Happy New Year. I trust you used yesterday to adjust to the change in calendar and the start of another work week. My thoughts in early January tend to be focused on the year to come and what I’d like to accomplish.
Last week it was still 2016 and I took a look back at the goals I set a year ago. I reviewed what turned out to be a lack of success in completing my stated goals, but a year in which I did complete the one goal that was most important to me. As you can no doubt guess, today I’d like to look ahead and share my goals for 2017.
If you’re interested in the goals I’ve set in the past you can look through any of my previous goal setting posts.
- My Goals for 2016 — Reworking My Business Model
- My 2015 Goals—In the Middle Of A Transition
- My 2014 Goals — A Continuation Of Journey Started In 2013
- What I Want To Achieve In 2013
- My Goals for 2012
- The Year To Come: Looking Ahead To 2011
- Do You Have Goals For Your Business? (2010) Part II
- Looking Back At 2008 And Ahead To 2009 – Part II
- Looking Ahead In 2008
If you want to see how many goals I complete in previous years you can have a look at the list of goal review posts I added to last week’s post.
Thoughts and Goals for 2017
If I sum up my goals for the coming year with a single word, that word would be assets. If I could use two words I’d go with creative assets. For the last couple of years I’ve been transitioning my business from someone who sold web design and development services I provided to someone who sells digital products I create.
One way to succeed with this type of business comes down to a numbers game. Having more to sell typically increases your total revenue. It’s kind of obvious, but it does require that I write a lot more books than I’ve written.
I currently sell a book about Design Fundamentals here on the site and a book about CSS Animation through Adobe Press. I need to sell more books than those two if I expect to earn a decent living.
Two other important words for this year are time and priority. Time, because I’m sure I’ll want to do more than time will allow and priority because I’ll need to use my time as best as I can.
With that said, here are my goals for 2017.
- Publish More Books
- Make Use of Content Audit
- Site Improvements
- Make a Decision
- Launch Site
- Publish Regularly
- Continue Writing Fiction
As I did last year, I organized my goals under my three domains, though I dropped the general category this year. I have seven goals in total, which means the math won’t be as nice and neat when I grade myself at the end of the year.
Keep in mind this year I need to focus on creating more assets and everything I do is meant to contribute to that one overarching goal.
My goals for this site are mostly the same as they were last year. That’s a result of having not finished any of them in 2016. Too bad I didn’t list procrastinate as a goal last year. I’d have nailed it.
Publish More Books
This is an absolute must this year. When I stopped offering design and development services last January I removed a significant source of my income. At the moment, I sell a book here on the site and I run a single AdSense ad. Neither is leading to an early retirement and so I need to do more to bring in revenue. At the very least I need the return to justify the effort.
While I didn’t publish any new books last year or the year before, I kind of, sort of, wrote a few. When you string together the posts of many of the series I’ve published here, they’re certainly of book length. I want to take several of those series and treat them as drafts for books, which I can edit and polish throughout the year. I also want rewrite the first section of my book Design Fundamentals and publish a 2nd edition.
One of the things I realized last year was whenever I couldn’t find time for a project, it was usually because my time was needed to write something for this site. The weeks in between series helped somewhat, but not enough to free me up for the things that would bring in revenue. I need to find a better balance between the effort and the reward.
I’m not entirely sure what that means. Perhaps a tweak or two to my writing rhythm will be enough. Maybe I’ll need to leave two weeks between the end of one series and the start of another. It’s possible I’ll need a longer break at some point in the year. I really don’t know, but I know I need to find a better balance.
Make Use of the Content Audit
One of my goals lat year was to perform a content audit of this site. This year I need to use that audit to help make a few decisions, like what can turn into a book. More generally I want to think about how I can best use what I’ve already written.
Some of what’s here has, no doubt, outlived whatever usefulness it may have had. Some probably needs to be updated. I need to think through how content helps my business and then figure out how to make each piece contribute to the whole.
As I said, I do have to find a healthy balance between the time and effort that goes into the site and the return that comes back out of it. I think seeing all the content together will help me understand how I can best use it.
Ideally I’d like this site to act as a sales force. I want to contribute a realistic amount of new content and have the site work as a sales funnel leading those interested toward the information they’d like to purchase.
The point of the content audit was to help me figure out how what I’ve already written can help make this happen. The audit is finished and now it’s time to use it for other things.
Some of those other things include improving the site. I’ll list a few site improvements (you may recognize them from last year’s list), but in all honesty I’m not sure how I’ll want to improve the site. A lot will depend on what I find and think about when I look over the content audit spreadsheet.
- Remove Forum—I decided last year to remove the ghost town I created a few years back when I set up a forum on this site. I think for now it’s best to remove it and it’s something I’ll like do within the next couple of weeks.
- Improve Books Section—Assuming I do have new books to publish, I’ll need a place to tell you about them and that means reworking the Book section of this site to be a section for multiple books and not one lone book.
- Improve Archives Page—If you’ve followed my previous goal setting posts, you’re probably sick of me listing this as a goal. I don’t blame you. I’m sick of listing it too. When I look over the audit I want to think about better ways to organize everything that’s here.
- Improve Navigation—Any reorganization of content will likely mean some tweaks to the navigation. I don’t know that I’ll need to change much and it’s possible I won’t need to change the navigation at all, but I’m guessing I’ll want to make a few tweaks at the least.
Again, I’ll let the audit lead the way with improvements to the site, but odds are I’ll want to work on these four things. Hopefully I’ll be removing the forum this week or next.
Speaking of forums, I need to decide what to do with my small business forum. That’s the decision I need to make. I run a couple of AdSense ads and occasionally sell a banner ad for revenue. Neither amounts to all that much money. They help my pay server costs and other expenses associated with running multiple sites, but that’s about it.
I don’t spend as much time participating in discussions as I used to, but I do spend a significant amount of time maintaining and moderating the site. The forum used to benefit me by being a good source of leads for my design and development business, but now that I’ve stopped taking on clients the benefit no longer exists. I have to decide if this forum fits into my overall business plans and if so, how?
In 2017 my only goal for this site is to decide whether to keep it or let someone else take over. I have to weigh my commitment to the site against the amount of money I think I can earn with it and decide if it’s worth it to me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this forum the last few months and I’ve gone back and forth with what I want to do. Some days I’m content to just leave it as it is. It does bring in a little money each month after all.
Other days I wonder if the better option for the forum and for me is to let someone else take it over. I need to decide if I’m committed to seeing the site thrive or if someone else with more interest in it than me is the right person to lead it.
My gut is telling me it’s probably time to pass the torch, but fear of not having any money makes me want to hang on to what is an asset for me. The question is am I better hanging on to this asset or will letting it go allow me to use my time to create more valuable assets.
This domain is my top priority. My long term goal is write and sell stories and that’s what this site is ultimately for. Last year my major goal was to develop a new writing rhythm and while I didn’t mention it at the time, a large part of the new rhythm was about writing fiction. It also included sending out a newsletter every few weeks. This year I want to build on what I started in 2016.
I wanted to launch this site last year, but I didn’t think I’d be able to publish to the site regularly. This year I want to give it a shot. I mentioned last week that I’m mostly finished with a design and I built a prototype.
I need to schedule a few blocks of time so I can make the finishing tweaks to the design and then set aside more time to develop a WordPress theme. I may also investigate other content management systems or develop the site from scratch.
I also need to write the usual site pages and I’d like to have at least a few weeks of content written in advance.
It doesn’t make sense to launch the site unless I can commit to writing regularly. I think I can realistically publish something every other week once the site is live.
That will be in addition to continuing to send a newsletter every few weeks. Writing the newsletter last year helped me figure out what I want to publish on the site and how the newsletter will change when I am writing for the site.
Ultimately this site is meant to be a pace where I can talk about all things related to being creative and to a lesser extent, being productive. In time I hope to share stories I write and photographs I make. Assuming I meet this goal in 2017, posting more stories and photographs might be goals for 2018.
Continue Writing Fiction
Last year I wrote a couple of short stories and then I started working on a novel. I finished a first draft and I’m about to analyze it so I can rewrite and hopefully improve it.
I started a fiction writing process based on the one I use to write non-fiction. I’ve talked about it a few times in the past, but it basically involves a series of steps.
- Generate ideas
- Plan and Outline
- Write a draft
- Edit the draft
- Add a final polish
The writing and editing steps can repeat multiple times and I find they repeat more often when writing fiction than non-fiction. It means tweaking my process a little. Instead of taking one piece of non-fiction through every step before moving on to the next piece, with fiction there can be longer gaps of time between steps.
For me that means working on multiple stories at the same time. While waiting to edit a draft of one story, I might write or plan another. Other times I might spend a week looking through ideas and see where they could lead as I slowly build an outline for a potential story.
My goal is to build on what I did last year and improve my fiction writing process so I can write more efficiently.
I’m not quite sure what to expect from 2017. I have a few decisions to make about what my business should look like when I set goals for 2018 and I imagine I’ll do a lot of thinking over the next month or two and then refine my thoughts throughout the year. You can probably tell my focus is shifting from year’s past.
I want this year to be focussed mainly on creating more assets, specifically books, which I want to offer for sale both here and through the usual online stores like Amazon and iBooks.
From what I’ve learned a certain amount of success when it comes to writing books is simply a numbers game. More books typically means more sales and I think the best step I can take is to offer as many books as I can as soon as I can. Toward that end I want to find a way to make use of what I’ve written over the last dozen or so years while also writing new things this year.
How about you? Do you set goals for the year? Do you review your goals at the end of the year? You can tell I think the practice a worthwhile exercise. It keeps me thinking about my business and helps guide my direction. If you do set goals, what are they? What do you want to accomplish before the year is out?
Happy 2017! I hope it’s a good one for all of us.
Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.