Summers tend to be a slow time around the blogosphere. It’s a time for travel, picnics, outdoor activities, family and friends. While more and more bloggers take summer breaks, the decision usually doesn’t come easy. We put so much of ourselves into feeding and growing our blogs, and the idea of stepping away for a few days (or weeks!) can seem daunting.
Since I just returned from my own summer break last week, I thought I’d share a few tips and lessons I’ve taken from this experience. That said, there are plenty of alternatives to my six-week-cold-turkey approach (keep in mind: this blog has been a hobby, not a job), but although my decision was made relatively spontaneously (over the course of a weekend), there were several things I took into consideration. Here are some of the things I found helpful:
1) Get your ducks in a row. Writing down the things you wish to accomplish within the next weeks (months, years) will give you much more clarity, especially if you’re on the fence on whether or not to step away from your blog for a while. Once you know the “why” behind your break, the “how” will become less of a concern. Unless your blog is your income source, real life should always take precedence.
2) Once you’ve made the decision to take a break, let it (the blog) go. And I mean this both, literally and figuratively. It’s OK to take a vacation. In fact I think it’s crucial! Most of us juggle our blogs next to jobs, school and/or family. Taking time off from blogging will allow for fresh ideas and over the long run it will prevent you from burning out. By the way, I’m in full support of the European vacation model: I believe in the value of longer breaks, especially since it usually takes us a while to unwind. Allow yourself a lengthy summer break.
3) Announce the date of your return. Before you take off, make sure to let your readership know, what your plans are. You don’t want people to wonder, when (and if) you’ll (ever) come back. I believe it’s more helpful to give a concrete date, rather than an “I’ll be back in six weeks” kind of timeline.
4) Don’t check your Google Analytics account! You’re on a break, remember? Yes, your numbers are likely to drop (even your biggest fan won’t want to stare at a stagnant page for days/weeks on end :)), but they won’t drop forever. Checking your stats causes unnecessary stress and falls under “things you want to let go of” (see #2).
5) Stay in touch, but within moderation. Decide which blogs you would like to keep up with during your break. Imagine how great it will be to finally have the time to read them without feeling rushed! Reduce your blog choices to a manageable number and leave regular comments (at least once or twice/week). That way you’re not disappearing completely, and you can still support your fellow bloggers during a slower time of year. Obviously, sharing the work of others on Facebook and Twitter always goes a long way (something I desperately need to work on – more on the topic of Facebook and Twitter shyness another time!).
6) True friends (and followers) stick around: sure, there are plenty of blogs out there, but the connections you’ve made and truly care about will likely still be there, when you return (especially if you haven’t been a complete stranger – see #5). If people feel connected to you and have enjoyed your blog before, they will be excited for your return.
7) Continue to write on a daily basis. Whether you decide to journal, write letters or full blog posts is completely up to you. It’s about staying in the habit of writing. You might decide to use this time to produce fresh content, which is great. Having blog posts on file will make life a lot easier, when you return. But keep in mind that there is a reason why you’ve decided to step away for a while ;-)
8) Get things done: at the beginning of your blogging break, plan out your time and make sure to make enough room for the To-Do’s you identified in #1. You’ll be surprised how much time will free up just by disconnecting from the internet, and you’ll want to use it well.
9) Enjoy your break! Reward yourself for getting things done and enjoy yourself! Do the things you’ve been wanting to do. Spend time with your loved ones, exercise, try new things! Go a little crazy too! Anything that gets you away from the screen and moving will be beneficial to your overall health and creativity.
How about you? Do you take regular breaks from blogging? Any tips you’d like to share? I would love to hear!
In the second part I’ll be sharing a few words on how to return to blogging (or: how to retain your newly found balance – which is so much easier said than done!).