BUSINESS STRATEGY

How To Set Goals (And Actually Achieve Them)

Goal Setting for 2016: how to set goals and actually achieve them. 6 tips on setting goals for the new year for bloggers, entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Happy New Year! I feel very “adult” after a low-key New Year's Eve celebration (wine, puppies, and my favorite people). I planned to do a year end wrap up post but decided to skip it in favor of some must-needed r&r during the holidays. I have been busy behind the scenes planning for 2016.

In the spirit of the new year, let's talk about goals. I'm firmly in the camp that resolutions are lame and if you want to change something about your life (like work out more or drink diet coke less), you should START NOW and not wait until some day in the future. I'm sure there's some statistic about what percentage of people actually stick to their New Year's resolutions and I'd be willing to bet its not high. If you want to start the year fresh and make resolutions, I'll cheer ya on, but if you actually want to accomplish big things in 2016, let's make some goals.

I am a big believer in goal setting – and by that I mean making specific plans to achieve specific results.

I think “goals” sometimes get lumped in with resolutions on the list of seemingly pointless personal growth strategies, and some might argue they are basically the same thing but I disagree. Resolutions to me are like “trying” – I HATE trying. Trying is not doing.

When I worked in finance, we had one-on-one meetings with our managers at the beginning of the year to set business goals as well as personal development goals. We literally had to write them down on a piece of paper, talk about them out loud, and then map out a plan to achieve them. I still do this with my own business and personal goals except I type them out in a google doc instead of writing them down on paper (I kind of hate paper) and tell my husband instead of my manager (even if he forgets, it makes me feel more accountable when I tell someone else out loud).

HOW TO SET GOALS AND ACTUALLY ACHIEVE THEM

The most important part of goal setting (and somehow the part that most people skip) is mapping out a plan to achieve your goals! It's silly to set a goal of getting 100,000 pageviews or making $100,000 and then just hope that happens. Seriously, don't do that!

Personally, I like to start the year making a handful of goals (3-5) that seem kind of crazy. Like just beyond my reach crazy, not in another universe crazy. In the past, these goals have been things like make enough money freelancing to quit my day job, save enough money to move to NYC, and grow my dog's instagram to over 10,000 followers. (pats self on back – I've accomplished all of these things!) When I first set these goals, they all seemed a little scary / beyond my reach, but they drove me to work harder/smarter and accomplish more than if I were to set easily attainable goals.

After setting a few big goals, I break them down into smaller goals with “deadlines” throughout the year which makes things seem much less scary and much more attainable. I also like to celebrate when I achieve the smaller goals with fun little things like buying a new lipstick or indulging in a big Levain cookie. Or both.

But enough about me, what are your goals for 2016? If you still haven't set them, here are a few tips for setting goals and actually accomplishing them.

Limit The Number Of Goals You Set

If you set too many goals, you'll be less likely to achieve any of them. Don't stretch yourself too thin. Set 1 or 2 personal goals and 1 or 2 professional goals. Think about the things that you REALLY want to achieve – the things that will change your life or help your business grow. For example, if you want to grow your social media following, don't try to gain 10,000 new followers on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Periscope and Snapchat all at the same time. Focus on 1 or 2 networks (preferably the ones where your ideal clients hang out) and grow those first.

Set SMART Goals

You've probably heard of SMART goals and while they sound kind of gimmicky, there's a reason they are a thing. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely – by setting SMART goals, you force yourself to be more definitive which makes you more likely to achieve your goals! For example, one of my goals for 2016 is for Mochi to reach 50,000 instagram followers by the end of the year (note: I can't believe I just admitted that). I know it sounds slightly crazy that one of my goals is having MY DOG reach 50,000 followers, but she currently has over 28,000 so this is realistic since she has been consistently gaining hundreds of new followers per week. I actually track her follower growth daily, so I know if she gets less than 100 new followers in a day, I will put more effort into the photos I post for the next couple of days to make sure she stays on track to reach her goals. (p.s. you should totally be following Mochi already)

The most important part of goal setting (and somehow the part that most people skip) is mapping out a plan to achieve your goals!Click To Tweet

Break Your Annual Goals Down Into Smaller Goals

While I do set goals for the year, I find that it's even more important to set smaller goals for each month and quarter. Even if you're not starting at zero, your end goal should feel pretty far away – and it's easy to get discouraged and feel like you'll never get there if you don't set smaller, manageable goals in the meantime. One of the things I want to focus on for 2016 is growing my email list. It's currently growing at a rate of around 500 net new subscribers per month, but I know there are a lot of other things that I could be doing to grow it even faster. My goal is an additional 12,000 subscribers in 2016 and I've broken that down into 3,000 new subscribers per quarter or 1,000 new subscribers per month. 1,000 sounds much less daunting than 12,000 so instead of thinking about my big goal, I plan to focus on my smaller goal each month.

Break Your Smaller Goals Down Into Specific Tasks

Once you've set your smaller goals, you need to create a plan to map out the specific actions you are going to take to achieve them. For example, in order to hit my email subscriber goals, I need to increase the activities that I'm doing to drive people to opt-in. I plan to increase the number of blog posts with content upgrades I do each month because these have resulted in the majority of my current subscribers. Additionally, I am implementing a more strategic social sharing plan for my free course, and in January, I plan to test a few other strategies like webinars, guest posting, and giveaways. Based on the results of those efforts, I'll tweak my strategy moving forward to optimize my list building activities for the rest of the year.

Remember Why You Set Your Goals

When you set your goals for the year, you need to be clear on your “why” – If you want to grow your blog traffic to 100,000 monthly pageviews, why do you want to grow it? Probably not just because you just want pageviews. Maybe you know that if you have higher traffic, you'll earn more affiliate commissions. Or if you have higher traffic, you can command higher sponsored post rates. Or if you have higher traffic, you can introduce your service to more people who will potentially become clients. Remembering your “why” will help to keep you focused on your end goals and prioritize the actions you take to achieve your goals.

Track Your Progress Regularly

Stay on top of your goals by tracking them regularly. Regularly means at least monthly, but depending on your goals you could track things weekly or even daily. Tracking progress may not seem like much fun, but it can actually save you a ton of time. By tracking your progress, you will be more aware of what's working and what's not – then you can do more of what's working and stop wasting your time doing things that aren't helping you achieve your goals. I know there are a lot of people who get a lot of traffic from Facebook. I am not one of them. I could put more effort into my Facebook page (or really any effort, to be honest), but my time is better spent focusing on Pinterest and Instagram because I know these two networks are actually driving consistent, quality traffic to my site. No matter what your goals are, tracking your progress will help to keep you accountable and focused throughout the year!

Let's Do This

Ok, so where do I do all this goal setting and tracking? Honestly, I currently just have a google doc with my goals and subgoals mapped out and then a set weekly reminder to make sure I track progress for everything in a google spreadsheet.

3 Reasons No One Is Buying What You’re Selling

3 Reasons No One Is Buying What You're Selling - and what you can do to fix that!

I like to think I'm a really great consumer.

By that I mean, I'm what you call a shopaholic high converting customer.

Sephora has convinced me I need to shop to maintain VIB Rouge status, racking up Nordstrom notes is a sport, and let's not talk about how many things I've purchased thanks to Amazon 1-click / free prime 2-day shipping. But beyond these big names, I'm pretty loyal to some little brands too! For example, I have no less than 3 products from One Love Organics in my bathroom at all times and I regularly re-order Little L's krak'ems for my dog (despite the fact that she has several unopened treat bags from other brands). These guys get it when it comes to their marketing strategy so you can consider me sold. 

So what are they doing right? Lots of things. But let's talk about what they aren't doing wrong. I swear that sentence makes sense but #truelife it's 1am and sometimes things make more sense in my head than online. 

3 Reasons No One Is Buying What You're Selling

There are a ton of reasons why businesses like these are more successful than others – but in particular, these 3 are key things that lead them to getting more sales while you may be missing out!

ONE: You haven't defined your target market

I'm constantly reminding my clients that if you're trying to sell to everyone, you're not attracting anyone. You are not Amazon. If you haven't heard it a million times already, you need to define your niche. “Women” is not specific enough. “Women ages 20-65” is not specific enough. “Women ages 20-35 who have children” is not specific enough. Defining (and researching!) your target market is marketing 101, so if you're serious about growing your biz or blog, JUST DO IT already!

Defining (and researching!) your target market is marketing 101, so if you're serious about growing your biz or blog, JUST DO IT already!Click To Tweet

TWO: No one knows who you are

Build it and they will come? Yeah, that's not a thing. Your product or service or blog or personality could be the best thing ever, but if no one knows you exist – then it doesn't really matter. A marketing strategy isn't just “posting on social media” or “sending products to bloggers” – you need to be clear on the who/what/where/when/whys of your marketing activities. What are you trying to accomplish – driving traffic to your website? Growing your email list? Building community through social media? Probably some combination / all of the above. You need to be clear on your business goals so you can tailor your marketing activities to achieve those goals. Otherwise you're wasting time – and really, no one needs to waste time. Marketing is an ongoing process that needs to be refined and repeated. And refined and repeated again. If you're not putting yourself out there consistently – to the right people – you won't see sales. I'm not going to tell you that numbers don't matter (they do), but having 500 targeted, engaged followers is better than having 5,000 followers who never want to buy what you're selling.

THREE: You're not communicating your value

People are selfish <– that's the truth. You have to give them a reason to buy what YOU are selling. What's in it for them? Just being “pretty” or “affordable” or “fun” isn't enough. Your product or service needs to provide real value to people's lives AND you need to be able to communicate that value. I think some entrepreneurs are predisposed to thinking that their products / services are really awesome and so other people will think they are really awesome too. And then they'll buy them… right? Eh. Maybe. But honestly, it doesn't matter how awesome YOU think your products are… what matters is what your (potential) customers think. Ask yourself how are you are making their lives easier? How are you solving a problem? How are you giving them something that they REALLY want?

If none of these resonates with you – high five! (Yes, that's my dog, giving you a virtual high five).

Top Ten Tools I Use for Business Every Day

10 tools I use to run my online business - from website hosting to marketing management and more - I couldn't live without these tools!

I'm always curious about what tools other entrepreneurs use to get shit done. Sometimes it can seem borderline magical how bloggers/ small-biz owners can wear so many hats, but it's safe to say without some tech tools in place there would be a lot more crying (and a lot more wine)! Personally, these are 10 tools I use for business everyday and can't live without:

Siteground – I run my website on WordPress and originally started with a different hosting company (and had a ton of issues) until I switched to Siteground a couple of years ago. I've had no complaints since switching to Siteground and their customer service is always super helpful when I have questions!

Acuity – This tool makes it SUPER easy for my consulting clients to schedule appointments, complete questionnaires, and pay for their sessions all at the same time. I use Acuity’s “Emerging Entrepreneur” (basic) plan which is just $10/month (there’s a 14 day free trial if you want to give it a try)!

Google Apps – For professional looking email and other Google services like Google drive / calendar, I can't live without Google Apps! (P.S. you can get 20% off Google Apps with code 6GWWCDPAWYJAME or 3RL9DQJKNGH7DE when you sign up here!

ConvertKit – For email marketing, I'm obsessed with ConvertKit. I switched from MailChimp earlier this year and IMMEADIATELY saw an increase in open rates. Beyond that, ConvertKit's automation and segmentation capabilities are so much better. ConvertKit also has a number of different forms (example at the end of this post) and landing page templates (example here) that are really easy to set up if you aren't using a separate program / plugin to collect emails and deliver lead magnets.

Adobe Photoshop: I use Photoshop CC to create all of my blog graphics, to create content upgrades, to create email graphics, and to edit photos. It's only $10/month and I literally use it every single day!

Dropbox: I store all my files (SO MANY PHOTOS) via Dropbox so they don't take up space on my computers. This way they're easy to access, easy to share, and I never have to worry about my computer slowing down! Dropbox also makes it easy to share files between people, so it's great if you regularly work with a team or subcontractors. The basic version is free, but I upgraded to the pro plan (1 TB of storage) for $99/year or $9.99/month.

Asana  I switched to Asana (from Trello) for project management a couple of months ago and LOVE it. It's perfect for keeping projects organized and on track – plus the version I use is free! You can plan projects, assign tasks, set due dates and manage collaborations with ease!

Tailwind – For Pinterest scheduling / analytics, Tailwind is amazing. I love that you can schedule pins to multiple boards at the same time and the analytics are so helpful in determining which pins / boards are performing well (or not). I’ve seen a HUGE increase in referral traffic (and email subscribers!) from Pinterest since I started using Tailwind. Highly recommend – you can schedule up to 100 pins for free, plus get a free month when you sign up here!

BoardBooster – I actually use 2 tools for Pinterest – Tailwind is great for new pins / pinning to group boards, but I love BoardBooster‘s looping feature for recycling old content. I loop around 20 pins per day which saves a lot of time for just $10/month! Get 100 free pins when you sign up here!

SmarterQueue is great for scheduling Twitter + Facebook because it saves so much time. Instead of publishing your social media updates just once or having to reschedule them when you want to share again, SmarterQueue saves them in a library that you can build over time and automatically re-share. Read why I think SmarterQueue is the best social media scheduler for evergreen content in this blog post and get a 30 day free trial via this link!

I seriously use all 10 of these tools every. single. day. I'd recommend them all, but I'd love to know – what tools are essential to running your blog or business?

*These are the business and blogging tools that I actually use and recommend – so yes, some of them are affiliate links :)