But, this doesn’t mean beating yourself up. Setting unrealistic goals is one, particularly nasty, way to beat yourself up.
These unrealistic goals often look good on the surface but are doomed to fail.
For example, “I want my new blog to average 10 comments per post during its first month”
Sounds good right? The problem is that 2 out of 100 people usually comment on a blog post. During that first month, a blog may only get 10 views per blog post! This means that the blogger is setting themselves up for failure from the start.
Here’s another one: “I want to gross at least $1,000 per month in advertising revenue by the end of my first year."
This common goal is built on the advertising model. This model depends on getting large amounts of traffic to your blog. Most young blogs can’t attract enough readers to reliably earn this type of advertising revenue.
Here’s the math: Assume you can sell your advertising for a $10 CPM (Cost per thousand impressions). For a blog, impressions usually equals pageviews. In this case, you would need 100,000 pageviews every month to earn $1,000. Even the most gung-ho professional blogger would tell you that this is an aggressive (read unrealistic) goal.
In my experience, bad goals are set when a blogger doesn’t understand their blog’s lifecycle. Often this misunderstanding motivates the blogger to set the wrong goals too early or the right goals too late.
Here’s what I mean...
The Blog Goal Lifecycle:
Many blogs can be categorized into one of three categories, Start-up, Pre-Surge, and Surge. A blog's daily reader traffic is a key factor for determining their lifecycle stage. Each of these categories have specific challenges that require specific goals to focus their strategy.
Blogs with less than 500 visitors a day have unique challenges that requires specific types of goals. These blog’s don’t have enough readers to power engagement goals such as comments and social shares (retweets, likes, Linkedin Shares). These bloggers can beat themselves up looking for comments but their blog hasn’t reached critical mass to achieve these type of goals.
The Start-up Blog should focus on targeted content production. Targeted content is crafted to be extremely helpful to readers searching for a specific subject. Smart bloggers use search engine keyword research to find topic opportunities (lots of searches with very little quality content).
The Start-up Blog uses targeted content production to create a warehouse of tightly themed blog posts that attract a growing number of readers from the search engines. The Start-Up blogger also sets an aggressive blog publishing tempo to rapidly fill their blog with targeted content - increasing their ability to generate traffic.
These blogs usually have between 500-1,000 visitors per day. Pre-Surge blogs have enough traffic to start generating a fair amount of engagement. A peek at their Google Analytics reports shows that they are attracting search engine visitors by the bushel accounting for the majority of their traffic.
Their growing warehouse of content generates spikes of traffic from influencers who appreciate the blog’s tight focus and quality content.
At this point, Pre-Surge Bloggers should concentrate on building their blog’s business model. Specifically, the blogger should find a product to promote. Smart goals include:
- Expert Product creation goals: “I will create a special report, ebook, or email course every month”
- Conversion Goals: “Achieve and maintain a 1% sales conversion rate from my email list”
- Indirect Blog Sales: “Blog posts will be responsible for 15% of landing page traffic and 5% of landing page sales”
Surge blogs have achieved a critical mass of new readers and repeat visitors to generate sustainable sales, leads, and/or “attention”. These blogs are attracting guest posts, joint venture partner proposals, and are routinely cited as being a leader in a niche.
These bloggers focus on creating a sustainable business around their readers. Surge Blog owners look for repeatable processes that can scale their traffic, engagement, and scale.
For example, Copyblogger built a suite of services tailor-made for small business bloggers. Social Media Examiner uses its blog to promote seminars, offer advertising, and create a social community with branded forums.
Surge blogger goals more like high-growth start-up metrics. They want to lower their cost per sale. They use content marketing to increase their perceived value so that they can charge premium prices for products. They increase the lifetime value of their readers by enrolling them in monthly subscription forums and clubs.
Re-Adjust Your Goals Now
I could write another thousand words on this subject. I don’t want to overwhelm you, instead I want you to get realistic about your blog. Don’t kill yourself using Pre-Surge goals when your blog is one-week old. Set the right goals for the right time.
Let’s talk about this - where is your blog in the Blog Goal Lifecycle? What goals are you focusing on?
P.S. I can help you with setting the right goals and growth path for your blog. It’s custom designed specifically for you.