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Excuse Posts – How to Let Your Blog Go #6

Let-Your-Blog-GoHave you ever come across a blog that posts more about why they don’t post than anything else?

I hesitate to write about this method of ‘letting your blog go’ because I know that most bloggers do go through stages when they struggle to post to their blog due to legitimate reasons (sickness, death in family or some other life crisis).

I’ve gone through periods myself when I’ve been unable to keep my blogs posted to regularly (sometimes without any reason other than I struggled to find something to say). In my early days of blogging it seemed that there were weeks in which all I could muster to say was ‘I’ve got nothing to say’ or ‘I’m sick again… posting will return to normal next week’ etc.

The problem is that when you post a few posts like in a row it has an impact upon your readers and any sort of momentum that you might have created on your blog.

Solution: Here’s the conclusion that I’ve come to (and it’s a work in progress). I attempt to build blogs that build momentum on my topics and that stay largely ‘on topic’. While I occasionally include a little personal information in my posts this information is generally shared in a ‘by the way’ type form or as an illustration to an ‘on topic’ post. As a result if something happens in my life that prevents me from blogging then I generally don’t post a post about it (unless it’s a very major thing – something that hasn’t happened yet thankfully).

However: Of course this will vary from blog to blog and situation to situation and I do (and would) break this ‘rule’ on occasion. For example if something happened that would mean that I would not be able to update my blog for an extended period of time I would probably post a short note to explain my absence and to let people know what would happen to the blog while I was gone (see some strategies below). This would likely be a one off post and a short one and it would also attempt to provide readers some sort of alternative for them to do/read in my absence (linking to key posts in my archives, asking a question, suggestion a few other blogs to read).

Tips for When You Can’t Blog:

If faced with a situation which takes you away from your blog for an extended period there are a variety of strategies that you might like to employ:

1. Guest Posts - this is easier if you have a blog with a larger readership and profile but having others (either one person or a group of them) to come in an d post to your blog in your absence can be a good way to keep it ticking over.

2. Decrease Your Post Frequency - not able to keep up your normal frequency of posting? How about decreasing it for a period of time? Even just a post a week gives readers a sense that you’ve not abandoned them. One short on topic post a week is much better in mind than a few ‘I can’t blog because….’ posts.

3. Revisit Archives – how about repost an old post or at least point back to some of your best posts? Many of your newer readers won’t have read your ‘old stuff’ so give them a taste.

4. Polls and Reader Questions – you can’t do this every day but one of the quickest types of posts to write is a question or poll. Ask your readers something about their experience of your topic and throw things open to them for some discussion.

5. Rainy Day Posts - it’s wise to have a post or three in reserve at any given point in time. I try to keep at lest one in my drafts section at any time so that I can throw it up if in a spot of bother. In addition to this I have an ‘ideas’ document on my desktop that has titles of posts, questions to ask readers, half written posts etc – these are half baked ideas that I can quickly turn into posts on days that I’m struggling.

6. Prepare for Known Events that Might Disrupt Your Blogging – while some things to happen to us out of the blue that stop our blogging in it’s tracks – there are many other things in life that we have some control over or advanced warning of. In these instances plan ahead and either get a guest blogger in and/or pre-prepare some posts. For example, as you read this I’m taking two weeks paternity leave on this blog. I started planning this ‘letting your blog go’ series a month ago and wrote all of the posts over the weeks before our baby arrived. I also arranged for a handful of guest posts over these two weeks. This meant a little extra work in preparation for my break but it’s worth it!

I guess in summing up – my strategy is to attempt to keep a balance between:

  • keeping momentum of the blog going/adding value to readers
  • resisting the temptation to keep posting ‘excuse’ posts
  • keeping readers informed of what’s happening on the blog

What’s your strategy when you can’t post on your blog?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Glen Allsopp says:

    I never subscribe to a blog when i see these, there is nothing more annoying and clear that somebody doesn’t care about their blog.

    Like you say though, there are legitimate reasons why this happens but if the sorry post doesn’t include them then it shows lack of caring.

  2. Muscle Post says:

    I’ve never posted an excuse post on my blog. If I can’t blog for a day or two, then I don’t blog for a day or two. I come back with a new post and some valuable content and my readers are happy for it. They don’t mind that I missed a couple days at all.

  3. Louis Liem says:

    Post like before and explain the reason after the post.

  4. Katie says:

    I try to have a weeks worth of blogging ahead to be sure I don’t have an bare spots. When I feel like writing, I write like a maniac and then I trail off and start back up.

  5. Making sure I have two to three posts on the side because life happens. It’s not smart and unrealistic to think you’re going to never miss out on an opportunity to post faithfully.

  6. Shanel Yang says:

    Though it’s not officially listed as one of your tips for this topic, I love how your posts’ lengths vary in size from everything from a short announcement, to a slightly longer post about some interesting issue, to a much longer one like this one with plenty of detailed, useful tips.

    John Chow does this also to great effect. It’s just more flexible and allows posting as frequently as desired/needed with “current events,” which also seems great for filling time and space between the longer, more pithy posts.

    I’m not sure if this will work for a mostly personal development blog like mine, but I think at least it’s worth some serious consideration. Thanks for the fab tips as per usual! ; )

  7. sarah says:

    it’s true, i barely notice how long it’s been since the last post on many blogs i’m subscribed to on my reader… until they bring it up themselves & apologize for it!

    i am SO glad that blogger introduced post scheduling. it really does help to prevent this sort of occurrence.

  8. Lewis Green says:

    Darren,

    Excellent tips! Sometimes when I’m brain dead I’ll leave marketing and do a fun post about my favorite band or run a YouTube Video. My readers seem to like the occasional diversion.

  9. pete says:

    Excellent tips, Darren. I recently underwent a procedure at the hospital and expected a slow period for at least a week afterward.

    As I was laying in the pre-op room, I decided that the actual experience would make a great post for my blog. I had my wife take a bunch of camera phone shots (that’s what my blog topic) and then wrote a post on it a few days later.

    It seemed extreme to some readers, but it was far better than a whiny post about why I haven’t or won’t be posting. It was implied that I’d be absent. I waited until I recovered enough and began posting again. Readership stayed the same, with no major hiccups.

    Here’s the post if anyone’s interested. Beware, there’s pictures of needles, but no blood. :)

  10. Great advice … Listen at me. I have only been blogging a little over a month and pretend to know what good blogging advice is. It sounds like good advice anyway. I do keep a reserve of two to three posts ready to go in the event I can’t write on a given day.

    BTW – Your book is great. I am half way through it and am soaking up all the knowledge I can from it.

  11. FitMom says:

    If I don’t have anything to say, I shut my pie hole!! I usually can get 6 posts up a week- and maybe a silly “linky” post on saturdays if I’m busy racing and sleeping. It seems most of my readers take vacations on the weekends anyway!

  12. Kathy says:

    Great advice, as always!!!

    THIS LINE IS PRICELESS: “I attempt to build blogs that build momentum on my topics and that stay largely ‘on topic’.”

    I’m always baffled when a great blog begins wandering “off topic” into personal areas in which I’d rather not be privy! If the topic is business, I don’t need to know about your preferences in the bedroom behind closed doors! I didn’t ask so PLEASE don’t tell!!!

    Sometimes silence is TRULY golden and honestly, if your readers aren’t emailing you asking why you haven’t posted in a while, then you probably don’t need to offer a public apology or explanation!

  13. Amenah says:

    u r so right about this “excuse post”.
    Add : u can take advantage of this “excuse post” and talk about it in generally way, and how u can get through it .

    I write topics in a note , but after a while I hated it or feel it’s old info to talk about. when I read ur post I intending to look back at it

  14. AIAM says:

    I am also keeping a number of drafts ahead. But when they are not finished yet and I still feel I need to post, but cannot find the time or inspiration, I post a kind of to-do list.
    Either I list what posts are about to come up on the blog (based on the list of drafts), or a list of possible subjects (based on my to do list)
    More concrete: my blog reviews podcasts and so I either make a post listing the upcoming reviews, or I list the podcasts I am currently listening to or planning to listen to, with at least one line of comment each.

  15. I didn’t leave anything on the blog, but I decide to be different from now on. In my opinion, Batch writing blogs is a good idea. I like the relaxed feeling by writing many blogs a time and set the schedule to publish them

  16. Just wanted to say that I LOVE the cat picture.

    And your advice. I need advice on how not to post so frequently. Trying to slow down lately because my posts could get more mileage if I didn’t put up a new post every day. Some of them are worth left sitting.

    Thank you.

  17. Creating advance posts really help just in case that you are in planned vacation or anticipation of zero output day…

    I think this is a valid reason or excuse of not posting in blogs. Its personal really, check it here.

  18. MyStore says:

    Good tip

  19. Slevi says:

    “if something happens in my life that prevents me from blogging then I generally don’t post a post about it (unless it’s a very major thing – something that hasn’t happened yet thankfully).”

    “I will be taking a couple of weeks off now however I’ve pre-prepared two great weeks of content here at ProBlogger for you.”

    Those two placed together look kinda funny, lol :P. Most obviously you wrote this entry before the kid got born, hehe. That second line also greatly emphasizes the importance of this entry as a whole I’d say. Although not all events will be able to be planned up front, but definitely for those which do there is no reason not to let your blog go on.

    Great tips.

  20. I did this the other day – due to sickness, but thought later that I could easily have written something small about my niche, even just a thought.

    I don’t like making excuses, because it means that I do not value what I do enough to push through a problem.

  21. Nick says:

    Some great ideas here. I particularly like the suggestion of re-posting old posts. My blog has been going for almost 3 years now, so I definitely have scope for this. I’d be very interested to hear your views on the best way to republish archive material, dos and don’ts, etc.

  22. @ Sarah

    You know, your right! I don’t notice until someone brings it up. I’m right with Tom, I don’t like making excuses!

    I am starting to implement darren point about keeping readers informed about what’s happening next on your blog.

  23. Hey Tom, great looking site by the way!

  24. Your strategies are always great, but I have a question:

    I’m going to move to another region in a few weeks and I’d like to find someone who is reliable as guest blogger for the period during which I’ll be off (I guess for about 1-2 weeks).
    The problem is that I’d have to find someone which knows the html to write entries in my own style (I mean for example with the justified text and so on).
    Do you think that some online ads with specific requirements will help for this purpose or what else solution should I consider?
    Thanks in advance for your suggestion.

    Anyway, today I finally received your book, you couldn’t imagine my joy, I can’t wait to devour it :-P

    How is your family?? I hope you’re spending nice days together :-) Greetings from here!!

  25. Gastroplod says:

    Excellent advice: I’m only just beginning but I have learned to ration my posts. Sometimes I’m on a roll, with ideas for lots of posts but I keep these back for days when I’m bankrupt of ideas, or know I’ll be away. There’s also such a thing as posting too frequently. Post scheduling is brilliant.

  26. Jillian says:

    Great advice, Darren.

    I’m working on building up a store of “rainy day blog posts” at the moment.

    I try to carry a notebook with me where ever I go so that if an idea springs to mind, I can jot it down. I’ve found that by doing this, I’m never (or at least not yet) wanting for topics to write about.

  27. This was a great post. I am so guilty of this, although I don’t blog for a living. I think this post probably spoke to more people than who are willing to admit. *=)

    I know having a blog requires sometype of consistency… especially those with super loyal followings… and of course this blog is one of those types of blogs. *=)

  28. Sabrinna says:

    how ’bout find another author or two?

    btw i love that cat :)

  29. Kelvin Kao says:

    Ah, I’ve done these excuse posts and killed my site’s momentum. And then I sort of have to struggle through that re-build phrase. Definitely something that I need to watch out for.

  30. Sire says:

    I wish I could leave my blog and go on a holiday. heck if I did ever manage to go on a holiday I would probably take my blogs with me, if my wife didn’t kill me first.

    Seriously if I was lucky enough to get a break I would plan ahead and draft a whole set of posts and post date them to appear regularly while I am gone. Then I would sneak to a cafe somewhere to keep track of the comments;)

  31. Supermance says:

    is that your cat ?

    6. Prepare for Known Events that Might Disrupt Your Blogging -> your cat is disrupting me :)

  32. Sarah says:

    Wow, thanks for these tips. I stop being consistent and such a lot, this will help out to keep me staying on track.

  33. Sara says:

    I think it’s absolutely okay if it’s just once in a great while. If a regular poster suddenly became irregular, I’d be curious as to why, mostly out of concern.

    For those who do these posts once every few weeks or months, I’d prefer a slower but more regular posting schedule as a reader. Take those moments where you’re feverishly writing and space out the posts created. However, blogging is personal, and I’d pretty much always respect a blogger’s posting prerogative.

  34. Jessica Bond says:

    I keep a running list of blog topic ideas and any lead in sentences. There are times when the ideas flow and other times when you may need to pull from the running list of ideas. For times when I am away, I write several short blogs in advance and publish while on the road.

    Cheers!

  35. Jess says:

    I find the rainy day posts a really good tool.
    I actually carry around a notebook (something I got into the practice of doing with my journalism studies) and take notes for ideas when they come to me.

    You just don’t know where or when an idea will come to you.

    For example the other day I was observing a ladies piece of jewellery in a supermarket, I found myself staring like an idiot, and she looked at me strangely. I then discovered an idea for my blog…(which is about beading and jewellery.). “I’ve become a beading pervert”….It is a post that will explore the obsessiveness of artists, and the inspirations that you can gather from other peoples work (with a humourous perspective no doubt)
    I advise anyone to keep a notebook. It really helps. By the way when I say notebook I don’t mean computer…just a little pad.

    jess

  36. Ryan Mac says:

    Slowing down your post frequency is a great tip I have used.
    I was trying to post everyday and finding that I would get overwhelmed and not post for a week or two because it was too much of a daunting task (especially for someone who studies and works at the same time as well)
    So I decreased posting on my fiancial blog to 4 times per week at the moment, which is regular but not too much that I cannot handle it.
    Great post Darren

  37. kristarella says:

    Sarah said she doesn’t notice how long it’s been between posts. I do. If a blog has been providing useful, interesting information 3 times a week and then doesn’t post for three weeks I notice. I don’t think an “excuse” post is in order, along the lines of “sorry, things suck, I’ll be back in a while”. I prefer Louis’s idea of an explanation. Something along the lines of “I still value this blog and you guys as readers, but things are crazy, I plan to rock you with new posts in [timeframe].” This might prevent readers from abandoning your blog, rather than wondering if you’re dead (I used to read the blog of a bipolar woman, the last couple of posts were rather drastic and then the blog was deleted, I sometimes still wonder if she’s alive).

  38. I am sure every blogger passes through this stage – bloggers block.

    I remember I made a similar post not so long ago entitled What to do When you Cannot Think of a Good Post and I am glad we have a couple of similar tips. But then, my last tip was – Do not force your self or else, you will make a ugly post.

    Anyway, it is easier to say sorry to your readers if you have not posted regularly. They will love you more by doing that.

    Thanks.

  39. Kat Rice says:

    Thanks for the continued excellent tips Darren. I wish I could forward this to some blogs I read that do the “I’m-sick-and-so-I-can’t-post-right-now” Post. I can think of one who even posts like that when he has new content! Its very annoying, I’ve mostly given up checking in. Anyhow, keep it coming.

  40. David Walker says:

    I think keeping some posts, or at least ideas for new posts in reserve is essential to get you through lean periods. I have found myself bookmarking interesting blog posts and forum topics because I know I could make a really useful post of my own out of them. I must have enough material for another 10 posts at the moment!

  41. Ms Sparky says:

    Looks like I’m doing a couple things right. Whenever I come up with a blog idea I put down a few notes and save it as a draft. To use in the future when I’m “blog dead”.

    Great post.

    Ms Sparky

  42. Ms Sparky says:

    One of the problems I have is focusing on any one topic. I worked in Iraq for two years and I blog about that. My daughter is in prison and I blog about that. I am raising my grandson and I blog about that. I just came back from a job in China and I’ve worked in Antarctica so I blog about that. Then there are the things that just tick me off.

    I’m open for suggestions on how to focus or even if I should.

    Ms Sparky

  43. kristarella says:

    Ms Sparky, I think if you’ve already built your blog talking about a variety of topics then that’s what your readers like and expect. It’s only really a problem when you build your blog talking about the latest in microprocessor technology and then start raving about gastric bypass surgery (for example). When readers expect something and get something completely different.

  44. Wakas Mir says:

    Hi there,

    An amazing set of “reasons” you got up here and great job guys for sharing it with others. True, that it really is a negative thing when bloggers post more excuse posts than the other content the user is “promised” . So i guess its different from blogger to blogger… and as a few have said here that when you know your topic you can churn out anything in matter of minutes, those who can’t.. make excuses .. so yes once again choose what you KNOW you love writing about.