Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on January 8, 2024.
The new year always feels like a fresh start in many aspects of life, and work on our blogs is no different.
As January is also fairly slow for many niches, the month is a great time to do some backend tasks to start the new year off right.
Whether you're analyzing last year's performance, updating dates or your media kit, or launching something new, now is the time!
Analyze Last Year's Performance
The start of a new year is always a great time to take a deep dive in how your site did in the previous year. Not only is it a good motivator to see past growth, you may end up finding some surprises like a specific piece of content doing better than expected or an affiliate program making massive leaps that you could double down on this year.
What all could you consider checking? We have some ideas:
- Month-over-month and year-over-year traffic.
- Gains and loss of traffic, rank, impressions, etc. on individual articles.
- Affiliate performance by brand or product type.
- Changes of display ad revenue.
This data is, admittedly, a bit time consuming if you are wanting to pull it from all networks in a sitting, so another thing you could do at the start of the year is to build a tracking spreadsheet that you update weekly/monthly to monitor things like traffic, income, expenses, etc. Having a lot of this data on hand updated at set intervals makes analyzing performance year-over-year much easier!
Update Your Media Kit & Rate Card
A back-end task that I do not particularly enjoy doing is updating my Media Kits and Rate Cards. Generally speaking, I only update these once a year and publish them on my site as a “Last Updated on January 1st” and “Prices Valid til June 30/December 31st” type system. (I do update my advertising pages monthly with more limited stats.)
So, if you haven't updated your media kit in a while, consider the new year a cue to get on it. You may want to include elements like:
- Site traffic (by month or year)
- Social media metrics (followers and average performance)
- Advertising options (with or without prices)
- Certifications and awards
- “As seen on” social proof
- Past partnership examples and/or testimonials
Ultimately, your Media Kit should be a concise document that gives potential partners a high look at everything you offer to help them decide if your blog is a good fit. I generally only post the Media Kit portion of this publicly and reserve my Rate Card portion for availability upon request as well.
Change Copyright (and Other) Dates
Depending on your site's structure, you may need to go through and update any site references to the year, particularly in your copyright element and/or if you use an archive destination as a blogroll (for example, we used [domain]/[year] link structures as our “blog” page for years before creating a dedicated landing page- this needed updated yearly).
Many themes, plugins, and content management systems generally have code that updates these things automatically, but it is always worth taking a peek at your site to make sure that nothing is missing for the year.
Also keep in mind any other pages where you may be referencing the current year, such as on a Sitemap page, Advertise page, and more!
Update Any Time Sensitive Content, Too
Much on a similar topic to updating copyright dates and archive links, if you publish any articles that include timely information such as prices, admission hours, or anything of the “in [year]” formats that are immensely popular, do not forget to update these in the new year!
We make sure to go through all of our old posts and check for relevant information like these and ensure they're updated to reflect the most up-to-date information we have available. Do we hit them all? No. But we still strive to keep some of the most popular content as evergreen as possible.
- Note: If you have any time or price-sensitive content that needs updating, this could be a good time to create a tracking spreadsheet to identify all of the posts that need periodic updates with a column identifying the last time it was updated. It really will help you stay on top of things over time!
Get to Inbox Zero(ish)
If you're like me, you probably open your inbox every day and see hundreds if not thousands of unread emails. The build-up of emails is serious, and unless you're really on top of things, it can get out of control in a hurry. The number of times I have to reply to an email I missed with a mea culpa is… significant. I'm really bad at keeping up with this!
So why not take the start of a new year as an opportunity to get back to inbox zero by reading emails you need to check out, deleting those that are not relevant, and, most importantly, unsubscribing from all the junk that you no longer want.
Finish Your Accounting for the Previous Year
The start of a new year means, for most at least, that we have now entered tax season for the previous year.
So take a bit of time to do whatever is necessary to line out your accounting from the previous year to get ready for your upcoming taxes- be it a quarterly payment (for readers in the USA, Q4 taxes are due by January 15th most years) and to file your annual return as well (April 15th for US-based readers most years).
As mentioned in a previous example, you may also want to take a moment to do some data analysis based on what you have at your disposal here. How did your income change this year over the last? What sources of income and expenses had the biggest change? What kind of RPMs did you earn over the year, month-to-month, or by individual program? The more data you track, the more analysis you have to dive down and see what is (and isn't) working!
Get Started on Accounting for This Year
Just like it is important to finish your accounting for the previous year, you also need to get started on your accounting for the new year!
Admittedly, how much you work on this could depend on what tools and services you have in place for accounting. Accounting software may automatically transition to the new year, but if you're looking to check more data (say, page views, conversions of income types, etc.), the new year could provide a good opportunity to start some new tracking spreadsheets, too!
Clear Out Your To-Do List
Ah, the old to-do list. This one feels a bit like going inbox zero to us because every time we have an idea for something to do for our blogs, we add it to a running to-do list.
As you may have guessed with that intro, the to-do list can become long as we have far more ideas than time to implement them.
So, how about using January to get caught up on all of the work you've been putting off in the previous year?
This could be something simple like writing a blog post you've been putting off to something more robust like performing an audit of affiliate programs. But whatever may be on your to-do list, don't let it sit by for another year and take a bit of time to tackle the things you have been procrastinating on!
Check Your Site's Performance
Now to ask a couple of questions you may be surprised when you answer.
When was the last time you checked on your site's speed? PSI scores? SERPs ranking position? Growth rate on social media? Or even just updated plugins?
Site optimization, as we all know, is an ongoing process. You are never truly optimized for SEO, site speed, and the like- it is work that always needs to be touched on, however infrequently, to stay on top of.
So take a bit of time in January to check out some of these metrics and make adjustments accordingly to help your business get on track for the new year!
Create Something New
Finally, we end this list with a bit of a challenge- set a goal to create at least one new thing this year that you've always wanted to do. This one does not have to be completed in January, but set yourself a goal of having it done by the end of the year!
If you're like us, odds are good you have a million ideas floating around in your head, whether by creating a product, service, new website, podcast, or simply diving into a social network you never prioritized before.
Make a plan to start at least one new thing in the year that you've wanted to try but hesitated on. This idea does not have to change the world. It may not even change your business. But in putting the effort into creating something new, you learn, generate more ideas, and, who knows, maybe turn it into something wonderful!
What else would you add onto a New Year's blogging checklist? Comment below to share!
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