If you’re looking at a new web startup these days, you have to make a choice. You can aim for money or aim for traffic. Ironically, it’s hard to do both.

Whose business is Web 2.0? You update on Facebook and Twitter, post to your blog, comment on everybody else’s blog, and put your pictures on Flickr. What do you own? How do you make money? It’s your life on Facebook, but who gets the money for the ads?

How much is your content worth? How much is it worth to you? How much is it worth to the rest of the world? And who makes money with it? Given that it’s your life, your opinion and your picture, will other people pay for it? Can you make them pay for it?

In her post Is Facebook Turning us Into Digital Sharecroppers, Anita Campbell makes a very serious, concrete suggestion:

I think there’s a way you can participate in social sites such as Facebook and not be relegated to a digital sharecropper. That is: You should have your own websites or blogs that you own. Or write books, develop DVDs or author academic papers. Whatever methods you use for developing content and intellectual property that you own, you should do it. In other words, create the majority of your work on a venue or in a form where you own it and can benefit from it.

I know I’m just one example, but I think she’s absolutely right; and that this strategy, or my variation on it, has been working for me for years.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.