Welcome to Bumblings Blog Tips! Here’s this week’s advice:
A few things have happened lately that reinforce my belief a blogger that you should always focus on your website first. In case you haven’t heard:
- Pinterest banned affiliate links. I know a lot of other book bloggers have Pinterest boards for book reviews, teasers, etc. They then use Amazon Associate links to link to the ebook’s purchase page. It’s a great revenue-building tactic that they’ll no longer be able to use.
- Google announced future plans to make private any Blogger blog with sexual content. They later changed their mind after anger from bloggers, but it’s still an example of how quickly a rule change can completely eff up your blog’s brand.
- Facebook’s algorithms were updated to push down overly-promotional posts. Sure, this is actually a good thing for everyone in the long run, but many bloggers believe it’s bad. Regardless, it still required a strategy change for many pages. (More of my thoughts on all this algorithm stuff here, here, and here).
It all brings me back to one thing: the smartest thing you can do as a serious blogger is to self-host.
How to Build Your Brand: The Wheel-and-Spoke Model
If you’re building a brand for your blog (you probably are, whether you realize it or not), you always want to make sure it has lasting power. The first step in that is self-hosting on your own domain name.
Why? Because that’s the only way to truly own your blog.
You then need to make the blog the total center of your brand. Everything else – your Facebook page, Tsu profile, Twitter handle, Instagram feed, Goodreads profile – should be focused first on driving traffic back to that owned property.
Your self-hosted blog is the center of the wheel. All of your social media profiles and promotional efforts should be the spokes that support it. I always see people say that they use their Facebook page or Goodreads profile as their main platform. Instead of the profile supporting their blog, it’s the opposite. It has a bigger readership and more engagement than their blog. And I just get nervous for them.
Why You Shouldn’t Build On Rented Land
Let’s look back at the examples from the beginning of the post, in hypothetical scenarios:
- Pinterest affiliate link ban: Think about a book blogger with a massive Pinterest following. She has thousands of pins, books she’s reviewed organized by star-rating, and gorgeous teasers. All with Amazon Associates links that not only cover her blog’s expenses, but turn a profit. And the vast majority of her affiliate earnings come from Pinterest. Her paycheck as a self-employed blogger is about to all but disappear.
- Blogger sexual content ban: Tons of bloggers use Blogger – even some with their own domain name. They’re profitable businesses that could’ve easily been completely shut down. All the time and money you’ve invested in your Blogger blog would’ve been erased, just for posting about books with steamy covers.
- Facebook reach decrease: Say a blogger has found posting to Facebook to reach more people than her blog. It’s also easier to type out a Facebook post than go through all the formatting that a blog post requires. So she starts posting on her blog less and moving her brand over to Facebook. If she’s promoting books and giveaways a lot, her audience would drastically decrease.
Maybe I’m just overly careful and paranoid, but the lack of control you have in these situations bothers me.
When you’re posting to somebody else’s platform, you’re handing them control of your brand. They technically own the content you’re creating. That you’re putting time and effort into.
And they can do whatever they want with it. Everything you’ve worked for can be shot to hell with one small change to a platform’s terms of service.
If you put the website as the center of your blog’s brand, you won’t be hit as hard by any single small change. At the most, a source of traffic changes, and you get a little less traffic. But your blog is still standing and you still have all of the other referral sources to fall back on.
With self-hosting, your world will never come crashing down with one change. And Blogger and WordPress.com both make it very easy to export a file of all of your posts. Then WordPress.org makes it easy to import. Even if you don’t want to take it on yourself, it’s not expensive to hire out.
Do you own the center of your blog’s brand? Or are you just renting the real estate?
Subscribe to Bumblings Blog Tips
If you don’t want to get email about all of my new blog posts (no hard feelings…well, some hard feelings), I created a separate weekly newsletter just for blog tips.