This time of year is perfect for looking back and looking forwards. Most blogs have a bit of a lull around about now due to your audience being overstuffed with rich stodgy foods and over indulging in festive spirit. Take advantage and get ahead.
Blogs and seasonality
Blogs are strange beasts. On the one hand they seem to not follow the same time line as the rest of your life, being the 24-7 type affairs that they are often trumpeted to be. On the other hand the people who post and visit are after all human and therefore are subject to things that affect people such as the calendar and seasons. So with this in mind first of all do not be dismayed if right now you are not making enough money from your blog to buy a postage stamp. On the other hand I imagine other blogs will have done great business and you will be hoping it will never end.
How seasonal is your blog? I know in the tech industry there seems to be two lulls, one around now where the only big announcements will be early January at the very earliest (tech companies tend to have great end of year parties too), and another quiet period in summer when the decision makers are sunning their pale hides on beaches. Gadget blogs though tend to do well on the lead up to Christmas due to the increase in interest in the niche. Lots of mums, dads, aunts and uncles all trying to find that perfect gift for little Johnny or Jilly.
What should you do about it?
If you can predict ahead when your busy time or quiet time will be this coming year then you will be better prepared.
Every blogger needs some time off otherwise you might well burn out. It is tough on the little grey cells to be constantly inventing and creating, it’s good to give it a rest for a bit to recharge your batteries and get reacquainted with your family.
Quiet periods are also perfect for implementing design changes, tweaking and housekeeping, changing hosting, all those things you don’t want to do in case there is downtime or your blog looks messy to new visitors.
Busy periods need to be planned for if at all possible so you can maximise your returns. For example if your blog is about selling old tat and unwanted gifts on auction sites right now you need to be prominent on all major search engines for relevant search phrases. This is not the sort of thing you can do on the spur of the moment. Same with gadgets and gifts leading up to Christmas, Valentines, Easter.
You can usually work out when the “money time” is for many industries by watching the television advertising. Around about now the vacation adverts will appear showing sunny scenes in direct contrast to what many of us are experiencing outside our windows. Also the debt consolidation and loans people will be going into high gear thanks to the hyper spending of months previous.
The other aspect of calendar effects on blogs is there are certain events you need to plan for that are well known in your niche.
For bloggers and webmasters there are of course big conferences and events that all the blogs talk about. There are the search engine events, like SES, the big webmastering get togethers like webmasterworld then the blogger events such as Northernvoice.
It is no use deciding to just turn up to these things even if they are local to you (which for me they never are). For example Northernvoice is in February but if you want to speak and haven’t already got your slot then you are out of luck. Even if you want to attend just to listen you need to get organised with tickets, travel and accommodation plans.
If you want to be seen as an authority in your niche then you need to be covering the main events. Make sure you know what the big events are and ensure you are there and blogging them. It’s quite easy for your audience to get their daily fix elsewhere. I am sure there were quite a few blogs got a leg up with the Ipod and Xbox 360 announcements of last year.
Planning the year ahead
So, sitting as we are at the cusp of a new year, we are perfectly positioned to look forward and plan.
If you already have an established blog then you will have some advance warning of some of the things we have discussed in this post. Take a look at your years worth of logs and stats and work out where your peaks and troughs were. What posts worked best and when. Try and work out when you missed the mark or scored bullseyes.
Are you using this time to plan a new blog or take your fledgling blog to the next level? In that case you need to do some brainstorming. Get a calendar (electronic or physical) and mark in when your niche events happen and the big news times. Set yourself goals and try to put a milestone in every month.
- Traffic – when will you go from zero visitors to 100 a day, then 1000 a day, then 5000 a day?
- Content – try to plan at least one killer post a month, aim for more. If you start brainstorming now it will be so much easier when the time comes. Use the month and season as inspiration.
- Income – when will you be able to approach advertisers and sponsors? When will you write and release your ebook or blogcommerce? What is your starting income? When will you increase this figure by 50%, when will it increase by the same amount? When will you be able to quit your job and do this full time?
If you fancy being a blog overlord you might also want to phase your launches of new blogs. In which case you will also need to plan finding bloggers, setting up hosting and implementing designs, well before your planned blog launches.
What are you going to do?
Are you using this time to party or are you planning your year? Personally, I aim to do a bit of both. Tell us about your 2006!