Starting a blog or website is a long-term commitment that needs to be broken down into manageable steps. We call these steps goals and together they help you formulate your first year blog goals.
Why should you have goals for your blog?
Because almost all bloggers or website creators lose motivation at one point or another during that first critical year.
And more often than not the root of the problem lies in unrealistic expectations and lack of focus and direction.
Here today I will share a model that will help you build a realistic – yet challenging – path to your ultimate goal. Stick with it and I promise you that you will substantially lessen your risk of losing motivation on your journey.
I will also give you five areas where you should formulate goals to help you perform during that first and critical year of blogging or website creation.
- Expectations and achievable goals
- How will you reach your goals?
- But making money online sounds great doesn’t it?
- Breaking down our first year blog goals
- SMART goals – not one smart goal
Expectations and achievable goals
We have all seen them. The self-made millionaires who publish monthly earnings reports on their blogs and websites.
And good for them.
But these success stories do not have any real bearing on your situation.
And by reading these stories there is always a risk that you expect too much, too soon.
Instead you need to focus on what you are trying to achieve. And this is important.
What you are trying to achieve has to come before you ask yourself “how” or “when”.
And the answer to what you are trying to achieve is not to make a lot of money. Instead ask yourself what you are trying to achieve that would require making a lot of money.
Most of the people I talk to express a desire to work less and spend more time with friends and family. Or to simply be their own boss. To be in control.
For some people it means creating additional income streams while keeping their regular job. Others go all-in to create something from scratch to replace their regular job.
Whatever your overall goal you are looking for an online presence to generate an income that would help support you or your family.
We have now defined your overall goal as “to make enough money to be able to be in control and to spend more time with the people that matters to you”.
Now you know your overall goal or objective.
How will you reach your goals?
I am not trying to discourage you. But I would be remiss if I did not mention that there are often easier ways to make money than starting a blog or a website.
You can make money online but you can also make money from a regular job.
You need to ask yourself if creating a blog or website to make money is your best option.
You need to make sure that you have chosen to start a blog or website for the right reasons.
And it is important you know why you decided to pursue your goals online. Because there will be times when it seems like you made a terrible mistake.
You see, the fact is, for most of us, it takes time to make money with a blog or a website.
The success stories you read everywhere are not the norm. I hope it will be your story as well. But most people have to work for many, many months before seeing results.
Again, I am not trying to discourage you. But you also have the option to work for someone else in a regular job.
You could, for example, seek employment that would grant you more freedom and shorter working hours.
But making money online sounds great doesn’t it?
One of the main attractions of starting a blog is of course the idea of passive income. And there is no limit to how much money you could make from your blog or website.
But there are also no guarantees that you will make anything at all.
A job does at least guarantee a paycheck.
You came here to read about first year blog goals and now I am suggesting that you take a job instead? Not at all. But it is really important to go through this process as it anchors you when you later on have doubts.
You are still here? Great.
All the people I know that have succeeded in making money online have one thing in common. Staying power.
None of them hit it big from day 1. Instead they stayed the course and built a foundation based on setting solid goals.
So now when we know that you are motivated, let’s look at a model to help you arrive at your first year blog goals to help you succeed.
Breaking down our first year blog goals
To stay motivated you need to work with small and achievable sub-goals. And these sub-goals will be the blocks that pave the road to your ultimate goal.
So we start by formulating our first year blog goals and then break them down further.
There is absolutely no need to compare your progress to someone else’s. It makes no sense as you will always compare “apples to oranges”. Your journey will be unique to you and your process.
Remember, we set sub-goals for our blogging to stay motivated when the road to our ultimate goals are at the end of a long process.
1. Formulating SMART goals
I first learned about SMART goals when I studied Data analysis.
And I have used the method ever since. The origin of the model is commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s book The Practice of Management (1954).
Let’s go through how to set a goal in a SMART way.
1. Blog goals need to be Specific
To simply state that the goal is to “increase the number of visitors to your website” is not specific.
And if you are not specific you will not be able to capture data points for analysis.
If we add “from search engines” we are a bit more specific. But there are many search engines.
What about “from Google”? Still not specific as it would encompass both organic and traffic from advertising or paid search.
See where we are going?
Goal: “Increase the number of visitors to your website from Google organic search”.
2. Blog goals need to be Measurable
You need to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. But how can you know if you do not measure and analyse data?
You need your goal to be measurable. And this means we need
- to work with data that is quantitative (numbers)
- a starting point
- to define a goal as a numeric value
- the possibility to measure progress along the way.
If you are just starting out you have no visitors. To state that you want to increase the number of visitors by 1000% will still mean zero visitors.
Using percentages would serve no purpose. You need to use absolute numbers.
Use your current value of zero visitors as a starting point. Next, you set the goal as 50 000 visitors per month.
Goal: “Increase the number of visitors to your website from Google organic search to 50 000 visitors per month”.
3. Blog goals must be attainable
It would be great to rack up 50 000 visitors per month from organic search in Google during our first year.
But is it realistic?
Is the goal attainable?
As you are starting out you have no data points so how can you know?
Well, here Google can be your friend and after your initial research (for example reading forums) you settle on 1000 visitors per month.
You of course have every intention to beat the goal and get even more visitors.
But we have now formulated an attainable goal that will still be a challenge.
Goal: “Increase the number of visitors to your website from Google organic search to 1000 visitors per month”
4. Blog goals should always be Relevant
You need your goal to be relevant in that it will have a real impact on your business.
If you have visitors you can work with qualifiers to make sure that the goal is relevant to the success of your business.
One way to make it relevant would be to focus on the most profitable affiliate program compared to including all your affiliate partners.
But as you are starting out you have no data points to work with.
But why would you only focus on traffic from Google? You will write and optimize your posts for all search engines.
To make our goal more relevant you should include “other search engines“. Google is by far the most important search engine but there is no reason to exclude the smaller search engines like Bing.
Goal: “Increase the number of visitors to your website from search engine organic search to 1000 visitors per month”
5. Blog goals must be time based
In this example we started out to define our first year blog goals.
With this we already gave ourselves what we needed to make our goal time based.
We both specified the timeframe – in the first year – as the deadline – after our first year of operation.
This gives us a SMART goal that we can work with.
Goal: “Increase the number of visitors to your website from search engine organic search to 1000 visitors per month in your first year of blogging.”
SMART goals – not one smart goal
SMART goals are specific by design. You need several SMART goals to run your online blogging business successfully.
And truth to be told you will often, but not always, reach your goals.
But for you it will be easy to see where you need to direct your focus.
After all, as SMART goals are Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Relevant and Time based, you should always revisit your goals when the deadline has passed.
You will learn a lot about where to direct your focus when you work with SMART goals.
And you should always play to your strengths.
5 SMART first year blog goals for beginners
You already know that SMART goals will help you stay focused and measure progress along the way.
But which areas should you focus on during that first year of blogging?
Here are the 5 areas that will make a difference in your success during your first year.
The order is alphabetical as they are all important and together form the foundation for your success.
1. Engagement goal
You earn rankings in the search engines. But you do not own these rankings.
They can be taken away from you at any point.
The same thing goes for your presence on Pinterest, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and other social media channels.
You do not own these platforms.
But you do own your mailing list.
Start building a mailing list from day 1. Create a give away and offer it free to your readers when they join your mailing list.
These members or subscribers are yours to communicate with and they will remain loyal as long as you provide value.
Goal: 500 subscribers on your mailing list after first year of blogging.
2. Outreach goal
Outreach is all about announcing your arrival.
Joining relevant Facebook groups, forums and other niche specific networks.
But joining is not enough. Do not be a lurker. Contribute. Be an active participant.
This type of outreach is an excellent way to create visibility for your blog. Offer to provide valuable content to providers of complementary products or services.
The key is to always give more than you ask for. You need to create value for the people you contact.
Over time your outreach activities will establish you as an expert in your niche and lead to links from other blogs and websites to your content.
Here it is important to remember that there are internal factors that we can control. But there are also external factors where we have no say or impact.
|Internal factors (action)||External factors (impact)|
|Contact providers of complementary products and services||Post branded article on external website|
|Actively participate in forum discussion||Receive link from blog to one of your articles|
It is critical that your goal only uses internal factors. External factors are potential outcomes or results of your actions but you cannot make them happen.
Goal: Participate in 10 forum discussions and reach out to 8 relevant bloggers with ideas for collaboration every monthly.
3. Publishing goal
You of course need content to have a blog or a website. And you need a lot of content to have a successful blog.
But it is not as simple as more is better. Think quality and quantity. You need both.
It will take time to research, structure, write and edit your posts and articles.
My first year blog goal is always to have 100 posts or articles. This means 9 posts per month.
Some months I publish more posts, others less. The key here is to have a goal that is attainable.
When you first start writing comes easy and you are most likely writing from experience. And writing is pretty much all you want to do.
But remember that you also have (at least) 4 more goals to work towards. You need to be smart with your time from day 1.
Goal: Publish 9 relevant quality posts or articles every month.
4. Technical goal
Most new bloggers choose WordPress or another Content Managing System (CMS) to build their first website or blog.
Personally I prefer WordPress but regardless of the CMS you choose you will be overwhelmed with all the functionality and widgets that are available.
With a simple click of the mouse you can have interactive forms, a shopping cart, videos and all kinds of moving and interactive media.
Here you need to remember that Google and the other search engines stress the importance of user experience. And a major component of an excellent user experience is how fast your website loads.
And the more widgets, videos, functionality and big images you add the slower your website will load.
I encourage you to use photos – especially your own photos where possible – but do make sure you scale, resize and compress all images before you publish them on your blog.
Lesson to be learned is to only use the functionality that is needed. Think Google and how minimalistic their search interface is. The start page matches the user’s intent perfectly. People go there to search – period.
Now, when you start out you may choose one of the less expensive web hosting companies like Bluehost. And it is not realistic to expect Bluehost to perform like a more high end hosting company like WPX Hosting.
I migrated this website from Bluehost to WPX hosting and if you are using a hosting company like Bluehost it is realistic to work towards a Google score of 80 and above for mobile. Your desktop score will always be higher.
Goal: Maintain a minimum score of 80 on the Google PageSpeed Insights test for mobile platform.
5. Traffic goal
When I say that 1000 visitors per month is a realistic but challenging first year blog goal people often look surprised.
But 1000 visitors means 33 visitors per day. And with 100 published posts or articles this is not easy. Attainable yes. Easy – no.
Still I think it is a good goal. It will keep you focused on building your presence and visibility in the search engines.
Remember the importance of measurability? Over the year you will notice that some posts receive visitors while others are buried deep down on page 25 in Google.
This is where your work starts.
You need to ask yourself why and learn from the posts that are receiving visitors.
- Did you choose a more realistic keyword?
- Do you have external links to that page?
- Have you linked to that page internally?
- Is it longer or shorter than other posts?
- Did you use a catchy headline?
There are many more questions to ask. The most important part is that you do ask them and learn as you go along.
Goal: 1000 visitors per month from search engines per month after one year of operation.
So start now and define your goals using the above guide.
Revisit your goals often for clarification and even to adjust them. The point is that you will have direction and be focused.
Only when you have your goals in place can you start planning the finer details of your daily work on how you are going to get there.