Every year since Tyler and I have been married we travel back to Missouri to spend the holidays with our families. Each year always looks a little different, but each year I have done my best to take a break and take time to refresh.
This year has been on my mind a lot lately and I know it's going to be important that I spend some time reflecting and being intentional about the upcoming year. I definitely feel like I spent most of this year running. I set goals at the beginning of this year and I pushed hard for them. It was all trial and error and figuring things out. After I launched the "Home for the Holidays" collection I knew I needed to spend some time thinking about closing this year out because December gets busy on the personal side, which means I have to slow things down on the business side. A small part of me has been preparing for the end of this year, all while trying not to compare my business to others. I see other small business owners going out with a bang... and I wondered if I am missing out. But I've been reminding myself that my business looks different that theirs, and I'm going to stay in my lane. I know I have to slow down for a bit to really prepare and do things well for next year.
So, I want to encourage you... Take time this holiday season to put your business on autopilot so you can reflect, refresh, and recharge. You'll start the New Year with a fresh heart and a fresh mind. And to get you started on the right foot, I wanted to share my blueprint for putting my business on autopilot so you can take time for yourself this season.
SET YOUR EMAIL AUTORESPONDER
I set my autoresponder every time I'm away. Whether I'm out of town for a few days or I'm out of town for weeks. This sets expectations for my customers and clients and let's them know that;
- I love hearing from them, because I absolutely do.
- They can still shop styled stock photos anytime.
- If they are looking for custom brand photos, that I'm excited to welcome them to the Elah Tree community and give them a heads up of when to hear from me.
This is also a perfect opportunity for you to set the ground work for when and how they communicate with you. You're not 100% accessible all the time, especially when you're on vacation and that's okay.
You can also highlight any social platform that they can use to connect with you. I also let them know that they can follow along on Instagram for all the behind the scenes of our vacation and every day shenanigans.
PAUSE YOUR INBOX
Do you want to know a secret? I sometimes pop into my email while I'm away. But, I don't pop in to answer emails. I pop in the delete junk. Now, this is going to be specific to how everyone likes to do things. Some people completely check out from their email while they are away and they even include in their autoresponder that all emails will be deleted when they return and to reach out to them once they are back in the office (who wants to filter through 100's of emails?) Some people set up folders and filters to have their emails organized while they are away. For me, I just pop in randomly, skim through emails, delete the junk and leave the rest for my return. If I filed emails into folders I would never actually read them, haha! Do what works best for you, but don't get sucked into answering emails when you're on vacation.
If this is a struggle for you, then pause your inbox all together. You can set times of when you would like your inbox paused and you'll be saved from any email distractions. Boomerang is the perfect way to pause your inbox and it's also perfect for scheduling emails.
SCHEDULE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
I'm a huge fan of scheduling social media. I schedule social media every week, but when we're on vacation my scheduling goes on over drive, haha! I use a few different platforms to schedule my social media. Later for instagram. The internal Facebook scheduler. And Boardbooster for Pinterest. Again, do what works best for you and if you have other social schedulers you are using and loving, then totally rock them.
Later has been such a life saver for me when it comes to instagram. I schedule each photo, with their week at a glance. I can check how the feed looks and adjust photos, with their previewer. And I can write all the captions ahead of time.
Boardbooster is also a life saver. Pinterest drives nearly all of my website traffic and it's important that I keep that traffic coming while I'm away. I set up boards to schedule out pins while I'm away keeping my Pinterest active. It also loops active pins from my site, that way pins that are driving traffic keep my site alive while I'm away. If you're not using Boardbooster I can't recommend it enough.
SCHEDULE YOUR CONTENT (BLOG POSTS & EMAILS CAMPAIGNS)
Whether you're scheduling blog posts or email campaigns, get things scheduled before you leave. You can continue to provide helpful content to your readers and customers even while you're gone. I send out FREE styled stock photos every month, so it's important for me to get these emails scheduled. I know these stock photos are helpful and a great resource to my subscribers and it's important to maintain that trust.
P.S. THE IMAGE IN THIS POST WENT OUT IN YESTERDAYS FREE DECEMBER FREEBIES. WANT TO SNAG YOURS? SIGN UP!
UPDATE YOUR THIRD PARTY SHOPS
Lastly, if you have your shop set up on any third party sites, like Creative Market or Etsy, update your shop announcement to let shoppers know you're away. I always update my shop announcement to let shoppers know that if they message me I'll respond once I return. You can still keep your shop open, especially if you offer all digital products.
GRACE UPON GRACE
Taking a break and allowing yourself to recharge is so good for your business. You can't continually create, take care of your business, and cast vision without taking time to refresh. When I started preparing for this year's vacation I was hoping to have a few more blog posts scheduled, but I just didn't have time. We can't forget that to give ourselves grace.
Friend, I hope you have some time to rest this season. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of your busienss. xoxo. Samantha