Blogging When Things Slow Down
It’s that time of year: School’s out, workers are leaving for vacation in droves and, in the United States, it’s a holiday weekend.
If you don’t have a site that’s specifically targeted toward summer activities, it’s almost certainly the slow season.
For me and my sites, it’s pretty routine for traffic to drop between 25 and 33 percent during these months and, though the drop off is less than in previous years, it’s definitely noticeable this one as well.
So what’s a blogger to do?
The truth is that, while you can’t avoid the slowdowns that come with the seasons, you can make the best of them and use this relatively slow time to both improve your site and even grow it.
In short, if you treat the slower months not as a obstacle, but an opportunity, you can do a great deal of good that can have both you and your site ready for when things ramp up as the weather begins to cool off.
So what can you do with a temporary slowdown? Here are five suggestions to get you started.
1. Ignore It
Realistically, paying too close to your traffic isn’t very good anyway. While it’s nice to be know what’s going on with your site at all times, the truth is that it can lead to a lot of false anxiety over things that you can’t control, such as a summer slowdown.
One of the best things you can do when things start to get a little bit more quiet is ignore it. Keep writing great content, keep on top of your niche and keep moving forward. Even if posts aren’t terribly successful when you post them, they’ll be there in your archive for when things ramp up later.
Simply put, a lot of blog posts that become hits don’t do so immediately. I’ve routinely had posts catch fire months or years after they were published.
Keep putting great content out there, trust that your most dedicated readers are still getting them and know that some of them might gain more traction later.
2. Write Evergreen Content
It’s easy when things are busy to keep plugging along, to focus on covering the day’s news and only looking at what is going on right then and there.
While this is something that blogs do very well and audiences often enjoy, it makes it difficult to write evergreen content, or content that is relevant months or years after its posted. This can include things such as tutorials on how to do common tasks, mission statements or even helpful lists of links.
Evergreen content often isn’t popular right after it’s posted and, in most blogs, is contained within pages rather than posts. However, they can still be valuable sources of information and generate a steady stream of traffic over a longer period of time.
In short, writing evergreen content is an investment, spending time now for a slower payoff over months and years down the road. However, during a slowdown, the cost of the investment is lower, making it the perfect time to get started.
3. Improve Your Site
Speaking of investments in your site’s future, have been looking at the possibility of setting up a new theme? Maybe you want to add a new section to your site or even move to a new host? Now might be a great chance.
Working on your site is important but it’s also a distraction from creating new content every day. The summer months, or any other slower period, may be a great opportunity to write less and improve more.
So, if you’ve got a big site project you’ve been putting on hold because you had too many posts to crank out, maybe you should consider scaling back and tackling it. That new theme isn’t going to design itself.
4. Reach Out to Your Core Audience
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can try something very different. Rather than ease up on your writing to do other things, you can instead turn around and focus on the people who are there: Your core audience.
The people most dedicated to you and your site will find a way to visit there any time of year. While they might not check it on vacation, more of them will be hanging around than those who stumble across your site via Google or social media.
These months give you a chance to really connect with that core audience and serve their needs without worrying as much about others who might be visiting. It’s a chance to talk with them, ask them what they want to read about and write content just for them.
While you always have to write for your core audience from time to time, during these months you can focus more on them and create an even deeper loyalty.
5. Take a Vacation
Here’s an idea, if the rest of the world is taking vacations, maybe you should too. A week or two away from the Internet, blogging, email and work in general might do you some good. It can help you recharge and come back strong.
Blogging burnout is a very real problem and it’s often caused most by people who stay at the grind too long without a real break. It’s important to take some time for yourself and not let yourself be overwhelmed by your day-to-day tasks.
When your site is at its slowest, that is the best time to walk away for a bit (with appropriate announcements and words of warning).
While you can forward post content if you want, forward posted content typically doesn’t do as well because you aren’t there to promote it and because it isn’t as timely. Still, it is an option.
The most important thing though is that, if you go on vacation, go on vacation. No checking email, no writing, no editing your site, just enjoying your time away so you can come back refreshed and excited.
Slowdowns can be frustrating. You work all year to build traffic, improve your SEO and generally grow your audiences only to have a sizable portion of it disappear and you be unable to do anything about it.
However, that frustration shouldn’t govern your decisions about what to do. A slowdown, if handled well, is a great opportunity to do some great things with your site and make it stronger for when things pick back up.
If, instead, you sit there and try to change the unavoidable, you’ll only frustrate yourself more and likely do your site a disservice.
So take a moment to think about what you’re going to do when things calm down a bit, you’ll likely be grateful that you did.