How to Cover Your Ass with a Backup Plan

How to Cover Your Ass with a Backup Plan

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.

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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.

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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

10 Responses to How to Cover Your Ass with a Backup Plan

  1. Jon says:

    Hi Sarah,

    This is an excellent topic. I’d guess that most people have a draft or two pending in their WP dashboard but not much else.

    Do most of us even think to have an emergency stand-in or contact? Probably not.

    Do most of us truly care enough to assign someone to reach out to our communities for us if something goes wrong? I think that number is likely (and sadly) small.

    Not to say they/we don’t take our businesses seriously. We just may not be covering our bases.

    I’m guilty of not having a designated emergency contact. That is, should something catastrophic happen, nobody really knows the scope of my online dealings so it would appear to my interwebs friends that I abandoned my project(s).

    My backup content, backup plugins, and general preparedness I feel confident about overall. But you’ve given me a necessary nudge to take even more action to firm up my emergency plan.

    Thank you…

    Jon

    • Sarah says:

      Jon – Thanks for your comment.

      The idea of having a designated backup person and a backup plan is one that’s worth revisiting occasionally. I’m definitely not as on top of things as I used to be with the writing business!

      Unfortunately, for me (and for most people, I think) it’s something that falls into the “when I have time…” category, when I should make it more of a priority 🙂

  2. Ben says:

    Agreed!

    I have another blog that I started before the community marketing challenge.

    Fortunately, I have posts completed up till the end of August, so I have been able to focus on your challenge without spreading myself too thin.

    • Sarah says:

      Ben – That’s what I’m talking about when it comes to backup plans! Way to work months ahead on your other site 🙂

  3. Mike says:

    Sarah, glad to hear you’re feeling better.

    I’ve been looking for a quality Twitter / Facebook / Social Status automater, any recommendations?

    • Sarah says:

      Mike – Thanks for stopping by!

      As for social updaters, I use the free version at SocialOomph.com. It’s not much, but it gets the job done 🙂

  4. Adrienne says:

    Great topic for your post today Sarah. Like many others I never really thought of a backup plan. I do write blog posts ahead of time for my main blog but since this one is an update of what I am doing during that week, that one really can’t be written ahead of time.

    As for the rest of my business I do have a lot of things on autopilot but they do need to be checked on and other things put into place as well.

    I guess I’ve been rather fortunate that I haven’t been sick in a very long time. But I haven’t taken into consideration should any type of emergency arise either. This just never really crossed my mind. But you’ve definitely pointed out the importance of it so it looks like I’ve got some thinking and planning to do.

    I really appreciate your post today Sarah and I’m glad you are feeling better. Hope you are able to enjoy your weekend.

    Adrienne

    • Sarah says:

      Adrienne – Glad I got you thinking 🙂

      And like I said, depending on what your business model is, you might not need much of a backup plan. Especially with affiliate minisites – I don’t necessarily feel like a lot needs to be with them if something were to come up.

      But still, it’s a good idea to think through every so often. I hope it’s a situation you never have to confront!

  5. […] How to Cover Your A** with a Backup Plan by Sarah Russell. CommonSenseMarketing.net 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. […]

  6. […] totally necessary for me to be able to manage every aspect of my business on the go.  But from a business emergency preparedness standpoint, it’s nice to know that I can stay up and running from wherever I am.  I’m […]

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