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Blogging Wills – What happens to your Blogs When You Die?

Eric Giguere asks an interesting question over at his blog – Do you have an “AdSense Will”?

It is actually a question V (my wife) and I have talked about and made plans for over the past year or so.

It became more serious for us to talk about when we realized that our family’s main income source was blogging and when we started planning a family (funny how things get more serious when you realize you’re responsibly for a little one).

Phase one of getting things in order was getting our wills together and setting up our business in a smart way.

With that out of the way we had one level of the problem solved – but another question arose.

V came to me one day and said ‘if you died, how would I know what to do with your blogs?’ and ‘Would they keep earning money without you?’

The second question first – yes they would continue to earn money, but on a decreasing scale over time. It would be important for her to either manage the blogs and find a way for them to continue to operate with soeone e

Now V’s a pretty smart person, but she’s not a blogger and while I’m not a techie, she makes me look like a hardcore coder. Like Eric writes in his post, she wouldn’t have the faintest on where to start in a lot of the logistics of what I do.

As a someone who works largely alone I realized that I needed to put together some sort of dossier to help her out in case anything untoward were to happen to me.

Here’s what it includes (so far – it is a work in progress):

  • Contact details for partners – I have a number of blog partners that would be able to help her navigate some of the logistics of managing my blogs
  • Contact details for trusted other bloggers – a few others who know enough to be useful
  • Passwords and Contact details for Advertising Programs and Affiliate Programs – to be able to access and manage income
  • Contact details of bloggers who work for me – a number of my blogs are written these days by others.
  • Contact details for web hosts – without these the blogs fall over and income disappears
  • Passwords for Paypal accounts
  • Backup details – for blogs and computers
  • Blog and hosting passwords – to give her (or those who help her) access
  • Instructions on what to do – a few notes on what I’d suggest she does. Which blogs she could sell (and who could help her sell them), which to allow to run (and who to write on them), what my agreements are with different people etc

I’m also going to give V some blog lessons in the coming months and be more intentional in talking to her about the day to day running of my work so that it isn’t a completely foreign thing to her. She’s also going to meet some of my blogging partners next year when we head to North America which I’m sure will help also.

Eric calls this his ‘AdSense Will’ or ‘Disaster Recovery plan for your online business’ – I just call it thinking ahead and being smart for the sake of those you love.

PS: Interweb also has a piece picking up on Eric’s post titled AdSense in the Afterlife? as did Blogging Pro.

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About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Patrick says:

    Is time to write a Video Games will in my case.

  2. brem says:

    You know what, I’ve been asking myself that question quite a lot lately. Being 32 and asking myself that question might sound odd, but hey… Have I ever claimed to be normal?

    brem, the weirdo.

  3. WSLiang says:

    Yet another item for will writers to learn? Lol. I wonder who can I pass my blog to if something untoward happens to me.

  4. I think it is a very wise idea that you start to teach her about blogging. Because I know that if I told my brother to look after my web work if somthing ever happened to me, he would not have the slightest idea where to begin. And I only control about 3 sites. And, maybe if she had enough time she could start her own…”the life of a pro-blogger wife” or somthing. :D

  5. Koby says:

    I think thinking about stuff like this is extremely important. Especially if there is a little one involved.

    While my blog does not earn enough to support my family in any way, reading this post made me realize that I need to leave a similar set of documents for my wife just in case something happens to me.

  6. Jon Symons says:

    Excellent post Darren…maybe only us old married bloggers [ :) ] will get it, but it is a very important topic. I don’t think my wife has ever even read one of my sites, never mind be able to take them over if I died.

  7. As a soon-to-be-lawyer (only one more semester of school!!), I greatly appreciate this post. Even though it seems morbid, I like estate planning. That’s probably part of my type A personality; everything should be planned, especially the unexpected. And you can put almost anything in your will (at least in the U.S.), you just have to make it known to your lawyer.

    One important thing to add to this: it’s great to have this info in the event of hospitalization, illness, accident, etc. If blogging is financially significant to your family, you need people to know how to carry on even if you’re just out of commission for a little while. Not to sound morbid again, but who knows when a coma might strike, or you could be in some kind-of accident and get amnesia or some kind-of speech impairment. Just like you need life & disability insurance for your family, you need a blogging backup plan for them too.

    Excellent post Darren!

  8. Eliza says:

    I didn’t even know they made wills for this, but I can understand the question…especially if it is a huge income. I know I’ve already told my kids they will get certain blogs once they reach a certain age. As of right now the blogs I have don’t earn much., however I can see where I should actually make some type of list on the computer if anything ever were to happen. Great subject.

    Oh, something I’l be doing next month…getting my own will. Believe it or not I had never got one, I always thought my husband’s was also mine since I told him basically what I wanted in there. Guess not, so next month that’s my number one thing I’ll be doing.

  9. Excellent point. Myself and my wife are both bloggers, but we don’t know each other’s niche all that well. I would be hard pressed to blog about what she does on a daily basis and I think she would too.

  10. This is something you’ve never thought about, but is so obvious once you think about it. An income-producing blog is no different than brick and mortar store.

  11. nakedpastor says:

    do you ever read someone else’s experience and realize that you practically live on completely different planets? that happened to me when i read this post. i made $2.37 today on adsense. no lawyers bangin’ on my door! anyway, it lightened my day!

  12. $1 Link says:

    WOW! Why did I not think of this? I really need to do this to safeguard my family.

    Great idea.

    Col :)

  13. Darren says:

    This kind of list is useful not just for death/disability/illness protection, but for general business continuity.

    Having all your important partnerships, contacts, affiliate details, site memberships, logins, etc organised and recorded in one place helps you make sure you’re running everything in a proper business-like manner. It can also help you build a proper business plan and get some focus and direction in your online pursuits.

    Make sure you keep a copy of the document somewhere safe offsite (e.g. safety deposit box). If your computer gets stolen/hacked/compromised, you’ll be able to quickly go through and change all your logins etc to protect your money and reputation. If your hard drive crashes or your house burns down, at least you won’t be struggling to remember all the different sites you need to access and the usernames/passwords for them all.

    Just make sure you keep your list safe! That document is now the “keys to the kingdom”, and you don’t want it falling into the wrong hands!

  14. Rasheed Ali says:

    Very good advice/tips.

    Wow, I can’t believe that I haven’t given this some serious thought before. My websites and products don’t just support my wife and baby girl but others as well.

    Thanks for the kick in the perspective man.

    Rasheed

  15. I agree! Excellent post topic. With so many of us having fun and/or making money with our blogs…what happens to that income stream after we depart this life isn’t an everyday thought for most of us.

  16. Ash Haque says:

    Too pessimistic for me, I’ll live to a 100 :-)

  17. Quinn says:

    This is so important to a growing number of people. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.

    Authors with publishers and tangible published books appoint what is known as a “literary executor” in their wills. A literary executor is someone who is able (and willing!) to administrate the rights associated with the author’s published books.

    A blogger (or anyone who runs a website that generates content) has a similar set of concerns as an author and should consider appointing a “blog executor”. I’m actually writing an article on it now. I’ll share it with you when I’m done.

    While you’re at it, you might consider what type of rights you want to apply to your blogs after you’re gone. For example, do you want your estate to retain all the rights or do you want to donate it all to the public domain? Or maybe you want to apply one of the permutations of rights through the Creative Commons system?

    An attorney who has knowledge about the technology and culture of blogging (including all the associated revenue streams) would be best for this kind of thing. If you say “AdSense” and their eyes glaze over, run the other way!

  18. There must be a budding business idea in here somehow. Some kind of escrow-type service that holds all your info under tight security, and can appoint trusted, experienced bloggers to help your estate tidy up loose ends and either sell or devise succession plans for all your web interests. How would such a service work, and how would they make money without appearing as opportunistic vultures?

  19. Jon Symons says:

    “how would they make money without appearing as opportunistic vultures?”
    They would present the benefits to the clients, just like every other business.
    It’s a great business idea and hey, if funeral companies can work and make money without coming across as vultures [which many can be] then this should be a piece of cake.

  20. Dustin says:

    I wonder how it works if you host and live in two different areas. Do the laws of where you live come first?

  21. wawa says:

    funny, since i’ve been asking my husban dthe same question too.

    but again, ours aren’t profit generating like yours.

    still, someone has to let our readers (read: friends) know that i/him/we are no longer around.

    sheesh, it does sound horrible.

    however, i’ve been thinking to give my id to some-blogging-friend whom i trust the most.

    Now, next question, how would my friend knows that i am no longer around in this world?

    expect more questions to arise..

    just my two cents

  22. Interesting Article. I have been teaching my wife about our online business because you never know what tomorrow holds. I do PHP Programming and I do not expect my wife to start programming. However we do own a number of domains and things are starting to progress.

    This is a timely article. Thanks you!

  23. malique says:

    i’ve always had this in my mind.

    and sometimes i come across blogs/sites/myspace of people who had passed on. its rather emotional when users comments on his/her last post.

    and then you around the blog’s archive. within an hour or so, you read the author’s going-ons (if its a personal blog). i did so once, recently. It was too sad for me.

    anyways back to the topic: if one owns a living by problogging, he should have contingency plans when he passes on. be it in digital format or physical (notes/etc).

  24. Nimble One says:

    Thanks for speaking up about this Darren. I think there is a generational difference in estate planning and proof is right here with all of this discussion. I have downloaded the Dovetail Organizer to gather all of our personal family information including the details of my small business (Virtual Assistant). This program is downloadable, secure and very easy to use. (www.dovetailorganizer.com) I even bought a copy for my parents to fill in. It seemed a little weird at first but we all agreed it was best to be informed and prepared than panicked and taken advantage of.

    Good luck with your planning and here’s to your continued success!

  25. William says:

    Hi,
    Yeah, it is a quite scary thought.
    Im also gonna make a plan for what will happen if i die…
    Thanks for your “warning”. ;)
    - William :)
    http://www.npgb.org

  26. Thanks, After a certain period of time people will forget you. If you are famous enough you will seen in text books of school. This is the rapidly changing world so you have to keep on going.

  27. I never thought about this. I mean I thought about the D word but not combined with my blog or websites. Good article and Thanks!!

  28. Teddi says:

    You are not alone! I too thought about this about a year 1/2 ago. I have since kept a list of all my sites, passwords etc. I have also created a squidoo lens called a webography that lists all my profiles, blogs, sites and affiate sites that I am associated with. I can print it and simply write the login and password information on it. Squidoo has an easy app. called Squidoo This to easily upload a page to a given module on any lens- with a few clicks of the mouse. This is very handy. Click on my name above to see how I have it set up. Or here: http://www.squidoo.com/my_profiles (if the link shows)

    Teddi

  29. sarah says:

    I reckon to shoot a few videos showing your other half or who ever you plan on leaving your sites to, where all the stuff is.

    Other than that, life insurance is a option although it doesn’t replace the income from the sites.

Trackbacks

  1. meneame.net says:

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  2. [...] Darren Rowse posted a great article today about what happens to your blogs if you die. He explains that blogging and online activity constitutes the primary income for his family. Thus, he created a set of basic documents to explain how to continue onward if something tragic happens to him. [...]

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  4. [...] ProBlogger writes a very compelling piece called Blogging Wills – What happens to your blog when you die? His checklist is easy to follow and applies not only to bloggers, but to all businesses who do anything online. MUST READ – do it now. [...]

  5. [...] Blogging Wills – What happens to your Blogs When You Die? (tags: blogging income) [...]

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  7. [...] Σήμερα το πρωί έπεσα τυχαία πάνω σε ένα αγγλικό κείμενο με τον τίτλο “Τι θα γίνει το Blog σας αν πεθάνετε;” Φυσικά στο εξωτερικό τα πράγματα είναι πιο ανεπτυγμένα και μιλούσε κυρίως για blog τα οποία βγάζουν αρκετά χρήματα μέσω διαφημίσεων και αποτελούν σταθερή πηγή εσόδων για κάποιες οικογένειες. Η αφορμή όμως των προβληματισμών ήταν η ίδια με τη δική μου και θεώρησα καλό να το διαβάσω. [...]

  8. [...] Kind of a morbid topic for the holiday season, but since Darren brought it up [What Happens to Your Blogs if You Die], I’ve bumped it up on my “to blog about” list. [...]

  9. [...] An interesting question, that you should think about.read more | digg story [...]

  10. [...] More discussions at Problogger, EricGiguere, Interweb World, Blogging Pro. [...]

  11. Weekly Brief says:

    [...] Are you an individual blogger? Then you need someone to take care your blog incase you are no longer present. Read ProBlogger article What happens to your Blogs When You Die. [...]

  12. [...] Blogging Wills – What happens to your Blogs When You Die? Some interesting thoughts on the future of your Web work after you die. If you have a lot of online content (as I do), you might want to plan ahead to keep it alive. By Darren Rowse on ProBlogger.net. (tags: blog blogging web death will) [...]

  13. [...] I recently had a couple of things occur around the same time that made me take a second look at this fact. Two articles by Eric Giguere and Darren Rowse where they talk about what they call AdSense Wills was the first thing; or was it the second – oh well it doesn’t really matter. The second thing was being told by my doctor that yes, you do have heart problems. [...]

  14. [...] His story is in The Winnipeg Free Press and it made me think about how I might approach death and how I should be preparing a master list of passwords and other information for my family just in case. Here are some tips at Problogger. [...]

  15. [...] What happens to your Blogs When You Die? [...]

  16. [...] Blogging Wills – What happens to your Blogs When You Die? (tags: blogexecutor blog-executor) [...]

  17. [...] Para ser sincero, o que me motivou a escrever este texto foi um outro, do Darren Rowse, exatamente sobre este assunto. [...]

  18. [...] What to do if I die a horribly death (or a placid one)? Who will take care of the gadzillion dollars I earn with my blogs? Well, some well known probloggers have answers for that. I’m still not in their level, but am certain to reach then sooner than in a zillion years, much sooner. And I’m grateful for their piece of advice. [...]

  19. [...] Update: Darren notified me that he had blogged about this here. [...]