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How to Prepare Your Creative Brand for the New Year

It’s the start of 2018, and we’ve been reading loads of ideas, quotes, suggestions on how to make it YOUR year, right? I am guilty of that too, so don’t you worry, it’s just the way it is.

It’s really inspiring to get down to planning (I love planning), however, you won’t see me going crazy over a 5-year plan anymore.

I believe in big goals, incremental upgrade and consistent tracking (what gets measured will increase pretty much seamlessly). Enough of my motivational speeches, let’s dive in 3 practical steps to prepare you for this year!

Ok, I swear I am done now.

Milestone Planning

Where would you like to take your brand in 2018? According to your stats, what were the most successful blog posts in 2017? What are the emails with the highest click rate? If you haven’t answered these questions, you totally should.

Grab an ol’ piece of paper and jot down the most important dates in your calendar (read a new e-book, your first live event, an e-course you are launching). It’s really important to have these dates handy, in order to work your marketing strategy, guest posts and features accordingly.

So, if you haven’t already, answer the aforementioned questions in order to prepare you for 2018.

Cleaning up Social Media

Blogging and social media are king and queen. They’re the perfect combination of beans and toast (love this one) if used properly.

In order to prepare your brand for 2018, comb through your social media accounts. Be merciless (and I mean that). Use your analytics to determine which accounts are most productive to your brand then downside.

Let’s take Facebook for example: being part of many online masterminds and participate in engagement threads can be the reason behind this. If you’re like me, consider the groups that are most beneficial and productive and eliminate the others (I remember one time, 2014, I was engaging in about 30 groups). One of the biggest barriers to success is distractions.

I also tended to neglect Pinterest – quite a lot – it has been a game changer in the past two weeks thanks to my own course and another workshop I am working. If Pinterest is a heavy hitter for you, take a look at the popular pins to see what your readers like. Have a good spring clean through your boards and delete pins that no longer represent your brand and interests. Established clear, concise boards for pinning.

Please update your blog and bios!

Your branding, Instagram or blog are representations of you. When people come to you, they don’t want to use Google Maps to find the information that they’re looking for. They are coming to get the information and/or services that you provide. Make this easy for them, please.

When was the last time that you’ve updated your design? Is your bio up to date on social? When’s the last time you updated your links?

When it comes to your blog, you are most likely to have on average 10 broken links lying around, I recommend using tools like W3C Checker to spot them. I tend to revamp my website once a month, to be sure all the dates are correct and my bio is not dated 2014.

Set a SMART goal

Business mentors, coaches, marketing gurus and experts really like to wave a very threatening statistic around our faces. Apparently, 90% of startup businesses fail within the first year. If, as a blogger, you thought you’d be exempt from being part of the failure complex, you may be wrong.

There is also a very special statistic for bloggers, which is even more anxiety-inducing: ‘most blogs fail in three months’.

If we do the maths correctly, setting up a blog can take as little as 15 minutes, or as long as a month. More than the feeling of failure in itself, what really packs a punch is the amount of time we spend setting up something that we do not see following through.

However, at the Creative Impact Co we do not believe in failure.

We are a stubborn bunch. That’s why we believe that goal setting is a key aspect of creating a great strategy and a glorious blog. This leads me to another key point of this discussion.

If you are not seeing the results you expected, chances are you’re not going to achieve your goals by accident: it takes purposeful planning. If you don’t define those goals and create a plan to work toward them, you’ll never reach them.

This is why, today, I am introducing one easy way of setting meaningful goals for your blog. Before you ask, Fab is not re-inventing the wheel here. S.M.A.R.T. goals are not a new thing. They have been used by many very successful professionals and individuals for many years. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that helps you set the right type of goals.

Specific

This is quite straightforward. The more specific you make your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it. Instead of saying “I want to make money from my blog” make sure you set a specific goal to make enough money from your blog to pay, for example, for a week-long holiday.

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Measurable

Setting targets can be scary, hence why we are more likely to shy away from them! Just like how people struggle to lose weight when their goal is ‘to lose all extra weight’, they are more motivated if they have a set number of pounds or kilos they are trying to lose.

Similarly, having numeric goals will help your blogging

You want to know how many new followers you are expecting, how many blog posts you want to write in a month, how many new emails you want to collect in a specific amount of time – this makes your achievements measurable and more manageable.

Achievable

Less is more, especially when it comes to goal setting. Choose one big goal, and work toward it. Then move on to the next one. Remember, you can only achieve so much before your willpower dwindles and you jump straight into burnout. If you create many blog writing goals to accomplish at the same time, you’ll burn through your willpower very quickly.

Relevant

Your goals should be consistent with what you want to achieve with your blogging, hence you need to know WHY you are blogging. There’s no point in wasting time on a goal that won’t help you achieve your overall purpose. Think carefully about how your goal is helping you to achieve your purpose in blogging. Is doubling your Facebook likes really going to help you make the money you want for that holiday?

Time-bound

A time-bound goal gives you focus and allows an end date for achieving your goal. Let’s use the weight-loss analogy just one more time. You don’t want to just set a goal, such as “I want to lose 10 pounds”. Instead, you want your goal to be time-bound, such as “I want to lose 10 pounds by the 25th July.”

By adding a deadline for achieving the goal, you will be able to see how close you are and keep yourself on the right track. Remember, you are always encouraged to adjust your deadlines accordingly to the goal, and how achievable it is.

Bonus tip: what’s your word?

Think about the year ahead and ask yourself what one word would best represent your dreams and direction for 2018. This is a powerful practice because no matter how busy or scattered we may get at various points in our 365-day journey, we’ll always have our word to hold onto and guide us through.

Here are some examples of words to consider (you can also think of them as themes for the year): Freedom, Love, Thrive, Value, Elevate, Fierce, Flow.

You’ll find that more and more, your thoughts, decisions, and actions in the new year will flow in harmony with your word.

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