Hello all! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and more importantly, a great 2011.
Now is typically the time at which you look back on your year and give some thought as to how things went. Did you exceed your expectations, or fail? Did you even have expectations, or were you just floating along aimlessly?
If 2011 didn’t live up to your expectations (or if you didn’t have any), now is the perfect time to make sure you don’t follow a similar path in 2012.
This Year Can Be A Game Changer
From a personal perspective, 2012 is going to be a big year. For the first time in my life, everything is subject to change. I can honestly say that I have no idea where I will be in a year from now, which is pretty exciting.
But getting excited about the possibilities alone won’t get me very far. I recognize that I need to set some hard targets if I want to progress. After all, my 2012 begins with just some savings in the bank, and a modest income from a couple of freelancing clients. I have got a long way to go.
Flexibility Is Key
For those of you who have been reading the blog since the very beginning, you may recall an article I wrote about setting goals, way back in June 2011. It is interesting to look back and reflect on it now. In June, my Endgame was to quit my job by 23rd May 2012. I have obviously beaten that by a huge margin, but it is interesting to note that the way in which I planned to do it was completely different to the actual way in which I did it.
And this highlights a key understanding that I will bear in mind moving forwards, despite my in-depth planning: best-laid plans can change – for better and for worse. With regards to my original Endgame of quitting my job, my plans certainly changed for the better, as I was able to achieve my goal in nearly half the time that I originally anticipated.
So whilst my plans will be detailed, I will always keep in mind the fact that they should be flexible to change.
Before we start, it best you understand the process that I go through in order to set my goals. So if you haven’t already, read this article: How To Succeed.
My New Endgame
At this point in time, I am not actually sure what I want from life. I certainly know what I don’t want, which is why I quit my job. But in terms of my work, where I should live, and how I should live, I am a little stuck.
So my Endgame is to discover what it is that I want from life. That may seem rather intangible, and it is, but there is no way getting around it. I hope to achieve my Endgame by the end of 2012, but I am not putting a great deal of pressure on myself with regards to this, as it is not something you can really force.
My (Not So New) Target
Although my Endgame may seem rather ethereal, there is a very tangible target that I know I need to hit in order to figure out what I want from life. That target is to grow an online income that is sufficient enough to support my existing quality of life.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will recognize this target, because it is the same one that I set back in June 2011. Whilst my Endgame has changed, the target remains the same.
Defining Actionable Goals
The next step is to figure out exactly how I will hit my target. I am going to be concentrating on a few different areas – some practical, and some more speculative. I will be setting S.M.A.R.T goals (which were first introduced to me by Pat Flynn). For those of you who don’t know, S.M.A.R.T goals should be:
All of the goals I set today will be for the first quarter of 2012 (i.e. I expect to have achieved them by March 31st). My aim is to take 2012 quarter by quarter. If I had a more solid idea of where I am going, I might expand upon this, but for the time being, I think that quarterly reviews will work best for me.
So let’s take a look at my goals for the first quarter of 2012.
This one is simple. In March 2012, I want to earn enough money from freelancing to match my outgoings, which are approximately £2,000 ($3,100).
I foresee this being a pretty tall order, but it is by far the most important short term goal, because having a negative net income is no good at all!
I intend to reach this goal in the old fashioned way – by looking high and low for new clients. I will trawl job boards and research alternative methods by which I can source high-quality clients. I will also seek advice from some of my new freelancing friends.
I currently have two authority sites – my child modeling site, and Deal With Anxiety. My goal for these sites (combined) is to earn a minimum gross income of £200 ($310) this quarter. This may not seem like a lot, but with good reason – once I am back from my holiday, I will only have 1 1/2 months to work on making this goal a reality. In terms of ranking in Google, that is not a great deal of time!
In more specific terms, I predict that my goal will require me to attract approximately 10,000 unique visitors (or 5,000 per site). This is assuming that by using an AdSense monetization model, each unique visitor will be worth approximately 1p. That estimate is drawn from the data I collected from my first authority site.
Knowing the amount of unique visitors I need to attract enables me to research and target the appropriate keywords. I will be targeting keywords that deliver a minimum of 10,000 visitors per month.
This is going to be a completely new endeavor for 2012. I will be launching multiple niche sites (i.e. sites of limited content that target low-competition keywords) over the coming weeks. My goals are to launch 20 sites, and earn a gross income of £100 ($155) this quarter.
The financial goal may seem very low, but anyone who has developed niche sites know that it takes time to develop an income, and I will only have 1 1/2 months in which to do so. So I am setting what I hope is a realistic goal, in a realistic timeframe. If things go well in this first quarter, I would like to think that my income in the second quarter of 2012 would be considerably higher.
Leaving Work Behind
Finally, my goal-setting wouldn’t be complete without a mention of this very blog, would it?
As regular readers will know, I am not currently monetizing the blog in any way, nor am I in any rush to do so. But I do eventually hope to earn an income from my efforts, and am steadily working towards that.
At this time, I am not sure as to what my monetization method will be. At the moment, my focus is on providing as much value as possible, without charging a penny for it. So I have no financial goals for the first quarter of 2012 – my goal is entirely traffic-oriented.
Over the last 28 days, traffic to this site has been just over 100 unique visitors per day, which as far as I am concerned, is nowhere near enough. My goal for the first quarter of 2012 is to be averaging at least 300 unique visitors per day in the last 14 days of March 2012.
I plan to reach this goal by writing epic shit, being published on other blogs via guest posts, and generally getting myself known and out there.
Edit: following on from Greg Ciotti’s advice in the comments section, I have decided to set an additional three goals for the blog, as follows:
- Subscribers: I currently have 344 newsletter subscribers – I want to have 1,000 by March 31st. You can subscribe to my newsletter and download my free keyword research and competition analysis eBook here.
- Facebook fans: to be honest, I have struggled with getting people to like my Facebook page, despite being pretty active over there. In approximately 3 months, I have attracted a grand total of 48 fans (pathetic, I know). I really believe in Facebook as a force for promoting your website and engaging with people, so I have set myself the rather ambitious target (relatively speaking) of attracting 300 fans by 31st March. To help me reach this goal, please head over to my page now and “like” me!
- Twitter followers: this is something that I have fared with better – at the time of writing, I have 583 Twitter followers. I plan to have 3,000 by 31st March. You can follow me on Twitter here.
So There Are My Plans For The Quarter – But What About The Month?
In terms of setting S.M.A.R.T goals, I am not stopping there. Although I have now successfully set myself some specific goals for the quarter, I will also be setting “micro-goals” for each month. These goals will be outlined (and subsequently reviewed) in each monthly income and expenditure report.
With my income and expenditure report for December just around the corner, I will be setting my micro-goals for January very shortly. I’d also like to get you involved in an experiment of sorts, so stay tuned!