I recently took a six-week blogging break while I was on vacation in Costa Rica. Since many of you reading this are bloggers, you know there’s a general consensus that you should should post consistently.
However, you also need to carefully examine your priorities for your life and your business. To that end, here are the…
Three Main Areas of My Life
Of course, there are many ways to look at life, but for now I’ll divide my life into 3 categories:
1. My work on college textbook supplements
This is how I’ve made my living since the mid-1990s. Freelance writing for higher education companies allows me to have a location-independent lifestyle while earning a solid income that pays all my bills and funds my retirement and savings accounts. (See my e-book about it here.)
This is where you are right now. It’s where I help freelance writers get high-paying assignments and get those assignments done quickly and well. It’s also where I sell my information products (see the sidebar).
3. The rest of my life
This includes spending time with my sweetheart Stephanie,visiting with friends and family, hiking, exercising, reading, exploring — and just overall enjoying being alive.
My priorities, and why I took a six-week blogging break
Number 3, “the rest of my life” — my life outside of working, writing, blogging — is what is most important to me. It also turns out that winter, especially early winter, is the slowest time for my work for college textbook publishers and other educational companies. So I grabbed my opportunity and headed for Costa Rica.
Makes perfect sense to me. Think you might want to do something similar?
What to Do if You Take a Blogging Break
Here are 8 tips you need to follow. Note that I did the first 5 of these in my January 7 post “Why I Am Taking a Short Blogging Break.”
1. Announce That You’re Doing It
This is huge. I’ve seen several bloggers I follow just drop away for several weeks or months with no explanation. Your readers come to your blog primarily to read and interact with your content. They want to know when you’ll be back. If you’ve been blogging regularly for months, and then disappear for a month or longer for no apparent reason, you may find that many readers move on to other blogs. They think you’re gone for good.
2. Explain Why You’re Taking the Blogging Break
You needn’t give all the details, although I did. And you don’t have to think about how readers might judge you. You might be taking a vacation. You might need to focus on a work project. You might be dealing with an illness. You might be dealing with a family emergency. You might just be a bit burned out on blogging and being online so much.
Just give as much explanation as feels right for you.
3. Give a Return Date
I said I’d post again by the end of February, even though I actually returned late in the evening of February 11. This gave me leeway to take extra time if I needed it. Turns out I did need some time to deal with a new project and to deal with some other matters before I had the time to post “What I Love Most About Costa Rica.”
Be careful not to over-promise and under-deliver. If you say the middle of May and people come back on June 1 and you still haven’t posted, they may think you’re not coming back. If you need to extend your blogging break, go back to your post and change your return time, or, better yet, issue a short post that details when you’ll return.
4. Give Your Visitors Something to Do
Tell them to visit your archives, peruse your most popular posts, or check out interesting categories. You can also send them to videos or audios on your site. I listed seven of my favorite Productive Writers posts.
5. Decide How to Deal With Comments
You may be either unable or unwilling to deal with comments during your absence. I suggest you turn on comment moderation in WordPress. In fact, I did this several months ago, choosing the setting that only automatically allows comments from people who have already had an approved comment. This way all new comments, including the vast spammy majority, are held in moderation.
Alternatively you can just turn off comments. I personally don’t like this and don’t recommend it because it will also “turn off” some of your readers.
6. Consider Running Guest Posts
This can be a bit risky, but if you can line up quality guest posts from people that you know will answer comments and share on social media, it may be the best solution.
7. Consider Having Someone Manage Your Blog
This can be important if you run a major blog that publishes several times a week. Jennifer Mattern discusses the details here.
And one last tip…
8. Stay Active with Social Media
It’s a good idea to maintain your presence in social media, even if it’s on a reduced level. That’s why I used Hootsuite to schedule tweets about the best posts from the Productive Writers archive, intermixed with tweets of articles on other sites I knew my audience would find interesting. I was also active on my personal Facebook account where I’m friends with quite a few freelance writers from around the world.
What are your thoughts about blogging breaks? Have you done it? Will you do it? Any good tips to add?