If you’re going to spend time, money and energy building an awesome online presence and creating killer content that will drive real business results make sure you do it on your own terms and your own site.

Most importantly make sure you own and control what you create.

Things you create belong on a domain and platform that you own and can control. That’s www.yourbusiness.something not Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+ or anywhere else.

Own your domain

First of all it’s just much more professional and way easier for customers to find you if you have an original and distinct domain name. www.yourbusiness.something may take a little time and a bit of money to set up, but it’s well worth the half hour and $50 in the long run. Why?

  1. If you own the domain you can move it if something were to happen to your provider without interruption to your customers.
  2. You won’t look stale and dated. Imagine using a GeoCities branded free domain in 2012. What’s GeoCities? Exactly.
  3. If you build your business on the same domain name over years you can silently amass a huge and valuable asset. Search Engine indexed pages. If you don’t own the domain name, you don’t own the search results associated with you business.

Build on a platform you control

While it may be tempting to use hosted tools that help you build websites that look great and work well with no tech skills at all, don’t. At least for your core business site. Tumbr, website tonight kind of online apps and others in this field are awesome but they leave control of your business in someone else’s hands. If you want to grow a 100 year business, don’t build it on a tool that may not be around in 2 years. These tools are are great for quick and easy site development for say one time projects, fun sharing sites and other side projects, but they have some limitations you need to think about.

  1. When you are ready to add more functionality to your site you can’t unless they do.
  2. You may not be able to port your content out of one of these tools to another platform if you decide you want to move in the future.
  3. You also may not be able to back up the site. If it goes down, when will your site be back up?
  4. If they get hacked… you get hacked.

Don’t publish original content on social media sites

Promote original content on social media sites but don’t use them as your primary place to publish. Some businesses have recently abandoned their own website and pointed their domain to their Facebook Brand page as their primary site. While I can see the immediate benefits this may bring, it’s a long-term mistake. Why?

  1. Social media site are for… being social. They are not designed or ever meant to be the online hub of your businesses.
  2. Many social media sites are walled gardens meaning that you have to be a member of the social media network in order to access your Business’s page. While tech savvy folks like to think that “everyone” is on social media… not everyone is. Google and other search engines may also be blocked now or in the future from indexing these sites as well.
  3. Copyright. If you write original content and publish it on a social media site you may think you own the copyright to that material. And you may be wrong. The 18 foot long user agreement that you didn’t read when you joined the social media site may actually forfeit your rights to your own content or potentially even worst, allow them to use it for other purposes.
  4. Mark Zuckerberg.

Have a plan B

Where B is for Backup. There’s going to be an outage. There’s going to be hackers sniffing around. Are you absolutely 100% beyond a shadow of a doubt certain that your stuff is being backed up? If so, how fast and how well can it be restored if something goes wrong?

Own your own domain. Maintain control of your own business. Always have a plan B.