Whether you’re reading this in January, or are celebrating your “blogiversary” in the middle of the summer, there is never a wrong time to plan out the upcoming 12 months.
Before you get sucked in to the daily busy-ness of running your blogging business, take a minute a put a few things into place to make the coming months easier on you. I go into every year thinking that it is going to be a bumper year, and would rather spend my days pulling in the harvest than maintaining the fields.
So, start the year off right for your business, and do what you can to prevent that feeling of overwhelm that we all get!
1. Manage your Accounts
Even if you didn’t pull in the coin last year, there is nothing stopping you from going big this year. If you are monetized, or ready to, start your accounts off right.
I have been a fresh books client for over 2 years now and it was one of the best business decisions I ever made. Freshbooks does automatic invoicing, tracking and expense recording. All you need to do at the end of the year is print out your tax summary and hand it to your accountant!
Not only that, but with a monthly record of income and expenses, and an easy to read tool for what has been paid and what hasn’t, you will never lose another invoice again.
2. Start Planning
Using an editorial style calendar, or even a daytimer to set out your week will help you manage all the tasks needed to successfully run your business. Schedule in writing time, prep time and online events you want to participate in. Look ahead to the year for conferences that you want to attend, and add them to your list of assets to begin selling. By being PRO-ACTIVE vs RE-ACTIVE you will find that your needs will be met this year.
And most importantly, begin planning your sales funnel. At the start of EVERY month schedule an hour to fill your funnel with new businesses you want to work with, and remove the ones that didn’t complete the sales cycle, Stay ahead of your game NOW and you should continue that way through the months ahead.
3. Clear the Decks
I never like to start cooking in a messy kitchen, and same goes with a messy office (or mind) Clear out your inbox, file the papers on your desk, open a new daytimer and start the new year without the dusty baggage of the last year gone by.
Create folders in your inbox for each active client (brand) and start to sort and file your emails as they come in. Once invoiced, move one closing email to a future sales folder for follow up in 2-3 months for future opportunities.
Create folders on your desktop for campaigns as well, filing your drafts, social shares or screen shots and other communication material you need. Treat even the most minor campaign professionally and your odds of getting future work will increase.
And lastly, carry your support over to your social media. Set hashtags on your tweet deck or hoot suite, rebuild your favourite list on twitter, and create a column to support brands in your funnel, current clients and others that you support in your industry
A few moments of clean up will allow you to focus on engagement, sales and productivity, instead of admin this month!
4. Give Yourself a Makeover
When was the last time you checked out your own website, with fresh eyes? A New Years makeover might be just the thing you need to start off on the right foot.
Or right message I guess.
ABOUT PAGE: Spend some time editing and redefining your goals and brand on this page.
WORK WITH ME PAGE: Are your products and service listed? Have your prices changed? Now is the time to update and let your clients know.
TESTEMONIALS/PAST WORK: If you don’t have this page, you need it. Share brand logos, and links to sponsored content you have written, highlight freelance work and get testimonials from contacts you have supported. Spread the good word people, it IS all about you.
HOME PAGE: Check that your sidebar is aligned with your content, check that ads are displaying and images line up. Tweak adjust and add in new widgets that you have been coveting from other blogs. Make it shine baby! Make it shine.
And then check out Peek User Testing and get a video review of someone landing on your site for the first time. See what annoys them, or if your message gets lost in translation. Its free to use, and while some of the reviews just fall flat, every now and then you get a nugget of great info!
As well, if you really want the hand holding, I offer one on one consultations and blog audits. Together, we work through your specific goals and objectives and assess your site. We get you “catwalk ready” and set up to wow your audience. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your 69$ one on one audit.
5. Do The Groundwork
Now is the time to lay the groundwork for a successful year. Go back to your PR and network contacts, update them on your site, and your services. Reach out, pitch and put yourself in the front of their mind. Sometimes all it takes is to send a quick email and share an idea and suddenly your being flooded with opportunity.
Take the reins and start controlling your business, not just letting it respond to what lands at your feet. Make choices, take leaps, write proposals that stretch your skills.
And most importantly, don’t waste your time by WAITING for something to happen. Create it, inspire it and ignite the change for yourself. It IS time, and by starting the year focussed and prepared, you will keep your opportunities coming.