This post is based on episode 218 of the ProBlogger podcast.
It’s been a very long year, and like most people you probably can’t wait for it to be over. And with the new year just around the corner, now is a good time to set yourself some blogging goals for 2021.
Setting goals is important if you want to grow your blog. It will help you focus your time and energy on what’s most important. And knowing what you’ll be achieving will give you some added incentive to keep going.
Getting SMART about setting goals
There’s a lot of information out there about goals and how to set them. One of the most popular methods is to base them on the SMART acronym, which stands for smart, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. And that’s the one I’ll be referring to in this post.
But I’ll be attaching a few more words to some of those letters to make it more specific to blogging.
S is for…
To start, your goals should be as specific as possible. Don’t set vague goals like, “I want more traffic for my blog,” or, “I want more money from my blog,” or, “I want to post more often.” How much more traffic do you want? How much more money do you want? How often do you want to post?
Instead, work out exactly what you want to achieve:
- “I want to double the amount of traffic I had this year.”
- “I want to make $50,000.”
- “I want to publish a new post every week.”
Not only are these goals far more specific, they also satisfy another criterion that starts with ‘s’ – significant.
As I said earlier, setting goals is important if you want to grow your blog. But don’t start making them just for the sake of it. You should be setting significant goals that will get you closer to your long-term goals.
Want to make a million dollars from blogging? You probably won’t get there in a year, but you can certainly set yourself a goal (“I want to make $50,000.”) that gets you closer to that lucrative figure.
Want to get a book deal? You may not get one this year, but you can certainly set yourself a goal (“I want to publish a new post every week.”) that will get you closer.
You should also come up with goals that are significant to you. Maybe you want to make $50,000 so you can buy a new car or your first home. Now that goal is a lot more significant, and you’re going to be more motivated to achieve it.
M is for…
Next, your goals need to be measurable. As Peter Drucker once said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
The specific goals I mentioned in the previous section are also measurable because it’s easy to work out whether or not you achieved them. At the end of the year you’ll know whether you doubled your traffic, made $50,000 or posted something new every week.
Not only that, you can work out how well you’re tracking and, if necessary, make some adjustments. Let’s say your goal is to earn $50,000 in a year. That works out to be $4,166 a month, or $137 a day. And so at any time during the year you can compare how much you’ve made with how much you should have made to see how well you’re meeting your target.
And when you’re planning your goals, keep another M word in mind – meaningful. You’re far more likely to achieve your goal if it means something to you. I once talked to a blogger whose goal was to raise $10,000 for school of orphans in Africa. It had nothing to do with growing her blog, but she’d visited the orphanage a few years before so it was a meaningful goal for her.
A is for…
Your goals should stretch you, and make you work hard. But they should also be achievable based on the situation you’re in.
If you can only blog in the evenings because of work and family commitments, you probably shouldn’t set a goal to publish a new blog post every day. Even publishing once a week might be pushing things too far. You may be better off setting a goal to publish a post once a fortnight to start with, and then see how well you’re tracking after a couple of months.
Setting goals you can’t actually reach can actually hurt your blog. You may be far less motivated to keep going, and even if you do keep going the quality of your content may drop, which can damage your brand.
By all means stretch yourself, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. When you’re creating your goals, take the time and resources you have into account. What you’d like to be a one-year goal may need to become one of your long-term goals instead – at least to begin with.
And if you’re part of a team, then your goals should also be agreed-upon. That means not only letting everyone know about the goals you’d like to achieve, but also getting them to take those goals on board so you can all work together to achieve them.
R is for…
Chances are you’ll be making a number of goals for the year. But once you’ve created them all, check to make sure they’re all still relevant. You may find that some of them clash with others, or have already been covered in other goals. And some may just be a little bit before their time.
Back in 2015, one of my goals was to run an event in the US. We have a lot of readers in the US, and so I thought it would be a worthwhile goal. But when I looked at all the goals I wanted to achieve that year, I could see that the work involved in running an event in the US would affect some of my other goals. And so I decided to put that particular goal on hold.
Two years later I took another look at my list of goals, and I could see how we could run that US event. In the intervening years I’d met some people who could help us make it a reality. So I freed up some time in my own schedule to work on it, and the result was our Success Incubator event.
Just because a goal isn’t relevant at the moment doesn’t mean you should discard it completely. You may simply need more resources, contacts or prep work to make it a success.
T is for…
Finally, your goals should be time-bound. In other words, they need deadlines.
This not only makes your goals specific and measurable, it also helps you work out how you’re going to reach your goal.
For example, if your goal is to publish a blog post every Friday then you can work backwards to work out when you need to finish your research, when you need to finish the first draft, and so on.
One tip with deadlines: Try to space them out, rather than putting them all at the end of the year. That way you won’t be facing a pile of deadlines at a time when you should be winding down rather than speeding up.
Spacing them out also means you’ll be achieving goals regularly, which can do wonders for your motivation.
Over to you
What are your goals for 2021? And what long-term goals will they be helping you achieve? Let us know in the comments.
Photo by Ricardo Arce on Unsplash