As a content creator myself, I know how much work goes into planning, photographing, writing, and promoting every single piece of content you create. That is why, I’m a huge believer in the importance of having goals for your creative career, and certain ‘success milestones’. Otherwise you are just spinning your wheels without any idea of where you are going, and worse yet, you won’t even know when you get there.
In this post I’ve used the title content creator to represent anyone who is a blogger, Instagram influencer, YouTube creator etc, regardless of your niche.
I see this all the time on Instagram. Someone starts a feed, spends countless hours following others, engaging, creating & posting content, but there’s no end goal to that account. People are always talking about how many likes a post got, or how many followers someone has, but there is no discussion around the personal, professional, or financial benefit to that. To me, that’s pure madness! Why are we investing so much time on Instagram, Pinterest, our blogs etc, if there is no return on investment?
Before we dig into ROI and goal setting, let’s just get this out of the way. If you are sharing content on your Instagram or blog just for fun, and the act of sharing alone is rewarding enough for you, that is totally fine! What I’m going to talk about next, is for those creators that want to build a brand name, business, and revenue stream from their online platforms. Also, I’m here to call a spade a spade. I love the community I’ve created online, I enjoy content creation, but at the end of the day, I’m a business woman. My end goal with Pink Chai Living is to build a profitable, location independent, online business, and I’m not embarrassed to say that.
So, getting back to return on investment (ROI), this is what the business textbooks tell us about it; (ROI) is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment. To calculate ROI, the benefit (or return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment.
For example, if I spend 20 hours on Instagram in a month, but I only make $100 of revenue from that time, I made $5 an hour. Ouch! My time is definitely worth more than that. However, another way to measure ROI is in marketing metrics. If that same 20 hours contributed to a 5% growth in Instagram followers, and an extra 10,000 page views to my blog, it was a good investment because, more traffic and followers mean I can raise my rate for sponsored posts.
I know it’s not natural for creatives to think this way, but if we want to grow our online businesses, we must! Keeping ROI in mind, let’s set some some creative goals for ourselves. What’ I’m going to do is break down some of the goals I’ve set personally, so you can use those as a framework to create your own goals. For me, having these goals top of mind is a must if I don’t want to fall into the comparison trap, or get caught up in vanity metrics like follower count. As long as I’m moving towards my professional and financial goals, that’s all that matters!
Types of Professional Goals to Set as a Content Creator
Overall Career Goals:
These are the big scary ones. The ones that you most likely keep private. Some of mine are; run a location independent digital publishing company, licence my own home decor and design products, and write a cookbook. Knowing that these are my end goals helps keep me moving forward. It also helps set mini goals. For example, if I want to have a published cookbook by 2022, I should probably start researching publishing companies and literary agents this summer.
Everyone has certain causes and initiatives that are important to them. These are the spaces in the world where we want to make an impact. And it’s so important to be clear on those when you choose a public facing career. As your influence grows, so will requests to support charities and causes, you won’t be able to write about or promote everyone, that’s when you can come back to your impact goals
For me, there are a few causes that I feel so strongly about supporting that I always come back to them; gender equality and wage parity, lessening food waste in the world, and the conservation of Punjabi language, culture, and arts. It is my goal to make an impact through my content and financial contributions to each of these areas.
I get it, women don’t like to talk about money, but we need to get over it. We deserve to be compensated for our work, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to make money. Every year, I set a financial target for myself and I break down the categories it’s going to come from. For a digital content creator that might look like:
Sponsored blog posts – $200
Sponsored social media posts – $100
Ad network revenue – $25
Affiliate sales – $15
These are not real numbers, but a visual representation of how you could lay this out. Your annual financial goal could be $1000 or $10,000, it doesn’t matter. What matters is having a financial target, so every month you can check in and and see how you are doing. If it’s June and you haven’t hit half of your financial target for the year, you have two options, either adjust the goal, or amp up your outreach for sponsored campaigns. That’s it.
Let’s talk about everybody’s favourite subject, social media numbers. What’s the point of them? In my opinion their only role is to be a measure of your content quality, and support your financial and professional goals. A bigger audience simply means your content can reach more people, and as a result you can charge more for sponsored posts. Of course, the larger reach also supports your impact goals. By default, when more people see your content your impact will increase.
Currently I’ve set myself a goal to reach 15,000 Instagram followers by the end of October. That’s a big goal (I’m at 12.1 K on the day I’m writing this post – July 30). But when I break it down to a daily goal across 90 days it’s about 33 followers a day. That seems a bit more doable. So how do I plan to reach those 33 new followers every day? Here are some ideas I’ve come up with, run targeted ads, publish more content than usual, collaborate with bloggers in my niche demographic. The one thing I don’t plan to do though, is leave it up to chance! Do you see a common theme here – plan, plan, plan, adjust, and then plan some more.
Other metrics goals you may want to consider are pageviews for your blog, inbound clicks from Pinterest, YouTube views, and Instagram bio clicks to your blog. You’ll have to choose which metrics goals best support your professional and financial goals.
This area is really subjective, and I think it will be different for every creator. It’s sort of linked to your overall professional goals. Everyone that wants to publish a cookbook, will create recipe related content, but how will your recipes be different, and how will they support your cookbook proposal? Are you an expert at 15 minute meals? Maybe you are the next fusion cooking queen? My editorial goals usually focus on what I want to be known for.
Some of my personal editorial goals for 2020 are; being seen as an expert in the content creation space, expanding my content to be a fit for first generation Punjabi Canadians – going more mainstream, developing a new and unique video style. These goals are not going to make sense to everyone, they don’t have to, as long as they make sense to me. Editorial goals should drive your content planning process.
How to use your goals to drive daily decisions
The most important part of goal setting is referring back to you goals, and using them to drive your daily decisions. How many pieces of content I publish in a month should be related to my metrics goals. My metrics goals goals should be related to my financial goals. And finally, most importantly, all my editorial decisions should lead up to my big scary professional goals. Everything should fit together like a puzzle.
I hope you found this piece helpful, and I hope that next time someone asks you why you are spending so much time on Instagram you’ll able to confidently tell them that you are moving your professional goals forward (not scrolling mindlessly and comparing yourself to other creators).