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I can’t believe the holiday season is here. Do you feel behind? I feel behind. If your a workaholic like me, then you probably view this festive season as a great way to get your blog ready for the new year! It will be here before we know it, so I’ve been putting together a list of important tasks I want to be sure to do before 2015 rolls around. Yep, I made a checklist and checked it twice (come on, you walked right into that one). And because I want to be on Santa’s nice list this year, I’m going to share my little check list with you.
I’ve included a free download at the bottom of this post of a printable check list, but I want to expand on all those items- so be sure to read along as you’re checking off your list.
- Look through your past posts, check for dead links: Dead links can be really bad for SEO- not to mention it’s annoying for your readers. Either delete the old links if they’re not relevant anymore, or replace them with new ones. It’s a tedious task best saved for a day when you’re running low on creativity, but still want to be productive.
- Make sure your have a great email opt-in with a killer call to action: In my opinion, your email subscribers are more valuable to you than your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram followers combined. How do you get people to sign up? Well first of all- stop using the word newsletter. Who likes the news? (Well, actually I like the news, but I don’t get excited about the news.) What is something you can offer your readers that you know they will not be able to resist? Since I write about blogging, and my readers are writers, I created an e-book solving the most common problem us bloggers suffer from: Creative Blocks. For my email opt-in, I’m giving away a free excerpt of my e-book: “Write Gooder” 5 Weeks to Escape Your Creative Block. Not only does this grow my email list- it creates a group of people who are already interested in buying the book- and possibly other products I will create down the line. Beat that Twitter!
- Analyze your email opens, clicks, and conversions: Mailchimp makes this crazy easy. You can do all of our analysis right from your Mailchimp dashboard. What email subjects do your readers open most often? What types of links do your readers click on? For The Blog Loft, it’s all about community. So it’s no surprise that whenever I include a link to our forums, more people click. This information is steering my emails in the direction my readers want to go instead of just sending out whatever I think they want to hear about. The last thing you want to do is lose subscribers- so pay attention to the data and it will tell you what your readers really want from you.
- Find the post that brought you the most traffic, and create a posting plan around that topic: How can you expand on this blog post that earned you so much traffic? Why did your readers love it so much? Can you make an entire series, or maybe even an e-course around it?
- Identify where most of your blog’s overall traffic came from this year: Why is this important? Many reasons. It tells you where your readers are hanging out. It also tells you what other types of content your readers like. If your traffic mostly comes from social media, it can steer your entire social media strategy in a direction that will bring you even more traffic from social media. If most of your traffic comes from another blog or an online source, it could open up collaboration opportunities, and tell you what types of sites are likely to share your content. If you’re featured on a big site like Buzz Feed or The Huffington Post- you can use that to your advantage by telling the world. If you’re featured on a big site, that gives you instant credibility in your niche, and creates a buzz around you and your blog. So yeah, lots of reasons!
- Plan out your social media strategy- week by week: The end of the year, and the beginning of a new year is a great time to evaluate what you can do better on social media. Everyone’s pretty busy right now with holidays and family, but once the smoke clears, you want to be ready to hit social media hard. Plan out a strategy that you can follow week by week so that you’re on top of things, and nothing slips through the cracks (like my dreadful Google + account). There are so many channels to keep track of, you have to have a plan. I often drop of the face of the earth when it comes to Instagram and Google +. My plan for 2015 will be the only thing to keep me consistent. I highly recommend a social media calendar. I put off investing in one for as long as I could, but as The Blog Loft grows, I can’t spend all day on social media. I use Co-schedule, and it is ah-mazing. Co-schedule is a WordPress editorial calendar for social media, and blog posts. It works right from your WordPress dashboard after you sign up and install the plugin. I plan to write a whole post next week about how much I freaking love Co-schedule, but if you’re excited about checking it out now, just click here!
- Find a time tracking app to track your productivity: And use it every time you sit down to work. This is something I use in my design business, as well as my blog. Rescue Time is the most amazing productivity app I’ve found- because you actually install it on your computer. So it not only tracks the time I spend writing posts, or marketing, but it also tracks the time I spend making graphics, designing logos for clients, and it stops itself if I walk away from my computer. If I stop moving, the clock stops moving, so it’s by far the most accurate and easy to use time tracker I’ve found. The free version is all I’ve ever needed, but the premium version offers a lot of value too. This is another app I intend to do an entire write up on because I could not live without it!
- Create a set of specific goals for traffic, conversions, & posting schedules: That includes social media posting schedules too! You’ve analyzed your data, and now it’s time to make a plan that you can implement and use that data to your advantage! What good would the data be if you didn’t use it?
- Evaluate your blog’s branding, identify inconsistencies, and fix them: I’m in the process of this step right now. You’ll notice a new look to the post images around here that I think are more consistent with The Blog Loft brand. It can be as simple as making sure your images are watermarked, or as complex as creating a PSD for blog graphics that pertain to each category on your blog (which is what I did- it was a lot of work, but it looks so much better!)
- Re-evaluate & re-vamp product copy and calls to action: This is another one I’m in the middle of. Sometimes we leave our products up on our blogs for so long without looking at them. I get it- it is exhausting to create a product, write copy, make images, set up a plugin for receiving payments, and every other tedious little task we must do in order to make the product available. But you did all that work– don’t you want it to pay off?
When it comes to copywriting, you can hire a pro, or go it alone. One of my favorite copywriting pros, Ash Ambergie of The Middle Finger Project created an e-course for us regular folk who aren’t professional copywriters- but still want to, you know, sell products and make them look good. If you’re interested in learning how to DIY your site’s branding and copy- then I recommend checking out this course.
- Update your profile/head shots if needed: I’ve needed to do this all year, and just haven’t found the time yet. I hate being in front of the camera. I’m not insecure about my appearance, and I don’t think I’m ugly. But as soon as I step in front of a camera my facial muscles do weird things, and I forget how to make a normal face. I will not put this off any longer.
- Update your about page and make sure it includes a call to action: It’s important that your website has a flow. Take your readers where they want to go. Chances are, if someone is checking out your about page, they could be interested in contacting you or hearing more about your products. Make it easy for them to do that with a link or graphic that tells them where to go.
- Record your income/expenses for tax season: Wow I really ended that one with a bang. But it’s necessary and very very important to record your spending and do your taxes. Even if you don’t make an income with your blog, it’s not a bad idea to figure out just how much sweet moolah you’re spending on it!
Here’s hoping 2015 is your best blogging year yet! And if you just love the feeling of physically checking things off a to-do list, then I’ve got this list condensed into a one page black & white printable just for you.
If you could do me and your readers a tiny favor by sharing the tweet below, that would be lovely!
I will be taking a small blogging break from the 18th until the new year, so things will be a little quiet around here soon. I hope you all enjoy time with your families, and a very productive New Year. See you on the other side!