By setting better goals as a writer, you increase the chances of reaching your audience and ensure your time is well spent in pursuing them. To help you define better goals, you can rely on an excellent, time-saving approach to setting goals called the S.M.A.R.T. goals criteria.
These criteria are suitable to help you define and pursue both your personal and professional goals. You can easily define S.M.A.R.T. goals both while working from the company offices and from home. In line with all that, such an approach to setting goals can always be of great help when you’re looking to build or grow your business via writing web content, such as blogs.
Here’s what the S.M.A.R.T. criteria are about and how you can use them to define your writing goals better and increase your productivity as a writer in the process.
What are S.M.A.R.T. goals?
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym/mnemonic where each letter represents a trait your goals should have in order to be successful:
- “S” stands for “Specific” goals. To start off, your goals need to be straightforward, precise, and easily defined. To make your goals specific, think about the following questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why do I want to accomplish that goal?
- What resources do I need to accomplish that goal?
- “M” stands for “Measurable” goals. Your goals need to involve a point of reference to make it easier to measure your progress towards them. To make your goals measurable, think about the following questions:
- How will I measure progress?
- How will I know when the goal is accomplished?
- “A” stands for “Attainable” goals. You need to pick goals that you can reach. To make your goals attainable, think about the following questions:
- Can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is this goal when compared to my time and other resources?
- “R” stands for “Relevant” goals. You need to pick goals that hold a certain value and importance. To make your goals relevant, think about the following questions:
- Is this goal worth the effort?
- Is it the right time to pursue this goal?
- “T” stands for “Time-bound” goals. You need to pick goals you can set timelines and deadlines for, thus making them easier to track. To make your goals time-bound, think about the following questions:
- When do I want to accomplish this goal?
- What do I want to do for my goal within a month, 6 months, or 1 year?
To make sure your goals are always S.M.A.R.T., you can compile and follow a list of the questions you need to answer yourself or use and follow step-by-step templates.
How to define your writing goals with the S.M.A.R.T. criteria?
Now that you understand what each letter of the S.M.A.R.T. acronym stands for, let’s see how you can best make your writing goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, and increase your productivity in the process.
How to make your writing goals specific?
When defining your goals as a writer, the first thing you need to do is decide what exactly you want to accomplish — let’s say that you want to start and run a blog.
First, you’ll need to identify what you need to do in order to start a blog — you can best do that by parsing your main goal into smaller, more manageable goals such as:
- picking a niche
- picking a suitable blog name and buying a matching domain name for it
- finding a reliable web host
- choosing a blogging platform (such as WordPress)
- choosing a suitable blog design
Next, you’ll need to be specific about what you want to accomplish with your writing in the first place. This question may translate to: “How will I make money from my blog?”
You may even use your blog writing as a way to increase awareness of your brand and gain organic traffic, and not as a means in itself.
In the end, once you’ve covered this essential preparation for your blog-related goal, you’ll need to decide what you want to accomplish regarding the blog on a regular basis:
- Define how much time you want to spend writing per day (e.g. 6 hours)
- Define how many words you want to write and edit each day (e.g. 1000 words)
- Define how many blog posts you want to publish per week or month (e.g. 1 per week, or 5 per month)
How to make your writing goals measurable?
The good news is that, by making your writing goals specific, you have already made them measurable. After all, numbers are both specific and measurable — you’re either reaching them or you’re not.
In other words, if you’re managing to write for 6 hours per day, or write 1000 words per day, or publish 1 article per week, or 5 per month, you are already progressing as planned with your goal.
You can also use your blog’s profitability and page views as a measure of the progress and quality of our content. For example, you can make it a goal to earn your first profit within 6 months, or to start making $1,000 per month within your first year.
You can also make it your goal to get 1,000 page views in your first month, or 30,000 page views within the first 6 months after starting your blog. All the listed goals are also easily measurable, and clearly showcase your level of progress.
But, what if you’re only managing to write for 3 hours, or write only half of the words you set yourself to do? What if you are not publishing as often as you set out to? And, what if you are not hitting the desired number of page views or level of profitability in the desired time periods?
Well, this brings us to the next letter of the S.M.A.R.T acronym.
How to make your writing goals attainable?
If you’re constantly falling behind with your writing goals, chances are that they are simply not attainable for you personally, for one reason, or another.
For example, let’s look at the specific goal of writing and editing 1,000 words each day. Sure, it may seem manageable, especially when paired up with the goal to write for 6 hours per day.
But, what if you don’t have 6 hours to write? Or even 4 hours? What if you’re trying to pair up the goal of writing and editing 1,000 words per day with a day job, everyday family errands, and a couple of side classes at the local community college?
Well, that’s exactly the problem here. You’re setting the bar too high, without accounting for your other obligations, which means you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Sometimes, however, your own time and resources may not be the culprit — this may apply if your blog is making less money than expected. The problem may be that the niche you are writing in or the way in which you want to earn money simply cannot bring you the profit you want in the time period you’ve set.
These errors in planning your goals can only demotivate you from moving forward — but, they don’t have to.
There’s nothing wrong with not accomplishing all of your writing goals in the way you initially planned. You’ll just need to readjust your expectations based on your own possibilities, resources, and the possibilities in your blog’s niche/industry.
How to make your writing goals relevant?
If you’re writing for business, your goals as a writer should be relevant to your future career.
For example, if you want to seriously commit yourself to earning a living through a blog, this decision makes this writing goal a relevant one in itself.
On the other hand, if you’re working on a blog sporadically, you may need to rethink the relevance of such an endeavor. Namely, this may be a great hobby, but may also currently be distracting you from other, more pressing obligations. In such a case, your blog may be a potentially relevant goal on the whole, but the ill timing for it makes it irrelevant at the moment.
In addition to making your writing relevant for you, you’ll also need to make it relevant for your targeted audience.
To better understand how to make your blog relevant for your audience, you can write a simple mission statement to serve as your constant inspiration.
Now, your underlying blog mission may be to increase your SEO, rank better in Google, improve your sales, or simply make money in one way or another. But, this only explains why your writing may be relevant for you, and not your readers.
Namely, if you only write to make a gain, you won’t be able to grow your blog, as you won’t be attracting readers naturally, who’ll soon realize you aren’t writing with them in mind. This will, in turn, render your blogging efforts useless.
Hence, you should always make it your mission to provide real, authentic value to your readers.
Your other goals will then follow — by making your blog valuable to your target audience, you’ll increase its quality, likely have it rank higher in Google, thus increasing its likelihood to be read in the first place.
How to make your writing goals time-bound?
In order to make your writing goals time-bound, all you have to do is turn to a staple in every writing job — deadlines. For example, there are several types of useful deadlines, as well as milestones you can set for a blog.
First, you can set a specific deadline for each blog post. You can approach this in two ways:
- Set one deadline for everything. You can simply set a publication date for each blog post, and make the rest of the process flexible in terms of when and how you’ll write.
- Set several separate deadlines. This way, you’ll make the process more manageable. For example, you can set deadlines for when you want to:
- finish the first draft
- finish the second draft
- finish editing the final draft to perfection
- set up the layout of your blog post (complete with pictures and illustrations you want to use)
- publish the blog post
- share the blog post on your Social Media accounts
In addition to that, you can set an approximate deadline for the money you’ll be expecting to make for your blog, and the number of page views you want to achieve. As you can see, this directly ties the “time-bound” aspect of your goal with the “measurable” aspect of your goal — i.e. by making your goal measurable, you’re also likely making it time-bound, and vice versa.
For example, by saying you want your blog to hit 1,000 visits by the end of the first month, to make the first profit and hit 30,000 visits in the span of 6 months, and to start earning $1,000 within a year, you’re also stamping your blog with several deadlines and milestones, i.e. making it time-bound.
Summing it all up
Making your writing goals S.M.A.R.T. is easy if you follow the right goal setting structure. By ensuring your writing goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, you’ll ensure they are clear, easy to track, possible to reach, of value to you and your readers, and marked with deadlines that tell you when to stop working and evaluate what you’ve achieved thus far.
In the end, by making your writing goals S.M.A.R.T., you’re also increasing the chances that they will be a success, and thus completely worth your time.
About the author
Marija Kojic is a productivity expert specialized in time management techniques. She works at Clockify, where she enjoys helping people discover meaningful and effective ways to work smarter.
Sign up for my eBook on more ways to work productively from home, grow your traffic and build a better online business!