We might spend some time pondering the direction of our careers, our families and our personal development, but what about the direction of our blogs? With the New Year fast approaching, I want to share a short manifesto on how to make your blog better than ever in 2008.
In this post, I want to provide a number of strategies you can use to create a robust blogging plan for 2008: something you can use to achieve your blogging goals and make next year the best your blog has ever seen.
1. Set yourself staggered goals
I recommend a system of staggered goals. Your biggest goal should be really ambitious and your smallest goal should be too easy. That means you’ll always have success behind you and something to strive for in front.
If you wanted to grow you subscriber count, for example, your smallest goal could be to get 100 more subscribers in 2008 and your biggest goal could be to get 5,000. Then you’d place more goal markers in between.
By setting staggered goals, you don’t run the risk of burning out before you get to experience success (a common symptom of those who set only one, really ambitious goal).
Tick off each goal as you complete it — no matter how small it is. It might seem like a small thing, but it will help to heighten your sense of achievement and progression. Ticking off an item on my list has always been a big motivation-booster for me.
2. Work backwards
This might sound strange, but working backwards from your goals can be really effective.
For example, one of my goals for 2008 is to write and successfully sell an eBook through my blog. To do that, I’ll need two things: a finished eBook and a loyal readership.
When I take another step back, I see that to have a finished eBook I need to write a certain amount in a certain period of time. I could then take another step back and work out a weekly writing schedule.
When I take another step back from the goal of building a loyal readership, I see that I’ll need to interact more with readers, let them know a bit more about me and create content that is always useful.
You can see how one broad goal fans-out to become a chain of simple actions you can follow to achieve it. Every action on the chain contributes to the goal in some way.
Try working backwards from your goals to reverse-engineer your success in 2008.
3. How to act on your plans
One of the key ingredients in reaching your blogging goals is time. If you can make more of it, you’ll be able to complete more essential actions and reach your goals quicker.
Here’s a simple exercise that I’ve found really helpful in doing this. You can use it to make more time for anything, but let’s stick to blogging for the moment ;-).
1. Write down a list of all the activities you do.
2. Next to each activity, write down both the rewards and losses it yields.
Once you start to evaluate the things you do, rather than simply doing them out of habit, you’ll begin to see weaknesses in your routine. One less hour watching TV or playing games is another hour you can spend working towards your blogging goals (unless you find those things more rewarding than blogging!).
The key is to replace less rewarding actions with more rewarding ones. We can’t pull time out of thin air, but we can always change the way we use it.
4. Do more with less
Once you’ve defined your blogging goals, the quickest way to reach them is to focus only on actions that contribute to those goals.
If you see yourself doing something that doesn’t contribute, try re-investing your time into something that does.
For example, if you’d love to get on the front page of Digg, you could stop posting your weekly links round-up (something that’s unlikely to make it) and divert the freed-up time into working on a Digg-worthy post.
One of the main things that sets top bloggers apart is their ability to spend time in all the right places. Once you know what your goals are and how to get there, you can work towards them in everything you do.
I hope you can use some of these tips to make 2008 your best blogging year yet!