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Start With a Bang – Things You can Do to Set Yourself up For Your Best Year of Blogging Yet!

Things You can Do to Set Yourself up For Your Best Year of Blogging Yet! | Practical tips on ProBlogger.net

There’s nothing like the dawn of a new year to get the adrenaline pumping, the motivation at DEFCON level, and the desire to do everything right like a new year’s resolution on steroids when it comes to our blogs. Maybe this is the year we get our big break if we just work hard enough!

I like to do somewhat of a spring clean of my blog at the beginning of the year, while I’ve got a bit of time over the holiday break, and also while I’m in the mood. If you’ve done your end-of-year blog audit, you’ll be in an even better position to kick-start your best year yet, so make sure you’ve got that sorted before you go through this list – it will give you a fantastic indication of where you can improve and what bits need working on the most.

I’m excited, and I know you’re super-keen to get moving, so these are my top tips for getting your blog in tip top shape for 2017. Go get ’em tiger!

1. Dream a dream

This is the bit where I like to go to a coffee shop, get a cup of something nice, and daydream. Where do I see myself in five years? How will my blog help me accomplish that? Where do I want my blog to go? What would I do if money were no object? What would I want to do if there was nothing to hold me back?

Think about where you’re headed – not in a practical sense, but in an anything-is-possible sense. Write it down. Mull it over. Brainstorm for a while. See what your heart desires for you and your blog. The answer might surprise you.

2. Make a plan

Now is the tricky part. How much of those dreams can you accomplish or work towards this year? What is going to be achievable on a practical level?

Write a list of all the things you’d really like to see yourself getting done this year.

  • How many posts you want to write
  • What kind of topics you want to explore
  • What kind of posts you enjoy writing and want to do more of
  • How many readers you’d like to end the year with
  • Ideas about growing your social media
  • Random thoughts about moving into video, podcasting, eLearning, freelance writing, writing a book
  • Places you’d love to get a guest post published
  • Who you’d like to collaborate with
  • Brands you’d like to work with
  • How much money you’d like to make
  • What you want your blog to achieve
  • What kind of products you’d like to create

You get the picture! Write down the things you really want to get done this year, and then jot down next to them three concrete steps you can take this year to work towards that.

If you want to get even more technical, break the tasks down to monthly/weekly/daily and make sure you set aside some time each week to review how well you are sticking to your plan.

3. Set a goal

This can be big or it can be small, it all depends on where you’re at in your blogging career. You can have one goal or you can have five (just don’t have too many, trust me!).

Goals are excellent for giving us purpose and driving us forward, and also giving us some parameters within which to work so we can decide whether opportunities or projects that become available to us are actually worth our time. Does it get us closer to our goal? Do you really want to do it for another reason? No? Well, “no” is your answer!

But I digress.

Think of a goal or goals and work out step-by-step how you’re going to get yourself there. Keep yourself accountable and review often. This advice will get you straight on the path to goal-achieving success:

Things You can Do to Set Yourself up For Your Best Year of Blogging Yet! | Practical tips on ProBlogger.net

4. Nail that editorial calendar

I’ve said over and over again that this was finally the thing that helped me get more done because with a schedule, I was no longer wasting time. Well, I was wasting less time! I could plan out a content schedule, make preliminary notes and ideas for images, and do prior research when I could, so when I would sit down to write there was no faffing about – I had the bones of a post right there in front of me, and I knew when it was due – it felt like the work was already half done. It did wonders for my motivation, too.

Blogging spontaneously is fun. I like it. I always keep spots available for when I want to write off the cuff. But when it comes to keeping continuous, excellent content on my blog, an editorial calendar is MAN-DA-TO-RY.

If you chafe under such restrictions, think it hampers your creativity, or just need a hand getting started, then you might want to check out these posts:

5. Set a schedule

Speaking of schedules, I like them for all things – my blog work, my freelance work, my work here at ProBlogger, my housework, our meal plans – all sorts of things! I find they take the stress out of making decisions on the spot, and it allows me to get a head start on things I know are coming up. Everything from dinner to blog post ideas.

You can get all my secrets here: 3 Ways Scheduling Will Make You a Better Blogger, and you’ll find yourself with more time than stress this year. I promise.

What can you lock into your work week that you can then plan around? Make a note of these.

6. Ditch your bad habits

Oh my hand is firmly up here when it comes to doing things the wrong way. But as I said to a bunch of newbie bloggers recently, I think you sort of have to go about things the wrong way to start with, in order to find out what works at what doesn’t. You almost have to get to burnout stage before you make changes that will ensure you’ll never find yourself back there ever again.

Laziness and poor time management were my biggest bugbears before I got them straightened out. Assuming things will work themselves out was another problem vying for the top spot in Dumbest Things I Did While Blogging. Thankfully I took a good, hard look at how I was spending my time and what good habits I had to cultivate to make sure I was making the most of what I had and learning to cut away what no longer served me. You can read about that and get some tips for yourself here: Say Goodbye to Bad Habits: Five You Should Ditch in the New Year.

What are your bad habits? What do you know you need to reverse or alter before the new year starts in earnest? Be honest, now! It’s the only way!

Things You can Do to Set Yourself up For Your Best Year of Blogging Yet! | Practical tips on ProBlogger.net

7. Be more productive

It’s everybody’s dream – in the short hours we have to blog, we’d sit down at our computer, and churn out exactly what content we need to, without a wasted moment or an unnecessary break. We’d blog, ninja-style with no human desires to hold us back.

Wellll, we are human, things go wrong, we spend 45 minutes on Facebook instead of writing that post we were going to write, the cat is hungry, our mind wanders, we half-write a post and then go off on a tangent with something else… all too often, we get distracted.

I’m here to tell you that productive people aren’t accidentally productive. They’ve done things to optimise their environment, manage their weaknesses, and give themselves incentives for staying on task. There’s no reason you can’t do the same!

If 2017 is the year you’ve sworn to be more organised and less flighty, we’ve got the goods to help:

I mean, it’s a hot topic, right? None of us are born knowing how to blog efficiently! It’s like the blogger’s great white whale.

8. Let go of self-doubt

“Despite a lack of natural ability, I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: naïveté, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do” – Steve Martin.

I love that quote – it sums up a lot about what it takes to make it in any creative endeavour. Hard work and no real idea what you’re up against. I think success is a curious mix of a willingness to have a go, and a lack of self-consciousness. Everything worth doing is hard, and there are too many people out there doing everything anyone would ever want to do. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any room for you.

I’ll bet you’ve heard again and again that nobody can write your story but you. That you have something special the world wants, whether it’s whittling spoons or writing the next Great American Novel. You have every right to follow a passion and see where it leads, regardless of how good you think you are at it. We all start from zero.

9. Automate

Honestly, blogging is on 24-hour time, and can’t (and shouldn’t want to!) be on call that whole time. We need blogging to fit around our life, not the other way around, and that means automating what you’re comfortable with. From blog posts to return emails, socila media, mailouts, anything that can be automated without pissing your readers off, should be automated.

Just please – PLEASE don’t do auto DMs on Twitter or bot-like comments on Instagram. They’re obvious, and they’re a turn-off. Don’t farm out your authenticity, sense of community, or personality. Automate everything else.

Need some ideas?

Things You can Do to Set Yourself up For Your Best Year of Blogging Yet! | Practical tips on ProBlogger.net

10. Find your creativity

I always feel a bit wrung out at the end of the year, like a limp rag that has nothing left to give. Therefore, I spend most of my Christmas break reading widely, looking at beautiful, inspiring things, and letting my brain have enough time to daydream and imagine.

I think it’s so important to tap into that part of you that creates ideas and fill it to the brim with thing that will spark it up again. Get back to enjoying the things you love and let it naturally seep into your creative side.

11. Batch your tasks

When it comes time to sit down at your desk and crack open your laptop, you’re going to want to put your newfound new year motivation to good use. Write big lists for every aspect of your blog of things you need and want to do this year, and then batch similar tasks together.

Using the schedule you created earlier, see where these tasks can fit in to your day. Say Monday is a writing day, Tuesday is photography, Wednesday is editing, Thursday is scheduling social media, that sort of thing. Doing like tasks together helps you waste less time and uses less brain resources than flitting between tasks, or doing different sorts of tasks all day long.

12. Improve your writing

If you’re feeding your creativity before you get started blogging this year, as I recommended earlier, then one of those things you should be doing is reading. Read anything and everything that you think will help you master the craft of writing. Read classics, re-read books you love, read blogs by people you admire, read writing that sparks emotions in you.

Then write. Fill up journals with anything, have a go at different styles, tinker around with how you can make your own writing more emotive. Maybe even take a short writing course, there are plenty to choose from online.

No matter how much blogging and social media changes, the ultimate way we connect with our audience is storytelling. Practice the art of it.

Things You can Do to Set Yourself up For Your Best Year of Blogging Yet! | Practical tips on ProBlogger.net

13. Take better photos

Now also is the time to practice taking photos for your blog. Often if this isn’t where our talent lies, we’re too busy taking care of our to-do list to work on the photography aspect. If you’re still on a break, or you’re in planning mode for your blog, take advantage of these extra minutes to read up on great technique and words of wisdom of those who make excellent photos look effortless.

But more importantly, practice! Make time to really get to know your camera, understand lighting, and play around with composition.

You can find endless amounts of tutorials and guides over on Darren’s other blog, Digital Photography School.

 

14. Level up your Social Media

It’s time to get your game plan on! This is the year you’re going to share excellent content with regularity. Now, how are you going to do that?

What I would do if I were you is to make a list of all the sites I like to go to for inspiration and information. Maybe put them in a Bloglovin’ or Feedly reader so you can keep tabs on what they produce so you can share them with your audience.

Then I would mine my archives for blog posts that need to be shared again with my audience.

After that, I would have a look for a couple of funny things that my readers would like that suit my brand and personality.

Then I would write up a schedule for when things are going to be shared (take a look at your insights to see who’s on your page and when, and work around those times for sharing).

And above all of that I’d be thinking of how I could serve my readers the best on social media, and how I can allocate my time responding to them and engaging with them. How can I show my personality and be fully present when need be?

15. Write a Mission Statement

I think if you haven’t already, now’s the time to sit down and write down in a nutshell what your blog is and what it stands for. What you hope to achieve with it, and how you want people to receive it. It only needs a few lines, but it will the the guidepost and the framework from which all your blog decisions will come.

I think one of the best posts about blog purpose or mission statements comes from The Nester, so I’ll let her explain: Why Your Blog Needs a Purpose.

 

And I wish you well on your new year blogging journey! May you begin it feeling positive, and may the good vibes continue all year long.

What do you like to do to ensure your blog is in tip top shape for the year to come? I’d love to hear!

About Stacey Roberts
Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama, follow on Pinterest for fun and useful tips, peek behind the curtain on Instagramand Snapchat, listen to her 90s pop culture podcast, or be entertained on Facebook.
  • I just loved every bit of the entire article which I actually needed right now.
    Thank you so much
    I am on my plan now :)

    • This is the nicest comment ever! So glad it was helpful.

  • Hi Stacey,

    Excellent!

    I vibe with dreaming a dream, to get all things in motion. For me that means doing things for fun, with love, blogging-wise so I do less stuff with fear, so I can inspire more folks to retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging.

    Me and my wife Kelli just booked a trip to Qatar 10 minutes ago. Excited! Beautiful country in a glam area of the world. It will be fun to rub shoulders with the hyper opulent LOL. But really, living this fun, freeing dream life inspires me to create, to connect and to serve, so other folks can live a similar fun, freeing inspired life, if they so choose.

    Dreaming also helps to slay self-doubt. Which is a neat side effect of using your mental tools.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    Ryan

    • Oh I’ve always wanted to go there! I await your travel tales with interest!

  • I am geared up for a great year and have worked hard to ensure my plan is in place, actionable, and has accountability markers to keep me moving forward. Enjoyed this article!!!

    • What a great feeling! I wish you well for 2017, Anita.

  • Oh my, you have almost all the points that I need to follow. Set a goal and fight for it!!!

  • Hey Stacey,

    You have arises great points here and I really agree with that goals absolutely makes us curious to perform that work in limited time for our satisfaction. With every set of work we need to set a schedule for better working experience. Schedule makes our work on time with fully energetic. Eventually, thanks for sharing your worthy information with us.

    With best wishes,

    Amar kumar

  • Great post Stacey!

    My biggest challenge last year was being faithful to my editorial calender. I am aiming to nail that one this year in an epic way. Thank God PB has enormous content on the topic.

    -Mategyero

    • Ah you’re right there, we have reams of it! I’ve no doubt you’ll find what you need. I can guarantee you, it made SUCH a difference in my productivity!

  • What a super, empowering and wise post to kick the year off. Love that Steve Martin quote, it’s crucial to limit self-doubt and trust that confidence and opportunity will come with each brave act of getting your work out there. Happy New Year!

    • I’m so glad I found that quote, it really spoke to me! I find it comforting when others are open with their struggles. I don’t feel quite so crazy!

  • Hey Stacey,

    It’s a new year, new goals, new paths, new strategies, new dreams. But one thing is the same, that is blogging.

    I like how you focused on dreaming and improving the skills.

    This blogosphere needs more experts and the quality may be the reasons. Everyone is craving of finding the best content writer.

    I definitely have a schedule. I write every day.

    Thanks for such a motivational article.

    ~Ravi

    • I think it’s our dreams and what’s in our hearts that set us apart :)

  • Hey Stacey,

    Thanks for this great post. First Of all I would Like to wish you A HAPPY NEW YEAR. Well for me 2016 is a remarkable year for my blogging career. I have learned more in this year. In 2017 I want to increase my blog productivity and also to make most out of my blog posts. Your tips will definitely help me. Thanks again for this awesome post.

    • Happy new year to you also! May it be better than the last – and it sounds like last year was wonderful for you!

  • “Make a plan” is all we need to focus on, it has all the info in this post.

    Wow, it can cover almost every other topic.
    Making a plan and working on it, will do the job for us.

    Great Article.
    Thanks!

  • Charlie Ahern

    This post may keep me busy for weeks or months! Thanks for links to additional content.

    One priority for me will be focusing on my audience(s): who should they be, what do they want, and how can I help them? For some people blogging can be a self-fulfilling hobby. However, I want to develop something that produces income as well as fulfillment.

    Good fortune to you, and all, in 2017.

    • Yeah it’s a pretty hefty one! There should be enough there to keep you going all year!

      Can’t recommend that goal enough. Your audience is everything.

  • Sam

    It’s a great time of year indeed Stacey. I love coming into 2017 refreshed and ready to press the restart button – the possibilities are endless! Thanks for the post.

  • Stacey, this is one of the best articles I have read on Problogger and this should be our first priority on the dawn of a new year.

    I always plan a lot in the beginning and think of writing high quality content myself. But most of the times, this happens with me that I end up outsourcing most of the work due to not been able to follow my own writing schedule.

    I know this must be happening with lots of writers over here. But I think one solution to this problem as you already mentioned is to stick to your timing of writing and follow your schedule no matter what happens.

    Getting rid of our own bad habits and becoming more productive is easier said than done. But anyways if you want to achieve your goal, you have to surrender your old habits and adopt new more productive ones.

    As far as my experience is concerned it is always a good idea to complete your daily tasks in small bunches. And Always reward yourself for your little accomplishments to keep motivate yourself.

    Ok, this is enough. Best of luck to all writers out there who are planning to make it big this year.

    Vishal

    • Thank you Vishal, that really means a lot. I’m so pleased you found it useful. I agree, we can get caught up in the busy-ness of blogging that we find it hard to focus. And I like the idea of self-rewarding!

  • Hi Stacey,

    I’m ready for another incredible year!!!

    I really appreciate your perspective on automation. While we do send some out old posts on Twitter via automation, we are very engaged personally on all our social media accounts. People like people, not bots and we want them to know we are engaged with them. It can be thank you’s and shares of others content as well. Regarding the DM’s on Twitter, I am so annoyed by them. However, I still check them because occasionally there is a diamond in there just waiting to be discovered.

    This year our blog is going to another level as we changed our strategies and the results are already phenomenal.

    Our content will be delivered weekly via email instead of on our blog and people are increasing their subscriptions, but more importantly their engagement and shares.

    Our blog is being used to create massive content that are 3,000 – 5,000 word articles that are full of detailed information and resources. The latest one titled “How To Get Organic Search Traffic With The Ultimate Google Hack” is exploding. It already has 550 shares and growing, and we are in the process of gaining opportunities to contribute to major players (Yep, we included ProBlogger as a resource).

    The more value we offer the greater the growth of our blog. We know we have to stand out, be different, and present a unique message that is relevant to the audience.

    Happy New Year Stacey!

    ~ Don

    • Ah Don, it sounds like you’ve nailed the traffic situation! Congratulations! May 2017 bring more of that.

  • Hi Stacey, Darren and the ProBlogger team! I just wanted to say a huge thank you for this article and all of the other fantastic content you guys provide. My husband and I recently launched our blog and your site has been absolutely invaluable to us – from leading us through the setup to keeping us pointed in the right direction when we start to get a little lost. I’m now a subscriber and a podcast listener and looking forward to all the knowledge I know I’ll be able to glean from both your archives and future posts. All the best in 2017 and thanks again for all the amazing work you do!

    • Couldn’t be happier to hear this, Myra! Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging. Long may we be able to lend a hand when it all gets too confusing :)

      Good luck with your site!

  • Stacy,

    What great content! I am a newbie freelance writer and blogger and pretty much ALL of the information you provided here is valuable to me. I am at the stage where I am soaking up as much information, advice, tips and suggestions as I can to help me reach my goal of being blogger with a successfully monetized blog!Thanks for sharing what you know!It is very much appreciated (at least by me).You have definitely added value :-)!

    • That’s amazing to hear, Carla, thank you so much! I hope we’ll continue to be useful throughout 2017.

  • I’m new to all of this I definitely want to learn and get knowledge from those that have wisdom. Thanks for great blog post and I hope to have a better year for blogging traffic. Thanks!

  • Stacey, this was awesome and inspiring, while also being actionable. This is just what I needed to get my year started the right way. I also appreciate the resource links to other helpful articles, including some other great ones by you!

    • They are my three favourite words when it comes to blogging advice! Really pleased I was able to create content to fit that criteria. Good luck with the new year!

  • Thanks Stacey – some real gold in your post. I am new to blogging and it is easy to get overwhelmed with all the ‘hot tips’ and ‘must do’s! I intend to create some solid blogging habits this year and get better systems in place.

    I am so pleased I found ProBlogger. It is an amazing resource.
    I trust 2017 will be a successful one for you all.
    All the best, Melanie

  • Hey Stacey,
    Your article really inspired me, i have plans for my project and after going through your article i m really motivated to implement my plans and to give it a bang start from your blogging tips