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Today, news broke that Twitter is shutting down its newsletter platform Revue. This comes as a shock to many creators and users alike, as they are giving everyone very short notice to get their data and old content off the system and ending paid subscriptions in less than a week.
What’s Going on at Revue
Revue announced on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, that the newsletter platform would be shutting down as of January 18, 2023. After that date, the data would be deleted and that it would no longer be available.
Since Revue offers a paid subscription model for newsletter creators, the platform also announced that it would end paid subscriptions on December 20, less than one week away. This is because creators will no longer be able to produce content, so there is nothing for the readers to pay for. But it also leaves content creators in a really bad position, having to find new platforms to serve a similar function with little notice, during a crazy time of the year.
Protecting Your Company from Similar Service Shutdowns
And while we can discuss the various alternatives to Revue and newsletter services, today, I’d rather talk about some of the best practices for small businesses using online services.
From Big Tech saying sayonara to your favorite service to a company getting hit by ransomware, you need to protect your own business from others no longer being accessible.
Content is King
We know that Content is King. It is what drives traffic and keeps our audiences engaged. But what happens when a service shuts down?
You lose all this work product. You can lose SEO juice, social proof of your expertise, and a record of lots of great ideas. In some cases, that could even move losing proof of use for a trademark claim.
I want to keep track of the content that I produce. It’s why you see me writing most of my long-form content on platforms like websites and blogs, where I own the platform. Sure, I could lose my hosting but because I have backups, I can setup shop on a new host pretty quick.
At a minimum, you should be keeping copies of your newsletters and other content. Make sure that you are a subscriber to your own newsletters and keep digital copies stored away of all your final products. Export the content and save it on your website for future use.
Kimberly's Best Practice: Maintain ownership and control over your content by publishing on your own platforms or by keeping copies of your content.
I am already hearing reports from content creators that used Revue that their accounts are inaccessible. This means that you might be having difficulty downloading subscriber information, including names and emails of the people that have signed up for your newsletter.
It is completely possible that you’ll lose all that information and may never be able to retrieve it. And I have seen it with other services in the past, not just today’s Revue closing.
Kimberly's Best Practice: Regularly download your subscriber list as a backup. I recommend weekly, but no less than quarterly. Keep these backups at a separate location from the cloud service being used.
Use Multiple Services
While today’s news revolves around a newsletter service and it doesn’t necessarily make sense to use multiple newsletter providers (especially on paid levels), there are other services where it makes sense to use multiple providers.
Think: backup storage providers.
What would happen if Google decided that it wasn’t going to support Google Photos anymore? What happens to all your photos? Or maybe Dropbox gets hacked and shuts down? There are lots of scenarios where services can cease to exist.
That’s why all good plans include redundancy. Especially for critical files and backups.
I use a combination of storage features, from Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, and good old-fashioned external hard drives. This makes sure that I have online and offline backups of my content.
Kimberly's Best Practice: Use multiple services, especially for backing up data.
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Manual Processes for Automated Processes
Today, business runs fast! That usually means that we have built in automated processes to run even faster (or with fewer employees to do manual tasks).
But what happens when your automated process shuts down? Are you prepared to do all of that temporarily while you or your provider rebuild your automated processes?
Do you have copies of contracts and email sequences ready to be sent manually if your service is down? Can you even onboard a new customer or client? Can you bill the customer or receive payments?
It’s important that you be ready with a manual version of every automated process that you have.
Kimberly's Best Practice: Maintain copies of all forms, contracts, email sequences, etc offline and ready to employ manually. Make sure employees are trained on these processes to ensure seamless transition in cases of emergency.
It’s Not Just Newsletters and Photos
While today’s focus has been on newsletters and other content services, modern business relies on a lot of connected online tools. From payroll and accounting to marketing to supply chain management, most of our businesses run off SaaS products.
And any one of them can go down at any time. Or no longer be supported. Or lock you out.
It’s why smart business owners will build in backups. And those backups need to be in formats that you can read.
What happens if you download the data in a proprietary format that no other system can read? You might as well have not backed it up.
It’s why I typically recommend that you download as much data as you can in widely accessible formats – PDFs, CSVs, text only files. These can then be imported into a wide variety of tools to analyze and use the data.
But if your data is locked behind a system that no one else can read, it’s worthless to you.
Kimberly's Best Practice: Backup data in widely accessible formats, not proprietary file formats.
Review All Your Systems
About this time last year, a major payroll provider was down due to ransomware. Over 2,000 companies were locked out of their payroll systems, just before Christmas.
It’s another reminder that you need to backup ALL your data. Don’t think that these large companies are immune from ransomware or other cyber attacks that will prevent you from accessing your data. And what system is more important than paying your employees?
Companies that had regular payroll information backed up were able to pivot quickly to other systems and keep their employees pay schedule. And comply with January tax reporting requirements.
What other vendors are you using that you need to monitor, review, and backup?
Kimberly's Best Practice: Make sure that you are downloading your data from all your online service providers so that you can continue to work, no matter what vendors may go down.
How Do You Prepare For Unexpected Service Shutdowns?
Let me know how you are making your business more resilient by preparing for unexpected service shutdowns or service disruptions. Comment below!
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