What’s the difference between living on rented land, and owning your own property? In the digital world, there’s a huge difference.
The problem with SOLELY posting your art and your stories in sites like Facebook, Tumblr, the many Webcomic registry sites, or even the free WordPress and Blogger domains, is the fact that at any given moment in time, those places could disappear.
How would you get in touch with the fans and readers that follow you? Where would you post your work next? How will you let your readers know where to find you next?
Even if you could leave them a note before these places shut down, you’d still lost hundreds (if not thousands) of readers in the process. That’s why it’s critical that you purchase your own property on the web.
1. You Have Control over Your Own Success/Failure
Win or lose, you have no one to blame but yourself. And maybe that scares you a little. After all, none of us want to see our dreams burn up in smoke. But then again the benefit of placing the responsibility of your dreams into your own hands is the fact that, you have the best chance to make it work.
If Facebook suddenly decides to change their algorithms (like how they decreased the reach of FB pages in everyone’s feed), you still have your site to fall back on. And because you direct your readers to your site more than you do to Facebook, your won’t be hit as hard when changes like these happen.
Alternatively, you could have your biggest fans subscribe to an email list on your website. That way, every time you have an update, a new page, or a new book coming out, you have a quick and easy way to reach the legions of fans who love your work. Marketing to your fans, then wouldn’t be as tedious and as stressful as it is if you relied SOLELY on social media and other similar websites.
2. You Get to Connect with Your Fans at a Deeper Level
The best thing about having your own website is the fact that when people visit it, they are there for YOU, and ONLY YOU.
Having your own website is pretty much like having your own home. You invite people in, offer them dinner, and talk about things that interest you both. Because on the web, the only reason peoeple enter your home is because they found something about you that interested them. Now that you’ve invited them in, it’s your chance to impress them even further, show them how fun and strange you can be.
When people go on Facebook, they’re there to catch up on news about their family and friends. They’re NOT there to see you plug your latest book or artwork.
Yes! By all means, go and promote your material on these social media platforms. Because that’s how your fans end up discovering you.
BUT GET THEM INTO YOUR WEBSITE. INVITE THEM INTO YOUR HOME.
On your site, you don’t have to compete with a million other people for your readers’ attention. You get to share all the things you’ve learned, and all the things that have happened to you recently, without having to worry about being interrupted by fresh tweets or status posts.
At the same time, you get to know more about your guests. If you have an email list, you can ask them what are the things that they’d like to know about you, or what are the topic they’d like you to talk about. You could ask them what they’re currently working on, or what struggles they’re currently facing.
You can do that on social media, sure, but nothing beats a personal email.
I mean, how often do you get emailed back by your favorite author or artist?
3. Your home. Your rules.
Perhaps one benefit of having your own website is the fact that in your house, you make up the rules.
You can easily kick out people who are rude (Tim Ferris, the author of The 4-Hour Workweek, for example, deliberately deletes trolls’ comments). At the same time you could encourage level-headed, humble, and interesting conversations.
Not everyone will like you or like your work. That’s a given. The great thing about owning your own house, is that you don’t have to invite those people in. If you value a positive environment where everyone respects one another, you have an opportunity to create that environment. And no one can say otherwise.
Budget is usually the main reason why most people choose not to have their own website. That’s perfectly understandable. But buying hosting and a domain isn’t at all that expensive. If you can afford to buy a cup of coffee from Starbucks every day, you can afford to purchase property on the web. Either lessen your coffee intake, or stop buying coffee altogether.
The BIGGEST and MOST IMPORTANT reason to have your own website, though, is the fact that nothing says PROFESSIONAL like, www.welcome-to-my-home.com. It shows that you are SERIOUS about your art. It’s a big sign that tells people, “I’m a professional.”
If you want others to take your work seriously, then maybe it’s time that you started taking it seriously as well.
Maybe it’s time to stop investing in other people’s dreams, and start investing in your own.
GO FORTH AND MAKE GOOD ART!