What does “Christmas in July” mean to you? My guess is you just conjured up an image of Santa Claus wearing sunglasses and holding a sign advertising your local mattress shop. Maybe you're thinking of an old commercial jingle, set to the tune of “Deck the Halls,” that just crawled out of the dark recesses of your brain to torment you. You might even be thinking about companies that boast sales as big as Black Friday and then get relentlessly teased on social media for it. (I’m not naming names, but it rhymes with “Schrime Day”)

If you can’t hear the words “Christmas in July” without experiencing sensations of extreme irritation, there’s help! Here at Volusion, we’ve rebranded “Christmas in July” to signify something a lot more fun: getting your store ready for the holiday season now, so that you’ll have the best possible chance of bringing in revenue later.* So without further ado, here are the top five ways in which you can reap the benefits of a Volusion-style Christmas in July, no Santa hats or sunglasses needed:

Define Your Holiday Products

If you sell a wide array of products, then you know by now the seasonal ebb and flow of specific items; come winter, the cutest swimsuit in the world can’t outsell a pair of warm gloves. You may be lucky enough to sell a specific product or set of products that will be universally useful year-round, but if you don’t, comb through your stock now (or order it!) and mark the products that will be top-sellers during the holiday season. Check out Google Trends if you aren’t sure.

Update Your Website’s SEO

Now that you have your list of “focus” products, hit these pages hard with your SEO strategy. This means performing keyword research to find the top-performing searches for your chosen fare, updating your on-site metadata and content to reflect those keywords, writing about your products on your blog, reviewing them on your YouTube channel or offering them to other bloggers to review on their own networks. SEO can take months of work before the needle moves for your selected pages. So if November hits and you haven’t thought about SEO yet for your target products, then get ready to either invest in some phenomenal advertising or hold onto your stock for another year.

Evaluate Your Web Design Early

How does your website look? Does it need a makeover? Be honest. If it's been a couple years since a design refresh, then you may want to look at your website as objectively as you can and ask yourself if it contends with today’s trends. Staying on top of current web design is a major way to maintain your audience’s trust and display savvy professionalism. I wouldn’t try to sell a product on a website designed in 2005 any more than I’d try to show up at an interview wearing an 80’s power suit. If you do decide to ditch your website’s proverbial shoulder pads, then now is the time to either speak to a design expert or test out a new template.

Build Your Social Media Following

The holidays are a perfect time for social media: you can share deals, run promotions or contests, and post as many pictures as you want of dogs wearing elf costumes. How can you make sure that when the time comes, you’re broadcasting to more than an audience of one? By building your following now! Whether it’s through running Facebook ads or interacting with your target audience on Twitter and Instagram, finding and building the right audience takes care and time. If you’re not sure where to get started, then you won’t want to miss our upcoming webinar, an exciting collaboration with Hootsuite about effectively using social media this holiday season. (Stay tuned to the blog for more info!)

Create an Editorial Calendar

Last but not least, as the holidays pick up steam and your business (and life) gets more hectic, it’s going to become easier to forget to run that big promotion or write your Thanksgiving blog post. Create your editorial calendar now and take the burden off your over-taxed brain later. It doesn’t matter if your calendar is a spreadsheet, a fancy task management app, a Google doc or an old-school “Firemen of the Year” wall calendar: just make one. Write down the frequency and approximate dates of blog topic ideas, email marketing blasts, social media posts and promotions or content pushes. You can even start developing your marketing collateral ahead of time if you feel like overachieving.

And there you have it – an easy, organized and jingle-free Christmas in July! Good luck, and remember that if you need any help celebrating your favorite new holiday, Volusion is here for you.

*As an aside, something else I’m trying to rebrand? Pigeons. They’re a type of dove, you guys.