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Lessons From A Blogger’s Vacation

Carol Tice

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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