Can we be honest with each other about unplanned blog breaks for a second? I’m sick of pretending they don’t happen, aren’t you? I mean, life happens.
Here’s the deal…I get it. I promise I do. It’s been just a little too long since you’ve updated your blog. Now you’re in that place where just the mere thought of sitting down to write a post stresses you the heck out. You feel guilty, uninspired and you’re even beginning to second guess yourself…which, by the way, just makes it that much tougher to get back to business. It’s a big fat cycle of suck.
Here’s the good news. I’ve been there and I totally feel your pain. AND, I’m dedicating this post to you because the truth is, that nasty case of “Blog Interrupted” you’re suffering from does not have to kill your business goals. You CAN recover from it and set yourself up for a triumphant return, and it’s easier than you think. But first, a reality check:
Real life waits for no blog.
Trust me you guys, I have intimate, first-hand knowledge of this life law. One day, you are in the midst of creating some of your most badass content EVER and daydreaming about how benevolent you’re going to be once you become famous for breaking the internet, and then the next day…well….life happens. LIFE HAPPENS HARD. It swoops in out of nowhere and starts wreaking havoc on your plans. (Side note: If you got the sudden urge to start belting out the song “Wrecking Ball”, it’s okay. You’re not alone. You take the high notes, I’ll take the low.)
Before you even know what exactly hit ya, you’re waking up two months later only to realize that you haven’t created an ounce of new content, not responded to a single email and your social media profiles have been so neglected you fear you may have forgotten their corresponding passwords.
You went off the grid and you feel TERRIBLE about it.
Now, I understand that many of the pro’s we look up to in the blogging/business world have an array of processes in place to avoid these types of sustained interruptions. They have anticipated and prepared for the unexpected. They are READY.
But I know there are plenty people out there just like me who got ran over by the Real Life Locomotive before they had such systems in place. Which is why today we’re going to chat about how to come back to your blog, even after a stupid long break. So, take a deep breath, chill out and let’s get started! I’ll have you back to blogging in no time.
Phase 1: Prep Yourself
Before you can (and should) come back to your blog, it’s vital to make absolutely SURE you’re ready. Skipping this step could result in putting yourself on the same hamster wheel that got you in this predicament in the first place. Here’s some things to consider/do to get your head straight before diving back into your biz:
1. Evaluate what the heck happened
This is the most important step on your journey to a comeback, which is why it’s listed first. Before you do anything else, you must take time to figure out why you stopped at all. Be honest, here. You can’t address the problems and find solutions for them if you don’t know (or ignore) what they are.
// Did you burn out due to unrealistic work processes that left you exhausted?
// Were you juggling too much at one time?
// Did you lose your passion for the subject of your content?
// Was your branding all wrong?
Whatever it was that kept you away from your blog, identify it, embrace it and address it with a proper solution. That’s how you move forward.
2. Take a trip down memory lane.
Okay, so hear me out on this. I know we’re not supposed to live in the past, yada yada yada. HOWEVER, one incredibly powerful thing you gain from a stupid long blog break is perspective. Seriously guys, it’s basically a superpower!
Suddenly, you’re able to look at your work through a brilliantly clear lens, and it’s a wonderfully productive thing. One of the best things I did while ramping up for my big return was re-reading my old posts. I was able to see in full focus what I liked, what I loved and what I wasn’t so crazy about. Let me tell ya…it’s eye opening. And it’s a sure fire way to get your creative juices flowing like Niagra Falls after a rainy spring season.
Also, I re-read the old comments you fine folks had left for me (man, I appreciate those!), I went back through old messages on my social media feeds and devoured all the kind words sent to me by you that were lovingly saved in my inbox.
If doing those things doesn’t get you inspired and refocused, well….I’m not quite sure what will.
3. Redefine (the important stuff)
After you’ve completed steps one and two, it’s a good idea to capitalize on your fresh, new perspective and redefine the most important aspects of your blog/business venture. I’m talking about things like your purpose, your mission statement, your brand elements, your culture, your approach and the specifics of your ideal client profile. You know, all the stuff that makes up the very core of what you’re trying to accomplish.
And by the way, for this exercise, I want you to leave the past firmly in the past. Meaning, if you had a well-defined mission statement before your hiatus, I don’t want you to even glance at that thing. (You can look at it later for comparison sake if you wish, but right now that dusty old thing doesn’t matter.)
Instead, what I want you to do is take everything you’re feeling right now, all of the stuff you learned from performing the steps above and channel them. You’re probably more in touch with your goals and your vision right now than you’ve ever been, so USE THAT. Grab a blank piece of paper and start from scratch.
For me, this exercise validated that my current objectives weren’t very far off at all from what they were originally. BUT, they were a heck of a lot more honed in. I was able to get more specific with myself about the value I wanted to offer and who I wanted to reach, and that’s worth its weight in gold. For you, this level of self-discovery might lead down an entirely different path. You may realize that there are huge things you want to change, and that’s OKAY. As long as you know, you can begin moving forward…in the right direction.
Phase 2: Prep Your Blog
Now that you’re revved up and ready to get back to work, it’s time to get your blog out of vacation mode, too.
1. The technical stuff
My crazy-long blog break lasted nearly a year. Nearly a year, y’all! Needless to say, I had some updating to do. Here’s some things to consider when it comes to getting your house back in order:
// Log back into your dashboard. Does it look or function differently? Time to get reacquainted with the thing.
// Run updates on all tools, themes and plug-ins. Also, check to see if any are discontinued or irrelevant.
// Log back into any supplementary accounts, such as your social media profiles. Get reacquainted with them too and run any necessary updates.
// Do some research on your industry. Use your good friend Google and your SM feeds to see what people are talking about and learn what might have changed while you were away.
// Are you rebranding like I was? If you’re considering it, now’s the perfect time to do all the behind the scenes work to revamp and reinvent your blog. For me, I put up a “coming soon page” and got to work redesigning. If you need help with the daunting task of pulling together your new branding elements, my gal pal Dre has a complete step by step guide that’s a total lifesaver.
2. Start writing
Once you’ve got all the technical junk out of the way, it’s high time to get creating again. While there’s actually quite a few things you’ll want to start composing (and I’ll tell you about them below), where I really encourage you to start is with your first blog post. But before you get to typin’, here’s two things I’d like you remember:
// DO write something that is inline with your vision. You know…the one you just freshly redefined during one of the prior steps above. Yeah…that one. It doesn’t have to be epic. It doesn’t have to change the world or be the most amazing thing you’ve ever written. Who needs that pressure? But it should be quality material that gets you excited and it should serve your newly defined mission statement.
// Don’t include a big old apology within your post. I cannot stress this enough, friend. While mailing out an explanation of your hiatus coupled with a heart-felt “I’m sorry” to your subscribers is perfectly acceptable and quite frankly, the right thing to do, I truly believe that it’s completely unnecessary to begin your first blog post back with any version of the phrase “Oh my gosh guys, it’s been a really long time. I’m so sorrrrrrry!” Think of it this way: What if the first time I see your blog is when I click on the article you wrote about “The 5 Things You Need In Your Purse During Summer Vacation”, but the first words I read are you talking about how bad you feel about not posting much. (AKA: About how inconsistent you are.) It’s a possible first impression that you just don’t need to make, I promise. Say sorry to the peeps that care (your subscribers and blogging buddies) and fill your posts with the good stuff…value.
Oh, and one more thing…don’t publish that sucker just yet. That’ll come soon, right after phase 3.
3. Write some more (brainstorm style)
Now that you have your first new blog post written (that felt great, didn’t it?), it’s time to start brainstorming and at least outlining some future posts.
Doing so will help prime the pump, and you need that right now. It’s important that the first time you hit publish again after your triumphant comeback, you feel amped about all the other ideas you can’t wait to write about. You need that energy in order to return to the blogging world with some vigor and to feel confident that you’re on the right track and have something to offer.
Also, it prevents you from freezing up, freaking out and from considering quitting…again.
Phase 3: Prep Your Audience
Now that you have your head in order and some content squared away, it’s time to let the world know that you’re back and ready to start serving up the good stuff again!
1. Be a tease
The perfect way to dip your toe back in the blogging waters is to dust off those old social media profiles and get to posting. Say hi, let people know about your target relaunch date, give them sneak peaks…let them have the scoop! Just make sure that whatever your sharing provides value to your ideal audience and is 100% relevant to your brand guidelines.
Also, do not be discouraged by any lack of response or engagement! It’s normal. You’ve been away. It’s going to take time, consistency and a lot of sustained presence to be really seen and heard again. But, that’s also why the sooner you start means the sooner you’ll get there.
Sidenote: If you rebranded like I did, then make sure you take the time to redesign your social media, like headers and shareable images. Cohesiveness counts.
2. Create an email for your subscribers
This was my favorite part of the whole process, and I’ll tell you why. If you’re anything like me and put a lot of genuine love and care into your subscriber base (what up, TCG Crew!?!), then communicating with them again is like coming up for air when you’ve been underwater a touch too long.
Oh, and let me tell you…some of them might dazzle you by replying to your email with all the encouragement and love you can handle. (Special shout out to Michelle and Allison here. I don’t even deserve you girls!)
Your subscribers are who you should cherish the absolute most, and if you don’t feel that way too, you’re probably not going to like a majority of what I write very much. Sorry, Charlie.
And since you’re so wild about those people, your first email back to them should say as much. Thank them for their continued support. Dote on them. Tell them what happened and what you learned from it. Let them know about your plans going forward. Tell them you’re sorry. (They’re the ones who deserve that apology.) Bare your soul if you want, whatever feels right. Just get the conversation started.
Oh, and reach out to them first. They have earned the right to be the first to know about your comeback!
Oh, oh, oooooh….and also, if you’d like to be a part of our beloved and crazy crew, click the button below. We’d be happy to meet you!
3. Reach out to your buds
Hopefully you were fortunate enough to create relationships with some blogging buddies back before you took your break. If so, now is a great time to get back in touch with them.
Say hi to them via social media, send them an email…whatever. Just say something. I’m willing to bet that they understand what you just went through more than most people will. Give them a shout and let them know what happened. It’s okay to lean on them for a little support…you’d do the same for them, right? Also, get back in the groove of propping them up and when relevant to your audience, promote their stuff. A little bit of thank you goes a long, long way.
Now get back to it! That’s right…hit that publish button, baby!
If you really take the time to go through this process, no matter how long it takes, you’ll not only be able to come back from your stupid long blog break, you can return with confidence and the tools you need have some longevity this time around! Great, right?
My parting thought to you is this:
Whatever it is that wrecked your plans really is just a bump in the road…it is not a stop sign. You really can get back on track, no matter how long you’ve been absent. Don’t feel overwhelmed, unworthy or stuck. The reality is…you have something to offer. Don’t rob us of that, okay?
Oh, and welcome back Kotter.
Before you go, tell me this:
Have you survived a blog break? Are you suffering your way through one now? Tell us below…me and my gang have your back!