How to Grow Your Blog While You’re On Vacation

It’s time to go on vacation and enjoy some well-deserved rest. Vacations are great for your health, your social life and even your business, because a fresh, well-rested mind is a creative and productive one.

Even though you probably need a vacation, you also probably feel tense about leaving your blog unattended – and it’s not just about the possibility of finding hordes of spammers and emails on your return, but also about your readers and their continued satisfaction, because you know they’ll be eager to come back and read new content.

Still, vacation is your blogging-free time (unless it’s your personal blog) to recharge your batteries, so you may not want to research, interview experts and write when all you need is to forget all duties and just relax on the beach.

As a solo blogger or a small business owner, you want to ensure your blog will keep attracting traffic and possibly growing while you are away and relaxing.

How to do that?

This guide offers advice based on 3 types of business decisions:

  1. Open hiatus
  2. Scheduled content
  3. Hiring an editor and a blogger

I will go in detail about each of these below, and you will decide which one is best for your business model, what kind of time off you’re taking (summer vacation, holiday, time off to recover from a health issue, etc.) and how long you will be away.

How to keep your blog traffic incoming while you're on vacation

How to keep your blog traffic incoming while you’re at the beach?

1. Putting Your Blog On Open Hiatus

For this business decision, you will put your blog on a temporary hold and suspend all blogging activities. However, you will not rely on a splash page announcing that you’re on vacation (the kind that obscures your whole website and makes your past content inaccessible), but you will put up an announcement and leave the blog open so users can still read your content and engage with it.

In other words, you let users know you won’t be around for a while and you will stop producing new content until you return.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t schedule a few posts to go online while you’re away – you can still write round-ups, link parties, Q&A posts, or reshare your older posts on your email list, but your users know to not expect the next memorable piece during this time.

Regarding social media, you can either announce that there will be no updates or replies for the duration of your vacation, or you can automate the re-sharing of old posts and discussion posts. Here, your users know they’ll be reading scheduled posts.

If you choose to put your blog on open hiatus, it’s better to hire a social media manager to take care of the social part of your blog and other channels, since your readers may still want to leave feedback while they wait for your return, and a social media manager can reply to their comments and provide some kind of feedback while you’re away.

This would play a positive influence on the emotional impact of your brand on your readers, who will feel taken care of and trust that you left them with someone who can help them when they need.

Traffic Tips For Open Hiatus

  1. Turn your most popular and engaging post into a sticky post. It will stand out and it will be the first piece of content users will see. Make sure the headline is captivating.
  2. Setup your email autoresponder to recommend a few of your best articles.
  3. Schedule social media posts to offer your past content to followers and new visitors alike. Make it clear you appreciate debate on the ideas proposed in the posts.

2. Scheduling Content to Go Online While You’re Away

Scheduling posts in advance

Scheduling posts and guest posts in advance

If you decide to schedule content that you would normally post according to your regular calendar,  you don’t even need to announce the vacation – simply work on a batch of quality posts for your blog and your social channels to go live on the days you’ll be offline and you’re good to go.

You may, however, alert readers that you will be busy, so you will reply to comments and emails only after a specific date.

From the readers’ point of view, nothing will change. They will still see regular posts coming up on your blog that they can consume, share, discuss, link to, etc.

If you choose this option, then hiring an SMM manager will turn out to be even more critical because readers will notice that, all of a sudden, you’re no longer responding to comments and social media posts. An SMM manager can respond for you and keep the communication open on your site.

You might either tell your manager to ghostwrite the replies or you can announce that you hired an SMM manager to help you respond to comments.

Eric Brantner, founder of Scribblrs.com, uses CoSchedule to schedule content for when he goes on vacation:

Just because you go on vacation doesn’t mean you have to put your blog on pause. With the right tools and some planning ahead, you can make sure you have posts scheduled to publish and get shared out to your social media accounts while you’re away. Personally, I use CoSchedule. Using this platform, you can plan out content, assign content to writers, schedule posts for publication at future dates, and automate sharing via social media–all in one place. It has streamlined our content marketing dramatically, cutting out hours of work and allowing me to know things will run smoothly while I’m away.

To lighten your pre-vacation workload, you can announce that you’re accepting guest posts for the entire month (if you do this sparingly), or you can contact bloggers you know and trust to invite them to guest post on your blog. In this case, you can focus on writing and scheduling less of your own posts and focus on quality.

Traffic Tips For Scheduled Content

  1. Write at least one quality post to schedule for your vacation period. That post alone will drive the most traffic to your blog and keep it coming for at least a full week.
  2. Add an introduction to each guest post you decide to publish and let your readers know why you think it connects with your existing content. The more readers can trust guest writers on your blog, the more they will engage with them and their posts.
  3. Follow the traffic advice given for #1 (open hiatus).

3. Hiring an Editor and a Blogger

An editor can take care of your blog while you're away

An editor can take care of your blog while you’re away

If you have no time to dedicate to writing and scheduling content before you go on vacation, you have the option to hire an editor and a blogger to take care of your editorial calendar for the time you’ll be on vacation.

This is a much better decision to make if you have the budget to pay an editor and one or two bloggers, because you would be effectively building a team behind your blog that will be much more successful in keeping your blog alive and thriving than what you would be doing with a few scheduled posts and SMM manager.

You have two ways to go about this:

  1. Introduce your readers to the editor and blogger(s) so they will know who they’ll be interacting with while you’re away.
  2. Let both the editor and the blogger(s) ghost for you, so from a reader’s point of view nothing will change – they will still see new posts coming and updates from your social media channels.

I did this for a client in the past – I took care of the editorial calendar, ghostwrote blog posts and updated my client’s social media channels. The blog’s readers never knew I was doing the background work unless I got permission to mention my presence as a “team member” whenever the task at hand made it a necessity.

This is not an option for anyone that cannot afford an editor and bloggers, but as per option #2, you may still involve your blogger friends or your wider community with guest posting or swapping favors.

Traffic Tips For Editor and Bloggers

Ask your editor and bloggers to follow the traffic tips given in #1 and #2, plus any other editorial plans you want them to follow.

What Kind of Content Should You Schedule?

Eric Brantner says “I wouldn’t say there’s necessarily a specific type of content I prefer to publish while I’m away, but I definitely don’t schedule anything I think has viral potential and requires more hands-on promotion and outreach.”

The best way to go is to create a blog schedule for the entire period of your vacation and to do it before you start writing any posts. Your pre-vacation work has to be meaningful for the purpose of keeping the traffic flow as high as possible, so creating a blog schedule first and then writing according to it will ensure that no step taken will turn out to be ineffective.

More Blogging Vacation Tips

Tips to help your blog thrive while you enjoy your vacation

Tips to help your blog thrive while you enjoy your vacation!

When you have decided how to leave your blog before you go on vacation, and made all the necessary steps, here are a few more pieces of advice on how to keep traffic coming to your blog.

1. Content Planning and Guest Posts

Saurav Kumar Nayak, content manager at Temok.com, shares his advice on how to plan your content for your vacation and get the guest posts you need to keep your pre-vacation workload slim and beneficial for your traffic stats:

1) Keep posts scheduled in advance – I never let my posting schedule get affected, and the best way to make sure that the posts are coming is scheduling them in advance.

2) Allow Guest Posts – Time is a luxury we bloggers never have and that is why accepting guest posts to speed up content posting is helpful. I don’t give author access to my guest writers, though – I simply allow them to contribute it so that I can schedule some of their posts to get published while [I] am away. This way, they take care of replying to commentators too while am away!

3) Buffering Socials – It is important to keep the social profiles updated with fresh micro-updates. While [I] am away, I make sure to buffer some of those updates that get posted during my vacation.

4) Posting vacation updates – I do take selfies or pictures and post them on my social profiles during my vacation. This step isn’t really recommended for everyone and shouldn’t be done aggressively. Vacation is meant to have fun, not waste it by keeping yourself busy with your blog that you do 24*7 on any other regular working day anyway!

Stay in the habit of scheduling at least one extra post every month as it will help you stay on track when something happens and lessen your workload when you are about to go on vacation.

For guest posts, make it clear before hand that you will require writers to respond to readers’ comments the day the post goes online – if they are busy on that day, or can’t be online, ask them to respond to comments within the following 48 hours and, possibly, continue to check the post for comments for the remainder of the week. In fact, in my experience as a blogger and a hungry blog reader, I’ve noticed that not all readers will comment the day the post goes live – some will take a few days to sort through their thoughts and comment then.

Check your comments moderation log when you come back from your vacation, because it’s possible that the spam filter caught some legit comments.

If you don’t wish to dedicate full days to blogging, create short posts complemented with video content. Videos may appear more intimidating to make at first, but they will take you less time to produce and your audience is guaranteed to enjoy them and put them to good use. Make sure you attach a downloadable transcript to your post for those readers who prefer text over video.

2. Schedule Follow-Up Emails Recommending Your Best Articles

Blogger and digital marketing strategist Raelyn Tan explains how you can leverage your email list to send out a series of follow-up emails that offer your most successful past content:

If you have an existing list, schedule a few follow-up emails recommending your best articles. Your email service provider can easily do this for you. This will keep a steady flow of visitors who come to your website and even share your content, and also encourages your current audience to continue building that relationship.

You can look at Lori’s roundup posts here at WHSR – for example, the one for July 2016 –  for a ‘template’ of how to recommend your best pieces. Evergreen articles are good picks for recommendations, but if you have published content earlier in the year that’s timely but still valid, do give that priority over your evergreen pieces.

3. Email Mini-Course

In addition to Raelyn Tan’s follow-up emails, you can create an email mini-course for your visitors to sign up for while you’re away, and promise that you will be looking at feedback and student questions as soon as you come back.

This idea works better if you are putting your blog on an open hiatus, so your readers won’t be distracted by new blog content and will be able to focus entirely on the mini-course.

The mini-course length should match the time you will be on vacation. For example:

  • 1 week – 3 to 7 lessons
  • 2 weeks – 4 to 14 lessons
  • 1 month – 4 to 30 lessons

The number of lessons will depend on the frequency with which you will send out emails. You can dedicate the last lessons to a recap and homework that you will review when you are back from the vacation.

If you opt for a mini-course, make it something your readers really need. I recommend you read or listen to Rob Walling’s podcast at TheMcMethod.com on how to create an opt-in mini-course that will boost your conversions – one of the good points he makes is that you can save time and create an effective mini-course by building upon your existing content.

4. Out-of-Office Automated Response (With A Bit of Humor)

Jerry Low shared the “funny out-of-office auto reply” he sends to people, with a link to WHSR and his Twitter account. “It’s a small hack that I use to grow my social followings and website visits”, he says.

Here is a past out-of-office message Jerry used:

Hey there,

Thanks for your email.

I am on holiday, and hence can’t read your message right now.

For urgent matters, please tweet to https://twitter.com/WebHostingJerry using hashtag #youareruiningmyholiday :)

I’ll be back to my desk first week of the year. Till then, take care and Happy New Year!

Cheers, Jerry Low
Also visit –  http://www.webhostingsecretrevealed.net/

Takeaway

In the end, going on vacation doesn’t mean your blog traffic has to suffer unless you keep blogging or checking your blog even when you are trying to relax. The key is planning the smart way and giving readers as much as you can afford while you are away, via content scheduling and social media automation.

Whether you choose to put your blog on open hiatus and schedule minimal remarketing content, or write and schedule posts according to your regular editorial calendar, or to leave everything in the hands of an editor and one or two bloggers, you will still be giving your readers what they are looking for — fresh, interesting content and food for thought that they need to up their game.

Now you better go – get everything ready and enjoy your vacation!