Lessons From A Blogger’s Vacation

A Vacation for Freelance WritersSo I’m back from my vacation in the San Juan Islands now. As regular readers of this blog know, I believe writers should plan carefully so that they actually get to vacation on their vacation, so I took my own advice and worked ahead. I turned on my ‘out of the office’ notices, carefully managed my schedule, informed clients of my absence, and had nearly all my accounts tied up with a bow.

The problem was my blogs. This one in particular, and another one for a large client. For the client, I get paid in part based on how frequently I post, and found myself needing to do three more posts to make my nut…so that crept into the first three days of my vacation. Missed it by THAT much.

But even worse was this blog. I’d pre-written my posts and they were scheduled to go up twice a week as normal. But the comments have to be moderated. Why didn’t I think of this when I planned my vacation!

If I don’t moderate the comments, no comments go up, and then visitors feel ignored. I made it about three days before sweat beads started to form on my forehead. My blog! What’s happening on my blog? I couldn’t stop wondering what comments might be coming that weren’t posting because I was out. I always think it’s rude when I post a comment and days later, it’s not visible.

With help from my husband’s smart phone, I learned how to check email on a phone for the first time. It was kind of hellish, but I finally got onto my dashboard and was able to look through all the comments there. It was the usual — about 100 pieces of spam a day (thanks, robots!) and then the handful of actual writer comments and pingbacks.

I was glad I checked email, too — I ended up accepting $1,000 in assignments that I might have lost if I hadn’t responded for a whole week, plus got a lead on another $1,200 assignment I’m hoping to nail down shortly. Really helps pay for the vacation if you don’t lose too much work while you’re gone!

Then, I kept my blog going. I didn’t realize how loyal I felt toward the community that’s built up around Make a Living Writing until I tried to leave it behind.

So what did I learn on my vacation? A quick email check every couple of days is probably smart. Even with the email bouncer on, you may be missing out on some key messages. Some assignments won’t wait a week to get assigned — editors will move on and find another writer. But this sort of thing could be kept down to a few minutes every other day or so. The blog is what sunk my plan to really unplug.

Next time, I’ve decided I’m hiring someone to moderate my blog while I go on vacation. It would have been a lot more relaxing if I’d had this task truly off my plate while I was away.

Have you been on vacation this summer? Got any tips on how writers can really get away? Leave a comment and tell us how you managed it.

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Photo via Flickr user Akuppa


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6 comments on “Lessons From A Blogger’s Vacation
  1. I believe that in order to relax you have to be able to take a break. When I am on vacation its just that vacation. No computer, phone, or laptop…at least thats how it is now. My wife got tired of me checking my email for my laptop or smartphone. Devon hits the major points!
    Bluegreen Kirk recently posted…A Snorkeling Vacation In Dry Tortugas Offers Reefs Of Fun And AdventureMy Profile

  2. smith says:

    Exactly, the focus should be on how (communication)technology can let people work more efficient and effective.

  3. Hi all, im from turkey so my english is not that awesome. Please dont blame me. I read blogs to make my english better and i just want to say that your blog was perfect readable for me, because the english is really great and all the article are perfect readable. I will come back, to improve my english even more. Thanks a lot 🙂

  4. I'm of two minds about checking email. I let regular clients know ahead of time that I'm not available between dates X and Y. I have auto response on my email stating the same thing, and not to expect to hear back from me.

    Do I check email sometimes on vacation? Depends where I am and what I'm doing. Sometimes, I need to be entirely disconnected — ENTIRELY. If I'm on a retreat, even five minutes checking email negates the point of being "on retreat." Or if I have to dive down the rabbit hole of revisions on one of the plays or novels, even the slightest interruption can throw the whole thing off for days at certain fragile points in the process. I will have met all deadlines before I leave, I can go without guilt. I don't put the word "vacation" in my out of office message — I use "unavailable."

    There are also assignments where I have very limited internet access and I'm working such ridiculous hours that I am also not able to regularly check or respond. If I'm working from 4 in the morning until midnight, I'm not going to check my email at 1 AM. I'm going to bed.

    Have I ever missed a lucrative assignment? Yes.

    Have I regretted it? Not for more than about ten minutes.

    I understand that sometimes editors need immediate turnaround. But if the editor really wants to work with ME, either the editor waits to hear back from me, or contacts me again and we give it another shot. If the editor just needs a skilled writer immediately, I totally understand, and I hope the editor finds exactly what's needed, and great for everyone involved.

    I've yet to lose a lucrative assignment because I was out of touch for a reasonable amount of time or recharging my batteries, and not landed something that was much better within a few days of losing the first assignment. A better assignment I would have missed out on had I landed that lost assignment.

    So I just don't stress about it.

    If you have guest bloggers or you state at the top of your posts that you're not able to moderate/respond to comments until X date, you might not have much trouble. As long as people feel you've given them the information, I think you'll find most of them are pretty reasonable. And those who aren't would probably find something to whine about no matter what.

    Enjoy your time off whenever you can! We work hard enough when we're working to earn it.

  5. Carol Tice says:

    It's really that bad, Colette. Don't know why.

    But the preponderance of "people" named Buy Cialis or Make Money Online or whatever who are leaving "comments" like "Keep up the amazing share" or just leaving a paragraph of nothing but links…it's unreal.

    And then, somewhere in there, will be four real people's comments! It's very frustrating…but someone with a computer and access to my dashboard could deal with it in about 15 minutes a day…where it was agonizing to sift through on a little iPhone and made me feel like I wasn't getting out of the office.

  6. Carol, welcome back!

    As I read your post I was wondering — why not just turn off comment moderation — but then Isaw that you get 100’s of spam comments. Is it really that bad? I’ve had little problem with blogger spam (knock on wood).

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