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.