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Believe it or not, I wrote this post 6 months ago. Yep, fully written and edited, SEO-enhanced and categorized, graphics created and alternate text written. But why is it just now posting? Simple: because this blog post is part of my blogging hiatus.
When I first learned that I had been granted a full-time internship for the Fall (which I later extended into the Spring), I was ecstatic. After all, I had dreamed of this opportunity for years! However, I knew that I would have little-to-no spare time to blog during this internship; not wanting to neglect my blog like I had during spring, I made it my summer goal to have my blog fully prepared for my absence. Blog posts would be written, Pinterest pins and Facebook posts would be scheduled, and everything else I could do to have my blog fully automated and running during my absence would be completed months ahead of time.
Since my blog has been running itself for about 6 months now (although I did pause the scheduled posts during the re-brand), I thought this would be a great time to break down everything I did to plan for my hiatus, not only to show you how I kept my blog up and running while I was gone, but consistently active, too, so you can prepare for a blogging hiatus, as well.
Step 1: Identify How Long Your Hiatus Is Going to Be
A blogging hiatus can be as short as 1 week or as long as a few months, so identifying the length of your absence is extremely important. This will help guide you on the length of your hiatus plan, identify how many blog posts you need to write, and will direct you on the numerous other tasks you’ll need to complete to automate your blog.
For example, if I’m going on vacation for a week and I usually post 3 times a week (haha, I wish), I could just hustle a little extra in the weeks leading up to it and have them all written and scheduled during this time, no problem. A week isn’t that long of a hiatus, and can be pretty simple in terms of scheduling content for both the blog and social media.
But a semester-long hiatus? That’s trickier. I was originally looking at about a 5-month long timeline, and trying to have one post written and scheduled for each week was too much to successfully accomplish. Believe me, I tried. I experience creative burnout extremely quickly.
Instead, I decided that posting every other week during my hiatus would be the best option. After all, it would keep my blog active during the semester without overwhelming me in the months leading up to it.
Here is a list of things to consider:
- How long will you be gone for?
- How many posts will you need to write?
- How active are you currently on the blog/social media?
- How much time do you have to prepare for your hiatus?
Once you’ve considered these questions, it’s time for step 2, which is…
Step 2: Make a Plan to Conquer Your Goals
Although it can be a bit annoying at times, making a plan for your blogging hiatus will save you an abundance of time and stress. It will also give you a visual space to see how your blog is going to be automated during your absence, to ensure you have everything scheduled at the correct times, with no large spaces of absence.
When planning my blogging hiatus, I used a Microsoft Excel file to do all of my planning. (The idea of using an Excel file to organize my blog’s content actually came from Amanda’s Instagram stories at The Happy Arkansan! Be sure to check out her website because she is a blogging queen.)
In the first column, I wrote down all the blog posts that I had decided to write. Since my schedule for my hiatus was every other week, there would always be a blank row between each one to represent the week where I wasn’t posting. In the second column I would write the date for each Friday, since that is when my blog posts go live. This helped me to see which weeks I had blog posts scheduled for and which weeks I did not.
After completing and scheduling each blog post, I would highlight the box in green. This indicated that the blog post was completed and would publish at the correct time.
If I had drafted a blog post, but not completed/scheduled it, I highlighted the box in yellow. This indicated that although some work had been done, it was not yet completed.
In some parts of the spreadsheet (but not in the picture below), I had boxes that had the name of a blog post, but they weren’t highlighted in yellow or green. To me, this indicated that I hadn’t done any work to that blog post yet; it was still just a tentative idea for that week.
Planning out blog posts on a spreadsheet like this can be a huge help, especially if you’re preparing for a long hiatus. Not only does it show what’s been completed and what’s still progress, but it also provides visual indications of gaps in the blogging schedule, so that you can better understand what weeks you need to prepare blog posts for.
However, creating a plan for your hiatus isn’t just about blog posts. It means scheduling pins on Pinterest (personally, my main source of traffic), Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, how to do that and my recommendations for each will be discussed in more detail down below.
Know Your Timeline
A major key in creating your blog hiatus goals is knowing the timeline you have to work with. For me, I had several months during the summer to accomplish everything, even though I was working 2 jobs, preparing for my internship, going to the beach for 1 week and to Nashville for another week, and experiencing a brief creative rut. However, because I budgeted several weeks for hiatus preparation, I was still able to accomplish everything I needed to do for my hiatus.
Similarly, if you’re going on a hiatus for 3 months and you only gave yourself a week to get everything done, you might find yourself in a bit of a sticky situation, depending on what your goals are. For example, writing 12 posts (1 post/week for 3 months) within one week would be extremely challenging, especially if you are writing 1000+ posts with images, graphics, etc. And if you plan on having other social media posts scheduled on top of it, it gets even trickier. That being said, know your limits and what you’re able to accomplish in the time space you have. Having 1-2 really good posts for that 3-month hiatus is a lot better than having 6-12 really bad posts.
Step 3: Brainstorm Blog Posts
The next step is to brainstorm a ton of content ideas. Take a broad idea and break it down into a series of blog posts. Look back at some of your best-performing posts and expand on them. Find ideas that you are passionate to write about, find what inspires you in that moment, and write about it.
For example, I spent a lot of my summer either traveling (you can check out my Nashville posts here and here) or working on the blog, so writing about those subjects is what I felt most inspired by. Meanwhile, trying to write college content was a drag; some posts took me weeks to put together because I was so burnt out from the topic (later leading me to re-brand from it). This meant that writing a lot of college content wasn’t the best option for me, not only because I wasn’t enjoying it, but because it slowed me down.
Still need some help brainstorming? Here’s some ideas:
- What are some projects you’ve recently worked on? How did they turn out?
- What is your blogging process? How does it differ from other’s?
- Did you travel recently? Write about the best food, entertainment, and places to visit.
- Holidays coming up? What are some unique family traditions that you have, or how do you prepare for them?
Don’t forget that you can take a single idea and break it down into several blog posts. I did that with my scholarship posts, and also my trip to Nashville. Both consist of a broad idea, but once broken down are very different in terms of content.
Still stuck for ideas? You may be experiencing a creative slump. I find it best to work on something else to get me out of it, like creating new graphics, editing photos, or updating an old blog post. These (and more) are different ways that will help improve your blog and also help you get back on track to creating new content for your hiatus.
Step 4: Write the Blog Posts
Now that you’ve brainstormed a list of post ideas, it’s time to start writing them. I always suggest starting with the ones you feel most inspired by (because those will be the best and easiest to write) and working your way down from there. Even if I have them listed on my “blogging plan” with all the dates written next to them, I still skip around a ton, writing whichever one sounds the best and most interesting to write on. Oftentimes, if I don’t feel inspired by an idea, I won’t bother writing about it because I know I won’t enjoy it and therefore my post will be sub-par.
It’s also important to acknowledge that mass-writing a ton of posts can be tough and overwhelming. If you’re not careful, you can quickly burn yourself out, effectively stopping your hiatus preparation.
That being said, be sure to take care of yourself when mass-writing posts for your hiatus; it’s okay and even beneficial to have a blogging slump. Taking a break during a blogging slump can often lead me to bounce back fully inspired and re-charged, ready to knock out the rest of the posts on my blog hiatus plan (including this one!) better than if I had tried to work through it.
Step 5: Schedule Pinterest Pins
Pinterest is hands-down the best platform to get your blog posts noticed and shared; in fact, it’s the referer of most of my blog traffic. So when I was going on a blogging hiatus, just thinking of being inactive on Pinterest for months at a time was unbearable. I didn’t want to see my traffic take a nosedive, especially when I’d worked to build it up as much as I have.
That’s why I have entrusted Tailwind to keep my Pinterest account active during my hiatus! In the months leading up to my absence, I would spend a portion of each week sending dozens of pins to my queue to be scheduled. Tailwind automatically uses my analytics to discover the best time for me to schedule my pins, and after selecting the number of times I want to pin each day, I could schedule these pins into my queue to be automatically posted at these high-engagement times! No joke, I had pins scheduled up for over 5 months ahead of time, automatically posting at all times of the day, which meant that even on the days that I wasn’t personally on Pinterest, my account itself was still active.
If you’re interested in trying Tailwind out for yourself, just use my referral link to sign up! Signing up through my link means that you get $15 credit and I get $15 credit, which means a free month of Tailwind for the both of us! To be quite honest, it was only after joining Tailwind that I began seeing a huge increase in my blog’s traffic (and a huge increase of Pinterest followers), so even if you’re not going on a blogging hiatus, utilizing Tailwind for your blog is an absolute must-do. To sign up and receive the referral credit, just click here.
(Also, if you’re looking to schedule Instagram posts, Tailwind can do that too!)
Step 6: Schedule Facebook Posts
I’m going to be completely honest with you: Facebook is not the biggest source of my blog’s traffic. However, since a Facebook page is required in order to have a business account on Instagram, and since it does provide me with a source of blog traffic (no matter how small), it was still important for me to schedule Facebook posts; I didn’t want to be active on all other platforms, but have my Facebook page be an empty chasm where my blog no longer exists!
Thankfully, Facebook makes it easy for us bloggers to schedule posts within the Facebook page itself, without needing an outside platform. (Just look under publishing tools!) You can schedule Facebook posts up to 6 months ahead of time…plenty of time for a blogging hiatus!
However, the tricky part is: what do you schedule a post about?
The first posts you should create are about your blog posts…old and new. Schedule posts about blog content that went live before your hiatus, and also schedule posts about your new blog content for the same time as they go live on your website. For example, if I have some blog posts that are scheduled for March, but it’s currently January, I can go ahead and schedule the Facebook posts about them with their descriptions, pictures, and links; I can then schedule that Facebook post to go live at the same time as the blog post, effectively promoting my blog post without me having to worry about it that same day!
Other Facebook posts can include sharing other blogger’s work! Bloggers love community over competition on Instagram, Twitter, and especially Pinterest, but I think Facebook is often forgotten about. However, it’s a great way to share other blogger’s work and fill in space during your hiatus schedule. It’s a win-win!
You can also post behind-the-scenes photos of the blog, like getting ready for a photo shoot or a picture of your desk as you’re getting ready to write for the day. Even an inspirational quote can make an amazing post that will give your audience something to interact with.
Step 7: Schedule Tweets
I’m not going to lie: I’m terribly inactive on Twitter. Although I love reading other people’s tweets and it gives me a great way to find other bloggers (and learn about new blog posts!), I’m not the greatest about sharing content myself. However, I don’t have to worry about it if I sit down and do it all ahead of time, which is perfect for a blogging hiatus.
There are a variety of platforms available for scheduling tweets, such as Buffer and Hootsuite. I’ll personally use the Hootsuite app, although I DO NOT recommend Hootsuite’s desktop version; it’s extremely chaotic and hard to read/manage. The mobile version though? Easy as pie.
With the mobile version I’m able to schedule tweets about random thoughts/quotes, blog posts (even the ones that haven’t gone live yet), and schedule tweets about other blogger’s content! These tweets essentially just follow along the same line as Facebook posts, and help me stay active on Twitter, even if I haven’t touched the app for days.
Step 8: Create Alternate Graphics for Blog Posts
I know they say to not judge a book by a cover, but sometimes the cover can give me a good idea about whether it’s actually worth reading. (After all, some book covers are just…weird.)
It’s the same with blog posts. Your old graphics might not do so good, or maybe just need a revamp to keep up with your current style. Plus, a new design can attract a TON of new visitors. I can testify to this; each time that last I change the design of my graphics, I see a huge spike in blog traffic! Not to mention they looked a lot better, too.
So if you really want to keep you blog active during your hiatus, I recommend creating some new designs for your old blog posts, and have those designs scheduled on Tailwind to go live at different times. This will distribute the new designs going live throughout your hiatus, and possibly even give you a big influx of new traffic in addition to your normal blog traffic! It’s a great way to not only keep your blog active, but growing, during your blogging hiatus.
These are the 8 steps I took to prepare my blog for my absence. By utilizing them, I’ve had my blog automated for months at a time, requiring little-to-no work from me! Although preparing for a blogging hiatus does require a lot of work at once, it makes it so much easier and stress-free in the long run, especially when you don’t have to worry about juggling a blog on top of your other responsibilities.
So tell me, have you ever taken a blogging hiatus? And what did you do to keep your blog active during the break? Let me know down below!