And no one told me or asked me to write this. In fact, it’s been brewing in my Notes app for a full YEAR! Then blogging got busy again and I thought it might not be the best time to write it. There is no time like the present, though. March is the thick of it! It’s actually been only three years since I started working as a blogger, and then as an influencer, since I love Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest a LOT. When I published my first sponsored post, my readers were like, “Well. Yeah.” It was a long time coming. It was sporadic at first, so the whole year was my slow season. But, oh what FUN it is!
I couldn’t tell the difference at first, with fast or slow, and then I picked up in momentum, ambition, work, and passion. That first slow season (first quarter of 2016) was rough. I even talked about it with my therapist and then got into my car after that session and checked my email – only to find a brand new sponsored post acceptance. When those email subjects start with, “Congratulations”, (and aren’t spam) after all this time I STILL get butterflies in my stomach. I broke my own self-administered therapist/client rule and texted her with, “I got a blogging job five seconds after walking out of your office!” She wrote back, “Of course you did!” That was way TMI, but it’s my way of telling you that this affects me deeply.
I’m prone to catastrophizing. Last year was my second slow season and it was particularly bad – so much that I was almost daily texting my friends in the know and asking if it was normal. Even they admit that while slow blogging seasons are normal, 2017 was particularly bad. We didn’t know why. Then it picked up, and picked up wonderfully. It had changed me, though. I made use of that time in early 2017 to work harder than I ever have. Maybe you love your job or you have found a way to make passive or active income that REALLY does it for you. It rocks your world. If you are like me, and prone to catastrophizing (which I hope you’re not), sometimes holding gold in your hands is too much pressure. You’re always afraid you will drop it or break it or tarnish it or get even one spot on it. That’s how I am. It’s fear of the unknown as well.
I didn’t expect the slow season to be March. Now I realize that the end of the year is so busy, that the quarter four hires/jobs carry over into the new year. And you expect January to be slow. In fact, we always go to Disney World in January. During February we are juggling snow days and Valentine’s Day. March is a long month, and a month of transition in so many ways. It’s viruses still coming and going with a vengeance now that the season is winding down. It’s winter into spring and dark into light. And, it’s when you really notice if the blogging season hasn’t picked up yet, but you expect it to be there by now. Even if you know that it’s like this every March. It’s rough for me. I thought I’d write this in January.
January wasn’t slow and February did what February does. (not sure what, but I think it involves heart-shaped sandwiches) So now I’m here to tell you that in the last year or so, I have learned about the slow season. Here are my 10 ways to deal:
10 Ways to Thrive During the Slow Blogging Season
1 – First, enjoy it. Yes, really. I’m mostly writing this to myself. I have two jobs, and sometimes three. My photography business also has a slow season, but it’s a different one, and I’ve been doing that for far longer than I’ve been blogging. As for a third job, I sometimes do freelance contract work with editing and data entry. Sometimes it’s a lot of work, and mostly it isn’t. When it hits, it really hits. I have to remind myself that during the slow season, I should be thankful for this.
At the end of 2017, I couldn’t say yes to any kind of social engagement and would even get annoyed if someone innocently asked me to lunch. I’d be constantly checking my phone and thinking I was missing something. I didn’t take ONE weekend off from September until maybe January or February. Not even a weekDAY. Now that it’s slow season? I make special goals for myself. I still work hard, but I carve in time to do things like go through the mountains and into a tiny village about 12 minutes from my house that has the most exquisite broccoli cheddar soup. And I go on cool road trips as often as I want.
I know things will get busy again, but I need to retain this ability to have and enjoy free time, even if that means cutting out some work. Although I never say no to photography or blogging unless it’s a terrible fit and we all know it. Yesterday was a snow day and instead of stressing about work, I walked the half-mile and back to the mailbox, and I ran around the yard with my arms spread out like an airplane. The kids will remember this. They will never remember me hunched over a computer.
2 – Update your profiles with all marketing and influencer agencies. I was surprised recently to discover that I hadn’t done that in years with one agency. No wonder they weren’t hiring me! I had grown a lot since then. It’s a good time to update bios and photos, especially if things have changed, and to make sure all social media accounts are connected. Be fresh!
3 – Work on pitching brands directly. Do you feel ready? I sort of feel ready. This is a big one and I’ve only done it twice, and both this week! There are pitching groups to join on Facebook, as well as plenty of articles and blog posts and samples of pitch templates. It’s a vast world and I wasn’t sure I was ready for it, but I finally feel like this is my next big move.
4 – Create daily, weekly, and monthly goals. My friend Charlotte does this well. It could be as simple as writing out a post-it each day saying you will pitch one brand, apply to one agency job, etc. Maybe you are looking for 50K unique page views a month, or 10K a week. The sky is the limit but when you write down those goals, and maybe even publish it, you’re holding yourself accountable. Join groups with other motivated bloggers. Success begets success. Tis a beautiful thing.
5 – Identify your weakest spots and amp them up. Whether that’s photography, recipes, crafts, writing, tech stuff, don’t write off or hire out what you may be able to excel at. Interview a mentor. Read an e-book. Join an online challenge. Ask for help. I’m still working on things I discovered I was terrible at back at 2016! I think (hope) I’m less terrible at them now.
6 – Take a class. I once took a class on Twitter and Facebook. Then another on Instagram and Pinterest. There’s a class for everything and whether you’re looking for personal experience, or professional, it’s still worth blogging about!
7 – Sign up for a blogging conference. This is about as networky as networking can be. And it’s fun! Even before the actual conference, you’ll join Facebook groups and “meet” fellow conference mates. This is a life-changing move each time.
8 – Follow up with potential and current clients. If you’re like me, you have a starred or labeled folder in your inbox full of potential clients. Maybe you were too busy to respond at the time, but kept their email for a reason. Maybe they can offer more than you’ve ever imagined. You have to ask for what you want. You have to start and maintain these connections.
9 – Time to declutter. Declutter it ALL. It’s not the best way to spend a workday(s), but in the end, it will work wonders. I have photos unedited, emails unanswered, blog comments un-replied, and physical clutter too! Time to declutter it all!
10 – Keep morale up and be hopeful. With everything, there is a season. It comes back around. After nearly three years, I’m still not used to the fluctuations, and often they make me sad. I have to think of them as opportunities for downtime, and opportunities for growth. There is no sustainable way to make money and stay healthy emotionally if you’re working 365 days a year. Enjoy a little downtime, and then GET BUSY. We have work to do! And I love to do it with all of you!