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:
- Open hiatus
- Scheduled content
- 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.
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
- 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.
- Setup your email autoresponder to recommend a few of your best articles.
- 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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- Follow the traffic advice given for #1 (open hiatus).
3. Hiring an Editor and a Blogger
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:
- Introduce your readers to the editor and blogger(s) so they will know who they’ll be interacting with while you’re away.
- 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.