Many internet marketers set themselves a goal of earning enough via their online pursuits to either scale back their day jobs or give them up altogether. But as you become more reliant on your online income it becomes increasingly important to understand the risks to your business systems so you can minimise them whilst at the same time putting plans in place to help you recover if an income-disrupting event should occur.
There are a number of potential online and offline points of failure which could compromise your ability to conduct your online business. Since internet marketing is technology heavy, in this article we’ll focus on a few of the technical challenges you may encounter and discuss things you can do now to minimise their impact on your earnings.
Web hosting problems
Problems with your web host can be devastating because often the first you’ll know about it is when you see the dreaded “Account Suspended” page coming up where your site used to be. This can happen for a number of reasons, but typically it’s because you have exceeded your resource allocation in some way. The obvious solution to this is to maintain two (or more) separate hosting accounts, preferably with different service providers. In the event of a dispute with one you can switch your site over to the other until the problems are resolved. Incidentally, this is why it’s a good idea to use a domain registrar that’s independent of your web host.
Assuming you have more than one site, you can also significantly hedge your bets by hosting them separately. Then even if something bad happens to one account you can continue to fly on your remaining engine while the first one gets fixed!
Search engine ban
Almost as bad as having your site suspended is having it de-indexed by the search engines. Or perhaps it’s worse because it’s a lot harder to rectify. You can probably avoid it happening by using strictly white hat SEO techniques to promote your site, and can certainly mitigate its effects by running more than one website. Beyond that you could look at driving traffic using social networking or building a subscriber list, so you are not completely at the mercy of the search engines.
Falling out of favour with a monetisation partner
In a similar vein, you should do all you can to stay strictly within the terms of your contract with whatever monetisation partners you have – the internet is littered with sad tales of those who’ve been kicked out of Google’s AdSense program for failing to comply with their conditions. By now I hope it’s becoming obvious to you that you should also monetise your sites in several different ways rather than rely on a single partner.
In case you haven’t heard, there are plenty of unscrupulous individuals and syndicates roaming the net. Whether out of mischief or malice they often hijack others’ sites for their own ends. Whilst you may not be able to stop a truly sophisticated hacker who targets your site, you can deter most other opportunistic attacks by maintaining strong security around login details and staying up to date with new releases of your website platform. As the saying goes: when being chased by a lion, it’s not necessary to out-run the lion, just the other people running from it!
Computer failure / loss of communications
Don’t forget that your computer and internet connection are also vital links in your business’s technical chain. Do you have a secondary machine in case your regular one gives up the ghost? Do you have backups of your mission-critical data? How will you manage your site if you lose your internet connection? My answer to these questions is the same as all the others: have a backup plan that you can activate at short notice to minimise downtime.
As you can see, most of these risks can be addressed by building redundancy and diversity into your business. There’s nothing new there – financial experts have been doing it for years. But perhaps it’s time we in the online marketing game grow up a bit and learn some of these lessons from others’ experiences rather than our own – it’s much less painful that way.