What if the most important thing you could do for the future of your news business was… take a long vacation this summer?
Sure, posting up at the beach might not feel as urgent as earning more revenue or scaling up your impact.
But burnout is real: In our latest round of Sustainability Audit applications, nearly half of applicants cited burnout as one of the top challenges facing their organizations.
And the stakes are high: As I wrote last year (and Poynter’s Alex Sujong Laughlin reminded us this week), news businesses that go under can often attribute their struggles as much to an overworked team as to a bad revenue year.
So what’s the solution?
Of course, more money makes all problems easier to solve (or at least feel easier to solve). But assuming your resources are fixed, there are still ways to unplug from work and recharge for the months ahead without sacrificing your business goals.
Here are a few strategies we’re seen work for LION members and other independent publishers:
1. Republish your best evergreen content. If you want to keep earning ad revenue or selling memberships while you’re gone, think about the “oldies but goodies” content that you could pull out from the vault.
Have you written a great profile of a local leader or public figure? A seasonal guide of places to go and things to do? A public-interest investigative series (maybe one that won a LION Local Journalism Award last year)?
Updating and republishing these types of stories can help you keep the content engine humming even as you take a break from the daily grind, and it creates an opportunity to remind readers of your very best work – and ask them to support it.
2. Hire a freelancer to produce your core products. Let’s say you publish a money-making daily newsletter or another product that’s too lucrative to pause and too meaty to fill entirely with evergreen content.
Maybe that product isn’t quite profitable enough yet to support a full-time hire, but what about a temporary, part-time freelancer who fills your shoes for a couple weeks and ensures the product gets out the door?
At worst, the freelancer flops and makes your readers extra thankful for your return. At best, they shine and earn themselves a role in your business as it grows.
3. Use a publication break to plan and build for the long haul. It really is possible to press pause on publishing and step away for a while, especially if you’re leading a young news startup that’s still finding its feet.
Just look at The Objective. As we talked about on our News Guest podcast, The Objective team took a break last summer not only to catch their breath but also to plan their next steps toward becoming a sustainable operation.
The result? They came back even stronger, both as a team and as a business.
Got advice for how to take a vacation while leading a news business? Hit reply and let us know, or share your advice in the News Entrepreneur Community on Slack.
– Ben DeJarnette, communications manager, and the LION team
Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here!