We were reminded this week about the importance of owning your “real estate” on the web. With all of the free and low-cost website builders and blogging platforms that are heavily advertised, it’s easy to feel that you’ve created your website or your blog and you are ready to go. As we were reminded in an urgent monthly news item by The Publicity Hound, Joan Stewart, if your website ends in wordpress.com or blogspot.com, you don’t really own it. You can take your content and often your design and move it a real website that is stored on your very own account on a hosting server.
As Joan writes, “[A] reader, who lives in Canada, wanted to know how to pull more traffic to her blog. She provided the web address, and I knew immediately she had bigger potential problems than pulling readers. The address was “(her topic).Blogspot.ca”. That means Blogspot hosts her blog. If WordPress hosts a blog, the address will be “(topic).Wordpress.com.” In both cases, the blogger has no control over what happens to the content. Several years ago, the archives for these tips was hosted on Blogspot. One morning, I woke up to find the entire archives had disappeared, apparently because someone had complained that the content was too promotional.”
Joan (and SiteInSight!) recommends moving your content to a real website on a hosting account owned by you. Other free website and blogs include Weebly, some Wix sites and Google sites.
We recently helped an author move her blog from WordPress.com to a self-hosted website, still using the familiar WordPress platform and editor. It’s all very confusing, and she actually had two websites inside of her WordPress.com account, as well as a separate hosting plan (the RIGHT way to do it) already purchased and set up. We sorted out the mess, helped her put her preferred design on the right website, and moved all of her blog posts from the shared site to her own site. We wrote everything down and helped make sure she closed the sites she didn’t need and focused on the correct one. Even better for her, she was in an improved position to host advertisements to support her writing.
We also helped local attorney Jack D’Aurora, who was blogging on WordPress.com, transfer his blog to a “real” website. He changed his web address from considerthisbyjd.wordpress.com to ConsiderThisByJD.com, but he was still logging in at WordPress.com to manage his site. This is an affordable option, but users are limited to a few designs and a few “plugins” which is what WordPress calls apps or tools. We helped Jack set up an inexpensive hosting account at BlueHost.com and moved all of this blog posts to a new site we built on the BlueHost server.
Of course there are plenty of other threats to websites and blogs. You should ask about our pricing for security and maintenance to keep your website safe from hackers, too.
WordPress is always vulnerable, but it is a lot less vulnerable if you keep the software updated and the plugins updated. It’s best to have a partner who is in this business and keeps abreast of threats and updates.
But first of all, keep your website safe from the company you are paying! Make sure you own your domain name. (Go to WhoIs.com and type in your domain to confirm you own it.) Make sure you own your own web hosting, which is rented storage space on a server, usually at a big company such as GoDaddy or BlueHost. And make sure you aren’t using a free or cheap service that can take down your website if they decide you’ve violated some terms of service.
As we all should learn as we are growing up, you only have freedom when you are paying your own way.