Learn how to keep your blog running smoothly while you take a generous maternity leave! If you are a blogger hoping to take time away for maternity leave (or perhaps paternity leave), these tips and tricks for how to take maternity leave as a blogger will help you prepare thoroughly.
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If you are expecting a new baby (or perhaps preparing for adoption) you will need time to adjust. Even with the work-from-home lifestyle that blogging offers, it’s impossible to jump right back into work immediately after welcoming a new member of the family.
Taking time away from work is an important part of the parenting journey. Thankfully the flexibility of blogging allows many to take an absence without repercussions.
Note: While many of my readers are ladies, I don’t want to leave the guys out. If you are a blogger who is taking paternity leave, these same ideas apply.
This post is built off steps I took to prepare for my second maternity leave. With my first baby, this blog was a baby too and I honestly didn’t do much while I was on leave. This time around, my website has grown substantially and required a concrete plan for keeping up while I was away.
Is Blogging Your Full-Time Gig?
Many bloggers are part-time. We may rely on other means (whether a spouse, another job, etc.) for health insurance and perhaps vacation pay. If you are blogging full-time, and have not already discovered your solutions to these needs, definitely start there.
The more you rely on your blogging income, the more you should prepare in advance of a leave. This might mean a variety of things depending on your business model. Perhaps taking on more sponsored work before your leave, shoring up passive income streams, or adding a new income stream to the business.
The more you rely on your blogging income, the more you need to prepare before taking an absence.
Decide How Many Weeks of Maternity Leave You Need
Babies are unpredictable so it is best to overprepare.
Trying to figure out how many weeks off you will need? Consider something around 8-12 weeks.
10 weeks leave seems to be an average figure (whether paid or unpaid) for many new moms living in the USA. Unfortunately I’ve also heard of leaves as short as one week–or leaves that require the use of saved vacation time. Because we have the ultimate flexibility as business owners, I suggest preparing for a longer time away if possible.
I’m personally planning for 12 weeks away. Then, I’m planning for another month of slowly working my way back into blogging. So I’m actually scheduling out content and emails for a total of 16 weeks, though I’ll be back before then. Preparing for a longer leave takes more work, but I think it’s worth it.
Tell Colleagues (and Social Media) That You Will Be Away
If you have employees (or work with independent contractors), alert them in advance about your maternity leave plans. Be sure they have clear tasks and assignments while you are away.
Don’t forget to announce your leave to your fans and followers. Do this on social media, your website/blog (this may be optional depending on your blog/website style), and as an auto-responder for your business email.
Secure Your Passive Sources of Income
Securing your passive income streams is critical to taking time off from blogging.
One of the biggest perks of blogging is the ability to secure “passive” income streams.
If you’ve been blogging for awhile, chances are that you already have some posts on your blog that are earning money passively. Posts generally earn passive income from ad revenue or affiliate income. If not, work to secure these passive income streams before your leave.
Are you a blogger dependent on social media posting or sponsored work for income? Strategize how to diversify that income with passive streams.
My favorite passive income stream is ad revenue. If you aren’t already with a premium ad network like Mediavine or Adthrive, make it your priority to meet the traffic requirements prior to taking leave. These requirements start at 50K monthly sessions (Mediavine) so it may take some work to get there!
With Mediavine ads running constantly on my site, I know I can take time away and still count on ad revenue. Provided my site traffic remains consistent, so do my ad earnings. Of course, building a portfolio of “passive” income (many many blog posts!) took years, but you can speed this up if necessary.
This is also a great time to diversify your high-traffic posts. If you are earning revenue mostly off of 1-5 posts, try to increase that number. Perhaps create similar content or update older posts. Creating a larger pool of high-earning posts protects your site from unforeseen circumstances.
Delegate Tasks That Can’t Wait
If you have a VA or even a few employees or, utilize those resources during maternity leave. Delegate tasks that can’t wait until after your return. A few examples might include managing activity in a Facebook group or responding to blog comments.
Bloggers that maintain a larger social media presence or do a lot of sponsored work may have more “can’t wait” projects than bloggers that focus on primarily writing and publishing articles.
Note for social media: If you have someone helping you out during this time, plan to introduce them on your channel(s). This way your followers are familiar with who is responding to comments or creating stories.
If you do not have any employees, you can still get creative with finding help. Everyone always wants to help when there is a new baby around! Maybe this means a little extra babysitting time from a relative or requesting that your spouse regularly check your email for anything urgent.
Use Automation Tools
You may not have employees quite yet, but don’t forget the possibilities with automation tools. There are an abundance of resources for scheduling social media posts, emails, and more. You don’t have to permanently commit to these subscriptions to utilize them during maternity leave.
Be sure to set up and test your automations in advance of your leave. This avoids annoying troubleshooting during your time away.
Prepare Childcare Options
Even with only a few spare hours a week you can still grow a profitable blog.
One of my favorite things about blogging is how I can work on my site even while I stay home with my children. That being said, having some help with childcare (especially as your site grows) can be a real asset.
If you aren’t opting into a formal childcare option, there are still ways to get help. Look into a babysitting exchange with a friend. Ask a relative if they can babysit a few hours each week. Consider a “mother’s helper” (essentially a babysitter, but usually a younger one who watches children while a parent is still on-site).
Another option is to carve out weekly working hours and ask your partner to take on childcare. Depending on work schedules this can require some creativity, but it can be done. Get these ideas started before you take your leave so you aren’t scrambling when it’s time to return to work.
Tip: One of my favorite ways to get extra working time is to wake up earlier. Don’t deprive yourself of sleep, but once baby is on a good sleep routine it’s great to wake up an hour or two before they do. This is how I consistently sneak in some productive working hours each day.
Finish Important Projects Before Your Leave
If you have any looming projects you have been dreading, accomplish them as soon as possible. Prep your finances for tax seasons, change hosting, run a site speed audit, hire that virtual assistant, apply for a new business card, etc. etc. Fun, right?!
Make a list of the bigger tasks you’ve been avoiding and get them done. You’ll feel so great having these off your plate before your little one arrives!
Schedule Emails and Social Media
Scheduling tools are a huge help here. Utilize them to prep pins for Pinterest, posts for Instagram, and more. One of the first steps I took while planning my leave was to schedule out all my emails for a year. It feels so good to have that done!
Be strategic about sending traffic to existing articles on your website. Use social media and email to drive traffic to existing articles. This helps these articles earn more–and you don’t have to publish anything new to make this work!
Write and Schedule Blog Posts to Publish While You Are Away
Surprisingly, it’s not as critical to keep up an intense posting schedule as you might think.
Use SEO to Work Smarter, Not Harder
I used to focus on getting three new posts published per week. I quickly realized it was much better to focus on creating strong pieces that focused on high volume + low competition keywords that my site could rank for. If you have no idea where to start with SEO, this beginner’s guide from Moz is quite helpful (and free).
Basically, my point here is that you don’t have to be publishing posts every day you are on leave. A better strategy? Pick a reasonable number of extra posts to write before you head off and be sure that each post is targeting a high volume keyword your site can rank for.
Take This Time to Fill in Content Gaps
Another strategy is to write pieces that you need to “complete” your site, but aren’t pieces you can rank for. For instance, perhaps you are a dessert blogger and your readers are constantly asking for your favorite chocolate buttercream recipe. This highly competitive keyword might not perform for you in search results, but adding the recipe to your site could be highly valuable for your overall site health and reader satisfaction.
What I did: I crafted a list of essential articles I wanted to add to my site in 2023 (the year I am taking a maternity leave) and then worked ahead on as many as I could. To gain some extra time, I didn’t create or edit videos during my maternity leave prep months. I also published a bit less than I normally do.
How Many Posts to Schedule Ahead?
How many posts to prepare in advance depends on your site, readers, and personal preferences. However, I feel that publishing one high-quality post per week of maternity leave is plenty.
What Kind of Posts Can I Write Quickly?
Of course, writing extra posts in advance can be a bit daunting. So, what can be created quickly?
- Refresh Old Content: You can refresh old content and reschedule it (I use the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin for this). This is quick because the post is often needs just a few hours of work to improve it.
- Roundup Posts: Roundup your favorite posts. Create larger post roundups of tips, recipes, crafts, etc. Note: I find these are often very competitive keywords, so I worry less about SEO here and more about creating a great resource for readers to find once they are already on my site. I use the “list” feature in Mediavine Create to make these.
- Short and Sweet: Answer quick questions in mini-posts. Even if these are low-traffic keywords you can still create posts that are more simple than writing an entire recipe or tutorial from scratch. You may even have photos you can reuse which saves time too. Example: For recipe bloggers you might write quick tutorials on how to freeze particular ingredients, how to store certain types of recipes, or answer questions about ingredients that are not well-known in your niche.
There are lots of other quick post ideas available to you via a simple Google search, so the sky is the limit.
Remember, Quality Over Quantity
While this can be a great time to quickly pump out some posts on fun topics, remember that if these posts are not adding value to your website, then it’s not really all that helpful to you.
I like to do a mix of SEO keywords I am trying to rank for as well as filling content gaps that exist on my site.
Even if you only get a few strategic posts finished and scheduled while you are away, the net benefits of high-quality posts will far outweigh what you achieve with a huge cluster of low-quality posts.
Focus on Maintenance, Not Growth
While it’s tempting to try to supercharge your website prior to an absence, it’s not the most practical strategy. I suggest holding off on attempting any big changes or launches unless you have lots of time before your leave.
It’s okay to focus on more on maintenance and less on growth in this season. Pick a few areas you want to stay consistent in and feel free to let some other things slide. It will all be here when you get back!
And remember, a solid SEO strategy means your site will continue to grow all on its own as you publish high-quality relevant content.
Pre-Plan Your Strategy for Your Return
At the beginning of this year, I collected a list of about 150 blog posts or topics I wanted to add to my site. These are posts for strong keywords (or to fill content gaps).
150 posts works out to about three posts a week, which is the maximum I’ve been able to write while also parenting full-time. I don’t anticipate finishing the list this year, but I know that each post I do finish will improve my site and help me reach my goals.
I suggest creating a similar list for both blog post topics as well as more general goals for the year. This way, when you return from leave, you can use these lists to stay on track and dive right back into meaningful work.
Having someone tell you exactly what to do (even if it’s just yourself from a few months ago!) is a great way to jump back into things effectively your first day back on the job.
Enjoy Your Time Away!
Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the break. Work will always be there, but those precious days with a new child are fleeting. Soak in the moments and the memories and don’t fret about getting ahead with work. There will be plenty of time for that. Have a great maternity leave!