Friday, January 13, 2017

5 Steps to Planning for Blogging Success

In the days leading up to New Year's, I reflected on the year gone by.  The last few months of the year had a lot of chaos and pain for me.  It made me feel like the whole year was awful.  I was relieved to see 2016 end and ring in a New Year.  Then I read a business article on Goal Planning For The New Year that changed my perspective.  (this post contains affiliate links)

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.

Goal Planning for Blogging Success
It's important to closely review and properly take stock of last year's accomplishments.
I flipped through my calendar, my blog posts, and last year's goals to really take stock of the year.  I was surprised to see that 2016 hadn't been a bust at all!  In fact, I had accomplished quite a bit both professionally and personally, and got through some tough challenges.

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!  

Along with many of my BlogPaws blogger friends I participated in the BlogPaws Boost Your Blog 10k Challenge.  It's a series of blogging challenges designed to help bloggers reach 10,000 blog page views per month - or to add another 10k blog views if their blog is already getting 10k views a month.  The goal was to reach 10,000 views per month by the BlogPaws Bloggers Conference in May, 2016.

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

Goal Setting for Bloggers; improve your photography
An inexpensive lighting kit dramatically improved my photography - no more DARK photos!
I have no doubt that the improvement in my photography had something to do with me being selected for two BlogPaws Ambassadorship campaigns.  An "ambassadorship" campaign is one where you grant exclusivity to a brand for a select period of time, such as 4 months.  During that time period you write several posts for the brand while agreeing not to accept campaigns for competing products.  This type of campaign pays a bit more due to the exclusivity aspect.  I feel very privileged to have been selected for both the Bravecto Flea and Tick Control (Merck Animal Health) #12Bravecto Ambassador Campaign AND the Natural Balance Pet Food #WeBelieveinNB Ambassador Campaign.  I love both of these brands and their products, and I loved working on these two campaigns!

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.

2017 Blogging Goal Planning

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 YEAR

Isn'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.

An organized work space is essential to planning & success
What a mess!  I can't believe how much stuff I have for the dogs!
After I pulled all their stuff out of boxes and bags I couldn't believe how many collars, leashes, apparel and other items I have for the dogs!   I'm ashamed to say a few items still had the tags on them.  What can I say, adorable pet products at PetSmart are simply irresistible!
Save 20% off Select Top Paw Collars, Leads & Harnesses at PetSmart.com!

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):

A neat, organized closet is essential
Voila!  An organized "dog closet"
I call this the "dog closet".  I hung up their costumes, coats & jackets.  I found this plastic organizer laying dormant in the basement, so I cleaned it up and pressed it into service.  I love when I can re-purpose something at no cost!  I put their sweaters in the bottom drawer, bandana's in the one above it and their collars and accessories in the top two drawers.  There's a top shelf in the closet which I use for my photo equipment, backdrops & such.  Now I can actually find everything!

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??

Organizing my office for 2017.
A neatly organized, cozy corner of my office.
I finally got my files and my bookshelf cleaned up with my most valuable dog books and dog magazines handy to inspire and educate me.   I keep some office supplies in the bottom drawer of the bookshelf too. When my eyes need a break from the computer screen, I can sit in the chair that's been in my family since the 1930's, and feed my head with ideas and information!

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.

5 Steps to Planning for Blogging Success
Phoebe is hard at work finalizing our 2017 Blogging Plans


3. GET INSPIRED TO BLOG 

We 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!

Get inspiration, help and support from a blogger's network like BlogPaws
Being part of a blogging community is inspiring and motivating!
My trip to Alaska and the Iditarod sled dog race definitely inspire me.  When I first got Icy, my Husky, I had done a lot of research on the Siberian Husky breed.  I learned about the Serum Run of 1925, where sled dog teams and their mushers rushed life saving serum to the town of Nome, Alaska. This is the event that inspired today's Iditarod Sled Dog race, which takes place every March in Alaska!  I am continually touched and inspired by that historical event.  I got the Iditarod 2016 poster you see in the above photo in Alaska last year.  They were giving them away at the starting line of the race, along with free selfie sticks!  I hung that poster up in my office so I can look at it as I work and feel inspired by Icy's breed, and by how incredible all dogs can be.

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 YEAR

Now 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.

It's mid-January and my Blog Post Editorial Calendar is coming along nicely, I have lots of interesting and informative blog posts to work on for the next few months!  Following these 5 Steps to Planning for Blogging Success has my 2017 Blogging Plan well underway!

Other Posts you might like:
If you want enhance your blogging & social media skills, the BlogPaws Conference is a Must!
Helpful Blogging Tips & Hacks 
More helpful Blogging Tips & Advice


LET'S GET SOCIAL! FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER, FACEBOOK, AND INSTAGRAM!

Do you have a plan for your blog in 2017?  Leave us a comment and share!  We LOVE hearing from you.



48 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, you had a GREAT year!!! Also, congrats on selling your house in old two days! My parents sold their house this year, too, and even though there was a lot of interest it took a little longer ;) Also, I totally have the same lighting set! :)

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    1. Thanks Rochelle, I guess it was a pretty good year after all! Getting the house sold fast was a true accomplishment. They key was for it to be Clean, Decluttered, and Pet free when folks came in to see it. We removed most of our belongings, including most of the furniture before listing it.

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  2. Congratulations on all of your successes. I loved your Iditarod coverage and of course, your move was very beneficial to me. Setting up an office made a huge difference to me. Good luck for 2017 ♥

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    1. Thanks Melissa, it's easy to lose sight of what you did accomplish when you're focusing so much on what you still have left to achieve. The Iditarod was such a special trip for us, I'd love to see it again. Moving across the country, especially w/ pets, isn't easy. We toiled a lot over moving out first & then selling the house or not. We opted to move me, the dogs, & most of our stuff out. John stayed behind to list the house. It was the right choice. Good Luck to you in 2017 as well, I know you'll have a wonderful year!

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  3. My plan is to keep up the best I can. And try to find a way of funding the work I put into it.

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    1. Yeah, all we can do is our best. I have a not so good habit of expecting too much of myself & comparing myself to others. It often leads to feeling bad. Funds are always a concern! Good luck in 2017.

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  4. Congratulations on a great year and some great successes. I would love to go to Iditarod one day, what an awesome experience. Well done on achieving your page views too - you put a lot of work not only into your blog but also the broader community, and you deserve every success. Wishing you all the best for 2017!

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    1. Aww, thank you so much for the kind words, Tracy, much appreciated! The Iditarod was so amazing, I just loved it. In fact Alaska was a great experience. I'd love to go again. It's a long road but I am working hard. Wishing you a great year as well!

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  5. Wow. Once again. Very thorough post and I particularly like your list of goals. The truth is .. there are very few 'hacks' to true success. Working at something over time is really the most likely route to achievement.

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    1. Thanks Sherri, I'm glad you enjoyed it! You're so right, working at it consistently over time is the key. It can be a long haul but I don't think short cuts glean lasting results. I want to be in it for the laugh haul! All the best to you in 2017.

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  6. Your organized office looks great! I need to create a better work space and go through Mr. N's closet. He also has a ton of stuff.

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    1. Thanks! It feels so much better to have it clean & organized, it makes a bit difference. I can just imagine what treasures you'll find in the depths of Mr. N's closet!

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  7. I would say that had many successes in 2016! I am not organized by nature, but my goal is to become more structured without feeling trapped.

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    1. In really taking stock of the year I did have some great successes. I was losing sight of that for awhile there. Organization and a plan are great but I agree it's important to have flexibility and freedoms that make you not feel trapped or pressured.

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  8. Great article and good luck back in NY. We say in Hebrew "Meshane Makom Meshane Mazal" which means change of place, change of luck so we hope 2017 will be a good year for you.
    On my to do list is to do more of the workshops that the small business bureau offers here in San Francisco for free and learn more.

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    1. Oh, thank you Ruth! I hope it will be a good year for too, for both of us. Small business workshops are a fabulous idea, what a great resource.

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  9. Oh what a post! First the Iditarod sled dog race is on MY bucket list - I want to know everything!! I cannot believe I haven't done this I reflected a little in a post I wrote and looked at analytics for the year but I need to go back and create goals for the year -- have you heard of the Epic Blog Planner? I bought this to help with planning so you have inspired me. Congrats on all your milestones!!!!!

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    1. Thanks Christy! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and got some inspiration from it, that's the greatest complement! The Iditarod was amazing! I have some tips I can share on making the trip if you like. Reach out to me when you have some time. I haven't heard of the Epic Blog Planner but it sounds like an interesting tool. Maybe you can blog about it after you've used it to set your goals for the year?

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  10. Congratulations on all of your successes! It is great that you boosted your views so much and got to be an ambassador for 2 different brands. You are really moving fast. :) I think what you are doing is great and your goals for the new year sound fantastic.
    -Purrs from your friends at www.PlayfulKitty.net

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Robin! It was a lot of work to get to that 10k and it's a lot of work to maintain it! I don't feel like I'm moving fast, I've been blogging for 3 years. It's a journey not a sprint, I have to keep telling myself that.

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  11. I'm also exploring affiliate marketing and starting to reach out to companies that I want to work with. I love that you've been inspired by business planning articles - a blog is a business. I must clean up my work area the way you did, it must make it so much easier for you to concentrate on writing posts!

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    1. Affiliate marketing is an interesting animal, so many nuances. I hope to get the hang of it this year and make something of it. I enjoy reading business articles in general, I was corporate for so many years it's habit. I love having a well organized work area, it really helps!

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  12. Those are amazing accomplishments and a great outlook to have. It sets you up for a successful year ahead!

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    1. Thanks, it's a process! I am looking forward to the year ahead, hoping to achieve the goals I've set for myself.

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  13. So great that there has been a year full of success!! What a beautiful experience - so very awesome on the work you've done!

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    1. Thank you Rebecca! I did have some good successes and great experiences in 2016. It's important not to lose sight of our accomplishments and progress over a year, it's so easy to overlook them. All the best to you in 2017!

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  14. You did so well. I hope you enjoy the video journey as much as we are. It is such fun - and we LOVE editing video best of all!!

    We join you aiming for BlogPaws campaigns - Good Luck.

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    1. Thanks Marjorie! The video journey will be an interesting one for sure. Editing video will be a big challenge, it's not something I've done before. The fun begins!

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  15. You should be really proud! Those are some huge accomplishments both personally and professionaly. Way to go!

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    1. Thank you Tonya, I really appreciate the kind words!

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  16. I enjoyed reading this. I, too, had a rough 2016, but your post helped me to reflect back on the previous year to see my successes. I have to adjust my goals this year because of an earlier than expected retirement.

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    1. How wonderful! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and that it was helpful. It's easy to lose sight of your successes when difficult things happen during the course of the year. I'm glad I took the time to reflect on everything I've done in the year. Good luck in your retirement, I'm excited for you!

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  17. Congratulation on reaching your view goal of 10k even if you were a little late. Thank you for the resourceful information this is of a great deal of help to me since i just started blogging last year

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    1. Thank you Malaika, better late than never, right! It was a lot of work to get to 10k & a lot of work to keep it up but I'm determined. I'm so glad you found the post helpful, you've done great for a first year blogger!

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  18. I think it's so important to celebrate the passed year's accomplishments when planning for the next. To many times we are so focused on the negatives and what we would like to change. Good luck!

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    1. Absolutely! I was doing just that, focusing on the negative aspects of the last quarter of 2016, losing sight of what I did accomplish all year long. It's so important to reflect on the prior year as you head into a new one. Thanks!

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  19. Congrats on all of your success! You're doing a great job. My plan is to get more organized and consistent. Good luck this year!

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    1. Thank you, I appreciate that! I'm glad I have clear goals and a plan laid out and an organized space to work in!

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  20. This post is brilliant. I need to set my goals for 2017

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    1. Thank you Kimberly, I'm so glad you liked it! Yes, it's definitely time to solidify your 2017 goals, good luck!

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  21. You are amazing. You are a Pawer Woman for a reason, and I believe you just outlined them here. You are true to self, the real deal, kind to others, and a community leader. I am grateful to know you and have no doubt you will soar in your 2017 goals!

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    1. OMG, you are so sweet to say that Carol! I really appreciate it. You've been an amazing role model for me and so many other bloggers. You are always so motivating, helpful and supportive to others, it's inspiring! Thank you for that.

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  22. Congratulation on a great year! This is a great post with good advice to put things in perspective. I admire your dedication.

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    1. Oh, thank you for that. I'm looking forward & onward!

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  23. I am completely in awe of your 14,000 page views AND that you plan posts 3-4 months out. I'm still trying to get to 10,000 views and am not off to a great start in 2017. And WOW, 3-4 months out is amazing. I'm kind of a last minute person. I do plan things out at the beginning of the month, but usually change along the way.

    Love your inspiration area with the cards and poster. I've been thinking about doing something like that, too. I share a workspace with my husband. His stuff is the right of the computer and mine is to the left. His is totally messy and mine is relatively neat. LOL!

    Happy 2017!

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    1. I would never think you were a last minute person, your blog posts are incredibly thoughtful and beautifully written! It looks so together, like you've got it all planned for an entire year! I share a workspace with my husband too, but I'm in it much more than he is so we don't get in each other's way too much. I have my section & he has his, LOL! I love having things around me that inspire me to work, I need that! All the best to you in 2017, you had an amazing 2016 winning TWO BlogPaws awards!! You are totally on your way to great things!

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  24. I love the idea of writing down your accomplishments of the year. It's so easy to fuss over all we did not acheive and forget what we actually did. I need to get organized and make a plan for my blog goals. I know what my goals are now, but I need to make deadlines for each step so I can be sure to achieve them. Thanks for the inspiration and tips. @RascalandRocco

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    1. So true, it's really important to acknowledge your successes from the prior year and not only focus on what you still have left to accomplish. I'm so glad I did that! Deadlines are great but don't be too hard on yourself, it's ok if they need to be pushed out some. Good luck Leah!

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