and think REALLY big – three years is a long time to plot and plan!
I want to be known for pushing women out of their comfort zones (dudes, you can come along too, but women almost always need more of a shove) and helping them share what they love online. I want to teach them how to focus and prioritize, make brave decisions, feel confident in all the tech stuff, and earn income that gives them the freedom to do whatever they want to do (spend time at home, travel the world, save all the puppies, buy all the shoes…OK, that’s what I want to do).
In three years (yeah, this one is scary even more me!) I want my business to grow to the point that I NEED to hire at least three more team members. I want to take customer service, design, video, and social media management completely off my plate. And I want to move from a one-bedroom apartment to a home where I can have an office (with a couch in it, of course!). And I want a yearly sabbatical – a month off to do nothing but read and get lots of face time with my favorite people.
What needs to change to make those things happen?
What are you doing right now that needs to change/stop/upgrade/downgrade/turn in a circle in order to make those one- and three-year goals happen? Who do you need to get in touch with? What do you need to buy or upgrade? What habits do you need to start or kick to the curb? Because whatever you’re doing now is NOT going to be what you’re doing in year three.
My procrastination habit has no place in my three-year plan (or even next week’s plan!), so that one has GOT to go. I also need to hop on Facebook Live more often and create more online events to grow my list. I need to hire someone or get better at Facebook ads. I need to rework my homepage (this will happen soon) and update my about page.
I’ve been continuously adding to this list and it’s getting VERY long – lots and lots of stuff to adjust next year!
What parts of your website need to be updated? I like to take a look at the click maps in Google Analytics (under Behavior > In-Page analytics) and SumoMe (Heat Maps) in order to determine what sections of my website get the most attention. The sections that are slacking either get a facelift, new graphics, new copy, or are completely removed and replaced with something more enticing.
If coding and design aren’t your thing, maybe a designer needs to be added to the mix. Take that off your plate completely or head over to a site like Treehouse and learn how to make it happen yourself.
Things to try
One of my favorite parts of being the boss is experimenting, and I highly recommend you take advantage of the ability to be flexible and try new things as well. This could be as simple as posting more often or at different times on Twitter, or getting brave and hosting your first webinar. Check out what people a few steps ahead of you are doing and see if you can cook up an experiment to try on your own blog.
Next year I want to send out a few PR pitches and see about getting into some larger publications/websites as well as play with sharing video clips (more blogging/biz info in addition to aerial) on social media.
What do you need to learn?
Are you hopeless at photography? Do you have major anxiety about going live? Are your blog post titles limp and lame? What skills do you need to learn or improve in order to knock out those goals?
Personally I want to get REALLY nerdy with my Google Analytics and learn how to set up + track goals. (If you’re a pro at this, we should talk.) And if I’m going to continue shooting my own video, I need to get up close and personal with a lighting kit.
What questions do you need to answer to make better decisions?
This one is sort of vague, but really important. What do you need to know to decide where to invest your energy, time, or money? For example: In order to get the most out of your social media strategy, you need to know where most of your traffic is coming from. In order to grow your sales or get more clients, you need to know which opt-in forms convert the best.
Now let’s talk about the HOW
How does one take all of these ideas, goals, and adjustments and put them into a plan that actually works?
I recommend working backwards.
If you want 2,000 new email subscribers, then you need about 50 opt-ins each week. To get 50 opt-ins you might . . .
- Add content upgrades to your most popular blog posts
- Schedule those blog posts to automatically tweet 3 times each week
- Put together a giveaway
- Set up a handful of webinar collaborations
- Guest post on other blogs
Once you have your strategies in place, break them into single tasks and add them to your calendar. (I like to use Asana for project management.)
- Contact a co-host
- Plan the content
- Create slides
- Design graphics
- Write promo emails
- Build registration and landing pages
- Schedule social media posts
Once big goals are broken into manageable tasks and find a spot in your calendar, they are far more likely to get done, which means you’re far more likely to hit that goal.
Make a promise to yourself this year to not just make a plan but to put it into action. All of my Dare to . . . courses have communities (see them here), so if you need some butt-kicking accountability, I’m happy to help!