Planning Your Year Ahead

calendar

In my last post I outlined how you could review this year and plan for the next, producing a list of actions designed to help you reach your targets. Today I want to outline a way to plan the year ahead and ensure you fit in all the actions you want to take.

To do this you are going to create a calendar for next year and use it to manage your activity and keep you on track.

If have a Google account you can use the calendar provided there. This has the advantage that if you have virtual partners in your business it’s easy to share the calendar with other Google accounts. If you work with others in the same physical location it may be best to buy a physical planner. This doesn’t rely on people remembering to login to a calendar and can be placed where everyone can refer to it. I prefer the ones mounted on single fold card that are easier to carry around.

Now although the calendar is based around your online business the first thing you should do is add the time you plan to use for yourself. Holidays, family events and so on. It’s important to put these in first otherwise they can get squeezed out of your year.

Next add networking events you plan to attend and any other events with fixed dates that you want to take part in.

Now add those activities that should be regular events, like blog posting, email marketing, tweeting, using Facebook, etc. Just make a note that these need to be done. Don’t add the topics or themes just yet.

Next you need to address how you are going to make money next year. Many people online seem to set up blogs, Facebook pages and so on and yet do not concentrate on having a means of making money. So, what are you going to sell or promote next year? When will you do this and how will you promote?

Having decided this you can add special events like product launches, special promotions, etc. If possible add any launches in which you intend to act as an affiliate.

Work out the steps in your marketing and put them on your calendar. Start with the deadlines like product launches and work backwards. This will show you when you’ll need to start your advertising campaigns, your affiliate recruitment and so on.

As you plan the campaigns remember to allow for delays. Building in some catch up days often produces a more realistic plan than one that assumes everything will proceed like clockwork. Also don’t plan beyond the first three to four months of the year in great detail. Circumstances and plans can change and overplanning can be a waste of time.

Now you can plan the themes of your blog, Facebook and Twitter content and how to time them so they work best for your marketing. You can even plan website updates and changes to your Facebook cover image. If you aim to have guest bloggers schedule them too so you know when to start approaching people to write for you.

If you want to plan your blog posts and have a WordPress blog you can go to Add plugins and search for ‘editorial calendar’. This is a free plugin and you can even try it out before installing it. Once installed you’ll find it under the Posts menu. The fact you have it installed should encourage you to plan ahead and have an overview of your blog posts.

Lastly remember to schedule reviews and use them to adjust your plan as you take action. I used to review my progress every 2 weeks but often tasks took longer than this and consequently the reviews became rather pointless and depressing as nothing had been completed. I could review monthly, but that produces only 12 reviews per year, which seems a bit sparse to me. I now review every three weeks, but you decide what works best for you. You can do larger reviews every 6 months or quarterly.

Once you’ve worked through these steps you should have an overall plan for next year and a good idea of what you need to do for the first couple of months. The calendar won’t guarantee you’ll achieve all your targets but if used correctly it will make your success more likely.

Was the above useful? Do you already use a calendar to plan your marketing or blogging? If so is there anything you do that you have found particularly useful? I’d be interested to read any comments or feedback on this topic.

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8 Comments

  1. Hi David,

    A very useful post with hands-on approach for the year ahead. I am going to take your tips and use them for myself. Although I believe that some things cannot possibly be foreseen, we can can plan routine tasks – making ourselves a promise, or a pledge to do them regularly. When we learn to do these regular tasks every so often, we become more disciplined and careful with how we spend our time.

    One thing I wanted to mention – you may want to look at adjusting the size of the font – it is very small, and some people may find it difficult to read or comment. But it is a minor adjustment. The main thing is that the content is great, well-written, practical and easy to implement. Great post! 🙂

    Best wishes,

    Galina

    1. Hi Galina, Thanks for your comments. I’ve increased the size of the font, but could only increase it slightly so it’s now at maximum. The theme is designed to be mobile friendly so I think that’s why the font is on the small side. Anyway, hope it’s easier to read now.

      All the best for 2013,

      David

  2. Hi David,

    I hope people will read this and take note.

    When you first start out online, as a complete newbie, you don’t realise the importance of planning. It’s a case of getting things done as you go along.

    But once you realise the tasks involved in wanting to run and build a successful business planning is a must.

    You’ve mentioned some great ideas here which should keep people on track throughout the year.

    Regards,
    Dean.

    1. Hi Dean,

      Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment.

      You’re right about most newbies not understanding the importance of planning. It also seems to be one of those things you can do too much or too little of and it’s difficult to get the balance right. I guess it’s one of those things you learn by experience.

      All the best for the New Year,

      David

  3. Hi David,

    I’d be the first to say that I agree 100% with your post and the whole concept of having a plan. If I were advising someone else on how to conduct their affairs, I’d be saying exactly the same.

    But do I do it?

    No way Jose. What a saddo. even though I know I should have a plan, I always consider that I have enough productive stuff that I know I need to do in my head, that to spend time writing a plan almost seems counter-productive.

    I will admit that I’m not expecting any supporters of this brilliant strategy David – lol, but while you have more to do than you have time for, it seems to work.

    Keep up the great work pal.

    All the best,
    Paul

    1. I hear what you’re saying about many not writing a plan. I’ve overlooked and forgotten things so often that, to me, a plan of some sort seems better than none. However I will admit to overplanning sometimes. As is so often the case, it’s a question of striking the right balance.

      David

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