2016 Blog and Freelance Writing Goals
Setting Goals for 2016
My how a lot can change in a year! As I look back over my 2015 New Year’s Resolutions journal entry (yes, I keep a journal), I see a lot of naivety in my brainstorming and goals.
I account that naivety to a few reasons:
- I was still learning how blogging and freelance writing works, let alone how to make money doing it
- I was only 6 months into this journey as a writer-entrepreneur. The lack of a significant income still didn’t hurt.
- There wasn’t a third mouth to feed.
Thus, as I plot ahead, I admit that it is crunch time for me. The pressures of Mrs. G. going back to work, becoming a part-time stay-at-home Dad, and still not generating a significant income are mounting. I have to make my career as a writer-entrepreneur work or re-enter the corporate rat race, and we all know how well that’s worked out for me in the past…
My Goal Setting Method
I subscribe to the Warren Buffet model of goal setting (I mean, if it works for a billionaire…):
- Brainstorm 10 things you want to accomplish
- Rank order your list
- Toss all but the top three
Last year, I disagreed with step three. I felt that the list should be kept in case I accomplished one of my goals. I’d then be able to move onto number four.
While I still maintain that it is possible to accomplish goals prior to year-end, I don’t think the old list should be referenced. Why? Because priorities can change. For example, most of my top 10 from last year don’t apply to my goals today. Instead, I recommend brainstorming new goals.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I plan to use myself as an example and walk others through my goal setting process:
Brainstorm 10 Things I Want to Accomplish
Here’s my brain dump on possible goals for 2016:
- Get published in a nationally syndicated magazine
- Publish / self-publish a novel
- Make enough money to cover the mortgage and a full-time nanny
- Build a significant social media following
- A cicerone certification
- Start leading food / craft beer tours
- Speak at a bloggers conference
- Hit 10k in monthly traffic
- Start a podcast
- Launch a second blog on Southern travel
- Launch a food blog for Mrs. G.
As I prioritize these tasks, I’m blending my immediate needs with a long-term outlook. My immediate need is to bring in an income to help with the financial burdens at home. At the same time, I desire to build something with higher earning potential down the road.
Regular readers of my income report will recognize this trend. Freelance writing involves my constant direct effort. Creating a produce requires a direct effort now that will indirectly earn me income in the future at a potential higher reward rate.
Rank Order My List of Goals
In this example, I’m going to show you what didn’t make the cut and why:
- Get published in a nationally syndicated magazine – While this will earn me money, it’s more of an off-shoot of one of the final three.
- Build a significant social media following – Once again, this is more of an offshoot of one of the final three – a strategy.
- A cicerone certification – This will not earn me an income right now and will direct my long-term focus down a different path.
- Start leading food / craft beer tours – Maybe someday, but first I need an audience of customers.
- Speak at a bloggers conference – I need readers before someone will actually listen to me.
- Start a podcast – I like this idea, but it would erode from the blog.
- Launch a second blog on Southern travel – I haven’t made my first blog a success yet. Why start a second?
- Launch a food blog for Mrs. G. – I haven’t made my first blog a success yet. Why start a second?
My 2016 Goals
The above exercise left me with the following goals. Below, I’ve included not only the goals but a time period for achievement. Note that each goal is quantifiable. Quantifiable goals are necessary to measure success. These goals are in order of achievement.
Goal One – Make enough money as a writer-entrepreneur to cover the mortgage plus a fulltime childcare.
Because I have to contribute more to our family expenses than I have been….
I estimate our monthly mortgage payment and other associated costs (property tax escrow, etc), plus fulltime childcare, to be around $2,500. Of course, this is the post-tax amount I need. If I factor a 30% tax rate, I need to pull $3,500 a month.
I plan to accomplish this goal through a blend of freelance writing, sponsored posts, affiliate income, and course sales (stay tuned!).
Deadline – I need to be making $3,500 a month by October – Deacon’s first birthday. I believe that by age one, he needs more development direction than I’m qualified to give as a stay-at-home Dad.
Goal Two – Publish / Self-Publish a Novel.
This is complicated… I’m sitting on two completed novels that need major re-writes
- It’s Always Personal – A beast of a mafia novel that need lacks commercial appeal to publisher. Reviewers have said it would work in the self-publish space if I re-write it as a trilogy.
- What Lies at Home – A novel with more commercial appeal that should be ready to shop by now (but isn’t).
My plan is to finish and shop What Lies at Home by the end of February and then start re-writing It’s Always Personal. I also have an idea on how to turn What Lies at Home into a self-published series.
Deadline – End of 2016 because novel writing is time intensive.
Goal Three – Hit 10k a month in blog traffic.
Already, I’m receiving offers for sponsored posts at a rate that is growing rather exponentially and my average monthly page views is rather low at an average of 4,400 a month. Imagine if I doubled my traffic? What would influencer opportunities look like then? The blog would definitely aid in achieving my first goal.
Right now, I’m going through Pinch of Yum’s Food Blogger Pro for tips and strategies that cover everything from SEO to photography to social media. In addition to what I learn from Food Blogger Pro, I also plan to post more regularly and repurpose some old blog posts.
Deadline – This is rather aggressive, but I’m setting a deadline of July. Why? That will be the two-year anniversary of my departure from the workplace. If I can’t see a decent amount of traffic after two years of fulltime service, then it might be time to kill the blog.
The Big Challenge
Beyond creating my goals, I spent a lot of time dissecting each one and creating action plans for achievement. I believe that through bite-size chunks, each is achievable. My big challenge is how to balance what is more than a full-time job with being a part-time stay-at-home Dad.
As Audra Rogers wrote in a post on the Horkey Handbook, I have to learn to work in the margins – those times when I don’t have parent duty. For me, that will be:
- In the early morning when my wife can watch Baby G while she’s getting ready
- During morning naptime
- In the afternoon when he’s with the nanny
- At night after family time (I’m sacrificing TV for this, which I’m totally ok with).
This is going to involve a lot of coordination, communication, and discipline between Mrs. G and I. Quite frankly, we view this as a good thing. Now that we have the responsibility of shaping a young life, we could get better at all three.