A strange phenomenon has been spreading like a virus over the past few years. In the past four months alone, three of my clients have told me that their website designer or virtual assistant has “disappeared.” No return phone calls, unanswered emails. Gone, gone, gone.
Kidnapping? Hardly. When the economy gets tough or the revenue numbers don’t ad up, many website designers and virtual assistants (small business owners themselves) simply go out of business. Some get full-time jobs in corporations, some just shut their doors. And of course, personal and family problems can cause an owner to go out of business. Perhaps they’ve changed their business model and have shifted away from doing the work they used to do for you — they haven’t gone out of business, just changed their focus.
This is a huge problem for small business owners, who rely upon their website designer or virtual assistant to maintain and upgrade their websites for them. There’s not much you can do if your website designer or VA goes out of business. But you can protect yourself and prepare yourself to move to a new website designer. You need to have access to all your files before your website designer disappears.
Use this checklist to get control of your website for the future:
- Login information for the hosting company.
- FTP login information, if appropriate.
- WordPress login information, if appropriate.
- A list of WordPress plugins that are in use, and their purpose.
- Email address login information for each email account (you may have more than one email address for your domain, such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Other login information to auxiliary software embedded or connected to your site, like: membership software, forum software, learning management systems, merchant accounts, eCommerce systems, email marketing system, video hosting or file hosting services, etc.
- Logins for Google Analytics, Google Adwords, and/or Facebook Ads, if you use any of these services.
- A copy of all your website coding, graphic, audio, video and animation files, including the original, editable source files for all your graphics.
- Written confirmation that you own the content of the website and have the right to transfer it, edit it, submit it to United States Copyright Office, sell it, etc.
For security purposes, if your website designer truly disappears and you can’t reach them, change ALL login IDs and passwords on your accounts. In addition, if you have given your website designer your credit card information, you may wish to cancel the card and have a new number re-issued.
Whether you think your website designer or VA has a sound business or you think they’re struggling and might disappear, I recommend you get the above items from them website today so that you have full control of your website — and your internet marketing — for the future.