Tara Gentile (now McMullin) is a blogger and business strategist whose online presence underpins her thriving consulting business at explorewhatworks.com.
As part of our Blogging the Festive Season series, we asked her how the festive season affects her business and blog.
What does preparing for the festive season mean for your business?
For me, preparing my blog and business for the holidays means preparing for time off. I try to produce extra content to fill blog posts and email updates for sporadic publication but I go easy on myself. If I don’t get the content created, I still rest.
My goal for this season is to clear the way for momentum and inspiration in the New Year. This year, I’ll be taking stock of a few new ventures and setting the stage to hit the ground running with a few new projects which include beta testing a mastermind program and beginning serious work on my book.
I also launched a complete redesign (and refocusing) of the site. Since the holidays are a slow time for me, that gives me leeway in discovering any flaws or missed opportunities.
What usually happens to readership and traffic on your blog over the festive season, and what happens to your consulting and speaking schedules?
Readership and traffic tend to be low during the festive season. That said, sales are often brisk at the end of the year with people making last-minute business expenses before the US accounting year closes. However, the real work doesn’t need to be done till January or February, so I make a point to take about four weeks off between December and January. Why work for work’s sake?
I’ll write, think, and read. But I don’t answer much email, execute programs, or do calls during that time. It’s a chance to recharge my personal and business batteries.
I’ve found that it doesn’t pay to try to change sales trends. Instead, I try to amplify sales trends. If it’s normally dead, then I take time off, regroup, and enjoy the downtime. If it’s a busy time of year, I ramp up my activities and do the work that allows me to take advantage of buying seasons. For this year, that will mean taking lots of time off, but providing a few key offers right at the end of the year.
Plenty of solo operators would be worried about being away from their businesses for so long. Are you worried about missing opportunities in that time?
My customers are doing exactly the same—or at least, I hope they are. I’m not going to send out a lot of content they can’t use at this time of year so what work I do is focused on the future—both mine and theirs.
Future-focused work includes doing research or reading that inspires me to create the kind of work that will serve my customers well in the next year. I’ve noticed that when I take time off at the same time my customers are taking time off, no one really notices my absence!
Sure—consulting and speaking aren’t exactly seasonal purchases. You mentioned key end-of-year offers. Is that how you keep revenue coming in the door during the festive season?
Aside from providing a compelling offer or two at the end of the year for those who are looking for add-on business expenses at the end of the year, I don’t worry about keeping revenue coming in the door.
Just as a family plans big purchases or budgets for daily expenses, it’s important for entrepreneurs to plan their revenue. When you plan for the natural ups and downs, you can feel good about letting your revenue flow naturally instead of trying to force sales when they are difficult to come by.
So, even now, I have a good idea of what my revenue plan for 2013 is. I know what’s launching when and about how much I can expect. Of course, that plan will change and evolve as the year goes. But this way, I know I can feel comfortable about taking the summer off or taking family time in December.
Your site at taragentile.com has been has been going for a while now. How has your approach to preparing for the festive season changed in that time?
I’d say I used to approach each month of the year as if it were the same as any other month. Now, I try to be keenly aware of how each month is different, bringing with it its own challenges and opportunities.
As the years went by and I started noting trends, I could predict what would be important each month: more content vs. less content, more offers vs. less offers, more events vs. less events, and so on. Now I can use that information to effortlessly create a plan for the season months in advance.
Are there any special preparations you’re making for the time you take off?
December 16-January 10 are marked off for family and fun time on my calendar. During that time, I’ll work if inspiration strikes me and I’ll certainly be making reflections on the year past and journalling on the year to come, but I don’t worry too much about making sure my blog keeps going.
There’s little reward in expending energy just for the sake of continuity, especially if no one is paying attention.
My readers have their own work to do and their own families to attend to. I don’t worry that they’ll forget about my site or that the dip in traffic will last forever. We’ll all find our way back into the groove in mid-January.
My only goal is to have great content, new ideas, and a compelling offer waiting for them when they return.
And when you do return in the New Year, what will you be focusing on?
My attention will be split three ways.
First, I’ll be continuing to up the value at Kick Start Labs, a microbusiness accelerator community for entrepreneurs making difference through commerce. We’ll be releasing a new series of practical business learning resources.
Second, I’ll be beginning the next serious stage of work on my book. That means lots of research, interviews, and writing. My favorite things! Finding the time and energy for this project has been difficult to say the least, but it’s work that I enjoy immensely and I’m very excited about who the book will reach and how it will encourage them to take action in the You Economy.
Third, I’ll be beta testing a mastermind program. I’ve spent the last two years really getting clear on my process and how I work with clients. It’s time to put it to the test. The goal of the program is to free business owners from the day-to-day execution of their businesses and create the space that’s necessary to see their businesses from 10,000 feet up.
I’ll first be rolling it out to those who have worked closely with me already and then later in the year, I’ll roll it out publicly.
Sounds interesting! So what’s your advice to other bloggers who sell consulting services alongside their blogs to make the most of the festive season?
Take time off! Recharge! Unless you are coaching or consulting in the wellness industry (the classic New Year’s products), this is an off time of year. Make the most of it. Don’t make appointments with others, only yourself. Mark your calendar with appointments to address difficulties in your business, plans for the new year, or loose ends that need tied. Set aside time for writing, thinking, and research.
But set aside the most time for family fun, quiet evenings, and personal introspection.
Sound advice! Thanks so much to Tara for giving us her insights. If you run a consulting or contracting business that’s supported by your blog, let us know what your festive season plans are in the comment!
Next in the series, we hear the festive season plans of a digital publisher.
This article was updated 17 November 2022.