If you are anything like the majority of bloggers out there, then you have trouble deciding on which ideas or projects to work on first when it comes to building and growing your blog. What exactly should you spend your time on first, given the amount of work that you have to do?
Well, this article is going to give you a simple yet effective numerical system that will help you to rank the things you have to do and make it easier for you to decide what to do next. One of the common ‘diseases’ of online entrepreneurs is information overload and confusion. This is more pronounced during that first phase when you’re just starting out, but it’s still an issue even for a lot of bloggers who have been at it for a while.
But, in a way, that makes sense because of all the things that you (think you) have to do. All of them seem so important to your online business and most of them need to be done simultaneously. Well, at least it feels that way…
Once your business is established and moving, it becomes a bit easier because you now have some stable point that you can judge things from. But when you first start out, it’s a doozie. It becomes much worse if you are out there reading lots of other blogs and emails about online marketing.
(And yes, I do get that this is a self-damaging statement seeing as I run just such a blog, and you’re reading it right now, but it’s still something we have to address anyhow…)
So how do you grow your business if you don’t pay attention to those people teaching it?
What you need is an effective method of dealing with the input while alleviating the dangers of information overwhelm and confusion that often comes with it. So we’re going to discuss a policy that I think is going to be extremely helpful in this regard.
We’re also going to talk about a technique for prioritization that you can follow so that you can create order for all those ideas you have, and decide where you’re going to most effectively spend your time.
The Metrics That Guide All Your Decisions In Business
When running a business, you can’t just depend on your gut to tell you how to proceed. You have to have some numbers that show you the real scene. These are called KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). It’s important to note that not all numbers represent key indicators. The real KPIs are those which give you the most direct indicators of how your business is performing.
If you know your KPIs, then you can easily judge any of your ideas based on whether or not they will improve any of your KPIs in a solid way. If an idea that you have does not impact a KPI directly, then you can either rank it low on your priority list or just toss it out altogether. But what is it that you should be looking at when growing your business?
7 Key Business Growth Levers
If you want to see your business grow, there are 7 key levers that you need to influence. Ramping up any of these money levers will result in growth for your business. Those levers are:
1. Traffic: This one is kind of self-explanatory, but don’t fall into that common trap of focusing too much on this because all the traffic in the world cannot do anything for you if your other business growth levers are at nil.
2. Opt-ins: This is the number of your visitors who are moving from casual observers to email subscribers.
3. Conversions: These are the number of your visitors or email subscribers who actually turn into customers by buying something from you.
4. Items per sale: This is the number of items that each person buys per order, or up-sells.
5. Average value of items: This is your average price point. If your prices are higher, you will obviously make more money and your business will undoubtedly grow.
6. Transactions per customer: This is the number of times that a customer comes back to buy from you again. This is one of the best reasons to create a membership site, by the way.
7. Profit Margin: The gap between your costs and revenue is your profit margin, so the bigger you can make it, the more money you will make.
So, improving any one of these 7 levers will see significant growth in your business. You may have dozens of ideas of things you should be doing to grow your business, but if it doesn’t have a direct and concrete improvement for any one of the above-mentioned growth levers then it goes down the list or out the door.
How to Use Your KPIs and Growth Levers to Make Decisions
It’s an interesting exercise evaluating the things that you’re currently doing against your KPIs and these 7 growth levers to see if the things you’re spending time on are actually contributing to your business growth -or- if you’re just telling yourself that they are contributing because you want to justify all the time you spend doing the stuff that is easier and more fun.
But now it’s time to get real and consider some things that you do that aren’t bringing real results:
Does spending a whole lot of time blogging your fingers off each week actually do anything for your blog’s growth? You may argue that you do it for traffic, but if you were to take a look at your analytics, are there any increases in your traffic numbers, or are you just seeing momentary spikes? Maybe you’re flat lined?
In such a case, it means that your KPIs (which are your actual numbers) are telling you that you’re wasting a lot of time blogging.
Now, of course, I’m not saying that you should stop blogging. But you really do have to rethink the way you do it if it’s not bringing in more traffic. Make a plan that is based on these growth levers and KPIs so that you actually start getting some real traffic instead of forever hoping for it.
We actually have some excellent posts on our blog about how you can get more traffic to your site by blogging less and spending more time promoting your blog posts. In addition to blogging less, you may need to use paid traffic to bring visitors in more reliably.
Another thing most new bloggers do that is a total waste of their valuable time is the endless theme tweaking. When you tweak your blog’s theme, does it bring any growth to your business? The answer is yes if you can directly relate any theme changes to increases in opt-ins or conversions, but if you’re forever tweaking just to try to make your site prettier, then that’s another giant waste of time.
Tweeting and Facebooking
Yet another one is Tweeting and Facebooking all day. If that isn’t showing up in your traffic stats or your opt-ins and conversions, stop it right now. You can better spend your time on things that will actually yield real results.
So What Should You Be Doing?
Anything that directly contributes to getting more opt-ins, more sales, more conversions, increases in prices, reduction of costs to increase profit margins. These are the things that contribute to growth, and if you are blogging or Facebooking all day with your KPIs at zero, then your priorities are all wrong.
Here are 5 Key Factors To Give Priority To Ideas and Projects
OK, after reading so far, you know that you should judge every idea that you come up with and each project that you envision for your blog or business against your 7 growth levers and KPIs. And if it doesn’t contribute to growth directly, out it goes (or just put it on your ‘maybe/someday’ list.
Now, it’s time to put order to everything else that survives the test (and that is probably going to be a lot). Your ideas may all be solid at this point, but it’s still going to be hard trying to figure out which one to execute first.
So, by assigning these 5 factors that you can evaluate to each of your ideas, it’s going to make prioritizing them a lot easier.
1. Impact on Revenue – How much positive impact do you think this idea will have on your revenue? Is it a huge increase in revenue or a small one?
2. Impact on KPI – How much direct effect is this idea going to have on the hard numbers, in your opinion? Is it a huge KPI impact or a little one?
3. Probability of Success – Is this idea likely to work? There are some ideas that could/might help but then others are a sure thing.
4. Simplicity – Is this a simple or complex idea to execute?
5. Speed of Implementation – How fast can you implement this idea?
While there may still be a certain ‘gut’ feeling to a lot of this, it’s still helpful to have a solid framework that you can use to judge. If, for example (all things being equal), you come up with an idea that is simpler and easier to execute than another and yet both of them would have a massive impact on your revenue, then it makes more sense to go with the one that is easier first because you will get the results faster.
But, if you have a number of easy tasks that do not impact your revenue in any big way, but you also have one bigger project that would, then you can downgrade the simpler stuff and upgrade the big project with the higher impact on revenue.
Don’t get caught in that pitfall that most bloggers find themselves in where they’re spinning their wheels on the easy and quick things and avoiding the things that bring real growth. That’s what separates the successful bloggers from the ones who don’t make it past mediocrity.
Assign Numerical Scores
The best thing for you to do is to assign each one of these 5 factors a numerical score and then give each idea that you have a total score. You can then sort these ideas by the total score to make it easier to see which ones are the most important for you to do right now.
You can create a simple spreadsheet template that makes it easier to do all this so that any time you come up with a new idea or project for your business, you can simply add it to your idea file and then quickly assign the KPI, growth lever, and the numerical score.
Sort these using the ‘Total Score’ column and you’ll immediately know what you should be doing first. Creating such a spreadsheet is perfect for giving you a place to capture your (very many) ideas without losing sight of the most important stuff you should be doing right now.
The Final Word
Every blogger and online business owner wants to succeed but not everyone is willing to do what it takes to achieve that success. In this kind of business, we don’t have bosses, so there isn’t anybody to tell us what we should be doing and when. We have to be self-disciplined and self-paced, and that requires some sort of structure.
So if you want to make any real headway in growing your business, it’s a great idea to implement such a system as the one mentioned above.
Think of everything that you do in your business as a project that should have a clear goal and a known endpoint. While some projects can be small ones that you could complete in a matter of minutes, others may be huge endeavors that span months. But the point here is to approach everything you work on in your business as a project.
Don’t just shoot from the hip when it comes to making decisions as to what you dedicate your time to. You need to know exactly what to do and when to do it. This is especially important if you’re someone who has a day job and you’re working on building your online business or blog as a side hustle.
If that’s you, then it means that you have very limited work hours, you have to be extremely structured about how you allocate your time. Get rid of disorder and confusion, start to focus on the things that make an actual difference in your business and you will start to see some real, measurable growth.
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