Publishing online using free web platforms can become a severe drain on productivity. The time and effort involved in creating a webpage can be lost if the site owners decide to impose massive and abrupt changes. Just as sharecroppers did not own the fields they worked in everyday, online publishers on free sites (digital sharecroppers) risk the same kind of abuse of their labors by investing most of their time on web platforms owned and controlled by others.
Making investments on rented space can be asking for trouble. Copyblogger refers to this “the most dangerous threat to your online marketing”. He discusses ‘digital sharecropping’ , comparing such site owners to landlords who ‘are fickle’ and may simply fade away, leaving you in decline. Owners of such free sites benefit greatly from your free content and can make drastic abrupt changes that leave you out in the cold.
An Example of the Risk: Squidoo Drops Bomb Seth Godin simply dumped those who had published on Squidoo for many years. The publishing platform had lost clout with Google and members were aghast at the recent instability of the site. Constant changes during the last year the site was live were met with concerns that were ignored. Seth Godin established a trend – like it or leave! And eventually HE left – sold out to HubPages during the summer of 2014.
The point to remember is this… Investing too much focus on websites that you do not own is risky. Some like Squidoo and Posterous are now dead. Other free revenue sharing sites include HubPages, Wizzley and others where writers can post content free. The practice of ‘digital sharecropping’ also includes social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Google Plus. They can be powerful puzzle pieces, but you do not own them. The primary part of an online business needs your control.
The Silver Lining in the Calm after the Storm
As a long-term Squidoo member, a high level of ‘trust’ there has been established with other writers. Most have adjusted priorities, have learned the hard way that with such free platforms, control over our online work is significant. Lessons learned and moving on, with healthier focus. The ‘silver lining’ is the networks, the relationships formed over any years in many cases is still strong.
Sure, Squidoo and other free web platforms – including social media – (ie.’digital sharecropping’) are effective sites that serve a purpose as a part of a big picture strategy online. Use them, but do not allow them to use YOU! The point is not to rely on free sites, to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket because you do not own the basket.
Instead, give priority to those web properties that you DO own and control (like WordPress sites). Another possible option to consider is Weebly, since the modules there can be built in a very similar way to the Squidoo platform, with no need for coding or html. Some who just gave up on learning WordPress found Weebly to be a viable option.
The lure of such ‘free websites’ is strong indeed! How much of your time and effort is spent publishing on free web platforms? Have you ever suffered a severe attack on productivity due to changes to a free web platform?