The benefits of setting goals are huge; in fact State of the Small Business Owner tells us that “Businesses who plan ahead perform up to 60% better than those who don’t”.
But goals are only going to help you grow if you implement them. Goals are no use without action.
Which is why today I’m walking you through the steps required to turn your blogging goals into a goal-achieving action plan.
If you haven’t set your own Big Blogging Goals yet, you need to read this post first: How to Set Smarter Goals to Help your Blog Grow Faster.
How an Action Plan will help you grow your Blog
You will stop wasting time
How many times have you sat down to work on your Blog and spent half an hour wondering what you should be doing? Should you be writing blog posts? Sharing your Pinterest pins? Networking in that Facebook group? Or working on your latest digital product?
When you have an action plan written down in black and white you avoid all that wondering. It’s all there, planned out. You can sit down, pull out your planner, or Trello, or whatever you use and you know straight away what needs to be done right now.
You’ll be less overwhelmed
Following on from the last point, your action plan will keep you moving forward.
As bloggers and business owners, we have loads of things to do. And very often all those things become overwhelming. And we simply stop. Just stop doing anything because there is too much to do!
When you create a purposeful action plan, you avoid that overwhelm by breaking your big projects down into manageable chunks. So when the time comes to take action on your plan, you have a simple list to work from. You know what needs to be done now, and then after that, and after that, and so on.
And when you work every single day on your manageable tasks, ticking them off your to do list as you go; by the end of the month you’ll be amazed at what you have achieved.
You’ll procrastinate less
And don’t we all need a bit of help with that!
So why do we procrastinate so much in the first place?
When we set goals we set goals for our future selves. And our future selves are very good at visualising when our goals are achieved. Future self is excellent at understanding the value of putting in hard work to make those goals a reality.
But the problem occurs when we have to rely on our present selves to knuckle down and do the work. Because present self isn’t great at working for long term goals.
It wants to do things that are fun now! Like eat chocolate when you’re trying to lose weight, or buy that pair of shoes when you’re trying to save for a holiday, or fanny about on Facebook when you’re trying to grow a long-term sustainable blog income.
Present self is a pain in the ass!
We have to trick our present self by making our future goals our present goals. And action plans do this by breaking our great big, far away future goals into small tasks that go on our to do lists with deadlines of today!
It is also well known that as humans we find getting started the hardest part of a task. Once we start, our momentum helps us carry on going. We find smaller tasks easier, and less overwhelming, to start.
So our action plans help us to avoid procrastination both by pulling our future goals into the present and making them less overwhelming to start working on.
So now you’re convinced that you need a solid action plan; let’s get started on creating one.
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How to turn your goals into an action plan
Review your Blog goals
First of all, you need to review your goals. Each individual goal will need its own action plan, which will probably become several little mini action plans as you dig deeper into all the parts that are involved in making your goal a reality.
In this post about How to set goals to make your Blog grow faster I go into lots of detail about how to set effective goals, so you might want to refer back to that before you create your action plan.
At a minimum though, your goals need to:
- Be specific. You need to know what your end result looks like.
- Be measurable. You need numbers to work towards, and to evaluate your progress against.
- Be attainable. Your goals need to be realistic. Shoot high, but not so high it’s a given that you’ll fail. That’ll just make you miserable and put you off trying again. Sometime it can help to set minimum numbers, and ‘dream’ numbers
- Be relevant. Your goals need to be relevant to your ‘big vision’ for your Blog, and fit with your brand values and ethics.
- Have a deadline. Goals need a timeline. You can’t work at something indefinitely, and you need to know when to stop and measure your progress.
When you’re happy your goals tick all the boxes, it’s time to break them down.
Break your Goals into little bitty action points
Basically, creating an action plan is breaking your blog goals into smaller and smaller steps.
Start with Yearly Goals
I tend to start with yearly goals. So I’ll decide that I want to make $50k by the end of the year (for example) That’s actually not a great goal, so in reality it would look more like:
I want to make $50k by the end of the year with affiliate marketing, selling digital products, and selling places in my 12 week mastermind group.
Create Quarterly Goals
I would then take that goal and break it down into goals for each quarter. At this stage it has already become more than one action plan, because I’d make seperate ones for each monetisation method.
Consider what you need to do each quarter to make your goal a reality. It will still be a fairly broad view at this stage, and your exact goals will depend on your business model, and the stage of growth of your Blog.
At the Quarterly Goal stage I like to set traffic and subscriber goals, think about blog post topics to write, and sales funnels and opt-ins I need to set up.
Create Monthly Goals
When I have created my quarterly goals I create monthly goals. I plan in a 90-day cycle, so I create my monthly goals at the beginning of each quarter.
Monthly goals are more specific. I set a content theme for each month and decide on the blog posts I’ll write. I write a list of what I actually need to create or do (for example; create products, write blog posts, set up on a specific platform, or write an email sequence)
You may find it helpful at this stage to write out a step by step to do list for each of the things you want to achieve in the month. This will give you a better idea of how long each task might take and how you can fit things into your timeline.
Create Weekly To Do Lists
At the beginning of each week I write a to do list for the week based on my goals for the month. By now the goals are a lot more specific.
At this stage if I haven’t already broken my monthly goals down into individual to-dos, I’ll do it now. So items on my list will be things like writing a specific blog post, or specific emails, creating the first 10 pages of a digital pdf, or creating forms for a new opt-in.
It’s then a case of spreading those to dos out over the week.
The Daily To Do List
This is where the magic happens. Every day I have a to do list. I try to make it realistic but push myself a bit to keep up momentum.
My daily to dos are very small and specific. For example, write a first draft of a post, create a pin, do my daily Pinterest pinning, start a conversation in a specific Facebook group. As I mentioned earlier when discussing procrastination, the smaller your tasks, the easier you will find it to get started. And the more productive you’ll feel as you tick them off the to do list.
Present self will be all happy, and you’ll be one day closer to achieving your big blogging goals.
6 Things to consider when creating an Blog Action Plan.
Writing out those 5 steps made it sound quite easy to create an action plan. But in reality, it’s not always, especially when you are working on your big, long-term goals.
Sometimes creating an action plan can be overwhelming and frustrating.
You have to make lots of decisions at each stage, and you may end up creating a plan that is totally unrealistic.
Bear these 6 things in mind to help you make decisions and create an action plan that is genuinely actionable.
Your Blog Priorities and ROI.
Always remember what is important to your Blog, and your brand. If your priority is making money now, prioritise the things that will help you make income now, such as setting up to sell services or digital products.
If your goals are to build a coaching business, or sell high end courses, your priorities might be to start building trust with long form content, and nurturing your email subscribers.
Always consider your priorities and the return on investment on any action you take.
Your action plan is only truly actionable if it’s realistic. I am the World’s worst at being realistic about how long things take me to do. And if you give yourself too much to do, you will fail, get overwhelmed, burn out and give up. Believe me, I know this from personal experience.
To avoid burnout and overwhelm, don’t schedule every minute of your day. Give yourself time to eat lunch, do some exercise, or just have a cup of tea and a think. Give yourself a ‘catch up’ day each month, or a ‘catch up’ half hour at the end of the day.
And if you’re unsure of how long things take you, start timing yourself.
As you’re breaking down your goals think about what you need at each stage to make this thing a reality. For example, you might have a goal to create a course. Do you have all the things you need? A course platform? A camera to film the videos? A video editor? An email service to capture your students emails?
Make sure you know what resources you need at each stage, and if you don’t have them, where you’ll get them from.
Much the same as resources, you need lots of different skills as a blogger. And different items on your action plan will require different skills.
When you’re considering the resources you need at each stage of your action plan, consider your skills as well. Make sure you know what needs to be done, if you can do it, and if you can’t how long will it take you to learn, or can you hire it out.
Other commitments can come in the form of daily blogging tasks that tend to get forgotten about in the excitement of a new project, and outside commitments that have nothing to do with blogging at all. Like doctors appointments, or feeding yourself and your family.
Don’t forget to consider everything going on in your life when you’re creating an action plan for one specific blogging goal.
Time to evaluate
Finally it’s important to give yourself time to evaluate and measure your progress.
I do a review at the end of every month, to check how I got on, which goals I reached and which ones I missed. Without reviewing your progress, you might find yourself working hard at something that just isn’t bringing you the results you wanted.
Always add in some time for evaluation and checking in with your goals when you create your action plan.
Your Action plan checklist
By now you should be feeling confident about creating your own action plans to take you towards your big blogging goals one day at a time. But, that was a lot of information there, so here’s a quick summary checklist:
- Remember your blog priorities when deciding where to start
- Make sure you have SMART goals in place so you know what you’re working towards
- Do your steps follow each other in a logical order
- Ensure you have all the resources you need at each stage
- Do you have the skills required at each stage
- Be realistic about how long each step will take
- If you are outsourcing make sure you know how that will affect your timescales
- Don’t overschedule yourself
- Allow time for commitments outside of the single goal your action plan is for
- Give yourself time to evaluate your progress
- Creating an action plan is basically breaking big goals into itty bitty steps
- Break down your goals quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily
- Take deliberate action every day to avoid procrastination
Remember to pin this post to refer back to it later.