For many blogs, summer is the slow season. People are on vacation, schools are out, dorms are empty and most sites see a noticeable drop in traffic until the cooler weather comes.
So what is a blogger to do with this time? Even if one’s site isn’t outright dead or quiet, it’s often much less active and that can create a case of summer blues, where bloggers feel as if they’re putting in the hours but not seeing the results they expected.
However, there’s good news. The slower months are an excellent time to do some very valuable work on your site. Some of it is to gear up for when things ramp up later, others exploit the reduction in competition to have a more immediate impact.
Here are five things you can use your summer doldrums for to make your site that much better.
1. Change/Improve Your Theme
Since traffic is less, you can relax a bit on your posting schedule, either removing a posting or two per week or shortening what you write daily, and put that time back into your site by improving your theme.
With the release of WordPress 3.0, there’s a lot of great ways you can upgrade your theme, not to mention new themes you can change to.
Simply put, more time and fewer visitors makes summer a great chance to make these changes and make sure they’re done right. It is certainly better to have some downtime or make a blunder now than in peak season in a few months.
2. Do Some Link Building
This means two things. First, reach out to other bloggers and see about swapping links when practical. Second, write some high-quality linkbait posts and push them out over social media channels in a bid to draw others to link to you.
During summer months, though there is fewer people online, there is also less competition for those eyeballs. This is an excellent chance to get some inbound links to help your SEO and build new roads to your site for when the masses return.
3. Get Social
Summer is a great time to either gets started or get more involved in social networking. Since people often continue to tweet, check Facebook and manage other social profiles even when away from a computer, largely because these activities are mobile-friendly, those activities don’t drop quite as much during the summer months.
Take advantage of this and start working on your Twitter following, make some new friends on Facebook and so forth. Get out there and grow your social media/social news presence.
It will not only help grow your audience for your posts in the summer, but help you accelerate growth after the slow season ends.
4. Try Out New Ideas
Got a new idea for a column but aren’t sure if it will take off? What about a new video series you’ve been wanting to try? Now is the perfect time to try it out. The people still at your site are, for the most part, your core audience. Now is the chance to try out new ideas on them without worrying about what newcomers will think.
Though it might seem risky trying out things your core readers, remember that they are the ones who are most likely to give you honest feedback and not knee-jerk reactions. Experimenting now lets you maximize the amount of feedback you get from dedicated readers while keeping the new voices to a minimum.
5. Upgrade Your Site or Move Hosts
Finally, if you need to upgrade to the latest version of your blogging platform, switch to another system or change hosts, now is your chance. A few days of site downtime or erratic behavior will matter less now than in a couple of months.
If you have any upgrades or updates that you’ve been putting off for fear of breaking your site, now is a good time to make your backup and give it a go, especially if you do it during the slower part of the day and week.
In short, you’re never going to find a time with a smaller audience, the risk is as low as possible.
The summer months can be a depressing time for bloggers but they don’t have to be, it can be the most productive time of the year and represents a chance both to grow your site and prepare for busier times.
However, don’t forget to carve a little bit of rest and relaxation time in for yourself too. After all, pushing yourself too hard at any time can result in burn out and that can be more dangerous to your blog than just about anything else.
Use this time wisely but don’t get too caught up. Your site and your mind will thank you.