The Digital Writer: COVID-19 knocked your business Off-Kilter – How will you set it aright?

by Nate Hoffelder

After a decade of running The Digital Reader, Nate is a veteran web publisher with experience in design, maintenance, recovery, and troubleshooting. What little he doesn't know, he can learn.

March 20, 2020

The COVID-19 epidemic finally hit the US hard. Over the past month we’ve all now had experiences where we could no longer kid ourselves about this being a minor hiccup; it is a disaster that is disrupting everything.

For me it was the CDC recommending the cancellation of all public events for the next 8 weeks, but for you it might be a layoff from your day job, or a loved one testing positive, or schools being canceled for the rest of the school year.

No matter what brought home the reality of our situation, everyone who was dependent on public events is going to have to find a way to move forward and start rebuilding our careers.

That is what I have been doing this past week. I worked my way through the six stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Despair, Self-Pity, Chocolate, Acceptance) and then started looking at how to move forward.

I have boiled it down to two questions:

  1. What can I do today to rebuild my business next week?
  2. What can I do today to rebuild my business next year?

I see a lot of people on Twitter talking about how to immediately respond to the disaster. Putting food on the table is of critical importance, yes, but we also need to start building long term plans so we can come out of the disaster ready to transition to normality.

Basically, if you don’t start developing long term plans now, you will have to start when this disaster is over with, and then wait until the plans to come to fruition.

I have a few suggestions on how how you can start moving forward today.

Start planning for next year. 

What worked for you in the past, and can you set things up to use it again in six months to a year? For example, now is the time to start looking at next year’s book fairs, conventions, and other pubic events. (As I explained in my guest post on Anne R Allen’s blog, you should be planning at least a year in advance anyway.)

Go through your files, and pull out the discarded ideas, the half-finished plans, and the old projects that you shelved because they weren’t working out.

Ask yourself which of these can you use today to start rebuilding.

With all public events canceled for the duration, any plan built on meeting people face to face is kaput. The best way forward is to look at how you can adapt your preparations for being online, and your discard pile is a great place to start.

The current disaster has changed a lot of rules, so now is the time to throw everything against the wall and see what sticks.

Once you’ve set plans in motion, it’s time to give every part of your operation a once-over

If you are spinning your wheels as a result of canceled plans, now is the perfect time to review all aspects of your business and see which parts need to be updated, which need to be thrown out and rebuilt from scratch, etc.

When was the last time you updated your welcome emails for your newsletter? Do your blurbs need work? What about your website (SEO, speed, content)? Look at everything!

Obviously you should work on any problems you find, but the real goal here is to distract you while your plans are coming to fruition.  (Actually, it’s my plan to distract myself so I don’t self-destruct on Twitter … again.)

Now would also be a good time to blow the dust off of any project that you had been ignoring. For example, do you have a process and strategy for your newsletter? (I don’t, which is why I am writing out an SOP.)

Remember, restarting your career is not something you can solve today, or even this week.

Some would describe this phase of rebuilding your business using the metaphor of this being a marathon and not a sprint , but I would say it’s neither.

I’d say it’s more like a cross-country trip where you aren’t sure if you’ll be driving, hitchhiking, taking the bus, or what have you. I like this metaphor because it reminds you that you have to adapt to current circumstances to move forward. This is different from a sprint or a marathon, where you are running on a path laid out for you.

Does that help any?

Hi, I'm Nate.

I build and fix websites for authors, and I am also a tech VA. I can build you a website that looks great and turns visitors into fans, and I can also fix your tech when it breaks. Let me fight with tech support so you don’t have to.

My blog has everything you need to know about websites and online services. Don’t see what you need. or want personalized help? Reach out.

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1 Comment

  1. Xavier Basora


    Excellent tips and advice.

    Content creators should pick up a new hobby or restart an old one. That way you learn/refresh new skills and stay distracted 🙂
    Aldo you can offer your services as editor, corrector translator etc.




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