In a followup to the article about vacation proofing your blog, here is the list of the things I actually accomplished prior to leaving on my fabulous honeymoon, what needed to be done when I returned, and what is on my immediate to do list.
No matter how well thought out the plan, unexpected things can arise and thwart your otherwise well conceived ideas. Instead of having a full week to prepare everything for the wedding, honeymoon, and subsequent week off, I lost two days at the beginning of the week to a stomach virus. Interestingly enough, I think they suspected I had the swine flu, but I had not been anywhere near Mexico, although one of my co-workers had traveled there the week before.
After the virus passed, I was well behind in the wedding prep work, so needless to say, my blog and social networks didn’t get the time I had planned to work with them either. Because let’s face it, in terms of priorities, the wedding definitely took precedence. And it turned out beautifully in the end!
So before leaving, I managed to get one scheduled post in with the butterflies at Desert Botanical Gardens photos, a few status updates and profile notes on StumbleUpon, Facebook, and Twitter that I would be gone all week, and an update to the comments page saying I’d be gone as well, just so people knew I wasn’t ignoring their comments, or not planning on approving them anytime soon.
Traffic to the site took a bit of a hit, likely because I only had the one article while I was away and missed out on having the one or two articles early on in the week that gain a significant amount of social promotion traffic. But overall, it stayed pretty steady daily, which means I must have been doing good SEO and promotion work with older articles that were still bringing in new visitors. I also received a lot of new comments – so thank you for those, and to everyone who congratulated me on my wedding and wished the best for the honeymoon!
The social networks seemed to keep a steady rhythm. I received at least 100 new followers on Twitter, whom thanks to TweetLater, were followed back and received a thank you DM, and 5 new friend requests on Facebook.
My StumbleUpon inbox was probably the scariest thing when I arrived back. 99 shares must be the limit, because that was the number I saw in my toolbar when I brought up Firefox. After a while of going through and thumbing up the good articles (sorry for the lack of reviews), I would get the number down some, but then it would spike back up to 99 again. I assume there was a queue waiting to deliver more shares every time I whittled them down. But I’m not complaining. There were some awesome articles which provided loads of content for my Fetching Friday post the day after I returned from California.
Amusingly, something I didn’t even mention in my vacation proofing post was the thing that kept me from being overwhelmed when I returned – Gmail filters. For the past few weeks before I left, I had been meticulously creating new labels/folders and filters for all of my incoming newsletters, social network notifications, etc. So instead of returning to a inbox with hundreds of new emails to sort through, I came back to about 20 in my main inbox, and the rest were appropriately filtered into labels by social network or topic of newsletter. Messages sent from my contact form, comments in need of moderation and already approved comments had their own labels. So I was able to tackle one thing at a time, starting with approving and moderating comments, replies, and then going through one social network at a time to do the things that needed the most attention, like approving friend requests and so forth.
I find that the time offline has given me a more productive mindset. Although I lost a good bit of time on the weekend due to some spyware issues on my laptop, I have managed to reply to most of the comments on my site and clean up some spam ones that still made it through. I am still catching up on all of the blogs I normally visit and comment on, one at a time.
Probably the biggest accomplishment I have made since returning is the dreaded WordPress 2.7.1 upgrade. I have read mixed reviews, some people who went through it like a breeze, and others who have had some serious issues. With the official WordPress 3 step guide and another more in-depth one on upgrading WordPress manually on hand, I came through without a lot of major problems. The only thing I have noticed so far that is odd is my posts have duplicate keywords. My latest article on social promotion, for example, shows the following: social promotion, social networking, social bookmarking, social media, blogging,blogging,social bookmarking,social media,social networking. None of the fields in my post editor show duplicates though – I think what is happening is my tags are coming through as keywords on top of those that I put in Platinum SEO. I upgraded the Platinum SEO plug-in, but that did not help the problem. Hopefully that doesn’t mean I’m going to have to go through my articles one by one and remove keywords.
I have also updated my 101 Things to do in 1001 Days site with a new post and new goals, and written my first article on eHow – How to Break Free of Your Comfort Zone. That network is very social – after I signed up, and before I wrote any articles, I received 100 friendship requests from other helpful writers.
So what’s next? Aside from catching up on all my blog subscriptions and returning comments, I have three guest posts to write. I also have a lot of work to do on the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project, especially considering today is the final day. I have read the posts via subscription, and there are lots of useful ideas that I want to apply to this site.
I am also putting together a website for all of the wedding and honeymoon photos, video, and stories. Needless to say, there is a lot of photos to sort through, videos to be edited, slideshows to be created (a new found obsession for my husband), and so on. Before our wedding, I knew I wanted to create a special site dedicated to us, because telling the love story and having one or two photo posts on this site just isn’t enough. I want something dedicated to our wonderful, modern fairytale romance.
And finally, I want to update this site’s theme again. I’m playing around with different ideas, but the first is getting a theme that is still clean, but also more artistic. A few have suggested the Thesis theme, which I have looked at on and off for a while now, but I’m looking for something more artsy. Since I am not a graphic designer, I cannot really add a snazzy graphics to a theme, so I need it to come with that already built in. Suggestions are welcome on this!