Blogging: Do You Need a Time-Out?

Do you need a time-out from your blog? For either business or personal reasons, planned or unplanned, you may need a break from blogging.

6 Reasons to take a blogging break

Here are six reasons you may need a blogging time-out.

  1. Family reasons. Perhaps a member of your family or a close friend is sick or needs your support. this can be time consuming and  emotionally exhausting leaving you with limited physical reserves to create quality content.
  2. Work project. On occasion, everyone has a long assignment, often with strict deadlines.
  3. Busy season. Peak season may generate more than the average amount of work without enough hours in the day to handle it.
  4. Planned vacation. Whether it’s a long anticipated trip or a family get-together, you’ve schedule time off from your office.
  5. Unplanned emergency. It can be personal or local issue that stops you from blogging regularly. It can be an accident, power blackout or other event beyond your control.
  6. Burn out. Thinking you were superman, you’ve taken on too much work and, as a result,  your mind stopped working.

6 Ways to prepare for a blogging vacation

While the reason for taking a break from your regular blogging activities may not allow much lead time, there are steps you can take to prepare in advance for times when you’re not around to keep an eye on your operation. Even so, you should anticipate some drop off in site visits and other metrics since you won’t be able to respond to conversations in real time.

  1. Create a blog publishing schedule. It’s helpful to plan out future posts. Use an editorial calendar to support content planning. If you know when you’re going to be offline, either full or part time, avoid topics that have attracted controversy in the past or that are sure to gather the kind of comments and links that need real-time responses. (Of course, that’s sometimes difficult to predict.)
  2. Draft posts in advance. Using your editorial calendar, plan out your columns ahead of time including collateral assets such as photographs and links. It’s a good idea to always have 3-7 posts in your queue in case of an emergency when you can’t blog.
  3. Leverage guest bloggers. A guest blog post or two can help fill out your posting schedule. It’s critical that these posts are high quality and in line with your niche and your readers’ interests.
  4. Train a backup administrator. Give someone you trust administrative rights so that they can schedule and fix any minor issues that may arise while you’re away. They need to be able to accept comments and take care of other administrative details. Lay out step-by-step instructions. If possible, provide a test period so they can get used to your system.
  5. Determine how to handle on-going blog issues like comments, pingbacks and questions. Develop a set of guidelines and instructions for your backup administrator.
  6. Schedule blog posts in advance (if you can). Ensure that your content will appear regularly according to your predetermined schedule. (See editorial calendar.) At this point, your posts should have categories, tags, links, photographs and related blurbs so that they’re ready to be published.

Regardless of whether or not you plan to take a blog break, There are issues to consider that apply to a variety of circumstances. First of all, Decide whether or not to tell your readers that you’ll be on a break. When I worked at The Economist, we didn’t publish new content for the Christmas holidays and our readers understood. Instead we ran longer, think piece articles to engage readers and keep them on the site. While being honest with your audience is always important, sometimes, it’s a good idea to be discrete and not over share. It depends on the circumstances and the relationship you’ve built with your audience.

Second, consider whether you’ll be able to participate in the conversation at some level. While many vacation destinations now have internet connectivity, spending too much time in the hotel room responding to comments and participating in social media conversations will defeat the very reason you took a blog break.

The reality is that every blogger needs a time-out at some point, whether it’s for a vacation, large work project or family issue. If you’ve got a good relationship with your readers, they ‘ll accept this and wait for you to return to your regular routine. If you’ve decided to stop blogging, this isn’t the answer.

If you’ve taken a blogging time-out, what was your experience? What was the most surprising factor and why?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: Milias via Flickr

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