where will your blog spend christmas?

A few months ago I went on holiday and left my blog at home. This presented a dilemma for me and I sought, and received, advice from a number of regular readers.

I’m not, of course, the first blogger to face this dilemma but I am – and this is the reason I’m writing this – the first person, in my role as first Christmas time manager of the BBC blogs network, to have to come up with some advice for BBC bloggers over the Christmas holiday period. [I’m also going to be away from this blog for an extended period over the holidays myself.]

Most bloggers don’t post to their blog everyday so may be able to sneak away for a few days at the end of the year completely unnoticed. The Pew Internet and American Life Project has published research (pdf) suggesting that as few as 13% of bloggers post daily. Serious bloggers do, however, tend to post every day if not several times per day and this is often cited as being important to successful blogging.

According to a Wall Street Journal article on the subject, Jeff Jarvis, who I often link to from here, tends to let his blog “go dark” if he’s only gone for a day or two but, when going on holiday for any longer, takes his blog with him.

Mkag970a_vacbl_20060830195217 The image to the left (Source: WSJ) demonstrates why many bloggers find it difficult to stop posting to their blog, even when they go on holiday or are otherwise not working: traffic can drop dramatically and often stays down for some time after the blogger returns.

To combat this, some bloggers get guest bloggers in to carry on posting whilst they’re away. Shane Richmond at the Daily Telegraph has done this at least twice in recent memory. First in September, about the same time I was grappling with my own holiday blogging dilemma, he invited Ross Mayfield to blog for him with, I think, good results. At the moment Shane’s visiting relatives in Florida and has guest blogger JP Rangaswami covering for him.

Francisca Kellett, the Telegraph’s Travel blogger, is also off on holiday – in Cambodia – and chose instead to simply post a short message explaining her absence. But guess what – just six days into her holiday she was blogging again. What happened that made her come rushing back to her blog so quickly? I’ll post a comment on her most recent post as soon as I publish this and ask her to respond…

So back to the BBC bloggers… People have come to expect the BBC to broadcast television and radio 24/7, 365 days a year. I reckon a lot of people also expect at least limited updates to appear on the BBC News and Weather websites although I’m guessing that it’s fairly forgiveable if other of the BBC’s websites don’t get updated much, if at all, between Christmas and New Years.

But what about the BBC blogs? Do people expect celebrity bloggers like Chris Evans to keep posting over the holidays? What about the BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, who appears so often on television and radio that one has to wonder how he even finds time to blog – might he get a break from posting over Christmas?

The BBC’s 45 blogs are authored by and cover a diverse range of genres, styles, programme brands, etc so I suppose one solution isn’t going to be suitable for all. That said, what do you think people want and expect from bloggers over the holidays? Does it matter if blogs are personal, written by professional bloggers, or are published by big media corporations? Should bloggers post giving exact details of when their audience can expect their return? Should they simply let their blog(s) go dark without explanation? Should they get guest bloggers in? Must they take they blog with them, or at least their laptop and login information, so that they can post while on holiday?

I’m going to email a few big name bloggers to ask what they plan to do with their blogs the next time they go on holiday for a week or two and would greatly appreciate your feedback in the comments below.

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  1. Recent advice to bloggers writing for the Shiny Media collection of blogs, was that the week between Christmas and new year was the busiest of the whole year for readers. With that in mind it would make good sense to have some posts slotted in in advance wouldn’t it? So we can enjoy all the good stuff while knowing it’s under control. Personally, I think I’ll leave a “Happy Christmas to my reader” for the duration of the holidays.

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