I'm getting married this Friday (yay!) and though I've been pretty calm about the whole thing until now, the stress of the “big day” is finally starting to get to me. Not only are there lots of last minute details to sort out in terms of the actual wedding, there's also my blog…which is my business and my primary source of income. Since I'm self-employed, it's hard to take vacations, and as the only full-time staff member for my site, there isn't someone around who can automatically fill-in or take over. So the question becomes, “How do you make sure your blogging responsibilities get handled when the rest of your life starts to get a little overwhelming?” And though my wedding is what motivated me to write this blog post, I think that question (and therefore, the tips here) apply for any major life change: a move, a baby, extended travel, a sudden illness or accident, or a death in the family. Hopefully, they're helpful to you.
Hire an assistant or trusted friend to take things over.
In my case, I'm hiring one of my columnists who also runs her own copywriting business. Not only do I know her and trust her (the two most important things), she has professional experience with blogging and social media management. And since she already knows my blog inside and out, I can have a somewhat less stressful wedding and honeymoon. When bringing someone on to replace you temporarily, work out a list of responsibilities that absolutely must be taken over for the interim and prioritize them. If keeping your Facebook page active or your emails sorted or your blog updated is what's most important to you, the person you're hiring should know that. And of course, trust is essential. Don't add to your stress levels by getting someone you don't know very well to take over.
Let your readers know what's going on.
When things get intense, it can be hard to remember to keep your readers in the loop. After all, you've got major stuff happening. But it can actually help you when people know what's going on. Think about bloggers you know that have disappeared for weeks at a time. After while, you start to think their blog is abandoned, and you stop checking in for updates. If you plan on coming back to blogging later, you don't want people to think your site has been shut down or that you've quit. A short note, even if it's just to say that something's come up and you'll be back as soon as possible, is preferable to complete silence. As an added bonus, that gives your readers an opportunity to be awesome and supportive, which can help when you're going through a rough time.
Don't feel guilty about stepping away.
Sometimes blogging can feel a bit like running on a hamster wheel. You've been going and going and going for so long that stopping seems like a catastrophe. What if your readers leave? What if your blog is taken down? What if something awful (or awesome) happens while you're away? The what-if scenarios are endless. But if you have more important things going on in your life, those things have to take priority. Once you've decided it's time to step away, do it. Don't waste any unnecessary energy feeling bad or guilty over your decision. Decent people will understand. And if you get any grief…well, keep reading.
Set your boundaries and enforce your priorities.
Good personal boundaries are more important than ever when you're under stress. Only volunteer as much information as you feel comfortable giving. In this age of oversharing, it can feel a little awkward to hold things back, but even if life-changing events are happening, don't feel like you have to let the entire world know all the nitty-gritty details. Only share what you're comfortable having out there and what you're okay with people commenting on. You can always share more things later as your comfort levels change, but you can never take back what you've already shared. If people are being too demanding (in terms of either wanting more details than is appropriate or wanting more of your time than is appropriate), kindly inform that they're overstepping a bit. Or just ignore them for now. Either one.
Create an auto-responder to let people know you're away and when they can expect you to be back (if you know).
Not everyone will see the blog post announcing your absence (if you wrote one) and even people who do see it may not remember it (folks are busy), so setting up an auto-responder is a great way of making sure everyone is informed about what's going on. You can repeat the reason for your absence here if you so choose or just tell people that you're away. An auto-responder is especially important if you're regularly receiving PR or advertising inquiries. Again, this is just so people don't think you've abruptly disappeared.
How do you balance your blogging with major life events? Any tips for your fellow IFB-ers? I'm all ears!