Working for yourself and blogging comes with lots of perks – flexibility, creativity, freedom – but one of the downsides is not having the security of a full-time job and all the benefits that brings. Right now, I’m feeling that with trying to work out how to manage my maternity leave. In my old full-time job, the maternity leave was great: a mixture of full, half and statutory pay for six months, followed by the option of another six months’ unpaid leave. And all the while, someone else would be doing your job for you, so you could truly leave it behind.
My position financially is still okay. Steve and I own our own business, which we do all our freelance work through, so I will be paid statutory maternity pay through our business, which I can then claim back from the government. It’s 90% of my earnings for the first six weeks and then £141 a week for the next 36, so while it’s not as good as my old full-time job, it’s not terrible, and it means, if I want to, I can take a full 39 weeks off while being still being paid a small amount.
With my freelance work, this is pretty easy to manage. I’m not taking on any new work and I’ve told my regular clients that I won’t be back until September. Luckily, my main client is loyal and wonderful, so they’ve found someone to cover for me and my job is safe until I go back.
But this blog is a different story. There’s no option for someone else to step in, free of charge, to cover for me while I’m away. Even if I could afford to pay someone to write all the blog posts for six months, I wouldn’t as this is very much a personal blog. I can publish the occasional guest post, but I think it would be odd if all the content came from other people for a prolonged period of time.
One option would be to simply stop posting until I felt up to it, but I have no idea how long that will be, plus I’d prefer not to have that pressure hanging over me. I’d like to enjoy some maternity leave, getting to know our baby and not worrying at all about work. So I came up with a plan, which has mostly involved me writing manically for the past few months, plus seeking help in a few places.
This is what I decided…
My maternity leave plans
I have written enough blog posts to publish one every other week up until the end of August. Most of these are entirely new articles that have been on my to do list for ages, for example the best veggie brunches in Melbourne, how to choose a camper van in New Zealand and a 10-day itinerary for Slovenia. I’ve also revived my If I had a Superpower series and interviewed a few of my favourite bloggers. And then I realised there are a few articles that I’ve written for other publications that I’d like to share on this blog, so there are some of those lined up too. I normally try to publish weekly, but writing that many articles was overkill and I hope publishing fortnightly will be enough to tide things along. Also, once I feel like it, I can start writing updates about life with the baby in the intervening weeks. Steve and I do intend to travel during that time, so I’ll be sure to write about that too.
Aside from Instagram, I’m not that regular with my social media at the best of times, so I don’t have a high standard to try and live up to while on maternity leave. That said, I am scheduling posts to go with all my blog posts, plus sharing some old content that’s relevant to the time of year. On Instagram, I intend to post scheduled photos about three times a week and then fill in the gaps with current photos and stories as and when I can/want to. And for Pinterest, I decided to hire a virtual assistant (VA) to help with that as it’s the least personal of all of them, so doesn’t necessarily need my voice. For the first six weeks, my VA will also publish my posts on Instagram, but I will write all the captions and reply to any comments. I know some bloggers hire VAs to do all their social media, but I feel uncomfortable about someone else pretending to be me and writing in my voice, so I didn’t see that as an option. It’s been quite a lot of work, planning everything in advance, but I think it’s worth it for retaining authenticity.
Replying to emails and comments
Although I’m not hiring anyone to reply to comments and questions, I imagine I’ll be pretty bad at doing this myself for the first few months, so please bear with me! My email will have an autoresponder explaining I’m on maternity leave, but there’s no easy way to do that for blog and social media comments. At some point, maybe after two months, I intend to check the comments a few times a week and get back to anything urgent. Steve is also going to help with this.
I’ll be sending a newsletter in January, but after that I’m putting it on a hiatus until I finish maternity leave/feel like writing another. That might be when I return to work in September, or I’ll more likely post one or two before then as I do love writing to you all!
So long for the next few months!
So that’s my plan up until August. It’s taken a lot of preparation, but now I feel as though I can rest assured that the blog is taken care of while I enjoy some time with the little one who’s on the way. Hopefully you’ll enjoy all the posts I have lined up, and I’m sure I’ll be writing current updates along the way. It’s hard to imagine what life will look like with a baby, but Instagram is probably the best place to find me between now and August as that’s the social media channel I use the most, posting both photos and stories. And I also intend to post blog posts here, letting you know how it’s all going.
So toodle pip and too-da-loo. I’m off to have a baby!
P.S. If you’re a blogger, I’d love to hear how you managed your maternity leave?