How to Create a Quarterly Plan for Your Blog to Boost Productivity & Focus (+ a free template!)

 
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve become a *bit* obsessed with planning lately.
 
At the time I’m writing this, the new year — 2018 — is just around the corner, so I’m guessing I’m not the only one. There’s just something about a fresh new year that brings out the Blair Waldorf in all of us (and I mean the Type-A organizational skills, not the bitchiness).
 
One of my favorite ways to stay on track to complete all of my blog and business goals is to create a Quarterly Plan. I haven’t heard too many bloggers talk about this before, but it’s been an incredibly valuable strategy for me so I wanted to share my process with you ladies today.
 
To make it super easy for you to create your own quarterly plan, I’ve also included a free template that will walk you through every single step (you can download it below). You can fill in your answers as you read through this blog post, or save the template to your desktop and work through it when we’re coming up to the next quarter.
 
Ready?
 
You’ve set big goals for your blog, but are you actually achieving them? It’s time to get laser-focused and start accomplishing big things for your blog. Click through to learn how to create a quarterly plan for your blog, why you need one, and download a free template to get you started. planning tips | productivity | systems | organization | #bloggingtips #blogging101 #productivity

*This post may contain affiliate links for products I love. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. For my full disclaimer, please click here.*

 

So what exactly is a quarterly plan?

Simply put, a quarterly plan is a written document that outlines your goals, plans, and projections for the upcoming quarter. Oh, and if you’re not sure what a “quarter” is, picture yourself taking a yearly calendar and breaking it up into 3-month chunks, starting with January. So Quarter 1 is January-March, Quarter 2 is April-June, and so on.
 
There are 7 key sections I recommend including in your quarterly plan, which we’ll go over in detail below. But first, you might be wondering why you should focus on quarters instead of months, or even the entire year?
 

Why should I focus on quarters?

Planning in quarters will help you see the bigger picture of where you’re headed without getting overwhelmed by trying to plan out a huge chunk of time at once. Yes, it’s nice to have overarching business goals for the entire calendar year, but planning one quarter at a time will allow you to drill down on your goals and plans and stay hyper-focused.
 
Side note — I love a good monthly plan, and my monthly plan process is relatively similar to my quarterly plan setup. In your quarterly plan you’ll be pulling goals and plans from your yearly goals, but in your monthly plan you’ll pull from your quarterly plan. So we’re just breaking things down into smaller and smaller chunks as we move into smaller time periods (year → quarter → month). Make sense?
 

How far in advance should I do my quarterly planning?

This is totally up to you, but I’ve found that what works best for me is sitting down to make my quarterly plan about 1 month before the next quarter starts. So if I’m making my quarterly plan for July-September, I’d ideally work on it in the beginning of June.
 
Again, this timing may or may not work for you. You may need to be closer to the month of July before you start making your Q3 plan, but you’ll only figure that out through trial-and-error. Play around until you find the timing that works best for you.
 

The 7 key sections to include in your quarterly plan

Now we get to the juicy stuff: What exactly should you include in your quarterly plan? I have 7 main sections in mine, which I’ll break down for you in just a minute.
 
But first, make sure to download your Quarterly Plan Template. This will be your cheat sheet for creating a quarterly plan in less time than it takes to watch an episode of The Kardashians.
 

 
As an overview, the 7 key sections we’re going to cover are:
 
1. Overarching goals for the quarter
2. Special events and promos
3. Your content calendar
4. Social media goals and plans
5. Email list goals and plans
6. Profit projection and goals
7. Any other goals or plans
 
Let’s get started.

1. Overarching goals for the quarter

I suggest choosing 3 main goals to focus on in the upcoming quarter. Okay, you could *maybe* push it to 5 (I’ve been known to do that) but it depends on how much time you have available to work on your blog and business. As Caitlin Bacher says, it’s better to “do less, but with more intention”. So choose a few big goals you’d like to knock out this quarter, not a bajillion.
 
If you’ve already created some sort of annual plan or set goals for the entire year, you can pull from that list in this step. For example, if one of your yearly goals is to be featured on 10 podcasts, you might make it your quarterly goal to be featured on 3 podcasts.
 
Other goals might include:
 
+ Finish creating an ebook or ecourse you’re working on
+ Launch a new paid offering or service
+ Book 5 new clients
+ Increase your affiliate income by 20%
 
Of course, your goals will be completely different from mine and from everyone else’s. This is a highly personal process. It’s all about focusing on the things that will have the biggest impact for YOUR blog and business (no one else’s) and setting clear, concrete goals to make those things happen.
 
Questions to ask yourself:
 
1. What would I really like to achieve or accomplish over the next three months?
2. What will give me the biggest return-on-my-investment for the time I put into it?
3. Which of my annual goals will fit nicely in this upcoming quarter?

2. Special events and promos

Now it’s time to take note of any big events, promotions, or sales that are coming up in the next three months. These may be events that you’re putting on or events/launches that you’re an affiliate for. Think webinars, 48-hour sales, ecourse launches, etc. Write all of these things down in your quarterly plan, including the date or date range when they’re happening. This will be hugely helpful in the next step when we plan your content calendar.
 
Questions to ask yourself:
 
1. What big and important things are happening in the next three months that I want to promote or be a part of?
2. Are my peers hosting any fun events, sales, or launches that I know my audience would be interested in?
3. What holidays are coming up in this quarter? (Holidays are great opportunities to host special events or sales, or to use as inspiration for your blog content).

3. Your content calendar

Here’s where we get a bit more nitty-gritty and actually start mapping out your blog content for the next three months. This can sound a bit daunting, but I promise if you use my process (described below) you’ll find that it’s not nearly as hard as you thought it would be.
 
Okay, so the first step is to choose one big “theme” for your content for each month in the upcoming quarter. Themes can be literally anything, and will vary depending on the niche of your blog. As an example, themes I might choose for my content are “email list building”, “social media”, or “creating digital products”.
 
Use the special events, holidays, and promos you wrote down in section 2 to inspire your content themes. For example, if you’re planning to launch a new ebook about homesteading in August, you’ll want your content in the weeks leading up to that launch to be about homesteading. This will generate interest in the ebook, establish your expertise, and give you a chance to grow the wait list for your ebook.
 
After you’ve chosen a theme for each of the 3 months in the quarter, start jotting down ideas of blog posts you could write within each theme. Spend at least 5-10 minutes brainstorming here.
 
Questions to ask yourself:
 
1. What questions does my audience ask me often about this topic? What do I see them struggling with?
2. Which of my blog posts on this topic have been really popular in the past? Can I write something similar but with a fresh approach or new perspective?
3. How can I add value while also generating interest for a special event or launch that’s coming up?
 
Come up with 5-8 blog post ideas for each of your 3 main content themes. At this point, if you want to get super organized you can select your best blog post ideas and actually start slotting them into your calendar. I like to plan out all of my blog posts for the quarter ahead of time, so if that works for you, go for it!
 
Psst. Don’t don’t forget to download your free template!
 

4. Social media goals and plans

Next up we’re tackling social media. Here’s where you write down your current social media stats and how much you would like to grow each account in the upcoming quarter. You might also list social media goals that aren’t related to numbers and stats, like:
 
+ I want to post on Instagram a minimum of 5 times per week this quarter.
+ I want to participate in 1 Twitter chat every week.
+ I want to learn BoardBooster and start using it to automate my Pinterest account.
 
Questions to ask yourself:
 
1. How many new followers would I like to get on each social platform this quarter? (Set big goals, but be realistic. Going viral and gaining 10,000 Instagram followers in one month probably isn’t gonna happen. Soz.)
2. Which social media platforms do I want to focus on the most this quarter? (Choose 1 or 2, and do your best to automate the others).
3. How do I want to show up on social media this quarter? What types of content do I want to create, share, and post on social media?

5. Email list growth and plans.

This section is similar to the last, only we’re turning our attention to our email lists. P.S. If you don’t have an email list yet, I have an entire series about getting yours started (and why you need to, ASAP). Click here for the first post in that series.
 
I truly believe that setting goals and then actually writing them down is the first step towards making them happen, so let’s do that here.
 
Questions to ask yourself:
 
1. How many new subscribers would I like to gain this quarter?
2. What kinds of opt-in freebies would I like to create? (Consider your themes for each month, and aim to create 1 new freebie for each theme).
3. How often would I like to email my list? (I suggest a minimum of 2x per month. More is better, as long as you don’t overdo it).
4. What types of things would I like to share with my email subscribers? (My new blog posts? Special events and promos? Behind-the-scenes stuff of my life?)
 
Once you’ve completed the email list section, we’re on to…

6. Profit projections and goals.

Not gonna lie, this is usually my favorite step, but I know that won’t be the case for everyone. Don’t let this section trip you up. Even if you haven’t made a dime from your blog yet, there’s no reason you can’t start earning in this quarter.
 
If you’ve been making money from your blog pretty consistently, you’ll have a good idea of how much you can expect to make over the next few months. Remember to take into account any special events or promos coming up that you wrote down in section 2. For example, if you’re releasing a new ebook, that will probably drum up some extra income for you.
 
Questions to ask yourself:
 
1. How much money do I realistically think I’ll make from my blog and business this quarter?
2. What special events or promos might increase my earnings this quarter? (Launches, webinars, affiliate promotions, etc.)
3. Is there anything that might decrease my earnings? (For example, leaving an affiliate program, a general “lull” in sales at a certain time of the year, or choosing to reduce the number of clients you work with).
4. What income goal(s) will I set to challenge myself this quarter?*
 
*If you like, you can set three goals here: A realistic goal, a stretch goal, and a super-stretch goal. For example, your realistic goal might be $1,000. Your stretch goal might be $1,500. And your super-stretch goal might be $2,000. That way, even if you hit your first goal of $1,000, you can still be proud of yourself. But at the same time, there’s no harm in dreaming bigger (that’s the only way to grow!)

7. Any other goals or plans.

Lastly, we have a catch-all section for anything that doesn’t fit into the other 6. If there’s anything else you’d like to track, plan for, or set goals around, write about it in this section.
 

What’s next after creating my quarterly plan?

Woop woo, you did it! You’ve officially created your first quarterly plan.
 
If you used the template I provided, you’ll want to store your plan as a digital file so you can refer back to it (either on your computer, or maybe in Google Drive or Dropbox). If you’re more of a pen-and-paper planner, you might prefer to create a written quarterly plan and pin it up in your office or keep it somewhere else close-to-hand.
 
I suggest taking a few minutes to review your quarterly plan at least once/month. I usually pull mine out at the beginning of a new calendar month to refresh myself on my quarterly goals and what I’m hoping to accomplish. Then I dive into creating my monthly plan (but that’s a topic for another day!)
 
Do you create quarterly plans for your blog? If not, are you going to try out my method? If you have questions or can think of other sections I should include in the template, let me know down below in a comment.
 
Looking for more help getting organized and on track for the year ahead? My friend Natosha just released her 2018 Printable Blogging Planner, and I’m literally obsessed. Click on the image below to view the planner and choose from 3 gorgeous designs!
 
Blogging planner image
 


Posted by Krista in SYSTEMS

Tags: , , ,

  • Loved this Krista!! You laid everything out in a way that’s easy to understand and actionable. The questions are really going to help me when I sit down to plan. I also love the idea of stretch goals–so smart!

    http://www.insearchofsheila.com

    • Yay that’s what I like to hear!! Glad you found it helpful girl, and I’d love to see your Q1 plan when it’s all finished <3

  • This is a great resource, Krista! I must admit, I don’t do much planning or goal setting but I’m going to give it a try for 2018 🙂 Your template will make it super easy for me to jot down everything!

    • Thanks Shaylee! Let me know how it turns out and if you have any Qs <3

  • Krista, you have seriously got my butt into gear for 2018 already! With this post anndd your batching post, I’m unstoppable! 😉
    Starting to plan out my first quarter already!

    Elley Mae xo

    • Wahoo! I know 2018 has big things in store for you, girl! <3