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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!

    Liked by 1 person

  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.

    Liked by 1 person

    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.

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      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.

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      2. I have opened up a facebook page for our participatory arts blog what-ifblog.net 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.

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    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.

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      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.

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  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

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    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!

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    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.

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    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!

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      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.

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  4. 04/15/2014 ASSIGNMENT
    http://northshorekitchen.com/2014/04/15/goals-for-north-shore-kitchen/

    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.

    http://northshorekitchen.com/

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    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!).

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      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?

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  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.

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  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!

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  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.

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      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!

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    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!

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      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).

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  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.

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  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!

    https://annarashbrook.wordpress.com

    Like

  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.)

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  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!

    Like

    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.

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  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!

    Like