Wednesday, November 5, 2014

how to take an extended hiatus from blogging without losing all your blog friends.

regular readers (if i have many left) already know about this, but in case you missed it, this summer was really weird. james worked out of town six days a week for a long time, and continued to work satudays (which is really unusual with his job) all the way up until after school started (he even worked a SUNDAY recently. this is COMPLETELY unheard of). because jamess hours have been super inconsistent for, well, out entire marriage, none of us is really used to not having james around all the thine (though i will admit that six months in a row of financial stability has been totes amazeballs). obviously with all this happening, plus me transitioning to working from home AND going to school three days a week, we have had, well, a prolonged season of transition. to be completely honest, were still figuring out how to make this work, but thats a topic for another day. 

long story short, with all this craziness going on, this here blog (and of course, the etsy shop) became terribly neglected. i used to post four (sometimes even five) times a week, every week, have new product in the shop most weeks, AND keep my editorial calendar a month ahead. but life happened and i lost my grip on blogging (and etsy-ing). 

being the defeatist quitter that i am (not being self-deprecating here, just being honest), i figured that if i couldnt keep my blog in tip-top shape id lose all my readers and i might as well give up. but surprisingly, i noticed after a few weeks that my blog wasnt going completely dead. yes my traffic was lower, and the percentage of probably-not-so-legitimate page views is maybe a bit more visible, BUT my daily traffic (even on days that i dont post) seems to be hovering around where it was maybe a year ago when i really started promoting myself. and when i do post, I'm still getting enough response (views, comments, etc.) that make it pretty obvious that not everyone has forgotten about me. 

which is really pretty awesome. but now that ive had some time to think about it. this wasnt really because of chance, or even that my blog friends are just way more awesome than others (though they are_ but also because of a few things that i did, that (knowingly or not) kept this little blog from going COMPLETELY dead during my absence. 

and since all the holiday craziness is coming up and I'm sure lots of you kind folks would like to take a breather, i thought id share some advice on how to keep things going (even when you arent blogging regularly:

1. stay active on social media. we all know by now that most of our personal connections are going to happen through social media rather than full blown blog content, right? well conveniently enough, it just so happens that staying active on social media (posting pictures, asking questions, sharing content you like) happens to take way less time and effort than writing full blog posts. during my break i spent some extra time developing my instagram, and you know what? its been great: i still got to keep up with my existing blog friends, i made some new ones, and it helped me find the inspiration to get writing again. 

2. pin all your posts on pinterest. i dont know about you, but quite a lot of my referring traffic comes from pinterest. and that wouldnt have happened if i hadnt pinned every. single. one. of my posts and images (whether i really thought they were all that pinnable or not) onto  the appropriate pinterest board. if youre not already doing this, start now. and when you have time, go back and do all your old posts. really. 

3. write reusable, perennial continent. a big reason my blog still has (a teeny tiny bit of) traffic even when im not posting is that the majority of my (recent) posts are (at least somewhat) perennial. and by that i mean, people still read them even weeks (or months) after i originally posted them, because what ive posted is still relevant and useful at any time. this is the main reason that ive shifted my content away from daily family life (which, while i do love writing it, doesnt have much of a shelf life when im not posting consistently) to more things like crafts, recipes, and tips. finding a good balance of timely and timeless posts seems to be the key here. 

4. write when you can. to be completely honest, the main reason i havent gotten to post much, is because im just simply not home much. and when i am home and have time to spend at the computer, i usually have jamberry or homework related things to handle. for a long time i was frustrated that i never had time to write posts, but then i started using early mornings and my breaks at school to write my posts in my notebook and make the graphics i need on my phone, so that way the only thing i need to do at the computer is type (and edit photos if necessary). the posts i write ahead of time dont always get published right away, but when i have a day with free computer time, i can bust out a post or three in no time at all. 

5. use your downtime wisely. not blogging consistently every week surprisingly meant that i had quite a bit more time to think about blogging: what i should write about, where i should go next, how i should change, etc., and instead of just sitting in my frustration about not having time to post, i used that time to brainstorm ideas, figure out my identity as a blogger, and i even booked a coaching call with kayli (which i highly recommend) to get a second (not-husband-cause-he-just-thinks-everything-is-great) opinion on where i should be headed. even though i didnt know when this break would end, i knew what to do when it did, which made it a lot easier to...

6. ease yourself back in. you know that perfectionist thing? well one side effect was that i kept telling myself i couldnt go back to blogging until AFTER i had an editorial calendar done for at LEAST a month and could go back to posting four times a week. and you know what? im not exactly in a position to do either of those things. so instead, im doing what i can, when i can, and slowly easing my way back into blogging. someday i may get back to my old pace, but if not, at least i didnt give up. 

7. dont compromise your content. it can be tempting to throw up a lame post or do something sponsored that you wouldnt normally do when you arent feeling inspired. i know, ive done it. but sometimes no post is better than something that doesnt fit (or worse, compromises your brand). sometimes something is better than nothing. but sometimes its not. 

8. most importantly, DONT APOLOGIZE. explain if you need to (especially, for instance, if the reason for your absence is relevant to the content of your post, like this one), but you DO NOT HAVE TO APOLOGIZE FOR NOT KEEPING UP YOUR SCHEDULE. im not even going to elaborate here, you just dont have to. 

so if youre currently taking a break, planning taking a break, or are coming back from an unintentional break (like i am) i hope that you find these tips helpful! cause what are blog friends for if we dont help each other out once in a while? 

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