So, as many of you know, I was sick enough last week that I wasn’t able to keep up with my usual responsibilities here at Common Sense Marketing. Blog posts went unwritten, Twitter posts went untweeted – you get the picture. And believe me – I felt guilty every minute that I wasn’t giving this site the level of attention I think it deserves.
But what’s even more frustrating is that it could have been prevented. Not the getting sick part – I think it’s reasonable to assume that we’re all going to be pulled away from our businesses for some length of time, whether it’s due to illness, family emergencies or some other complication. Instead, if I had been a good business owner, I would have had a backup plan in place to make these kinds of snags less noticeable.
So let’s look at what makes a good backup plan for an affiliate marketing business and examine how you can cover your own ass when it comes to unexpected absences.
Step 1 – Understand your business processes. You can’t put together a backup plan until you have a good understanding of what it is you do each and every day.
Now, a lot of these things can be pretty easy to figure out if you’re good about keeping an up-to-date to do list. For example, I can log in to my Remember the Milk account and see that every Monday, I try to finish the week’s blog posts, upload scheduled status updates to Twitter and Facebook, and so on. Once I identify each task I do regularly, I can come up with a backup plan for each activity.
Step 2 – Identify automated solutions, where possible. Ideally, in my case, I should have had a few extra blog posts pre-loaded into WordPress so that all I would have had to do would have been to schedule them to go live. For other tasks, like submitting articles, posting status updates to social networking sites and so on, there are plenty of automated tools that would have allowed me to load content in advance and keep trucking along while I was away.
Of course, the catch there is that most of these automated tools only work well in these emergency situations if you do the prep work ahead of time. It doesn’t matter that you can schedule posts ahead of time in WordPress if you don’t have the content ready in the first place. For that reason, I’ll be devoting a little time this week to putting together some of this “emergency” content so that I won’t have to scramble again in the future.
Step 3 – Use your connections to plan for longer absences. Admittedly, being out for a week isn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. It’s frustrating to lose some momentum or to feel like you’re letting your readers down, but ultimately, most internet business tasks can wait a week and still be fine.
But what happens if you’re unexpectedly pulled away from your business for a longer period of time? What if you wind up struggling with a long illness, or become injured in a way that prevents you from working for months at a time? Heaven forbid (and I know we all hate to think about it), but what would happen to your business if you were to pass away unexpectedly?
At the very least, it’s important to identify a trusted contact – whether it’s a business partner, a virtual assistant you’ve worked with before, or even a family member or spouse – who can put out the word that you’ll be away from your business indefinitely. Remember – we’re legitimate business owners. It isn’t okay to simply abandon a project, a website or any other business strategy without the appropriate notice.
For example, when I was running my article writing agency, we had clients who were depending on receiving content according to the deadlines we’d agreed upon and writers who expected to get paid for producing that content. Had I been pulled away unexpectedly, my husband would have had to step in to notify these parties about what to expect in my absence.
Obviously, running a few affiliate marketing minisites won’t require the same level of emergency preparedness, but it’s still worth thinking through whether a notice should go up on your sites explaining your absence, or if any affiliate providers or outsourcers will need to be notified as well.
A few of the things you might want to think through or have prepared when it comes to backup plans include:
- A list of all your internet account logins and passwords (including email, Paypal, affiliate providers, website backends, etc)
- An up-to-date project list including key contacts and their email addresses
- Instructions on what to do in the event you aren’t able to continue running your business unexpectedly. Should your sites be shut down or populated with backup content (and the name of an outsourced worker who can handle these tasks if your designated backup person isn’t technologically savvy)?
Having a well thought out backup plan will make absences less stressful and will prevent you from falling behind in your business growth. Creating your backup plan isn’t as fun or exciting as building traffic to your site or earning affiliate commissions, but it’s work that should be done nonetheless.
Have you ever been held up by an unexpected absence? Do you have a plan in place for how you’d handle one today? Leave me a note in the comments!
Image: Claus Rebler