The end of 2016 is near and the topic on the tip of everyone’s tongues is GOALS. Did you achieve yours? How will you make up time in the last 3 months of the year? What’s on your list for next year?

It’s a lot of pressure. Especially for small business owners and solopreneurs who are stuck wearing a lot of hats with endless things to focus on.

I, for one, am sick of setting goals I know I’ll never reach. Will probably not even really work towards.

The one area, though, where I seem to have more goals than the rest is with my Content. No surprise there, as a content strategist, I know that content is the best way to grow your business whether it’s a product-based business or a service-based business.

But I do know it’s possible to set better goals with content. Ones that will have a real, breakthrough-the-noise impact on your business and are structured in a way that you’ll actually be able to achieve them.

So if you’re ready to set breakthrough goals that you’ll actually reach, read on, Content Warrior!

How to Set Breakthrough Content Goals You’ll Actually Reach by Trunked Creative

5 Common Content Goal Mistakes to Watch For

Before we dive into how to set better content goals, let’s identify the BIGGEST ways you could be sabotaging yourself when it comes to achieving your content targets.

Content Goal Success Saboteur #1: Setting content goals that don’t support your bigger business goals

Setting the wrong content goals can be hugely discouraging. You spend all your time chasing these things, maybe even succeed at them and then realize that they don’t have any impact on the success of your business.

There’s one goal type that’s particularly guilty of this – vanity metrics. These refer to the “nice to have” and “make you look good” numbers that don’t have much (or anything) to do with making your business successful. Like your number of Instagram followers. Or people who like your Facebook page. Number of likes and favourites. 

While these things can help your business to an extent, they shouldn’t be the end-all, be-all of your content strategy. They’re a by-product of reaching your content goals. Meaning that a goal like ‘Increase my Instagram following to 5000’ is a poor goal. But a goal that focuses on increasing engagement with your followers (X% by more comments by [date]) or, better yet, the amount of traffic to your site you get as a result of your Instagram efforts.

So keep your goals focused on achievements that, once reached, will impact the real purposes and business goals – like growing your business, helping more people, making revenue, etc.

Content Goal Success Saboteur #2: Chasing goals that don’t matter to you

There are a lot of shoulds out there messing with everyone. The same is true with your content goals.

Maybe you’re setting goals based on what you think you should want – even if it couldn’t be less aligned with how you really feel. A good example of this is the pressure to ‘scale up your business’ and have tons of people working for you. All well and good to an extent, but not everyone wants a massive business with tons of employees and that’s perfectly fine. So knowing what your vision for your business is before setting business goals or supporting content goals is a must.

It doesn’t just happen with lofty goals either. Sometimes it’s much closer to home, maybe peers or competitors, that we spend so much time watching, we can absorb their goals and begin to trick ourselves into thinking that that’s what we want too.

When in actuality it couldn’t be further from what you want.

So when setting any goal, content or otherwise, examine your motivations and make sure they align with what you actually want and the vision you hold for your business.

Content Goal Success Saboteur #3: Setting pie-in-the-sky goals you don’t actually believe you’ll never reach

A big complaint I hear from people about setting goals in their business is that they set these massive goals, don’t have any clue how to actually achieve them and then understandably come far from reaching them. How discouraging!

Here’s my take: You can reach those massive goals. Absolutely.

But reaching those goals probably won’t be your first stop. Breaking those BIG goals down into smaller milestones and just focusing on achieving the next milestone will be much more encouraging and achievable.

And pretty soon? Well, those scary milestones will just be an obvious next pitstop.

Content Goal Success Saboteur #4: Playing it small by setting goals that are easy (and uninspiring)

And then there are other times where we’re scared to say what we really want so we set small goals out of fear. So while it’s good to have these small goals as milestones, keeping your eye on the bigger vision will help keep your motivation up when actually doing the work to reach your goals.

So if you’re always setting small goals that you always crush, try setting stretch goals. It’s still a good idea to break it down into the manageable milestones but always keep in mind that you’re working towards something greater.

Content Goal Success Saboteur #5: Not having any goals at all

Or maybe you go in the complete opposite direction – setting no goals.

Maybe you’re too busy just getting done what you need to get done. Maybe you figure if you don’t set any goals there’s no way to fail.

Whatever the reason – without goals you lose the ability to direct your own path towards all those things you’d like to have in your business, life and content.

How to Set Better Content Goals

So now that you know all of the pitfalls to avoid when setting your content goals, where do we actually start with setting better ones?

Well, succeeding with content always begins with knowing what you want (and why you want it).

Like if you just started with the goal: I want to book out my services. You might run into trouble because you haven’t defined what that looks like (how many per month or time period that makes sense for your business, how far in advance you want them booked, how much in sales if you have different rates/packages for your services) and why you want it (so I can…). Knowing your why is important to keep up your motivation and making sure your goal aligns with your business vision.

We’ll go through the steps and an example of how to set content goals:

(1) Start with the end clearly defined

What does your goal look like when you’ve achieved? And why do you want to achieve it – specifically how does it support your bigger visions for where you want your business to go?

We’re going to work through a common example of a goal, I recently went through with a mastermind client:

Sample goal setting image from Trunked Creative

You’ll notice that I’ve defined the goal as either project-based (meaning a goal where you have more control over the outcome because it’s a project and pretty clear when you’ve reached it or not) or achievement-based (meaning you have less control over the outcome because it’s a response to your actions). This sample goal is an achievement-based goal because we can control our actions (what we’ll do to reach the clients) but we don’t directly control the outcome (whether or not 2 clients sign up with us).

(2) Evaluate where you are

In terms of this goal – what does your current situation look like? Or where do you measure up right now? This is in order to know what milestones we’ll be targeting along the way with your content goal

Sample goal setting image from Trunked Creative

(3) Bridge the gap

What do you have to achieve to get there? Can you break the goal into small milestones that can achieve one after another?

Sample goal setting image from Trunked Creative

(4) Identify your Strategy to Get You There (Your Hows-Whens-Wheres)

What are you going to do to get your closer to the next milestone? When are you going to do it? Take it one step further by identifying your one-time checklist (projects to get done) versus regular actions (things you’ll do daily, weekly or periodically on a consistent basis). 

In our sample goal, we’d come up with specific projects we could take to book more discovery calls and improve our “closing” rate (how many we book of the calls we have).

(5) Stop, Measure and Evaluation Regularly

Having predefined times when you’re going to stop and measure the progress you’re making will let you know if your strategies are working or if there might be something better you can try. You want to measure often (weekly) and evaluate once in a while (monthly/quarterly) – we want to make sure you’re giving the strategies enough time to work and build momentum.

Sample goal setting image from Trunked Creative

The Universal Content Goal to Start With

One of the places we almost always want to set goals around with any type of business is our sales funnels.

First, a project-based goal = Get my sales funnel set up

Second, achievement-based goals for that funnel = How many sales I want to be making from my funnel, How many people I want to add to my list and into my funnel each month

If you’d like a fully-supported experience for building your profitable sales funnel, check out the FREE Map Your Funnel Masterclass

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