The end of the year (but not the world) is fast approaching and so far it’s been a helluva year!
Traditionally, at this time of year I take some time out to reflect on what I have done, what I could have done, what I will do and what I could have done better 🙂
Thinking about these things in relation to my blog I’ve come up with 10 things that I’m going to do before 2013 and I’m going to share them with you today. Why before 2013? No reason other than I like to start the year (or each day) for that matter with a clear direction. It helps me focus particularly when I feel like half the time I have ADD 🙂 or just an incredibly short attention span!
After the hoidays and pre – New Years is the time that we usually think about what the new year will bring for us and what our goals are. So now, in my opinion, is the right time to get crackin’.
1) Think about the purpose of your blog. Did you achieve what you set out to do this year? What stopped you from achieving your aims and what will you be doing differently in 2013 to overcome this. Write it down and how you will overcome any obstacles that bit you this year.
For example; this year I had a really set schedule of the sort of posts that I wanted to write and the frequency. For the first 10 months or so I achieved my goal. The last two months were a bit of a fail though. Why did I fail? I got sidetracked with a major project. What will I do differently next year? Well first of all I’ll plan more carefully and improve my time management (fingers crossed).
2) Now that you have reviewed what you have done previously lets look to the future and see what you want to do with your blog in 2013.
You’ll probably find that as your blog has evolved over time and that the purpose may now be different. Your visitors may have preferences that you are not addressing. Think about the type of comments, questions and feedback you are getting from your market and see if it resonates with you and what your blog stands for.
Think about the type of changes that you could make to incorporate what your visitors want. It may be as simple as setting up a Facebook group, webinars, a forum, membership site, producing products or incorporating different blog posts into your blog.
3) Now that you know where you’ve been and where you are going it’s time to ensure that you will arrive at your destination safely. There’s a lot to consider in this section.
First of all you need a plan or a schedule for when you are going to blog. A failure to plan is a plan to fail (or something like that!). You can use a simple calendar if you like. Schedule in when you will be writing and your topic of choice. This is all very well if you know exactly what you will be writing about. If you are more of a “freestyle” blogger then using a wordpress plugin to jot down some ideas for blog posts when they strike you may be a better alternative.
Some free plugins that you might like to try are:
I like to use Editorial Calendar and save my “ideas” for blog posts as drafts.
Depending on the type of blog you have you might need to talk about “seasonal topics” like Halloween for instance. A Blogging calendar of these important dates is really useful so you are always on schedule to deliver the appropriate content at the right time. If you don’t already have one, you can create your own calendar of important events/dates for your area blog a calendar template.
You can get a free calendar template with holidays incorporated here:
If you are really serious about planning those blog posts then this free blogging calendar will have you on the right track in no time. It covers the usual stuff of the type of post you’ll be writing but also delves into who the post is aimed at, seo and calls to action. A very handy blogging template to keep you focused.
Not only do you need to consider the type of content that you will be producing but also what happens to that content after it is published. This is why creating a mind map of your content strategy is often easier than having bits of paper with random stuff written on it 🙂
4) Pat yourself on the back for all that you have achieved this year! Too often we focus on things that we failed to do rather than things that we did do. Turn that around and give yourself a big slap on the back for your efforts so far! You can also treat yourself to chocolate or your poison of choice for a job well done. And while we’re talking about slapping yourself on the back now is also time to start a positive vibe swipe file.
A positive vibe swipe file is a collection of all the nice things that people say about you all year that we sometimes forget when we are having a bad day. Whenever someone says something super nice about you file it in your positive vibe file.
If you go to your positive vibe file when you are having a bad day you’ll be cheered up in no time.
5) Capture Missed Opportunities. Earlier we spoke about creating content. Once that content is created we still need to get it “out there” to the public. Now is the time to look at what methods you have been using to generate traffic to your site. Most of us are a bit hit and miss with traffic we either do some things but not a lot or not enough of it often enough 🙂
Think about what types of traffic you have been generating? Is it mainly SEO? If so, how about adding in some social media. If it is mainly PPC how about adding in some media buys. There’s a lot of different ways to get traffic and if you have already mastered one method (ie it is bringing you in visitors and conversions) then maybe it’s time to learn a new traffic method. Choose one new method for traffic and master that.
Tune up time
6) Have a peek under the hood of your site.
- What plugins do you have that you are using?
- Now, seriously which plugins do you still need?
WP has many in built features and so it is often not necessary to have a ton of plugins. They are usually just slowing down your site after all. See what could be discarded, what is really needed and what is already incorprated in WordPress or your theme. The lighter you can travel plugin wise the safer you’ll be.
7) While we are under the hood of your site how’s your theme looking?
Just like your Christmas tree (if you have one) you probably buy new decorations for that every now and again, right?
Well you need to do the same with your wordpress theme. Every few years at least is really time to redecorate. Redecorating allows you to take advantage of changes in design and functionality in newer themes and overcomes visitor fatigue.
8) You knew I was going to mention this one right? Security should be something that you look at regularly with your site/s but a good overall end of year assessment on all your sites is also needed. When you first added security measures to your blog you may not have had the budget for a good security system like Sucuri. Things may have now changed, you may have more blogs and it’s time to think about how reputable services like ManageWP or Sucuri (or both) can make your life easier.
9) Have a look at your WordPress stash. Have you bought stuff that you haven’t used? or even unzipped WordPress wise (yeah I have!).Most WordPress fanatics at some stage find that they have a vast collection of plugins and themes (some of which you can’t remember when/why you bought them!). It’s a bit like when you go on holidays for a week, you pack everything and then only wear two things in the suitcase. Loving WordPress can turn out that way. You can end up with a terabyte of WordPress must haves that you never use.
If you have a WP stash pull out a test site (a subdomain is often good for this purpose) and check if the product can stil be used. Too often with WordPress plugins become outdated, plugin developers disappear or better solutions become available. If the product is still working, updated and support is good then you need to think seriously if you are going to use it. If you are thinking “some day” then you are probably not going to use it at all and it’s best left out for clean up day with the home projects you were going to do “some day”.
I have a LOT of WordPress plugins. I would tell you how many but I really can’t count that high 🙂 I know what I have because when I purchase them I put the name of the plugin, a description of what it does, the price, licence details, download area and support contacts in an excel spreadsheet. That way if I’m looking for a plugin but can’t quite remember the name I can go through my spreadsheet.
Say THANK YOU (and mean it)!
10) I often really wonder what will happen with plugin developers for WordPress who donate their time and skill to create free plugins for the community. Too often the forums at WordPress are full of users demanding instant service, updated features and the like without ever pausing to say “thank you”. So, please look through the free plugins that you are using and pick out your fave.
Head on over to the repository and find the page for that plugin or the developer and give them a big thank you, a donation or rate their plugin in the WP repository – or go wild and do all of them!
One final thing before you start 2013 is to clear out some mental mind space. To do this is super easy. Head on over to PayPal and look at the subscriptions that you are signed up for. Now be honest, are you really using them or are you going to use them “some day” ? The more stuff that you have to think about (even if it is just subscriptions) the more cluttered your mind is and the harder it is to focus on being the awesome person that you are 🙂
Be ruthless and hit the cancel button on anything you don’t use or don’t get value out of.
Now all those cancellation notices will soon hit your inbox so scurry along there and carry out stage 2 of the plan. Look at your inbox. Be ruthless.
- Is there anyone intruding on your inbox that costs you money but provides no value? (family and children excepted)
- Constantly bombards you with offers or boring videos to watch?
- promotes the “next best thing” at least three times a week?
- Time to hit the “unsubscribe” button on these guys as well. All these messages just end up as more “stuff” to think about. Clearing your mind of them will help you focus on your goals in 2013.
If you can’t hit “unsubscribe” (for example if you need to stay subscribed for software updates) then filter them. Gmail is fantastic for filtering and you can easily set up filters, rules and labels to ensure that your inbox only contains important information that you have to action.
Hope you have a great holidays and an awesome 2013!