Blogging 201, Day One: Set Three Goals

First things first: let’s set some goals and plan for success.

(Looking for Blogging 101? Click here.)

Welcome to Blogging 201: Branding and Traffic! We’re pumped about what we’re going to cover over the next two weeks, and we’re excited you’re joining us for the ride.

Despite his demeanor on True Detective, Marty gets really chipper when you think about goals.

Despite his demeanor on True Detective, Marty gets really chipper when you think about goals.

Today we want you to do a bit of thinking about your blog. With apologies to Marty Hart of True Detective, we’re going to ask you to make your blog the focal point of silent reflection:

Today’s assignment: consider what you want to accomplish with your blog. Write down three concrete goals you want to achieve. 

Why are we doing this?

  • Because writing down goals forces you to think carefully about what success means to you — “success” is different for everyone.
  • Because having goals helps you focus your blogging energy. If the thing you’re doing isn’t helping you achieve your goals, ditch it.
  • Because achieving a goal is a great feeling that motivates you to set and meet new goals, creating a continuous cycle of awesome.

Here are some questions to mull over to help you uncover/refine what’s most important to you about your blog:

  1. Why do you blog? To gain notoriety? To secure a book contract? To self-publish your work? To establish yourself as a leader in your field? To gain followers? Traffic? To connect with others? To work through and clarify your own thoughts?
  2. If your blog exceeded your wildest dreams, what would that look like? Would you have a different design? How many followers would you have? How much traffic? What sort of community would participate? What discussions would take place? How often would you post?
This snowman is giving you high fives just for thinking about setting goals.  (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This snowman is giving you high fives just for thinking about setting goals.
Win! by David Cathrae (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Answering these questions helps you create a vision for your blog. Next, translate that vision into three specific goals. You can articulate your goals however you’re most comfortable, but we recommend making them simple, concrete, and time-based to create laser-like focus, like:

  • Gain 20% more followers by October 15th.
  • Increase my average daily hits 30% by December 31st.
  • Publish three times each week during April, May, and June.
  • Spend one hour each week visiting my followers’ blogs, reading their posts, and commenting on their work, from now until June 30th.
  • Establish a new weekly feature on my blog by April 30th (Throwback Thursdays, Wordless Wednesdays, Soup Sundays), and publish that feature each week through June 30th.
  • Create an editorial calendar for the next three months by April 30th.
  • Gain 100 new Twitter followers for my blog by July 1st.
  • Publish posts from three respected guests over the next three months.

For bonus points, write a post detailing your blog’s goals and publish it. Making your goals public ups your accountability. Your readers will cheer you on, and might even find ways to help you achieve your goals.

Stuck on what to pick for your goals? Not sure what’s actually reasonable? Ask your questions here, or head over to The Commons to bounce ideas around fellow challenge participants. You know the old saying: 1000 heads are better than one.

Notes from the Editors:

The two-factor authentication requirement for The Commons has been removed, so no smartphone or additional security is necessary to access the site once you’ve been added to it.

Using The Commons is completely optional. It is intended simply to be a private place where challenge participants can connect. You can use it to ask questions you’d prefer to ask privately — or you can not use it at all, and still have a great challenge experience.

Woody Harrelson photo by David Shankbone (CC BY-SA 3.0).

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  1. I expected a task along these lines and I’m glad that you went for it: it’s probably the most logical way to start and I’m happy to work on this task ;-) Thanks for the challenge and thumbs up!

  2. Great assignment. However, I only found it by following someone else’s plea on the commons, shouldn’t we be having this sent to us via email? It wasn’t clear when I looked back at the entry page.

    1. You should, yes, and we’re working to get that fixed. In the meantime, we’re adding links to the assignments to The Commons and in the menus on The Commons and here.

      1. I’m wondering the same thing about Facebook and Twitter. I have a personal FB page and have Twitter that I use for both work and personal stuff. My blog posts show up on both my Twitter and Facebook.
        I do use HooteSuite for posting some things as I handle another FB and Twitter account for an insurance agency that I help out.

      2. I have opened up a facebook page for our participatory arts blog and incorporated a facebook link to it within the blog. Up to now it hasn’t yielded any results, but I am very new to it. With Twitter I have been lazy and just used my personal account. It feels weird, though. It would guess it is better to have it clearly separated. What else do you use for promotion? Has anybody ever been featured in DIGG? And how does that work? In general, I find it a challenge to grow a community.

    1. Wow! You (and many others here) clearly put a lot of thought into the set-up of your blog in the very early stages. I regret I didn’t know any better, so my keeps evolving and is – as a result – a little messy!

      I’m really intrigued by your 20/20 Five series of posts. I’ll be back to visit your site some more, ’cause getting more of a conversation going is something I’m interested in achieving, too.

      1. Thanks! And believe me when I say you’ll get there. It takes a lot of trail and error before you finally settle on something that works for you.

        Having said that, I took a really quick look around your site and noticed lots of pictures. Perhaps you should look at themes that highlight those. Some that may work better for you are: Expound, Visual (my personal favorite), Mixfolio, or Hero.

        20/20 Five posts on Friday, so I hope you’ll stop by and answer the questions then.

    1. I’m finding that to be true as well. I’ve written down all the ones suggested here, plus others. Now comes the hard part of cutting them down to three.

  3. Quick question for everyone…is everyone posting this on their blog? I feel like this is a bit personal and truth be told I suppose I’m a bit shy to post this on my blog….any thoughts?! Thanks

    1. I will not be posting mine, but for very different reasons. I think it is perfectly fine either way. I think what is important is that you have very specific goals (with deadlines) written down somewhere. Good luck to you!

    2. Posting your blogging goals is a personal choice — it’s not right for everyone and we fully respect that.

      We just wanted to toss that out there as an idea. Some folks find going public with their goals help them stick to trying to achieve them.

    3. I don’t think I’ll post it on my blog because two of my goals are to increase traffic and subscribers. I’m afraid my current readers might feel slighted, like they’re just a number to me. That’s not at all true–I’m humbled they spend time on my blog–but I don’t know what the perception would be. Let me know what you ultimately decide to do!

      1. Ditto and thanks to all for this point. I wasn’t sure about posting on the blog, but this clarified my doubts. Will check out The Commons as a possibility.

  4. 04/15/2014 ASSIGNMENT

    Three concrete goals for my blog:
    1. INSPIRATION: I want to inspire others (and myself) to take pleasure in the aesthetics and preparation of various cuisines, both novel and traditional. I will do this by sharing posts with others who I believe would take interest in the blog.
    2. PERSONAL SKILL DEVELOPMENT: I want to develop my digital photography, web-based communication, and online content organizational skills through blog postings. I will do this by publishing at least one post per week.
    3. EXPERIMENTATION AND DOCUMENTATION: I want to explore the various works of food that I create, as well as document the creative process. I will do this by creating at least two special dishes per week and documenting the process as draft posts.

    1. Looking forward to visiting your blog. I’m always looking for new recipes to add to the rotation. Big challenge here is accommodating multiple food allergies.

      Your goals are really inspiring (so maybe you’ve already made some progress on your first one!).

      1. Thanks for linking to the ed calendar. This is the thing I keep putting off, but that I know will be immensely helpful, especially on Sunday night when I’m thinking Oh Crap, what am I going to write about this week?

  5. Firstly, I would like to increase my daily traffic — surely that will increase my morale, every blogger gets highly motivated when he/she realizes that his/her efforts are being recognized by many.

    Secondly, I would like to build relationships with other blogger and share ideas.

    Lastly, I would like to gain as many Facebook page likes as possible.

  6. This is a tough challenge. You think that you know your goals, but you almost don’t want to post them for fear of seeming greedy! I’ve got mine posted on my desk now. Hopefully that will give me that drive I need to keep going!

  7. I really like this challenge. This is one of the first things I did when I started my blog three weeks ago. I was accidentally added to Blogging 201 and based on this challenge would love to remain here instead of switching to 101.

    Just a few concerns I’d like to verify though. Will Blogging 201 feature a daily challenge? Also, how long will this last? In my excited to sign-up, the details flew over my head.

      1. Hi Krista,

        I also pushed the 201 button but am getting the 101 assignments. Those are good assignments, too but I’d like to be switched over.

        Thanks in advance. You must be swamped! Your (and other editors’) hard work is very much appreciated!

    1. same! i had asked to be transferred over to 101, but i think i’ll stick with 201 and then do 101 next cycle! LOL. thanks for asking this question!

      1. i started about 2-3 years ago. had to shut down the original blog (e-stalking). resurrected the new one late last year. haven’t gotten back to the same levels that i was at for the original blog (but babies get in the way of those kinds of things).

  8. I realise I don’t really know what goals I have; I seem to go with the flow. It’s harder than I thought. It’s a good assignment! I however won’t post the goals on my blog as I feel it’s not my readers’ business :-) I’ll keep everything I write regarding 201 for here.

  9. I hadn’t really thought about goals, except I would like more readers. My readership really blossomed when I started the Weekly Photo Challenge and the Travel theme, but I don’t want to spend my blogging life doing challenges. Maybe I have too many threads, Christian life, Austrian culture, working abroad, bird watching etc. But I like that so:
    Goal 1: To read more of other similar blogs and learn from them, and comment. I have a group (small) of fantastic followers,with similar outlooks, so I will get to know them better.
    Goal 2: Write a post asking for comments putting it or the link on the Commons!
    Goal 3: Reach 200 followers by Christmas!

  10. This is the perfect first task for me. I used the examples above as a stepping off point and came up with my three goals relatively quickly. I’m not going to share them on my blog, but I would like to share them here (and eventually on The Commons once I’m accepted).

    1. Create a “blogging binder” to hold post ideas and an editorial calendar through August
    2. Spend two hours a week engaging (reading & commenting) with lifestyle blogs so that I may join the community and increase my own readership
    3. Finalize the “look and feel” of my blog by the end of May (layout, name, etc.)

  11. Not sure this is the right place to ask this but I can’t seem to find another place to get the attention of the moderators.
    Is there some way where I/we are not receiving emails responses from everyone responding to the assignment? As well as from the commons and this page ? That is a lot of message to go through!

    I will respond to with my goals a bit later.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi @Jeff — to clarify, if you want to turn off notifications, you can click on the unsubscribe link in any Commons email. That way, your in box won’t be flooded.

  12. Loving this challenge, I feel like I had vague goals that sorta fit how I was feeling, but I’m making them specific and I’m gonna write them down and look at them every day. Woo!

    1. i have a bad habit of my blog posts being 800+ words on a regular basis…so i vote it being ok!! LOL

  13. So, I know (some of) my goals but feel uncomfortable writing them down. Thomas Ankin, answers my query with, “Why don’t you set yourself the big goals that you want to achieve but don’t give yourself such a restricted time frame?” Thank you, Thomas, I am willing to do that.
    I would like to achieve the goal of 10,000 + followers
    I would like to connect with more bloggers, perhaps two/week, to feel more a part of that community
    I would like to get (much) better at Flickr, etc – and make my blog’s appearance more interesting
    There you have it.

  14. My 3 goals:
    1. I will tweet every day (and not just to post my new blog) and learn to love it. #anti-social mediaproblems
    2. I will post 2 times a week, my original thoughts that I think and one additional either writing/photo challenge.
    3. I will talk to bloggers in a pleasant tone without any hint of self promotion at least on 10 separate occasions every week.

  15. Excited to get started. I’ve created a page with my goals at which I Ieft out of my site’s menu hierarchy. I didn’t want to post my goals because they detract from my site’s content. I know this doesn’t allow me to put a blogging201 tag on it which limits the community’s discovery and subsequent comments. With those parameters have I chosen the best method or is there a better way to approach this. I want involvement and feedback.

  16. I enjoyed zero to hero and learned a lot so this challenge I hope will add to that. My goals are numerous but to capture three:
    1. Share and Find Inspiration for writing and life.
    2. Reach 100 followers.
    3. Start a feature.

      1. Thank you Lana. I did do a few daily prompts and enjoyed it. I am going for photos soon. My schedule has changed dramatically since I started this adventure, so now I have to figure out a consistent time each day to devote to blogging. The other thing I have not figured out yet is how to remember all the ideas that go through my mind long enough to write them down. I don’t carry a cell phone. The A to Z challenge is helping as well.
        Next challenge is a feature.

    1. These are great goals. Participate in a few daily prompts and photo challenges. It will get you out to a larger audience. Also, if you havent already, begin tagging your posts. I’ve come across lovely food blogs. Its always nice to be in good company. Visit them and commit/follow. This will help build your audience. Also took a look around your blog. So far so good

  17. I signed up for the 201 Blogging Challenge but got an email for the 101 Commons. I already did the zero to hero earlier on in the year. Plse can you put me on the 201.

  18. Is this assignment purely academic? Something to get people focused and thinking? Or are we required to do something more concrete, in order to receive advise and direction from moderators and participants?

    1. The exercise is geared to get you thinking about what you want to accomplish with your blog. Success means different things to different people. You’re welcome to share your goals if you want to get feedback from participants or keep them private if you wish. It’s entirely up to you.

  19. I don’t mind sharing my blogging goals with everyone. However, I’m not going to pin myself down to an arbitrary schedule of blogging three times a week or every Tuesday or whatever. I feel that would be too stressful, and I don’t want to let any readers down. I’d rather my blogs be more informative, fun and meaningful than having to do with schedules.

    So, here goes:

    1. EXPLORATION. I call my blog Adventures in Writing, and that’s what it is. An exploration of the written word, from grammar to technique. I like the idea of talking about stories that fascinate me – whether they are told via tv, film, in news accounts, or in books – and why. What did the writers do well, what did they not do well, and how can I learn from their accomplishments or mistakes in my own writing. If I feel I can learn something from it, I will share it so that others can too. If there is a quantitative goal in this, I would like to see more interaction from readers on what their thoughts are as well. We can all learn from each other.

    2. FUN. Why so serious, as Heath Ledger’s Joker says. Writers all experience common pitfalls, trials and tribulations, so why knock ourselves down? Let’s loosen up and have a bit of fun. I’d like to encourage dialogue about having fun as we experiment with our craft. I want readers to occasionally visit, enjoy what they are reading, take part, and leave with a sense that they had a good time.

    3. FOR THE RECORD. This is my most personal goal as it is my way to hold myself accountable. It’s easy to slack off and just not write anything. So many things can get in the way, if you let it. Writing is hard work, but to be a professional you have to show up and do the work. I already have a daily widget that I keep where I track my daily writing progress and I’ll be expanding on that as I continue to develop my blog.

    Come visit:

    1. I so agree about not wanting an arbitrary schedule. Ball park, I aim for 1/week, but I don’t fret too much if I miss. When more is going on, I write more. I guess I could add a goal of recognizing what is blogworthy in the day to day.

  20. My goals are:

    – To have 200 Twitter followers by the end of the year
    – To steadily increase traffic over the year until I get at least 1,000 visits on one post in a day (420 the most so far)
    – To become an influencer in my field of interest (comics) and maybe get asked to review new editions or attend events

  21. One of my goals is to increase my number Twitter followers. Other than creating a connection between WordPress and Twitter, allowing my posts to be read on Twitter, I fail to see any other options to increase Twitter viewership and followers. It’s much easier to increase your number of followers with WordPress’s Reader exposure. How do Twitter readers find your posts? And are there any avenues available to increase their exposure?

    1. My experience is that you get followers by interacting with others on Twitter: retweeting, favoriting, or replying to their tweets. It works the same as on blogs: read and comment on others’ posts and they might come back to visit your blog.

  22. Hi everybody,
    thank you for the excellent assignment. These are my goals:
    1. I would like people to know that there exists a participatory arts project on identity and freedom of choice
    2. I would like to reach 42 new followers and increase my average daily hits 30% by December 31st.
    3. I would like get first comments on my posts by the end of May
    4. I would like the first people to artistically participate in the project (on the blog/facebook or twitter) by the end of August

    To achieve this I will
    Spend one hour each week visiting my followers’ blogs, reading their posts, and commenting on their work, from now until June 30th.
    Establish a new weekly feature on my blog by April 30th (Spontaneous Sparks), and publish that feature each week through June 30th.
    Create an editorial calendar for the next three months by April 30th.
    Gain 50 new Twitter followers for my blog by July 1st.
    Publish posts from my three follow artists in the project over the next three months.

    Like jobtitless further down, I have created a page that does not show up in the menu. It will remind me of my goals, though:
    All the best to my fellow bloggers out there, enjoy the blogging 201 challenges,
    thanks again for the excellent work on daily post,

  23. I’ve come to realize that the real reason I blog is for my own person growth. When I keep my focus on what I want to express and create instead of what I think others might want to see and read, I find the entire process so much more rewarding. Here is where I’m going:
    1. Link or blend my website ( with my blog in a way that looks and feels cohesive
    2. Create a blog space that foster self-discovery and self-expression
    3. To continue to enjoy and be fulfilled by the creative process

    1. Good Day LyndaA,
      I agree with your reason and focus on blogging. When I write from my heart and not from others, I find the words just appear on the screen. It is such an easier and enjoyable process.
      Thank you for sharing.

  24. Hey,

    my goals are:
    1. get 1000 followers by the end of the year
    2. continue throughout the next month my new post with monthly favourites
    3. write an own article for my facebook page every weekend, until now I just publish a link automatically from wordpress!

    I’m excited, hope to get lots of inspiration!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. I signed up for the 201 Blogging Challenge but got an email for the 101 Commons. Can you please move me to the 201 Commons?

    1. If you can share your WP username, I can move you. Because you have a self-hosted blog, I’m not able to look up your un via our admin tools.

  26. I would rather publish here than on the blog- 1000 heads are better than 1!

    1. To increase traffic to a fun, comedic respite- narration should serve as a daily laugh, not a daily snooze
    2. To be a voice for those “realities” that nobody tells you while growing up
    3. To connect young professional women with ideas, tips and tricks on “making it” after graduating college

    1. Increase my daily average hits by 50% by December 31st 2014.
    2. Establish a new weekly feature on the blog (Fancy Fridays)
    3. Stick to a 3 post a week blogging schedule until July 1st- 4x/week July 1-September 1
    4. Gain and communicate with 100 new Instagram followers by July 1st

    If your blog was to exceed your wildest dreams, what would it look like?

    Understated Classics would become a popular college blog –a site for women to refer to on various topics for life beyond graduation. A question and answer forum on how to survive, how to cook for one (instead of the dining hall!) what supplies are really needed for “cleaning…” etc. UC’s followers would be global, a forum for swapping ideas, sharing tips and tricks, while staying true to the purpose- growing up in the real world TOGETHER.