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Believe it or not, I wrote this blog post 4 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 job for the Fall semester, I was ecstatic. After all, I had been dreaming of this opportunity for years! However, I knew that I would have little-to-no time to blog during this time. Not wanting to neglect my blog like I had during the Spring semester, I made it my summer goal to have my blog fully prepped 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.
Since my blog has been running itself for about 3 months now (woo-hoo!), I thought this would be a great time to break down everything I did to plan for my hiatus to not only keep my blog up and running, but consistently active, so that you can prepare for any blogging hiatus you take, too!
Step 1: Identify How Long Your Hiatus Is Going to Be
A blogging hiatus can be as short as 1 week (like for a vacation!) or as long as a few months (like mine is!) Identifying the length of your hiatus is key to making your blogging plan, like how many blog posts you need to write and schedule. For example, if I’m going on vacation for a week and I usually post 3 times a week (haha, I wish), I could probably just hustle a little extra in the weeks leading up to it and have them all written and scheduled, 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 looking at about a 5-month long timeline, and trying to have one post written and scheduled for each week was wayyyyyyy too much. Believe me, I tried. I burnt me out 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 too much in the summer months!
Once you’ve figured out how long your hiatus is going to be, 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 is going to save you a ton of time and stress. Making a plan 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 at The Happy Arkansan! Be sure to check out her blog because she is a blogging queen.)
In the first column, I wrote down all of 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 to me that the blog post was complete and that there was nothing else to do but wait for it to publish.
If I had drafted a blog post, but not completed/scheduled it, I highlighted the box in yellow. This indicated to me that although some work had been done, it had not yet been 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 my blog posts like this on a spreadsheet was a huge help, especially for a long blogging hiatus like mine. Not only did it show me what I had completed and what was in progress, but it also showed me huge gaps in my schedule where there had been no blog posts yet, and I knew I needed to have something written and scheduled for those areas. Even if I didn’t get them all done, I didn’t want big gaps of time in between posts.
Making a plan also meant identifying other blogging areas I would need to work on…not just blog posts. This primarily meant scheduling Facebook posts, tweets, and pins. However, how to do that and my recommendations for each will be discussed in more detail down below.
Making a plan for a blogging hiatus also means deciding the timeline you have to do everything. For me, I had several months during the summer to accomplish everything. Even though I was working, getting ready for my new job, going on vacation, and experiencing a brief creative rut, I still had plenty of time to finish everything I needed to do for the hiatus!
Step 3: Brainstorm Blog Posts (because having ideas to write about are kinda important)
The next step in preparing your blog for its hiatus is to brainstorm a ton of content ideas. If you already have a list of ideas to pull from, that’s great, but I highly encourage you to think of some others, too. Even once I finished brainstorming ideas and inserted them into my blogging plan, I was constantly switching them around and exchanging them for others, all based on what fit my writing mood at that moment.
For example, I’ve been spending a lot of my summer either traveling (you can check out my St. Augustine post here and 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 my Spring semester. This meant that writing a lot of college content wasn’t the best option for me, especially since it slowed me down while I was trying to write as much as content as possible.
So what are some ideas to brainstorm posts about? Think about any projects you’ve recently done, whether it was making D.I.Y. decor for your apartment or figuring out how to make graphics using Canva or Photoshop. Or maybe think about a trip you recently took, whether it was just a day trip or a full vacation, and write a blog post about that.
Don’t forget that you can write several blog posts about a single subject or event. For example, I wrote a post on How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Nashville AND An Instagrammer’s Guide to Nashville. Both blog posts were about the same trip, but they are very different in terms of content!
Another idea is to look back at your old blog posts and see what did the best. For example, my posts on scholarships (like How To Apply to Scholarships (the right way!) and How to Organize Your Scholarship Binder) are some of my best-performing posts, so I can brainstorm more about that topic.
Still stuck for ideas? Try doing an updated guide to an old post. This gives you not only a new post, but updated content on your blog for people to read and enjoy.
Step 4: Write, Write, Write! (Oh, and edit, too.)
Here comes the most important part of the blogging hiatus…actually writing the posts! (Oh, stop groaning! You’ll be glad for this later.)
Mass-writing a ton of posts, especially for a long blogging hiatus, can be tough and overwhelming. I know it was for me. After all, in my Spring semester I only had 5 blog posts go up. FIVE! And if we want to be technical, one of them went up 2 days before the semester officially started…which I guess means I only wrote and published 4 posts during that time.
So going from only writing a handful of posts in 4 months time to writing much more in a span of a few short weeks was extremely overwhelming. I actually hit a creative rut a few weeks in and had to take a week off because I burnt myself out so quickly.
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. I actually just got back from a blogging slump, fully-inspired and re-charged, ready to knock out the rest of the blog posts on my blog hiatus plan, including this one! I mean, it wasn’t preferable that the inspiration hit at 11pm, but I’ll take what I can get!
And when you start writing, don’t feel obligated to start at the beginning of the blog post plan or brainstorm list you created in step 2! I’ve been skipping all over my list of ideas (no matter where they are in my blog hiatus plan!) because I know I write the best with whatever the inspiration strikes me the most. Do I want to write my blog post about packing for a winter to Europe? Of course! I’d love to re-live my trip to the UK and everything I packed. (No joke, this post is on my brainstorm list right now.) But do I have the inspiration to? No. It’s just not there yet. It’s on this post instead.
That being said, don’t force yourself to write a blog post you don’t feel inspired about. It doesn’t meant that it won’t ever get written or that it’s not right for you and your blog…it just means it’s not the right time yet. Write what you feel like writing about, and it will all go so much more smoother and faster than you would’ve thought!
Step 5: Schedule Pinterest Pins (this is what my blog traffic relies on)
Pinterest is where almost all of my traffic comes from, so to think of being inactive on Pinterest for months at a time during my hiatus was unbearable. I didn’t want to see my traffic take a nosedive, especially when I’ve worked so hard 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 it, I would spend a portion of every week sending dozens of pins to my queue to be scheduled. Tailwind automatically analyzes 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 all the pins in my queue! I have pins scheduled out for months at a time, which means that even on the days that I’m not on Pinterest, my blog is still active on it!
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 of credit and I get $15 of 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, 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.
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. After all, 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 blog posts within the Facebook page itself. (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 contentthat went live before your hiatus, and also schedule posts about your new blog content at the same time as they go live. For example, my Nashville blog posts are scheduled for October, and since it’s currently July when I’m writing this post, they still haven’t gone live yet. However, I can go ahead and schedule Facebook posts about them with their descriptions, pictures, and links for the same days as they go live, as well as the following days. This means I won’t have to worry about promoting them when they go live!
Other Facebook posts can include sharing other blogger’s work! Bloggers love community over competition on Instagram, Twitter, and 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!
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, especially before my hiatus!
When scheduling tweets, I’ve heard a variety of platforms recommended. TweetDeck and Buffer are two of the major ones I’ve heard of, along with Hootsuite, which is what I use. To make myself clear, however, 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 (If books can have many covers, why can’t a blog post, too?)
I know they say to not judge a book by a cover, but sometimes just one glance at a book’s cover can give me an idea about whether it’d actually be worth it to read it. (After all, some book covers are just weird.) However, sometimes I could look at a the same book with a different cover and it looks much more interesting!
It’s the same way 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 blog readers. I can testify to this; the last time I changed the design of my graphics, I saw a huge spike in blog traffic! Not to mention they looked a ton 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 not only distribute the new designs at different times, but it can 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 hiatus. By utilizing them, I’ve had my blog automated for months at a time, requiring little-to-no work from me! (Which I’m so thankful for…I think I may need to do this when I go back to school, as well!) Although preparing for a blogging hiatus does require a lot of work at once, it makes it so much easier 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 did you do anything to keep you blog active during the break? Let me know down below!