Stuart asks – ‘I would love to know what type of goals you set yourself in terms of future earnings, readership, subscribers, commenters and even SEO growth. Mainly because I’m just really nosey but also because I like to know how the BIG boys play the game.’
Hi Stuart – good question and one I’ve not really written about for a while now. It’s time for a bit of an update on it because my goal setting practices here have changed somewhat.
In my early days of moving towards ‘going Pro’ (or full time) as a blogger I used to set a lot more goals than I currently do for my blogs.
When my wife and I decided to give blogging for an income a go we set me a six month deadline to be earning enough income to justify the time I was putting into my blogging (at this stage I’d already been blogging part time as a hobby for a year or so). At this time I set myself some goals in these areas:
- posting frequency – it was in this time that I set myself the goal of posting 20 times a day (less on weekends). I was working on almost 20 blogs at the time so 20 was the minimum number of posts that I wanted to write – some days I’d do up to 40.
- ptraffic targets – my goal for a while there was to see traffic grow by 10% per month.
- pincome targets – similarly I aimed for 10% growth in income
I didn’t really many more specific goals than that. Of course I wanted to increase comment levels, subscriber levels and my search engine rankings – but I didn’t really put any measures on these things (in fact subscriber levels couldn’t be measured at this time as it was Pre-Feedburner Counter days).
These days I still track all of these metrics – but I don’t set myself hard and fast goals in them on the majority of my blogs. Instead, my goals are a lot more broad (ie – I want reader numbers to increase – no numbers or set targets).
There are a few main reasons why I don’t get so worked up about goals:
- I’m more established – By no means have I ‘made it’ as a blogger – but things are now at a level where I’m now not needing to see high levels of growth in order to survive financially. In the early days it was very much about needing to grow to justify the copious amounts of time that i blogged for :-). Most of my blogs were also in startup phases where I find setting measurable goals essential (in fact the only blog I currently have more specific goals on is DPS which is sill in it’s first year).
- Metrics Can be Distracting – I also got to a point after a year of blogging full time where I found that I was spending a lot of time analyzing my stats, tracking goals and getting pretty narrow in my focus (eg focussing too much on SEO). I was spending time that I could have just been blogging doing metrics stuff and the goals (and the way I reviewed them) were actually stifling my blogs.
- Time – I am ‘time poor’ these days and unfortunately one of the things that has slipped from my priorities has been planning and goals. While points 1 and 2 above are true – the truth is that I’d like to put more time into thinking strategically about my own blogs – however time doesn’t allow it. I’m now working full time with b5media and the blogs I do still write on (only really 2) take up quite a bit of my spare time.
Goals are Important
Having said all of that – I think goals are very important for bloggers – particularly those starting out with a new blog.
Putting aside time to think strategically, set some boundaries around topics, putting some targets out there for posting frequency, traffic and income are all useful things to do. (here’s a framework for thinking strategically about a blog’s direction)
However don’t get obsessed by your goals. The problem that I’ve seen a number of bloggers have over the last few months is that they set pretty tough goals for themselves that they were not able to achieve – and as a result of falling short they lost motivation for blogging at all.
- Do set specific goals
- Do make them realistic
- Do set yourself some rewards for reaching milestones
- Don’t punish yourself for falling short – instead readjust your next goals and keep on blogging
Do you have blogging goals? What are they? How do you set them? Do they help?