As you may or may not know, I spent the first week of September in Ireland! (Stay tuned for a post about that.) Because it was my first proper vacation in years and years, I didn’t want to worry about my blog unless something serious happened. With that in mind, I did a lot of things to prepare my blog for vacation, and I thought I would share them in case people are curious and/or planning a vacation.
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What I Did for This Trip in Particular
Scheduled social media promotions of older blog posts – One thing that I do regularly is schedule promotions of older blog posts (more than a month old) on Twitter and Facebook on days when I don’t have a new blog post. I especially do then when I go on vacation! I focus on one post for each day, as Twitter and Facebook posts have short half-lives, especially Twitter, so it’s necessary that I focus on the same post over the course of a day. I scheduled promotions for every day of my vacation, which is 7 tweets and 4 Facebook posts per day. I use Buffer to schedule Twitter and Facebook posts.
Scheduled Pinterest posts – I talk all the time about how helpful Pinterest is for my blog traffic, so you probably know that I find it important to keep my Pinterest traffic going, even if I’m out of the country. And I want to clarify here that I’m not just talking about scheduling pins for my blog posts; I’m talking about all Pinterest pins. I use Tailwind to schedule my pins, and I highly recommend it.
Scheduled newsletter emails – Are you seeing a trend? Scheduling is your friend! I’m actually in the process of switching from Mailchimp to Mailer Lite, so it might take a few weeks before I’m back to my usual schedule, but I usually send weekly newsletters. Before I left, I scheduled some so that I didn’t have to think about it so that my page views didn’t dip just because I went to Ireland.How to get your blog ready for your vacation Click To Tweet
Set up an Out-of-Office email reply – I know this seems obvious and silly, but I wanted to include because of what I include in it. Not only do I set my OOO up, but I include the earliest they can expect a reply and what I won’t be replying to. Here is what my standard OOO says:
Thank you for your message! I’m not a full-time blogger (aka I have a separate job), I have multiple chronic health issues, and I’m traveling out of the country the first week of September. As such, I might not respond to your message until September 14. Additionally, I am not accepting guest posts at this time and as such will not be responding to messages requesting them. Please also note that if you are looking for free promotion – including writing about something in exchange for social media promotion or including your link in an existing post – I will not be returning your message. I do not have the time to respond to those messages given how many emails I receive on a daily basis and all that’s mentioned above. Thank you for understanding and your patience!
I include that I am not a full-time blogger and that I have multiple chronic health issues because it does impact when I will respond to people. Due to my illnesses, it takes me longer to recover from an active vacation like my Ireland trip; honestly, I’m not full recovered yet. Additionally, I don’t want people to think that I will respond to emails 48 hours after I return from trips because I have a job that requires my attention first. Finally, I started my not-responding policies years ago when I started grad school and it has been amazing. Basically, I get 5-10 emails a week at a minimum of people asking me for free promotion. Because I’m not a full-time blogger and because of my chronic illnesses, I don’t have the time to respond to all of them in addition to serious emails like actual partnerships or people asking for advice. It’s not possible. So I put that in my OOO so people know why I’m not responding to them.
Replied to all emails less than 24 hours before leaving – This is a strategy I use so that I’m not coming back to any more emails than necessary after my vacation. I already come back to sooo many emails! Additionally, when I responded to emails that I expected to hear a response from, I explained in my email that I was going on vacation, I was setting up an OOO, and I expected to start responding to emails about a week after I came back. That way, people from brands that I was working with were aware of what was going on. I especially didn’t want someone to have me respond on Friday and then they got an OOO on Saturday! When you’re hoping to partner with a brand, you don’t want to unnecessarily offend them.
Decided on September blog post topics – This is a very small thing, but if you’re a type-A person like me, it helps. This helped my stress levels and it also helped me when I came back from my trip because I already knew what I was going to write about. Between getting back in the swing of things in general and physically recovering from my vacation, it was hard enough to get back to blogging. Deciding the topic ahead of time made sure that I had one less thing to think about. And all of those one less things really adds up.
Scheduled my own post to go up when I’m on vacation – I don’t always do this, but sometimes, I write posts and schedule them to go live while I’m on vacation. This is to keep page views up and not put my blogging schedule too far behind. This was especially during this particular vacation because the post I scheduled was my most recent POTS Exercise Protocol Diary, aka I was writing it throughout the month. Scheduling this post also meant scheduling the social media promotions of it, like I do for all posts.
What I’ve Done in the Past
Asked for guest posts – Between actual vacations and all of my health stuff that can cause me to take time off (surgeries, infusions, etc.), I have found it helpful to have guest posts when I’ve taken time off. In 2018, for example, I had my ankle surgery, which involved taking 2+ weeks off while I recovered, and then I had 2 infusions throughout the year, during which I took 5 days off per infusion. This all adds up to a lot of time! Generally, I start asking for guest posts about a month before I need them. I post in the Facebook groups for bloggers that I’m in, on Twitter, and in my newsletter asking for guest posters. In these posts, I include any types of content that I don’t want to see/won’t publish, word count requirements, and when I need the posts by. As I mentioned previously, all of the work I do for my blog pre-vacation is so that I am able to fully enjoy my vacation. So even if the guest post is going to go up on Thursday, if I leave on Saturday, I need the post by the Thursday before I leave so that I can schedule it. If I receive it after then, I won’t publish it. I make all of this clear when people sign up to guest post so that there’s no confusion.
Scheduled said guest posts – I know that, given the above, this is probably a given. But I wanted to mention it because it is a crucial part of preparing for vacation. Scheduling the guest posts can actually take more time than you realize. Not only is it the act of scheduling, but I also read the post before scheduling it. Again, this is probably a given. But publishing someone else’s post on my website isn’t just about sharing someone else’s work; you’re putting your blog and brand behind it. You’re saying that you’re okay with what is published. Because of this, I give people the content boundaries as mentioned above, but I also read the guest posts. Sometimes, I get back to the writer and say, “Hey, can you change [x]? I’m not okay with it because [reason].” Sometimes, I say, “Hey, I thought this topic was okay, but now that I’ve read the post, it’s not. Sorry!” On a less intense note, sometimes there are grammatical changes that need to be made, in which case I’ll change them and ask the writer if the changes are okay. Plus, scheduling a guest post also includes the social media promotion that goes along with all of my blog posts.
What blogging blog posts would you like to see?
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