If you are an employee of a company you would be very familiar with the different performance reviews companies do to measure your performance, things you have been working on in the recent months and how you can improve in the future. This can then result in you being awarded a bonus if you’ve achieved the goals or you getting together a plan of attack for how to reach future goals.
As a blogger it is important to do a similar review yourself for the same reasons companies do them. This will help you figure out what worked well, what didn’t work that well and then proceed to make new goals and create a plan of priorities to do to reach them in the upcoming months. And doing a review for yourself and not for your company is a much more interesting and rewarding project. Holiday season might be the best time of the year for you to conduct your own yearly review.
Over the holiday season and the New Year is a perfect time to be reflecting back at your year, analyzing your site’s stats, making New Year’s resolutions and deciding how to continue. Many people start their new year with big goals, plans and intentions. Many aspiring writers finally start those sites they’ve been thinking about to learn, improve and showcase their writing skills. Towards the end of the year however, it is natural to start asking questions like “why didn’t this work very well?” and “was this year much better than the year before?”
Time to reflect and evaluate
Being introspective is hard during busy and stressful times throughout the year. Life and work get in the way. Doing this process at the end of the year while you are on your break is a very good thing as it gives you time and allows you to figure out what worked well and what didn’t work so well. You can get the total overview that will help you set new goals, reignite your motivation, and drive your activities forward.
It is important to set aside some time to reflect and evaluate your site’s performance honestly to determine what you need to change, what you need to adjust or to modify, and to make plans on how you need to proceed forward. This counts for everything from the look and feel of your site, to the content creation process, to your marketing activities but also a more deeper and personal look into your own behavior, tasks you spend your time on, your motivation, ambition, skills and attitude.
It is vital to put everything in perspective, ask yourself hard questions and be completely honest with the answers. Some questions to ask yourself:
- Why did my traffic increase or decrease in this period of time?
- Why did the conversion rate and sales go up or down in this month?
- Which goals have I achieved?
- Which goals am I on the way to achieve?
- Which goals seem to be out of my reach and why?
- Which of the tasks I am spending time on bring me the best results?
- What actually works and what doesn’t?
- Is my site where I want it to be?
- What can I do differently?
- What can I do better?
- What activities can I stop doing as they don’t produce results I need?
- What goals do I want to achieve in the near future?
For more details on what things to look at and what questions to ask see the checklist for your yearly site review.
One of the best tools you can use to help you in the review process is Google Analytics and the data it provides you. I am a big fan and use it to run several reports that show me everything from which of my content works best, helps me analyses why that content works, which of my marketing activities have brought the biggest number of visitors and much more. See bit more details on how Google Analytics help you.
Go to bed wiser than you were when you got up
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. 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 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. 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. Take command of the situation, determine where you want to go, develop a plan for how you will reach that goal and take the first small step right away.
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!
Look forward and set goals
You should not only look backwards, look forward as well. Main reason you do this process is really to figure out what you have achieved until now and where you want to go next. Completing this process will result in you having a road map for the upcoming year, a road map that features things that are important to you and goals you want to achieve.
Think about what you want to accomplish in the next year and think about the steps you need to take to get there. Write down the goals, and break them down into smaller and actionable practical steps that you need to take. 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. It is always good to keep the goal in mind at all times and before you do any thing 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.
Time flies, days might feel long but a year is short and sooner than you think it is Christmas time 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.
In terms of goal settings and planning I am sure you have already heard about SMART goals 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
Not everything goes according to the plan
During the year make sure to look at the status of your goals and projects maybe once a month, and hopefully see your project gradually improving and moving closer to the goals you have set. For the big yearly performance review it is important to make it a regular process, for example once a year as the name says. Keep all the notes in a document so you can look back on the status, the goals, and the progress you have made throughout your experience.
Just remember that not everything goes according to the plan, there are always some external circumstances that you cannot control. So anticipate setbacks on your road and be flexible knowing that maybe you cannot reach each and every goal, but that you know what you want to achieve, you know what steps you need to take, that you are taking those steps, and that you can see gradual improvement in the situation.