The new year is almost upon us, what the actual eff you guys? I really can not believe 2017 has pretty much come to a close and, as I do every year, it is time to look back on the last 12 months and to plan and write down all my hopes and dreams for the year ahead. 2017 started off bad, post natal depression was at it’s worst in January, but as the months progressed I started to feel better and more like my old self and now, compared to a year ago, my mental health is in great shape. Family life has evolved so much over the last year too: Alex has grown from a squidgy little newborn into a fully fledged toddler (he started walking a couple of days ago), Leo said goodbye to toddlerhood and started school in September and we finally moved out from living in work based accommodation to a cute little house in a lovely quiet little part of town. My blog has grown this year too, I have struggled to commit as much time as I would like to writing with two little people to look after but I have managed to write lots of posts that I am really proud of and make a bit of extra cash too.
Before I get on to sharing all my blog dreams and life goals for 2018, here is a quick look back on the blog goals I set at the end of 2016 and how I have got on..
Reflecting on my 2017 blog goals
1. Grow social media following – I wanted to be at 6K twitter followers and 5K Instagram followers by the end of the year. As of today I have 5134 so I was close to my target (ish) and on Instagram I have 1790. When I set these goals last December the evil algorithm of growth doom had yet to be introduced to Instagram, now I realise my goal of 6000 followers was way out of reach with engagement being what it is now. My followers have gone up and down so much over the past year on Instagram and it really has driven me crazy at times. Overall though I am pleased with my numbers, they are higher than they were a year ago so I am taking that as positive progress.
2. Buy a new theme – Yup! I used some money I had made from a sponsored post and bought myself a blog theme from Pipdig. I have customised it several times throughout the year and I think I can finally say I am satisfied with how my blog looks and I hope my readers think it looks pretty too.
3. Start a Facebook page – Done! I was quite late to the Facebook for blogging party but I have now got my own Naptime Natter page and I am enjoying sharing stuff over there as well as on all my other social media accounts. I have recently set up a Facebook group too that I am hoping to spend lots of time growing in the new year (more on that later).
4. Start a guest post series – Back in the summer I briefly ran a guest post series to help showcase the work of new bloggers called ‘The Newbie Takeover’. I really loved helping get the words of new bloggers out there but I did struggle with the workload of getting a guest post organised every week. I had some lovely bloggers write for me though and I have loved reading their blogs and watching them grow this year.
5. Work with more brands – I have continued to work with lots of lovely brands on review posts and sponsored content this year. I am still not in a position where I am earning a decent monthly income from my blog but I have got to work with some completely lovely PR people and small businesses this year and would love to continue these working relationships in the new year.
6. Be more social in the blogging community – For all its flaws, Instagram has been an absolutely lovely place to be this year. I have got to know so many other bloggers, chatted lots and formed some wonderful friendships with so many other likeminded people I have met online. I still find chatting on Twitter a little bit daunting but I am getting involved in talking on there a lot more than I was. I am a member of quite a few blogging groups on Facebook now and I love sharing in other blogger’s journeys and swapping tips and advice and just generally feeling motivated and inspired by all these other fabulous bloggers. If you want to be part of a seriously supportive and lovely Facebook group for bloggers then you NEED to join The Mamapreneur Revolution – it’s the best.
7. Create a child free/mess free zone for blogging – Yes! I have myself a cute little white desk that is hidden away up in our bedroom, away from noisy flashing toys and sticky little fingers. I would love to have created my attic office of blogger dreams but we have moved house and there is no attic or a spare room to use. I am quite happy blogging in the bedroom though, I find it quite relaxing hiding up here and there’s less distance to go to fall into bed on those nights where I find myself frantically typing away until midnight.
I am really pleased with my blogging performance in 2017, I may not have grown as much as I would have liked but I have written about things I really care about, kept it real and hopefully got myself into a good position to be able to make all my blog dreams a reality in 2018. So without further ado , here are my blog goals for next year…
2018 blog goals
1. Grow mailing list – I am not going to reveal the amount of subscribers I currently have to my mailing list, let’s just say that it is not a lot. I have recently launched a monthly newsletter with exclusive subscriber only content as a replacement to my, probably pretty dull. weekly post round up offering to my subscribers and I am hoping this will help things along. I was a bit foolish this year and didn’t put ‘subscribe to mailing list’ as an entry requirement on the giveaways I ran so I will be making sure to do that in 2018 as well as figuring out some opt ins and exciting freebies to offer to my subscribers too.
2. Reach 500 likes on Facebook – Doesn’t sound like much I know but I am only on 186 at the moment. I put very little effort into trying to grow my Facebook account (you should see my ‘blog jobs’ to do list!) and I am hoping to be a bit more dedicated to the Facebook cause next year and get people who are genuinely interested in my blog to like my page.
3. Create a Facebook group and grow a community – So, this is actually already done. I have created my group Naptime Natter Mums and from January 1st I will be posting in there daily. My dream is for this group to become a place for mums (or Dads!) to help and support each other through any parenting struggles they may have. There will be no judging of each other, instead there will just be a group of lovely online mum friends, congregating together to help each other out. That’s the plan anyway. This is not a blogger only group so if you want to join or have a friend who may like to join I would love for you to spread the word.
4. Master Tailwind and become a Pinterest queen – Go big or go home, right? Seriously though, I have loved Pinterest a lot longer than I have loved blogging and I would really like to figure out how to use my happy place to grow my blog in the next year. I currently have just over 300 followers and would love to reach 1000 by the time 2018 is out. I have got myself a Tailwind account and have already starting scheduling and joining tribes, I am hoping to see the fruits of my labour as we head into the new year and to start getting a steady stream of traffic from Pinterest to my blog.
5. Fix old blog content – In May 2016 I migrated my blog from Blogger to self hosted WordPress and I am ashamed to say I still haven’t gotten around to reformatting and fixing all the content that got a bit messed up in the move. I have hundreds of old posts that need fixing and the job is just so big I don’t even know where to begin. There are featured images that need to be added, broken links that need to be fixed, SEO that needs tweaking and so many more jobs I just don’t have the time to do. I am going to dedicate time each week to sorting through at least 20 old posts and by the end of the year all my old, slightly messed up content should be sorted out and I can be proud of these old posts once again.
6. Reach 3000 Instagram followers and start # community – I now understand that lasts years goal of 6k was really unrealistic, I think 3ooo is much more achievable as it is just under double my existing followers. I love Instagram, I think it is such a beautiful place and I do genuinely enjoy spending time and engaging with other people on there. I don’t have a plan really on how I will reach 3k but I am hoping that just by keeping it real, interacting with my followers and finding more beautiful accounts to follow that I will be able to see my numbers start to grow. I also really want to start my own # community, I have figured out the concept but can’t find a name yet, every time I think I have got it figured out I search Instagram just to find that hashtag is already in use.
7. Keep focussed – It has to be said, I am a bit of a procrastinator. I often find myself getting lost down an Instagram stories rabbit hole or mindlessly scrolling Twitter when I should be writing or answering important emails instead. I am setting myself limits for social media use to stop me wasting so much time, a quick scroll in the mornings and half hour or so of more active use in the evenings. I want the majority of the time I spend blogging to actually be spent blogging, not scrolling, liking and more scrolling. This more focussed approach also applies to when I am working, I often have about 472 tabs open at a time and flick between them all when I should be dealing with one task at a time. I am clearly not very good at multitasking so my aim is to only have one tab open at a time and not open up another one until the current task at hand has been completed.
8. Pitch to brands and earn a monthly wage – I got a bit braver this year and started pitching post ideas to brands. So far I have only pitched to review products and I have got a 100% success rate. However, products don’t pay the bills and in 2018 I am going to have to get even braver and start pitching content ideas to brands in the hope that they will agree to a sponsored post collaboration. I am not afraid to admit that I would love blogging to become my career, I love writing and working online and to be able to earn a decent income from doing something I love would be an absolute dream come true. I have decided to focus growing my traffic and social media following in the first quarter of 2018 and then create a media pack in March and start pitching ideas to brands then. The thought of it makes me nervous excited but I think having a few nerves is a good thing.
9. Focus on positivity – 2017 was a big learning curve for me, suffering with my mental health for the first time in my life taught me a lot and I plan to use everything I have learnt to help other mums reading my blog in the new year. I am planning on having a very positive focus to my blog posts next year, I will talk about all the difficult challenges parenting throws our way but will try my best to come at them with a positive angle and in a way that will help any other parent out there going through the same thing feel a little bit better. Since having PND I have tried to rewire my entire thought process and every day I am trying to be more positive: I have made it my mission to become a happier mum and hope to share this journey and everything I have learnt with my readers. My blog posts that performed best in 2017 were those on the topic of mental health, I can see that these are the posts people need to read and I will be doing my best in the new year to produce even more content to help struggling mums to feel better.
10. Start inspiring guest blogger series – As The Newbie Takeover guest blogger series is no more, I want to feature a new monthly series but this time focussing on inspiring and motivating content for overwhelmed mums. As I mentioned above, I really want my posts to be a source of comfort and reassurance for struggling mums next year and I would love for other bloggers to share their stories here too to give these mums even more support. I am still trying to get this idea fully formed in my mind but I hope to start the guest blog series by Spring time.
11. Guest blog more – I want to start writing more for other blogs, I did it abit in 2016 but not at all this year. I am aiming for one guest blog a month, that’s just 12 posts over the year and I feel like this is totally doable.
12. Write an Ebook – I am just toying with this little idea at the moment but I would love to create an Ebook and to be able to offer it to my subscribers for free or maybe charge for it but donate a percentage of the profits to a mental health awareness charity (I have one or two in mind). When you have post natal depression you can often feel completely isolated and that no one out there could possibly understand how you are feeling, I would love to create something that can help new mums out there to see that it won’t always be this hard and it is possible to feel better again. I am under no illusion that writing an Ebook would be an easy task and I have lots of other stuff I want to achieve first but I am putting it on this list anyway, as I said before – go big or go home.
There is so much more I want to achieve with my blog but I am leaving it with these 12 goals as I don’t want to set myself up for failure by giving myself too many plates to spin. This year I reviewed my progress in June, as a six month report, and I am definitely going to do that again in 2018. I find checking back on how I am doing with my goals helps me to keep focussed and figure out where I need to go next.
So, that’s all the blog goals for 2018 sorted but what are my personal goals for the year ahead? I don’t really like the term New Year’s resolutions, so I am going to call this list my life goals instead ..
Life goals for 2018
1. Positive mental attitude – I like to practice what I preach and, in keeping with the new positive theme for my blog, I am going to try my best to be positive in all other aspects of my life too. Unfortunately, I have let myself become a bit of a glass half empty kind of girl, I have let anxiety own my mind and have spent a lot of time feeling miserable. Over the past few moths I have been working hard to change my outlook on life and not let things get to me so much and I plan to continue this new positive attitude next year.
2. Read more – I love reading, I always have done but for some reason I have found myself reaching for a paperback a lot less often in recent years. My goal for the year ahead is to read one book a month, that is 12 books, something I feel is completely doable and a must for my happiness. Nothing makes me feel as relaxed as sinking into a good book and getting lost in the fictional lives and worlds of the characters living within the pages, what mum out there doesn’t desperately need some relaxation and escapism?
3. Spend less time on my phone – I know being a blogger means I have to spend a lot of time online and on my phone but I feel like I am staring at my phone screen a bit too much. I know exactly what I need to do to spend less time on my phone but I have let these good habits slip and allowed the screen time cravings to win all too often. I am going to try my best to reduce my screen time, especially when I am with the kids.
4. Do more yoga – I LOVE yoga, it is something I have been doing at home on and off for years. I have never managed to make it a permanent part of my daily routine though and I am really going to work on this in the new year. I tend to faff about on my phone for 20 minutes in the evening after I put Alex to bed so I am going to put that time to better use and start doing a yoga practice instead, I think it will be a nice way to unwind in the evening as well as being good for my body.
5. Be kinder – To family, my friends, strangers and, without exception, myself too. I like to think I am a kind person and think about others a lot but there is always more that can be done. I am teaching my boys to be kind always so they grow up in to respectful and lovely men and I need to make sure I am leading by example. My encounter with PND taught me that it is important to put yourself first sometimes and to look after yourself as well as trying to look after everyone else. I am trying to be kinder to myself and stop beating myself up about so many things I do, so far it is working and I am going to continue to speak to myself in a much kinder manner in the new year (and hopefully forever) too.
I know there are some people out there who can’t help but roll their eyes at the whole ‘new year, new me’ thing but I don’t see setting goals and making changes to your lifestyle at the start of the new year as conforming to a silly cliché at all. You can make changes to your life at any time of the year but I always feel the most motivated when I can see 12 empty months stretched out in front of me, waiting for me fill them with the next exciting chapters of my life. So, I am not saying ‘new year, new me’ but instead I am hoping for ‘new year, same old me, smashing new goals’. Roll your eyes at this post if you must, or you could join me and set yourself some totally attainable goals and lifestyle changes and make 2018 your best year yet.
One final note, if you have made it to the end of this post then you deserve a medal! I did not intend for this to turn into some kind of essay but I haven’t blogged at all over Christmas and it turns out I have had a lot to say.
Happy new year to you all, thank you for reading my blog this year and I hope you stick around and continue to pop over from time to time in 2018.
Got any goals and dreams for the new year? I would love to hear all about them.
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