Names have been changed to protect my client’s identity. While the names are changed, the stories are true.
Late last year, my client Barry Smith landed the consulting gig that most consultants dream of landing. He signed with a Fortune 1000 company to do the work that he does best. He signed a one year contract with the company and near the end of the contract, the company began making inquiries as to whether Barry was interested in “conventional” employment with the firm.
Visions of benefits, paid vacations and 401K plans began dancing in Barry’s head. Meanwhile, the domain name registration and web site hosting were both coming due. Barry contacted me to see if he could put his domain name registration and web site hosting accounts onto a monthly payment plan. After all, in a few short weeks, it didn’t look like Barry was going to need to keep his web site up for much longer.
I completely understood Barry’s excitement at the prospect of returning to corporate America. I too have been known to browse through the Monster.com listings and dream of a position where I’m not responsible for taking out the trash and cleaning the “corporate” break room in addition to all of my other fascinating and thrilling tasks for which I’m responsible as a solo entrepreneur.
However, I also fielded a similar call from another client about 18 months ago. Karen left her position at a Fortune 100 company as the director of training and communications to launch her own training and communications firm. Five years after launching her own company, Karen LEPT at the chance to go to work for her biggest account on a full time basis. Karen had never enjoyed all the peripheral duties that come from running your own business. The financial side of the picture made her head spin and she absolutely DESPISED managing the technology that was essential to her business.
I encouraged Karen to keep up her web site, just because it did such a GREAT job of highlighting her talents. I explained to her that any clients who contacted her via her web site could be directed to her employer. Karen was comfortable with that, so we kept her web site intact with the exception of changing the contact information to inform visitors of Karen’s new employer.
Eighteen short months later, Karen’s honeymoon with her employer had ended quickly. It wasn’t long before the comforting blanket that had enveloped her in security was now acting as a tourniquet around her neck. Karen jumped to another “ship” and tried another turn at being a “9-5 employee” but her second stint was even worse than her first. A little more than 2 years after our initial conversation about taking her web site down, Karen found herself back at the helm of KarenJ Training and Communications.
Fortunately, because Karen had left her web site up and kept her hosting account active, it didn’t take much to rev up the marketing engines and get her web site “active” again. During her “time off” her site had aged two years, making her a “Grand Dame” among web sites. A few new articles, a change or two to her “about” page and she was off and running again.
So when Barry contacted me in December, I was able to tell him the WHOLE story of Karen’s quest. I told him how her hosting fees for those two years were small in comparison to creating a whole new web site from scratch. I also told Barry that, if he decided he was happier back in Corporate America, he could always convert his web site to a blog, where he could continue to share his expertise and create a virtual resume for his next job in Corporate America, not to mention a following should he ever decide to publish his thoughts in a book some day.
Lessons to take away from the story above:
- If you haven’t registered your name as a domain name, do so immediately. Because these two coaches had domain names under their “given” name, they could easily switch to a blog without hurting their standing in the search engines. The blog could then be used to promote their expertise.
- There is a severe and harsh penalty levied against “new” web sites by Google. It’s usually WELL worth the $10-$45 per month to maintain your web hosting account even if you “transition” back to traditional employment.
- Should you decide that the carefree life of a solo entrepreneur is not for you, it is possible to sell your domain name and web site. Because of the penalties imposed by the search engines on new sites, an established site that hasn’t been used for porn or spam is probably worth more than you think it is.
- A blog is a great way to showcase your knowledge and expertise. Its ease of use makes it ideal for anyone to strut their stuff and show what they know.
By the way, Barry decided to keep his web site and actually turned down the job offer. Seems the story of Karen Jones reminded him of why he left corporate America in the first place. He has decided to launch a blog so he can effectively demonstrate why the Fortune 1000 company was so interested in bringing him on board full time with other potential clients.