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Do You Have a Blogging Will?

Over the weekend I updated my Blogging Will.

Perhaps it’s because life is changing for our family with baby #3 due in July, or perhaps it’s the trip to Tanzania I’m on this week, but one way or another I decided it was a good time to update the document I’ve created for V (my wife) so that she knows what to do with my blogs if I ever were to die or become incapacitated.

That might sound a little morbid, but it is something I do ponder from time to time. What would happen to my blogs if I were not here?

I first developed a Blogging Will back in 2006 (I wrote about it here), around the time we realized that my blogging was our family’s primary source of income, and something we’d need to protect in the worse-case scenario.

Also, as a solo entrepreneur, I realized that much of what was needed to run this business was locked up in my head—a dangerous thing if something happened to that head!

What does my Blogging Will contain?

People

The most important things in my blogging will are names and contact emails of people I trust and work with. The list mentions around 15 people that I have different working relationships and friendships with, and who V could contact to get help around different aspects of my business. There are those I contract to help with different aspects of my blogs, server guys, community managers, business partners, authors, and more.

For each person, I’ve included a brief description of who they are, where they live, and what they do (or how they could help).

The reality is that V isn’t a blogger and I doubt she’d be able to take over much of the activity that I do each day. But with the right people around her, the business could be sustained at least a point to where parts of it could be sold.

Business overview

V has a basic understanding of my business, but it struck me recently that there’s a lot about it that she’s not really aware of. I no longer just have a few blogs—there are forums/communities, ebooks and courses, other partnerships, a book, job boards, and more.

So I’ve created a short document with an up-to-date description of each aspect and how it fits in.

Advice

In the Will are a few paragraphs of advice about what I’d do if I was in the situation of having to run the business without much prior knowledge of it. I explain what I’d try to sell, who I’d try to convince to run things, what products I’d release, and so on.

While none of it is legally binding, I want to leave my family in the best position to be able to sustain themselves in the long term if something were to happen to me.

Passwords, login details, access codes

Many parts of my business are reliant upon third parties, and anyone wanting to keep things running would need to access those services. For example, they’d need my PayPal account login details, affiliate program and ad network access details, and more.

Without these, it would be almost impossible to keep things running profitably.

What happens to your blogs if you die?

Do you have a Blogging Will. or any other kind of plan in place for your blog in the case of your passing?

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. Very timely Darren. I appreciate this.

    I’ve been thinking more and more about this as of late as I start picking up other blogs and clients. I don’t have a great way to pass that information along to someone if something were to happen to me.

  2. This is something I have done for my affiliate sites, domain names and online software business. I actually contacted Nominet (UK domain registry) to find out what would happen to domain names in my name. I found that I could nominate a person to transfer them to in the event of my death. There would be costs involved but at least they would be secure.

    I also have a document I maintain with my passwords, logins etc. I keep this in my safe at home, and I keep a copy with my will in a lock box.

    I have not really put all that much thought into business continuity as yet, more how any funds could be accessed, perhaps assets sold, but it is something I will now put some thought into, the problem I have is my wife is not tech aware at all so those logins would not be of a great use to her, but it is a good idea nominating trusted colleges who would be able to help.

    As usual very thought provoking post!

  3. Never really thought of this Darren but I guess having one will be good. To think of it, I will need to do a will with all my sites username and password including Paypal, affiliate sites, social media etc…

    wow…another task in the making, thanks Darren for reminding :)

  4. Angie says:

    This is a very timely post. My husband has recently been asking if things are written down somewhere for my freelance biz and blogging income/expenses should something happen. He also is rather in the dark about where all of those income streams come from and how to access them, nonetheless anything that has to do with the actual running of my sites.

    This will at least give me a place to start. It’s not something I like to think about, but thank you.

  5. corey says:

    I have always thought about that, having so many different online accounts and passwords for everything from wordpress logins to google account logins. This is great advice, to get all that information out of your head and onto paper, so that someone could continue with it if something were ever to happen to me.
    -Corey

  6. Kate says:

    I love this post, makes me feel more normal. I’ve had a, well, not a blogging will specifically, but a “website will” since I began doing online back in the late 90s, early 00s, back then it wasn’t about maintaining a business though, but rather informing my community if I were to die, that this was the case and that I’d not just disappeared into the abyss. So a sort of selfish will I suppose.

  7. Gabriel says:

    My blogs haven’t become such a big part of my online money making venture so that there needs to be in place some sort of crisis prevention plan. You mentioned the word “morbid” in the post; well here’s another one that I resonate with in regards to the scenario – “pessimist”. And this is because I can’t seem to imagine your blogging network continuing to be successful if you were to cease to exist. I mean there are plenty of talented individuals that ease your work on an ongoing basis but after all when you say Problogger to say Darren.

    Sorry me dropping another gray tear to the picture. Anyways let us enjoy you Today!

    Cheers,
    Gab

  8. I keep an encrypted file of all business accounts, and site accesses, with a POST field (which stands for POST death). The master password is locked in a safe off premises, and two people have the access info.

    However, I guess it’s time to revisit and provide more details – like who to contact about updating things.

    Thanks!

  9. TheAndySan says:

    This is quite an interesting concept Darren, albeit a tad morbid.

    Since I’m in the US Navy, it’s all the more relevant to establish a Blogging will, even though I don’t make nearly as much as you do and the majority of my money comes from sites like PayPerPost, where I’m paid once for each post that I write, although I can bring in residual income via the post itself on my blog.

  10. Such an apt article – I think my wife would sell my two gallery/blogs – at least I hope she’d try to – after all the hours, pain and love etc. that I’ve put into them. But as Darren points out – a lot of the nuts and bolts exist only in my head. I must write them down and also give my brother a copy. It’s very important to have an off site record of everything to do with your blog. Including backups (in my case Rapid Weaver files and JPEGS of the paintings that I sell). In case your PC blows up or your house burns down – what would you do if that happened?

  11. Maaike Quinn says:

    Darren, I certainly don’t want to think about this! :S

    But well, you are right. I should be thinking about this.

    Still don’t want to, though.

    Hmm.

  12. I don’t think it’s morbid at all, but then I’m in my late 50s and I think you get more matter-of-fact about such things as you get older.
    Yes, I’m also developing a blogging will, although it’s more of a complete online will, covering the same sort of topics you mention. There are services you can sign up for, for example http://legacylocker.com/. But the problem there is knowing whether they’re still going to be in business when you pop your clogs.

  13. Darren, few years back this would sound crazy even to mention but i guess since blogging has become part of our life it sounds quite normal. Very smart to think of something like that :) congrats

    Elias

  14. Momo says:

    Hi Darren,

    I don’t really think i should of read this article, only because dying is a bit extreme being 14!

    Great Article anyway! Made me think too…

    …I might be hiring some Authors and Editors just in case :D !

  15. Diane says:

    There has been much written on what to do and how to handle your online social/business affairs when you die and as with offline, this is a subject that needs to be discussed more often, even though it is painful or uncomfortable.

    You are talking about blogs, forums and other real estate that you own and this is good,but you need to expand your thinking to anything and everything that you have created online. This means social communities( for example Facebook and Twitter), your email accounts (gmail, hotmail,yahoo etc.).

    It can be a daunting process indeed.

    One piece of advice that I would give to others is to follow the example of Twiitter and apply it to other social communities and email accounts:

    “If we are notified that a Twitter user has passed away, we can remove their account or assist family members in saving a backup of their public Tweets.

    Please contact us with the following information:

    Your full name, contact information (including email address), and your relationship to the deceased user.
    The username of the Twitter account, or a link to the profile page of the Twitter account.”
    taken from: http://support.twitter.com/groups/33-report-a-violation/topics/122-reporting-violations/articles/87894-how-to-contact-twitter-about-a-deceased-user

    I have found out that Hotmail will let family members order a CD of all the messages in a deceased user’s account IF they provide a death certificate and proof of power of attorney. Gmail requires the same paperwork plus a copy of an e-mail the deceased sent to the petitioner. Sorry at this point I am unsure about Yahoo but would imagine that it is pretty similar

    I hope this has been of use to you and your readers.

    A good topic to discuss and to inform …Thank you

  16. Was just thinking about this for the first time this morning. You must have read my mind ;-)

  17. flashmadblog says:

    If i am dead my blog will keep me alive on google for some days atleast :)

  18. Carrie says:

    i have a passwords list with notes so my family can continue to access my blogging income but i really need to organize the information better.

  19. visaap says:

    Although our income doesn’t rely on the websites I maintain, I’ve certainly thought about it. I use a password-manager where all the usernames, passwords & logtime are stored. My girlfriend just has to remember one password to access them all.
    But certainly will read your will for inspiration.
    Thx

  20. Dinu says:

    hmm, I will have to find out someone who will be able to run mine after I am gone .. wifey is not geeky enough :D

  21. I brought a business partner in July of last year and we do have a close clearly explaining what would happen in the case one of us would pass away.

    Great topic Darren!

  22. I’ve thought about this, but tried to cast it from my mind because I can’t bear the thought of it. You’re right though, Darren. This is something that should be addressed.

    I’ll have to think of a way to broach the subject to my husband. He’ll think I’m crazy!

  23. You’ve put a valid question at the end. My answer would be in your blogging career one would be hiring an editor/writer. So maybe make a legal document & let him manage it.

  24. Blog Traffic says:

    This is one of the stresses in my life! LOL I think of all the work I’ve put into my site, and what would happen after just a single month of missed hosting or Aweber payments.
    I put together a notebook vs. a will with all my details, and logins etc, but I think it needs to be more detailed.

    Got me thinking.

  25. Sudeep says:

    Hey ,
    I was wondering about what would happen to blogs when a blogger died…Like this post..

  26. aswin says:

    excellent post :-)

  27. Suzanne Vara says:

    Darren

    This is not something we want to think about however whether it is your business to blog or your business is something else, it is important to have a will for the business. It is not an exit strategy that people would think of. It is being a responsible business person that cares about the clients, readers and the business community as a whole.

    The last thing a family is generally thinking of in a time of death or incapacitation is about a blog or the entire business itself. That is not where their mind is at.They are overwhelmed with grief and well others are waiting in like for a check. Happens. However what does not always happen is the logistics of the business and where to start in reaching out to people.

    As much as we do not want to address the subject we have to. We need to provide the guidance to our family and friends so that while in the time of grief, there are others able to help and take a piece of it off the plate of the family.

  28. se7en says:

    Wow!!! I have never given a blog will a thought, never occurred to me but as usual, it is a great point and really I should give it a whole lot more than a passing thought!!!

  29. Josh Hughes says:

    I think this is a big wakeup call for some and not just for blogging, but for internet persona in general. Social media profiles, account infos, etc. Definitely something you have to plan for..

  30. Eileen says:

    Not morbid at all … realistic.

    I’m 65, so it’s more natural for me to see that my end is closer than my beginning.

    My hubby and I are a blogging team. He’s the techie and I’m the creative. After years of constant worry – okay nagging – over my lack of techie-ness, he has finally started sharing some of the tech stuff (yuck) with me.

    I can’t describe how relieved I feel, knowing that I could pick things up should he “go first” as he threatens to do.

  31. Simon says:

    I turn 35 in two weeks and I used to write wills for a living yet I have never written one for myself. Very hypocritical of me to push wills as a must have document for all my old clients but never bother to write my own.

    I had never thought of my what will become of my blog when I go. I am not sure I am that stage that it really matters if it did die although I do have a few core readers who would miss me.

    Maybe it is time to get cracking and get things in order.

  32. Great advice, as usual. Virtual life is something most people don’t think of, and it takes a whole new perspective when this virtual life is your actual job. Thanks for mentionning all this!

  33. Sandy Webb says:

    As a widow I can’t stress enough how important it is to have your “affairs” in order!

  34. Bruce Stormer says:

    Excellent post. I don’t have a blog but it really got me thinking about my own business and then about my social media – what would happen and who should know my passwords etc. Thinking about this topic is like thinking about most risk management issues – you don’t want to do it but you really need to for the sake of those you care about.

  35. alamin says:

    Yes i not only have interest to be a blogger but also be like darren

  36. Wow. Just when I thought I had everything covered. This is an excellent article, and one that really drove home to me how much of a one woman show my blog is. NO ONE knows how to even log in to my blog in my family. To think that something as simple as not having my username and password could potentially keep them from selling an asset to assist them after my passing…wow.

    Definitely getting on this. Thank you Darren.

  37. Ginger Jones says:

    I’ve had a will and a living will for several years. It has crossed my mind what to do with my blog, accounts related to it etc. The most I have done so far is to entrust my best blogging friend with full admin rights to my blog. That was initially done so that if I couldn’t log in for whatever reason, she could log in and make a post for me.

    Now that I am addressing some fairly serious health problems, I’ll start a spread sheet with all the info and back it up with a continuity document so that if it needs to be handed off to someone, they’ll know what to do. I’ll place all of this with my will. I’ll probably burn it off on a CD to send to my friend as well.

    Thanks for the reminder that what we do online really does have value and worth.

    Ginger
    AttentionDealShoppers.com

  38. Ahmad Wali says:

    I never thought about this thing! I would love to give away my blogs who is passionate in blogging If i pass away!

  39. mark ways says:

    This topic is very timely, as those things are just happening right now in my family. Though, I see the importance of having things sorted I haven’t been aware of it by myself. I’m just becoming aware of it by reading this post. So, thanks for bringing up this subject.

  40. It’s interesting that you mention this. I’m just coming out of an illness. One night around 2 weeks ago, I felt so horrible that I actually sat up and quickly wrote out instructions for my husband on what to do with my blogs. I told him where to find my passwords and log-ins. and gave him the email for a friend who is WordPress savvy and asked to have her post a specific message. I also gave my husband the passwords, etc. for my paypal account.

    Fortunately, I was being dramatic about how badly I felt and I’m getting better, but it made me aware that one never knows what might happen and I should have something in place.

  41. Jim Clawson says:

    Wow that’s something that I have never really thought of. Very innovative idea! Thanks for sharing!

  42. Jerrick Yeoh says:

    i do not think that much , once i pass away, ofcourse my business blog will continue by others which you order from top manager. But i’m the business owner, no doubt that my blog will die as well because i do not have any blogging will because i would everything done it myself. So just sold my blog and domain to earn money if i dead.

  43. I’ve just spent the past month updating wills and related documents and we realized that it’s going to be important to leave passwords and IDs even just for emails. Also, people who participate actively in forums probably want to be able to let those people know if you’ve died. Great article. Thanks.

  44. Oh wow! I had just read a similar post about backing up one’s blog files etc and at the end of the post it was added that one should consider getting a ‘blog will’ – clearly it is about time I get one!