Happy New Year, friends! Whether you’re gearing up for a big year at work, counting down the days to summer (hi, teacher friends!) or launching a new project, the new year is a great time to set new goals and intentions. Here at TTD, we try to consistently reflect over our strengths and weaknesses. 2017 was a big year for us both professionally and personally. It brought several challenges, ups and downs, and new opportunities.
It was a request from many of you that we share how we are preparing ourselves for the new year.
Though some of these topics might be focused to small business owners or bloggers, I did find these tips practical for many aspects of life. You see, even when I was in the classroom, I took time to reflect on my performance as a teacher, my students’ growth and areas I could improve. No matter what career we find ourselves in, it’s important to reflect. Here’s how we plan for a successful and intentional year:
Setup Your Metrics
In order to accurately gauge areas of your business or job, you must define data-driven metrics. I am not as versed in this area as Austin is, but either way, it’s important for our business. For us, one simple example of a data-driven metric is our monthly visitors. Using Google Analytics, we can collect accurate data about our visitor counts. This raw data is then derived automatically into a monthly visitor metric. We can gauge our performance from month to month or year to year. Anytime we talk with new bloggers, this is the number one tool we recommend!
Equipping yourself with data-driven metrics will clarify your decision making and direction.
There are many forms of metrics and you have to define what works for you. At TTD, having a website and social media channels means we get the opportunity to see what posts perform the best, get the most traffic or get the most “likes”. If your website or social media is important to your business or job, you might consider evaluating the same.
These are some tools we use to set, define and evaluate our metrics:
What are some ways you can gauge your own business or job?
When measuring growth, I find it important to focus on my growth and not compare myself to others. Not only is this helpful for my mental health (lol) but this is the only true way to see how far you have come. It’s so easy to look at someone else and wonder, “Why don’t I have that many followers?” or “How come I didn’t get signed on that campaign?”. And to some degree, competition can be motivating, but I find that I am more successful if I stay in my own lane and focus on the growth of my business and brand.
Comparison is the thief of joy
Some better questions are “How has my monthly traffic changed since last month? Since last year?” Focus on what was working and cut what wasn’t. One resolution we have at TTD this year is to ‘Fail Fast.’ At first I thought, why in the world would we want to fail? But failing fast means that businesses should attempt bold experiments to determine the long-term viability of a product or strategy, rather than proceeding cautiously and investing months (or years!) in a failed approach. It has become kind of a “mantra” within many successful startups.
For us, that means trying out new content and ideas without the fear of how successful it will be. If it works, great! How can we grow it even more? And if it fails, cut it loose quickly and move on to other ideas. We have “sat” on too many ideas and waited for the “right time” when in hindsight we should have taken action quickly. You will never know all the answers and have everything 100% in place. As a perfectionist, that is hard to swallow. But it has also held me back in many ways. This year is going to be different. We should not be afraid to fail!
Failure is nothing more than a chance to revise your strategy
Set Achievable Goals and Intentions
both and short-term and long-term
With any new year, we try to set goals and intentions to focus ourselves in this period. I think it’s important to any business or job role to set realistic and challenging goals both short-term and long-term. Austin and I like to set spiritual, personal and business goals each year. I’m not saying we are perfect at keeping to these resolutions or goals, but we do make a solid effort to keep with it.
Something new we are implementing this year is displaying our goals in the office. This way it’s something that we will see everyday. We have a spot where we display our long-term goals and a couple short-term goals. Even if it’s just a simple sticky note on my desk, it’s a constant, in-view reminder of where my focus should be for the year or month.
When setting goals, it’s important for your goals to be achievable. My biggest problem is I often have too many goals. Be sure to limit yourself and commit to goals you can realistically accomplish in both the short-term and long-term.
Austin and I have weekly meetings where we plan content for the next month, discuss ongoing projects and prepare for upcoming photoshoots. I have big ideas, but my follow through is sometimes lacking. This year, I’m focusing on keeping my goals focused, realistic and achievable.
One tool for managing your goal progress is a tool called Trello. You guys, I love Trello! This is a task management tool that is easy to use in pretty much every situation. I use it to manage the tasks required to achieving goals. I even use it for personal projects, to-do lists and projects around the house. Look for a full post on Trello and our other favorite apps later this month.
Listen to your Audience
No matter what business or job you are in, feedback is essential. When I was teaching, I gave my students a survey to get an idea of what they thought about school, the classroom and me! My team and I handed them out to our students beginning of the year, middle and end of the year. I also gave one to the parents as well to make sure their needs were also being met and addressed.
It’s very important to ask the right questions when seeking feedback. When designing these surveys, the student survey consisted of elementary questions with answers drawn as pictures. It was a fun way for the student to creatively express how they felt about school. For the parent’s survey, we asked questions that focused on generating data that could improve the classroom and education experience.
The same thing is true with a blog and brand. In the 5 1/2 years that TTD has been running, we have never asked for feedback until a couple months ago. That is terrible, you guys! What were we thinking? Listening to your audience, customers or business partners is crucial for any business to succeed.
In our short survey, we asked our readers 5 questions:
- How long they you followed The Teacher Diva ?
- What do you look for when you come to our site?
- Do you currently own a small business or blog? If not, do you have interest in starting one?
- Where do you follow?
- We also left an open ended spot for additional feedback.
And after reviewing the data, we learned a lot about what you guys want.
Here are a few of the specifics from our recent survey: 92% of you mentioned that I don’t do Instagram Stories or Instagram Lives enough. Many specifically mentioned they wanted to see what Austin and I do during the day, more videos of Lucy (I actually created an IG account for those who want to see her) and hear me talk and share more about my day and/or makeup routines. This was great feedback that we can take into the new year.
On a fashion note, 74% of those who participated in our survey wanted to see more sale alerts or budget-friendly options. We have already started incorporating this into our content, but it’s something we are taking into account when planning our style posts.
If you did not get a chance to participate and want to leave your feedback, you can do so here!
We can’t thank you enough for your support. Whether you’ve been following for almost 6 years or a newbie, we are glad you are here. This community of TTD readers has been such a cool experience for me. I am thankful for each of you and truly enjoy talking with you on Instagram or through comments on here.
2018 already has some big things in store for us both professionally and personally, and we can’t wait to share those with you throughout the year.
We wish you nothing but happiness in 2018. Cheers! xx Ashley and Austin