According to Business Dictionary, forecasting is:
A planning tool that helps management in its attempts to cope with the uncertainty of the future, relying mainly on data from the past and present and analysis of trends.
Sound like too much work for a simple little blog? Well, what if I told you it could help increase your blog’s traffic and sales? Yeah, I thought so. Now you’re interested.
Forecasting Helps You Get Closer To Your Blogging Goal
If you’re using your blog to make money then you probably have long-term and short-term blogging goals. Maybe you want to get to the point where you’re making $100,000 a year with your blog, and you’ve broken that down into more manageable short-term goals, say you want to be making $1,000 a month six months from now.
Now, let’s say you work on your blog for four months and you keep track of all your stats, and you see that at the end of four months you’ve only made $100 in sales, and that was made within the past month. Looking at your stats you can see that you’re moving closer to your goal, but here’s the thing…
If your performance versus your goal is all you look at, you’re not looking at the whole picture. Right now it looks pretty positive – you still have two more months to hit that $1000 mark and you’re moving in the right direction.
But, if you use forecasting to predict your results two months from now, you might see that hitting your goal is highly unlikely – unless you make some changes in your marketing plan.
For example, if you had 1,000 unique visitors to your blog last month and you made 10 sales totaling $100, that means your blog has a 1% conversion rate. At that rate, if you want to make $1,000 you’re going to need to increase your traffic to 10,000 unique visitors.
Looking at your blog’s traffic growth for the previous four months, you might see that the first month you had 100 visitors, the second month was 300, the third month was 500, and the fourth month was 1,000. Looking ahead to the future, or forecasting for the next two months, it might be reasonable to expect 2,000 visitors for the fifth month and 4,000 for the sixth, but unless you make some changes you probably won’t hit the necessary 10,000 unique visitors. You’ll end up missing your goal.
It’s not all bad news, though. Now that you’ve used forecasting to estimate your blog’s future performance, you can see what you need to do to achieve your goal. Now, instead of just blogging blind, you can actually create a plan. In this case, you could use any number of techniques to increase traffic and you could work on tweaking your content to increase your conversion rate.
Forecasting can be used for every aspect of your blogging business. You can forecast your traffic for the next month or year, forecast the number of RSS subscriptions you’ll get, or the number of times your content will be shared or Tweeted.
Forecasting has to be based on real statistics for it to be effective, and if your past performance hasn’t been what you expected then forecasting can seem kind of depressing. But here’s the thing…
By forecasting realistically for the future, you can see where you need to make adjustments so the next month, or six months, or year, will turn out better than projected.