The start of the year is a natural time to celebrate the successes of the past year and set aspirations for where you want to be next year. Too often, though, these goals can fizzle out by mid-year when professionals realize they didn’t take the necessary steps to achieve their dreams.
In this #ContentChat planning session, we detail the steps for you to develop an action plan that keeps your eyes on your professional prize this year.
Q1: This time next year, how do you want to answer the question “What do you do for a living?”
Answering this question may be a challenge, and that’s OK. Take your time to truly assess what you want your career to be, and set an intention to reach that.
I know *some of you* may find it a bit daunting to answer this first question. But the thing is, by stating your goal you make it real. AND you can find accountability partners in all of us. #ContentChat— Erika Heald | Content Strategy (@SFerika) January 7, 2019
You could want to add to your existing role, focus in on a specific aspect, or jump into a different area entirely.
A1: This time next year, I want my intro to be, “I’m Erika Heald, and I’m the head of a content marketing agency that partners with startups and specialty food companies to create and execute content strategies that drive business growth.” #ContentChat https://t.co/JjLrLy2zSx— Erika Heald | Content Strategy (@SFerika) January 7, 2019
A1: “I’m a marketing consultant that helps B2B technologies take their business to the next level through funding, new product releases and thought leadership.” BOOM #ContentChat— Maureen Jann (@SuperDeluxeMo) January 7, 2019
A1: I think I want to be more strategy focused. Granted, I am now, but I’m really only a team of one. I’d like to grow our business and internal team where I can take a step or two back to really focus on the vision of Marcel Digital and how we bring it to life. #ContentChat— Patrick Delehanty (@MDigitalPatrick) January 7, 2019
A1: This time next year, I hope to utilize the “manager part of my title more and have a small team under me to help with content creation. We really want to expand beyond offering only PPC services and take on social media management and website building. #ContentChat— Click Ctrl Marketing (@ClkContrl) January 7, 2019
A1:this time next year, I want my intro 2B: “I’m Holly Miller the sought-after marketing muscle behind (insert large brand in retail/food/fitness/tech industry). I create, partner with, educate & empower teams on executing SEO & content strategies that deliver growth #ContentChat— Holly Miller | SEO & Content Marketing Consultant (@millertime_baby) January 7, 2019
#ContentChat A1— Kayla Naab Consulting (@KaylaNaab) January 7, 2019
Right now: I help businesses understand and empower their brand and grow through content marketing.
Next Year: I build courses and programs that help entrepreneurs and startups affordably brand and market themselves. https://t.co/64ucFtvIGo
If you’re having trouble, consider using this formula from Patrick.
I love when businesses and experts can say “I am / We are _____ experts that _____ for ______” Can be hard to get to but it makes everything so much more specific and tangible. #contentchat— Patrick Delehanty (@MDigitalPatrick) January 7, 2019
Q2: With your answer to Q1 in mind, what steps do you need to take in the next 12 months to move toward that reality?
Think of every possible step you need to take to ensure you have a solid action plan.
A2: To go from solopreneur to small agency I need to grow my retainer work so I can bring on an FTE and expand my use of freelancers. I also need to expand my network through more guest blogging, podcast guest slots, and speaking gigs. #ContentChat https://t.co/iaulcuTnFh— Erika Heald | Content Strategy (@SFerika) January 7, 2019
A2: Get better about A. driving more business through my efforts, B. track the profitability of those efforts, and C. make projections for future marketing efforts of what could be done with a bigger team vs myself. #ContentChat— Patrick Delehanty (@MDigitalPatrick) January 7, 2019
A2. We’ve been focussed on building out an SEO strategy so in Q1 we’d like to lay the foundation for that. SEO is definitely a long game so not placing too much emphasis on ‘results’ right away. We want to make sure we are setting ourselves up for success! #ContentChat— PathFactory (@pathfactory) January 7, 2019
A2: I need to evaluate which specific areas I need support from a team. Is it graphic design? Writing? Strategy? SEO? Right now, I’d say all of the above and more, but through testing my own abilities and strengths with courses and trial and error, I’ll better know. #ContentChat— Click Ctrl Marketing (@ClkContrl) January 7, 2019
A2: To grow my personal brand, I plan to attend at least 1 Twitter chat per week, guest on a couple chats, take on some guest blogging, and start my own awesome blog (gasp). #ContentChat— Emilie Moreland (@writtenbyemilie) January 7, 2019
#ContentChat A2— Kayla Naab Consulting (@KaylaNaab) January 7, 2019
Expand my audience (I sourced a marketing coordinator to help me do this)
Build courses (Ideated, but I’m now in the weeds with technicals)
Get feedback and improve the process (Summer 19)
A2: I too need to expand my guest blog posting, double down on LinkedIn content, re-engineer my WP site to showcase services and consulting calls, stay on top of networking & self promotion, acquire & develop skills big brands/companies are seeking #ContentChat— Holly Miller | SEO & Content Marketing Consultant (@millertime_baby) January 7, 2019
Q3: Great! You’ve got your first step ID’d in A2. But let’s turn it into a SMART goal— Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time-related.
Be realistic with what you can accomplish and hold yourself accountable to reaching this goal within a set time. You should dream big, but SMART goals blend dream with reality.
A3: In 2019, I want to contribute one blog post per month to various marketing and business publications; I want to speak at one conference per quarter; I want to have at least 1 FTE. #ContentChat https://t.co/gKzDllHW2J— Erika Heald | Content Strategy (@SFerika) January 7, 2019
A3: In 2019, I want to get published in Content Marketing World’s blog, make 2 trips to SF for industry events, and write chapters in a book that appeal to that market. #contentchat— Maureen Jann (@SuperDeluxeMo) January 7, 2019
A3: (Going to try my best here!) In 2019, I want to drive ___ leads per month from my marketing efforts, keeping track of time of my efforts. I will track profitability of these leads, and calculate growth based on larger team by end of Q3 in 2019. #ContentChat— Patrick Delehanty (@MDigitalPatrick) January 7, 2019
A3:— Click Ctrl Marketing (@ClkContrl) January 7, 2019
S – Decide what type of team member to hire
M – Take courses to find my weaknesses that another could support
A – Take on enough work/clients to hire a team member
R – Interest from PPC clients shows that we need more resources in social
T – I’ve got 6 months! #ContentChat
#contentchat A3— Kayla Naab Consulting (@KaylaNaab) January 7, 2019
Specific: Build first planned course and launch on teachable by Feb 15th.
Measurable: Y/N Is the course completed as designed?
Assigned to myself and in pieces for filming/writing.
Realistic: Yes! I’ve delegated other things to activate this
Time: Feb 15. https://t.co/JaLrtzf5dB
#ContentChat A3: Goal for this year is to get 2 new clients whose #CustomerJourney includes a form fill on my website before meeting IRL or phone.— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) January 7, 2019
So far all my clients come via referral or IRL networking.
A3: To hit my goal I’ll need to attend at least 1 Twitter chat per week, guest on 1 chat per quarter, take on 1 guest blog post per quarter, and start my own blog in January! #ContentChat https://t.co/zdBVdjCIO5— Emilie Moreland (@writtenbyemilie) January 7, 2019
A3: love this!— Holly Miller | SEO & Content Marketing Consultant (@millertime_baby) January 7, 2019
S-blog post recapping client project of blog audit
M-ranks for query “how to do an SEO focused blog audit”, gets me clients 😉
A-assigned to me to write
R-heck, yes (checks the boxes for “writing chops” & “market yourself”)
T-first draft due this week.#ContentChat
A3: Connect with more business owners who know the value of an online presence but don’t have the resources. Need to connect with 15+ new people a week that may fit our ideal client or knows someone who is. Network, network, network#ContentChat https://t.co/NiprBlkINh— Aaron Dunn (@AaronDunnWorks) January 7, 2019
Q4: Thinking through your core competencies, make a list of the key strengths you use in your work and the primary areas you need to improve to attain your goals.
Continue to nurture your strengths, and identify your weak spots then seek out the resources needed to strengthen them.
A4: My key strengths include writing, strategic thinking, and fostering teamwork. Areas I need to work on include delegation, self-promotion, and being courageous enough to put in those speaking proposals! #ContentChat— Erika Heald | Content Strategy (@SFerika) January 7, 2019
A4: Key strengths: creating relationships, getting things done, managing others. Primary improvement areas: prioritizing writing, continuing to build those writing muscles, travelling (family obligations) #ContentChat— Maureen Jann (@SuperDeluxeMo) January 7, 2019
A4b: I’m also working on being the owner of the results I generate for clients so I can point back to them for tangible measurable and trackable improvements to traffic, brand recognition, etc. #ContentChat— Maureen Jann (@SuperDeluxeMo) January 7, 2019
A4: I like to think I’m a quick learner, forward thinking, and adaptable. I listen to my audiences and what they need to provide content / resources. I need to be better with tracking profitability and creating projections – two areas I’m not crazy experienced in! #ContentChat— Patrick Delehanty (@MDigitalPatrick) January 7, 2019
A4: Communication is definitely key when you work in social media, especially running a Twitter chat.— Express Writers (@ExpWriters) January 7, 2019
I’d love to work on keeping updated with the latest social media trends too! #ContentChat
A4: My strengths are creativity and attention to detail. I definitely need to get over my aversion to social analytics so I can better understand my content. I rely too much on the easy-to-get data. Finding a team member who isn’t afraid to talk numbers is essential #ContentChat— Click Ctrl Marketing (@ClkContrl) January 7, 2019
A4. The No. 1 asset that comes to mind is empathy — being able to put myself in someone else’s shoes. But I can’t take it for granted. I need to work on it continuously to make sure I don’t develop any blind spots. So it’s an area of strength and for improvement. #contentchat https://t.co/2msdqWpbpQ— David Simanoff (@dsimanoff) January 7, 2019
Q5: Next, briefly add a statement to each area of improvement you ID’d in A4, showing how improving in that area will help you attain your end goal.
This step is (at least) two fold: 1. It will help you think through whether your perceived weaknesses are actually inhibiting you from reaching your goal. 2. Mapping your areas of improvement to your goals adds legitimacy to the need for growth, versus simply having a box to check.
A5: Delegation will help me expand my client base. Self-promotion will grow ideal client awareness of what I can deliver. Submitting more speaking proposals will lead to more speaking engagements, which will expand my network. #ContentChat https://t.co/pFxWhonNrZ— Erika Heald | Content Strategy (@SFerika) January 7, 2019
A5: Prioritizing writing will ensure I’ll be promoting myself more frequently, building writing muscles will make me better at my job + promotion, getting family support to travel will allow me to get in ideal markets. #ContentChat— Maureen Jann (@SuperDeluxeMo) January 7, 2019
A5: If I improve my knowledge of social analytics and reporting it to clients, that means I can make better content decisions and train someone to make those decisions as well. In order to be a great manager, I have to be a great teacher and mentor. #ContentChat— Click Ctrl Marketing (@ClkContrl) January 7, 2019
A5: Ask marketing peers how they’ve done their projections in the past and test ways to present to my higher ups / direct boss. This will help me learn the process and finetune over time to ensure I’m tracking / projecting / presenting information properly. #ContentChat— Patrick Delehanty (@MDigitalPatrick) January 7, 2019
A5:— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) January 7, 2019
(1) Create a content calendar.
(2) Create short videos that explain and provide solutions to problems. Use them on the website and social media (focus on LinkedIn).
Phone a professional friend for this step. Outside perspectives can help you break through any tunnel vision.
BTW This is a good point at which to enlist the perspective of a trusted third party—a mentor, your boss, or a colleague—to give you feedback on the areas of improvement you’ve identified, and if honing those skills will lead you to your desired outcomes. #ContentChat— Erika Heald | Content Strategy (@SFerika) January 7, 2019
Q6: Now that you have your goal and your areas of career development focus defined, you get to do the fun part—defining the activities to pursue to improve your skills and competencies. Share your ideas!
Attending conferences, networking events, and Twitter chats can help you expand your skills. Also look to tools and resources you can leverage to learn more and work more efficiently.
A6: I have the research in hand for marketing and business conferences that could be a good fit—I just need to get deadlines in my calendar. Continue to use @meetedgar to promote my evergreen content. #ContentChat— Erika Heald | Content Strategy (@SFerika) January 7, 2019
A6: Daily writing exercises, creating a content calendar that I stick to, working with smart people like @sferika to collaborate on strategies, working with brainiacs like @todcordill to build out a plan to own the measurement of the work I do. #ContentChat— Maureen Jann (@SuperDeluxeMo) January 7, 2019
A6: This I’d have to really sit down and think about, but I would brainstorm an activities list, prioritize based on efforts / results, test different activities, track the results, and optimize my priority activities / efforts based on those results. #ContentChat— Patrick Delehanty (@MDigitalPatrick) January 7, 2019
A6: I want to make regular learning a thing. Reading blogs and books, etc. It’s so important that we always work on expanding our knowledge. #ContentChat— Express Writers (@ExpWriters) January 7, 2019
A6: Besides virtual #ContentChat community, find like-minded content mavens in a Meetup near you. My personal fave here in the SF Bay Area is @dshiao‘s @Content_Meetup https://t.co/eF3eU3TxWc great for knowledge-sharing, networking, and therapy… https://t.co/q4yAlVyz9N— Rich Schwerin (@Greencognito) January 7, 2019
A6: One activity I can pursue includes continuing @HubSpotAcademy‘s free social media course – I’m patiently working my way towards the analytics and team-building lessons. I can also ask experts for resources and honest evaluations of my abilities. #ContentChat— Click Ctrl Marketing (@ClkContrl) January 7, 2019
Q7: Once you’ve identified an activity you want to include in your plan, note the support you will need from your boss/organization/your SELF, a targeted start date (and completion date if applicable), and your expected results.
Check out some of the below for inspiration on this.
A7: I need to give myself an hour each day for working on *my deliverables*. It is so easy to send your whole day on client deliverables and never get around to the things you know you need to do to move your business forward. #ContentChat https://t.co/nfbou3ADBL— Erika Heald | Content Strategy (@SFerika) January 7, 2019
A7: My goal is to have the Hubspot course finished within Q1. I have the support from my manager to take one whole day per month to focus on my own training and professional development. By the end, I want to use the knowledge to make more strategic decisions. #ContentChat— Click Ctrl Marketing (@ClkContrl) January 7, 2019
A7: Right now, I’m going to set my goal at 3 hours per week dedicated to growing my personal brand. Between work and a 3-year-old, wish me luck! #ContentChat— Emilie Moreland (@writtenbyemilie) January 7, 2019