8.26.2018

The Summer Blogging Slump

summer

Conservative Skeptic mentioned that his blog traffic has been down lately, and I've noticed the same thing throughout much of July and August. This is to be expected. Many bloggers complain about a summer slump in their traffic. Search for something like "summer blog traffic," and you'll see what I mean. Of course, just because I think I have noticed this trend here at Atheist Revolution does not necessarily mean that it is real. Remember, skepticism! Time to do some investigation.

I pulled up my Google Analytics data and saw a clear pattern. Traffic peaked in January and declined gradually in February and March. There was a somewhat more pronounced drop from March to April with no change in May. There was a small drop in June followed by another small drop in July. July, August, and September were basically the same, and then things began to improve as October neared. There was clear evidence of a summer slump. July and August were my worst months with some improvement beginning in late September.

What to Do About the Summer Slump

Most of the suggestions I have seen from other bloggers writing about the summer slump focus on ways to combat it. Some recommend posting more often, ramping up one's use of social media, and so on. A few others recommend not worrying about it and just riding it out. I tend to think they are probably right. Some months have always seemed to be better than others when it comes to blog traffic, and I'm okay with that. Besides, it really doesn't surprise me that there would be a drop off during these months.

Would Posting More Often Help?

Out of curiosity, I figured I'd look at my analytics data to see if I might be able to answer the question of whether posting more often would help. I compared one July where I had written almost exactly twice the number of posts to a typical July. If posting more often was an effective way to address the summer blogging slump, it seems like I should have had more traffic during the July where I posted twice as much. In fact, the opposite happened. My traffic for the July where I posted twice as much was roughly 10% lower than the typical July against which I compared it.

What can we make of this? Unfortunately, not much. It is tempting to conclude that posting twice as often is not worthwhile (at least for me), but comparing across years is often problematic. My traffic in nearly every month of the year I used for my more prolific July was higher than it was during the comparison year I selected. June and July showed the smallest difference, but there's no way to know what the numbers might have looked like if I had not been posting more frequently.

If one really wanted to test whether increasing one's posting frequency would help, I think a better way to do so would be to select two adjacent months in the same year during which one typically saw the least amount of traffic (e.g., July and August). One could then post twice as much during one of these months as the other and compare traffic at the end. While this methodology would still be far from perfect, I suspect it would be superior to trying to compare over more than one year. With the months being adjacent, this test should be less susceptible to long-term traffic trends.

Should Bloggers Be Worried?

I can understand why bloggers would be motivated to improve their traffic during these summer months when it tends to decline; however, ramping up one's efforts in the face of a predictable decline probably means that one's efforts will be less efficient. More work for less reward does not sound appealing. If I was really worried about it, I'd do one of two things:

  1. I'd run the test I described above, posting twice as much in either July or August and then comparing traffic between those adjacent months.
  2. I'd try doubling my social media output during either July or August and then comparing traffic to the other month. Alternatively, I might double it for July and then compare that to June.

Since I'm not overly worried about it, it occurs to me that the months with the lowest traffic might be a good time to take a break or to work on other things that might improve the functioning of one's blog that do not involve posting lots of new content (e.g., fixing broken internal links, improving old posts).