Why You Shouldn’t Publish New Content during the Holidays (and What to Do Instead)

by Jon Morrow


So… it’s the silly season, and let me guess?

Things are getting silly.

You’re trying to figure out how to avoid those relatives you dearly love but would also love to strangle. You still have a few last-minute gifts to buy. And in the middle of it all, somehow you have to summon the will power not to stuff your face with all the holiday goodies and gain 400 pounds.

It’s tough, I know. So, I’ll make this quick and easy:

Stop publishing new content.

Never thought you would hear me say that, did you?

Normally, I’m all up in your face, pushing you to work harder, write more, really be serious about what you do, and now I’m telling you to STOP?!

Yeah. Here’s why:

Traffic sucks during the holidays. It’s the slowest of the slow seasons.

I don’t know what the official numbers are, but most of my older sites see a 20-30% drop across the board. The newer ones (like Smart Blogger) that are still gaining momentum hiccup and stumble and fall to their knees, their traffic not quite declining but not growing either.

Look at your traffic stats, and you’ll probably see the same pattern. Unless, of course, you operate some sort of retail or Christmas-themed site, in which case you’re probably working your buns off.

But everyone else?

You should hold off publishing anything new.

Let’s talk about why.

Your Content Deserves the Best Possible Chance

Imagine you’re trying to teach a toddler how to swim.

Do you wait until there’s a hurricane, drive to the ocean, and toss the poor little tot into 12-foot waves?

Of course not. On the contrary, you put a kiddie pool in the backyard, wait until it’s a bright, sunshiny day, and give their first lesson when no one else is around.


Because they deserve the best possible chance.

Your content works the same way.

If you publish it now, you’re essentially throwing it into the ocean during a metaphorical hurricane. It will just get drowned out.

And that’s silly. If your content is great, you want to fight for it and do your absolute best to help it succeed.

So does that mean I’m giving you permission to take a break until the New Year?

Ha! Fat chance of that. 🙂

Do the following instead:

5 Ways to Be Productive during the Holidays

  1. Plan your posts. If you don’t have it already, grab a free copy of Headline Hacks and plan your post headlines. It has 52 templates, one for every week of the year. Write one headline for each template, and start blogging one post a week, and you have the entire year planned out in advance.
  2. Create an incentive to join your email list. Been struggling to find the time to write a free e-book or create a video series that entices visitors to join your email list? Well, now’s your chance. Work on it for thirty minutes every day from now until the end of the year, and you will begin next year with a bang.
  3. Create a new product or affiliate yourself with a product that has big benefit and potential. Already have a great incentive to join your email list? Well then, create a new product to sell. Survey your audience about their biggest problems, create an outline for a product that solves those problems, and send it to them to see what they think. If they like it, create and even make money out of it. All before January 1.
  4. Research your peers. Once a year, it’s a good idea to thoroughly check out the other blogs in your space and see how they’re doing. Use tools like Open Site Explorer, Social Crawlytics, and SEMrush to get real data on what’s working and what’s not.
  5. Take care of technical tasks. If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your hosting or cleaning out your WordPress plug-ins or any other technical tasks, now’s the time to do it. If you break something, a smaller number of people notice than during any other time of the year.

Here at Smart Blogger, we’re doing all of the above. Granted, we have an entire team of people working on it, so we can do that, but you can do at least one or two of these, even if you’re a one-man band.

Whatever you do, don’t waste the opportunity. This is the one time of year where you can justify getting off the content treadmill and doing something else.

So, get back to work.

And for heaven’s sake, stop thinking about strangling your relatives. Yes, prison seems like a nice, quiet place to get some writing done, but that’s taking things a little too far. 🙂

Warmest wishes to you and yours,

Jon and the Smart Blogger Crew

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Jon Morrow

Jon Morrow has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for CEO of Smart Blogger.


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Written by Jon Morrow

Jon Morrow has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for CEO of Smart Blogger.

91 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t Publish New Content during the Holidays (and What to Do Instead)”

  1. During the holidays, I like to work on my products (as you mentioned), check out other blogs in my niche and start the relationship building process with other bloggers (if they’re around).

    Another important thing I do is build high PR, relevant backlinks ethically, and the results are really beginning to show on my site.

    There’s one thing I’d like to add:

    Especially since holidays are a tough time and everything’s competing for your attention, it’s absolutely imperative that you set goals and work by them and do your level best to attain them throughout the holidays.

    True – you should always be trying to accomplish a goal, but holidays are when it’s especially important.

    Thanks for the great post, Jon! (and I look forward to not hearing from you for the next few weeks 😉 )

    JR John

    • Well – I spend a lot of time debating online, using my signature link to promote my latest blog post. I wonder if it makes any difference when I post since I don’t expect people to go there by themselves;)

  2. Hi Jon, Thanks for the tip! I was just planning to create/publish my next post but I think getting content ready for 2014 is a better use of my time. I have lots of goal-setting, product-creating, and content-planning to get done before the new year.

    Happy Holidays!


  3. I think this definitely depends on your niche.
    For example, if you’re blogging about crafts, you could blog about crafting Christmas presents.
    My iche is travel and a lot of travel bloggers, including myself, arre doing posts about Christmas traditions worldwide, celebrating New Year around the world, …
    Stuff like that. usually it gets pretty good responses as it’s something people can recognize themselves in and because it’s something that they’re ‘in the middle in’ at that moment.

  4. Great piece of advice. My own holiday homework involves getting a newsletter incentive put together. But your post gives me the much-needed permission to let go of other things and start fresh in the new year!

  5. Agree with you on this one,
    I spend my time updating my old posts with relevant content, create eBook and plan post for the new months or so.
    I also take time to do things offline rather than being online all the time.

  6. Thanks for the permission stop blogging during the holidays. 🙂

    I need to clear out WordPress plugins and research Kindle Direct Publishing. Writing an eBook and/or white paper is a great idea, too.

    Happy holidays and season’s greetings to all!

  7. Wow, I feel so much better after reading your post John! I was in that totally uninspiring place of wracking my brains as to how I can come up with a suitable “Chirstmas post”. Your post arrived in the nick of time to save me a great big headache! Your expert advice has really made me feel free to give my attention to those tasks you listed. Many thanks!

  8. Hey Jon, what a great and timely piece as I sit here in the office trying to figure out what the team could be working on during the holidays. Planning and setting goals for the new year is an excellent idea but I have to disagree with you on halting the content creation machine. It’s a struggle to build brand awareness without publishing content to the web and fans across your networks. Although I agree that maybe you want to save some of the really good content for the new year, but while we’re in holidays, maybe repurposing existing content or creating content suited for relevant topics in late December is a good idea to stay connected with the audience. And who knows? Maybe you can capture some traffic growth in late December depending on what trends are happening …

  9. Traffic sucks during the holidays? Yeah, Jon, don’t I know it.

    I soon confirmed that suspicion when I published a post on 4 July this year.

    For a relative blogging newcomer based in the UK, I suppose that’s an innocent mistake to make. But not one I’ll be making again.

    The post tanked – hardly any comments, any shares. Next to nothing.

    It took one hell of a job the following week to remarket that post and get the response all the effort deserved.

  10. Hi, Jon,
    Wow. I appreciate this post, as I was just about to be your stereotypical drop-out, due to “the season”, but changed my mind and have had another of my long-lived questions answered. Thanks so much for the clear direction, here!
    I do enjoy a slight bit of “Christmas” traffic, with a site that favors moms and the faith-oriented. I am building a repertoire of meditations that help the reader stop and rest from all the crazy. I enjoy only a slight decrease in readers during this time. Last year I posted on “gifts” and this year on “angels” and on “being snowbound”. Eventually I will create a page that is a collection of all these, which I hope to re-run at this time each year.
    Gives me a break, old readers a trip down nostalgia lane, and new readers a heap to choose from.
    Thanks again! 🙂

  11. Hi Jon,

    You ARE absolutely right – we need to stop and take a break, at least during the holidays. This is just the topic I finished writing on as well, so I couldn’t agree more with each word you wrote.

    Besides the traffic that takes a dip, taking a few days off during the holidays also rejuvenates you and gives you time to work on other pending projects, or work you tend to keep away for a rainy day.

    I DO plan to take a few days off too, and perhaps just do nothing for a change (easier said than done, I know!), but that would be the real break, when you can really do what you want to do, not what you need to do, a major difference there, isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year as well 🙂

  12. Great timing! I was just considering whether to publish a post next week or not. I’ve determined not. 🙂 Instead I’ll be working on building up some content for next year.

  13. Now you tell me!!!! I’m saving this post for next year–a PDF I’ll actually be likely to see. I still have to write one post that absolutely won’t make any sense any later (a Christmas-themed centennial tribute–next year won’t be his centennial any more). I intend to publish the post I wrote yesterday on schedule, but at least you have saved me from trying to work ahead for my week with relatives! Maybe next year I can actually plan and do some of the alternative work you suggest.

  14. Of course it depends on your blog content. I did a piece about snowy vintage Christmas cookies and generated a lot of traffic. I’m working on a FREE Christmas Craft and some NYE Cocktail recipes. This kind of stuff goes gangbusters this time of year and it’s FUN and a little bit silly 🙂 (I realize I am not your typical follower, but I have benefited GREATLY from your posts, downloads and webinars–thank you).

    Happy Christmas!

  15. I like this post partially agree with you, my blogs do take a hit during the season, but I am a big believer in having consistent content. Even if they don’t get visited as much, they do get visited.

    Even if I have a video or technical change to make, I feel like I can still find time to blog and do those things, I just think the holidays do require a different approach however and yours is not bad by any means.

    One thing that works well for me is finding relevant subjects to post about. Just like you have created a post specifically targeted for the holidays. We are a week away from Christmas, you have found a great way to get people to still read your post.

    Even if you spend a little less time doing it, I still like to post… That is just my personal opinion.

  16. I’m so torn on this one!

    On the one hand, this is the perfect time to work on more “behind-the-scenes” offers and opportunities, as you mentioned. We do, in fact, see a drop in engagement during the holidays.

    On the other hand, while it doesnt make sense to publish our newest content when folks are off being merry, should we go completely dark and not produce anything at all? For example, reposting oldies, continuing to share on social, etc.

    Are you planning to repost older pieces? Keep conversations going on social media?

  17. Great post, Jon (and I expect nothing less!).

    One thing I’m doing right now is creating new videos to use AFTER the holidays. Several of my blogs are already scheduled with content through this week and ready to start up again after Jan 1, 2014… but I’m going to a conference at the end of January and I want other really talented people to go.

    So… I’m creating marketing videos to tell the world something about the conference and something about each of the speakers. It’s a big job. I just finished recording some of the videos today and now have to get them edited. They’ll be released early to mid January.

    Plan ahead. See what your goals are. And get work done that will help you in the very near future.

    Charlie Seymour Jr

  18. Great advice Jon. I have a few projects to get done and turning down the dial on post frequency will free up some time. All about opportunity cost. I’m adding this to my Wordpress Weekly post this Friday.

  19. Thanks for this Jon, I have been feeling a bit guilty about not having got round to launching my blog yet! So that’s me off the hook 🙂 Waiting, preparing and polishing sounds like a good idea to me. I’ll hit the ground running in January! Thanks for all the great advice this year and have a great holiday

  20. Jon – Another timely Inbox gift from the Guru! (Not totally fortuitous, since we talked about this earlier this month.) I’m busy developing that next traffic incentive while pushing myself beyond book outline–and I now understand that, without your expert guidance, I’d be nowhere right now. Blog Launch Formula is already paying dividends, so Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to both of us. Thanks again. – Tim

  21. And yet here I am, reading this. 😉

    It’s a tough question. I don’t think you can just stop posting during the holidays, because consistency is important. But people are not up for long-winded, deep thought-provoking posts right now, either. They want something they can USE to finish their last-minute Christmas tasks, or at least something quick and light.

    Either way, I suspect some of my content will not get a lot of eyeballs NOW, but will pick back up (thanks, Pinterest!) as the holidays come back around next year.

    So, yeah – I post anyway. I just don’t have great expectations for the traffic on any of the posts during these few weeks.

    • I agree with you, Rachel.

      I haven’t stopped posting either, and I think if something timely and relevant comes up in your industry, you’ve gotta newsjack it whether or not there will be loads of traffic. Sometimes it’s about making sure you’re helpful and that you stake your place as a thought leader in your space.

      There’s no expectation for traffic, but again, reuse is good to plan for too down the line.

      Great post, Jon. I like you’re style 🙂

    • I, too, agree with Rachel. I little, well-themed, is always of some use to someone. As you have implied: Here we all are. Reading this. During the holidays.

      Could be that whoever keeps posting gets all the traffic, however small, that there is to get. 😉

  22. This is helpful information and, of course, confirms what I’m all experiencing: the ghost town like quality of the blogosphere over the holidays. I have two questions though:

    1. What if you have a course that starts Jan 6th? How can you promote your course effective if you don’t write posts or guest posts during this period?

    2. By the holidays do you mean the entire period through Jan 1st or just up till Christmas?

    Thanks so much!

    • I agree with the both of you, just because visitors are down, I still want to find as many new ones as possible. Its hard for me to do things that are behind scenes when posting is what brings in the traffic. But people are still online and I still get traffic so I continue to post as well.

      What would be an interesting topic is what has worked to attract visitors during the holidays so we can be more diligent in our posting.

      • Brandon, as Jon has done, here, and as has worked for me in the past, post on holiday related themes:
        – Four ways to get ready for 2014
        – How to be your own angel in disguise
        – The difference one point of light can make
        – WHAT a gift!

        You know it’s a bit forced, but using the terms associated with these days to theme your posts causes curiosity because everyone is thinking in those directions, anyway, but you’re bending the stereotype. Also, as several have said, we can drag them out, like old ornaments, to reuse next year, too, and a larger accumulation each time around.

  23. Something is wrong with your auto responder.

    I clicked on the Headline Hacks link in this article.

    It took me to this web page: //smartblogger.com/headlinehacks/

    I signed up and was sent an email for How to Get Your First 1000 Blog Subscribers and NOT for Headline Hacks.

  24. Hi Jon, thank you for your consistently valuable content.
    In this post I thank you sharing of the link to Open Site Explorer I did not know about this system, much appreciated.
    Over the holidays, I will be taking time out to reflect on future projects but also doing my best to network with people I would like to know better by asking them how can I help them. Online, I have realized that sites like Linked In can really be helpful. I also hope over the holidays to network as much in person as possible.
    My best to you and everyone,

  25. Jon, what a breath of fresh air! So many people are writing about Christmas, how to make Christmas decorations, giving to the needy (which should be a year-long act, not just when we’re trying to get on Santa’s ‘nice’ list), yada yada yada. Those posts may get traffic in the next week, but won’t be read again until next year, if then.

    As a single mom and homeowner, I need to take this time to shop for my son, plan and prepare for the Christmas meal and bake. Gotta bake!

    I do have a copy of your Headline Hacks. In fact, my home office has gotten so laden with papers all over the damn place that today I took time to organize my office and put all the references I’ve gathered (many of them from you!) in the binders I’ve set up for resources and references.

    We writers neglect our families far too much – holed up in our offices creating, commenting, thinking and letting time slip through our fingers (literally). For the next two weeks we should devote as much time as we can to our families and close friends.

    While we are putting away the 2013 files and creating 2014 files, spreadsheets, etc. we can be working on the suggestions you offer in this post.

    For now, we need to take a break, breathe and let our loved ones know how much they are loved.

    Merry Christmas!

  26. Cool post. I was hoping there was nothing to do after I read we shouldn’t blog during the holidays, lol.

  27. Great post Jon.

    Will definitely be working on that subscription incentive, followed up with post plans as well as a total blog re-design and branding in 2014!

    Thanks for the great advice!

  28. Never really thought about using the holidays to prep for the new year, it makes alot of sense. Traffic does slow down big time, and in the new year people are hungry to make money online, so why not have fresh content or products ready for them? 😀

  29. love! I’m actually cleaning up my blog design as we speak. And excellent advice about planning posts. It’ll save me so much time when I have to teach after the holidays.

  30. A huge thank-you for taking the pressure off me (and many others).

    The relatives have been coming and going for days now and it’s getting more and more difficult to think of things to say! A break and strategy planning session sounds good to me!


  31. For my freelancing blog, creating a new incentive for my subscribers and planning for a new product to sell are on my list (might extend to January, which is still a month of holiday hangovers from where I live).

    I did start a four-week post series though, one published every Monday, and so far it’s been working nicely.

    Merry Christmas, Jon!

  32. This is the complete opposite of what I was expecting. I appreciate your blog. It makes SO MUCH SENSE. I just finished a 7 part series that got some good traction. However, for the rest of the month, I’ll keep it light and write like crazy behind the scenes to get 2014 off to a good start. Thanks for your wise advice.

  33. Thank for the advice Jon. It has been a big day to me when I get alert on my phone stated that “Jon Morrow followed you on Twitter”.

    I didn’t know that traffic drops on holiday, especially on the Christmas time and new year. You are right, people just need to relax and enjoy the holidays.

    Thank for the headline hacks, it did help to prepare some posts for 2014.

    I wish you all the best!

  34. Thanks for the info here John. I didn’t realize this part of the blogging process, so I’m glad you shared it. Yeah, from what others are saying, it sounds like link building is the best thing to do here during the holidays. Get that domain authority up.

    I have your headline hacks already and keep a swipe file of headlines that really capture my interest.

  35. How about NOT being productive during the holidays and actually taking a (well deserved) break? 🙂

    Sometimes the best way to get more done is to do less, rejuvenate, let your brain disconnect for a while and actually return fresh and rejuvenated in the new year.

    Happy Holidays and cheers to actually being on a holiday 🙂

  36. Hey John,

    It never occur to me that posting something over the holidays could lead to many unpleasant result . Oh well, we learn something new everyday.

    As for your tips on what to do during the holiday – love them! They are very refreshing and I think I will follow one of them during the break.


  37. Great advice Jon!

    This happens to be exactly what I am doing by trying to wrap up my latest ebook and also developing a free giveaway for my site! I might also tinker with some site redesign once I get those two ticked off.

    Happy Christmas!

  38. Yes, I agree! I just, finally, made the switch from Blogger to self hosted Wordpress (thanks to a “sub-contractor”). Now I’m working with a new designer to redo all the graphics, yet we are also cleaning up the plugins, rethinking fonts etc. THis is the perfect time of year to do it all as traffic slows. People seem more forgiving when seeing bleeps in the blog and hearing me rant about the problems! Thanks for your good posts Jon!

  39. Whew! Thank you for this. I had already instinctively stopped producing new content. Assuming readers were crazy busy during the holiday season, there would be no point in writing content that wouldn’t be read by as many as usual. This post and my traffic confirmed my instincts.

    This does free up my time to work on plans for a membership course. No rest for the weary.

  40. Thanks for this post. I wonder about #4 researching what peers are doing – I don’t really understand how these sites work and will save the links so that I can look into it further. Always such great new info in your posts. : )

  41. You are right. Traffic is down this time of year so it doesn’t make sense to waste your energy on posting. I would like to add that this time of year is a wonderful time to comment on others’ blogs for the same reason. :0)

    I love reading the posts and comments on Boost Blog Traffic. I always learn so much from you, your guest bloggers and the comments made in response to the posts. It is easier to manage my time commenting during the holidays as less people are leaving comments.

    I am writing this comment after the Q and A session online. You are an inspiration and clearly take an interest in all of your students, Jon. Merry Christmas!

  42. I’ve got a 6th goal this holiday season:
    Work on the Guest Blogging course I signed up for in April but haven’t had time to do because of 3 moves. 🙂

      • Yep, moved to a temporary place in the same town I’d been in for years, then to another temporary place in Arizona before we finally moved to an apartment. GAH.

        Good to know you’ll still be around! Excited to finish up the course.

  43. Now I don’t feel so bad because I published one happy holidays and I was going to not do another post till the beggining of the year when I am going to try to review the past year! No idea how to do that creatively so I am going to work on that ! I was feeling pressured to keep posting but now I think I am going to do some site maintenance and maybe work on the my first email list (yes I started late 🙁 But I have no idea where to go next with it.

  44. Thanks for the advice! I’ve been scrambling to write extra holiday blog posts and I’m realizing it’s too late. Now I can work on some webinar scripts and delete out of date plugins. Thanks Jon

  45. I totally get where you’re coming from, Jon. Tell me, do you think there are any major bloggers who would entertain the idea of hosting any of my articles about my unique ‘RockStar approach to business fame and fortune’?

    • Bloggers don’t generally host someone else’s content. They will, however, accept guest posts written exclusively for their audience, assumingthey like the topic and it conforms to their editorial guidelines.

      • That’s what I meant – sorry. Yes, guest blogging is what I’d like to do. I just wondered if my topic/subject would fit someone else’s target audience.

  46. Hi Jon,
    Thanks so much for the great post. I have a new product coming out soon and this is the perfect time to get it finished.
    I’m going to mention this post in my next post.

    I feel this is really good advice. Have a great holiday season. 🙂

  47. Oh Lord! Best post I’ve read in days! Cheers for that Jon. Might even blow you a kiss…mmwwwaahh!

    I’ve got a free mini-class – The Website Detox- coming up on Jan 6th, so I’m dumping the posts (for now) + I’ll be focusing on getting the content sorted for it! I’ve been tapping my brain wondering how I’m gonna fit it all in… Now I know, too easy 😉

    Enjoy your holidays mate!

  48. Thanks for this post Jon. I have two weeks of holiday before the year ends (I go back to work on 6th Jan) and this is what I have been busy doing. I changed my blog’s theme, deleted plug ins I wasn’t using anymore, and made a list of blog posts for 2014. I’m still trying to break into the whole blogging world and find my readership. Hopefully, I get that in 2014 with your help. Happy Holidays Jon!

  49. As always, a powerful post Jon.

    I haven’t stopped writing during the holidays, but I’m not publishing the posts yet.

    I’m scheduling them for the coming weeks, so that I can concentrate on some of my client work while the blog takes care of itself.

  50. That’s an excellent point. Blogging on holidays is rather useless, when so many other blogs just literally trash the net with their posts about nothing, just cause it’s Christmas!

  51. Word Jon!!

    Am utilizing the time to build the email subscriber base and the product. And also trying to schedule few posts for 2014 and trying to stay ahead of the schedule.

  52. Hi Jon!

    It’s the first time I have visited your site, and now I think, I should have visited you long ago.

    I think you are right. There are very less visitors during the holidays. Infact, my views came down to 50%! UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

    People spend time with their families and friends during the holidays. They don’t get a chance to sit on the internet as the festive season comes with a lot of tasks to do!

    Your tips to utilize this time are truly great. I hope I would do something productive before the new year! 🙂

    Thank you for the informative post!

  53. Jon! Great to see you. You really convinced me for your posts. But if bloggers who are doing blogging as a part time Job. Who are free at weekends. What should they do? Should they try during holidays?

  54. Hi Jon,

    I like posting daily, 5 times, to improve my writing skills and get better. Detaching from outcomes – thank goodness 😉 – has helped me get past the whole “traffic drops during the holidays” deal….so I write to improve my skills because I want to hone my craft.

    Happy Holidays!

  55. Oh snap! I wish I had discovered you just before the holidays. Now I know the reason for my crappy traffic. I figured I should do a revamp of my site in the new year, but that period would have been perfect timing.

    Thanks for the tip Jon. There is always a liberating feeling when you discover what went wrong and how you can avoid it.

  56. I think your advise is not right for people who has blog about something which need updated daily. But your advice is very suitable for blogger who don’t need to update content daily. I am really surprise about your tips, it’s help me to bring my traffic again, the point is to make good content which help client problem. Thanks a lot.

  57. Hi Jon,

    I am glad to find your blog. I never thought about not publishing new content on holidays but it makes perfect sense.

    The 5 ways to be productive during the holidays are great. In fact, I am going to begin to use them.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing.

  58. I haven’t noticed my traffic tanking, but no one is leaving comments! I used to get a handful, but this month, hardly any. I’m going to take a break for a few week and work on a short e-book to offer to email subscribers. Thanks for the great advice. Wish I would have seen it a few weeks ago. Might have done a few things differently. 🙂


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