BACK UP YOUR BACK-UPS!
Recently, a non-fiction internet market that I freelanced for, writing brief articles (500 words max) shut down. I only spent half a day writing each article that I submitted, so it was fun, and many times I could weave the topic into a horror tale for Owl's Eye View Magazine as well making my research do double time.
Unfortunately, the site eliminated the contributor's market, deciding to handle the department with in-house staff rather than freelancers, and cut all of our material free, which meant we could go ahead and submit it to other markets or post it in blogs of our own (hence, my four non-fiction blogs).
While I was dismayed about the paying market disappearing, I took it in stride, set up my blogs, and went on with my life.
What shocked me was the hysteria that the announcement stirred in the other freelancers on the site. They were going absolutely insane trying to download their articles, do screen shots and otherwise copy their work to their computers. Some of them had thousands of articles, having written for the site since its inception.
I could not believe the number of writers who wrote their articles directly onto the site, without backing them up to their computers. I thought every writer pretty much did what I do: write the article on my computer as a word doc, perfect it, then copy and paste it onto the site. And after that, I copy the original to a flash drive, as well as a one terabyte external hard drive. Now that might seem like overkill to you, but I have hundreds of short stories and articles. I've had computers crash on me, and to date I've lost very little material, because I've made saving it a part of my daily writing routine.
When I commented about this on the community's Facebook page, the writers who were frantically scrambling to retrieve their material within the two-week window they had to do that before the site shut down, got very defensive and told me that not all of them are professional writers, some have expertise in other areas and writing is a secondary thing.
But even at that, if you are good enough that your work is accepted by an editor, and you have an expertise that allows you to publish your experience, your tips, and opinions, why wouldn't you want to store those articles to share in other venues or just with friends on social pages? There have been many times when I've messaged someone an article I've written, right from my computer, rather than digging for it in a site's archives.
Perhaps I am overly possessive about my portfolio, but I can't imagine losing any of my material because I didn't have the foresight to save it in more than one place, especially when that one place is the internet.
Hopefully my fellow writers will save their articles as they write them from now on and never experience such downloading nightmares in the future.
TD – 1/15/2016