Why You Should Plan To Self-Publish Pretty Much Forever

Two years ago, I wrote a post sharing the reasons you should blog and not just Tweet. The reasons in that post haven’t actually changed much since. But the point of that post wasn’t about simply blogging and Twitter. It’s larger than that.

The point is that if you have seriously embraced the notion that every company is a media company, you should be prepared to self-publish, on a domain you control and own, pretty much forever.

Self publishing lets you become platform agnostic. You aren’t limited to one single network like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or anything else. Rather, you effortlessly plug into all of them, including reaching unloved but extremely valuable RSS and email users. Not everyone will ever use every single platform, but everyone can share, comment and subscribe to content that is published via a domain you own. In fact, more platforms makes self-publishing more valuable, because independent content can easily be shared anywhere on the web. If you’re doing your job to grow a community, you actually worry less about this as users will naturally share your content where they prefer. You can just keep focusing on being compelling.

By having a self-hosted blog or publication you control the design, calls to action and user experience. Change is not up to some external entity (whether for benevolent reasons or otherwise). Rather it is up to you. If you plan to build a community that stands the test of time it is far too valuable to place this ability in the hands of another.

The reasons macro networks aren’t great at community haven’t changed. It’s not that community doesn’t exist there, that’s not the case at all. But there are inherent drawbacks to them that are still inescapable and it’s just not the same type of community.

Diversification of traffic streams is also critical, which is why despite the rise and fall of networks certain web publishers continue to thrive. It’s because they are never completely reliant on one source. Self-hosted is an approach to transcends trends.

Stream-based platforms are great for conversation, but terrible for archival purposes. For many, page 3 might as well be page 50. Don’t let the early adopters fool you, there is extremely high value in the archives: the best self-published content is shared for years, perhaps forever, and given infinite life by search engines. In streams old content sits buried in archive purgatory. It’s just the nature of how they operate.

Analytics and data are key to making decisions to evolve and improve a community on the web. And no one is providing the same level of analytics (or even options of how analytics are processed) available as exist on your own site. You control how your data is parsed and you own it. Most users don’t care so much about this data but if you are serious about your online publishing and plan to make it a successful venture you should. Social analytics or the glimpses given by networks are always inferior to a robust analytics package on your own domain.

But even with all of this there is a final, more powerful reason any company or media entity would be absolutely insane to stop self-publishing: your brand. You weaken and cheapen it if you were to stop publishing independently, on your own domain, and start doing so under someone else’s network. It just doesn’t make sense on any level.

To those passionate about their category there is no substitute for your own site. No foreseeable technology will change this. That’s because the nature of a high quality brand of media that is independent and not within someone else’s platform is a timeless approach to digital content.

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