It’s that time of year when one’s fancy turns to summer vacation, but for bloggers, you don’t have to let your audience think you’re away.
It’s a problem all bloggers could potentially face: what happens to your blog when you go on summer vacation?
Yes, whether you blog full-time or part-time around a different “real” job, you are entitled to take a break.
It’s easy, of course, for me to say that here, but I’m the first to admit that when I do go on vacation, I usually write a post or two during downtime. Still, I do it because I want to, not because I necessarily have to.
The key thing to remember is this: You can take a summer vacation, even from your blog, without your readers even realizing it.
Yes, it takes some planning.
Yes, it takes some additional work ahead of time to be able to pull it off.
But yes, with planning and a little work ahead of time, your blog can absolutely carry on, seemingly without you, while you’re away enjoying some much-needed time off. (And your readers don’t even have to know you ever took a vacation!)
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve surely seen me advocate something called an Editorial Calendar.
An editorial calendar is a planning tool that accomplishes a couple of things for a blogger.
First, it helps you see at a glance your posting schedule — past, present and future. From that, you can see your own posting rhythm, which, might help you think strategically about whether your current posting schedule is ideal for your life schedule.
Second, it helps you more quickly look for dates that time-sensitive posts might go. If you have a birthday or anniversary coming up, for example, you can just scroll to those dates on the calendar and create a quick draft to serve as a reminder that you want to be sure to post something about those topics on those dates.
Third, it allows you to make last-minute switches before content is published when something more timely comes up and you want to move a post you’ve written in advance to a different date in favor of a more recent one.
It’s that third function that I use most with my editorial calendar. I use a plugin called WP-Editorial Calendar and I also use CoSchedule, a service that not only serves as an editorial calendar but also allows you to schedule social media posts about your new content on your social media platforms.
How to cover your blog when you’re on vacation
So let’s say you have that big family trip coming up in the first week of August and you’re going to either have limited access to email and the internet or you want to limit your own access. Understandable.
The first thing you need to do is consider your current posting schedule. Let’s say you post five days a week. What would happen if, for one week, you only posted three times instead? Would that cause a problem for your readers? Would it cause a problem for you in terms of causing guilt about “abandoning” your blog? If your current posting schedule is something you really need to maintain, you’ll need to plan out six blog posts and write them in advance. (Yes, I said six, not five…I’ll explain that in a moment.)
The second step is to start planning your posts. Look for topics. Check out any notes you’ve made about posts you’ve really been wanting to write but just haven’t gotten around to writing so far. Scan through some news and consumer websites and find topics you’re passionate about. Do everything you normally do to come up with a blog post idea and just take it to hyperdrive for a couple of days to make sure you have some topics you can write about.
Step three: write that content. Set aside a little extra time, just as you would for packing for your trip, for writing a few extra blog posts. As you complete one, schedule it ahead of time to appear on the first date you’ll be away. Your next post, when complete, would be scheduled on the second date you’ll be out of town.
It’s important to note that it’s generally a good rule of thumb not to announce in advance that you’re going out of town. We’d all like to think no one knows where we live, but if someone you know personally happens to read about your vacation plans, that person might just try to take advantage of the situation while you’re away.
Once you’ve completed all of the scheduling for the dates you’ll be out of town, write that one extra post. The reason for this is simple: you don’t want the added stress of having to crash together a new post the moment you walk in the door from your vacation. Give yourself one extra day to rest, and spend that day plotting your next post — the first one that will actually run after you’re back home.
That next post, incidentally, can be about your vacation itself. There’s no particular danger in writing about your vacation after it’s over.
Your more loyal readers may not care if you’re out of town and unable to post because even they know everyone deserves some time away. But if you’re the type who wants to serve your readers and doesn’t want it to appear your blog has just come to a halt for no good reason, some planning and a little extra work before you take a break will make it appear you’re dutifully typing away at the keyboard and that you never missed a beat.
And I’ll give you one more little hint: once you master how easy it is to get a couple of posts ahead when you actually work at it, you may well be tempted to stay a few posts ahead so you can occasionally take a day off here and there when you need one. If you’re always a few posts ahead, you’re always able to take an extra day away from writing when sudden plans come up or if you’re not feeling all that great.
How often do you have at least one post written and scheduled ahead of time?
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.