Folks, I wrote this one a few years back and updated it today. Thought it was timely, considering the shut down of Examiner.com. It's certainly all still true. You should never put all your writing eggs in one basket, so to speak. A lot of you are finding that out this week. But hey, it's not too late to save your work or do better next time! So let's talk about being prepared for that next website shut-down.
Online writing is a fickle mistress. There's no telling when your favorite writing venue may disappear from the web. It's best to write for sites that have a long term history. Like Yahoo Voices or Examiner.com.? Right...
So, what if your favorite place to write suddenly shuts down like they both have now? Would you be prepared? Have you backed up your work? Do you know your rights as far as publishing content featured there on another site? How can you be assured of a smooth ride when they “pull the rug out” from under you?
Do you write “on site?”
Most online writers know to write in their word program, rather than in website templates. If you're new to the game, you might not realize how important this is. If you don't retain a copy of your work off website, you may never be able to retrieve it when a website shuts down without advance notice. Do you have online content that isn't stored safely in your word program and backed up on a flash drive? If so, take steps now to see that you don't suffer a permanent loss.
Are you a single venue writer?
I'm not. Plus, I make sure I remain in good standing on all the sites I write for, no matter how successful I am there. Having back up income makes a huge difference. That way, if the main site I write for goes through any major changes, my income doesn't change drastically. If the main site I write for should happen to shut down, I also know that I can transfer my saved non-exclusive work to other sites or to my own blogs with ease.
What about exclusive content?
Whenever you write exclusive content for any website, you're taking a calculated risk. Doing so may get you better assignments or other perks. On the other hand, once the website closes, it's up to them if they wish to relinquish the rights to your work. The best rule of thumb is to retain your rights whenever possible. That way, you can do as you wish with your content in the event of website shutdown.
What does your old content look like?
What if the website you write for shut down? What if a closed venue put your less than perfect exclusive content on another site you don't have access to? Why not make sure you've dotted all your I's and crossed all your T's in the articles you've already written. It would be awful if there were typos left in something you could no longer change.
Don't walk away mad.
Writing online is no different than any other job in that respect. No one wants a disgruntled employee working for them. Behaving in a less than professional manner when a venue changes or shuts down reflects badly on you as a writer. It's not their fault you weren't prepared for any eventuality. Being ready for such an event before it happens can make a world of difference.