Photo Credit: zen! via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: zen! via Compfight cc

Though everyone may blog differently (whether it be topics, niches, formats, communities) we all need one thing to become a successful blogger: solid blogging goals. Blogging willy-nilly is like going on a road trip without a destination or map to help you get there—ultimately, you’ll just end up wasting your time driving around lost. While you can still find your way to someplace by aimlessly driving or blogging, you may not always end up where you wanted to end up, and it can take you much longer to get to your final destination.

Whether you’re a newbie blogger or a longtime pro, you need to form goals for your blog. And not just any goals—you want to have realistic yet aggressive goals that give you reality check whenever you’re trying to do something on your blog. Should you be spending more time on Pinterest? How about writing longer-form posts? Look back at your goals—if the new activity won’t help you accomplish them, don’t do it.

Ultimately, having solid blogging goals will help you be more productive and successful by helping you figure out what to spend time on. To determine your own blogging goals, follow these five steps:

1. Analyze what’s worked

We’ve said this many times before, but it’s so important I’ll repeat it again: always always look at your metrics before jumping head first into something new on your blog—whether you’re doing something strategic like establishing new goals or tactical like jumping on another social network. While you may feel that your intuition may suffice, often metrics can prove your intuition wrong.

When setting goals, looking at your metrics first is crucial. For example, if you’re thinking of setting a goal around increasing comments on your blog, you want to first look and see how many comments you are already getting. This will help you establish a benchmark to measure your success down the road.

If you’re not measuring the success of your content yet, get on it! Not all measurement tools are as complex as Google Analytics—we offer a simple, one-sheet dashboard for Shareaholic publishers called Shareaholic Analytics. Once you have your measurement platform of choice up and working, we’ll even walk you through understanding the most important metrics on your blog.

2. Figure out where you want to be

Though you should base your goals off of your metrics, it should not be the only thing you use to make your blogging goals. In order to grow as a blogger, you can’t just rely on doing exactly what’s worked for you before—use data to help make your decisions, but don’t be afraid of taking educated chances to grow your blog.

After you look at your metrics, think about what you ultimately want to accomplish on your blog. Are you trying to establish a business? Are you trying to write a book? Are trying to become an ambassador for a brand?

Once you have a general sense of what you want out of your blog, go find people who have successfully accomplished those goals already. See what they are doing and even send them an email to get into the nitty-gritty. Not only will you learn more about how to get to your final goal, but you’ll also start to expand your blogger network. Use their experiences to establish a long-term vision for your blog.

3. Connect the dots with SMART goals

So now you have your starting point and your end point…but how do you get from point A to point B? It’s simple: use SMART goals. No, this doesn’t mean intelligent goals. SMART goals are:

  • Specific: There’s no room for being vague when making goals. Try to answer the 5 W’s when creating a SMART goal: What do you want to accomplish? Specifically why do you want to accomplish it? Who else is involved in this goal? Where are you accomplishing this goal? What are some things that could hold you back from getting this goal?
  • Measurable: If you’re going to be spending a ton of time working toward a goal, you want to make sure you can measure your success when you look back on your efforts, just like you did in step 1. For example, if you want to become the #1 food blogger in the US, you need to figure out what #1 means and how you will know when you become it. Does it mean you’re ranked #1 on a magazine’s roundup list of your industry? Or does it mean that you’re getting more traffic than a fellow food blogger? Getting nit-picky about what you’re going to measure will help you tremendously when you evaluate your progress down the road.
  • Attainable: One of the hardest parts of setting a goal is to make sure it’s aggressive enough to inspire you while also being realistic enough achieve. Take a second to be honest with yourself—is the goal you’re setting something you really can accomplish? How much time and effort do you realistically think you can put into making this happen?
  • Relevant: Even if your goals are specific, measurable and timely, they won’t always be relevant. Make sure that your goal relates to your ultimate vision for your blog. An irrelevant goal for example, would be making a goal to partner with brands if your ultimate vision for your blog is for it to be a hobby for you. While partnering may be beneficial to you, that goal isn’t aligned with the ultimate purpose of your blog and you would be wasting your time.
  • Time-bound: Don’t leave your goals open-ended. Give yourself a solid deadline to accomplish them—not only will you be more motivated to get them done, but a deadline also will help you stay focused when other projects crop up.

By establishing SMART goals, you’ll lay out a solid plan to get from point A (your current metrics) to point B (where you want to be).

4. Stay inspired

Once you’ve figured out your SMART goals, it’s time to get to work. But that isn’t always so easy—fears or other obligations start to creep in and you may get off track from accomplishing your goals. Here are a few ways to stay focused on rocking your goal:

  • Give yourself a reward: While accomplishing the goal itself is a reward, sometimes we need a little extra motivation to stay the course. For the fashion blogger, maybe it’s buying that dream outfit that you’ve been envying on your fellow bloggers’ posts. For the food blogger, maybe it’s investing in some new kitchen equipment or a nifty new camera. Whatever your niche, try finding a reward that will keep you engaged and focused on achieving your goal.
  • Make a vision board: A big shout out to our friends at the IFB for this tip. Whether you prefer a tangible corkboard or just a dedicated Pinterest, you should gather some inspirational images, quotes or items that will help motivate you when you’re feeling a little lost. Sometimes you just need a little visual pick-me-up to keep on keepin’ on.

5. Check back in and evaluate

After the time you set in step 3 has run out, it’s time to measure your success. Congrats! You’ve come full circle in the blogging goal process.

This is the easiest step of all: look back at your SMART goals and see if you’ve accomplished them. Either way, celebrate—whether you’ve accomplished your goals or not, you’ve learned something about yourself and your blog and you will always need to improve and grow.

If you missed your SMART goals, ask yourself why and then figure out how to fix it next time (and don’t try to beat yourself up too much). If you achieved them, still ask yourself why and then figure out how to replicate that success again.

Throughout your entire blogging experience, you will be creating goals for yourself and then working to achieve them, so this process will keep repeating itself forever. So go on and get started on your blog!

How do you create blogging goals for yourself and stay motivated to achieve them? Share your thoughts with us below!

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