OK, 2020 … hasn’t been the best. But you powered through, and your 2021 content plan is locked and loaded. You have buy-in from key stakeholders. You’ve completed or nearly completed any redesigns. You’ve booked interviews for your January podcasts and videos. And you’ve assigned — maybe even started editing? — copy for your January blog posts.

You’re in good shape for 2021. Yay, you! But if you really want to start the year off on the right foot, there are a few more steps you’ll want to take before the ball drops on Dec. 31. 


Honestly assess your 2020 metrics.

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds of monthly, weekly and even daily metrics, but the end of the year is a good time to take a look at how your campaigns performed over the long haul. Put together a report for senior management that shows your progress this year. Did you accomplish what you set out to? Why or why not? What lessons did you learn? Now’s the time to make any adjustments that will set you up for success in 2021.


Pull baseline numbers.

For any measures you plan on tracking in 2021, make sure you have your baseline numbers written down. Whether that is social media followers, clicks, unique page views, downloads, conversions… Whatever the numbers are that you need to track, have a record of where you are starting.


Go over your budget one more time.

In your 2021 content plan, you probably have slated a certain number of white papers and reports, blog posts, videos and podcasts, infographics and more. Do you have enough budgeted to complete your plan? If not, do you have any unused budget from this year you can use to get a jump on next year?

If the coffers are empty, this would be a good time to notify leadership that your 2021 plan will likely need to change unless budget numbers are adjusted. What you definitely want to avoid is getting halfway through the year, realizing you don’t have enough money to finish your plan and then having to explain that to the higher-ups.


Do a process debrief with your staff and stakeholders.

Getting your content done and launched is great, but how did it feel in the thick of it? Did your team and stakeholders have enough time to do their parts or was almost every request titled “Urgent!” or “Input needed asap!”? Either way, now’s the time to check in and talk process. What can be improved for next year? 


Set expectations with your team for 2021.

Once you’ve addressed any overarching problems with process, it’s time to set expectations with your team. If deadlines were a problem this year, have your team create schedules for themselves that will help them stay on task. Or offer incentives for hitting deadlines. Put names into a drawing each month for every met deadline and then raffle off a gift card or free lunch. You know what works for your team. 


Celebrate your successes!

Regardless of the challenges you faced — and hey, we all had them — you and your team produced some really cool stuff this year! Before everyone breaks for the holiday, celebrate the awesome work you did. A team that knows they’re appreciated is more likely to remain focused on doing great work. So take everyone out for happy hour to say thank you and reminisce about 2020. You may even want to hand out some custom awards.