In his book Profit First, Mike Michalowicz outlines a common scenario that prevents businesses from making a profit. The problem is that most business owners use the following accounting formula:
Revenue - expenses = profit
When the formula they should be using is:
Revenue - profit = expenses
This change may seem subtle, but it's actually brilliant and here's why. By prioritizing profit and socking that money away each month, it becomes really easy to reduce expenses. Almost like magic, you spend less money because the number in your checking account is lower. If the money is there, it's easy to find ways to spend it. His point is that profit should be the priority, not what's leftover.
Profit is the True North—the single metric upon which success is measured. This example perfectly illustrates the problem we run into with content marketing. Without a single number to benchmark success, we try to add subscribers, get more shares, drive free trial signups and build links all at the same time. These are the "expenses" that water down the impact of content marketing.
I'm going to offer you a True North. It may not be the perfect number for your site, but it's a formula that nearly guarantees massive growth for your content.
The 15% Rule
Unless your blog is absolutely crushing it and running on autopilot, your primary goal should be to increase organic search traffic. This is the single fastest way to increase traffic and, along with email, is the only sustainable way to grow a blog.
I suggest that you shoot for 15% month over month growth as your True North. That may not seem like a ton, but compounding growth is really, really powerful. Let's say that your site is currently getting 1,000 organic visits per month. If you multiply 1,000 by 1.15 every month for two years, you end up with 24,891 organic visits per month. I'll take that math any day.
Here's why the True North Formula works really well:
- Having a True North makes it easy to say no to anything that doesn't get you closer to your goal.
- 15% growth is really easy to attain in the first few months. The momentum really helps when 15% starts to get harder.
- You have a new goal to work towards each month. This positive constraint forces you to be creative about your content strategy.
There's a simple exercise that will help you plan your own True North. You can grab the docs to do this yourself at the end of the post.
I'm Sold. Now What?
There are three things on your to-do list.