How I Prepped for a 3-Month Maternity Leave: What I Did, What I DIDN’T, and everything in between

May 18, 2021

Ya know how everyone’s like…

“TAKE TIME OFF FROM YOUR BUSINESS! It’s such a necessity!!!”

And you hear those inspiring podcast episodes about people taking month-long sabbaticals or multiple-month maternity leaves, and all you can muster in your mind is something along the thought lines of…

Well, my friend. I thought the same thing. The EXACT same thing. And, believe it or not, here I am publishing this blog post for you one OFFICIAL DAY ONE of my 3-month maternity leave.

Despite the fact that just 6 months ago I realized I’d built myself a super-successful… PERSONAL PRISON.

I was doing every single hamster wheel task out there pretty much on my own, even though I had a team. I was micro-managing the pieces of the process along the way, and truly had a hard time believing that growth could EVER feel easy.

All of that is an entirely different post for a different day, but it’s important context for what we’re about to get into.

So, how did I do it? What exactly did we do? What did we not do? I’m gonna break it all down for you in this blog post.

How I Prepped for a 3-Month Maternity Leave from my Online Business

My hope for this post is two-fold:

  1. I wanna show you that it IS possible to take a significant step away from your business, without it crashing down completely or shutting off at the source for that amount of time.
  2. I wanna give you a realistic picture of the hard + intentional work that went into this prep, but also to illuminate some of the things we just DIDN’T do… because the truth is, you don’t have to make a list of EVERYONE’S maternity leave activities + prep and do them all. (Ahem, not that I started with that or anything… 😅)

Also, a third little bonus hope: My ultimate goal is to get to where I can take a break without needing to batch every single piece of content myself. That can only happen through the intentional growth and nurturing of TEAM. And while I’m so grateful for my team, I’ve still got a lot of “letting go” to do to be able to be completely hands off in certain areas. We’ve made progress, but I’ll be the first to say that the journey to SUSTAINABLE business is a slow + steady one. So, I’ll take whatever progress I can get!

Ya ready to dive in?

The GUIDING GOAL for maternity leave: To maintain marketing momentum + growth so that we can stay top of mind with easily-bingeable content to fuel our evergreen sales efforts.

In REAL PEOPLE SPEAK?

We wanted to KEEP SHOWING UP with intentional value so that people who land on our page don’t think we’ve disappeared or are irrelevant.

This strategy is definitely important when it comes to an evergreen sales. We run paid ads for The Promptlate® Shop 24/7/365. And while not EVERYONE buys as soon as they see an ad, they do click over to our social profiles to see what we’re all about and if they wanna keep pickin’ up what we’re puttin’ down.

Another approach could be a LIVE LAUNCH strategy: This would mean that you FRONT LOAD your revenue by doing live launches before your big break so you can have an influx of cash. This strategy could allevate some of the content burden for you!

Takeaway: Before you start prepping for any kind of leave, take some time to define your OVERALL GOAL. If it’s just to keep the hamster wheel rollin’, take a step back and get more specific.

So, with that overall goal in mind, here’s…

WHAT WE DID DO:

Prepped A LOT OF CONTENT in advance.

4 months of content, to be exact. We decided to place a big priority on keeping consistent content going because social is TRULY one of our biggest lead generators. We also have social media ads running on a constant basis (as I mentioned before), and we have plenty of people pop over to my profile to see if I’m “actually legit” or if the product we’re promoting makes sense with what I actually teach/do.Where’d you get 4 months?!

My thought process behind the 4 months of content was that it would give me a solid 3 months for maternity leave, but it would also give me a cushion to ease back in and get my feet under me instead of having to create content DAY ONE of my return.

What exactly does 4 months of content mean?

For us, 4 months of content means…

48 Instagram Feed Posts: We aim to post to the feed 3x a week; these can be simple graphics, photos with captions, viral-type posts, or even reels.

10-12ish Instagram Story Trainings: I think showing up on stories and teaching valuable mini-lessons is one of the most important things we could keep doing. BUT, I also gave myself grace on these to not need one for every single week, and also to split them up into TRULY bite-sized trainings, which I haven’t done in the past.

16 Email Newsletters: We email our list weekly, and we definitely wanted to maintain momentum there!In order to make this happen, there was a lot of creation going on, BUT… I also repurposed a ton! Obviously our high-value Instagram posts needed to be shared with our email list, and vice versa. So, while this seems like a lot (and it was!), we did our best to work smarter, not harder in creating this bulk amount of content.

Takeaway: If your plan is to bulk-create content in advance, decide on an exact number for each medium and start chipping away as soon as possible. Work in batches whenever you can.

Optimized our Instagram profile

This goal was, once again, focused on the fact that Instagram is a really high-value lead generator for us. Do I think it needs to be, or actually is for every business? No, I don’t! With that said, we’ve put a lot of effort into delivering high-value content over time to our audience, and we wanted to make that content a little more “evergreen-style” accessible, even to new followers.

That meant dialing in two things: Guides & Story Highlights

Guides: My right-hand-gal Emma made it her personal mission to make sure that we had Guides pointing to each of our big content topics, and that our BEST posts on those topics were showcased within the Guide. She wanted to create a way for people to binge-read on what they actually needed help with, and I think we definitely accomplished that!

Story Highlights: In addition to sprucing up and adding to some of our highlights, we also wanted to make sure we were answering Frequently Asked Questions in highlights whenever they arose, in an effort to minimize questions in the DMs and email AND to just serve people really well by answering before they ever had to ask!

Takeaway: Take note of features you haven’t used before or things you’ve neglected updating for awhile, and think through how those things can help content you’ve ALREADY created to work HARDER for you while you’re away!

Tested, optimized, and tweaked evergreen campaign strategies

This was truly our main objective as a team over the past 5-6 months. I can’t even tell you how many emails + pages of copy I’ve written to test + tweak what would work best.

Through a lot of trial and error, as well as gathering data through a couple of live launches, we realized that the primary piece that was missing for The Promptlate® buyers was URGENCY. Because The Promptlate® Shop is open 24/7/365, with resources always available, our main challenge was getting people to take the leap RIGHT THEN rather than saying “maybe later.”

We finally landed on a deadline strategy that took our checkout page from 5% conversion rate all the way to 22%-30%, consistently. We called that a WIN, and are now doing everything we can to send people to that page!

Takeaway: If there’s anywhere you’re wanting to send cold traffic to during your time away, make sure you’re optimizing the performance of that page AHEAD of time so that you’re not just blindly sending people to something that won’t convert!

Refined + empowered the team

Team building has not been the most NATURAL transition for me. I’ll be honest. I’ve done A LOT of things wrong over the past year and a half-ish of hiring various people to help move the business forward. BUT, I knew I had to step up my game if I had hopes of taking this maternity leave, AND if I had hopes of ever feeling like I could truly trust anyone inside my business! (Maybe you can relate?)

So, I really focused on upleveling in a few different areas:

I stopped ignoring the “culture fit.”

I’m talking about team culture. Personality fit. Attitude. In the past, I’ve hired largely based on skill, because I NEEDED THE THINGS DONE, ya know? But, skipping over the attitude and culture I really wanted to cultivate for our company in the long run hurt me WAY MORE than I ever thought possible.

So, as I hired a couple of different people in December and January of this year, I decided to focus more on hiring based on those softer skills rather than just the technical skills I needed.

And, along with that… I exemplified the attitudes I wanted to see rather than conforming to what was easy.

I really held myself to a higher standard over the past few months when it came to checking my OWN attitude at every turn. I really prioritized encouragement and specific acknowledgement of what my amazing team was doing WELL. And, from the VERY beginning, I didn’t shy away from hard, refinement-oriented conversations. This allowed us to keep the overall improvement of the business and service of our people in the forefront of our minds ALWAYS.

And finally…I practiced asking questions instead of giving answers.

This is something I really prioritize in my teaching style, but I sometimes forget as a leader, in the interest of getting things done FASTER. But, I knew if I was truly going to be out for 3 months, that I couldn’t be the only source of answers. So, whenever my team came to me with a question, I would typically answer with a question… or a detailed tutorial of where I found the answer I was giving them, so they could find it next time. This EMPOWERMENT has already paid off big time. TRUST ME… the extra time spent to cultivate that empowerment is more than worth it!

Documented LITERALLY everything

Every time we get a question from a customer, potential client, etc… we document it in an SOP with an answer.Every time we do something new, we document the process.Every time we run across a problem, we document the solution.WRITE IT ALL DOWN, even if you think it’s “common sense.”

WHAT WE DIDN’T DO:

Book clients DURING maternity leave

With my amazing associate writer always locked and loaded to take on work, and our client process as smooth as it is, we COULD HAVE taken on clients during my maternity leave who would have no touchpoint with me. It would have worked. We could have served more people. It’s true.

But, ultimately, I decided that for my own mental health and being able to TRULY feel like I could step away, I didn’t want to have those projects on the business’s “responsibility plate,” so to speak, during my leave.

Takeaway: Every decision doesn’t come down to money, or ability, or technical “capacity.” Sometimes it comes down to this question: “Do I feel like I can actually hold space for this during this season? Will this bring me more joy and fulfillment?” If the answer is “no,” then you GET to say “no.” It’s your business. Don’t forget that you don’t truly OWE anyone anything, okay?

Pre-sell client spots for POST maternity leave

I’ve seen quite a few of my business friends pre-sell their client spots BEFORE they take their leave. It’s a smart move if you’d like to do it because it can really provide some confidence and security for what you’re coming back to.

But, for me, I’m not ENTIRELY sure what our client capacity will be when I get back. I don’t really know what life will look like AT ALL when I start to step back into the groove of work, so I didn’t want to make commitments to anyone that I might resent or not be able to fulfill on later down the road.

With that said, this was a hard one for me. We DO have a wait list. We COULD HAVE pre-filled spots. But, I’m practicing the belief that abundance + opportunities are always coming… they don’t just disappear. You can’t miss out on them.

Takeaway: Do what feels good to you. Do you want the security of pre-booking clients? Do you have the capacity to commit to something so far in the future? Do what feels right to you. (Obviously, my answer would be different if my “break” wasn’t quite such a life-altering one! Going on vacay? BOOK CLIENTS IN ADVANCE, okay? haha.)

HOW WE DID IT:

Batched content (created rules + had true batches)

I’m the worst batcher on the face of the planet. Honestly. But, I had to force myself to do it during this season, and I think it was a really good lesson to learn. Now I kinda love being able to get in the zone and have big blocks for creation!

I also created rules for myself. If I ever wrote ONE email newsletter, the rule was that I couldn’t leave my desk until I wrote two. Same thing with social media captions, etc. I also had a rule that any time I asked my team to do something, I had to thank one of them for something or encourage them in some way. These rules weren’t true “batches,” but they helped me move towards my goals faster.I batched: I did set aside certain ENTIRE DAYS or half days for content writing.

The one rule I’d suggest you implementing if you do this is that you have to finish ONE piece of content before you move onto the next one. It’s all-too-easy to spend all day writing content and only come out at the end with a bunch of half-baked, or slightly outlined ideas instead of bringing each one to completion.

Trust me, FINISH EACH ONE. You’ll be glad you did, and it’ll actually feel like progress you can check off instead of never-ending work.

Planned ahead

We couldn’t have executed on everything we did if we didn’t decide WAY in advance what all needed to be done. Don’t just say “I want to take a maternity leave” or “I want a month-long sabbatical” without sitting down and defining what needs to get done in order for that to happen. IN DETAIL. Deal?

Constantly asked, “how could this be easier?”

Our plan was A LOT. But with every step—the content creation, the optimizing, the team refinement—we were each constantly asking each other: can we make it easier?And we could.We repurposed a lot of the content we created for different platforms.We chose the EASIEST funnel method… the one that worked immediately… instead of changing and testing a million more options.We asked people what would feel encouraging to them instead of trying to guess and take shots in the dark.

Teamwork!

I truly could not have done all of this without my team’s help.

I had help with creating + designing website pages.I had support with designing social graphics.I have support with social media engagement and implementation.I have help with answering emails + supporting students.I have someone running all things Kartra and back-end funnel magic.

Working toward a common goal is truly one of the most bond-inducing activities out there, and I’m forever grateful to my team for helping me prepare for this time off to cherish and take in every bit of my new little girl, my role as a Mama, and this new season our fam (and the biz!) is stepping into.


So, that’s how we executed prep for a 3-month maternity leave within my business. The truth is, it was pretty straightforward and simple on paper. It just took A LOT of personal discipline.

Taking a break is less about whether your business or clients will allow it, and so much more about whether or not you’re willing to make the HARD AND FAST decision that it’s going to happen and you’ll do what it takes to prep for it.

Does this feel doable to you? What questions do you have for me? Drop ’em in the comments or feel free to head over and send me a DM on Instagram!

I’m SO grateful to my team for the ability to take this break, and I’m so proud of all of our hard work to actually make it POSSIBLE by prepping beforehand. You will NOT regret putting in the extra work. I PROMISE!

Jess, XO

P.S. I’d love to come back AFTER all of this shenanigans to tell you what truly worked and what fell to pieces along the way! I think part of growing as a business owner is just KNOWING that things are going to happen that you can’t control, but trusting yourself to deal with them along the way.

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