You have a blog. You are planning to build it into a great blog, perhaps it already is. You have traffic, you have audience, you have a following.
That's perfect -- But you don't want to work on your blog every single day, right?
Or perhaps you do now, but what about six months from now, or the next year?
Have you thought what to do when you feel like taking a vacation from your blog or just need a break for relaxation?
Or even worse, have you thought what happens when you get sick?
If you are building your blog for a business or creating an Internet business from your blog, you should be treating your blog accordingly.
This means having proper risk management, or in other words, this means being prepared for both planned and unplanned breaks you have or want to take.
How (Not) To Take a Blogging Break
In case you've been following my blog, you've noticed it's been a bit quiet here. This is because I decided to take a little break from this blog, my blogging break ended up lasting for nearly a month. First I was off for a week because of vacation, and after that my day job kicked in on full gear and I just didn't have the energy to keep up.
All this happened because I made mistake long ago. The mistake was that I didn't plan the break, or any break for that matter.
So when the time came, I just stopped writing.
And it goes without saying that "my way" wasn't the way to do it properly.
If you're even a little bit serious about your blog -- Don't be like me and just stop -- Instead, plan ahead and prepare for your break in advance.
With that said, I wanted to share you how you can take a break from your blog, relax a bit and how to properly take time off from blogging.
1) Be Prepared for the Unpredictable Breaks
Planned breaks or vacations is not the only reason to do what I'm suggesting here. As let's face it, you might get sick. And no-one should be working when ill, and you don't want this kind of unforeseen breaks to affect your blog too much.
Thus, you should be prepared for the unpredictable breaks.
One might even say, that you'll be improving your risk management this way, which is essential if your blog is key ingredient in making money for you.
As an additional bonus, if nothing sudden happens, your preparations will mean you can actually take a break from your blog or have a vacation.
So, how you can prepare for situations like this?
- If you're blogging with a partner or have otherwise outsourced all or some of the content production, others can pick up while you're gone (and the problem of "no posts while on a break" shouldn't even happen).
- If you're blog has decent traffic and following, you can call for guest bloggers and fill up your posts with guest posts (this works well for preplanned breaks).
- If you're keeping your blog by yourself, like many of us are, you have to prepare beforehand...
2) Save Blog Posts for Future Release
When you're writing your blog posts, there's a chance that you get into a flow and come up with loads of material and additional ideas. If this happens, keep on writing and don't worry if it'll fit into one posts or not. This way, you can edit your writing into multiple posts and possible save one for later use.
The catch? You don't need to publish four posts one day, if you typically publish one each day. Or if you publish one post a week, you don't have to publish 5 one week.
I see many bloggers do this. And I did it too in the beginning. If I came up with more posts than one for the day, I just published them right away. Looking back, I should have saved the additional ones and perhaps work on the unpublished ones to make then even better.
So instead of publishing everything you write right away, save the additional posts for the future. So you should have a clear understanding how often you want to publish content on your blog and stick with that.
If you come up with great follow-up article for a post you did, you might publish it the next day or the next week -or- you can save that article for your "blog break".
Do note that posts that you save must be "timeless", so don't hold on news breaking posts and such for longer than a day or two. But if you write a basic how-to article about a subject, but come up with some advanced posts on the same topic, save those!
If you save a post or two every now or then, or even make it a habit to save every third or fourth article you write, you'll soon have many posts ready to be published if you need to take a break or just don't come up with new posts.
This will be your blog post buffer
3) Cherish Your Blog Post Buffer
You should aim for buffer of at least two weeks worth of posts.
So if you publish once a week, that's two posts, if you publish 5 days a week, that's ten posts. That might sound like a lot, but it'll be worth it in the end.
When there are additional articles in the buffer, you can keep them in there and perhaps grow the buffer for three weeks, or you can schedule the posts and use the time for marketing your blog instead. Or even a mini-vacation if you feel like it.
Just don't go and empty your buffer too often. Always try to have posts ready to be published. This eases the stress and frees your mind to be productive on other areas.
When you're having a planned break from your blog, a vacation for example, try to write some additional posts to the buffer. If you're looking for a longer break, of course you should have enough posts for the duration.
This way you have posts ready to go after the vacation if you'll have trouble getting into the "blogging-mindset" again after relaxing vacation you just had.
4) Keep the Blog Buffer Fresh
Now that you have blog posts saved up, it doesn't mean you must keep them there until you actually do take a break. Instead, when you have extra time, go on and fine-tune those articles and make the posts better.
This way, you have superb articles in store, in addition to the "normal" articles you have. And when your buffer fills up with new posts, you can publish the posts you have tweaked already and move on to improve the other posts in the buffer.
Do note that this kind of "write the first draft, wait, write more, wait, tweak, etc." approach is not only good for building the buffer, but will also result in better articles overall. You shouldn't by any means do this with all articles, but you should do it regularly to produce pillar content or killer articles, as these kind of articles are often called.
By going back, re-working and improving your saved posts, you'll get two things:
- you'll work on your "blog post buffer" and ensure the content is ready to be published if needed
- you can write better and more in-depth articles as you work on them over longer period of time
And when you add more posts to the buffer, you are free to publish the articles that "pop out" when the buffer is full.
5) Write More Posts On One Go
If you're one of those who like to write most of the week's posts at one go, this won't be anything new to you, just save one of those posts for the future or for additional work / tweaking over time.
On the other hand, if you like to come up with topics "on the fly", this might be difficult for you. If you're like that, welcome aboard, this is how I've written my posts for a long time. I come up with topic, I keep writing until it's ready and publish it right away. And repeat the next day, or whenever I'm planning to publish my next post.
The times I've written 2-4 four posts on one go, I've noticed that I get a lot more done during the week, when I don't have to spend time on researching and writing my blog posts as I did all that on one day.
And with my latest break, I noticed I got into trouble with this approach. As I didn't have any posts "on hold", I didn't have anything to publish. To get something out, I should have been there to write them. As I wasn't, no posts for a month, which was something I like to avoid in the future.
So from now on, I'm looking on to write multiple posts at the same go, save them as drafts if needed and go back to those when needed. And I suggest that you do the same, you'll be surprised how much you get done when you set the time for it.
Set aside time for writing and write several posts on the one go. You can write all the posts for that week on one go. If you usually have 5-6 posts a week on your blog, set a target on writing seven articles for that week, publish 5 and save 2. Make one of those your killer article of the week and work on it when you have time. Save the last one for your buffer (and work on it later if you want).
- All posts for that week scheduled beforehand
- One killer article cooking for the next week
- One post saved in the blog post buffer for the future
- Rest of the week free for anything you want, e.g. marketing your blog, working on your upcoming ebook or other product, or anything else you need and want to do.
You'll be delighted on how much time you have on other activities as you've already written your posts for that week in addition to filling your blog post buffer.
And maybe one week, you just feel like relaxing or spending extra time with your family and friends.
How about that for no additional work, just doing all that work on one go.
How To Prepare For Blog Breaks
- write "more than you need" for a blog posts on specific topic
- edit and save what you wrote into several articles
- save the additional posts in your blog post buffer
- (optional) re-write and tweak the saves drafts/posts
- decide how often you publish content on your blog
- aim for blog post buffer of two weeks worth of posts
- (optional) ask/hire help to keep the blog going
For me, I feel that this will make blogging much more enjoyable, as I'm not "forced" to write every day I want to publish something -- I can do it beforehand instead.
And by setting time aside for writing posts, I can concentrate just on writing and then again, concentrate fully on other activities after I'm done writing. In addition to the other benefits, by forming a habit of re-working and improving some posts over time, this kind of approach will result in higher quality posts too.
What do you think, do you see yourself having a blog post buffer? Or have you done something like this already?
p.s. I wrote a post on my Posterous-blog on the subject afterwards, it explains how you can implement a blog post buffer and free up your time.