Prepping for Maternity Leave In Your Small Business
As baby’s arrival is approaching at a rapid pace (but also somehow not quickly enough...hello swollen ankles!) I thought it would be beneficial to share a little bit about how I’ve been prepping to take a three month maternity leave where I don’t have to lift a finger for work.
Now I want to preface this with the fact that I didn’t have this business when I gave birth to my first, so I haven’t really prepped for maternity leave in this way before. I may be completely blowing smoke out of my you know what. BUT I am very organized and always heard that I left killer substitute teacher plans which is sort of something like this?!?!? So here we go.
First, Andy and I sat down and thought about our ideal situation. We both want to take a true parental leave so that we can really soak up this time as a family. We don’t plan on having any more kids after this so we don’t want to miss a single moment of those tiny baby gurgles. It kind of worked out perfectly to take three months off and be back in time for holiday sales. In order to do this, however, we needed to plan WAY ahead.
As I wrote about in a previous blog, after making the plan to take time off, we worked backwards thinking about all the launches we wanted to accomplish between Christmas and when we started planning (late February). Once we knew the launches, we were able to figure out the details of every single product we hoped to launch within each collection. Not only did we have to consider making the products, we also needed to get the products in our hot little hands before we went on leave so we could take photos and make listings on our various sales channels (you can find us on our website, Etsy, Faire, and Abound).
Once we had the products sorted out, we discussed how we could make sure we remained “present” and not lose any of our momentum. What this means is that we needed to schedule content ahead of time. Luckily technology makes this super easy. We have a few places where we have content so I’ll break it down for you. This means prepping bi-weekly blogs, weekly newsletters, weekly product features, daily instagram posts, daily Pinterest posts, weekly Makers Monday IG TV videos, daily IG stories, and at LEAST weekly Reels.
This may seem like a lot, and I can affirm that it most certainly is. In order to cover all my bases, I took my big calendar and planned out what the topics would be for each week. I tried to line up my Makers Monday topics with the blog post topic. The video tutorials are mostly seasonal and the product features are tied to our latest products. This made IG posts super easy to plan out because mostly it is hyping each of these other pieces of content. The biggest struggle I had was getting myself together to get all the images ready to go. I notoriously hate taking styled photos of my products so I totally dragged my feet on this one, but eventually I did it!
Once I had set up my calendar, I created a little road map for each type of post, for example, when I make the blog I have to
- Write the blog
- Put it in Shopify
- Create a handout takeaway in Canva
- Create a form in Flodesk to capture people’s emails in exchange for the handout
- Create a workflow in Flodesk that sends the form to the person
- Write an email to deliver the handout
- Put a direct link to the blog in my newsletter with the downloadable handout
- Make an IG post
- Repost in stories
- Make a few Pinterest post (at least 2)
So I made this little guideline for each type of content and then took the calendar and tried to figure out how to do this in the time I had left. One thing that became immediately apparent was that we needed a bit of help. We had been thinking about hiring someone to help our digital marketing and once we looked at this master list of future tasks, we figured no time like the present! The DMA does all the Pinterest pins, creates the handouts in Canva, and creates listings in all our sales channels.
Once we knew we were going to hire someone, I took the remaining tasks and tried to plot out how much time it would take to do all of the things. I am a pretty fast writer, so I started with blog posts and challenged myself to write about 4 each day. Now this doesn’t really go well with my intuitive scheduling I talked about in a previous blogpost about being a recovering perfectionist, but it’s amazing what second trimester nesting energy will do for your productivity. It also didn’t hurt that most of this stuff I could do from my bed, under the covers.
I worked my way through my list, and slowly but surely, the content we had already created soon became more than what we had yet to create! This was really a beast, and I don’t think that anyone would have batted an eye if we were like… hey we’re going to chill on the YouTube videos while on parental leave, but I was determined to get our channel off and running and taking a three month break after posting for only two months didn’t seem the best way to do that.
Were there some things that didn’t get done? Sure. But ultimately, I feel like we’ve done everything we could to meet our goals of continuing to stay present even in our absence. I plan on checking in on social media myself while on leave, since I’ll need something to do while nursing late at night, but other than that...we get to be fully present with our growing family.
If you’re planning on going on maternity leave soon, or sometime in the future, here is a checklist PDF of some helpful things to keep on your radar when planning your leave. This could also be great for people taking extended leave for surgery, or helping family members, etc.