Attention: You Don’t Own Any Of Your Online Content (and what to do about it)

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It’s true. Everything you post to the free social networks is not really yours. Yes – you technically “own” it – but the online space where you post this content is borrowed.

The solution?

Your own self-hosted blog.

In this post I’ll cover why you must have your own blog, what kind of blog to use, how to get started and then give you some specific action steps to do right away.

But first a story…

There was this really neat company a couple years ago called Utterli.

The concept was simple.

You could call a number from any phone, leave a voicemail, and your “content” would be posted online for the masses to listen. It was very similar to Twitter, except it focused on audio instead of 140 characters of text.

I spent some time building an Utterli following and was getting hundreds of listens to each piece of audio I recorded and posted. These Utterli messages were channeling traffic to our website and people were sharing the content with their networks. I found it to be successful enough to begin recording a 2-minute audio update each morning.

Each recording contained specific, actionable and timely advice for people who wanted to use social media to build their businesses. In two minutes I would deliver a quick insight combined with an action step. I was having fun and felt great at the volume of content I was creating.

Then Utterli closed up shop.

They were just gone one day.

No warning email alert like, “hey get all your audio recordings off our servers because we are going out of business next week.”

Just gone. Along with ALL my content and the entire network of followers I built.

Lesson learned: YOU DON’T OWN ANY OF YOUR CONTENT ONLINE UNLESS IT IS ON YOUR OWN BLOG OR WEBSITE.

Of course this is providing that you self-host your blog and continue to pay a small fee each month to the hosting company.

A blog will keep you independent of corporate whims and startup failures

A blog gives you control of your content. At any time, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter or Flickr can shut their doors, change their business model or simply kick you out of their club. Having your own self-hosted blog protects you from being wiped off the face of the Internet with the click of a mouse.

Your blog also gives you a home base. It’s somewhere to route all the traffic that you gather as a result of your activity on the social networks.

Think of your blog in terms of a virtual piece of real estate. When you have a self-hosted blog, you “own your digital house.” When you rely on social networking sites for your content, it’s like being a guest in someones house.

Plus when people are consuming content on your site, you are in control of the relationship. After Utterli closed shop – I lost my followers and listeners since I never formally connected with these folks through email or my blog. The entire relationship was built around a platform. Once that platform ceased to exist – so did our relationship.

What I mean by self-hosted blog

You could set up a free blog right now with Blogger, Vox, WordPress.com or a number of other services. But remember, you’re still depending on these services to continue offering a free space for your content to “live.”

The better option is to host your own blog. There are many options for blogging software, but I personally recommend WordPress.ORG. It’s free software, easy to use and has a growing network of developers looking to make improvements. You’ll have to pay a small monthly fee to a hosting company – but it’s worth it.

How to get started with your own WordPress blog

There are many resources out there to help you with your self-hosted WordPress blog. Many people are hesitant to make the leap because of the $10 per month hosting fees. But if you are serious about building your business and personal brand online, then it’s going to take some investment on your part.

Ownership is everything. You can use social media sites to host content, attract prospects and build your network – but don’t rely on them to archive and preserve all the content you’ve worked so hard to create. At any time they can change their terms of use and you can lose all your work.

Today’s Action Steps

Set up a self-hosted WordPress blog.

Now go take action.

 

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JMW-HeadshotJoel Mark Witt is the Publisher of Folk Media. He is a producer, author, speaker and social media marketing coach who consults with individuals and small businesses on how to use social media in marketing and communications. Get more from Joel on Twitter.  

Comments

  1. Joel you right man, I always recommend my client to get their own websites because that’s something they own. But for some reason many people think they really own a Fan page on facebook..this just babbles me.

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  2. Thanks Coleman for the comments.

    ~ Joel

  3. You are right on the money Joel. The second I realized that I could lose a ton of hard work in the blink of an eye, I started paying for domains and hosting, which is pretty cheap (especially in lieu of what you stand to lose). Thanks for the article and for turning me on to Laura’s blogging course.

    Jason R. Ayers

    • That’s great Jason. I know that for me, making the switch was a big leap. But once I started working with self hosted WordPress blogs, I also had more flexibility and control. So now I can’t imagine it any other way. Thanks for the comments.

      ~ Joel

  4. Well, I best get to steppin’ on that blog I’ve been procrastinating.

  5. @Naples … thanks for the comment.

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