What if we told you about an ultra powerful, infinitely flexible social media tool that allows you to publish business-building content — text, audio, or video — without holding you to any arbitrary rules?
It’s a tool that fixes everything that’s broken about the existing social media sites, new and old.
It gives you an astonishing degree of freedom — to say what you want, the way you want to say it, and in the format that works best for you.
With this tool, no one can ever tell you your content is “overly commercial” or flag an image as “possibly inappropriate.” As long as you aren’t breaking the law, the rules are totally up to you.
You’re in control
You have 100 percent control over the look and functionality of your page. You can keep it simple or trick it out with hundreds of bells and whistles.
You have 100 percent control over what others can do on your page. The tool gives you the power to delete (or even modify) comments, block users, and report comments as spam so other users don’t have to deal with those pests.
You have 100 percent control over how commercial you want your page to be.
You have 100 percent control over how much content you post. In fact, what we’re calling your “page” could actually be 1,000 pages, 10,000, or more.
The tool includes powerful mechanisms for social connecting and sharing, so you can foster conversation and keep an eye on what your audience finds interesting.
And it’s simple to connect to an email list, so you can capture leads for deeper engagement.
What is this “hot new” social media tool?
This is starting to sound like one of those infomercials for a knife that “slices, dices, and juliennes baby vegetables.”
By now you might have guessed it … this “hot new” social media tool that corrects so many existing problems is nothing other than your own self-hosted website.
Wait, I thought social media was Facebook and Twitter?
Social media is simply technology that’s … social. It’s technology that allows for dialogue, interaction, and listening.
You’ll hold conversations on your website’s blog, just like you do in your favorite social media hangout.
It’s a bit like interacting with friends at a dinner party in your home versus meeting them at a restaurant. They’re both opportunities for interaction, and often the more private locale encourages a deeper level of communication.
And while networking sites like Twitter and Facebook can be useful places to broaden your audience, they can never be the foundation of an enduring content platform.
Even blogs that don’t allow comments have a social component. The definition of great content is content that’s shared, that’s talked about, that’s passed along … content that is, to borrow Seth Godin’s word, remarkable.
Most blogs capitalize on this by welcoming comments (and reading them carefully to see what’s going on with the audience), as well as facilitating social sharing over whatever the flavor-of-the-year site happens to be.
(That’s one of the reasons, of course, why you can’t build an enduring content platform on someone else’s real estate. Social networking sites get stale faster than Adam Carolla’s jokes.)
Your site is your centerpiece
Chris Brogan calls it a home base, or you can think of it as a hub.
Your own content-rich site, on a domain you own, managed with good content management software, is where you’ll put about 80 percent of your content marketing time and energy.
A site like this becomes a valuable business asset. Over time, it develops a reputation — both with human readers and with search engines.
It’s where you develop the ideas that will become your unique selling proposition.
It’s where you’ll foster the customer conversations that spark new product ideas.
It’s where you’ll optimize your content for both search engines and potential customers.
You know, you don’t have to call your content a “blog”
Some types of people read blogs, and some don’t.
If your potential customers don’t read blogs, there’s no reason in the world you have to call your content-rich, social-sharing-friendly website a blog.
Call it a resource center, content library, or radio show. Call it an Interactive Directory of Awesomeness for all I care.
Labels are important — so if you don’t want to call your self-hosted content hub a blog, think of something that will resonate better with your audience.
I promise, I won’t tell.
A few website-building tips
StudioPress Sites offers fast, secure, and worry-free managed WordPress hosting for $27 a month.
In addition to rock-solid, ultra-secure hosting, each StudioPress Site comes with your choice of 21 professional designs you can customize with your own branding and automatic WordPress updates.
And when you get big traffic spikes? You’ll have the peace of mind that your site will be up, available, and screamingly fast.
Don’t be tempted to start your blog on anything other than your own domain. The few simple hoops you’ll initially jump through will amply pay off down the line.
Drive all of your traffic to your content hub
Spending time engaging with prospects on their favorite social media platforms?
That’s great … just make sure you’re sending them back to your website.
Publishing an ebook that includes groundbreaking advice?
Excellent strategy … be sure it’s loaded with plenty of links to great material on your website.
Putting out a traditionally published book — the kind made out of dead trees?
Include links to landing pages on your website designed to create lasting relationships with those readers.
If you focus your time and energy on driving traffic to your website (and then on to your email list and/or membership site so you can continue the conversation with your audience), you’ll be building an increasingly valuable asset.
Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on June 20, 2012.
Reader Comments (67)
Seriously social media network plays an important role on driving good traffic. Other than that, it helps us to get our content spread out viral and be useful for lots of people out there.
Great post Sonia. looking forward to read more of your blog posts!!
Nicole Rushin says
You are right – it is not required that we call it a blog. Mine actually says weblog on my header because there is more there than just my blog posts. I am often surprised by the technically challenged who don’t even know what a blog is. For those people – I find it best to just call it a website. (I have been looking at the Scribble theme, but can’t find any good examples of people who are using it – hopefully they will add more to the showcase soon)
Innovative Ad Solutions LLC says
The tip to call your blog something other than a blog is also what I liked best about this article. It is something I never thought of before, but every industry does not have customers that know what blogs are or think they have a need for blogs. Therefore calling the blog something other than a blog can be great for your online marketing plan, especially for small businesses. It allows them to get the keywords and content out there on the internet, but also attract customers that ordinarily would not come to view their “resource center”. The only thing though is if you call it something other than a blog, do you think that will hurt your website’s SEO? For example, if you type in “online marketing blog” my blog comes up, but if I change blog to resource center, would I get as many hits?
Yes, I do have blogs. I’m thrilled that my blog on my freelance writer website has many new users. I finally figured out a system that works for readers, and for me. I embraced the idea of ‘not’ having to post every day or three times a day like I was originally taught. I use social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon (my new favorite) as a complement to my blog. I believe social media/ networking and your blog can work together for the greater good which is to provide readers with solid information that helps solve whatever problems they have. A blog allows you to ‘hone’ in on the information that attracts readers and keeps them coming back for more. It’s a great marketing research tool.
Thanks for this great blog post!
Nick Stamoulis says
“And don’t be tempted to start your blog on anything other than your own domain.”
Completely agree with this. You can leverage the trust of your current domain to give your new company blog a leg up. It also helps keep readers involved with the rest of your site.
Sonia Simone says
It makes me so sad to see a really excellent, successful blog that’s on one of the generic domains — it’s so much easier to switch early, *before* you have that audience.
Rebecca Caroe says
Yes, I just did this with a client, Sam’s Dog Rules.
Which looks better:
Rebecca Caroe says
Thanks for reminding us that many people think they don’t have the software to read blogs.
I find many brands don’t want to use the word ‘blog’ but are happy to use the functionality of a blog.
And of course, one of the key attributes of a blog is sharability and RSS delivery of content to readers.
But if your reader/customer/prospect thinks they don’t have the right software to read a blog they certainly won’t want to use something called RSS or an RSS reader:
Combining content distribution with email is the key activity for content marketers.
“If you focus your time and energy on driving traffic to your blog (and then on to your email list, so you can continue the conversation with your readers), you’ll be building an increasingly valuable asset”
And, of course one of the tools Copyblogger uses (and I fully endorse) to drive your content out to your readers is Feedblitz.com.
So helpful, so easy to set up and so easy for your readers to receive your content in whatever medium they choose (get it on facebook/mobile/email etc etc).
Freddy Rodriguez says
I think blogging is an excellent social tool for building relationships. It’s where people can get more insight into who you really are. Great article!
Jarom Adair says
This is a good way to look at our own blogs, whether we’re new to blogging or not.
But for any new bloggers, do take special note of Sonia’s advice to “host it on your own domain” and “self-host” it. If you host it on WordPress.com, you:
– get a far smaller selection of templates
– can’t change the code or make minor tweaks
– can’t fine-tune the look and feel
– can’t use most of the plugins available
– can’t direct traffic to your site if “top level domains” are required
– will have very little control over the SEO value of your posts
…and the list goes on.
So for the love of all you hold dear, get your own domain name and hosting package and start building on your own plot of internet real estate.
Sonia Simone says
And thank you for helping spread the word, Jarom!
I’ve heard that if you are on one of the free hosting sites, all the ‘link juice’ goes to to them not your site. This means that your own site doesn’t get indexed or ranked or something like that (my apologies, I don’t understand the technical stuff!).
Is this correct or have I misunderstood?
Andy Gage says
Great post! One of the best promotions I’ve read so far about the benefits of having a (WordPress) Blog/Website – what it is… what it does … how it builds long-term relationships, and is good for business, etc. I agree that having one’s own domain and hosting (on WordPress.org) is preferable to the ‘free’ option (although, at ‘Write2Profit’ we’ve recently used a free WordPress Blog set up to promote a short-term event, to great effect). But the one big drawback with the ‘big-brother’ version of WordPress, is that there STILL is not enough flexibility in most of the many hundreds of Themes that provide a working platform on WordPress.org. Only now, after 2 long years, are some clever programmers setting up ‘drag and drop’ capabilities on new, specially designed ‘third generation’ WordPress Themes – and at resonable prices, too! Until WordPress itself realises that there are thousands of people who demand total flexibility in their Website or Blog designs, and therefore have shunned WordPress and gone to other major Program and Software Design providers like Serif, and DTP-type developers. Hopefully, WordPress is finally waking up to this, and will soon come down off their ‘high horse’ and ‘get real’ by adding Total Flexibility into their new Themes – and far less confusing, mile-long ‘help’ sections, too! Let’s hope!
Once again though – great post. Thanks.
Christina Ellis says
I just wanted to thank all of you for the great advice/tips you provided. This was exactly what I needed right now! I’m in the process of building my site on WordPress. It was hosted with Hostgator until I decided to do a little more research on the best route to choose. It’s so overwhelming as a newbie to this social media world when trying to find trustworthy tips and tricks without feeling overwhelmed or confused!! One of my biggest concerns is creating a logo and personalizing my twitter & facebook to match. (cover photo & twitter backround)… I’m one of those perfectionists that can’t stand the thought of blogging on a generic looking site without a professional feel. That being said, I realize that without the funds to pay for pro services, I’m probably SOL! lol…. I am a pretty creative person and really would love to find online resources to teach myself graphic design eventually. I’m rambling now lol… just wanted to share my gratitude and ask you for your honest advice… Don’t worry I can take it lol!!
Cheryl Pickett says
HI Christina, I hope Sonia doesn’t mind my saying so, but there is a fitting post for you to read today over at The Sales Lion.com. It’s about youth and launches and I think it speaks to the heart of what you’re talking about. Also, you might be surprised at how affordable pro services for a WP web site can be.
Christina Ellis says
Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I’m going to check it out! Like i said, I can use all the tips and advice I can get :)) Looking forward to following this blog as well.
Rob Skidmore says
Tricky Sonia, very tircky. You had me going there for a second. I was like, “What, I can drop hootsuite and sproutsocial? I no longer have to keep filling up my Buffer account?”
BUT NO. Duped again.
Of course you are absolutely right, and even though the whole article really amounts to a pitch of copyblogger products, a blog really is the best social media tool and copyblogger products are the best blogging tools around.
Congrats you won me over. I want to be tricked. I love Genesis. I love Premise. I love how your voice is more relaxing than Bob Ross. (I signed up for Third Tribe just to help me fall asleep at night).
Sonia and everyone at copyblogger, you are doing it right.
Hopefully one day I can be just as cool.
Sonia Simone says
I am so danged tricky. 🙂
It’s actually a pitch for having a self-hosted WP blog, but if you want to use our products to help, we dig that too.
And my recordings are proven effective as a drug-free sleeping aid! You are not the first. 🙂
Kimberly Houston says
I completely agree! I’ve always thought of blogging as part of “social.”
Loved this article, it’s a terrific overview of why anyone hoping to achieve success with online marketing would want to have a blog, or whatever they want to call it. ; ) I wrote something similar a few months ago, but it’s not quite as detailed or comprehensive as this.
I’ve long told my friends who have small businesses who are just getting online to start with two things: a blog and an email list, and build out from there. Social media can come later, or in tandem with, but it’s not enough to have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest et all as your sole online strategy. I have a photographer friend who has scads of past and current customers, 3500+ fans on her FB biz page, and a healthy Twitter following, but no blog or email list. I’ve been needling her for months to just go ahead and set up a blog already! And finally she has. Now, I just have to work on getting her to get an email list going. : )
I use my content centerpiece, which I do call a blog, to share useful info with my readers and past and current clients, and as the central hub from where all the other spokes emanate — social media, email list, etc.
And WordPress is the glue that holds it all together. I’m so glad I didn’t let fear and tech overwhelm keep me from going with a self-hosted WordPress blog right from the get-go; it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Sonia Simone says
I love that Kimberly, thanks!
Mark Sherbin says
Sonia — This is great validation for me. I’ve blogged on Typepad and Blogger before. Neither really fit the bill for something more professional. Just got up and running with WordPress for my professional writing blog to help with freelance biz dev. Because it’s a new blog, I’m holding off on going premium. Thoughts on a good time to up the ante?
Sonia Simone says
Yeah, I started out on Typepad. On their domain, too. Oops. 🙂
I think you’ll just know when the time is right — I like your site design, so your main issues will probably be security & SEO. As free themes age, they’re not often kept current with new versions of WP, so you may find that updates become a hassle.
One thing I love about WP is that it’s very evolutionary. You can grow into more advanced tools as you need them, rather than having to do it all on day one.
Mark Sherbin says
Thanks for the feedback! I’ll definitely plan to build up more traffic before I start upgrading.
Colleen Conger says
This is one of those posts that I wish I would have read, say 3 years ago, because I find myself struggling to get out of the static, no frills, plain ol’ dreaded hand coded website. You know, the one built with Dreamweaver that you had to have a degree with HTML and CSS to get to look right in at least ONE browser.
What I have found among my friends and customers is a lack of understanding about the word blog and the power it can wield. They believe, as I once did, that a blog is a place where you go and journal all the thoughts rattling around your head. Not one of them was aware that a blog can be the stand alone player on a website or be incorporated as an integral part of a traditional website. Most importantly, a blog can be the most powerful tool in a businesses marketing arsenal.
I’m neck deep into the learning everything I can about WordPress (as I’m a Joomla junkie.) What I’m discovering is that WordPress is just, hands down, easy, peasy, lemon squeasy.
Sonia Simone says
It really is, especially if you’re coming off of Joomla!
Lee Odden says
Hub and spoke FTW
Sonia Simone says
We say it about 5 times a week, but thought it might be useful to actually put it into its own post, right?
Beat Schindler says
It makes perfect sense. One moment I don’t believe in perfection, next moment I see it all-round. Thanks for a great reminder of the (potential) value of blogs.
Debbie Campbell says
This is a great post. I always stress the value of having some form of business blog as ‘home base’ for online marketing efforts; for some reason I’ve found that my non-profit clients are the ones who really take advantage of the blog’s capabilities, more than most other niches.
Melonie Dodaro says
Definitely agree with you that having a blog feels like having a home to go back to no matter what. It’s what basically keeps me focused to my goal when I have the sudden urge to jump and head to the latest social media platform available.
Good morning Sonia!
I dislike the word blog intensely, but boy do I love my blog!
I even wrote a post about it –
Until I had one I’d never even heard of a blog, let alone read one or thought of using it to promote my business. Now I won’t leave home without it. Could be because it has become my business !
And it has opened up so many opportunities and ‘friendships’ that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. I can’t encourage people enough to get one themselves.
BTW – the gentleman referred to in the post – Jim Connolly – has spoken very positively about the quality of the information Copyblogger shares with people. I’ve been assured that furthering my knowledge and understanding by following what you write will not ‘hurt’ my baby blog, unlike stuff put out by some other sites. High praise indeed from where I’m standing!
So thanks, Sonia – I hope this helps others who are new to blogging know that what they get from you won’t hurt them either.
Ryan Hanley says
Great writing… I kinda had a feeling where you were going with this the entire time but I was still anxious to hear (hear as in I’m reading it out loud in my head) you say it.
And I couldn’t agree with you more.
MaLinda Johnson says
As usual you are informative and chuckle chuckle entertaining at the same time. Great post!
Thanks for great post and certainly, social media is the place where you could have share your blog post and can interact with your readers directly and for me I think that very crucial to spend my most of the time over there and that’s also helping to viral your blog post as well.
Domains by themselves aren’t as expensive as hosting packages, which for me would pull a Gallagher on my mini-melon size budget. 🙂 Also, it’s not as easy to be anonymous when purchasing, since financial transactions need to be traced to somebody. But I have a tentative, just-for-the-meantime WP.com blog with a single intro post scheduled to “go live” on 6/28. Privacy is a major concern for me, and I do not want any transactions traced to my name or IP address. I have a little saved up for just such an occasion, though, so I’m wondering if it’s 1) recommended that I go ahead and make the purchase now, and 2) possible/legal to make that purchase with something like a prepaid gift card?
Sanjay Johari says
This is an excellent article (like many other copyblogger articles). I have made a blog post based on this article.
Joe Lee says
Our site is virtual real estate. Social media sites are there temporary to generate leads to our site. Once these social media sites loses their favour, no one will use them at all, like Friendster.
We have to build our real estate well. Make it conducive so that visitors will come. Just like if you have a property. You will want to decorate it well, so that potential tenants will rent.
Sonia, great article. Blogs have forever generated engagement and customer enrichment. Value is simple to show with a blog, customers appreciate it. When you can use a vehicle like Twitter or similar to slide the knowledge of the blog, the post alert, it is just the means to drive readers to the blog, the value. So many do waste time driving around on Twitter and other networks without stopping to read the value. Driving around isn’t social, providing a blog is, just as you describe.
I couldn’t agree with you more. Any original content I produce goes up first on Guitarkdia.com. I find myself alternating between ‘site’ and ‘blog’ but almost always the former. Social network to me is just that. I don’t build an audience around any of those platforms because I may wake up one day and not want to socialize at any of those places anymore.
Tim Miller says
LOL. I like this article Sonia. I thought this article sounded so serious at the first moment. But when i read it more and more, this is actually a really fun to read article. In my opinion, using WordPress is no doubt the best decision for bloggers because they can have a full control over their blog and contents. I also think that using Twitter or Facebook can be useful if we have good amount of followers that have the same interest with us.
Great piece Sonia. I have often thought about how to turn the comments section of a blog into a discussion center. Too many times comments are just generic statements with one purpose; getting that link. I totally agree with what you are saying about driving all of your traffic back to your blog. It is your most valuable asset, so why not use it as the center of your interaction with your audience.
I like to think of social media as the rim of a bicycle wheel, with all the spokes being the traffic going back to your property at the hub of the wheel.
Daniel Z. Chohfi says
Great post Sonia, thanks. I use to develop websites since I can remember, and it’s just amazing to have Rainmaker now. It makes all sense to see our websites as the social hub as well.
Rebecca LeClaire says
You got me, but I love it!
This article alone is a great example of how a blog post can perform for you.
Rohan Bhardwaj says
Yes, our own domain and space is the ultimate thing for us to rule with time. Writing on different domain or social networks is always more riskier.
We get to play the game with someone else’s rule. The problem is rule can be changed anytime.
Your personal website should be the main focus for 80 percent of your time and energy.
Beautiful post. Stay Awesome.
AQ Arafat says
I don’t have a self-hosted website/blog. But, plan to have one soon. Still, I’ve got a number of free blogs from wordpress. One of it is: activefoodism.wordpress.com. My question is: Can I use a free blog to build my brand? And later own a website when there’s more cash to dispense!
Thanks & Regards,
Michael LaRocca says
While all the other hot new social media tools of the moment come and go, your blog remains. I recently read about a guy who logged onto Linked In, saw all 100+ of his posts gone, and freaked. They came back. It was just a little glitch. But he had no backups of those articles. I hope he does now. I love directing prospects from other sites to my blog. It’s pretty cool.
Bican Valeriu says
I dont have but i feel like I should. Maybe this can bring more traffic and build a brand. Thanks for great post.
Nathan Ambrose says
So true, Sonia.
Yet, it’s so difficult sometimes to convince people to have their own website rather than build their business on Facebook. Yet Facebook and the rest reached their heights only because they convinced users to post on their websites rather than on the user’s own domain.
By the way, I call my blog ‘Blog and FAQ’, as most of my target readers never search for a ‘blog’. So I cover both, just in case.
Great article. Shared on Twitter earlier.
Daniel Knowlton says
Really great piece of content which I couldn’t agree more with. Early on I was thinking hey this sounds like a blog!
I completely agree with creating a blog as your ‘content hub’, however I also think there is a place for social as a traffic generation tool. I also think people are less inclined to comment on a blog then to send a quick Tweet to start a conversation.
Funnily enough yesterday I was asking my Snapchat audience what makes them comment on blogs. A lot of the responses said they’d rather comment on the piece of content within social media then comment on the blog.
I’d be interested to hear your opinion on this and any tips you may have to encourage comments on your blog if you don’t have huge amounts of traffic like other big publications?
Thanks agains Sonia!
Ahmad Imran says
Great point Sonia, so obvious yet so hidden from the eyes of many of us. In the hustle of platforms like Twitter and Facebook, it is not unlikely that you get distracted and don’t think too much about your own asset as much as you should. Your post is that gentle nudge and an appreciation of this important concept.
I do own my own WordPress hosted blog (I call it a platform) and aim to make it so popular that one day it acts as my social media platform. Cheers.
David Clark says
I think you made an excellent, but subtle point, that our blog (or website) posts should be the start of a conversation with our reader. It’s easy to forget that you have an ability with comments to have a conversation with your prospective customers. I have to remind myself when writing that I should not be speaking at my audience, but be speaking to or with them.
I agree fully with your website be the center of your universe. Social sites should be a place to promote your posts and start conversations, but ultimately the total objective should be to drive people from those social networks back to your website. Thanks for keeping us on point!
I guess I was lucky when I started out online. I hadn’t heard of WordPress or any of those other services that will host you for free and limit what they will allow you to post. I found a hosting company and started with hand-coded HTML pages. I moved to WordPress a few years later and discovered that I accidentally did it right.
I completely agree. If you want to control your content and make money online then you have to have a self-hosted website. You don’t want anyone who doesn’t have a stake in your success to have control over it, because they just won’t care.
Also, thanks for pointing out that there are people who don’t realize that a blog is just a website. That explains why people look puzzled when I just answer “yes” to the question “do you have a blog or a website?” I didn’t realize that there were people like that.
Social media can be really time consuming if you try to manage each platform separately. I totally agree that managing your social media via your blog makes really good sense and also helps to drive traffic back to your blog (which as you say, should be your goal).
I also agree with your comment on getting decent web hosting. Too many people scrimp on web hosting and then need to spend money moving their site once their traffic picks up.
Excellent piece. It is surprising how many businesses pay little to no attention to their blog.
Jigar Patel says
You shared top quality content as always. That was one of your best post for me and what I’m working on. Thank you for provide excellent information.
Yasmin Khan says
Great post! I’ve actually been dabbling with the idea of calling a blog something else for some of my clients, so I was glad to see that mentioned within the post. I think the word “blog” has a certain connotation that goes along with it, and while that works for my company, I think some of my clients would have better results by simply calling it by another name. Same great content, of course.
Umer Prince says
This article's comments are closed.