Bloggers on Vacation

I took a quick minute to check out the newspapers on line before dinner, and it looks like I’m not the only blogger dealing with handling a blog while off on vacation. The Wall Street Journal looks at bloggers on vacation:

In the height of summer-holiday season, bloggers face the inevitable question: to blog on break or put the blog on a break? Fearing a decline in readership, some writers opt not to take vacations. Others keep posting while on location, to the chagrin of their families. Those brave enough to detach themselves from their keyboards for a few days must choose between leaving the site dormant or having someone blog-sit.

To be sure, most bloggers don’t agonize over this decision. Of the 12 million bloggers on the Internet, only about 13% post daily, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Even fewer — 10% — spend 10 or more hours a week on their blogs.

Yet for the sliver of people whose livelihood depends on the blog — whether they are conservative, liberal or don’t care — stepping away from the keyboard can be difficult. Unlike other jobs, where co-workers can fill in for an absent employee, blogs are usually a one-person show. A blogger’s personality carries the site. When the host isn’t there, readers tend to stray. August is a slow time for all blogs, but having an absent host makes the problem worse. Lose enough readers, and advertisers are sure to join the exodus.

It’s something that John Amato, host of the political blog Crooks and Liars, knows all too well. Mr. Amato rarely steps away from his site for any significant amount of time, although he finds updating the page multiple times a day exhausting.

“You become your blog,” says Mr. Amato, whose site gets an average of 150,000 hits a day. “It’s John Amato. They’re used to John Amato.”

Some bloggers thrive on the manic pace. Getaways for Jim Romenesko, host of the popular media blog bearing his name, consist of a Friday afternoon drive every month or so from his home in the Chicago suburbs to visit friends in Milwaukee. The 85-mile trip should last around 90 minutes. For Mr. Romenesko, it takes nearly four hours — because he stops at eight different Starbucks on the way to update his site.

The longest Mr. Romenesko has refrained from posting on his site, which gets about 70,000 hits a day, was for one week three years ago on the insistence of site owner, the Poynter Institute. He hasn’t taken a vacation in seven years. “The column’s called Romenesko,” he says. “I just feel it should be Romenesko” who writes it.

While it may seem like a chore to outsiders, many bloggers enjoy the compulsion. Mark Lisanti, who runs the entertainment gossip blog Defamer, is much like Mr. Romenesko in his no-vacation tendencies. Although he gets three weeks off each year from Gawker Media, which owns the site, he rarely takes a day. Not because he can’t, he just doesn’t want to. “My plan is to die face down on the desk in the middle of a post,” Mr. Lisanti jokes.

Then there’s hotel WiFi which keep some of us at least partially connected to the blogoshere at all times. Blogging while looking at the Straits of Mackinac, with sounds of the Grand Hotel Jazz Festival in the background, isn’t all bad.

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