122 - How to Plan Your Year in Reverse

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By Kirsten Oliphant. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

"You're doing it backwards."

Does that sound like a good thing...or a bad thing? Usually when someone says that to you, what they mean is that you're doing it wrong. You are going about a task in the wrong order.

But when it comes to making goals and accomplishing them, the best way is to work backwards on purpose. You need to look at your big goal as Point B. You are currently at Point A. Then work backwards to think about the steps in between to bridge the gap. If you look at your Yearly Content Guide and the daily planner printable sheets, this will make much more sense! Let's walk through the process.

1 / How do YOU Work?

Before you can really start planning effectively, you need to take some time to figure out how YOU work. You don't want to waste time on methods that don't work for you. I'll give an example to make this more clear.

When I was in college, I wrote a ton of papers! I can't begin to think about the hundreds of pages I wrote and the all-nighters that I pulled. But it took me 'til my senior year to realize that I wrote papers BEST when I finished them a day or so in advance.

Giving myself that cushion of time meant that I wrote in a leisurely, focused way. I had no frantic, stressful moments. I didn't pull all nighters, fueling up on Mountain Dew and Twizzlers. I wrote faster and I wrote BETTER when I made my own personal deadline ahead of the imposed deadline.

That doesn't mean I cannot work well under pressure. In December I started writing under a pen name, Emma St. Clair, and wrote two short stories in the sweet romance genre. (You can check those out here if you like light and fluffy non-steamy romance.) I cranked out two stories and published them within the space of two weeks.

And the effort was a success! I garnered 26 five-star reviews for Four Days of Christmas and have a new email list of over 100 people and am still making sales and money now in January.

What I've learned about myself is that I work better with self-imposed goals and deadlines, not ones that someone else forces me into.

Questions to Ask:

  • What time of day do you work best?
  • What work space works well?
  • What stresses you out?
  • What circumstances make the work easy and fun?
  • How do you like to write-- pen & paper, computer, typewriter?

Before you can plan well, you need to know yourself well. This isn't as easy as you'd think and it may change according to the season or circumstances. Ask yourself questions about the ways you work and make note whenever something stresses you out OR has great results.

2 / Working Backwards

My whole Yearly Content Planner shows you how to work backwards. It starts with looking at your goals, your stats and analytics from the past year (I keep this simple, so don't freak out if you don't like numbers), and then moves into weekly and daily planner printable sheets to give you laser focus.

As an example of what this looks like, say I want to write 8-10 books this year. (Which I do.) This means that I need to write a book every month or so (if I'm working in a 10-month year, which is my plan).

I can then get super specific and think about how much time I need to give my cover designer, how much time I need to format, how much time I need to give my editor, and how much time to write the book itself. When I take that backwards, I can plan out just when I need to do what based on the tasks involved and how long each one takes.

If you want to increase your pageviews from 5k a month to 50k a month, you'll have to look at what current traffic sources you have and how many posts you write per week. Then you have to create a strategy for creating content and for promotion that would scale up your pageviews that much. When you're trying to grow, typically you can do two different things (or a combination).

How to Scale Up
  1. Deepen the content you already have - make what you have do more for you.
  2. Widen how much content you create - do a lot more of what you're already doing

Chances are you'll do a little of both, but it's worth thinking about this to pick a focus. Would it help you to get more pageviews if you wrote five times a week? Or repurposed content and promoted the heck out of fewer posts and the ones you already have?

With books, I could spend more on AMS ads or Facebook ads or increase the price of my current books. Or I could write more books quickly and promote them to up my income through having lots of books for sale.

If you aren't sure, try things to see! But once you see what's working, double down on that! Look at the end goal and then ask yourself if all of your actions and investments of time and money move you toward your goal...or not. Cut what doesn't. Do more of what does.

3 / Asking for Feedback

It's always a good idea to ask people you respect and trust for feedback. This might be other people in your industry who are knowledgeable or it might be people who like that content. As in, you could ask other indie authors your questions about a book and you could also ask indie readers who are not authors. Both are helpful.

But when people give you feedback, you need to be willing to TAKE IT. Sometimes we don't want to hear the truth or we are unwilling to give something a shot. We hold on tightly to what we love, even if it doesn't work.

Don't. If fifty people tell you that your book cover sucks, you should trust them. Get a new cover.

Feedback may not work in every step of your planning, but is an important part of finding what works. You need to get out of your own head and let other people share their experience and understanding.

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