With the end of year in sight, it's usually around this time of the year that we all start to feel a little reflective of the past twelve months and start to plan ahead for the next year to come. If you're a blogger you'll already know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into keeping on top of your online space, and to make your life a little easier I'm sharing today five things you can do for your blog before the end of the year to be prepared to take 2015 by storm.
Putting aside some time to really reflect and look over the past twelve months can make the world of difference when it comes to planning for the future of your blog. Seeing how far you've come, giving yourself the opportunity to be proud of all of your hard work, and then digging a little deeper to discover what it is you want to do next and how you want to push yourself can really help you create an online space you can be proud of. Some questions I like to ask myself when taking the time to reflect are:
- What have you enjoyed about your blogging process this year? Are there any things you haven’t enjoyed?
- What posts are you really happy you worked on? What are your personal highlights?
- What are your goals for 2015? What do you want to do with your online space?
- Are there any topics you want to focus on more, and any you want to focus on less (or not at all)?
- Further reading: Finding Your Blogging Purpose & Building A Manifesto, Thoughts On Content Creation, It's Okay To Change With Your Blog, Your Blog Is A Brand
Host a reader survey
Reader surveys are an awesome way to really open up the floor to your readers to share feedback on their experience of your blog. If your blog exists for a specific purpose - maybe as a resource within a specific niche, or as inspiration to a specific group of readers - an annual survey can really help you discover whether you're reaching your ideal readers, and if not can offer some pointers as to how to get there. Survey Monkey is your best bet for hosting one, and look out for mine coming next week as I can't wait to find out more about how you guys feel about this online space.
Plan for 2015
I'm a big fan of planning ahead, and looking forward to the next year and my short and long term goals for this online space really helps me to plan for 2015. Whether it's my editorial calendar, any new categories or topics I want to introduce, or behind the scenes projects I'm working on, thinking towards the first six months of next year and what I really want to be focusing my time and energy on will hopefully help me really narrow in on what I want this space to be. If you're planning ahead for 2015, my best advice would be to focus on the following things:
- Big picture The every day realities of running your own online space means that it can be hard sometimes to really take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself; what do you really want your online space to be? What type of readers do you want to reach? What impact do you want to have with your content? Do you have any long term plans or goals?
- Content Content is always going to be at the heart of a blog; focus on your editorial calendar and building a content plan that works for you and alongside the bigger picture of what you want your blog to be. If you're super organised you can plan a few weeks or months in advance in terms of your editorial plan - and if you're in need of some direction in terms of content creation and building an editorial plan that works for you? Well I have something in the works for the new year that might be exactly what you're looking for!
- Priorities Know what it is you want from your blog. Do you want to build community? Do you want to share your work and reach your dream clients? Do you want to establish your voice within your industry? Whatever it is, prioritise exactly what it is that matters to you most and don't be distracted by what everyone else is doing. Run your own race, and build your time and energy around the things that really matter to you.
- Short and long term goals Setting some short and long term blogging goals for 2015 can really help you stay on track and focus on what really matters to you. Whatever they are, let them guide you in the decisions you make throughout the year.
Update and prepare your website for the new year
Staying on top of a website is tough and from experience I've learned how easy it is to let things fall through the cracks. Before the year is through I want to update, prep, and audit my website so that it's ready for the new year, and if yours is also in need of some TLC here's my checklist for things to update:
- About page - is it up to date? Does it need a little sprucing up to really explain to new readers who you are and who you're for?
- Sidebar - is it a little all over the place? If it's looking too crowded, what can be removed? Narrow it down to the essentials.
- Archives - are they up to date and easy to browse? You are way more than just your most recent post, so make it super easy for readers to discover and enjoy all of your previous awesome content.
- Misc - are there any broken links that need fixing? How about updating your contact details or blogroll?
Have a social media audit
Social media is probably the biggest area I struggle with when it comes to running this blog - there's already so much to do in terms of content creation that extra platforms just feel a little overwhelming. There's no denying their importance though, so a little end of year social media audit is probably something we can all benefit from:
- Are all your bios and photos up to date? Is there anything on any of your platforms you don't want associated with your blogs brand anymore? Working your way through your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest accounts to spruce them up before the end of the year will save you a lot of headaches come 2015.
- Social media strategy - do you have one? If not, explore how you really want to use your social media platforms as an extension of your brand. This post from Regina is a super helpful read.
- Make sure you're on Bloglovin' - okay, so it's more of a RSS feed than a social media platform, but Bloglovin' is probably most bloggers favourite way for readers to discover and follow their blog. If you're already on there, check in to see if your category still suits the content you're producing, or whether there's one more suited so you can reach your target readers.
Will you be doing any of these before the year ends?
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