How to Survive a Website Crash on the Busiest Day of the YearCarolyn Crummey
Sally McKenney’s entrepreneurial journey starts just like many. Back in December of 2011, she was looking for something to fill her free time, so took her passion for baking and writing and started a blog. Fast forward four years and she has quit her full-time job, has over 250,000K viewers to her site daily and is the author of two cookbooks. But all of that could have quickly come to an end the day before Thanksgiving, 2014, when her website crashed. We recently had the opportunity to interview Sally and hear the story of her journey and how she survived a website crash on the busiest day of the year.
In 2011, Sally McKenney was working full-time as a financial assistant and needed something to entertain herself on the weekends. She had a strong passion for baking and for writing, so married the two and started a blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction. At first, the only visitors she had were family, friends, and coworkers who wanted the recipes of treats that she made. Then one day she decided to borrow her boyfriend’s (now husband) digital SLR camera to take some pictures of her creations. She was hooked! She started learning more about what she could do with the camera to create magnificent images and started spending every free hour posting the images not only to her website but to her Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts. The images immediately started to transform the everything she was doing and within a year, her traffic skyrocketed to over 20K views per day. In just a year and a half after starting the blog, Sally was making enough money off of ads and sponsored content to quit her full-time job.
In 2013, she was approached by one of her readers who was the editor of a publishing company and was offered a deal to write a cookbook. That cookbook titled Sally’s Baking Addiction, was editorially selected as one of the best books of March 2014 on Amazon. Her second and most recent cookbook, Sally’s Candy Addiction, released in 2015 and was voted one of the best books of October 2015 on Amazon.
(Listen to the full audio interview with Sally Below)
The Day Sally’s Site Went Dark
It was the day before Thanksgiving 2014 and Sally’s customers had flooded to her site to grab the latest dessert recipes for the holiday. And then the one nightmare every entrepreneur running an online business has happened: her website crashed. No one, including Sally, could access the site. She was in a panic and quickly got on the phone to her web hosting service. But they were no help and not only left Sally without any type of resolution but told her it was her own fault. She was devastated. Not only was she not serving her customers (who were now frantically reaching out to her via social media and email), she was losing thousands of dollars in advertising and product sales on her busiest day of the year.
So Sally did some research and called on her blogging friends for some advice on what to do. Many had suggested she contact WP Engine, a WordPress hosting site, so she did. Within two days, the WP Engine site had Sally’s site moved over to their hosting servers and on a plan that would support her traffic. That Christmas season Sally had more traffic than ever and never experienced even a single blip in her site uptime.
Valuable Lessons Learned
Sally attributes her overall business success to four main points:[starlist]
- Amazing Images that tell the story of her product.
- Dependable recipes that she test 3 times each before publishing.
- Writing the way she talks so people get ‘Her’ and feel a connection.
- Interacting with readers on her blog by answering comments and on social media by taking part in the conversations.
As for he website crash, while Sally was able to regain her faithful viewers after the crash, not all entrepreneurs, and online businesses might be so lucky. What Sally learned from the experience was how important it is to have a web hosting company that can not only provide services to fit your needs but also has the customer support necessary in both good times and bad.