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.
I’m an obsessive type A person and when I took a two week break from blogging (I blog about travel and also about my life) I reworked archives for about three weeks. You know how photographers recommend pulling the camera way from your face every once in awhile so you can really *see* what you’re looking at? That’s what this felt like. My real life is going to overtake me here for the next few weeks (dying parent) and I won’t be blogging as much but I have three years of archives and a tetrabyte or five of pictures to fool with in the meantime. I think breaks are important; even if you’re doing what you feel called to do and love to do.
I think it’s a good idea; I’m curious if you scheduled the posts from your archives to appear on social media?
Also, sorry to hear about your current situation.
I did schedule on futuretweets (free, I like free) for twitter and manually linked on my personal facebook page. The whole prep process was lengthy but well worth it. Thanks for the kind wishes.
Oh you are so much better than I. I have become so addicted that even taking a break on the weekend can be tough. But I do like your idea of a break/vacation from the blog. I should think about doing one soon.
It was quite scary before I did it but honestly, it wasn’t that bad. I would highly recommend it from time to time!
When I yo-yoed the CDT in 2007, I effectively took 7 months off the Net.
In 2010, while I was writing my book, I would check email once a week and never blog.
When I returned, it was easy to get the traffic back up again.
Don’t be afraid to take LONG breaks. 🙂
thanks for sharing your findings! VEry good to know.
I’ve had several times when I knew I couldn’t be online for about one week. The first time, I was pretty nervous. But I’ve also found that the stats didn’t decrease much, if at all. Probably my readers didn’t even know I was gone because.. I scheduled posts for the week beforehand and tweeted them, plus I did some ‘from the archives’ of posts I hadn’t run for nearly one year.
Yep, it all seems to work out just fine.
I do appreciate the tip to let the readers know beforehand. Great idea! will do when I takem y next vacation!
I think many of us think if we don’t blog, tweet, etc. all the time our sites will evaporate! Mostly though, not much happens 😉 I tend to stick to my blogging schedule so if there will be some change in it, I like to let my readers know. In a way, it helps to keep things personal as well. Good luck on your next break!
I took a long break last year when I had something serious come up. Not only did I not have the time or creativity for blogging, I also just didn’t really care. However, after things got resolved, I was ready again, and I worked a little extra to get things going again. I think we have to do what’s right for us and remember that long-term goals are important; for me, taking that time off was necessary but actually didn’t change things much or at all over the long term. I like your 6 weeks off plan. Sounds like a really good idea. More full-time bloggers should do that!
I’ve always been of the thinking that it’s better to put nothing up than put something bad or less than your best effort. Glad your back at it now though and appreciate the vacation support!
Good tips. But, you’ve been blogging for a long time now and have an audience. For someone who has just started blogging, or someone without that loyal base taking a break might not be the best of ideas until they are a bit more established.
Although taking a break from blogging makes me nervous, it’s something I’ve done twice in the last 6 months and without proper internet I do believe it hurt me more than anything else.
Bookmarked this site. Don’t know why I hadn’t before!
A good point and I agree; although a shorter (1-2 week) break probably wouldn’t hurt a smaller site or that with many fewer posts. You have to establish a blogging routine before you can break it 🙂 In my mind that would take at least 12-18 months of consistency.
That all said, recoveries are usually quick and I suspect the travel keeping you away has been enjoyable 🙂
We always have a big panic when our internet decides to break without warning us (which used to be quite often!!) and the first thought is the blog, Facebook page etc will suffer. We get back online a couple of days later feeling like we’ve been in the wilderness…and absolutely nothing has changed. Wonder if we’d be brave enough to take 10 days off while we’re in Italy, though…doubt it. 🙂
It’s funny how a few days offline does that – makes me feel too as if I’ve been in 1800s until I get online 🙂
One thing that did go very quiet was Facebook. I suspect it is because FB is such a ‘in the moment’ type of atmosphere, people usually see your updates when they go live and not much a day or two after. (Also Google – not surprisingly – really doesn’t favor FB pages in search results.) If you were to try a ‘lite’ 10 days off, I’d keep FB and Twitter going which would help drive traffic back to the blog if you took a posting break.
The travel and the life-style are far more important than the blog. As teachers we had 12 weeks holidays per year. As bloggers/travellers, we are on permanent holiday! Which is far better. But never forget to look after number 1 (and 2) first!
I think it all depends on how you are traveling and why you are blogging – finding the balance between them is key, but often difficult. In a way I’m on permanent holiday but permanently at work too at the same time 😉