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The Blogger’s Guide To Goal Setting

written by John Chow on January 4, 2011

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This is a follow up to my post on how to make 2011 your best year in blogging. As many of you may know, I am not big on New Year resolutions. I am big on goal setting and feel it’s one of the keys to success. However, most people go about goal setting the wrong way and as a result, most fail to achieve their goals.

Every blogger has his ultimate goal, whatever that may be. The goal is usually something big and will takes quite a bit of time to achieve. Let’s say your goal is to have your blog make enough money to quit your job and when that is achieved you plan to reward yourself with a new car or a month long vacation.

You put everything you got on achieving that goal. Time passes, frustration sets in because you’re no closer today than you were six months ago. When this venture started, it was fun. Now it seems like a chore. What went wrong?

It’s Not The Destination, It’s The Journey

While it’s great to keep the end goal in mind, you have to remember to stop and smell the roses along the way. Most bloggers have an end goal, or destination, but they don’t have map. They just want to get there but don’t know how to. It’s great to have a goal of making a living off your blog but you also need an actionable plan to get you there. Without the plan, the goal is nothing more than a dream.

The real kicker is after you’ve hit your end goal, you’ll discover that it wasn’t the end goal that was important. It was the journey along the way. The journey is where you’ll learn and grow. I’m sure you’ve all heard stories of lottery winners who ended up broke again after a few years. They had “success” dumped on them but they never took the journey and as a result was not ready for it. This applies to blogging as well. If I were to give someone off the street a blog making $40K a month, chances are it will go to making zero within a year. You have to go through the journey.

Reward Every Success No Matter How Small

One of the ways I keep things fun along my journey to world domination is to remember that success is cumulative and every success, no matter how small, should be celebrated. What I like to do is have a bunch of mini goals that accumulate up to the final end-goal. I don’t just celebrate at the final goal. Instead, I celebrate the achievement of each mini goal. This keeps thing fun and keeps me motivated to keep moving forward.

For a new blogger starting out, a set of progressive mini goals may look something like this.

Now, you may think that registering a domain name or setting up WordPress isn’t much of a goal but for some, it is an achievement that should be rewarded. The point is to reward yourself with the achievement of each mini goal. The reward should be proportional to the goal – you shouldn’t reward yourself with new car for getting approved by an ad network (I tried that once but the wife overruled it).

As an example, you might take the family out for a pizza night when you make your first $100. When you make your first $1,000, go on a fine dining night. My rewards usually involve my family because they’re on this journey with me. It’s a lot more fun sharing a journey than to go on it alone.

As the goals get bigger, so does the rewards. Because the rewards are getting bigger and because the next mini goal seems a lot more achievable than the final end goal, you are far more motivated to keep building. Doing it this way is a lot more fun than just trying to reach the end goal. You reach the top of the success ladder one rung at a time. It’s impossible to hit the top rung without going through the lower ones.

2011 has just started. Now is the time to write down your goals and map out your journey to achieve it. Remember, it’s not the final destination that is important, it’s the journey along the way. Enjoy the journey, set up a bunch of mini goals and reward yourself along the way. I’ll see you at the top!

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Brian January 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Thanks for the idea, I just restarted my blog and was about to use write about finishing last years “RESOLUTIONS” and saw your post on defining goals instead of resolutions.
Thank You for all the great posts.

Kirk Taylor January 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Finishing resolutions would be a great idea. Why not write how you could start your resolutions on January 2nd so you wouldn’t count all the ones you broke on January 1st! :-)

ZK @ Web Marketing Blog January 4, 2011 at 7:40 pm

I really like one line of John in his previous post and this is –

“I feel a goal without a time limit is not a goal but merely a dream.”

This one is really good one and can define everything perfectly.

Email List Building January 4, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I’m not so sure ZK that it defines everything perfectly. Maybe for you it does.

But one-liners aren’t good answers for anything. They are just too simplistic.

In order to give power to your goals and work on them diligently you do need dreams. Dreams alone aren’t enough but they are important.

If anyone were to derive everything from your one-liner believing that it defines everything they might think that dreams are completely useless.

Kirk Taylor January 5, 2011 at 3:39 am

The dream drives the enthusiasm to create the goal which is your self-control. You have to have both equally to get the best result possible.

ikki January 5, 2011 at 5:36 pm

work and perseverence its the key

d3so January 5, 2011 at 12:27 am

I don’t believe much in resolutions because i forget about them any way.
Goal setting is the way to go.

Harshad January 5, 2011 at 10:19 am

I agree but make sure that your first goal is to set goals :D.

d3so January 6, 2011 at 12:22 am

That’s a good way to put it. I haven’t even set any goals yet. Shame on me.

ZK @ Web Marketing Blog January 6, 2011 at 7:13 am

Yes … shame on you … lollzz

Its ok … we are still in the fever of new year and holiday.

I am sure in coming days you will be able to set your goals.

Tampa Web Design January 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I agree. Besides, why wait until the New Year to begin stepping it up, start today! Right now!

Erik Emanuelli @ Free Make Money Advice January 4, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Nice idea, setting mini goals.

I am likely to do this for 2011, I have already a plan in my mind.

Thanks for sharing, John.

ZK @ Web Marketing Blog January 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Would love to know your plan and how you are going to achieve it with your steps.

Please add one post about this in your blog.

Human Development January 5, 2011 at 12:16 am

I have also a lot of plans to achieve in the Year 2011 but it will be much more better to publish that all after achieving the same.

d3so January 5, 2011 at 12:29 am

Yeah, I’m going to do the same. I’m going to list achievement goals like games have on xbox 360, lol. This is going to be a fun year!

Harshad January 5, 2011 at 10:13 am

I had a goal to stay away from all games… I did achieve it.

d3so January 6, 2011 at 12:25 am

I do my best to stay away from them as well. Such huge time wasters but too addicting.

Dino January 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I’ve seen lots of bloggers with goal posts and this one definitely hits the nail! :p

dotCOMreport January 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm

So true Dino; it’s straight and to the point yet so implementable.

d3so January 5, 2011 at 12:30 am

John really puts it in perspective. It is about the journey that makes the goal worthwhile.

PPC Ian January 5, 2011 at 8:16 am

I have to admit, however, that sometimes when you’re going thru the journey all you want is to get to the end! Sometimes the journey feels longer than I think it should be. :-)

Harshad January 5, 2011 at 10:20 am

And that’s the reason why lot of goals fail.

d3so January 6, 2011 at 12:29 am

I know what you mean but I believe the rewards are well worth the struggle.

Darren @TopTipsInfo January 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Thank you for the excellent post! It is very well written and inspiring to bloggers such as myself. A person progresses much faster and feel more encouraged when you focus on the small goals that accumalate to the top. Nice once again!

ZK @ Web Marketing Blog January 4, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Yes I think this is the post which every new comer should read.

Also applicable to those people who are doing mistakes and not getting their goals.

John I think you should start category base as well.

Kirk Taylor January 5, 2011 at 3:44 am

are you saying that making mistakes is a bad thing?

Jared Holland January 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Getting started can sometimes be the toughest part for someone just started out on the web. I’ve enjoyed reading your New Years inspiring post over the past couple days John. We all do our part to teach the new bloggers – keep up the great work.

ZK @ Web Marketing Blog January 4, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Saw your blog and I must say that your blog is well organised and well maintained.

Jared Holland January 4, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Thanks ZK! I appreciate the compliment.

d3so January 5, 2011 at 12:33 am

With certain things it is tough to get started and it’s mostly tough to keep things going consistently.

PPC Ian January 5, 2011 at 8:13 am

Yeah, it’s all about just getting out there and doing something. Even if your work is not “perfect” some action is better than no action. I try to accomplish a small task each day, even if it’s just some social media profile work.

d3so January 6, 2011 at 12:31 am

I try to do something everyday to get my name out there even if the task is small.

Wasim January 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Agree with you that its important to grow with your business, as not only will this make you handle situations better, but also you will grow as person, and learn how to handle new things. Example the objections i come across today are much tougher then i did when i started, but i can handle them better now.
And rewarding every little success, great point

puahate January 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Thanks for giving the bullet points. I’m new, and although I didn’t think it would be hard, until you laid it out in the bullet point steps, I was starting to feel anxiety about making money with a blog. Thanks much.

Web Marketing Tips January 4, 2011 at 5:01 pm

certainly a great post and must for every one who wanted to start the journey of blogging.

Mark it for new bie john.

Stocks on Wall Street January 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Agree make goals and accomplish them.

ikki January 5, 2011 at 5:45 pm

great tips for the blogger begginer,

ikki January 5, 2011 at 5:46 pm

for me in a year one goal is to publish 5000 posts

Stocks on Wall Street January 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Always like to set new goals at the start of every year.

ZK @ Web Marketing Blog January 4, 2011 at 7:35 pm

And at the end of every year you achieved them ?

Michelle Cicciarella January 4, 2011 at 5:47 pm

When I started in my internet marketing & blogging journey I never realized all of the things that I would learn along the way. The New Year brings many mini goals that I hope to share with my family as well.
Thanks for sharing John :)

Benjamin Kerensa January 4, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I think the most important of goals might be getting good webhosting and configuring wordpress properly.

All of my blogs load faster than John Chow dot Com even blogs I run that do not use any CDN or page cache still load faster.

If you are going to get hosting…. get the real deal… and remember you get what you pay for!

d3so January 5, 2011 at 12:35 am

I have cheap hosting but it sucks. What host do you use?

Human Development January 5, 2011 at 12:14 am

I have also made some of the goals like the listed as same as yours but not confident wil able t achieve that all because of my other side of life instead of blogging.

Harshad January 5, 2011 at 10:26 am

Lack of confidence is one big reason why you will fail to achieve your goals. Work harder and be aggressive to achieve theme.

Helen Neely January 5, 2011 at 3:08 am

I have been making resolutions for the past 24 years, but never kept to them. I don’t bother anymore – just setting goals seems like a better ideal.

Nice post BTW :)

ShahAlamDude January 5, 2011 at 4:06 am

First of all, thanks a lot for structuring such a detail guide for blogger’s success. It is definitely very useful for me and I believe for the others.

However, upon reading the things that a new blogger should do first…one point stand out. Getting 500 subscribers… Wow…that’s really a huge mountain to climb i thing. I thing it is achievable depending on the quality and marketing of ones blog. But it seriously think you have help new bloggers to by creating a set of goals and target for them to achieve.

Cheers… :)

Son Koral January 5, 2011 at 4:13 am

I like using SMART when I goal set. SMART is:

When I combine them with MindMeister Mind maps, it’s a planning combination that cant be beat!

Harshad January 5, 2011 at 10:31 am

Nice stuff..thanx for sharing.

Make Money Online February 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm

That’s actually a really good advice on how to set up goals. I wil be using it in setting up future goals. Thanks a lot. =)

Devon Brown January 5, 2011 at 6:18 am

I always do goal setting too.. and write out every small single step because it feels so good when things get crossed out :)

Domain Nitro January 5, 2011 at 7:54 am

Great points on the goals and mini goals. I always liked the smart goals along with have very short term goals that build up to long term goals so this fits nicely.

Alex Neill January 5, 2011 at 8:07 am

Hi John great post again, found it really helpful as I am at the start of my online / blogging journey, made me very first sale yesterday $27 100% mine ha, hope more sales follow, Alex

PPC Ian January 5, 2011 at 8:09 am

This idea of rewarding small successes is really great. I’m going to give it a try.

Dean Saliba January 5, 2011 at 9:07 am

Three years on and I STILL haven’t got 500 subscribers. :(

Paige January 5, 2011 at 10:07 am

Ok just that last bullet point, “Quit” has such a sweet savor!! This is the year of F-O-C-U-S!!! Nice article…

Harshad January 5, 2011 at 10:11 am

I always set mini goals on path to reach the main goal. Mini goals are divided in milestones…this way the destination is always closer and looks achievable. It’s like aim for $10 first then $100 then $1000 and so on.

igor Griffiths January 5, 2011 at 10:40 am

nice post.

Once you have your dream goal, the point of the mini goals is to force you to figure out a way to get there and focus on making progress and not simply the end goal.

fas January 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Its not where you reach, its how you reach there.

Paul January 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Good point John. While the destination is always important because it gauges success, the journey and learning process that we go through to reach a goal is definitely the more rewarding part of trying.

I like to think that even if one day something catastrophic happens and I lose my tangible possessions, no one will be able to take away the skills and knowledge that I’ve acquired. And it’ll take some work, but I can always rebuild success.

Ways to Make Money January 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I find being able to visualize my goals help a lot. I list the things I want to accomplish for the week, month, and year on a big board in my office so that it is always staring back at me.

ikki January 5, 2011 at 5:47 pm

like i always said, thanks for share this great tips john

Dating Master January 5, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Goals are for those who don’t live with passion. If you live in the flow then you don’t need goals, and you will actually achieve more because you don’t have rigid expectations which cause stress and deplete energy. Morever, having set goals don’t allow you to adapt to new situations as they come. I’ve found that if someone really loves what they are doing then goals are absolutely uneccessary. Just my taoist opinion.

Stocks on Wall Street January 5, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Goals are top setting for 2011.

Home Brewing Supplies January 6, 2011 at 1:20 am

It’s important to break your main goals in small, easily attainable ones. Trying to reach 10k subscribers right from the start will only make you quit faster.

TYCP Magazine January 6, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Great post. I have some plans for the new year that I’m pretty excited about. I feel this year will be much better than 2010. So far, so good.

Dimitris January 7, 2011 at 1:29 am

Going around without goals just following the flow and trying to adopt to it can be really tricky…

First of all it is very easy to lose track of what you are trying to do and of what is an appropriate step for you.
Just take a minute and think about the storm of information you are getting each day. How many times have you read something new, jumping to it leaving something else aside?

On the list topic, I have found that making small daily todo lists helps me get things done. It also gives me a sense of progress. I can spend an entire day working on my site jumping from fix to fix and yet at the end of the day have no sense of achievement or progress. And I can spend 2 hours working on predefined things ticking them out on a small list, and yet feel that I got some serious work completed.

Those lists are also a good indicator of your progress. New year’s is a nice opportunity to start using a calendar or business diary. It will help a lot in that direction. I used the National Geographic diary during 2010 and the pretty pictures always make it more pleasant.

Just keep in mind that this planning also has to not feel like a chore too.

Relationship Advice January 7, 2011 at 12:11 pm

This is very hard work. Im sure people look at John Chow and think money comes effortlessly but I think he works harder than we think.

Relationship Advice January 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I have NOT been able to reach 500 subscribers NOR make my first $100 lol. Took me 3 years to make $50 :(

Andrew @ Blogging Guide January 10, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Goals give you direction, at least you know where you’re going but like you said, one should know how to go there and that’s by setting mini-goals that will lead towards your main or biggest goal. Thanks for a great post!

Lunarpages Review January 31, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Quitting job is an extreme step, either this way or that. If someone is thinking to open a blog for just a hobby like purpose, they need not think to shift their job at all. But if they are trying out something serious here, then quitting the job should be on the top of the list.

Make Money Online February 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm

I agree with the thing about people winning on lottery for example. They reach success so fast that they do not know what to do and some of them end up spending all the money on things without value. I have a big goal with my websites, but I also have many smaller ones along the way, such as getting a pecific amount of readers, comments posts, backlinks etc. All these small goald then builds up and results in me reaching the bigger goal. Anyways, thanks for the post. :P


PPC Ian January 5, 2011 at 8:18 am

Well said, Kirk. Sometimes I would not go on if it were not for my dreams. :-) dreams drive persistence.

Mathew Day January 5, 2011 at 10:40 am

I thought Visions of Big Mountains of MONEY drive persistence? :)

ZK @ Web Marketing Blog January 6, 2011 at 7:11 am


Don’t you think that GOAL itself is a part of dream.

If you are not understanding these simple things than what can I say.