Thoughts and Reflections after a Month Away

posted by Andrea | 09/19/2013

In case you  missed it, I took the entire month of August off from blogging.

It was a really nice break, but I will admit, I was just a tiny bit hesitant to take a full month off — especially leading up to my biggest traffic months (Sep-Feb).

The month-long break was a break I had planned in advance and had nothing to do with the fact that I was pregnant and semi-nauseous for most of August — that was just a coincidence!

However, after I announced I was taking a full month off — and all throughout the month of August — I found it interesting that MANY other bloggers emailed me asking more about why I took a break, how I decided on a month, and if I would share some of my thoughts once I returned.

I figured that was a reasonable request — and it also forced me to really reflect on my time away (which is always a good thing).

First of all, if you’re wondering WHY I took a full month off, why I picked August, or what I did during that month this post should answer those questions.

As for some of my thoughts and answers to the questions you asked — I’m sharing those below!

freezer cooking — one of the things I did more of during my break! 

What were you most worried about?

I don’t know if “worried” is the right word — but there were a few things I definitely thought about as I was planning to take a full month off.

Here are 4 of the top concerns that come to mind:

1. Loss of income:

Income really didn’t play much of a factor in my month-long break decision… but of course, when you’re taking a full month off from work (and you don’t get paid vacation days) it has to be at least a small consideration!

Since my blog traffic is normally lower in the summer months anyway (which is a good thing — that means you are all out “playing” instead of sitting inside on your computer!), I figure I lost out on 1/3 of my advertising revenue for the entire month. Honestly, that’s not bad — especially considering that one of the main reasons I took the month-long break was to help out a friend on maternity leave, and I definitely made up the difference working for her in August.

2. Loss of readership:

I wasn’t too worried about losing mass amounts of readers — I figured any semi-loyal reader would be patient enough to stick around for 31 days until I came back. Plus, it’s not like there’s a lack of content on my blog — with well over 1000 posts in the archives, I’m sure anyone desperate for organization could find something to read!

I know I lost a handful of readers — but not the loyal ones who come back day after day, week after week, leaving nice comments, sending encouraging emails, and helping me realize what I’m doing here IS making a difference :)

3. Loss of Google love:

Honestly, this was probably the thing I was most concerned about… because anyone who does anything on the internet knows that you DO NOT want to make Google mad or confused. And sometimes, if you stop publishing new content for an extended period of time, Google might get confused and think that you don’t deserve their love — so they will stop sending search engine traffic to your blog.

So since I get hundreds of thousands of monthly pageviews compliments of Google search engines (and those pageviews turn into ad dollars), this thought did cross my mind a few times as I prepared to take an entire month off.

Thankfully (from what I can tell so far) no harm was done and Google still loves me and my simple living advice!

4. Loss of my own interest:

Although I really can’t see myself packing up my keyboard anytime soon, I did have a few moments where I thought, “what if I love the break so much that I never want to go back again?”

Considering I only make 1/2 of my monthly income directly from my blog, it would be relatively easy (financially) for me to just pick up a few additional VA gigs, write a few more guest posts for other blogs each month, and free up HOURS and HOURS and HOURS of time in my schedule.

Under any normal conditions, I would never ever think about quitting my blog (I seriously love writing here — so don’t worry!) but due to the fact that I was in my first trimester, WAY more tired than normal, feeling overwhelmed with the thought of Dave going back to school, and mentally tallying everything I still wanted to accomplish before it gets cold and snowy, the thought of closing shop did cross my mind.

For the record, it was only for about 10 seconds… and then Dave stopped me and said I was clearly sleep-deprived or crazy because there was no way I would ever quit my blog. And he’s right!

.

Would you do it again?

For sure! I think I might take an extended break every summer — just because that’s when it makes the most sense. Dave is off from school, the weather is nice, we can have lots of family time, and my blog traffic is usually lower thanks to the fact that you guys are also enjoying the great outdoors and spending time with your own families.

It’s weird to think about taking a full month off from work — and to be honest, I didn’t totally check out. I still monitored comments every few days, I still posted some updates and pictures on Facebook, and I still checked my email. But it was definitely nice to have a break from writing and deeper thinking for a few weeks.

.

Would you encourage other bloggers to do this?

Yes and no — or maybe my answer is, it depends.

Obviously, if you feel you need a break — then take one otherwise you’ll burn out and never come back. Blogging is a crazy weird job that often occupies at least parts of our thoughts 24/7. It’s a rare occasion when a blogger can totally break out of “work mode” 100%. I suppose it’s kind of like being a parent — even when you are away from your children, you can’t really block them out of your mind 100%.

Blogging is not like a job where you can finish your work, drive home, and not think about it again until the next morning. I had one of those jobs once and hated it — but looking back, it was super nice to be able to mentally check out at the end of the day.

For me and my blog, this break made sense. I don’t blog about current events, I don’t share coupons or time-sensitive deals, I don’t share information that is vital to sustain life… so I knew you could all handle living without my spelling mistakes and Nora pictures for 31 long days!

Also, I’ve been blogging for long enough that I have tons of content in my archives for anyone to comb through, for a new reader to learn more, for search engines to index, and for extra traffic via periodic Facebook post updates. Not to mention the fact that I’ve had 3 years to grow my blog traffic and I knew you wouldn’t all disappear in one month.

So if your blog is similar to what I’ve stated above, then yes, I think it totally makes sense for you to take an extended break if you want to or feel you need to.

However, if you are a brand new blogger trying to grow your blog or if you share coupons, daily deals, current events, etc. it might be a little more challenging — but that doesn’t mean you CAN’T do it.

Consider hiring someone to run the blog for you for the month (or the week), or find a handful of people to write guest posts for you, or work like crazy the month before to write your posts and schedule them in advance. There are options for sure!

Also, try to remember that it’s JUST a blog. The absolute worst thing that could happen would be that some your readers left and Google stopped sending traffic your way for a short while. It certainly would not be the end of the world — at least in my own opinion :)

the dekkers

a recent family pic — and the first baby-bump sighting on the blog :)

Looking back, I’m SUPER happy with my decision to take a full month off and I’m so glad I didn’t chicken out and only take 1 or 2 weeks off instead. I’m also glad that I didn’t over-work myself before the break trying to pre-schedule a full month’s worth of posts or trying to find and edit a bunch of guests posts to run during my break.

I just wanted a month off… no pressing deadlines, no updating social media with every new post, no monitoring and responding to comments throughout the day. Just a break from the everyday routine and time to savor the last few weeks of summer.

And besides my lack of appetite and lack of normal “Andrea Dekker energy”, that’s just what I got!

Thanks for sticking around over my break and thanks for ALL the many emails, Facebook messages, and blog comments you sent me last month — assuring me of your appreciation for the content here on my blog. It was really fun to log onto my computer every day and find happy messages instead of more work requests or nagging to-dos!

If you’re a blogger, what are your thoughts on taking extended breaks?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Filed under: BloggingTime ManagementWork

 
 

25 comments

  1. Organize 365

    09/19/2013

    Having been around since your first posts – your month long vacation didn’t keep me away.

    As a matter of fact I RE-read old posts and kept checking back to see if your “changed your mind” and posted!!

    SO glad t o have you back!

    :)
    Lisa

    [Reply]

  2. Susan

    09/19/2013

    Andrea, congrats on the new addition to your sweet family and on taking a sabbatical. I’m a much smaller blogger, but made the decision last December to take a 2-week sabbatical to spend time with my family. I am so glad that I did and plan on doing it again this year. Part of the reason I want to be my own boss is so that I can make these types of choices for myself and my family. Welcome, back and looking forward to seeing what you’re up to these day.

    [Reply]

  3. Stel

    09/19/2013

    A well-deserved break.

    Since my blogging is just for fun and related to my hobby, and not income-generating, I blog once r twice a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. I happily went on a long holiday over December (our summer holidays), with, I think, only one post somewhere. No pressure, luckily! But I do have two large Facebook groups to take care of, so I’ll check in via mobile more regular.

    [Reply]

  4. Tragic Sandwich

    09/19/2013

    I’d been blogging for a few years and just wasn’t feeling it anymore. I didn’t think I wanted to quit, but I did need to take a break. I took several months off and then took a few more to think about why I wanted to blog. And the result has been much stronger.

    I don’t have a big readership, and I don’t make money from my blog–it’s a form of self-expression. And while I’ve toyed with the idea of monetizing it, I have decided that I don’t want to.

    I’m really happy that I took the break, and I took another (shorter) one this summer. I’d definitely do it again.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Sounds like you did the right thing for you and your blog. Also, I realize you might not be into blogging for the income, but you might be surprised what you could make if you started an AdSense account and just put one or two generic ads on your blog. Here’s a good blog post about how to set up and use AdSense from one of my favorite bloggers!

    [Reply]

    monica Reply:

    I think I might have to do that as well. I, too, was writing for my own thinking process. As of late, I am being asked more and more about taking care of my mother in law, having her move in to our home and Alzheimer’s. This is a season of life that is definitely something that we really don’t stop to think about.

    [Reply]

  5. Jamie

    09/19/2013

    I read your blog often but really didn’t notice that you were gone for a month. (Not in a bad way). I saw your FB posts and knew you were taking a month off. Glad your back. Enjoy your blog. My favorite post was about the messy house doesn’t equal happy kids/ clean house doesn’t equal unhappy kids. I have heard the “I may have sticky floors…..and happy kids” so much that I let myself believe that I couldn’t have a clean house and happy kids. It is still a challenge to me to keep up with homeschooling 3 boys, playing with them and cleaning house but your post was an encouragement to me to be more organized with my time so that I CAN accomplish what I need to during the day.

    [Reply]

    Jamie Reply:

    **I meant …Glad YOU’RE back.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well glad you didn’t miss me too much in August :)

    And yes, you can have a clean house and happy kids (says the lady with a sink full of dishes right now!)

    [Reply]

  6. Jennifer

    09/19/2013

    I’m not a blogger in any major way (just personal), but having blogged off and on for several years and being a reader of a few blogs regularly, I think the most important thing for keeping readership is just to let readers know what to expect and then deliver whatever is promised. If I really like a blog, I’ll happily stick around during a break, even a fairly long one, if I know they’re coming back! And as long as they actually do return on schedule, I won’t write them off or think it’s a ‘dead’ blog!

    And I think bloggers should be free to take whatever breaks they need. It’s much better, generally in life, to schedule breaks to prevent total burnout (both physical and of inspiration/enthusiasm), rather than to try to keep pushing. Nobody can handle that kind of constant pressure.

    [Reply]

  7. Chris

    09/19/2013

    I am not a blogger but just wanted to tell you that your blog is probably in my top 5 reads every day. I absolutely love it!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Chris!

    [Reply]

  8. Charmin - The Momiverse

    09/19/2013

    We missed you while you were taking time off, Andrea, but I can completely relate!

    I, too, took time off this summer. Like you, I found it to be therapeutic and necessary. With two little boys off for the summer, I just wanted to enjoy them. My worst fear is looking back one day and wishing I had spent more time with my kids. I never want to say that!

    Work will always be there.

    Congratulations on your growing family! Wishing you lots of energy and health through this pregnancy!

    [Reply]

  9. susan

    09/19/2013

    As a new reader, I didn’t know you took a break! LOl But as a blogger myself and coach for moms, I just took my first break of 3 weeks in July. I was weary and needed to focus on me, my family and what was truly important. My business is my calling right now as well, but it still lays much lower in the priorities list.

    I pray you can continue to focus on your family as you see the need and have confidence that readers and google will be here!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Susan — and glad to have you as a new reader :)

    [Reply]

  10. Living So Abundantly

    09/19/2013

    I love your blog and the fact that you took a break. Before becoming a work at home mom, I used to be an elementary teacher. That time off every summer would refresh me for the upcoming school year, which was a benefit for me and my students. So, I think we’re all going to benefit from your time off. And, I’m super excited about your pregnancy. ;) I’m due with #2 in January. Best wishes for Baby and you!

    [Reply]

  11. Kalyn Brooke | Creative Savings

    09/19/2013

    This was so interesting to hear your perspective on blogging breaks – I’m glad you were so open with us! It is something I have considered when I feel burned out, but then I take just a week off, and I’m already itching to get back into the swing of things! :)

    [Reply]

  12. Robyn

    09/19/2013

    Andrea, I love your blog and just discovered it this summer! :) I live in Michigan, too. (Detroit area). People that don’t live in a climate like Michigan’s simply can’t understand just how precious summer is!! It’s like a different planet for 3 months here. I completely understand and am glad you chose August when you could really embrace the last of the warmth until…next June. ;) Welcome back!!

    [Reply]

  13. Sandy K

    09/19/2013

    I’m not a blogger, but I think it is a good thing for a blogger to take a break. If you have a good audience and they follow you consistently, they’ll stick around if they know you are taking a break. I for one am glad you are sticking around. But, your family must come first!

    [Reply]

  14. Maria

    09/19/2013

    I’m not a blogger, but I really appreciate your posts, which I find very inspiring and motivating. I’m glad you decided to take the month of August off which makes sense since the summers are so short, and you can enjoy the wonderful summer days with your family. Plus it’s good to have a bit of a break especially with baby #2 on the way.

    Your blog is the only one I read on a daily basis. It is definitely one of the best I have come across.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Maria!

    [Reply]

  15. Rebecca

    09/19/2013

    I really appreciate what you said about the way your blog occupies your life in many ways. . . “Blogging is a crazy weird job that often occupies at least parts of our thoughts 24/7. It’s a rare occasion when a blogger can totally break out of “work mode” 100%.” As a professional musician, I think it’s much the same way. We must keep our skills going every day, forever, to maintain the level we’ve achieved and continue to improve. Even if my university teaching day is completely full, I still come home in the evening knowing that I need to practice more. I always like finding out about other jobs that are similar in that regard!

    [Reply]

  16. JoDi

    09/20/2013

    I think it’s great that you were able to take a break. I did miss your posts and looked forward to your return. I also wondered if you might decide not to come back to blogging because you would enjoy the break so much so I’m very glad you did return!

    I am not a teacher, but I do work in a school and have summers off so I know how great it is to get that break and be able to catch up on household stuff and just relax or travel to visit family.

    As a strange side note, one of our new teachers looks SO much like your husband. When I saw him on our first day back from summer break, I kept wondering “Where have I seen this guy before?” and then I realized it’s because he looks like Dave! There was a brief second where I thought “Ohmigoodness, did she take a break because they moved to MD?? How cool would that be?? Nah, there’s no way they moved!” LOL I still can’t pass him in the hallway without thinking of your husband. It’s like he’s got a twin or a little brother here. :)

    [Reply]

  17. Kristen @ Joyfullythriving

    09/20/2013

    The longer I blog, the more willing I am to take a break. Blogging does consume so much time and energy! Like you, I love it, which is why I do it. I was on vacation for 3 weeks in July – so advance posted for much of that time. It was a lot of work to do so, but I loved that I had a real vacation while there were still some occasional posts being published on my blog. Sometimes I take a break with no posting – but I haven’t done a month yet. Good for you, Andrea, as always for doing what is right for you and your family!

    [Reply]

  18. Mary

    09/21/2013

    I have had a blogging break for the last few weeks too! Mine is a new hobby and as I work full time I just do it when I get the time which I have not had much of over the summer with various other commitments. I do not think there is anything wrong with taking a break everyone needs to do what is right for them. The blogs I read regularly this being one of them I will always go back to it does not put me off at all.

    [Reply]

Leave a comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.