I was asked to write a guest blog on the topic of why it is important to have your own website. Well for whatever reason the blog was never posted and episode two of The Music Biz Weekly podcast reminded me that I still have this blog and that I should post it. This is a topic that I am passionate about. Let me make this clear, you must have your own website. Let me say that again… you need to have your own website.
Great social networks will come and go, and they are all important. You should be active on as many as possible. They are all great places to extend your website, extend your brand and presence. But everything should come back to your website.
It’s 2011 and you would think it is obvious why you need your own website. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had where the other party says “I have a MySpace page, or I have a Facebook page or I have a Reverbnation page… I don’t need a website.” Or how many people have their own website, but spend all their efforts driving everyone to Facebook. All they seem to care about is how many Likes they can get. You should care about how many visits you get to your website. Some people don’t look at a website as a significant part of their business or brand. They may see it as a afterthought, something they guess they should do. If you were to open your own restrauant is the building and location that last thing you would think about? It is your future, everything you hope to achieve depends on it. Your website is your bit of real estate on the internet and it will be yours potentially forever. Make sure you treat your online presence with all the seriousness you can.
Here are some important items to keep in mind.
1. Own your domain and site
Easier said than done, but you should make every effort to retain ownership of your domain name and website. Don’t change the Administrative Contact for your domain over to someone else unless you absolutely must. Try to avoid signing contracts that when they are terminated leave your domain and website under the ownership and control of another party. If that occurs you will have no control over what happens and you won’t see any revenue from a website with your name on it. During a contract you can let someone else manage and operate your website, but do not let them own it.
2. Do not redirect your domain to MySpace or Facebook
You should be using Facebook, Twitter, Reverbnation or any of a dozen other social network sites to generate traffic to your website. To redirect your domain to a social page is to give your traffic to somebody else, for them to monetize and you to not share in the revenue. Traffic on the internet is money. When you are finally ready to launch your own website how do you plan to get everyone who is going to Facebook or MySpace back to your site? You have already conditioned them to just visit Facebook or MySpace.
3. It is your brand which you own and control.
Your domain and website is your brand and you have full control over it. You decide how you are going to be presented. Use MySpace or Facebook and you are not the brand, they are. You will never be more important than their own brand. They will always come first over your brand and your desire to promote your brand. Don’t let someone else control what you can do with your brand.
4. What is the future of MySpace, Facebook?
Ok this will date myself, but I remember when AOL was “it”. When everyone was trying to establish their business on AOL. Everyone was advertising their AOL Keyword. Where is AOL now? Ok, how about Geocities? Everyone was building their website on Geocities for free. Nobody wants to invest any money in their website and Geocities let them get online for free. Where is Geocities now? And just how good were all those free websites? Or what about MySpace? Everyone knows about MySpace. Just five years ago they were “it”. Everyone had to be one MySpace. Everyone was growing their friends list on MySpace. We were all spending time customizing our MySpace page, blogging on MySpace. Where is MySpace now? MySpace recently announced a partnership with Facebook in hopes of breathing some life into the ghost town. What is the point of all this you ask? Do you know where Facebook is going to be in five years? I don’t think they will disappear, but they sure could change. Don’t put your future, your brand, your money into the hands of another website. Tomorrow they could be the latest fade or worse sold to someone who has different plans. In the case of Facebook, why would you send your traffic to a website that requires registration for any sort of interaction. You don’t get to gather that registration information, Facebook owns it. You are sending your fans to Facebook, for Facebook to market and make money from.
5. TOS, Terms of Service – you want to define them, not the lawyer from another website.
This is directly related to #4. Don’t set yourself up on a site that the Terms of Service, TOS, clearly state they do not support content you might wish to post. Anything of a adult or sexual nature is going to get deleted by Facebook. Nikki Sixx recently tried to post a image from the new Sixx AM album and Facebook kept deleting it. Even in rock n roll you might have something that Facebook feels is too sexual. MySpace and Facebook are clear examples. You spend your time and money establishing yourself and sending your traffic to Facebook or MySpace and then one day you log in and your account is deleted. What happened? Your content was most likely reported by someone and without any notice your account and work is gone. Build a website where you decide what is appropriate and what is not. Don’t let the lawyer at some other company decide if they like what you are doing. I am not saying to not use Facebook or MySpace, I am saying DO NOT make them your primary website. Use them as traffic sources to your website.
6. Sales – you can keep a bigger piece of the pie.
You want your own website so you can sell whatever you want, and keep a bigger piece of the pie. Although selling on other sites is possible there are usually hoops you need to jump through, and back to #5, what you are selling might be against the TOS and be cause for your account to be deleted.
Good luck trying to manage the SEO on a Facebook or MySpace page. If you have your own website you have full control over your SEO, over how the search engines will see you and what your target keywords are for your brand. If you have a strong presence on the various social network sites with links back to your website, Google will see those links and give you some SEO juice.
8. Stay on the cutting edge
With your own website you can experiment with all of the new internet technologies and tools when they are released. You are not at the mercy of a corporate giant who will decided when and if they want to adopt a new technology. If you build a WordPress based website you can play around with 1000s of plugins that add new functionality to your website. One click and you are streaming audio, one click you have a podcast being served through Apple iTunes. One click you have a events calendar.
Your website should be the center of your online universe, with all the various social networks revolving around it. Use the social networks to send traffic to your official website. Use them to be social, to interact with your fans and customers. Don’t spend your time and money to build up another website, spend it on your brand… spend it on yourself!