Online Business

Quarterly Planning: How to Kick Your Goals Every 3 Months (Using Trello!)

Amie Hamling, Owner at The Creative Blog Co.

Full disclosure: if you click on the word Trello in this article, it is a commission link for Trello Gold. Simply, if you sign up, I’m rewarded.

Splitting your year into quarters is an incredibly valuable way to run your business and your life.

It’s overwhelming looking down the barrel of another 12 months in business. Trust me, The Creative Blog Co. is a year old this September (yay!) and by focusing on 3 month increments, I can avoid the stress and anxiety of a yearly plan.

Plans change. Three months is a manageable time slot, as for most, you know what that season in your business and/or life will bring.

Believe it or not, quarterly planning is much more sustainable and long term than a 12 month vision. We’ve seen this replicated by many successful entrepreneurs in courses (think: Todd Herman) and it’s proven successful in sales and marketing teams all over the world.

That’s why my lil’ business works on a quarterly basis.

Take this next quarter for example, October — November — December.

Let me take you through how I plan my content, travel (#digitalnomad), creative life, client work and finances every 3 months.

1 / Review your previous quarter.

At the end of every quarter, I make a quick list (in a journal or a Trello card is fine) of how many blog posts I published, how many email blasts I sent to my list (+ open rates), how many new subscribers I gained, how my social stats tracked, and of course, how much income I generated during that time.

2 / Create monthly content themes.

Frame your next quarter by deciding on an overarching theme — this makes it a whole lot easier to decide what you’re going to serve up to your audience. For example, your overarching theme may be EMAIL MARKETING and within that, you can plan even further into the month (monthly themes could be indoctrination series, list growth, sales funnels, etc.). The more specific you are within a month, the easier it will be to plan out 1, 2, 4 or more blog posts.

3 / Set an achievable goal for content creation.

Leading on from your content themes, I start each quarter by opening up my Google Calendar and jotting down what weeks/months would be best for creating content. Once I’ve added in dates, I create a ‘working title’ based on my keyword research (learn more in my free course) and scribble a few points I could touch on + if an opt-in needs to be created.

Email marketing is planned out in advanced, based around affiliate marketing campaigns and blog posts, but sticking to one day of the week is recommended so your subscribers can expect you in their inbox.

4 / Schedule in ‘social time’.

Every 3 months, I test out a new ‘formula’ for how/what I will post on my social channels. In a Trello board, using a Monday-Sunday view created with lists, I add in the type of content I will post each day for those three months on FB and Instagram, e.g. Monday — Instagram — Post a selfie, Tuesday — FB — Post a blog post.

5 / Prioritise your content, travel and client work.

As a self-confessed digital nomad, I can be out of the office and somewhere completely new for half of the month, meaning I have to prioritise when I will work on certain projects during the quarter. I set priorities using a simple Q&A checklist:

  • Does someone else need me to complete this?
  • Is this a time-based or project-based activity?
  • What would happen if this activity slipped for this quarter?
  • Will I have internet connection to complete X task?

6 / Project your monthly earnings and goal set.

Quickbooks basically does all the hard work for me. If you know me at all, you’d know I’m terrible with numbers and that’s why I rely on my close-knit team to do the heavy lifting for me while I sip on cocktails and overspend on marketing (#truth).

I do like to know how much to expect in my back pocket for the quarter ahead, I simply project this by slotting in any guaranteed client work on a Trello list and labelling the maybe/maybe-not income based off last quarter’s reports in another colour.

7 / Plan a creative habit for the next 3 months.

Creativity is a life source for me — it makes me who I am and it makes me a happier, healthier me. There’s no better time than now to add a new creative habit to your ever-expanding list. I realign my creative interests at the start of a quarter, placing more focus on photography if I’m travelling or more on journalling and watercolours if I’m working from home. Add a new creative hobby to your list for your next quarter.

8 / Build your Trello Quarterly Planner.

An updated quarterly planner frames the next 3 months of my life. It’s where I can expand on what’s in my Google Calendar by adding in flight details/PDFs of tickets, PAID invoices, blog post ideas, and content checklists.