5 Tips For Blogging Through “The Summer Slump”
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Bloggers, it’s about that time again.
Time when the weather warms up and people head outside to soak up every second of it. Time when everyone taps into their inner Clark Griswold and plans epic summer vacations and campouts and family reunions and road trips and, well, any chance to get outta town. Time when the grills are fired up and juicy watermelons and Dad’s classic burgers replace the need for recipes, . Which of course means…
…it’s time for the “summer slump” in the blogging world to begin.
This looks different for every blogger, of course. Different years, different blogging niches, different traffic patterns, different Google algorithms, and a hundred other different variables affect individual blogs from summer to summer. But in general, it’s pretty predictable annual pattern — when the weather warms up, people want to be outside. Which means that people spend less time inside, less time on their computers, and less time on blogs. Which means that the blogging industry as a whole tends to take a dip — both in terms of traffic and often in terms of bloggers’ incomes — during those summer months.
I call it the ol’ summer slump.
And since that slump traditionally tends to begin for food bloggers right around Easter (the last major cooking holiday until there’s a slight spike for July 4), I thought it would be timely to pop in today and share a few thoughts about blogging through the summer slump. Because as someone coming up on my 6th little blogiversary this July, I have a wee bit of experience now with blogging through summers. I’ve also gained more than a wee bit of experience in giving the “summer slump pep talk” to other bloggers who — although never prone to the dramatic this time of year — often start to doubt everysinglething they know about blogging, doubt that they know how to create quality content, doubt that their readers will ever come back, doubt that they’re ever going to earn a single penny again, doubt whether they should just throw in the towel and quit right now, doubt often and aloud — “I mean, really, is this even worth it?!?!?”
(Clearly, deep breaths are an essential practice during the summer.)
Well, to all of them, to myself, and to any of you who might start be feeling all doubt-y or discouraged or disillusioned or disheartened or any of those other dis-‘s during the summer months — take heart. Blogging is a roller coaster and these downs come with the ups. A summer slump won’t last forever, and totally shouldn’t take away from the joy of summer.
I mean, seriously, summer is my favorite season! It’s when we get to wear flip flops and drink iced coffee and swim in the lake and go for warm walks in the evening. It’s when we get to cook with fresh ripe tomatoes and bake warm loaves of zucchini bread and saute up colorful peppers galore and pop red juicy strawberries like candy. It’s when we get to sizzle up steaks on the grill and bring pasta salads for picnics and enjoy frozen margaritas on the deck with friends until the fireflies come out.
It is not the time of year when bloggers should have to feel pressured or anxious or discouraged by an annual trend in our industry. No way. If it were up to me, Google Analytics should never have the power to cast a cloud over anyone’s sunny, warm, delicious summers.
But still, having been through a handful of summer slumps myself in the past, I fully acknowledge that they can be hard at times on bloggers. So today, I thought I would share 5 of my favorite tips for how to blog through the summer slump. Or even better, how to enjoy blogging through the summer slump. Trust me, it’s totally possible.
My 5 Tips For Blogging Through The “Summer Slump”
1. Don’t panic.
Don’t overanalyze. Don’t make rash decisions. Don’t freak out. Don’t panic.
Because summer slumps are totally normal in blogging.
Frankly, if you don’t have a summer slump in traffic or comments or social media engagement or income — you lucky duck, you — I’d say you’re in the minority. Because statistically, the blogging industry as a whole tends to take a consistent dip in traffic and engagement during the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Thankfully, for those of us who monetize our blogs via ads, CPM rates tend to do better in the summer than they did in the 1st quarter, so your income may level out even if your traffic is lower. But still, if your blog is hit by the summer slump and your income dips, it’s important to always remember that this is an industry trend and you’re not alone!
Also important to remember? The summer slump is not a time to panic and make rash decisions.
Think of it as the blogging equivalent to making important decisions after 9pm. All adults should know by now that this is never a good idea!!! (Although let’s be real, 11:59pm always seemed like the perfect time in college to send that 3-page email to your crush confessing your undying love, right??) NO. Resist the urge. Don’t do it. Big decisions (and emails) can always wait until morning. Just like making big decisions about your blog can always wait until the fall, when the summer slump miraculously transforms into back-to-school, meal-planning, holiday-preparing, wonderfully-high-traffic season.
The best decisions in life come out of seasons of excitement and confidence and joy, not fear and anxiety and panic. So wait it out. And remember you’re in good company with other cool bloggers doing the exact same thing.
2. Use this time to work on longer-term projects.
Heck yes! Summer is the perfect time to work on longer-term projects. And if you don’t have anything else brewing behind the scenes of your blog just yet, summer is the perfect time to also come up with some new longer-term projects.
For example, how about that cookbook you’ve been wanting to write? Or that partnership you would like to explore? Or that course you’ve thought about creating? Or that new software you’ve been wanting to conquer? Or that research trip you’ve been wanting to take? Or that new series you’d love to launch?
Schedule out time to devote to a longer-time project or two — even if that means spending a little less time than usual on your day-to-day blogging — and then make them happen! I see this as beneficial for two good reasons:
1) It’ll pull you out of the weeds of the day-to-day statistics of summer slumpy-ness and give you some exciting longer-term goals to work toward. So if blogging gets you down, you’ll have another motivating project to fall back on.
2) Quite frankly, if your summer blog posts aren’t getting that much traffic during the summer, it might actually be wiser (from a business perspective) to invest more time into some longer-term projects if you think they might be more successful overall. Totally depends on the circumstances of course, but if your traffic’s down and you’d rather be spending time writing a book that you think could be profitable, then summer could be the perfect season to focus more of your efforts there.
Either way, always remember — blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. So spend some time thinking about what you’d like your blog and your lifestyle to look like over the coming months and years and decades, and then make plans to start moving in that direction.
3. Experiment! Take risks! Carpe blog!
I’m also a firm believe that summer is a fantastic time to try some new things with your blog. Experiment! Take risks! Seize your blog!
When traffic is high, bloggers tend to want to play it safe and stick with content that they know will yield home-runs. (No judgement there — that’s how I tend to roll.) But hey, if things take a dip in the summer and some readers check out on summer vacation, use that pressure-free time to test out some new stuff and see how it flies!!
For example, maybe there’s a new photography style you’ve been wanting to test out. Or some trendy new ingredients or cooking techniques or recipes that you’ve been curious to try. Or a new lifestyle series you’ve been curious to launch. Or hey — maybe you really want to redesign your site and work out the kinks during non-peak season. I’m pretty sure that every blogger I know has a list of cool ideas and projects they have been wanting to try out. And if my blog is proof of anything, it’s that readers are more willing than you might think to come along as you experiment with new ideas and content. (My readers should all win a gold medal for how patient they’ve been with me and all of my impulsive ideas!) :)
So don’t play it safe. Gear up your courage and do something that intimidates you! Something that’s a little risky. Something that’s a little vulnerable. Something that’s a little different. Something that’s a little scary. Something that’s a little extra awesome.
(And if you do, you must email and tell me about it. I get uber excited when bloggers try new stuff, and would love to cheer you on!)
4. Devote time to behind-the-scenes stuff.
Yeah, you know all of that pesky technical stuff that we bloggers always want to do, but can never find time to do when we’re racing to create new content? Summer is a fantastic time to make those things happen. You know — spring clean your house, then summer clean your blog. ;)
I highly recommend making some lists of various maintenance and technical stuff you’d like to tackle, and then set some very reasonable goals of making between 1-3 tasks happen a week. By the end of the 12-week summer, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve accomplished! (And your site will be all the more ready to receive new visitors in the high-traffic holiday season.)
Some of the things on my list for this summer?
- Accounting, accounting, accounting
- Update SEO on my 30 most popular posts
- Clean out broken links
- Update old plugins and research some new ones
- Work on site speed and mobile responsiveness
- Update my about page
- Learn Lightroom
- Analyze ad performances
- Make some tweaks to my site design
- Check in and research various back-up resources
- Figure out the freaking wifi settings on my camera
- (Finally) finish some new cooking and blogging resources I have been working on for months
5. Enjoy some time off.
And by that, I mean legit time off. Not the go-on-vacation-and-“just-check-in”-on-your-computer-10-times-a-day sort of time off. I’m talking the for-realz, out-of-office-responder-on, blog-posts-scheduled-ahead-of-time, no-checking-social-media-on-your-phone, come-back-to-your-comments-later, take-a-break-from-having-to-blog-about-everything-and-just-be-inspired-by-life glorious kind of time off.
You can totally get out of town to do this and take a vacation. But even more importantly, I dare you to do this regularly at home throughout the summer. You know, time off during a normal week. (What a concept?!)
Bloggers tend to really, really suck at this. So for anyone who needs some concrete recommendations for taking time off, I recommend considering:
- Posting one less time per week during the summer: Chances are you won’t even see a dip in your traffic. And the extra time can allow you to do more of #2, #3, #4 and #5.
- Taking an extra day (or two) off from your blog each week: Turn Fridays into Fri-yays! Or take the weekends completely off! Or if you hate Mondays, have a screen-free start to your week. Then, make fun plans on those days (or relaxing plans if that’s more needed) so that you don’t fall back into old habits and fill them with work.
- Heck, taking an entire month off from your blog: You can either do this by planning in advance and scheduling out posts for a month. Or you can just take some old-fashioned time off and (gasp) just not post for a month. I have friends who have done this and swear that it’s life-changing. I’ve got to make it happen!
Now because I know you bloggers (and love you bloggers!), I know that the idea of taking substantial time off is probably the one you’re least likely to actually make happen. So if that’s the case, let me remind you why it’s essential:
- You need time off. Lest we ever forget, it’s how humans are designed. We need lots of rest — like, as many hours of rest in a day as we’re supposed to work in a day — in order to feel energized and inspired and recharged. So even if you are a pro at “powering through” and getting oodles of stuff done, do yourself a favor during the summer and close those screens and take some legit time off. I can guarantee you’ll come back with a more interesting life to write about, and you’ll likely miss blogging and genuinely enjoy getting back to it all the more.
- You deserve time off. On that same note, most bloggers I know are super-hard workers, and pour incredible amounts of time and energy and heart into their work. I’m one of them — blogging is something I love to do, and I give it my all. However, like with any other job, working hard earns you time off. So don’t be that crazy boss to yourself that you would never want to work for — give yourself the time off you deserve, and then take those vacation days!
- Your readers want you to take time off. On that note, I would also like to point out that your readers are also real, wonderful, reasonable people as well. And they don’t want their favorite bloggers to be workaholics. No, they want you to enjoy time off! I feel like I have to remind blogging friends of this all the time when they’re afraid about “missing a post” or being late with something — your readers are not out to judge you or be your crazy taskmaster. They’re in this with you. So if you take off for a week or two on vacation, tell them, and they’ll probably be the first ones to encourage you to go.
- …The world (and your blog) will not end if you take time off. Your blog, my blog, our blogs are not the center of the universe. If you take a few weeks off, the world will keep on spinning, and your blog and your readers and your life will be there waiting for you when you return. In fact, they’ll be even more happy to welcome the rested and refreshed and rejuvenated YOU back when you return. :-)
So BLOG ON!
And hey, be sure to also cheer your fellow bloggers who might be experiencing some degree of a summer slump. We’re in this together, and we’re in it for the long haul with many more summers ahead.
So cheers to a great season ahead. You’ve got this!