The end of the year is the perfect time for reflection and resetting before the new year.
This includes both your life and your business. If you’re not treating your blog like a business yet, you definitely will by the end of this post.
However, if your blog is purely a hobby and you don’t intend to monetize your blog, your goals and year-in-review might look a little different. When you do a year-in-review for a business, there is usually a review of revenue included with action items on how to increase it in your planning for next year.
When you do a year-in-review of a hobby blog, you won’t have that aspect and your goals may look quite different. However, in this post, we will mainly be covering how to do a year-in-review for your blog as a business.
What you’ll need for this review:
- A clean Google Sheet or Notion page (create tabs for Goals, Data, What Worked, & What Didn’t Work)
- Any metric tools you use for your blog to gather data (Google Analytics, etc)
- Prepare to answer a list of questions with that data
Let’s dive into how to start a year-in-review for your blog and get you geared up for the next year!
Start your blog review with your goals from the beginning of the year. If you didn’t set clear goals then, did you set mini-goals throughout the year? Even if you didn’t write them all down, try to think back to some of the goals you wanted to hit throughout the year.
Then open up a Google Sheets document and type up your goals there. Next to each goal, put the current result and if you met, partially met, or didn’t meet that goal.
Now, take a step back and take a look at what you put in your Google Sheet.
How are you feeling about those goals?
How do you think you can restructure any goals you didn’t meet for next year?
What new goals are coming up?
I recommend looking into creating SMART goals as you plan for blog goals in the new year. SMART goals allow you to map out your goal down to the specific actions needed to get there. This increases your chances of actually hitting the goals you set.
Gather & Review Data
Alright, now it’s time for the fun part.
Data is king in any business, so we’re going to dive deep into yours to see how your year really went. Think of it like a Spotify Wrapped for your blog.
To gather data from the past year for your blog, you’ll first need to identify what data you need to review.
Examples of types of data that you might need to gather:
- Traffic data via Google Analytics
- Engagement data via WordPress
- Email list data via whatever email marketing provider you use
- Social media data
- Affiliate data from your different affiliate partnerships
- Sales data from any products you sell
- Revenue data from any accounting software you use or business bank account statements
If you have a knack for spreadsheet-style data analysis, then you can go about exporting all the data you need from each tool from the past year and importing it into your Google Sheets. From there, you can create certain filters & formulas to narrow in on certain data points.
If you cringe at spreadsheet data analysis, you can pull some data points individually from each tool and go from there.
A few questions to help narrow down data points to review:
- What were the top 20 posts with the most traffic from the past year?
- What are your top traffic sources?
- What are the top 20 pages visited on your blog in the past year?
- What posts have the most engagement, shares, etc (including on social media)?
- What emails had the most opens, clicks, and unsubscribes?
- What email opt-ins had the most signups?
- What affiliate product brought the most income? What affiliate product brought in the least amount of income? Which of those are you promoting the most?
- Which of your products have you sold the most? Which sold the least?
- What were your revenue, profit, and loss each month?
- What were your top income sources?
- Which month had the most and which had the least and why?
- What can you do to increase that revenue next year by being more strategic (and not doing more work)?
What Worked & What Didn’t
In your Google Sheet, bring up the What Worked and What Didn’t Work tabs. Use these to note down the distinct things that either worked or didn’t work throughout the year based on the data points you gathered and reviewed.
For the things that worked, look for ways to do more of whatever worked when planning for the new year. For what didn’t work, analyze maybe why they didn’t work and either tweak them in the new year or pitch them completely.
For example, If you run your blog as a business, revenue is going to be an important data point to pay attention to. Look at your top drivers of revenue. Look at your different income streams and pay attention to the top 3.
Do they rely on traffic, following, products, or services? Depending on the answer to this question, your traffic data might tie directly to your revenue data. When looking at the top 20 posts with the most traffic in the last year, you can file those under “What Worked”.
When planning for the next year, start with low-hanging fruit that you know will perform well. For this specific example, updating the content on those 20 posts is going to significantly help you increase your organic traffic and in turn, increase your revenue. That action item should be on your “What Worked” tab and be highly prioritized. Then prioritize & update the next 20 popular posts or pages after that.
When looking at what didn’t work, look at the posts and pages with the least amount of traffic. Try to understand why they didn’t work. Was it because they have low search traffic, are the topics no longer trending, does it have weak headlines, or is the hook weak? An action item for something like this could be either prioritizing post updates for higher traffic posts first or putting these on a back burner until you have the resources to address them.
This exercise will also help you test out new content ideas.
Follow the same format for each data point so you can jump into new-year planning with confidence.
Plan For Next Year
When you start your blog planning and content calendar for the next year, use the notes from your year-in-review. This review will give you exactly what you need to plan an entire year out.
Plus, it also saves time and stress when you already know all the facts going in.
I can’t wait to see where you go from here. Your blog is going to do great things.