The last week has been one of the worst in my freelance life. For the first time in my career, I felt an unbearable feeling of dread. That sick, queazy, stomach turning stress that almost made me physically ill. Last Monday, I lost my website. The Friday before went extremely well. I had some new work I created (for Nestle Canada) launch nationwide. To a freelancer, the day something goes live is the equivalent of Christmas morning. The main way to gain new business is to always be promoting yourself. When you create the majority of work months before you are allowed to show it to anyone, you look forward to the day you can finally announce it. I sent an email blast showcasing the new work on Friday to my contact lists... agencies, clients, potential clients, friends and family etc. Friday afternoon was spent deleting the emails that bounced back (and it seems there are many during this economic downfall) and writing thank-you follow-ups to those that responded with compliments. I also sent off a few proposals for some potential business. The weekend came and went. Monday, I had to run a few errands and at roughly 11:00 am, I was standing in a Home Depot aisle with a full cart when my phone rang. A close friend and colleague called me to deliver the news. “Buddy, I hate to tell you this but I was just about to forward your email to somebody when I noticed it’s completely blank. I checked the internet and your site is gone. It also says your domain is no longer registered in your name, and it expired today.” I left my full cart right where it was and bolted from the store. I also believe I would have beaten Mario Andretti on the road back to my house. Now, I’ve been in a lot of emergency situations in my life (where I had to remain level-headed) but my adrenaline was pumping so hard that I had to slow down for the operator at the hosting company to understand what I was talking about. It turns out, years ago, I had a web-savvy friend offer to register my domain name and do all the dirty work involved with the process. He had several email accounts and for some reason, he registered it under one of them that he no longer uses (instead of mine). This combined with an expired Visa card number means that my site didn’t automatically renew itself and went into what is called “Redemption”. Redemption is the equivalent of internet purgatory. Getting your site out of redemption (once my friend uploaded forms transferring emails/rights complete with government issued identification) takes 5 business days. That and hours (upon hours, upon hours...) on the phone making your way through different people, managers, and departments. The good news, I eventually got my site back. The bad, everybody opening my promo email on Monday got a dog’s breakfast. Anybody I sent a proposal to with the invitation to check out my website, would have seen nothing. I equate this to advertising a big weekend sale in my store, only to get there in the morning when a large crowd starts to gather and realizing that I have lost the keys. For one week, I was completely shut down. Imagine how you would feel if you had several big creative directors scheduled to see you and you just lost the only copy of your portfolio. THAT was the feeling. There is however, a positive spin to all of this. For every yin, there is always a yang. Thanks to the mess-up, I was able to send out my promo twice. Double exposure. My first basically became a teaser (a really lousy one). My second was an apology for the blank email followed by the promo once again. It did its job rather well and I was more than pleased with the response. There are several lessons to be learned from all of this. The most obvious is that I will ALWAYS make sure everything related to me is in my name and my contact information is up-to-date. The other is just a reminder that without a website in today’s world (or any form of internet exposure), a business is nothing. It has no clout. My door is now open. It will remain that way. Feel free to browse.