A bit of a morbid topic, I know, but it recently came to my attention when I read that Bill Slawsky died in mid-May via a Tweet from his company:
For decades, Bill Slawsky managed a blog called SEO by the Sea, keeping track of the latest Google updates and more. For the community, it was a valuable resource. But nothing lasts forever, and when Slawsky passed away, his blog hosting eventually expired, and the site became unavailable.
Fortunately for Slawsky, SiteGround stepped in with a commitment to keep the blog up indefinitely:
It’s a lovely gesture and will bring SiteGround a lot of goodwill. But what of those who don’t have a blog that our hosting provider deems to have “significant value”? Alas, the path to dealing with our site after our death is not nearly so simple for us mere mortals.
Option 1: Let it Die (If it Doesn’t Make Money)
Look, I know it’s sad that your traces are vanishing forever, and your “legacy” will be erased. But ego aside, all things end (including you). I’m sure your blog has touched thousands of people’s lives while it existed, and those effects are permanent even if you can’t see them. In a way, your impact on the universe can never be erased, so why fret over a simple blog?
If your ego can stand it, consider just letting it go.
Option 2: Tell your Family to Sell it
If you’re the sole owner of your website, asking your family member to take over running it is probably too much to ask. You might think it’s easy because you’re intimately familiar with every nook and cranny of your site. But the chances of your spouse or kids having the same skillset is very low. Running a site with a specific business model can be hard, even for someone with the knowledge.
The easiest option would be to tell your family to sell your website. Empire Flippers or Flippa, or many other services, will evaluate your business model and sell it on your behalf. Yeah, they’ll take a fat cut for sure. But it could still be a good chunk of change to help your family in your absence.
Option 3: Teach Someone how to Maintain it (Unlikely Long-Term)
The other option is to teach someone how to log in and perform basic maintenance tasks like updating the software, signing in to payment sites, processing withdrawals, etc. Honestly, I’m not sure that this is even possible if the person to whom you’re leaving the site doesn’t have a background in website management.
If Option 2 doesn’t work out, though, and your site generates a lot more income than someone is willing to pay, it might be worth teaching someone to milk it for as long as possible. Without maintenance and updates, the site won’t last too long. But it might last long enough to keep generating income for a while, and that might be enough!
This requires great foresight and preparation, so I don’t think it’ll work in most cases.
Make Sure you Use a Password Manager (and Share the Master)
Regardless of your choice, you need to use a password manager with a strong master password that you share with at least one person. Running a website requires accessing dozens of services and log-ins, and you want to make it as easy as possible for those who come after you. I’ve had a few friends who had to deal with deaths in the family, and it’s amazing how much hassle you can save if the deceased used a password manager.
It’s never easy deciding how to deal with a website once the owner is no longer around. If it generates money, the easiest option is to tell your family in advance to sell it and give them the name of a business that purchases websites. That, along with a good password manager, should help whoever is in charge to extract maximum value from your hard work. However, if it doesn’t make money, you might consider just letting it vanish into the void. Such is the way of life!
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!