When we start out blogging professionally we dream of a steady flow of cash. It’s very easy to get used to that income. What will you do if disaster strikes? What can you do to prevent it happening?
Phew, what a depressing topic! But you know what they say..
Failure to plan is planning to fail
If you don’t plan for these eventualities then they might well come up one day and bite you on the assets.
Without further waffle, let’s get into the doom and gloom and look at what we can do to prevent, solve or mitigate them. In no particular order..
1. Dropped out of the search engines
Probably one of the most common disasters to befall bloggers and webmasters. The “where has all my traffic gone” nightmare. There is a good post on this topic at Problogger but here is my advice.
- Prevent it being too severe by not relying on search engines for all your traffic, for example by creating killer content, building an opt-in newsletter and promoting your RSS
- Look to see if there have been any search engine updates (traffic might return to normal in a day or so)
- If there haven’t been any search engine updates think if you have made any changes or joined any potentially dodgy traffic schemes
- Look to see if your content has been stolen
2. Dropped by Advertisers
All the advertising networks have terms and conditions you must abide by. If you break their rules you deserve everything you get. This means A) you must always read their conditions thoroughly and B) Make sure everyone you associate with knows not to be “helpful” by clicking your ads.
If you are sure you haven’t done anything wrong then right away get in touch with the company and talk to them. Use your server logs and see if there are any patterns of odd behaviour, the advertising network might find your logs useful. There is not always a great chance of being re-included but it’s worth a try. To make the transition to a new advertising system smooth it is worth signing up to your second choice before you need to.
3. Server failure
Get a quality host. Now. If you want to make a living off of your blog earnings then you can’t really afford to have downtime can you? If you can’t afford a good one now then get the best you can afford and improve your hosting as your income improves. You need a good Service Level Agreement and uptime guarantee. For those of you who are making a decent income consider getting the more robust (and expensive) webfarm option. You can even get shared webfarm hosting now so it needn’t break the bank too much.
If your server does go down, get in touch with the ISP immediately. This is the downside for us non-americans using cheaper USA hosting. If it will be down for more than 48 hours then get another account up with your backups (you do have backups, don’t you?) and switch your domain over.
4. Slashdotted – traffic spike
This is a nice problem to have but it is a problem all the same. You get a flood of people all at once .. who see a blank page. You really need an understanding ISP here, many people have had their accounts locked because of bandwidth limitations or even been dropped entirely. Worth checking your acceptable use policy and enquiring now before it happens.
5. DoS Attacks (Denial of Service)
The symptoms might appear like a traffic spike but the main difference will be nothing useful is happening, you just can’t get onto the site. Again, talk to your ISP. Go through your server logs. Hopefully all the traffic will be coming from a small number if IP addresses which can be banned at router/firewall level. Otherwise you really need a good ISP with capable staff.
6. Spam flood
Again you might be able to ban at IP level but if someone really wants to cause havoc at your site they will use a number of zombie computers. Most of the time it is just trouble-makers who can be dealt with more simply. Some blog software allows you to set a flood level for how many comments a visitor can make in a short time period.
7. Deleted files, Corrupt database
Backup every day at your hosting level and at least weekly offline. Believe me, web hosting companies do go bust and sometimes very quickly. You might not get any warning.
8. Taken to court because of comments
All you can do to prevent this is be vigilant with comments posted to your site and be careful what you say. It is pretty common sense to not say anything libellous. Make sure in your policies you make it clear you will edit or delete any comments you see fit to.
I am not a lawyer, but I know what I would do if someone threatened to take me to court over comments on my blog. I would take those comments down, sharp. one blogger though is standing up for his rights, and good on him.
My advice is basically get a lawyer. Get references if possible because you will need a good one and they are darned expensive.
9. Lost internet connection
A bloggers internet connection is like air and water, you just can’t live without it for very long. Broadband is a must but make sure you have a crusty but trusty dial up also. Just in case. Me, I have one of those handy-dandy 3g/wifi jobbies so I am never without my blogfix for very long. Lots of Wifi services have a no monthly fee, pay as you use option so you can sip latte and get back to blogging.
10. Too sick to blog
If you are unwell for a while then it’s a bummer. God forbid you are so bad you can’t blog then, well, that at the very least is going to make your income take a hit. If it is only a few days then probably most blogs can recover from that. Either way it might be worth getting friendly with someone (or some people) who can guest blog and hold the fort. Choose wisely or get them up to speed (and introduced) now.
My next post will be much more upbeat I promise! Seriously though, just think how down you would be if you had to think about it for the first time after it happened. At least you are now forewarned and armed. Can you think of any disaster scenarios I have missed?