You wouldn’t invest thousands of dollars into building your house on someone else’s foundation, so why would you build your career on someone else’s business foundation?
It’s a question I ask every time I hear a story like the one I heard on the radio last week.
It seems that an outspoken conservative had built his entire business on Facebook. He had approximately 3 million followers and earned his living from whatever he sold from his Facebook page.
When Facebook decided they didn’t like his content they suspended his ability to sell from the page and cut his followers by 97%. I don’t pretend to know how they do that, but the upshot is that this person lost his entire source of income.
This post isn’t about the controversy over whether Facebook has the right to do that; it’s about the foolishness of risking your livelihood by building your entire career on someone else’s business foundation.
Considering your line of work, you probably aren’t advertising your political beliefs…
That should keep you safe from being shut down on Facebook or other sites. However, that’s not a sure thing. The people who own and operate those sites are the ones who decide what is or isn’t offensive. For instance, one person reported having his Pinterest posts removed because he had quoted Bible verses.
Building on someone else’s business foundation is a risky business.
The Facebook story isn’t the only frightening tale I’ve heard. A year or so ago I read about a woman who built her entire real estate business through her brokerage’s website.
One morning she tried to check her email and found that her email address no longer existed. Nor did her contact list. It seems that her company’s owner/broker had sold the business without warning anyone, and the change had taken place during the night. The brokerage she worked with no longer existed.
Had the owner let everyone know, they could have downloaded their contact lists, but that didn’t happen. Now she had no email addresses, no phone numbers beyond the ones stored in her phone, and no physical addresses. Worse, when her clients and leads tried to contact her, they were greeted with a messaging saying that email address didn’t exist.
Of course everyone had to deal with changing their licenses to reflect the new brokerage, but that’s another story.
For her, it turned out that building on someone else’s business foundation was akin to building a home on quicksand.
Owning and using your own domain is step one in building your own business foundation.
First, buy your own URL – and choose a name that has nothing to do with your current brokerage. (Unless you own the brokerage, of course.) You may be perfectly happy where you are, but things change and you might want to move someday.
Some franchises do offer websites to agents, and while you might want to use one of those sites for an additional web presence, I don’t recommend using one as your primary agent website.
The reason, again, is that you may want to change brokerages. If all of your blog posts and other content is tied to that site, it will go away the minute you walk away. All of the authority you’ve built for your site will be gone, and you’ll be starting over. Depending upon the agreement you signed, you might not even have the right to transfer your content to a new website.
Register that URL in your own name, with you as the administrator.
Years ago, when I purchased the first domain name for my real estate agency, I had NO clue what I was doing. As a result, the person who sold me the domain (for far, far more than the real price) registered it in his own name. When it was time to renew, he was long gone, and I went through weeks of sending and re-sending documents to prove I had a right to that domain.
A few years later the same thing happened to a friend. Because she was completely non-techie, her company website was set up and controlled by one of her employees. That was fine, except that he passed away. She then had to go through that long process of proof.
Your content is part of your business foundation – make sure you control it
I believe it’s best to have a site that you control entirely, like a WordPress site, but if you choose to go with a company that does most of the work for you, heed the warnings that I’ve outlined on this page.
Whatever you do, keep back-up copies of your content, because ANY business can go out of business under the right circumstances.
Years ago, when my company first went on line, our website and email was hosted with an independent company. One day we couldn’t get to our website and our email didn’t’ work – because the company was simply gone. Out of business. Vanished.
Luckily, at that point we didn’t have many email contacts and not much on our website. Starting over wasn’t the chore it would have been a few years later.
Remember also that your own website could be hacked, causing you to lose content. Backup copies can save the day.
Step two is owning your own email address.
Tie your email address to your own domain, not your brokerage. Some choose to use g-mail or another commercial email provider, but in my opinion, you@yourdomain makes you look a bit more solid.
Likewise, if you have a CRM, make sure it belongs to you.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Once you have a solid business foundation, branch out…
Use Active Rain, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others to expand your reach and to invite people back to your own website.
Once they come to visit, you can offer special reports or perhaps a subscription to your newsletter to entice your followers to leave their names and email addresses with you.
If you don’t yet have a website on which to build your business foundation…
Then begin posting on Active Rain. If you write about local places and events and are careful to use your location as part of your keyword strategy, you will begin to get attention from Google. At the same time, if you write interesting posts that show your personality, you should begin to get attention from other agents who are in a position to send you referrals.
Once your website is up and running, revisit your profiles and your signatures on those other sites. Include your shiny new URL and the new email address that goes with it.
And finally, begin blogging on your own site as well as Active Rain, and link from the social media sites to bring more visitors to your website – your business foundation.
Foundation Image courtesy of Ben Schonewille at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Sad &control key Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net