Recession-Proof Your Blog: Don’t Give Up. Double Down.

woman in black and white striped shirt blogging from a gray cafe booth

There’s no disputing that the global health crisis has already taken a toll on the economy and plunged all of us into uncharted territory.

A veritable onslaught of negative news, and so much uncertainty and trepidation regarding the path forward, invariably leads to panic.

But please don’t.

We aren’t saying there’s no reason to be concerned by this current state of flux, but we’re in this together and will get through it together.

We’ve all had our moments (me included), but panicking does not do anyone any favors. However, being level-headed and proactive just might. 

Confession: The title of this article is misleading. There’s no simple formula or checklist to “recession-proof” a blog or anything else.

Look at it more as a state of mind. Attitude. Instead of worrying about what’s already happened, how can I prepare for what’s next?

You know your website better than anyone, but below are some questions to ponder and (hopefully) helpful steps you can take.

desk setup with laptop, iphone and camera lenses

Keep Your Earnings in Context

There’s no sugar coating the fact that most publishers are seeing lower RPMs in the current environment as eCPM and CPMs decline.

As you may have seen, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) recently put together a report on the potential Q2 buy-side impact.

It’s an interesting read, but very little about what we’re experiencing now is predictive. Trying to forecast the economy is fruitless.

What we can tell you is that the beginning of Q2 is historically a slow period to begin with, given the cyclical nature of advertising.

We can also say that, for what it’s worth, the first half of April has seen stabilizing, albeit unremarkable, RPMs for many publishers.

While I don’t want to suggest that RPMs aren’t important, I think it’s important to view your earnings in context for the near future.

No one can predict when or at what level but — eventually, as health concerns begin to subside — advertising demand will return.

In the meantime, focus on how to improve your RPM in ways that will benefit you in the long run, even if the numbers aren’t where any of us would like them to be tomorrow or the next day.

As always, it’s a good idea to look at your top posts to see if there have been any major shifts, and to make sure your best posts and Mediavine Dashboard settings are optimized for ads.

User behaviors are changing like never before and numbers are all over the place. Stay on top of your traffic and optimize it the best you can with the tools at your disposal.

On the flip side, don’t get bogged down by fill rate or other programmatic advertising metrics that you can leave to us. Mediavine is working around the clock to keep things optimized on our end.

You can always trust that you are earning as much as possible through Mediavine ads, and that we’re doing everything we can to help you grow your traffic — read: ad impressions — as well.

Zero in on what you can control. Namely …

woman typing on a laptop

Don’t Abandon Your Content Strategy 

Mediavine’s mission is helping content creators build sustainable businesses. While these are undoubtedly challenging times, remember that you got to this point for a reason.

Your website is already successful, and I know from experience that doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve faced headwinds before, in one form or another. This is different, and yet not entirely.

Think of the current circumstances as another Q1, or even an algorithm change you can’t do anything about. Don’t lament or chase what could’ve been at the expense of what still can be.

It sounds like a cliche, but with every crisis comes opportunity. In the case of a global quarantine, that means more people than ever looking for information online that will enhance their lives.

Optimizing old content, as we touched on earlier, is an easy way to shore up whatever earnings you can on the traffic you have now, but don’t lose sight of creating new content as well.

This is always the balance, and it’s more important now than ever before.

As a publisher, you already produce quality content that solves problems, enhances people’s lives, fulfills needs or any/all of the above. Don’t let a recession distract you from what is needed most in a recession.

Depending on your area of expertise, that could mean doing more of what you’ve always been doing or it could mean a pivot that helps you reach wider and more diverse audiences.

Position Yourself to Succeed in a Recession

You don’t need to be an economist to observe that while many businesses struggle during periods of uncertainty, others grow.

Just in the past month, we’ve seen publishers specializing in finance, budgeting, parenting, kids activities and other niches see large increases in traffic for obvious reasons.

If you’ve been considering starting a new blog on one of these topics, well, now could be the time. But that’s not most people.

Fortunately, your shift in focus doesn’t have to be so extreme. Even for Mediavine travel sites and others taking short-term hits from this crisis, there are opportunities to be found.

Advice or how-to content is particularly valuable right now. Readers always search for tips and recommendations, but in this environment expect that to increase several-fold.

Remember that just because you’re down right now, doesn’t mean you’re out of the game for good, and the best thing any blogger can do is establish his or herself as an expert or authority. 

Good advice and stability are at a premium right now, and millions of people are seeking it. Stay the course and look at this as a chance to expand and prepare for brighter days ahead.

Now could be the time to shift to how-to content, add new features, incorporate more video, improve your design, speed up your site and other things to position yourself ahead of the curve in the months and years to come.

graphic designer using tablet and stylus at a desktop computer

Know Your Audience (and Your SEO)

Apologies if you do this already, but there’s no time like the present to understand who’s coming to your blog and why.

Along the same lines, it’s time to make sure your content is presented in a way that attracts and retains new readers.

You probably know which of your posts are the most popular, but where are people clicking on your page? What kinds of keywords are you ranking for? Do some keyword research and find out.

Consider whether you’re going after the long tail as well as vanity terms. Moreover, are you implementing the kind of keyword prominence you need to maximize your SEO efficiency?

Again, don’t become obsessed by stats at the expense of posting quality content, but it’s amazing what you can learn about your own website simply by breaking down how people currently use it.

Obligatory Brand Safety Caveat

I’d be remiss not to include a tip from our Ad Operations team: As we discussed in our update for content creators last month, be aware of how and when you refer to the global health crisis.

We’re not saying never to speak the name of this disease à la Lord Voldemort. Just keep in the back of your head that prominent or frequent mentions could turn off certain advertisers.

Repeat: Don’t overthink this to the point where you fundamentally alter (or worse yet, don’t even post) good content as a result. It’s impossible to avoid a topic like this altogether.

Just be smart about it and make sure as many advertisers bid on your inventory as possible. When in doubt, try to walk a fine line* with your wording. Beyond that, don’t sweat it.

*Use this very article as a template!

Time is Valuable, So Use Wisely

I won’t waste your time by telling you how to spend yours, but we all waste some time as publishers and now we have even more stress and myriad work-at-home challenges (cough, kids).

Bottom line: Your limited time is truly of the essence now.

Identify your key objectives and what you need to do to keep things on track. Keep building your site however you can and forget about the distractions (cough, DMCA takedown requests).

Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. You didn’t get to this point overnight, and the past month — unprecedented as it is — doesn’t define your blogging journey.

Stay the course and we’ll come out stronger together.

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