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How to Take a Blog Break Without Losing Momentum

Paradise waiting

A Guest post by Stacey Roberts from Veggie Mama.

As anyone who has ever started a blog knows, it can be hard work. The internet never sleeps, and it seems at times neither do you! In the 24-hour machine that is the blogosphere and accompanying social media, there is the potential for our blog/life balance to be so far off kilter it’s all but disappeared from view. And the best way to deal with blogger burnout is to stop it before it begins.

Working for yourself means you also have the luxury of choosing when you can shift gears. And while you might not have a colleague to step up and take over in your stead, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your site will suddenly plunge to the depths of the internet where blogs go to die if you’re not there to constantly push it back up to the surface. The fear of being forgotten is very real, as the blogosphere is awash with ten more blogs to take your place should you quiet down. But the trick is finding the minimum amount of effort you need to spend to keep your hard-earned traffic, and ring in some help along the way.

Step One: Get organised

First thing you need to do is define how long you are going to spend away. I was having a baby, so I planned for three months and had a tentative plan for the fourth. Figure out how many posts would be the minimum to keep your readers interested, and set them into an editorial calendar. There are plenty of ways to do this – use the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin, use software, a downloadable template, your laptop calendar, a real calendar, or you can go old-school like I did and draw a colourful diagram with connector pens.

The next step is to fill those spots with content ideas. There are plenty of things you can write ahead and schedule – I did a mix of non-time-sensitive posts, recipes, tutorials and guest posts. Once you have an idea, then set aside a chunk of time to tackle the posts and have them ready to go. You already have inspiration because you’ve created a list of ideas ahead of time, all you need to do now is flesh them out. Or if you can’t find the time to write a bunch of posts in one go, then commit to writing two posts each time you sit down to write one. Publish one, and schedule the other for a future date. You also might like to re-post earlier content – we all have that one brilliant piece we wrote when we were first starting out, which only two people read. Bring it back out and let it get the love it deserves!

Spend some time either creating your own images for the posts, or searching for stock images. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to write a post once the title and image are sitting there, ready to go. Make a list of what you need and stockpile them, to save time searching for each one as you write your content.

Write a post explaining to your readers what to expect, and when you’ll be back. Most readers are happy to give you some breathing space and pop back when you return. You’re probably also doing them a favour – less posts in their readers mean they get a break from keeping up with the blogosphere’s breakneck pace!

Step Two: Get some help

If there’s too much to do and too little time, then call for reinforcements. Write a post asking for guest posters, outlining your contribution guidelines (it is much easier if they all come in the same format, because uploading 40 different blogging styles can be just as much work as writing the content yourself!), and setting your standards. You might like to include ideal post length, whether or not it needs an image (and be certain that the image they supply complies with copyright law!), and whether they need to write their own bio and supply a head shot. Guest posts are usually better received if you have written a small intro before they begin, and helps keep your voice on your site, which is why your readers read you in the first place. Submissions in HTML format are light-years more easy to deal with than document attachments and separate images, but not everyone is au fait with that.

Reach out to your networks and let them know you’re looking for contributions. Are you a member of blogging groups or organisations? Put the call out on your blog’s Facebook page and other social media accounts. You might like to open it up to up-and-coming bloggers looking for a big break, or you might like to only invite established writers with their own readership. Or you could simply hire professionals.

Judge what mix is best for you and your readers – keep your own content a constant, if you can. While your readers will appreciate you’re taking a break, and enjoy some fresh views, it’s your voice they want to read.

Step Three: Get away

Get right away. You’ve done all you can ahead of time. You’ve automated tweets and Facebook updates using the scheduled post’s permalink, and everything should run smoothly (you hope!) with little or no effort from you. Stepping back and clearing your head does wonders for motivation and creativity – soon you will miss your blog, and have ideas coming out your ears for future content. But until that happens, break up with your blog just a little bit. Get outside and get a life (as Darren says!), so you’ve got some depth to your writing. Don’t even open your laptop if you don’t have to. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and nobody likes forced writing. When you’ve reignited the passion for blogging, your words will flow better and you’ll create more of a connection with the reader.

If you absolutely can’t bear the idea of totally stepping away, or you don’t need to, then pop up every now and then with a fresh post. You never know when inspiration will strike, and it’s always best to bow down when it does. Keep up your networking and being part of the community with your social media accounts – maybe Instagram your break and the new things you now have time for, to keep your followers in the loop. If you’re troubled by dips in traffic on the days you’re not posting, then invite readers into your archives by tweeting a new old link for them to read.

Nobody likes a burnt-out blogger, and you and your readers both know when stuff’s getting stale. Take a well-earned break and keep the home fires burning so it’s still warm when you get back.

Have you taken a break? I’d love to hear any tips you learned along the way.

Stacey Roberts is the blogger behind Veggie Mama, and when she’s not writing about good food and motherhood, she’s teaching media law at university. Or avoiding the laundry. She’s an Instagram ninja here, on Facebook here and tweets @veggie_mama.

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Comments

  1. Great post here Stacey (and Darren)! The one part of this blog post that resonated with me the most is the part where you essentially hinted at the competition in the blogosphere: with millions of blog “out there”, it is definitely true that there are many bloggers primed and ready to take your spot if there is ever a lull or period of inactivity on your blog. To me, not only do bloggers have the monumental task of building a brand behind a blog, but, no matter the brand, it has to be one that can be relied on to provide a continual stream of value–recurring, scheduled blog posts, over time. There is no wonder why so many bloggers simply give up or become tired. I’ve felt it myself….it is very hard to keep going, especially when there is 1) alot of competition in just about every market or niche and 2) readers are inherently coming to expect more and more from the blogger. I’m not saying that that is bad or good…it just “is”.

    It seems that the heart of your post is founded around organization and planning. In my honest opinion, those are two fundamental skills that (serious) bloggers must excel at. They must learn to do them, and do them quickly. Blogging isn’t for the feint of heart, that’s for sure. Thanks again for such a great post, Stacey!

    • Veggie Mama says:

      You’re very welcome, Julie! Thank you for your kind words. I agree, blogging (if you’re wanting to take it seriously) can very quickly become a lot of hard work. The rewards are great, but it is quite demanding. I also agree that there are so many blogs on so many topics, and the best way to get attention is to find your own angle, be unique, and be consistent. That’s where you succeed after others lose steam. So when you need to take a break for whatever reason (sanity, mostly!), then you don’t want to lose all the hard work you’ve put in. Also one needs to evaluate – is it really that important to keep producing over the break? And if it is, then a little organisation goes a long, long way. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Eric White says:

    What kind of topics do you recommend scheduling when you’re taking a break? It’s pretty much impossible to stay topical when writing posts weeks in advance of publication and I feel like that could really hurt the content.

    I’m guessing mostly lists and obviously non-time sensitive stuff, right? Thanks for the tips Stacey.

    • Veggie Mama says:

      I totally agree, if your blog hinges on being topical and current, then it makes no sense to write such content ahead of time (unless you’re psychic!). I am fortunate that mine does not, and therefore I could write a lot of non-time sensitive stuff ahead of time. Lists are such a good topic written in advance! Great idea. There’s no reason why you can’t write some general things to be scheduled, then pop up once a week and publish something timely and on trend :)

  3. sujhon says:

    Your article is very important to all of the new bloggers. Particularly i

    have a lot of benefits.

  4. Nice post Stacey! We all need breaks now and again.

    I tend to keep a reserve of ‘evergreen’ articles for each of my blogs – whenever I decide to take a break, I simply post one of those pre-written articles. It only takes a few seconds, and the readers will never know you may have written it a long time ago.

  5. Fathi says:

    Nobody will continue blogging without energy, without inspiration, as you said, we should organise our work first, then apply simple steps, I just want to add simple tip, will helps, Turn off your Laptop or PC, same thing for internet connection, (Cables…), then take some coffee and let your mind doing the rest, you will be amazed how much ideas comes to your mind, don’t forget to take notes…

    • Veggie Mama says:

      Oh goodness yes, a notepad and pen right next to that coffee in the sunshine – it’s surprising how much your brain is inspired when allowed to rest. Thanks for the tip!

  6. I commonly sit down and make several blog posts each day for 2 or 3 days out of the week so that I can enjoy a few days on not having to write. I usually blog when I am in the mood to blog so I never really lose the urge to blog. The post scheduling features of blog platforms today are really amazing features to have. Great post!

    • Veggie Mama says:

      Thank you! Yes I’m a bit of a schedule-freak myself, it’s so nice to strike while the inspiration is hot, then eke the posts out over the week. You’re so right, the scheduling features are crazy good. Like your own personal blog robot, haha :)

  7. Hi Stacey,

    Super!

    Getting away helps me.

    I seek out places like your image posted above.

    Letting go precedes growing.

    Every time.

    Thanks!

  8. This is timely Stacey, I have a holiday far, far, away on the horizon, this is the metaphorical kick up the bum I need to be proactive and organised and all the other things that don’t come naturally. Great post.

  9. Edson Hale says:

    Hi Stacy; good to see you here; it is an art you do nothing but remain as if you are doing a lot; it doesn’t mean look busy do nothing but it is the spirit of being in your work. You well pointed how to take a break while fully maintaining your momentum. Great

  10. your post is very informative and helpful for me and others new bloggers.. Thanks viggie for the shared.

  11. Ganar dinero says:

    Its not always easy to take a break and forget for a while about everything, but we all need once in a while.

    Thanks.

  12. Veggie Mama says:

    Ooh yes, I like that – your body and your mind is your investment. And thank you for “kinnging”!

  13. We all need a break! Go mental without it! And planing is the key. I often let my readers know that I am actually taking a break. Just so they know and understand when my social media presence is a little lower and there are fewer posts. Great tips. Thanks x

  14. Great post Stacey! I wish I had been more organised like you suggest before this trip away. I’m still writing a few posts on the fly and I’ve reduced my posting schedule. Funny thing is my traffic is actually up, go figure! But seriously, taking a break has been so important in recharging, and I feel more creative than I have in a long time.

  15. Phuong Le says:

    Love the beach in the article :)

  16. Josh says:

    I think my biggest problem is setting up ahead of time to get the posts out there. I want to bring my readers at least 5 posts a week. But sometimes, life gets hold of me and won’t let me go. That is my hardest problem.

    Also, when I do get ahead and have several posts written, I feel like I can take a break. What a mistake that is! I take a break for a few days, and then run out of posts again. I then have to start back at square one as I play catch up.

    Ah, well. The disorganized life of a writer…

  17. pankaj says:

    Hi,
    nice ways to rest and blog and still not losing blog traffic.
    i have been working from last one year on my blog and sometime i feel like giving-up but some how i manage to write one post every day.
    Now i am thinking of giving some break to blogging. these points have inspired me.
    thanks

  18. Chad Butler says:

    As I started to read this, I was thinking “Editorial Calendar” plugin – and then of course, you nailed it. I totally love that thing – it allows a blogger to visually get things almost on autopilot. I’ve been using it and did a review of it on my blog. It’s a great plugin!

  19. When I learned about scheduling posts, I felt like I hit the jackpot!

    This has, by far, been the biggest help to me since beginning my blogging journey nine months ago.

    I like having a few posts lined up that are “ready to go” that I can use when I don’t have anything written for a particular day.

    Having these types of posts have saved my butt on more than one occasion and have allowed me to take the break I needed. They’ve also allowed me time to work on other posts.

    Time, especially in the world of blogging, is the most precious commodity we have, and so gaining more it (or feeling like you are) is a huge help.

  20. Daryl says:

    The only thing I’d add – follow through!

    There are countless bloggers (including myself on occasion) who organise and plan relentlessly, only to put those plans on hold for one reason or the other.

    You HAVE to follow through and do what you promised – if you promised a week’s break, don’t come back after a month!

    Do what you promised, follow through, and your audience will be happier for it.

  21. Cathrina says:

    I wish I could get some help but luckily I can always get great advice online and here. It’s very easy to get caught up and not take a break. Your health should come first and then blogging so get organized!

  22. This was a very timely read as I’m going on an overseas trip next year. Rather than worrying about transport and accommodation, I keep thinking “who’s going to make sure the blog gets updated a couple of times per week?”

    Writing political satire in advance can be tricky but Clive Palmer (God bless him!) looks like he is going to help heaps.

  23. Blogger burnout is a real problem and unfortunately many of us one time or another were guilty of this *raise hand* :) Get organized, schedule what you can, get the help that you can and take that break!

    Even if things aren’t going to be perfect, go ahead and do what you need to do. Everything is fixable and will be there when you are back ;)

    Thanks for bringing awareness, Stacey!