As far as I’m aware there is no best practise blueprint for full-time travel bloggers who want to take maternity leave. It’s fair to say that (like many new mums) when it comes to maintaining my career and raising a child, for the next few months (years?), I’ll be 100% winging it.
What I do know is that I want to keep working. It will be 9 years in January since I started blogging and, as I say in my bio to the right, it’s the longest I’ve ever committed to anything. I’ve poured a lot into this site over the years and am grateful everyday that it’s been my full time job for the last half a decade. I’m certain I want to keep maintaining this corner of the internet but the reality of the how and when with a newborn in the mix is something I’m still fleshing out.
Time Out As A Travel Blogger
What I do know from reading the advice of other bloggers with babes is that I don’t want to rush the return to work.
This is difficult for a blogger who a) doesn’t have anyone who can cover for them and b) wants to make sure there is still a business to return to once life is less topsy turvy.
But I have read posts from bloggers like Hannah Gale who express regret at trying to work instead of fully focusing on the baby in the early weeks so I’m trying to heed their advice about taking some time away from the internet.
My loose plan therefore is to give myself at least 3 months where I won’t actively be seeking work or accepting chunky assignments and to be entirely honest this freaks me out a bit. I love what I do and turning down work for a quarter of a year feels like madness. But this is pre-baby me speaking, I might have a different work ethic once I’m surviving on interrupted sleep!
Sometimes in this business on brand assignments land in your inbox that can be a quick win*, which is why I’m reluctant to say I will be on leave entirely. I guess I’ll just do what feels right at any given moment but set the expectation at least of taking time out until Easter 2019. Eeek!
(*Like this collaboration with Incredible India and Time magazine that I did earlier this week!)
The reality, of course, is that I won’t be able to fully switch off during the baby’s first few months. I receive approx. 200 emails a day and while I won’t be responding to 95% of them during my ‘maternity leave’ I will still need to monitor my inbox to make sure bills are paid and nothing crashes.
I am drafting an out of office though that will clearly express I won’t be responding to enquiries until April 2019 and if the project can wait please can people email me again then. Most emails I’ll likely delete in order to keep the inbox decluttered and it will be interesting to see just how many people read my out of office request!
To Outsource Or Not?
I have considered hiring someone to help with inbox admin, content creation and/or social media scheduling during maternity leave but decided for a couple of reasons that it wasn’t for me.
The main reason is that I’m a control freak so if someone was covering for me I’d probably want to check in more than was necessary and therefore completely defeat the object of outsourcing.
It’s also been important to me over the years to make sure that any content people see on my blog or social feeds comes from me. I like readers to know they are talking to me directly so although I might be posting on social media less often over the coming months at least people can be sure that what little they are seeing is me rather than an assistant.
(*Note my go-to channel at the moment seems to be Instagram Stories so come say hi over there if we’re not already connected.)
How I’ve Prepared For Maternity Leave
I’ll admit I’m not where I wanted to be at 38 weeks pregnant in terms of preparation for maternity leave but when you are your own boss there’s always more you could/should do, isn’t there?
In my head I’d have had blog posts and social media posts already scheduled for the coming weeks but the truth is I’ve been less productive during pregnancy than I anticipated.
Morning sickness knocked me for 6 in the first trimester and came back for another visit in the last couple of weeks. If baby is late, I’ll have a couple of weeks in January to get on top of the half-written blog posts in my notes. If not, I might be finishing a few things one handed during night feeds…
What I did do is start preparing the site for some time out before we even fell pregnant. This was a planned baby so I knew at some point I’d be taking a step back and wanted to get a few things in place beforehand.
The major priority was making sure old content was updated so that information was correct and Google helped more people find it. (You can read here how I doubled my page views over the course of 8 weeks.)
Then following from that was adding adverts and affiliate links to the website in order to earn a passive income – ie money would still be coming in to pay bills even if I wasn’t posting new content every week. I’m pleased to say that it’s taken a good part of a year but I have hit my goals in terms of passive income and feel fairly confident (hopeful?!) that this will keep ticking over without much input from me during maternity leave. I therefore won’t be claiming any statutory maternity pay as technically I’ll still be working & earning.
I’ve also been unsubscribing to unnecessary emails and distribution lists left, right and centre to make my inbox more manageable and will update all my social channels with links to this post once I switch on my out of office so people know why I’ve disappeared.
The Motherhood Diaries has some great advice on financially planning for your baby.
Will People Forget Me?!
I have no idea if what I’ve outlined above is a good idea or even if it’s something I’ll be able to stick to. (I’ve been documenting my life for 9 years – I’m not sure if I have an off switch!)
I think a blogger’s biggest fear is that readers may lose interest if you don’t keep the goods coming but I guess that is something I’ll have to deal with after Easter next year.
Come Easter the plan is to head to Australia so baby can meet all the Aussie friends and rellies. I expect that journey alone may lead to lots of new content – hopefully positive but we’ll see!
After that I’ve got one of the best nanny’s around to help me with childcare a few days a week and my ambitious goal is to achieve what I used to do in a week in much less hours. (Yes, I’m aware there will need to be lots of prioritising, refocusing and some things I just let go of entirely. My very inspiring friend Monica at The Travel Hack is my role model for this – she writes that having kids actually made her more productive, simply because you have to be!)
If you’ve got any tips for a full-time blogger about to go on maternity leave, please send them my way coz I’m all ears. (And totally dragging my heels about switching on the out of office!)