Any day now, my wife will give birth to our first child. We’re doing our best to be prepared, even though we realize this is an event for which we can never fully prepare. I think we’ve gone through just about every “new parent check list” there is. Something none of these lists cover, though, is what to do with your blog while dealing with a new baby.
Whether it’s a birth, a house guest, or just a vacation, there will always be events in life that interrupt your normal publishing schedule. By doing a little planning ahead of time, you can enjoy those moments and not lose your readership during your down time. If you know you’ve got a situation coming up that will cut into your normal blogging time, here are a few ways to keep readers coming back.
The best thing you can do is write content ahead of time and schedule it to post. Many blogging platforms — including WordPress, Movable Type, and Blogger — allow you to set a time and date when a post will be published. Write as many posts as you can before your absence, and schedule them to publish at regular intervals during your time off. This can be a good habit to get into, anyway, so you are prepared for unplanned absences.
While you’re preparing your scheduled posts, consider writing some “best of” posts. These can be great for introducing new readers to your site and reminding loyal readers about some of their favorite content. Try not to do a lot of these, but one or two scheduled to appear while you’re gone can help keep your site looking fresh.
If you can, bring in some guest bloggers. Guest posts can be a great way to drive traffic in general, and when you’ll be away from your blog they can be a life saver. Be sure your guest blogger is familiar with your blog platform so you can give them access to post and they can publish without bothering you at all. And don’t forget to return the favor when your guests want to take time off from their own sites.
Can’t find anybody to guest post? Try looking for Creative Commons-licensed content to republish. Just be very sure you read the CC license for the work you want to use and meet the requirements for redistributing the work.
If you’re just going to be busy but not completely off the grid, you could pull in content from other services. If you’re still going to be posting to Twitter, Delicious, Flickr, or another service, you may be able to connect those to your blog and route that content to your site. Flickr, for example, can post directly to your blog. And there are multiple plugins that will pull your Twitter and Delicious content into posts on your site.
Finally, no matter what you do, let your readers know. Post a message that will stay at the top of your home page during your absence. In it, tell visitors what to expect while you’re gone and when to expect you back. Point them to your archives and your content on other sites so that hopefully they don’t leave your site before finding something of interest.
For my wife and I, the next few weeks are going to turn our lives upside-down. We’ll lose a lot of sleep, but with a little prep-work it won’t be over what’s happening with our blogs.
What do you do when you take a break from your site? Let us know in the comments.