Few things feel better than shutting down the computer before a much-needed vacation or at the start of a holiday break. As business owners, we deserve some time away so we can maintain some semblance of work/life harmony. Working around the calendar just isn’t healthy.
But it’s also hard to take time away. We’re so afraid that something will break or an email will go unanswered (and we’ll lose that potential new project).
Once we’ve convinced ourselves that yes, it’s okay to take some time away, we shut it all down. Which is fine, as long as you’ve planned ahead on your content.
Going dark online isn’t ideal as a business…for a lot of reasons. This week on the podcast, I’m sharing why you shouldn’t take a break on your content when you’re taking a break in business. And I’m also sharing how to plan ahead so you’re not sneaking in early morning content creation sessions during your vacation or holiday break.
Tune in now!
Mentioned in This Episode
Welcome to episode 161 of The Content Experiment Podcast, a podcast that supports the idea that content and marketing are ever-moving targets in any business and it’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re doing it ALL right, ALL of the time. You have permission to experiment with little tweaks and changes in your content to find what works for you, what increases value for your audience and what grows your business. And most importantly, what feels good for you.
I’m Abby Herman, content strategist and consultant for online business owners who are ready to make a bigger impact online and CEO and creative director of The Content Experiment, a content marketing agency that offers full service content marketing and podcast management.
I firmly believe that success isn’t about what big marketing brands and so-called gurus think is the right thing; it’s about you and your business. Your lifestyle and, frankly, your values and belief systems.
You get to do business in a way that works for you.
Friends, if you’re listening in real-time, we’re about to close out the year and ring in 2022.
I love new years and fresh starts. As a former teacher, I always felt like August was a fresh start to a new year too–a new school year. But a brand new calendar, just ready to to be filled with amazing experiences is so much fun too. I bought a paper calendar where I’m going to track some goals, and my spiral notebooks, where I take notes for the podcast and write to-do lists, a few weeks ago. So I’m ready!
But first: Some downtime is in order.
It’s not healthy to work constantly, and doing so opens you up to feel really stagnant in what you’re doing. I spent the first five years of doing business full time working without any sort of vacation–and that includes working a lot of weekends and late nights. I talk about this more in Episode 19, which I re-listened to in preparation for this episode. It’s really dang good and a great reminder to me of some of the steps to take to make sure that you’re holding space for yourself. I even shared about a time I bent my boundaries with a client and ended up working through an entire vacation. Lesson learned! Be sure to tune into that episode at thecontentexperiment.com/episode 19.
While that episode went live two years ago, so much of what I shared remains the same. As a service provider, it’s important to work WAY ahead to take some time away without any disruption of service for your clients. It was really important to me that my team also take time away, which meant I needed to get their buy-in into getting ahead. I asked a lot and while we weren’t 100% successful in getting as ahead as I wanted, as this podcast is releasing we’re almost two full weeks into vacation mode.
Yay us! Exactly how we accomplished this is, again, in episode 19.
But I want to talk about two really important things as it relates to taking time away, both of which relate to taking care of your own business.
Don’t pause all your marketing efforts–many people are still paying attention. And because other people are pausing, your content is more likely to get seen.
I’ve talked before… many times…about the importance of consistency in your content. When you decided on the cadence of your content, whether it’s publishing pillar content once a week or every other week or something else, your audience started to expect to see that content. And just because you’ve decided to take time away, that doesn’t mean that everyone has.
What about your audience members who don’t celebrate the same holidays you do? I know from talking to my Canadian biz bestie that she was able to get a TON of work done over the American Thanksgiving week and weekend–because a lot of us went silent. For many, it’s business as usual. And that’s their prerogative, no matter why they’re still working.
Being really consistent in what you’re doing in business is just good practice. And coming back from some time away makes us want to say, “Sorry I’ve been away” or “I know you haven’t heard from me in a while.” I’ve been guilty of accidentally saying this too and, to be totally honest, it’s pretty cringeworthy. Don’t call attention to the fact that you haven’t been consistent.
It IS possible to be consistent with your content without having to be sitting at your computer during the holidays or a vacation. Case in point: I recorded this episode and it was loaded to my host weeks before it went live this morning. And next week’s episode, which is a really good one, by the way, was recorded on December 15. All I had to do was batch some content.
(Okay, it was a little more challenging than that since I also had to lean on my editor to do some editing batching but he was up for the task.)
I know I’ve been saying for a while that it’s not a good idea to pause your marketing, but I decided to do a little research and find out what other marketers are saying about pausing marketing efforts. Now, granted, much of what I found was related to pausing marketing because of COVID and the racial reckoning over the last two years, but they are still valid grounds for NOT pausing:
It can impact your relevancy and brand awareness – you’re no longer seen as a go-to expert because you’re no longer top-of-mind, or your audience feels like you’re checked out – you lose momentum
You can keep on top of messaging more easily because you’re still in your audience’s feeds and inboxes. It’s easier to shift a message than it is to try to dig one up from the archives.
Just like it’s easier to retain customers you already have, it’s easier to continue something you already have a system and calendar space for than it is to carve those systems and time for later
You’ll lose valuable data and insights when you pause, making the data you gather once you return to regular publishing a little “off.” You won’t be able to compare month to month or year to year if you have a gap in your content
During the holidays, as much as people deny this, they’re actually still scrolling social media and their podcast apps. So they’re still consuming content. If you’re not showing up, they’re consuming someone else’s content–not yours.
And the second big thing that’s important to know if you’re taking a break during this holiday season:
Even though you’re taking time away from your business, use some of the open space as an opportunity to brainstorm and future plan.
This is exactly what I’ve been doing. Yes, I know I’m “not working,” but I also know that I can only do so much cleaning and vegging out. And my daughter will only tolerate so much togetherness. So I have a list of some things I want to look at and review and plan for the coming year.
I know that if I’m intentionally not working on client work or my own content, I’ll have space to really think about the new year. I have a wall calendar and some post-it notes that I’ll use to map out some key dates for 2022, and I’ll be able to think about some longer-term plans for where I want to be in a year, three years, five years–and how I want to get there.
This isn’t going to take up a ton of my time, but I do plan on taking a few hours over a few days to do this planning. I’ll actually have space in my brain to do it!
I realize that if you’re listening to this episode in real time, we’re nearing the tail-end of what might be your year-end time off. But I hope you’ve gained some insight into how to take some time away from your business without losing the momentum you’ve worked really hard to establish in your visibility and marketing and why it’s so important to plan ahead for any time off.
As a bonus, if you plan ahead and batch your content, you’re setting yourself up to NOT stress out when life happens–like getting sick, needing to take care of a loved one, or just wanting to take a ditch day from the home office.
If you found value in what you learned here today, be sure to share it on social media. Take a screenshot of the episode on your phone and share it over on Instagram stories. Tag me at thecontentexperiment. The more you share, the more we can get the podcast into the hands of more business owners, just like you, who need to hear the message that they are not alone.