Control Your Content or Risk Going Out of Business

I am convinced that some people have self-destructive personalities. And I don’t mean the individual who overeats or drinks too much or the person who recklessly races down the freeway.

Rather, this self-destructive personality is the writer who relies exclusively on third parties to host their content, including articles, photos, and other user-generated material that can simply go away in just a moment.


Content is King


Disappearing Content

Last month, I wrote “Why Giving Up Blogging May Be Your Worst Decision,” to touch on the importance of maintaining your own site(s). Today, I am going to get specific on how your most valuable content can quickly disappear.

Am I being an alarmist? I’ll let you decide. However, the facts are clear that when you post material to a website or service that you do not control, then you risk having that information deleted, changed or used for purposes other than what you intended.

1. Terms of service.

I read recently that a controversial website that was dedicated to exposing the lies of another organization was suddenly shut down. That website seemed to be telling the truth, but it was hosted on WordPress.com, a free blog hosting site managed by the makers of that powerful content management system. The blog’s opponents seized upon WordPress’ “terms of service,” which clearly spell out that “hate speech” is not allowed. The term “hate speech” is loosely defined, but if someone does not like what you have to say and complains to the right source, then your material can be removed. Fortunately for the owners, they had a database backup and were able to transfer their blog to a private hosting company. Others are not so lucky.

2. Rules are changed. Again.

The popularity of Facebook is evident with more than 2.9 billion global users registered at the start of 2022. Its strength and influence cannot be denied, but Facebook has lulled legions of users into pouring all of their resources into its vast pit of accumulated content, material that becomes the property of Facebook. Contributing to Facebook isn’t wrong, but it should never be your primary way of reaching your customers or the people you influence. Even if you delete your Facebook account, the process is not an easy one and your information may remain on Facebook’s servers.

3. Strong platforms fade.

Facebook has supplanted MySpace in social media and Google has conquered Yahoo in web search. As difficult as it is to imagine either of these newer platforms being overtaken by an emerging entity, that possibility always exists. Back in the 1990s, message boards and forums ruled and were destinations unto themselves. Users freely shared valuable information that took countless hours to write. Many of those sites are now gone and the content its contributors submitted has long disappeared. You may be satisfied with your content’s short-term influence, but if you want what you write to last for the long haul, then only the sites you control can ensure its continued visibility.

4. Your shortened links no longer work.

Besides the content you write, the links you share via social media should be of critical importance to you. Those links can attract new clients and be useful for years to come. However, if a link shortener’s service shuts down, then your links will go away with it. Use a stable link shortening platform, particularly one that allows you to track analytics. I once used Google’s goo.gl shortener, thinking that the Internet giant would support this service forever. They have since shut it down, forcing me to tweak those shorteners as I switched to Bit.ly.

Rely on Yourself

Extreme reliance on others to host your content can adversely impact your business, perhaps forcing you to close up shop. Even if the hit is only temporary, you’ll lose valuable time and will need to expend resources to retrieve what you have lost. I doubt that you can afford to take such a hit nor should you.


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Image by narciso1 from Pixabay