For me, starting the new year is the most exciting time of the year! I love having a clean slate with a whole wide world of possibilities open in front of me. For my business, I can choose to continue on the path I am currently on – or I can choose to go a completely different direction. The option of rebranding and reinventing myself is not off-limits. Having choices as to which companies or collaborative projects I take on all get a closer look.
And since I LOVE to plan out things, getting a blank planner – and penciling it up (never ink, only pencil) is something I would do for FUN anyway. 🙂
Planning Your New Year
I get asked a lot HOW to plan out your editorial calendar and/or your new product lineups for the upcoming year ahead. I will break down my steps below to share them with you! Please note: I have a LOT of websites and projects. Yours may be MUCH simpler. Plus, my method is what works for me. If you have other categories you wish to incorporate, grab a different colored post it and go for it!
Let’s get started!
Supplies needed: A blank monthly planner and at least 5 different colors or sticky notes. And a pencil. Pen is way too permanent for me because I like to move things around throughout the year. Flexibility is a good thing!
Take your calendar and mark any important dates.
For example if you have a scheduled vacation day or you know your child has an appointment on a certain day. Parent teacher conference nights. Or it’s your anniversary. Mainly we are looking for pockets of time when you know for a fact you won’t be working on your business (beyond your regularly scheduled gig).
Next, grab your sticky notes and begin filling them out based on the following categories:
- Yellow: Your Assets – This includes any websites, social media accounts, your store, Newsletter subscribers, etc. Basically anything that can grow in fans, followers, or traffic.
- Purple: Your Products – Anything that you have for sale right now or in your possession and does not need to be created. Include anything that earns you money: affiliate programs, advertising revenue, sponsored posts, or others.
- Blue: Professional Development – This is my list of courses I have purchased or workshops I will be attending in the next year. If you have NOTHING in this category, you should really think hard about how serious your business means to you. If you never invest in bettering your skills, you won’t last the long term. Keep in mind: you don’t have to pay for training. There is a ton on Google and YouTube for free. You just have to take it upon yourself to look for it. If you want to save yourself time and effort in all that hunting, purchase a course from an expert and get started immediately. Pick any topic you wish to improve, such as copywriting, product creation, social media growth, relating to your audience, sales funnels, marketing, time management for bloggers, or anything else you desire to learn!
- Green: New Ideas and Projects not yet implemented – This is my “I would like to try that” list which I add to all year long. If your mind is always coming up with great new product or marketing ideas and you just want to do it all, you should always have an ongoing list in which you add those future suggestions. Mine is forever growing.
- Orange: Your 5 biggest dreams for the next 5 years which your business will help you obtain. I used star-shaped sticky notes for this one. Mine include things like bring able to give my daughter a college-grad gift of paying off her loans and buying a vacation property. They are things you may not believe you will get in the next year, but if your business really took off – you would be able to make those dreams a reality within 5 years for sure.
Next, I write a list of every recurring business expense I had in the last year. Include everything such as annual fees, newsletter provider services, clip art membership sites, social media tools, and more.
After that, on each purple product sticky note what percentage of the total amount it is of your total annual income in the last year.
For example, mine might look like this (it doesn’t for the record – this is an example):
TBTS Website Sales of courses: 15%
Organized Classroom Sales of Courses: 25%
Amazon Affiliates: 10%
Ultimate Bundles Promotions: 5%
Sponsored Posts/Promotions: 30%
I place all my sticky notes on a laminated surface or even a table by category so everything is laid out and I can easily move things around.
It’s time for me to start taking a good hard look at what is making me money – and what is not.
Do more of what is. Do less of what is not.
For example, if I see that 30% of my annual income is coming from sponsored posts, I will continue to seek out more of those opportunities and continue to increase my fee. I also notice that the Ultimate Bundles affiliate offers I promoted last year only brought in 5% of my total income. I will make a note to not continue promoting those any longer because I can put more time instead into promoting my own website sales products and earn a bigger return on that investment.
In addition to seeing what I should focus on for the next year, I look at what I am paying out in service fees for different items. I might drop my Tailwind or BoardBooster plan down because my Pinterest account is doing fairly well at this time. Or I know my MeetEdgar subscription is worth every penny because Facebook is my highest blog referrer. So I will let that one stand.
Each person will be different. But use the black and white numbers to decide what is best for your business when choosing what to cut and what to keep. Each year, I am able to whittle down my expenses and increase my earnings. That equals a successful business model. Of course, there are some things that are purchased because they will help your business grow at a faster rate. My ConvertKit account is more expensive than what I was paying at MailChimp – BUT I will continue with that payment because it meets my needs and allows me to have a life beyond my computer screen. That investment is worth it to me to have a professional service as opposed to one where I am missing some vital functions which would require more of my personal time to save a few pennies.
Now that you have a list of what you will (and won’t) be focusing on it the upcoming year, start adding those activities to your planner. Include any major promotions/sales, marketing events, and I even like to write down which days I plan on blogging.
Each sticky note either goes in the trash pile (if it is not continuing), a cancel pile, and a “write in your planner” pile. Once it is written in the planner, add it to the trash pile. Once the cancel pile has been taken care of, add those to the trash pile.
Make sure to add in time for continued education.
I save the Green sticky notes for last and then find a few projects of the bunch I am most excited about. Those I add to the plan. The rest are re-added to a new “Future Projects” list that is stapled to the inside cover of the planner.
Last up: My 5 Orange goal sticky notes go in the back cover where I will review them every day before beginning work.
It does take me at least a full day to brainstorm and collect all the data to plan out my year. BUT – once it’s done, I have a plan in place, with actual items I need to complete each day for the next year. I will never have to sit down and wonder what I should do next for my business.
Follow the plan and plan to follow it = success!
Happy creating and sharing,