This week at ProBlogger we’re covering the topic of how to Maintain Momentum in your blogging. Yesterday in part two I covered three factors to consider when planning a blog that will help to create a sustainable blog for the long term.
Of course most ProBlogger readers already have blogs and so many of you will have found yesterday’s tips for PREbloggers a little untimely.
Today I’d like to focus our attention on a number of factors to consider in terms of planning a blog while it’s ‘on the go’ that will help to maintain momentum through many of the things that might often bring blogging to a halt (many of which I covered here).
Planning for Life Events
What ‘life events’ do you have coming up that could potentially break the momentum of your blog?
Most people can only maintain a certain level of activity in their life at any given time. This is true both on a time basis (there are only 24 hours in a day) and also on an emotional basis.
In my own experience and from watching many other bloggers over the past few years I know that blogging is often one of the first things to be put on hold when a significant event happens in a person’s life.
This is natural and in many instances is a totally appropriate thing but with some forward thinking the impact of such events can be minimised (and even alleviated).
Ask yourself – ‘what planned life events do you have approaching you?’ and ‘what might I do to prepare for these events as they impact my blogging?’
These might included everything from taking a holiday, to starting a new job, to the birth of a child, to getting married.
All of these things are ‘planned’ to some extent (ie I take time to book a holiday, we’ve spend the last few months getting our house ready for our new baby, we put a lot of planning into our wedding) and there is no reason why bloggers should can’t do a little planning around how their blogs will operate in and around these events.
Strategies of what to do in the lead up to, during and after events like these can vary from ‘blogging as normal’, to getting a guest blogger to fill in, to advance posting, to announcing a pause in blogging etc. All are legitimate – but it’s important to know what you’ll do, to communicate this to your readers and to especially think about how you’ll reengage with your blogging after the event (more on this shortly).
Contingency Plans for Unexpected Events
What would I do if some unexpected life event made it difficult or impossible to blog?
Of course there are some events in life that are unplanned like the death of loved ones, sickness, relationship breakdowns etc. These are often sad or ‘crisis’ events that can rock our world completely.
The are difficult (if not impossible) to plan for but it is worth considering how you might deal with them before they happen.
I don’t have specific contingency plans for my blogs for these events but have given it some thought. I do know that on my main blogs there are other bloggers that I could approach to take on some of the load (voluntarily or paid) in an emergency. I also have a couple of people who have administrative rights to my blogs in case of an emergency (sort of like giving a friend a key to your house in case you lock yourself out).
For some the contingency plan might simply be a post telling readers that there will be no blogging for the next period of time due to whatever reason you might have. For others it might mean involving others in a blog, having some backup posts ready to go, having a series of questions for bloggers to discuss on your topic, a lighter blogging frequency etc.
How will you reengage with your blog after a period away from it?
Taking a break from blogging is important. I try to do this both on a micro level (breaks throughout the day and days off each week) but also on a macro level (extended breaks/vacations).
I’m pretty good at taking extended breaks – but find it difficult to get back into the rhythm of blogging when I return.
Here’s generally how I attempt to reengage after time off:
- Take it slow: I’ve learned that going from a complete break from blogging to getting straight back to a full time level (it’s my job) is not realistic. When i return from time away the level of ‘catch up’ in terms of dealing with comment moderation, reading unread RSS feeds and dealing with a full inbox can be very overwhelming. To start posting at a full rate on top of this is enough to drive me into rocking back and forth in the fetal position.
- Give extra time: As a result I attempt to give myself extra space to get back into the swing of things. I generally get a guest blogger/s to fill in while I’m away and always try to get them blogging a day or two before I leave and a day or two after I return. This is not just to extend my break – but to help me cope with the ‘catch up’ scenario. It allows me to clear my inbox and deal with comments almost completely before needing to start posting.
- Set a deadline: The other strategy I use is to give myself deadlines to start blogging again. I do this simply by announcing before I leave when I’ll be back and telling guest bloggers the date I don’t want them to blog past. This means that my blog will simply be inactive on a certain date which is a motivation for me to get back into the swing of things. Telling people that you’ll do something adds an element of accountability into things and is also a motivation.
- Gradual Posting: Even with a deadline and a couple of days to clear the admin created while away it can be difficult to reengage and so I don’t go to a full posting schedule immediately after my deadline. Communicate to your readers that you’re catching up and will take a few days to get back to ‘normal’. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You might want to have a guest blogger continue on in this period to help out or even to have a few pre-prepared posts that you can use to help out.
Tomorrow I’ll turn my attention to a number of practical tips that bloggers might like to try to help maintain their blog’s momentum.