What I learned my best year blogging (Spoiler: better blog planning)

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In the marketing and startup world, we have a motto: always be testing. Testing strategies, tactics, copy, workflows - anything that you can test and improve upon you should. Your brand is no different. Wifi wealth is real y'all, and the Internet is providing opportunities like never before. Sadly, many have failed to truly embrace the best adviser they will ever have in their business: their analytics. Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don't. Your website stats and business metrics tell you what's working, what to prioritize, and what needs some help. This is crucial for blog planning. Why are you focusing on promoting a product that doesn't really sell and only makes you a $2 profit, instead of building content to increase exposure for the offering that ultimately pays your bills? In 2015, I learned how to use data to help me make smarter decisions as a marketer, blogger, freelancer and entrepreneur. Taking a look at your Google Analytics, Wordpress statistics, or even just your social media metrics alone can make a world of a difference for you in the coming weeks, months, and years. 2015 taught me some important lessons that helped me earn more passive income than I ever had before, so I can still work full-time, travel, and have a life.

@@How to Have Your Best Year Blogging@@

Let your numbers tell you your priorities in blog planning.

There is an 80/20 rule in online business: 80% of your sales or traffic come from 20% of your content. If we are lucky, we strike gold with a handful of viral or search engine friendly posts and that carries us throughout our year. My most popular post year after year continues to be: How to Contact Recruiters During the Job Search. It is an old post, but one that still beats out most posts on any given day. Those are the kinds of posts I need to write more of. We get so fixated on putting out blog post after blog post, daily Periscopes and a trillion Instagram photos without truly measuring what drives traffic where. I could never publish another blog post, and I know that my traffic will be steady because of those few golden posts and social media sharing. I dive deeply into what metrics you should be looking at and creating a content plan so you can work smarter in 2016 in the Get Your Life masterclass, but I'll share some of the basics below.

Value is more important than consistency.

Conventional wisdom tells us that we need to blog on schedule that our audience can recognize. News flash: your audience is not sitting there waiting for you to drop your next blog post or podcast. They’re carrying on with their life. What we should take consistency to mean is: the cadence of our content. Committing to posting 2 amazing blog posts per month and promoting the heck out of it, is better than stressing yourself out to blog weekly when you really don't feel like it half of the time. Being successful in business really isn't about “consistency” at all. It's about delivering value. If you consistently deliver medicore content, you're doing all of us a disservice. If you sporadically deliver value, we are thankful for it.

@@Consistency keeps you top of mind, but value keeps you in business.@@

Regina (of ByRegina) posts about once a month give or take. Have you ever gotten an email from her about a new blog post and been like: “I can't believe she hasn't blogged every Tuesday this month!”? No. You’re just grateful she put out that life-saving, edge-snatching content in the first place. The last time she posted was November 19th, and I’m sure she’s still collecting those coins on the daily. Think of it like this. When an artist first starts out, they need to tour, consistently release new songs, be active on social media, and do everything necessary to build their buzz and brand recognition. When you’re Beyonce, you can drop a secret album in the middle of the night, collect your checks and go back to breastfeeding Blue Ivy in a matter of hours. I don’t know about you, but I rather be Beyonce.

Now if you're a full-time blogger and writing posts is just thrilling to you, then by all means do your thing. But, for us side hustlers, parents and those who need to find the time to both promote the business and work the business, your analytics are crucial in helping you prioritize. When you take a look at your analytics, identify the best content that you have produced and the content that you need to produce to reach your monetary goals or brand milestones. 100K views on your blog is excellent, but $0 is sales isn’t. Traffic means nothing is if you don't have a plan to monetize.

blog planning class, tips and tools

I can really sit here and talk about metrics and how they relate to your content planning and goal-setting for hours. I know this because that’s exactly what happened in my #TBMClass on blog planning for 2016. I had to become a mathematician right quick and break down real numbers, my own 2016 goals, and the tools that I use to make it all happen. If you want to open your eyes to what really matters for your blog and business and how to set the right kind of goals, you need to go grab that before the year takes off and you are sitting here on New Year's Eve broke and sad. I'm just saying.

Know who you are talking to.

Similar to using your numbers to prioritize when blog planing, your analytics also help you serve your audience better. My blog was started to help college students and recent graduates build their personal brands so they could find jobs during the recession. That was 5 years ago. If I never took a look at my analytics, I would probably believe this was still my audience and write articles about internships and your first job. But I did consistently monitor my analytics, and my audience across channels are ages 25-34 - not college students. You may set out to do something great with your website or business, but you have to know who you serve in order to market to them and be successful. You have to make decisions based on the information you have in front of you. If you’ve been trying to sell products or classes with no real strategy around how you create content then, I’m really not sure what you have been doing. You need to let your analytics make you a better blogger, just like feedback makes you a better employee, dancer, athlete, person etc.

Get your tools together.

I just got the cash money to hire a project manager for 2016 because so much goes on with The Branding Muse that I need help keeping it all together. However, before I had finally learned how to make a passive income to even afford her, I relied a lot on tools to help me work smarter and faster. Many of these tools I use on a daily basis and the ones that aren't free, are totally worth the investment.

Coschedule is the holy grail for increasing your traffic and driving social media promotion. It will save you hours and hours, help you write better headlines, manage your content calendar and a ton more.

Latergram.me schedules your Instagram posts so you don't have to remember to post every graphic and caption.

Quill Engage makes your Google Analytics understandable in pure English. No need to look at charts and a trillion tables to do so. Each week, you are emailed a report you can easily read and understand.

Instagram photography is a Instagram game changer. You see the graphic below? All created on my computer. No need to have a ton of props, the right lighting, or a good camera. Just a computer, Photoshop or Pixlr, which is free.  Here are my handpicked mockups that every business owner and blogger needs.

So, those were just 4 of the many gems that help me create content that matters and more importantly, sells. There's no way I can fit it all into a post. In the Beginner Branding Bundle, I go into more strategies and tools, plus you'll leave with your content planned for at least 3 months. See you there?

blog planning class, tips and tools