Most blogs only have one person working on them.
If that’s you, you may have wondered what to do if you get sick or travel for a period of time.
How will you write blog posts or respond to comments or social media?
What happens if something goes wrong with your blog while you’re busy?
Or what if you just want more control over your time and want to get out from under the pressure to publish?
Putting your blog on “autopilot” to some degree may be part of the answer. The other part involves getting help from other people.
What you can automate or set in advance
Depending on your theme/plugins, you can actually automate content publication on your blog to a higher or lesser degree. And with WordPress’s built-in capabilities you can post-date blog posts which have already been written.
- Autopublishing from an RSS feed: Through plugins or your theme you can automatically show new content via an RSS feed, just like how people use RSS feeds to stay updated on blogs in a feed reader such as Google Reader. There are blogs that do nothing but this. There are entire sites that only do this, and they’re called aggregators. They aggregate content from many different sources in one place. Usually they only publish headlines and possibly excerpts. Alltop and Popurls are two examples. The Headway premium theme framework (affiliate link) lets you do this very easily. An example of a WordPress plugin is CyberSyn.
- Postdate publication: You can publish a WordPress post at any day and time. In the Publish box of your post writing screen, just click “Edit” next to “Publish immediately” and set your date. The Publish button then changes to Schedule. If you know you’re going to be away from your blog for a while and automating RSS content wouldn’t work for you, this is the best option.
You can also publish posts in WordPress through more unconventional means, in case actually accessing your WordPress dashboard is a problem. However these require access to your blog admin in order to be set up to work.
- Post via email: You can set up a secret email address that lets you publish blog posts by simply writing an email to that address. Your subject line becomes the post headline (title) and what you write in the email becomes your post content. For how to do this see here. Note that you’ll have to write plain text emails instead of formatted (HTML) emails.
- Post via Twitter: If you have access to Twitter through your phone (even a feature phone or “dumb” phone instead of an iPhone or Android) you can post to your blog. To do this, you’ll need this plugin and for how to set it up, see here. And, obviously, your posts are going to be really short!
If you know you’re going to be away from your blog for a period of time and you want to keep things going without automation, you can accept guest posts on your site. Instead of receiving a guest post from someone and publishing it yourself, what you do is give login access to your guest writers so they can write and publish on their own with no action required by you.
This is not dangerous if you trust your guest writers and you give them the correct user role.
To create these users in WordPress, go to Users > Add New in your dashboard. Create a the user information needed (username, password, and email address) and set role to Author. Authors can create and publish their own posts but can’t mess around with anything else or administer the site. Be sure to check the box to email the person the login details.
You’ll want to work out in advance when your guest bloggers should publish.
These roles can be changed by you at any time: user roles can be downgraded or the users can be deleted.
If you have another WordPress-savvy friend you trust enough, consider giving them administrator access to your blog in case you’re away or get sick. They can moderate comments for your and help manage guest bloggers. For this person you would create their user profile as described above but you would set the role as administrator. This is a benefit all my blog consulting clients enjoy: I’m an admin on their blogs and can step in for them whenever needed.
What about social media?
Can you do the same thing for social media as you can for your blog?
Yep, but it depends on what you’re using for social media tools. If I wanted someone to manage my Twitter account for me, I wouldn’t want to tell them my Twitter password. Sure, I could change it and then change it back but that presupposes you know in advance you want to do this and it’s not an emergency. Same thing for other social networks.
But if you are a HootSuite Pro user (affiliate link), you can give other people the ability to post to and manage your social media accounts through HootSuite. Then, whether it’s planned or not, others can operate your social media accounts on your behalf.
Set Rules for Others
Whenever you give someone else admind/author access to your site or social media accounts, make sure you’ve let them know your ground rules. Some examples might be:
- No swearing (if you normally don’t and your audience isn’t expecting it)
- Nothing political or religious (unless that’s the kind of content you publish in the first place)
- Make sure your audience knows it isn’t you (HootSuite has an automatic “initial” feature that places the person’s initials in the posts).
- No new categories
- Make sure author is posting legal images in posts that do not violate copyright or licensing laws/terms of service
Preparation is the key
You’ll notice that none of these ideas will work at all if you haven’t done the necessary preparation and setup, so your task now is to take care of that. Don’t get caught with your pants down!