You want to set blog goals that help you get more traffic…
But there’s more to it than saying, “I want my blog to grow by 1000% in a few months.”
You know that.
You also know the specific goals you set have a major impact on your business.
Your blogging goals can affect:
- How much traffic you get
- How many opt-ins you get
- How much money you make
- And even your mental state and motivation
Pretty important list, right?
So, how do you set blog goals and objectives that help you grow your blog quickly while still being realistic enough to keep you motivated?
In this post, I’ll give you my proven framework for setting blog goals based on everything I’ve learned over the past 6 years running content campaigns for clients.
How Most People Set Their Blogging Goals (Plz Don’t Be Like Them…)
Most people set short-term-focused, extremely aggressive blog goals based on almost nothing.
They want to…
Double their organic traffic in 3 months…
Rank for a ridiculously broad and competitive keyword like “content marketing” in 6 months…
Become the leader in their niche in 12 months…
God love ‘em, and I understand where they’re coming from, but I truly believe goals like these play a big role in why so many blogs tank nowadays.
Blogging (for SEO especially) is a long-term game.
It’s a way to build your brand and fuel your business with assets that attract customers to your site 24/7.
There’s a place for short-term, aggressive goals for sure, but focusing on them can sabotage you (especially if they aren’t based on data).
These goals force you to rush everything.
You won’t create incredible content, you won’t target keywords you can actually rank for, and you won’t give promotion and link building the time it needs.
It’s that simple.
So, what should you do instead?
How I Recommend Setting Blog Goals (Yes, I’m Gonna Say It…)
I’m sick of hearing about ‘em too, but I don’t know of a better way. 🙂
Using this framework will help you create blog goals that actually help you achieve something.
(If you aren’t familiar with S.M.A.R.T. goals, the acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-specific.)
So, instead of saying I want to grow my blog, you say I want to grow my blog by x% per month this year.
People generally don’t have issues with any aspect of S.M.A.R.T. goals when it comes to blogging…except the “Achievable” part.
Look, I get that you should shoot for the stars.
I get that you should set goals that make you a bit uncomfortable to stretch yourself.
But if you set ridiculous, unrealistic goals, you won’t hit them, you’ll be incredibly discouraged, and you might even quit.
For example, if I decide I want to be an NFL player at 24 years old after playing one year of football in 6th grade, I’m going to spend the rest of my life crying and passing up on great opportunities (cuz as much as I’d like to lie to you, I’m never going to be able to do that).
So, when it comes to blogging goals, I recommend following the S.M.A.R.T. goals format and thinking through what’s really achievable in your situation based on data.
I’ve found the sweet spot for blog goals (after working with clients across multiple industries the past 5+ years) is figuring out where you think your limit is, then putting your goal one step beyond that limit.
That way your goal will make you nervous and you’ll stretch yourself but you won’t go into spiraling depression.
So, with this mindset, let’s take a look at how to approach blogging goals in each key area:
1. Setting Traffic Goals
For new blogs…
Note: I recommend focusing traffic goals heavily on organic traffic because it’s the best way to grow & scale a blog.
Set traffic goals based on:
- Keywords you’re going after
- How much traffic they get
- How quickly you can rank for them
Realize that a new blog (a brand new domain name with no backlinks or following) is a complete wildcard with Google.
It might take you up to 12 months to start getting traction. If you get lucky, it might take 3.
So to compensate for the ambiguity, take a small percentage of the total monthly search volume for each of your initial keywords (that you’ll create content for in that time-frame) and make that your target.
(I usually don’t include other sources of non-paid traffic in these goals because there’s no guarantee you’ll get any guest posts, interviews, social shout outs, etc. at this point.)
For example, I helped a marketing agency start a brand new site a year back. We started with 3 blog posts targeting low competition keywords with a collective monthly search volume of about 2,000.
After researching what similar sites did to get traffic early on, we set the 12-month goal at 200 organic visitors per month.
We weren’t sure if we’d get it but it was also attainable enough in our minds that we didn’t freak out when we got off to an inevitable slow start.
For blogs with traction…
I recommend taking a similar approach but with more certainty.
Since you already have data pouring into your Google Analytics and Search Console accounts, you have an idea of how much traffic you can expect on any given month.
So, set your traffic goals by finding your average monthly organic traffic for the last 12 months then add a percentage based on your target keywords and initiatives in the coming months.
Here’s an example:
I work with a writing coach who has substantial traffic numbers (~140,000 organic sessions per month).
When I’m setting traffic goals for him, I:
- Map out our target keywords for the year and find their monthly search volume (I use KWFinder and Ahrefs for this)
- Get search volumes for all similar keywords we’re targeting in each post
- Map out how many posts we’ll publish per month
- Look through Google Analytics and Search Console to see how long it normally takes his posts to rank
- Take into account click estimates for results already ranking top 3 for our target keywords
Then, I calculate a rough projection that takes each of these elements into account.
So, it might look something like this:
- We’ll publish 2 blog posts per month
- We’ll target 24 main keywords (and their variations) that have a total of 500,000 monthly searches
- It normally takes 30 days for him rank top 3 for his target keyword
So, assuming each keyword was the same search volume for the sake of easy math, we can reasonably expect to grow his traffic by ~4,100 organic sessions per month
This method isn’t perfect, and it’s impossible to 100% predict what will happen, but this is definitely better than pulling random numbers out of your you know what.
2. Setting Content Creation Goals
My advice is the same for both new and existing blogs with traction:
The main thing that matters here is consistency.
Once you have a traffic goal, map out how many blog posts you need to write per month to get there.
It’s really that simple.
There’s absolutely no reason to hold yourself to some arbitrary blogging schedule.
If you need to write a blog post every week to hit your traffic goal, you better write a ton because each of those posts need to be great.
If you only need to write a blog post every month, that’s great too.
The key is quality over quantity.
Do as much as you or your team can do at the highest level possible. If that means you need to adjust your traffic goal, fine.
3. Setting Opt-in Goals
For new blogs…
Don’t set them.
Yeah, that’s right.
Any goal you set here is completely based on what you’d like to see. In reality, you have no idea what kind of traction you’ll get.
So, I recommend only setting opt-in targets.
Approach it like this:
“Hey, it’d be great if 12 months from now this blog had a 500 person email list, but we have no idea if that’ll happen. Let’s try anyway and see what happens!”
The only caveat here is if you have huge blogs you can piggyback off of (like if you have a bunch of friends who will send you traffic or own a bunch of authoritative, relevant websites or already have tons of guest posts scheduled).
For blogs with traction…
I recommend setting opt-in goals like you do traffic goals.
- Take your average opt-ins per month over the last 12 months (this should be a baseline that doesn’t include any special marketing initiative)
- Map out any guest posts, interviews, press coverage, or affiliate promotions you’ll be doing in the next 12 months (and take an average of gained opt-ins from those)
- Find out how many opt-ins you can expect from your new SEO content (I mainly use the average conversion rate on a blog multiplied by the expected new traffic for a rough estimate)
- Calculate a rough number of expected opt-ins based on your 12 month baseline and the average number of opt-ins you expect from your marketing initiatives.
Let’s say you get 1,000 opt-ins per month on average from your content and SEO without having to do much of anything. That’s your baseline.
You’re doing a total of 20 guest posts, interviews, and affiliate promotions, collectively, and you get about 100 opt-ins on average from each.
You also get an additional 100 opt-ins per month from your content and SEO initiatives (on top of the 1,000 already coming in).
A reasonable goal for the year would be 3,200 new opt-ins.
4. Setting Revenue Goals
For new blogs…
Again, don’t set these.
Setting up a new blog is like setting up a new business.
You can make revenue projections based on what similar blogs make (if you can find that information), but any target you set will be arbitrary.
If you feel like you have to set some sort of goal, I’d call it a “nice to have” instead.
That way, you know what you’re shooting for but won’t get discouraged by potentially missing a mostly baseless goal.
For blogs with traction…
You may be noticing a pattern. 🙂
Take your average monthly earnings over the last 12 months and add a percentage of what you expect to earn (based on your past data or someone else’s) from your additional marketing initiatives in the next 12 months.
Let’s say within the last 12 months, your blog made:
- $500/month on passive affiliate and ad income
- $1,000 per partnership and you did 5
- $5,000 from product sales
Your average monthly income last year was ~$1,333.
This year you’re doing the exact same stuff except you expect to grow your traffic by 50% and do double the partnerships.
Assuming that 50% more traffic will equal roughly 50% more passive affiliate and ad income, a reasonable monthly revenue goal for the next 12 months could be ~$1,770.
Just make a reasonable projection based on what you’ve seen in the past and what is common in your niche.
It’s really that simple.
If You Only Remember One Thing About Blogging Goals, Remember This…
Your goals need to be based on data.
Because when they are, you’ll:
- Be able to accurately predict the worst-case scenarios for your blog
- Know what you need to blow your goals out of the water
- And look like a freakin’ wizard
If you need help creating a content strategy or writing specific pieces of content to hit your content goals, here are some of my best resources (I highly recommend checking them out next):