Take a Break from Blogging without Losing Your Audience

From Jeff: This is a guest by Alise Wright. Alise just published Not Alone, a series of stories about depression. You can visit her on her blog, Twitter, or Facbeook.

The other month, I faced a difficult decision. I needed to take a break from blogging — for a few reasons:

  • I was editing a book of stories, and I needed to put some serious time into working on that project.
  • We were taking a family vacation, and I wanted to enjoy it without spending time thinking about the blog.
  • There was some more personal writing  I wanted to focus on that wasn’t intended for the blog.
  • Quite honestly, I was feeling like things were getting a bit stale. I wanted to take some time off to refresh a bit.

If you blog, you know letting your site sit idle for a month can be brutal on your audience and traffic.

I knew my core group of readers would stick around, but I didn’t want to lose momentum that was building.

What was I to do?

I decided to open up my blog to the public.

Break from Blogging
Photo credit: kamshots (Creative Commons)

About two months before I knew I wanted to take my break, I put a call out to my readers, asking them to consider submitting a guest post. Over the following two months, 25 people answered the call.

In August, every single weekday and two Saturdays were given to other writers.

I learned a few lessons about blogging and life in general from this experience. I’d like to share them with you.

Generosity pays off

I don’t think you have to give away your site for a whole month, but be generous with your space.

I’ve found that when I show another writer that I trust them enough to write for me, they give me quality content. Generosity begets generosity.

Give clear directions

My site has very clear guidelines for guest posts. This allows people to know just what to expect when they’re guest blogging. If someone has any questions, I point them to that list. It saves us both a lot of frustration.

I also offered topic suggestions for the month, so if someone wanted to participate but didn’t have a plan, they had some guidance.

Be flexible

Even though I went out of my way to make it easy for me and my guests, there were some who missed the deadline, didn’t include a bio, didn’t send a picture, didn’t stay in the word requirements.

I could have laid down the hammer and said “no” to their requests. I still had enough content to fill the time, but instead, I showed grace and ended up with some of my most popular posts.

You don’t have to compromise your standards, but don’t be so rigid that you miss out on good stuff.

Take a chance

I had several well-established bloggers write for me and I really appreciate their contributions. But I also had some lesser-known folks stop by and share. Several brought a lot of traffic to the site, which was great for all of us.

Don’t let the size of your guest’s audience be a determining factor — let their work speak for itself.

Be honest

Most people know when they’re being scammed, so be real.

I absolutely wanted to have a chance to promote people on my blog. And I wanted to keep my stats from plummeting when I took a month off.

I was up-front about both desires. This allowed my guests to know I was trustworthy — not just about my motivations but about how I would promote their work.

Should you give your blog away?

Is this something you should do? Maybe. Maybe not.

What I do know is this: Writing breaks are essential.

Giving away your blog for a season can be a fun way to enjoy some time off or focus on other projects, while allowing your readers to stay busy and engaged in the community you’ve created.

Have you ever given something away — your blog, credit, an opportunity, etc.? How did it feel? What did you learn? Share in the comments.

*Photo credit: kamshots (Creative Commons)

36 thoughts on “Take a Break from Blogging without Losing Your Audience

  1. I took a break a few months ago while I was on a mission trip in Europe. It wasn’t a full 2 week break (the amount of time I was on the trip). Rather, I posted infrequently and the posts I did publish were more updates and pictures about the trip. 

    I have done quite a few guest posts, though, and am looking at doing more in the future.

    1. I don’t know that I’ll do something this dramatic again (there was a lot of work in setting it up), but it was definitely a fun experiment. And I do love hosting guests at my site.

  2. I dropped off the face of the blogging world and now I am back.
    It really was not intentional, and I make no apologies, but I am
    starting from scratch, knocking on old and new blogger doors.
    I did not have my words about me, and so I shared nothing.
    Baby steps, sharing images; words are minimal for the moment.
    Cheers! -Teri

  3. Thanks for this, Alise. This is great timing, too. I considering doing something like this for a busy work time I have coming up. Thanks for giving me some things to think about.

    1. I recommend getting it together sooner rather than later. Doing that many guest posts in a row definitely took some doing. Aside from all of the stuff like formatting and editing, I also wanted to write a something personal about the authors. I gave myself 10 days to get it together – I would probably give myself a minimum of two weeks in the future.

  4. Jeff, thanks for hosting Alise!

    Alise … you rock! First you open your blog to others … thank you, I loved guest posting for you. 
    Second you have a post here about that project … good for you, great synergy. 

  5. I have noticed that when I post articles from guest bloggers on my blog that my site traffic actually increases, because the author of the post is referring their friends and readers to the blog.  I ask you, how can this ever me a bad thing?  In fact, some of the most well-read blogs and websites out there are those that specialize in having numerous writers, rather than just one poor and lonely soul plugging away at it day after day after day after day…

    1. One of my favorite things about blogging is the sense of community that I feel. I love that when I told my readers that I wanted to take time off, they were so willing to pitch in and give me such excellent content. It really solidified that sense of community for me.

  6. This is an idea I’ve tossed around inside my head, but I haven’t taken the plunge yet. I might have to give it a try for a week or two at some point. You handled yours so very well.

  7. It seems sort of like allowing a month of guest posting would do wonders to build a community around your blog. If you can get enough guest posters to do it, you definitely already have your own, but the people who are now “involved” in some way are going to be more dedicated.

    I definitely think it’s a great little project, and probably fun to see so many other well thought out points of views on a topic you care about.

  8. Well…. this gives me a good opportunity to ask my question….. I sent in a submission, and never heard back, and it never got posted…. did it just get lost in the inbox? Did you not like it? Did it not fit your audience? 

    If anyone does this, you don’t have to accept every submission, but at least let those whose posts you reject know that you are not going to run their post. A short explanation might be helpful too, but that is not required. 

    I’m not upset or anything. I appreciate everything Alise Writes, and I really like her new book, Not Alone. If you haven’t picked up a copy, do it now at Amazon.

  9. Hi Jeff

    I’m loving your posts and learning tons from you! Thanks so much for all that you share. 

    God bless and take care,


  10. Great perpective Jeff! I think you also have a great positive feedback loop of sorts. You post really high quality content, and you attract high quality readers. So, when you ask for guest posts, you get more high quality content! 

  11. I love giving my blog away to guest bloggers.  I think it gives me a chance to rest, reflect, and to catch my breath.  And it gives my readers a new perspective and a different opportunity to share.  I’m always looking for guest bloggers to share their “Stretched” stories on my blog.

    Recently, I had the pleasure of having Arny Sanchez post on my blog.  Coincidentally, his post was the 500th for my blog.  It was somewhat by chance that this happened, but it was  gratifying to give away my 500th post to someone else.

  12. I usually schedule posts ahead of time on my blog since I have a lot of articles/posts that I have written over the years.

    The last time I let someone ‘temporarily” take over something for me was running a non-profit that I had. She took over the Facebook page, copied the paperwork, and tried to pass herself off as the new owner of the corporation!

    I had to close the operations down because of her fundraising scams done in our name.

    Sorry, but it will be a long time before I can trust someone with that kind of responsibility again.

  13. You have outlined some great ideas here! And just in time for me as I
    will need to take a short break from blogging soon and I definitely
    don’t want to lose the traffic that I have worked so hard for. Thanks
    for sharing these.

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