Summertime – that time of the year when everything slows down and moves out of doors. “Less work, more play” is often the motto found on the minds of many. It’s a time when you spend a day at the beach or lake, or take an afternoon off work just to be outside. Kids are out of school for the summer. Vacations and holidays are on the schedule. Outdoor activities take front seat.
Juggling a writing business along with these summer activities can be hard. It’s also a time when many online business owners see a slow-down in sales. When your buyers are reaching for the sunblock instead of looking for content it can affect your bottom line. Writers, especially those who work from home, have to juggle not only their businesses, but also kids if they are in the home.
Why do sales slump in the summer, though? There are many factors. One is the fact that many of our customers have children that are out of school, so families with home based internet businesses are spending time with their kids and on vacations away from their computers. Another reason is consumers are spending money on summer activities for themselves, instead of online purchases, so if you are writing for independent blogs or to promote affiliate offers, your customer base simply isn’t buying as much.
A slow-down can occur in just about any online business at any time, but most often occurs during the summer, unless your business has a different seasonal focus.
A recent analysis of summer shopping habits of online consumers by the web analytics firm SumAll (source: https://sumall.com/) shows that gross sales for online merchants in July decline 30% from December levels. This is data they collected from over 3,000 merchants within their analytics program over the past four years. We should find a direct correlation to these numbers versus the demand for new online content.
The data shows that consumers spend less per order during the summer with July being the lowest. In addition:
- August sales pick up during the final week of the month, for back to school sales.
- Monday is the day most likely to have large ticket purchases.
- Wednesday is the top sales day of the week during the period from June to August.
- Friday is the day of the week when a greater number of expensive items are purchased.
- Saturdays and Sundays are the least likely days to have sales.
A slow-down doesn’t have to be a time of giving up on producing new content. It can instead be used as a time for organizing your business and stockpiling additional content articles.
In fact, in this report we’ll look at ways to boost your sales during this time while still enjoying the fun of the summer season. You’ll learn how to manage getting work done, even if you have kids in the house. You’ll also find tips on how you can keep your business running while you’re on vacation.
Running Your Business While on Vacation
It’s been reported that at least 60 percent of all small business owners don’t take a vacation each year. And of those who do, 75 percent still did some sort of work every day during their “vacations.” In fact, according to a survey commissioned by Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart, nearly 50 percent of small-business owners take only major holidays off – or no holidays at all.
These numbers are higher for home-based business solopreneurs who have no one to toss the reigns to while they take a break. It’s a challenge to take time away from your business when you know that if you aren’t working, you aren’t earning money.
But taking time off allows you to recharge your energy levels so that you don’t burn out. The summer slow-down time is the perfect time to do this.
Here are some tips to manage your work and time while you take time to have some fun.
Plan ahead. This means setting up a schedule on your calendar for when you will be away, so you can get writing projects done ahead of that time. Let clients know when you’ll be away and have them schedule what they need prior to or after this time.
For example, if you are going to be gone for a week in July, have all of your writing projects finished the week before you leave. Don’t try to fit 3 days’ work into the day before you leave. Give yourself time to fit in all the activities you need to get done.
Set up systems and tools. Almost all businesses have tasks they can automate. Marketing efforts can be maintained with various tools. For example, social media posts can be scheduled with tools like HootSuite. Blog posts can be written in advance and scheduled to post later in WordPress. Autoresponder systems like Aweber.com allow you to schedule your email message updates, so set up one that answers common questions you receive. Be sure to add a note that questions will be responded to personally after you return (unless you have a virtual assistant who can take care of them).
Virtual Assistant/Online Manager. Hire a virtual assistant to take the reins while you’re away. They can take care of your emails, update posts or whatever you need them to do while you’re away. They can work as your project manager as well, keeping your projects moving forward. They can even help you in planning and setting up tools and systems.
Outsource. Even if you have a virtual assistant to manage your business, you can outsource many of your projects. If you have a client that is paying well enough to cover the cost of outsourcing you can hire other writers to work on the projects while you are enjoying your time away. You will still have the opportunity to do rewrites and edits at your discretion to add your own style if needed. As the owner of a writing business the most important thing you can be doing is attracting more clients. Outsource as much as many of your writing assignments as possible and watch your business grow.
Take care of maintenance only. While on vacation, make it a point to only check in once in a while. Do the very minimum to keep your business going, such as checking your email once a day and quickly checking in with your virtual assistant a couple of times.
Inform clients. Let your content clients know you will be away from the business. Be upfront with them so they can get work to you ahead of time if they need to. Letting them know your schedule demonstrates that you value them and respect their business.
Just because you own a business doesn’t mean you can’t take time off for relaxation and rejuvenation. Using the tools and systems available online can help you keep your online writing business from falling into a slump while you are away. You can continue to market your business with help from a virtual assistant. And you can keep your relationship with clients on good terms by informing them of your plans well in advance.
Managing Your Time While Having Fun
Summertime can find many online writing business owners focusing more on where they could be instead of the work that’s actually in front of them. We see images of boats on the lake, beaches and swimming pools and tall cool drinks instead of our computer monitor and the tasks at hand. Often, we are constantly checking the clock or the weather outside or even our Facebook accounts.
The summer slow-down can steal your motivation to work and kill your productivity, making you feel like you’re constantly fighting an uphill battle to get anything done. You can beat this slowdown and still have time for fun by managing your time better.
These tips will help you manage your time so you can get work done more quickly.
- Switch your working hours. Change your normal working hours so that you have enough outside time to keep you satisfied. For instance, you could write early mornings and late evenings, while handling customer correspondence before noon, leaving the afternoons free to enjoy outside activities. Or just take certain days off during the week.
- Delegate work to others. Outsource more than you normally do in order to free up some time. Find other writers to outsource your work to. If the jobs are priced correctly you should be able to make just as much money on three or four outsourced projects as you do on one that you have to write yourself. Hire a virtual assistant or online manager to take care of the big projects, giving you more time to do what you want.
- Take advantage of technology. Use your smartphone to keep up with email and social media while you’re having fun. Wi-fi is available almost everywhere, making it easier than ever to keep in contact with customers and clients. Just be sure to set time limits for yourself so you don’t end up answering emails instead of catching waves at the beach.
- Use to-do lists. A daily to-do list during the summer can keep you organized and on task. Ticking off ‘done’ items from your list keeps you motivated to finish, instead of checking your social media accounts or daydreaming.
- Prioritize work. Plan out your days with work that has to be done. Do your money making tasks first. Also, don’t take on a lot of new projects if you are more interested in going out in the boat. Keep your work load lighter if possible so you can enjoy time on the lake.
- Break up big writing projects into small micro-tasks you can do throughout the day or week. This works for projects such as a new product e-mail series, or blog launches as well.
- Take your work outside. There’s no reason you can’t take your laptop to the park or your back deck to work. If you do most of your online research ahead of time you should have little trouble writing even without a wi-fi connection. The same is true if you do your own graphics work.
- Take advantage of systems. You can create a bunch of blog posts ahead of time, and schedule them for publication at a later date using WordPress. The same is true for your autoresponder messages. And social media posts can be pre-scheduled to appear at a later time using software like HootSuite.
Managing your time and taking advantage of tools and outsourcing can help you do more than just dream of being outside during the summer. Breaking down projects into smaller tasks can help you get more done in less time.
Many online writing business owners work from home. And just as many may have kids at home with them during the summer break. It doesn’t matter whether they are young children or teens, working at home with kids can be challenging. Not only do you have to find time to work your business you have to keep the kids entertained as well.
Here are 10 tricks for working at home with kids:
1. Be flexible. Get up early and work before the kids wake up, or stay up a little later at night to finish projects and jump online throughout the day when you need to. Send emails while kids are napping. Don’t worry so much about how many hours you are working, and instead focus on getting your work done whenever you can.
2. Get the kids involved. Hire them to do some of the housework while you work. If they are old enough, hire them to do some of the cooking or taking care of younger siblings. Older kids can even be hired to do small tasks in your business, like packaging orders or uploading photos to your website.
3. Schedule playdates with other moms who have kids the same age. You can alternate between your homes so that one parent isn’t watching the kids more often than the other.
5. Outsource more of your work. Giving work to a virtual assistant or ghostwriter can free up time to let you spend time with your kids doing fun things this summer.
6. Go on fieldtrips. Take the kids with you when you need to pick up supplies or pick up a gift for a client. Along the way, stop at places your kids might enjoy, like a new ice cream shop.
7. Go to the library. Or even a local bookstore. Check out new books or DVDs the kids can watch and read while you work. Or get some work done while older kids browse the library for their own books or DVDs.
8. Send the kids to day camps. There are many non-profits that offer reasonably-priced camps your kids want to attend. Everything from sports to music to adventures is available in almost every city.
9. Schedule work ahead of time so you know when something has to get done, and can make arrangements for the kids to be entertained elsewhere (either outside the home or with their own activities).
10. Don’t schedule any big projects to be due during the summer. Work more on maintenance and keeping things updated.
If you have kids at home during the summer, finding ways to work with them underfoot can be a challenge. Make it a priority to spend time with them doing fun activities while fitting your work into their schedule.
Tips and things to consider:
Even if your online writing business sees downtime and you are staying in town, there are some things you can do to get your business ready for the latter part of the year.
- Spend time looking for ways to add passive income. Create that program or eBook you don’t have time to work on during peak times of the year. Check out affiliate programs that fit your audience.
- Back up your files. Consider an online backup program like Carbonite or Mozy. These can be used in addition to external backup systems. Summertime means many areas are prone to summer storms and power loss. Print out copies of important business information like client contact information and passwords.
- Jump into a training program for something you’ve wanted or needed to learn. Or attend networking events that can help you grow your business.
- Plan marketing for the rest of the year. Do market research to see what your customers think about your business or services.
- Update your website if it needs a makeover. Improve navigation structures, remove or update old content, update the design and more.
- Look for ways to incorporate summer type themes or information into your email newsletter and your website. For example, send out newsletters that focus on summer specials, mixed with summer recipes or tips for pet care during the heat. Just make sure it relates to your niche.
Even if your writing business slows down during this time of year, you can still make progress on growing your business. Take the time to make plans for growth, update your website and network with others.
What Happens Next
In this report we’ve looked at ways to keep your business thriving while taking time to enjoy the season. We’ve gone over some tips on getting work done if there are kids underfoot and how you can spend time doing activities with them while still having time for work.
Now it’s time to start implementing some of the tips you’ve found here so that you can enjoy the summer. Start planning and scheduling your projects. The two things that can most help you become an online writing business owner that isn’t always tied down as an employee of their own company is to get help from a virtual assistant and outsource writing content that you are going to need done while you enjoy the season!