How to Take a Vacation Without Giving Your WordPress Website a Break
Running a WordPress business can be a really rewarding experience, but it’s not without its drawbacks. According to a Constant Contact survey, 785 small business owners shared their insights into the personal sacrifices they make for the sake of their business. These were the top three:
- Feeling as though they couldn’t take time away from the business.
- Spending more time focused on the business than on themselves.
- Not going on vacation.
Let’s be honest: if you’re taking your WordPress business seriously (especially if you’re preparing to scale it), you should want to spend extra time and energy on it, even if it means putting your personal life aside for a little while.
However, it’s important to know when it’s time to take a step back from it, too. That constant go-go-go isn’t sustainable in the long run.
I get it. The life of a website developer can get quite taxing. And with so many moving pieces to stay on top of in your day-to-day work, the thought of taking a vacation is probably the last thing you’d want to consider. But the fact is, vacations are just as important for your business’s long-term health and success as is all the other work you put into building a client base, creating beautiful websites, and building your brand.
If you’re concerned about what taking a vacation may mean for your business’s momentum, think again. With advance planning, you can keep your websites in good working order while you give yourself a much-needed break.
Taking a Break from WordPress: Tips and Tools
You’re probably wondering, “There’s so much work to be done all the time… what will happen to it while I’m gone?”
That is definitely a genuine concern for WordPress developers and freelancers, but it’s one that shouldn’t deter you from a vacation.
Consider Entrepreneur’s analogy:
“Humans are just like smartphones or iPods: We have to be recharged, or we run out of juice.”
When your business’s success hinges on your ability to deliver consistently high-quality work, a little “me” time can go a long way in helping you stay productive.
Now, if you want to feel secure about leaving your WordPress website and business while you’re on vacation, you’ve got to put the right preparations in place. If you can pull that off:
- Your website will continue working as it always has,
- Your business will remain on track,
- And you’ll be able to relax on your much-needed break.
Interested in learning how to put your website and business on auto-pilot while you take a vacation? Then read on for some tools and tips to help you plan, prepare, and put your mind at ease.
Tip #1: Clone Yourself
Sadly, cloning isn’t legal (and definitely not a cost-effective solution), so WordPress developers have to settle for the next best thing: creating a brain dump.
Think about it like this: you’re the WordPress expert. All that information you’ve stored away could be super helpful if your clients, coworkers, or employees are in a pinch. If you could take what you know – even at a high level – and create a sort of “What’s What” WordPress reference guide, it would be like you’re leaving a mini version of yourself behind while the real you goes on vacation.
Recommended Tool: While the Ultimate Branding plugin is best known for its white-labelling capabilities, it also helps developers customize their WordPress admin dashboard with “Help” content and tutorials. So rather than create a bunch of reference material and email it out to your contacts, leave it in a reliable location.
Tip #2: Plan Ahead
You know how they say “the news never sleeps”? The same should be true of your website’s content. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean your site needs to go into sleep mode. “Sleep mode” is a bad idea for two reasons:
- You’re basically letting hackers know you’re not around to create content… and probably not around to monitor your site either.
- You’re disrupting the predictability and reliability you’ve worked hard to build with your audience.
So what’s the solution? Plan out, create, and schedule your website’s upcoming batch of content ahead of time.
Recommended Tool: The Editorial Calendar plugin is an awesome way to keep yourself organized and to also help you create a more regimented and well-thought-out structure to your website’s content. This calendar tool will give you a high-level overview of completed and drafted posts, making it easier to fill gaps in your website’s publication schedule.
Tip #3: Stay Social
While we’d all love to see photos from your vacation on social media, it’s also important that you keep a steady flow of content promotion and general thought leadership moving through your social profiles when you’re gone. Again, this ties into tip #2 and that need to keep your site active, the audience drawn in and engaged, and to also give off that illusion that it’s business as usual.
Recommended Tool: If you don’t have an admin taking care of social media for you, don’t bother finding one now. Just get the CoSchedule plugin to be your stand-in. This tool allows you to create and schedule messages in bulk across all your social networks. While it won’t be able to manage responses and other engagements on your behalf, this plugin can at least keep you social when you’re MIA.
Tip #4: Clean Up
Comment spam should never be allowed to make it onto your site. Here are some reasons why:
Comments for the sake of showing massive amounts of comments is just bad business. The only comments that you should allow on your posts are genuine ones.
If your audience notices that spambot31 left a comment about how amazing your site is and how you should visit http://www.icanhelpyoumakeamilliondollarztoday.com/ for more information, you’ve wasted your audience’s time and potentially put them at risk (if they click that link).
Spam comments that contain harmful links can hurt your SEO.
Recommended Tool: For the sake of your website’s reputation, your audience’s protection, and your peace of mind, get the Akismet plugin to take care of filtering out comment spam.
Tip #5: Delegate
Delegating tasks during planned absences is a great way to relieve anxiety about being away, but that doesn’t mean you need to give away unfettered access to your site. Whether you’ve got other people working for you or you’ve got clients comfortable being more hands-on in the management of their websites, you’ll need an easy way to control their access in WordPress.
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Recommended Tool: The User Role Editor plugin will help you pre-assign roles and WordPress access based on how you want others to use it while you’re away. Then if you want to change their privileges when you’re back, you can easily make that switch.
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Tip #6: Automate Updates
While you might not be on vacation long enough for any major onslaught of updates to hit WordPress, it’s still a good idea to put some type of core, theme, and plugin update automation in place. This’ll be especially important if there’s an urgent security patch released.
Recommended Tool: Enable the Easy Updates Manager plugin to take care of automating these updates for you. Even if you don’t need an auto-updater when you’re back, this is still a good plugin to have for removing the WP version from the footer of your site, controlling which users can update your plugins and themes, and more.
Tip #7: Build Your Defenses
Your website most likely already has a number of security defenses in place, including ones from your hosting provider and CDN. That doesn’t mean that your site wouldn’t benefit from one more while you’re away.
Recommended Tool: The Defender security plugin actively monitors your website and sends alerts when an insecurity or other issue has been discovered.
Tip #8: Generate Regular Backups
If you don’t already have a regularly scheduled backup and restoration system in place, this is absolutely essential for while you’re away. You never know what may happen—especially if you’re delegating responsibilities to others—and you’ll want to ensure you’ve got the most recent version of your site stored somewhere in case you need to quickly recover it.
Recommended Tool: Our Snapshot Pro plugin now comes with 10GB managed cloud backups and provides a reliable backup, storage, and restoring tool that can cover your website no matter where you are.
Tip #9: Customize Your Response
It can be frustrating for your site’s visitors when they take the time to fill out a contact form and don’t receive a response in return. Did it go through? Is anyone even monitoring this thing? Hello???
Before you take a vacation, make sure you’ve got a reliable contact form built into your website. You should also consider customizing the outgoing message during that time period so that contacts aren’t left wondering what’s going on.
Recommended Tool: The WPMU DEV Contact Widget is simple to use and will give you the ability to customize your forms. You can assign a new admin email recipient to monitor responses while you’re away or you can even change the Success message so contacts know there will be a delay in getting back to them while you’re away.
Tip #10: Get Support
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting a little help in WordPress. There’s a lot to get a handle on even when you are in the office working, so why not consider offloading some of the basic maintenance and support tasks to someone else?
Recommended Tool: If you don’t already have a WordPress Support Services provider, you might want to consider getting one while you’re away. Whether you have one website you manage or multiple, these providers can cover as much as you need.
Tip #11: Add WordPress to Your Mobile
While we’re not advocating for you to turn your vacation into a workcation, we do recognize that there may come a time when you need to quickly access your WordPress website. Rather than carry your laptop around wherever you go, just make sure you’ve got mobile access to it.
Recommended Tool: This is definitely a “just in case” measure, but it’s an important one. If you don’t already have WordPress installed on your mobile device, get it now.
Tip #12: Keep Your Projects in Your Pocket
Rather than carry around a bunch of login credentials, client details, or team contact information, add your project management tool to your mobile device for those in-case-of-emergency situations.
Recommended Tool: If you’re already using a project management platform for managing projects and team/client communications, check to see if they offer a mobile version (they should). If you don’t already have one, we recommend you check out Trello. The board layout is simple, clean, and intuitive, and Trello makes project organization a cinch.
Tip #13: Keep Track of Analytics
How well do you know your business’s ebb and flow? If you’re not sure how to determine when to expect another lull, check out your business’s historical data. This’ll give you a good idea of when to anticipate a slowdown in business and website traffic, and ultimately help you plan your vacation around that timeframe.
Recommended Tool: Your website probably already has Google Analytics installed. However, if you’ve never done a deep-dive into your site’s traffic trends, this is the perfect opportunity to get in there and take a look around. Your slow season would be a great time to take a vacation.
For WordPress developers, it may seem near-impossible to take a vacation when you’ve always got so much to do. As you can see, though, there are plenty of ways you can keep your website chugging along, staying secured, and engaging with your audience even when you’re not around to manage it yourself.