THE ULTIMATE NEW YEAR BLOG PLANNING GUIDE
I recently had a major overhaul of my content for ABOH. It was an afternoon during the festive holidays and I had an urge to sit down with a blank planner and really think about where I wanted to take my blog this year.
It was pretty daunting at first and I struggled to know where to start. But, once I did, the ideas and plans flew out of me like a firework exploding in the sky - and it’s made me feel so great!
A new year is a great reason to make some changes to your online presence. But I know it can be challenging to decide where to start and how to even put some strategies together. So if you’re anything like me and left your planning until 2017 had officially started, this post is for you.
I’ve pulled together the ultimate guide for you to plan to take your blog even further this year. Keep reading to learn the steps you need to go through and why all of this is so important.
#1 | EVALUATE EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED OVER THE PAST 365 DAYS
To move forward, you need to know where you’re at right now. Traffic, interaction, community numbers. What made you feel really proud this year? What blog posts got the most comments? What gave you the motivation to seriously get stuff done? And what did you actually do that made some huge improvements this year?
Whatever goodness you brought to your audience last year, you need to do the same again. Pick a few pieces of content that got the most views and shares and generate even more content ideas around those. But this time, make them even better.
One of the most popular pages on my blog for the past eight months has been my post about printables to help you plan your life. This has been shared OVER 14,000 times on Pinterest. This is because people love list posts AND they love posts to help them become more organised and make improvements. So this year, I’ve got a plan to create a paid product all about productivity and organisation due to the success of this post.
If you don’t already track the stats for your blog, I HIGHLY recommend you start doing this in 2017. This will really help you evaluate your current situation.
Here’s a list of what to include in your spreadsheet and where to find everything in Google Analytics. To download your free template, just click below!
- Sessions, pageviews, avg. session duration, new sessions, users, pages/session, bounce rate, returning/new visitor - these can all be found on the homepage of your Google Analytics dashboard.
- Top referrer, second top referrer, third top referrer - these can be found by going to ‘Acquisition’ in the sidebar, then ‘All Traffic’, then ‘Referrals’.
- Top page - this can be found by going to ‘Behavior’ in the sidebar, then ‘Site Content’ and then ‘All Pages’. If you find your top page is your homepage this is totally natural. But for the purposes of your stats, if this is the case ignore it and pick the second most popular.
- Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook followers and so on.
- Newsletter subscribers.
#2 | GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE - WHAT DIDN’T WORK LAST YEAR?
Being able to identify your weaknesses is a very strong part of your character. What did you try that you failed at? What did you try that made you want the ground to swallow you up? What aren’t you good at?
These can be difficult things to face, but can sometimes reveal a lot more when it comes to creating a plan to improve. It shows us the places where we need to make change. And that’s how you start to make a difference.
For me, this was video. Ugh. I tried so hard to keep a plan and an intention to do it daily, but I just couldn’t keep it up. You know when you find something new and you become addicted so you want to do it all day? It’s great...until you burn yourself out and run out of steam to carry on with it.
That’s exactly what happened with me and video. I found myself becoming so overwhelmed with my workload that I didn’t have the time to focus on it. But what was even more important for me was realising WHY this happened - the pressure to feel like I HAD to do it.
Now, I feel a lot better about video, especially with the introduction of Instagram Stories. I’m constantly finding new ways to share what I’m getting up to in my life and promoting my blog - without all the added pressure! P.S. You can find me @abranchofholly.
#3 | NOW YOU NEED TO SET SOME GOALS
We’re going to split this section into two here - and I need you to be ambitious. Ready?
What do you want to achieve by the end of this year?
Firstly, a bit of advice on how to set goals - make monthly ones and weekly ones. I started doing this at the end of last year and it has made such a difference. Purely because I find my goals so much more manageable by focusing on them in seven day segments! This means you can break your big goal up into smaller ones and you’ll find them more much easier to achieve.
Gaining 1,000 Instagram followers might sound like a lot - but when it’s over a certain period of time, it doesn’t sound as bad. I’ve been calculating my Instagram followers over the past year and during July they increased by double what they normally do. This tells me I need to go back to this month and look at what I did on that platform then - because it seriously worked.
But the key is setting a number. Say ‘grow my Instagram following’ and you’ll always be disappointed because you don’t have an end goal. Set a number and it’s much easier to track.
My list of 2017 to-dos includes reformatting all my old content and images, seriously increasing the size of my mailing list (with plenty of content upgrades) and keeping up with my content schedule. I also want to do more public speaking gigs, do more live video and ideally, double my combined social media following.
What do you want to achieve by the end of three years?
This is where you need to think big. Even if you blog as a hobby, there’s no harm in thinking about the bigger picture. You need to be completely sure about these goals. They need to relate to your overall purpose as a blogger. Three years is a long time. In three years, I’ve reached 15,000+ pageviews, written an eBook and become a finalist in the UK Blog Awards!
I want to be known for helping bloggers believe that they CAN achieve the things they want to achieve (including you) and give them the confidence, skills and strategies they need to build a fulfilling online presence. I want to teach them how to be productive, organised and feel confident with the content they create and the people they serve - whilst living the life they want to.
In three years (this is a scary thing to write!) I want my online presence to grow to the point that I become a true influencer in my field. I want to run my own Twitter chat. I want to sell info products. I want to win an award. And I want to live a fulfilling life while I’m at it. I also want to redecorate my new house and plan a beautiful wedding with Tom.
#4 | GO THROUGH YOUR WEBSITE
When we create so much content, we can neglect the other parts of our website that need updating. If you took part in the Blogging Breakthrough challenge last year, I HIGHLY recommend you do the same this year. It includes things like updating your sidebar, About page, Contact page and lots of other things we can usually forget about.
Another tool I’ve been using for website evaluation recently is Hotjar. It basically shows you a heat map of where people navigate and click to on your website - this works especially well for your homepage. That way, you can move different things around and analyse the different results.
If you think a new template is what you need, I know lots of bloggers love pipdig and from what I’ve heard, they offer great support too.
P.S Remember, to track the main information from your website, I've got a free template where you can keep it all in one place. Hit the button below to get instant access!
#5 | PLAN YOUR CONTENT
Do you ever find that if you have a decent break from exercising, you come back even stronger? It’s exactly the same with your blog content.
Now I’m not saying you have to plan every single post for the rest of the year. But organising your first month’s worth of content will get you totally inspired for how you want the rest of the year to go. I’ve done this for January and I’m already super pumped to get planning for the rest of the first quarter.
Rethink your categories, ask your audience what they’d like to see more of, have a content inspiration session - spend a whole afternoon planning, and include your email marketing and social media content too.
Try and link things together. So if you share your five best new year organising tips on your blog, you can share another one on your Facebook page, the next on your Instagram and talk about another one in the next email to your community.
#6 | CREATE NEW WAYS OF GROWING YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE
Don’t think you’re not a boss just because you’re not a full-time blogger. Your blog is yours and that makes you the boss of it. And one of the biggest ways to make it grow is by experimenting and trying new things.
This could be as simple as trying a different posting strategy on Twitter, trialling a new style on Instagram or thinking bigger and upping your content publishing schedule. Check out your competitors or people you admire in the industry and if you can take some inspiration to use on your own blog.
This year, I want to send out some emails to bloggers I know to see about guest posting on their blogs, as well as sharing more video content.
#7 | LEARN A NEW SKILL
2016 happened to be my most successful year ever as a blogger. This was also the year when I put a hell of a lot more effort into learning new strategies and working through more free email courses. Tom also got a great camera and now, photography is one of the things I’m complimented on the most.
Does going on camera make you quiver with fear? Think your blog post titles are boring? Could you edit your videos a lot better? Pick the thing you need to make the most improvement on and do it.
There are two main things I want to get better at this year - become quicker at creating content upgrades and get even more in-depth with my Google Analytics data. Luckily my fiancée is quite the pro. And most of the time, it’s all about who you know!
SO HOW DO YOU ACTUALLY MAKE ALL THIS HAPPEN?
I get it - the thing about reading posts like this is that most of the time, you aren’t told how you can actually reach your goals.
Here’s what you do - break it down into baby steps.
To get 1,000 new Twitter followers you could:
- Find the optimal posting times of your followers
- Create a new posting schedule
- Put together a giveaway
- Take part in a Twitter chat
- Reach out to one new blogger every day
Once you have these plans in place, you break them into even smaller tasks and add them to your to-do list.
- Research Twitter tools (I recommend Followerwonk!)
- Create a Buffer account
- Plan a publishing schedule
- Research and schedule Twitter chats
If you take part in one Twitter chat every week that’s skyrocketing you towards your goal. You’re planning your goals in your schedule, which makes them much easier to manage and even more easier to achieve.
Here’s what I want you to do this year - instead of just thinking about plans for your blog, go out there and actually make them happen. You’ll get plenty of accountability in my Breakthrough Bloggers community and I’m always happy to help!
Now it's your turn - what's the biggest goal of the year for your blog? Want skill do you want to improve? Or what really worked for your blog last year that you want to try again?