This is a guest contribution from Julia McCoy.
For bloggers, “rest” and “time off” are not familiar words.
The nature of blogging requires that bloggers be willing to dedicate themselves to it at all times, at all hours of the day, and at all points throughout the year. While this nose-to-the-grindstone work style may be great for getting things done and building your blog following, it’s not exactly ideal for kicking back over the holidays and enjoying some well-earned time off with the people you love.
Even if you don’t actually “take a vacation” over the holidays (most of us marketers and entrepreneurs don’t), there are many ways to plan ahead so that you don’t wind up hunched over your computer screen while everyone else is passing the gravy boat.
Here are a few tips to help you get started.
10 Tips for a Holiday Blogging Schedule So You Stay Sane & Published (At the Same Time)
If you’ve never developed a seasonal blogging schedule before, take a deep breath. It doesn’t have to be nearly as tough as it sounds. In fact, planning a seasonal blogging schedule in advance can actually help you cut down on stress and produce great content all throughout the holiday season. Here are 10 tips to help you get started.
1) Start early.
Ideally, you should start planning your seasonal blogging schedule about 2-3 weeks before the holiday season rolls around. If you want to get really ambitious (give this a try next year) you can start in the beginning of October and plan out content that takes you from Halloween to New Year’s.
The first step is to sit down with your planning platform of choice (be it a paper schedule or a web-based platform like Evernote) and dedicate some time to looking over your content. If you have an editorial calendar, now is the time to consult it.
Think about how many posts you generally publish during a week and then schedule those things into your “To do” for the weeks before the holidays. While it may be stressful to push yourself to write 4 or 5 extra blog posts ahead of time, planning them in advance and spreading them out over the weeks leading up to the holidays can be a fantastic way to get your work done and afford yourself some well-earned time off.
2) Get creative with content forms.
Easy content is a blogger’s best friend over the holiday season. If you can’t bring yourself to not blog at all during the holidays, aim to post content that is easy and doesn’t take a great deal of effort to create and distribute.
Pictures, for example, are fantastic and bloggers in the lifestyle or dining industries can post appealing snapshots of holiday meals or special moments. Polls (“What is your favorite holiday tradition?” for example) are great, as are all forms of user-generated content. Create a Twitter hashtag or a Pinterest board where people can submit snaps of how they spend their holidays or what they love to cook for a special day and make each submission an entry to win a fun promotional product or freebie. In addition to being an exciting way to shake your up blog content, these easy and creative forms of content are also interesting for your customers.
3) Use your holiday blogs as a vessel for good.
No matter what you celebrate, the holidays are a time of giving and it’s important to tap into that throughout your blog content. Not only does this serve the important purpose of giving back, but holiday-centric blogs can also drive huge traffic numbers.
When you’re planning your topics ahead of time, consider how you can use your blog content as a vessel to make people feel happy. Maybe you can tell a story about the nicest thing someone has ever done for you or how you used to spend the holidays as a child. If you’re an e-commerce company, you can take it a step further and give your customers exclusive deals or coupons toward holiday gifts or shopping. If you have a physical presence you can draw upon, consider driving your readers to donate to or get involved with a specific charity. While blogging is a vessel for many things, it can easily become a vessel for giving and inspiration over the holidays.
4) Branch out.
Maybe you run an e-commerce company that sells clothing and maybe your blog content is generally about new products and developments in the fashion industry. To branch out a bit over the holidays and get your readers excited, use the holidays to theme your blog. For example, when Christmas draws near, you could write a post titled “The 5 Best Holiday Party Looks to Make You Sparkle.” People love the holidays and using each one to theme your content is a great way to grab more readers.
5) Schedule the posts.
If you’re working in WordPress or any of the other popular blogging platforms, you should have access to a “schedule” feature from your dashboard. This “Schedule” feature is a lifesaver for the busy blogger because once your advance posts are brainstormed and written, you can schedule them all at once to appear throughout the week or weeks that you would like to take off. This affords you the luxury of not having to worry about being anywhere specific to press “publish” and ensures that your content stays on schedule and gets to your readers on time.
6) Link your posts with email automation.
One great way to grab some extra traffic during the holiday season is to use an automated email service to further your reach with your customers. MailChimp is a favorite of many bloggers because it offers easy drag-and-drop building features, a fully automated schedule, and the ability for bloggers to check on their open and click rates.
If automated email isn’t already a part of your digital marketing plan, use it over the holidays to offer a special giveaway to your customers or to promote your new blog posts. Because automated emails can be created and scheduled ahead of time, they’re yet another great way to stay on schedule even when you’re taking some much-needed time away from the computer.
7) Consider offering seasonal products.
Whether or not you typically use your blog to sell things, the holidays can be a great time to offer a seasonal product. Whether you create it yourself or team up with another business, seasonal products are exciting to customers and can be a source of passive holiday income for you.
8) Focus on quality rather than quantity.
During the holidays, it can be especially easy to get stressed and feel like you have to hammer out a blog post right now. This is especially true if you haven’t exactly aced your planning beforehand. Doing this, however, can easily wreak havoc on your blog readership and can harm your reputation.
Instead of waiting until the 11th hour to publish something, focus on creating content in advance. If life gets in the way and you absolutely can’t fulfill your editorial calendar for a week, tell your readers and provide one of the easy forms of content mentioned earlier in place of your normal blog post. The holidays are a time of goodwill and as long as you communicate with your readers, all will be well.
9) Speak directly to your fans.
People love to be appreciated and the holidays are a perfect time to let your fans know how much your blog has grown, how much you appreciate their readership, and what steps you’re planning on taking in the upcoming year. Often, people who read blogs don’t hear about how they’ve helped further your business (but they have and you know it) and they love the feeling of being involved when bloggers begin speaking directly to them. For some unique content this holiday season, consider reaching out to your customers and giving them a personalized, unequivocal thank you.
10) Have fun!
Last but not least – have fun! The holidays are an exciting time and it’s important not to take them too seriously. Focus on providing high-quality, valuable content as always to your readers, but accept that you need a break too! Spend some time with the people you love and come back to blogging post-holiday refreshed, excited, and ready to get back to work.
While maintaining regular blog content over the holidays can be tough, simple steps like planning posts in advance, scheduling posts and emails, and creating simple, unique, holiday-focused content can go a long way toward making your holidays less stressful and more enjoyable.
How do you manage the silly season on your blog?