The article talked about the importance of reviewing your accomplishments from the prior year, acknowledging and celebrating them. It reminded me not to judge the success of an entire year by a few lousy months. It's important to look at the year in full and accurately assess your progress. So that's what I did.
|It's important to closely review and properly take stock of last year's accomplishments.|
It's easy to forget what you've accomplished through an entire year if you focus only on what you didn't accomplish and what the next thing is. You can quickly lose sight of what you actually have accomplished in 12 months. This energized me to take on the New Year, and my 5 Step 2017 Blogging Plan began to take shape.
1. ASSESS LAST YEAR'S PROGRESS AND CELEBRATE ACCOMPLISHMENTS
I started by taking the time to really assess the results of my blogging efforts last year. I identified my accomplishments and CELEBRATED THEM! I literally wrote them out and reviewed each one, absorbing what I had accomplished. I didn't let my mind jump to everything I still have left to accomplish or where I may not have achieved the success I hoped for. This exercise surprised me. If you perform this exercise for yourself, it might surprise you too!
My 2016 accomplishments:> On a personal level, we moved! We had been living in Phoenix, AZ for over 9 years and were aching to get back to friends and family in New York. This was a huge step for us, and the dogs! There are many challenges to moving clear across the country with two dogs.
We had to pack up, sell some furniture and other stuff, and coordinate a cross country move with two dogs in tow. Our house sold in just 2 days and we were off - Success! I blogged about the challenges of moving with dogs, and provided some Tips For Moving With Pets.
> For the last few years, going to Alaska for the Iditarod sled dog race was at the top of my Bucket List. Just when I was beginning to think we'd never get there, in March of 2016, we finally made it! It was one of those trips of a lifetime. We were there at the start of the Iditarod sled dog race and got to see those amazing canine athletes do what they do best - RUN!!
We also went on a glacier boat tour through beautiful Blackstone Bay. We were lucky enough to actually see a glacier calving! Calving is when a chunk of a glacier breaks off and falls into the ocean. As the glacier begins to break, you hear what sounds like booming loud thunder!
Alaska was an incredible experience, one I'll never forget.
|Blackstone Bay in Alaska|
OK, enough about personal stuff, let's get to the blogging accomplishments!
I completed the challenges but fell short of the 10k monthly blog views by the time the conference rolled around. However, I hit 14,000 blog views per month by the end of 2016! I was so bummed at having not made the 10k when I wanted to, I neglected to celebrate the fact that I did achieve my goal by the end of 2016, so I'm celebrating it now!
> Another goal I had for 2016 was to significantly improve my photography skills by working on lighting issues and learning how to overlay text, and watermark photos. Well what do you know, I accomplished my Photography goals! My biggest challenge was that indoor photos I shot for my blog often came out so dark and shadowy they were unusable. It was so frustrating, dark photos were the bane of my existence!
Included in the Blog 10k Challenge is a section on improving your photography. This challenge made all the difference for me. Aimee Beltran, BlogPaws executive team member and author of the blog Irresistible Pets recommended a simple Lighting Kit by Limostudio (LMS103) for just $52 on Amazon. This quality lighting kit is a great value. It was the best photography investment I could have made!
CLICK ON THIS LINK TO SEE THE LIMOSTUDIO LMS103 LIGHT SET ON AMAZON (Affiliate Link):
Photography Lighting Accessories
|An inexpensive lighting kit dramatically improved my photography - no more DARK photos!|
> Overall, earnings from my blog almost doubled from last year. I'm glad I made more money but not nearly as much as I hoped. 2016 was filled with learnings and improving my blogging and social media skills. In 2017 I'll be more focused on the revenue aspect of my blog.
> Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them sponsored an event for the first time in 2016! I even created a small swag bag giveaway item for attendees, which I've never done before. The event was the #WIGGLEBUTTSUNCORKED GALA FUNDRAISER hosted, along with her spouse, by the incomparable Carol Bryant of the dog blog Fidose of Reality. The funds raised at this gala went to the very worthy non-profit organization, NYC Second Chance Rescue. Being a Wigglebuttsuncorked sponsor was a great experience for me.
The swag bag item I created was this two sided card that lists monthly pet celebrations and awareness. BONUS: I had ordered enough cards to give out to brands I have worked with or would like to work with at the 2016 BlogPaws Pet Bloggers Conference!
Those were my most significant Blogging Accomplishments from 2016. After reviewing and celebrating these accomplishments, it's on to preparing for blogging success in 2017!
2. GET ORGANIZED FOR THE NEW YEARIsn't this always at the top of your list for the New Year? It's always on mine, but after packing up an entire house and moving across the country, this was an enormous undertaking! I couldn't find anything for weeks on end, despite the fact that I was diligent about labeling every box we packed.
I sorted through my home essentials and got those put away months ago. However, my blog files and blogging paraphernalia were a mess. It made sticking to my blogging plan difficult! I'm used to a very organized work space. The dogs' belongings were stuffed in various bags & boxes and I spent too much time searching for things. I had only kept their daily essentials handy so I had to continually sift through all their things to find what I needed.
|What a mess! I can't believe how much stuff I have for the dogs!|
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Having a clean and workable space is critical for planning and success. These last few months of digging through everything to find my blogging files, dogs' belongings, and photo props and supplies were so frustrating! I spent two days sorting through all of it, getting my space and supplies organized. After sorting through the mess of dog's things, it translated to this neat, organized closet in the office (Cue the heavenly sounding music):
|Voila! An organized "dog closet"|
I poured over my blogging files and papers and got them sorted into workable files and stored away. I organized my files into 3 sections:
1. Notes from BlogPaws conferences and other meetings & presentations
2. Collection of Campaign Summaries from blog campaigns I've worked on
3. Folder of clippings from my idea notepad. I always carry it with me, you never know when an inspirational event, conversation, or random thought will spark ideas for blog posts. I capture these for later review to see which ones I may be inspired to work into blog posts and add to my blog editorial calendar. I also collect clippings of articles from bloggers I'd like to connect with. I want to connect not only with other pet bloggers but with travel bloggers and mommy bloggers as well. I write a lot about traveling with pets, so I love connecting with travel bloggers. My Therapy Dog and I work a lot with kids who have trouble reading, so I like connecting with mommy bloggers. It's a good way to expand my audience beyond just pet bloggers.
After I reviewed, culled and organized blogging items I can now access and utilize them. I got rid of so much! It's amazing how much crap you hang on to "just in case". Am I right??
|A neatly organized, cozy corner of my office.|
I went through all the stuff that had begun to pile up on my desk as well. The mess was driving me crazy. I cleared it off and put everything in it's proper place. It's important to have a clean space in which to think clearly and write! Now the trick is not to allow myself to lapse into using the desk as a storage surface, letting stuff pile up on it again.
|Phoebe is hard at work finalizing our 2017 Blogging Plans|
3. GET INSPIRED TO BLOGWe all need a little inspiration. Aside from my dogs who inspire me to no end, one of the things that inspires me most is being part of the BlogPaws blogging community. I've made a lot of friends, learned a ton, and gotten so much love and support from this community! We help, support, and inspire each other to be the best bloggers we can be. In this photo are some of the holiday cards I received this year from fellow BlogPaws bloggers. I hung them up next to my desk so I can be reminded every day that I have wonderful blogger friends who are always there for me!
|Being part of a blogging community is inspiring and motivating!|
Another thing that inspires me tremendously is the Therapy Dog work I do with Icy. Seeing her in action blows me away every time. She can melt even the most troubled heart. We participate in children's reading programs, stress buster events at schools, and other events. This year we had the opportunity to participate in some programs we hadn't been involved in before. We visited a local homeless shelter, and visited adults with mental health challenges and disabilities in our community. Icy was wonderful with everyone, I'm always so inspired by her.
4. SET MY BLOGGING GOALS FOR THE NEW YEARNow that I've reflected on last year, gotten organized and I'm feeling inspired, it's time to nail down my blogging goals for 2017. Goals should be ambitious but realistic. As I started to formulate my blogging goals for the new year, the list kept growing. It soon reached a length I knew was unrealistic. Setting unrealistic goals can be overwhelming and demotivating, so I narrowed it down to 5 Specific Blogging Goals for 2017 that were Realistic and Achievable. As I achieve these goals I can add others but I'll stay motivated if I focus on a smaller number of goals at one time.
MY 5 BLOGGING GOALS FOR 2017
1. Attend 2 pet industry events.
I've decided to attend the BlogPaws conference in May and Barkworld in October. Depending on my budget, I may add Global Pet Expo in March as well IF I can swing it.
2. Work with Affiliates.
Towards the end of 2016 I dipped my toe into Affiliate Marketing. I signed on with just one company to see how it works. By January I signed on as an Affiliate Partner with 3 more companies. Learning how to best work with affiliates and how to be successful with affiliate ads is high on my list for 2017. I'm excited to explore this new revenue potential!
3. Get at least 10 campaigns for my blog
This may seem super obvious, of course I want to work on more campaigns! However, this goal is around negotiating campaigns myself and through new networks. Specifically, campaigns in addition to those I may be selected for in the BlogPaws network. I need to expand my sources for campaigns!
4. Improve my video skills and publish 5-10 new videos.
This is a biggie. 2016 was the year I significantly improved my photography skills. In 2017 I'll continue to build on my photography skills while focusing on my video skills. My video skills need a lot of help!
Some experts were saying that 2016 was going to be the year of Video Marketing. We definitely saw a big increase in online video last year, but it hadn't taken over. However, 2017 is proving to be the year Online Video Marketing really dominates, especially on social media channels. Hubspot.com reported that 55% of people watch videos daily (OMG I'm one of them!). They also stated that "by 2017 online video will account for 74% of all web traffic" WOW! So you see why improving my video skills is a key goal for 2017!
5. Grow my social media channels, especially Facebook.
I've outlined each of my social media channels and what I want my numbers to be on each channel by the end of 2017. Lofty goals for sure but I'll do my best! I plan to accomplish this by allotting a specified amount of time each day to work on the social media channel I want to grow. I've decided 20 minutes per day per channel is a good chunk of time for me to spend solely on growing each channel. I've worked out which days I'll work on each channel. This will consist of not just posting, but sharing other peoples' content more and engaging with people on each channel. I need to do more of that.
I'll measure the progress on my goals every 3 months to maintain focus on them. Setting goals and not measuring your progress is a waste of time. The end of the year will come and you'll have gotten totally off track. I'm going to maintain focus on my goals and their progress so I can succeed!
5. GET BLOGGING!
Now it's time to Just Do It as they say ! I'm keeping my 5 goals top of mind as I plan my Blog Post Editorial Calendar. I brainstorm ideas all the time, there are ideas and inspiration all around me. I just need to capture them and create content that tells my individual stories.
I schedule most of my posts for 3 or 4 months out. I don't like to plan posts for the entire year in advance, opportunities and ideas crop up all the time so I like to be open and flexible. I do, however, schedule seasonal blog posts and some pet related celebration/awareness posts further out.
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Do you have a plan for your blog in 2017? Leave us a comment and share! We LOVE hearing from you.