Several weeks ago I announced on foXnoMad that I would be taking two weeks off from blogging, including related activities like participating in social media, and responding to most emails. More than that this two week break would be part of a larger plan I had in mind – to allow myself 6 weeks of annual leave from my sites. I figured why not give myself what I had years ago when I was working for a boss that wasn’t me before I was in the position where I had to take a break.
I’ll be writing about the personal and travel side to the break in the coming weeks on foXnoMad but many, many of you wrote me wondering what would happen to a travel blog if it went quite for two weeks. I suspect many of you might be considering taking a few breaks yourself, so I’d like to share what I’ve learned and tell you what happened.
Reducing Your Anxiety Through Preparation
You’ve probably had times where your blogging schedule was unexpectedly disrupted. As comforting as a regular posting schedule can be, when something like a site error or that thing called “life” gets in the way, it can have the opposite effect. Stress, worry, and headaches can come with the idea that you’re not tending to your travel blog every moment of the day. What happens in reality, however, is…not much. You’ll find that missing a blog post or leaving Twitter for a day or two doesn’t cause your travel blog to disappear into obscurity. What I’ve found is the length of the break doesn’t cause anxiety, it’s how predictable that break is.
I planned my blogging break in advance and announced about 10 days prior that I’d be taking 6 weeks of annual leave spread over the course of each year. The day before I took off, I let my readers know. This way they knew what to expect and wouldn’t be surprised by me going quiet on my site (although I did still reply to comments albeit slower than normal) and my silence on Twitter or Facebook.
The number of emails I received from my readers telling me that they’d miss me but be patiently awaiting my return was truly touching. People who had never written me before were reaching out and their support encouraged me further.
Looking At The Numbers
I honestly don’t track many blog statistics very closely; the ones I do focus on are my daily email, RSS subscribers, newsletter subscribers, Twitter followers, and Facebook fans. Those are people who’ve made a commitment to follow my travels and site in some way. They’re regulars; those numbers and the traffic from them didn’t decrease over the two weeks. In fact, my email and newsletter subscription rates increased slightly above average over the course of my break.
A few interesting things did happen to my pageviews. During the first 4 days of my break, they actually increased. I suspect this has something to do with the delayed effect of RSS, email, and other subscriptions. That is, most subscribers don’t check out your site immediately after you post something but rather when they’ve got some free time. Usually that ends up being 24-96 hours after your content pops up somewhere. A few people might have also been coming around to see where I had gone in case they missed the announcements too.
I didn’t have the usual spikes from posting new content, which was to be expected since there wasn’t any new content. My traffic from search engines wasn’t effected and created a solid backbone of traffic throughout the 2 weeks. Toward the end of my break my pageviews did decline slightly; however the average pageviews remained fairly the same over two weeks. The increase in the first 4 days helped to balance things out.
Finally, it’s worth noting that my server decided to have several fits (I swear it acts up for my attention) making my site unavailable much more than usual while I was away. Next time, now that those issues have been resolved, I’ll be interested to see how the trends change if they do. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to share my findings with you.
Timing The Break And Lessons Learned
I decided to take my first two (of the 6 total) week break in February. It was a time in between any big blog events I had planned and I would be returning with my annual Best City to Visit Travel Tournament – typically a very busy time on foXnoMad. In the future I’ll probably plan my vacations at similar times. One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the number of emails waiting for me when I returned. Although I had been answering some emails along the way (yes, I did have a vacation responder set up), many of those “quick” messages I thought I could tackle in a few hours took 2 days. (I was primarily responding to emails related to the server I manage and advertising inquiries. Next time, I’ll probably have an assistant take care of those tasks.) Little things added up so next time I’ll come “back to the online office” with two non-writing days as a cushion.
To those of you who might be anxious about taking a blogging break, I hope I have been able to alleviate some of those concerns. The sky didn’t collapse in on itself and my readers were waiting for me when I got back. They were full of understanding and perhaps a bit more keen to see some new posts of mine.
Feel free to let me know if you have any specific questions about taking a blogging break in the comments below.