How to Kick Your Blog into Summer Gear

Today’s the beginning of the long Memorial Day weekend here in the US, and in my neck of the woods, that means summer’s finally here.

Woohooooo!

Given that we Wisconsinites spend 8.5 months of the year being pelted by snow and ice and bundling ourselves up in our winter caves, summer is a massively big deal around here.

As a matter of fact, summer is such a big deal that I’ve spent the last few weeks testing and tweaking a plan that lets me feel like I’m on vacation every day even though I’m tending to all my most important blogging activities.

Something tells me I’m not the only one who likes to scamper out the door the minute the weather turns nice, so I’m sharing my plan with you on this holiday weekend.

You’ll need to structure things for your own circumstances, but here are the basics:

Set up a Summer Blogging Schedule. Okay, I know this is already sounding like a drag, but trust me on this. Setting up and honoring a summer schedule is going to make everyone, especially you, a whole lot happier. Families and friends like it because they know what to expect, and you’ll like it too once you see how much more productive you are and how much more fun you have.

Strip down to the Essentials. Hey, put your clothes back on! What I’m talking about here is streamlining or eliminating bulky blogging tasks until all that’s left is a lean, mean, beach-worthy blogging routine. Summer is the time to focus on basics like writing great content, and finding ways to streamline those basics, like cutting back post length a bit or dropping to four posts a week if you normally post five times. It’s also time to get rid of flabby blogging habits like compulsive email and stat checking (oh, I know you do it, so don’t pretend you don’t) and messing around with ads when what you should be doing is building traffic. And speaking of traffic, pick one or two of the most effective methods such as guest posting or blog commenting, and then get super-strategic about where and how you do it for maximum impact.

Automate.
Half the fun of summer is feeling free, and nothing spells freedom like a spontaneous road trip. Get ready now by writing up a few simple posts in advance and saving them as drafts in WordPress. That way, when you decide you want a few days away, you can schedule those drafts to run while you’re gone. If you’re
a Twitter user and not opposed to scheduled tweets, you might also want to keep a list of tweet-worthy links handy to schedule in your absence.

Make a Rainy Day List. Sometimes we get a string of rainy or scorching hot days here, which equals unexpected blogging time. To make the most of these moments, I’m keeping a prioritized list of projects to work on like adding plug-ins, creating pages to organize content better, redoing categories, etc.

Go to Summer School.
I don’t know about you, but I have about 550 ebooks and at least that many podcasts sitting on my computer. Recently, I made a list of the ones I want to read or listen to the most and ranked them by their appropriateness to my current level of blogging. This way, when I’m the mood for a long walk or feel like lounging around on the backyard swing, I can print or download the first thing on the list and get a little learning in while I enjoy the weather. I’m feeling smarter already :)

Take Notes. If you follow this plan, you’ll be spending a fair amount of time away from your blog and the internet in general. And that’s when it will happen. You’ll be out on the lake with your fishing pole or strolling around at a festival and suddenly, ideas for posts, products, and all sorts of magical things will start popping into your brain. Better keep a little notebook handy because these ideas come quickly and fade fast if they’re not captured right away.

And that’s it. The rest is up to you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get the door. Summer’s knocking!

Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy summer!

Your Turn: Do you plan to work differently over the summer months? What do you do in your neck of the woods for summer fun?

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57 Responses to How to Kick Your Blog into Summer Gear

  1. Ishan May 28, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    I wish I could be there! Here’s summer is very very very hot. Day temperatures are like 35-40 degree Celsius! In summer months, my plan gies like this:

    Get Up at 6:00 AM
    Finish yoga etc by 9:00 AM
    Sit on computer chair at 9:00 AM
    Go to sleep at 10:00 PM

  2. Dave Doolin May 28, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    Heh… summer here in San Fran is cold and windy. My summer plan? Downshift and accelerate! Some corners coming up, I'm taking them fast.

  3. virginbloggernotes May 28, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    I'll pack up some sunshine and send it your way, Dave :)

    Good luck with your ventures. Looking forward to seeing what you have up your sleeve next and am sure it will be something great!

  4. Jeffrey May 28, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    Hi Jean,
    Being super focused for a season so that you can free your time is a great way to train yourself for those times when you have to met deadlines and such.
    Unfortunately I am not going to be able to take any time at all this summer. Once I establish Bloggers Market, maybe I can be like Yaro Starak or David Risley and travel to all those cool places you see at the top of their websites that change to a different part of the world every single day. With all that traveling how do they get anything done at all?

  5. virginbloggernotes May 28, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by, Jeffrey. I think a big secret to being able to travel for long periods when blogging is outsourcing. Plus doing lots of pre-scheduling of posts. Lucky for me I live in a resort area, so I get to feel like I'm vacationing in beautiful country without having to go anywhere.

  6. k0zm0zs0ul May 28, 2010 at 5:15 pm #

    Lol.. good post Jean! :) I plan on doing all of the above! I also plan on spending quite a bit of time with my hoodlums, and working on a couple new revenue streams as well. Summer started a few weeks ago for us, lol at least heatwise, so I'm hoping to make it to the beach and the pool a few times as well!

  7. virginbloggernotes May 28, 2010 at 5:15 pm #

    Your plan sounds very exciting, Ishan. I had better write you some notes to make sure you stay alert :)

    I wish you could be here too. You would love it this time of year. Lots of lakes, trees, warm sunshine, gentle breezes . . . but you'd want to run away fast as soon as that snow started falling all over your head in the fall :)

  8. Chania Girl May 28, 2010 at 5:21 pm #

    What a fun list, Jean! I “think” I will be doing things differently in the summer months, mostly lightening up and not writing as many posts per week, maybe doing some guest posting. Who knows? Just happy summer is here. And also hoping you don't disappear for too long for too often: I LIKE dropping by here. :)

  9. Mike Roosa May 28, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    Good advice Jean. My wife is actually from Green Bay and we'll be heading up there in July. I'm a Florida boy though.

  10. Angela Artemis May 28, 2010 at 8:20 pm #

    Jean,
    Great tips! I too have million and one ebooks, reports and other products about blogging I haven't gotten to. I think ranking them by their importance to what you're currently doing is brilliant!

    Thank you – enjoy the long weekend! (did you get the email I sent you earlier this week?)

    Angela

  11. Hulbert May 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    I was once tutoring a girl that came from Wisconsin; she told me about how cold it was there and how much snow you guys get. I was jealous since I haven't seen snow rarely falls here in Orange County. But we do have a long summer which is nice. Anyway, I like your “summer school” Jean. That's a lot of e-books! It reminds that that I need to start reading some of mine that are lingering around in my desktop. Cool post! These are definitely some nice ways to kick our blogs into summer gear. :)

  12. Scott Barron May 28, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    My routine doesn't change for summer. I try to protect my pasty skin from burning by staying indoors. Well, that's my excuse (don't judge).

    Well, wait a minute, I didn't do this last summer, so I might have to change things after all! Thank you for reminding me!

  13. virginbloggernotes May 28, 2010 at 11:22 pm #

    I spent all afternoon today goofing off outside, but don't tell anyone :) It's downright gorgeous here and I'd have to have something seriously wrong in my brain to miss out on it. I may be clueless, but even I am not THAT clueless :) Hope you have a great time with those hoodlums!

  14. virginbloggernotes May 28, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

    Summer is a great time for a little “who knows?” when it comes to work and life in general. There just seems to be a more lighthearted feel to things and we don't take ourselves so seriously. I promise not to disappear for long–as a matter of fact, if I do things right, I can scamper away here and there and no one will be any the wiser. hehe :)

  15. virginbloggernotes May 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm #

    Hey, you're married to a Cheesehead :) I suppose I should explain to anyone who doesn't know that Cheesehead is a very good name to be called in Wisonsin. Haha. Tell your wife hi from a fellow Wisconsinite.

    Have a great weekend!

  16. virginbloggernotes May 28, 2010 at 11:35 pm #

    Hmmm, the case of the missing email . . . was it via the Contact form, Angela? I've had a couple other things go missing there, and then this week I deleted the contact page entirely instead of installing the updated plugin. Ooops :) In any event, I just did a quick search in my email box and I'm not seeing anything there from you :( If you still have a copy, I'd love to read it! You can send it to me direct at jnjsarauer@hotmail.com. Hope you have a great weekend too!

  17. virginbloggernotes May 28, 2010 at 11:37 pm #

    I can send you some snow next winter, Hulbert :) I can assure you, it is positively freezing here in the winter. We all shuffle around like we're 110 years old because we're frozen, plus we're afraid we're going to slip on the ice and crack our heads open. Doesn't that sound like fun? Haha. Have a great weekend!

  18. virginbloggernotes May 28, 2010 at 11:39 pm #

    Yeah, you might have to change things, Scott :) Otherwise I'm going to track you down, pry your fingers from the keyboard, and throw you in a lake! Not one of ours around here though because there are big muskies and they would eat your toes. That's generally something to avoid if you can help it.

  19. virginbloggernotes May 29, 2010 at 12:20 am #

    Found the missing email on gmail (someone needs to fix my brain!) and have sent a reply :)

  20. Mike Roosa May 29, 2010 at 12:40 am #

    Yep, she even has a real cheesehead!

  21. Scott Barron May 29, 2010 at 12:41 am #

    What the heck is a muskies? Is that like a fortnight? You can have your toes eaten here in Ohio, but that usually costs $25.00 for 1/2 hour…..

  22. virginbloggernotes May 29, 2010 at 1:36 am #

    Hahaha. I may not stop laughing until the middle of next week about that toes thing.

    Muskies are huge, ugly fish that the fishermen all drool over around here. I will probably get banned from Wisconsin for calling muskies ugly.:)

  23. virginbloggernotes May 29, 2010 at 1:37 am #

    Go Pack :) Actually, I love the Vikings too, which pretty much puts my life in danger around these parts.

  24. Eric May 29, 2010 at 2:08 am #

    Yeah we're definitely enjoying summer here. I love the warmth! :)

    As for my schedule with blogging this summer, just upping my plans so I can get where I want to go and have more time doing what I love. I will probably stick to my schedule and such so that I can make it doing this stuff.

    Thanks for the comment on my blog and for the reminder on this post. Much appreciated! :)

  25. virginbloggernotes May 29, 2010 at 2:40 am #

    Hi Eric, thanks for stopping in. I have a feeling you're going to do just fine with the mindset and abilities you have. I always enjoy reading your blog and the posts at The Infopreneur too. You've got such a natural style that anyone can relate to.

  26. Katie Tallo May 29, 2010 at 3:47 am #

    Love it Jean. I just love how you take the vibe of the moment and turn it into a useful, amusing and engaging post. You have a way with words. Yes, great ideas for pulling back and enjoying summer. What about when you're without internet access for two weeks when you're say, camping for example? Any suggestions? I know, it sounds kind of heavenly doesn't it?

  27. pjbess May 29, 2010 at 4:21 am #

    Hey Jean,

    I like the blog redesign. Your post has me thinking about summer school myself and the necessity to automate things. I guess I will start with posting more frequently :) Have a great summer!

    PJ

  28. virginbloggernotes May 29, 2010 at 4:36 am #

    Thanks, Katie. And congratulations again on your beautiful guest post today on Goodlife Zen!

    Good question about being away for long periods without internet access. Here's what I'd do:
    -Write up and schedule posts in WP so the blog content would appear as usual.
    -Ask a blogging pal to fill in for me for comment replies/emails, etc.(making sure people knew it was this other blogger responding and not me, of course) and then return the favor when they wanted time away.
    -Try not to get eaten by a bear.

    Any other ideas to add? Anyone can hop into this discussion if they've got suggestions, by the way!

  29. virginbloggernotes May 29, 2010 at 4:39 am #

    Thanks for the compliment on the makeover. I'm definitely appreciative of the new look. I figure it's a good idea to automate things as much as possible anyway, and wanting to have more time to enjoy summer is just the motivation to get me to do it.

  30. Arvind Devalia May 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    Thanks Jean for some great tips.

    Here in the UK it is also a bank holiday weekend, but after a few days of sunshine last week, we have now got our usual holiday weather – cold and raining!

    I love the idea of just writing a few articles well in advance and putting them in as draft posts. I know Mary Jaksch does this really well.

    My summer plan – enjoy the football World Cup which starts in 2 weeks time. Can't wait!

  31. virginbloggernotes May 29, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    Sorry to hear about the cold and rainy weather, Arvind. I would share some of our sunshine with you if I could. It's another beautiful day here, but I won't talk about that or you might get mad at me :) Meanwhile, get back to work so you can enjoy that World Cup to the Max!

  32. mark May 29, 2010 at 7:39 pm #

    Oh, this is just what I needed. I may just go outside now – it is beautiful out here.

    Its kind of cool that you and Mike's wife are from Wisconsin – most of my family is as well. Now I live in PA, but I have very fond memories of WI.

    Like Scott, I try to stay inside as I tend to turn somewhat red rather than tan. There are few things worse than having a shiny red nose on Monday morning @ the office!

    BTW – I laughed out loud at “Hey, put your clothes back on!” Its ok though since my wife already thinks that I am just watching movies on my computer.

    Have a great weekend!

  33. virginbloggernotes May 29, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    Maybe we'll have to have a Wisconsin reunion sometime . . . the Northwood's Blogging Expo . . . And anyone who doesn't come has to do all of our work while we goof off. Sounds like a good deal to me :)

  34. Brandon Connell May 29, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    Forgive me for not knowing you were from Wisconsin. Make sure to remind me to stop by next time I go to the Dells.

  35. virginbloggernotes May 30, 2010 at 1:13 am #

    I'll forgive you, Brandon :) Where are you from?

  36. Scott Barron May 30, 2010 at 1:22 am #

    Well I'm a good Catholic boy, but I never ate muskies on Friday's!
    How do they taste?

    By the way, I mentioned you in my latest post. Are you sick of me yet?

    http://www.scottbarrononline.com

  37. virginbloggernotes May 30, 2010 at 3:52 am #

    How could I get sick of you, Scott? You're always up to something interesting, plus you always spell my name right :) One false move, however, and I'll sic a saber-toothed muskie on you! I think they taste gross, personally, but that's just me.

  38. Sally_Neill May 30, 2010 at 10:59 pm #

    Hey Jean, you told me to step away from the podcasts, now I understand why!!! Love how you tie blogging in with the summer, amazing writing well done. It's 12midnight here, so don't think I should go strolling with my little writing pad right now, be better off doing it tomorrow, take care Sally :)

  39. virginbloggernotes May 30, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

    Yeah, step away from the podcasts, Sally. Haha. It's been another beautiful day here, and I've been sticking with my summer plan. It is unreal how much MORE I'm getting done now that I have less time to do it in. Focus is a good thing :)

  40. Jody Connell May 30, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

    Yeah, thanks for visiting. I can get into this blogging thing. Lots of interesting stuff. I like to read useful and useless information. Could be useless to me but useful to someone else :) I dont know about setting a blogging schedule for myself, but I do love the idea of a spontaneous road trip and having your posts automatically taken care of. Really cool!

  41. virginbloggernotes May 30, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

    Hi Jody, thanks for stopping by! I didn't have much of a schedule to speak of when I first started. It was hard to set up a schedule when I really had no earthly clue what I was doing :) Yes, scheduled posts are the “set it and forget it” way of posting. Love that.

  42. J.D. Meier May 31, 2010 at 4:37 am #

    These are great times to lean down, get back to the basics, and do the essentials. I'm a fan of flowing value and hacking away at the unessential (Bruce Lee style 😉

  43. Scott Barron May 31, 2010 at 6:08 am #

    I gave you another back-link! No spelling errors! (I hope)

    http://www.scottbarrononline.com

  44. virginbloggernotes May 31, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

    Hi JD. Thanks for stopping in and taking the time to comment. I've been working for awhile now on identifying the essentials in all areas of life so I can focus my energy on just a few things rather than diluting it on many things. It's a more serene, yet also a more productive way to live. Bruce Lee would approve, I think :)

  45. Spyros May 31, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    That is interesting, it would be a good idea to have a summer plan. I don't think that i will slow down my posting anyway, but i really feel it's time to start reading some more books and material about blogging, online marketing and the likes. Learning more and more things is very important for this niche.

  46. Scott Barron May 31, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by Jean! You're welcome on my blog any day! Twice on Sunday's!! Turn the lights out when you're done. :-)

  47. matthewneedham May 31, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

    Jean, some great ideas here. In fact with the imminent arrival of our baby, within the next 3 weeks, this is as good a time as any to practice some of these great tips.

  48. Kaizenvision May 31, 2010 at 10:21 pm #

    love the clarifying of the essentials! It's all too easy to have hours go by and a schedule is a great way to be sure not to miss summer :)
    I love the freshness of this post – It makes me want to go write & play!
    :)

  49. virginbloggernotes May 31, 2010 at 11:10 pm #

    Summer is a great time to read. And you're right – the learning never ends. Just when I think I'm starting to get a handle on things, I'll hear someone talk about some marketing method or use some term I've never heard of yet. That's good though. Keeps us on our toes!

  50. virginbloggernotes May 31, 2010 at 11:16 pm #

    A baby! I love little ones, but it amazes me how something so tiny can create so much squawking :) Time with that little one is going to be precious, so I hope you can arrange things to enjoy that time to the max. They grow up so doggone fast!

  51. virginbloggernotes May 31, 2010 at 11:17 pm #

    You wouldn't believe how I can dawdle around if I don't have a schedule. Even with a schedule I have to use a timer quite a bit of the time. Today I did take a notebook out on the patio though and did some drafting for future posts. It was sooo relaxing! Writing and playing are good things :)

  52. ralphcarlson June 3, 2010 at 12:25 am #

    This sounds like a plan for all year to me. But maybe you think different in the far north.

  53. virginbloggernotes June 3, 2010 at 2:20 am #

    I get really lazy about how I use my time during our cold, dark winters. Next year I want to learn to play guitar though, so that might be a good motivator for me to keep a healthier work/life balance. I'm definitely loving the summer plan!

  54. Sandra Lee June 3, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    Hello, I love the idea of stripping down to essential as an all-year plan! I live in a warmer climate, year-round :) Thanks for the ideas.

  55. virginbloggernotes June 3, 2010 at 11:13 am #

    Thanks for stopping by, Sandra. I'm going to try not to be too jealous about you living somewhere where it's nice year round :)

  56. Ishan June 4, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    I could have hanged at least a month even in snow! Here, snow is not very
    common and on the top of that, I enjoy cold weather!

  57. k0zm0zs0ul June 4, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    Yep, definitely wrong in the brain to miss out, so I won't tell anyone. :)
    Weekends been great, busy with the kiddies and familia.. now off to relax a
    bit, and gear up for some work tomorrow.

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