(Sung to the tune of the old blues song, God Bless the Child (That’s Got His Own))
It’s a simple concept, really: own your own content. It’s like owning your own home. In web terms, that’s owning your own domain. My thanks to Liz Strauss for this back-to-basics common-sense reminder, posted yesterday, called Why It’s Smart to Own Your Content URL, Publish at Home First, and Only Share on Facebook, Flickr, YouTube . The key:
If you’re going to build and share online content, own the url where you house it. Put the link on Facebook, but the content on your own URL.
She quotes the New York Times on Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter. It’s about this:
“I don’t use my blog anymore,” said Mr. McDonald, who lives in San Francisco. “All the people I’m trying to reach are on Facebook.”
Liz points out two problems with that.
First, “we don’t own the keys.” She recalls a painful moment when her site on blogger went down:
I woke up one morning years ago unable to reach my “free” blog because Google owned the server. I wasn’t paying them to serve me. My content was at the mercy of their willingness to keep their tool working and accessible to my readers.
Second, “we give up rights to what we own.” Facebook the like have to cut into your content copyright and ownership with terms of service; they can’t operate without it. So you don’t own them.
Of course, every online tool has to have it’s own rules to protect itself and to maintain its identity. Some of those rules make it deliciously easy to do it their way rather than put in the work to build a “home” of our own. Even the power of their longevity can make the Search Engine listings seem stronger to stay with them.
But the pride and power of ownership allows us to tell our own story in our own way. We can use those other tools to support us in building a powerful presence that is truly our own. But relying on them alone they can become less support and more “just an easy way.”
Liz puts the nugget right into her title: own the content, publish at home first, then link out. That’s good advice.