Blogging is about having a good idea and working hard to make it a reality. Success in blogging doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of effort and a commitment over a long period of time. It is a marathon and not a sprint.
So how do you make success happen and achieve your blogging goals? What’s a good beginner advice for finishing a marathon? It’s to break up the race into smaller segments and set small milestones in order to make the distance feel more manageable. Same works for a blog.
Get started with small but deliberate and purposeful steps. Work on completing these small steps. Look for feedback on what the next step could be and how it can be done better. You get better as you go and you leverage your gains to grow even faster and improve further.
Accumulating many smaller milestones and wins regularly over a period of time will lead to big results and achievements of large blogging goals. These are the examples of small achievements that you should aim to achieve in the period after installing a new blog:
Everything can be measured online
We are lucky to work on the Internet, a very trackable medium. People working with traditional media (such as TV, books, radio and newspapers) all wish they could have the access and possibilities to track their users the same way that bloggers can:
- As a blogger you can actually see in real time how your content is performing and how your marketing efforts impact your site.
- The analytical data you collect can provide you with key insights into your blogging, into visitors, content you create and the way you promote the content.
- These insights can guide you and help you progress towards a successful site as what can be measured can also be improved. Use these metrics to monitor and judge your performance.
- Most of your blogging activities and goals can be quantified and tracked through a tool such as Google Analytics.
So how do you start measuring visitor data and tracking your progress towards certain goals?
Think of very simple yardstick measurements for your progress
A frequent thing I discover while talking to different bloggers is the lack of overview and focus. Some wanna-be bloggers feel overwhelmed and do not know how to take the first step while some existing bloggers just seem lost and stuck in the daily rut with no focus and goals.
If you don’t know your goals and objectives you do not know what you are doing and why. You would be aimlessly doing tasks that would not matter in the long term.
A Charlie Munger phrase that I keep repeating in situations when talking to some of these bloggers is “I go to bed every night a little wiser than I was when I got up”.
What I mean is that you can simplify your blogging goals. No matter where you are at currently, the path to where you want to be starts with the step you are taking right now. Blogging goals are achievable by simplifying it all and taking one small step at a time. Take one day at a time, one blog visitor at a time, one Twitter follower at a time… think of very simple yardstick measurements for your progress.
How can you know for sure that what you’re doing is moving you forward? What are you benchmarking yourself against? It’s important to measure your progress and ask questions. Look for examples. Explore what could go wrong.
There is no magic trick and there is no secret. The shortcut and quick fix promises from different gurus and their sales pages that you might read online or the secrets and tricks of SEO industry are just empty and will not do the magic trick for you. Instead you must focus on the basics of plain old hard work.
Have a goal for your whole life, a goal for one section of your life, a goal for a shorter period and a goal for the year; a goal for every month, a goal for every week, a goal for every day, a goal for every hour and for every minute, and sacrifice the lesser goal to the greater.
Some days you will struggle to find any important tasks you’ve done during the whole day and those days will spur you to wake up and do much better and much more in the following days so these “wasted” days become less occurring. Make it a regular occurrence to go to bed wiser and closer to your goals than you were when you woke up!
Get strategic and set your own blogging goals
So where do I start and what do I do first? And what do I do right now? First of all, you have to figure out your goals, set your objectives and plans you want to reach with your site.
What does it mean to be thinking strategically? It means to identify the purpose of your site and start working smart with a plan and a goal in mind.
- Determine where you want to go. Think about what you want to accomplish in the next year. Things that are important to you and goals you want to achieve. You need to know what the definition of success is. If you don’t have goals you will be aimless in your blogging and would not be accomplishing much.
- Develop a plan for how you will reach that goal. Create a roadmap for upcoming weeks and months. Think about the steps you need to take to get to where you want to go. Break the goals down into smaller and actionable practical steps that you need to take.
- Take the first small step right away. When you know your goals and what you need to do to achieve them, you become much more focused, efficient and strategic in your activities. That will then lead you to the right decisions and will help you make right choices.
In terms of goal settings and planning I am sure you have already heard about SMART goals (PDF) but it could be useful to repeat them once again:
- S – Make your goals specific
- M – Make your goals measurable
- A – Make your goals attainable
- R – Make your goals relevant
- T – Make your goals time-bound
It is always good to keep the goal in mind at all times and before you do anything ask yourself “How will this activity help me achieve my goal”. If the answer is “It will not” you know that the task is probably not the one you should be spending your valuable time on. This helps you prioritize the time to do the tasks that bring you these results that you care about.
Time flies, days might feel long but a year is short and sooner than you think it is time to do a yearly review again. If you don’t have a plan and don’t know your priorities the years might go by without you feeling any growth and without you achieving any big goals. You have to sit down and make these decisions for yourself, they put you so much more in control of your time and life.
Figure out your key performance indicators
After you know your goals you can define your KPI’s. Key performance indicators should match your goals. These are the key metrics that matter to your site, these are the numbers that determine if your site is a success or a failure. Metrics that you define must be actionable. You need to know what action you will need to take based on changes in the figure. If you don’t know what action to take after looking at the number it’s a bad metric.
What KPI’s you will use to guide your blogging decisions with? KPI’s are your key metrics and insights. They are the actionable numbers that will help you measure your performance and your progress. In general I would say that you should ignore vanity metrics as much as possible.
Metrics as ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ can easily be bought or manipulated and they do not necessary correlate with the real numbers that matter to achieving the real goals. I don’t put too much emphasis on these “soft” numbers. I’ve seen too many bloggers spend way too much time focusing on, checking and worrying about these soft numbers.
My blogging experience has taught me that to be a productive blogger it is important to be able to distance yourself from the never-ending chase for soft numbers. It is not the most useful way of spending your time on. I can name tons of other activities that would lead you onto getting much better results than passively looking at numbers can do.
Figure out meaningful metrics and KPI’s that are aligned with your objectives and your goals.
For example a meaningful metric could be site engagement vs just looking at a vanity metric like unique visitors. Repeat visitors and time spent on site are so much valuable than page impressions for many sites. They show that the content works and gets people engaged. It shows the quality of your content.
Following are some ideas for small milestones and tiny wins that you can go after.
Small milestones and tiny wins
- Registering your own domain name
- Setting up a new WordPress site
- Getting a personalized site design
- Setting up your about page with information about yourself and a contact form
- Installing Google Analytics and starting to collect visitor data
- Publishing your first post
- Attracting your first visitor
- Publishing another post
- Getting the first comment to your post
- Publishing yet another post
- Getting your first visitor from Google’s search traffic
- Publishing your first top list post
- Posting your first comment on another site
- Getting your first visitor from social media
- Making your first Dollar in advertising money
- Publishing your first how-to instructional guide
- Launching your own Twitter profile
- Getting your first 10 Twitter followers
- Starting your own Facebook page
- Gaining your first 10 Facebook likes
- Starting your own Google+ page
- Getting your first 10 Google+ page likes
- Publishing your first infographic
- Starting your own YouTube channel
- Recording your first video
- Getting your first 5 YouTube subscribers
- Submitting your first guest post proposal
- Getting your first guest post published
- Getting a first link from another blog
- Achieving the first day of 100+ visitors
- Making your first affiliate sale
- Getting a nice email from a loyal visitor
- Getting an enquiry from a company interested in working with you
- Starting your own newsletter
- Getting your first newsletter subscriber
- Recording your first podcast
- Seeing your podcast episode appear in the iTunes store
- Creating your first product
- Making the first sale of your own product
These milestones and tiny wins might feel insignificant to you at first. But if you do accumulate many of them over a long period of time they will make the difference. Even small achievements will result in big things given enough time and dedication. You will be achieving your KPI’s and reaching your big blogging goals. It’s just like the power of compound interest in economics.