Planning My Blogging in 2018
In the first part of this blog post, which I published at the end of 2017, I took an introspective look at my blogging journey so far and set our goals for 2018 on More Blog Income (MBI), they are:
- Publish 50 Articles on the blog, at the rate of 1 per week
- Grow MBI's Facebook page to 1,000 followers
- Get 1,000 pageviews per day by the end of 2018
- Generate enough value to have an email list of 500 people at 2018's end
- Personally help 12 bloggers grow their blogs through consulting
- Generate an additional income of $6,000 this year from MBI
As I sit to write this first post of 2018 (on MBI I've been busy publishing on my main astronomy site) I see lesson one that I need to heed in the future: Goals only work if reviewed regularly!
It is already only a week to the end of January, so I am behind target on publishing 50 articles. It is on the schedule in my head, but not concretely part of my weekly routine yet.
I'll be honest with you: I've been thinking a lot since the start of the year about what it is reasonable to do with my time. Where's the balance between 'The One Thing' and diversifying risk? Put another way, how much of my time should I devote to building what already works and how much to creating something new?
As with so many of life's questions, there is no right answer - just a choice and a consequence.
To make this conversation less abstract, let me set out the 'projects' I could distribute my working time around and why they are on the list:
- Astronomy Blog - Pros: This already does well and is growing consistently. It is where all of my income has been generated since leaving paid employment. Cons: All my eggs in one basket, very seasonal, does not generate enough cash to live off.
- New Affiliate Blog - Pros: Flattens seasonality of astronomy website, is new - which equals interesting, has a lot of upside compared to astronomy blog. Cons: Not great diversification, as still Amazon affiliate site and will take at least a year of effort to get any meaningful income.
- More Blog Income - Pros: Completely diversifies away from Amazon affiliate websites, potential to meet and help other bloggers, I enjoy thinking and writing about the business of blogging. Cons: A lot of upfront work and effort - perhaps 6 months or more - before even getting the slightest sense of whether this thing has legs.
- Local Consultancy Business - Pros: Potential for quick financial results, chance to work with experienced business owners. Cons: I'm less interested in the work and the market is a small one.
I know that I want to put a lot of effort into the astronomy site - it could grow very big and, with solid commitment and effort, this could be its breakout year. I also know that I want to add a second affiliate website to my portfolio because I've already had success with them and I need to flatten out the highly seasonal income from astronomy.
So, those two are a given.
The dilemma has been whether to do MBI and local consulting, or to just pick one.
What I've decided to do is stick with both and see what gets traction first and putting my shoulder behind that at the cost of the other.
But, there is no traction without action (catchphrase, anyone?) so in the rest of this post I'm going to set out my plan for delivering against the 2018 goals I listed above.
Leading Quarters and Lagging Goals
Goals are great, but they are often flawed.
Of the six goals I've listed for MBI in 2018, I actually have control over only one of them: how many articles I post this year.
The other five I have no direct control over. Instead, I can only take actions that will increase their probability of happening.
These two sets of goals measure leading and lagging indicators. Blogging regularly is a leading indicator, because you need to do it before an outcome like pageviews happens. Pageviews itself is a lagging indicator, because it happens after actions you can control have been taken.
My plan to achieve my goals can be restated with leading indicators (which is all any of us have at the start of a brand new venture) like this:
Leading Indicators for Achieving 2018's Goals
- Publish an article per week. Make sure it is relevant to the target audience.
- Promote each published article on the MBI Facebook page.
- Create opportunities and reasons for readers to subscribe to the MBI email list.
- Highlight within blog posts and emails to MBI subscribers that I am available to be hired for consultation and have a proven track record of growing websites.
Do you see the difference?
If I make good on each of these four leading indicators, I have the best chance of meeting my 2018 goals.
To use the scientific parlance, this list is necessary but not sufficient.
On its own, it will not give me the best chance of success. It needs to be made more robust by turning each item into a SMART target. I discussed these in the first part of this article but the quick recap is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound.
Let's restate them using SMART language:
- Publish one post every week. Each post is to have a specific focus to its content linked to what MBI is about and written for the target audience.
- Once published, use Facebook to promote the article to a defined blogging audience at the cost of $15 per post. Refine the audience with data from the Facebook pixel every month.
- When relevant, create a content upgrade for each article to encourage readers to join the email list. Email the list at least monthly with useful and valuable content.
- Each blog post is to contain a call to action highlighting how I can work with blog owners to help them do what was discussed within the article.
Now each target is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (because each is either tied to a weekly blog post, or has its own timescale set, e.g. monthly email).
Eat the Elephant a Quarter at a Time
Setting goals for 2018 in a brand new, untried, untested venture feels a little kamikaze.
My final proposal to myself for keeping on track is to have a regular review and see what is happening (and what is not), and adjust course accordingly.
At the end of January and February I'm going to measure my performance on the leading indicators. At the end of March, which is also the end of the first quarter of the year, I shall have a bigger conversation with myself, and ask "Is this going in the right direction?"
Whatever the answer to that question, I'll need to update my plans. And I'll be very happy to share them with you at that time.
What about you? How have you set goals and targets for this year and what do you do to measure them and stay on track.
Let me know by emailing Adam@MoreBlogIncome.com
Next time I'll be turning to my first 'proper' post of 2018. Look forward to something much less self-indulgent!