2021 is well underway, and you’ve probably set goals for your blog and business in the coming year. Setting goals is a good thing! But if you haven’t prepared your blog for growth, it can keep your site from reaching its full potential.
Let’s talk about preparing your blog for the growth you’re working toward.
1. Establish processes
Blogging is a process-driven business. While your post topics may change each week and your business model will inevitably change over time, most of your business involves doing the same things again and again … and again. For example, publishing a blog post doesn’t just mean writing the post. You also edit images, optimize for SEO, create sharing graphics, schedule on social media, etc.
How do you establish processes? You’re probably already following quite a few processes like these, even if it you’re only doing it subconsciously. Taking the time to formalize a process means thinking through what you’re doing, why you’re doing those things, and how to best get each thing done. This elevates it from a haphazard activity to a process-driven task you can repeat again and again.
In The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande describes the “simplicity and power of using a checklist.” Formalizing your processes into either a read-do or a do-confirm checklist makes your work easier so you can be more productive and produce higher quality work even as your site and obligations grow.
2. Clean up the cruft
One of the best things about blogging is you can learn as you go. You don’t need a PhD in blogging to get started, and you discover your own voice and style over time.
Unfortunately, while it’s one of the best things, it can also be one of the worst. When was the last time you looked back at the posts from your early blogging days? If it’s been awhile, you might get a good laugh at seeing your early attempts and how far you’ve come.
Which mean things might be a little bit messy on the backend. It’s tempting to put off cleaning up older posts until you have time, but let’s face it: you’re never going to have time. Instead, make the time to clean up the cruft. In this way, your old posts and images can work for you rather than holding you back.
- update old posts with a focus on keywords and metadata,
- run a tool like Short Pixel to optimize large images,
- run WP-Sweep to delete old revisions, database entries, etc., or
- review the plugins, themes, and users on your dashboard and delete those that are unnecessary.
3. Outsource where it makes sense
Whether you’re currently using a VA or not, it’s a good idea to think about the tasks you can outsource in the future so you can start preparing for that now. This allows you to focus on the tasks that only you can do.
For example, if you hope to outsource image creation in the future, what guidelines do you want to pass on to that VA when the time comes?
- Which colors do you use?
- What types of images do you like or dislike?
- Are there specific image dimensions you need?
Write out and tweak these guidelines over time so you have a style guide to pass on when the time comes. This will keep you from having to scramble because you feel like you’re drowning and need help now.
Similarly, as you’re creating processes for yourself (see #1) and writing out checklists to follow, view those instructions through the lens of someone other than yourself and add enough details that someone new could step in and follow them.
As your blog grows, you’re going to feel even more stretched. Working on these things early makes the process of handing them off to a VA easier when the time comes.
4. Make sure your technology is ready for growth
Finally, you want to be sure the technology that supports your site can handle the growth you’re aiming for:
- Do you have a host you can trust?
- Will that host throttle your site during traffic surges, or can they scale quickly as needed?
- Is your site speedy and stable?
- Do you have the security in place to prevent hackers from exploiting a vulnerable plugin, overloading the server with a DDoS attack, or accessing your dashboard through a weak password?
In addition to these questions, we recommend setting calendar reminders to perform software updates, check your backups, and review the users and plugins running on your site. Doing this maintenance regularly ensures your blog can handle either a burst of traffic or steady growth over the coming year.
How ready is your blog for the growth you’re working toward in 2021? If you’ve got some work to do, you’re not alone. Schedule time to work on these things over the next few weeks. And we hope you blow those goals out of the water!
With 10 years of experience as a professional blogger—and as a former Agathon hosting client herself—Mandi’s passionate about the good work Agathon does and sharing that message with more people.