Protect your online presence

Google search results have turned inaccurate, irrelevant and plain useless. Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, is laying off people en masse. Plus people are talking about a new tech bubble bust as technology stocks are plummeting.

And then there's the trash fire called Twitter. Twitter hasn't been profitable since... ever really. With the new management the revenue has crashed. The company is bleeding money. There's desperation in air with the new attempts of raise profits. There has been talks about paywalling the app altogether.. It looks like the whole thing is going down.

While all this is hilarious to many, I've seen people desperate. Their income is more or less tied to Twitter. Some of them are social media influencers, some bloggers. Some are using Twitter to promote their OnlyFans content. There are those who use Twitter to promote their products and services. Or even getting some money straight through Twitter's monetisation.

Not so funny, I can see that.

One basket, all eggs

I don't blame anyone for choosing one social media site or app and running with it. Especially if you are your whole team, managing all the different sites and apps and content types is not easy. You will start spreading yourself too thin, which doesn't really solidify your online presence.

Big brands can hop around, have dedicated people for all the different sites and apps and content types. They can hire people solely to create TikTok videos, others to post on Twitter, a team for Instagram, and those who concentrate on YouTube. But if you are a small business owner, self employed or freelancer, barely paying your bills with your Etsy sales or keeping your electricity on with selling photos of your feet, you may not have the resources to hire all or any of those teams.

Yet relying on one app or website, where you have very little control on how the app or site works and how your content is presented, is futile. Your account may be suspended for the most confusing and surprising reasons. The app or site may change their look and structure or how people can interact with your content or how the search works or anything else. Or it could go down for good.

There's no way to completely secure your online presence. A war or a natural disaster or an asteroid could change everything for everyone. And if you did something very illegal or managed to anger a government (yours or some other), you could be pretty much wiped off of the Internet. Though then you would have other, bigger problems. So it might not really matter anymore.

But unless humans ourselves or an asteroid destroys everything, or unless you find yourself in a really deep shit, there are ways to protect your online presence.

Your own domain and site

If you are making or attempting to make money online, I recommend securing your own domain and creating a website. It doesn't have to be anything too complicated. Just a site with basic information on you, with links to your Etsy shop, Twitter, TikTok, OnlyFans, Patreon or where ever you may be getting your income.

In some cases you can also bring your content from other sites to your own site. You can embed you YouTube videos and Instagram images on your site. If you are willing to jump through the hoops, you can automatically import you Instagram feed and display your images straight on your website.

You can create extra content, such as a blog posts, around your posts on other sites and apps or provide the same content in different formats. For example, you could repurpose your YouTube video as a blog post, and get a new audience of those who can't or won't watch videos.

As anything online, your own site isn't bulletproof. Your hosting could kick you out or just go offline. You might forget or not be capable to pay your hosting and domain. And if you use one of those hosted services like Squarespace or or Wix or others alike, you are submitted to their whims.

There's also always a chance of your site getting hacked. It can be due to your publishing platform or content management system having holes in its security or someone may target you and find a way to your site's admin. Anything can happen.

However, your own site is still the best bet to keep your online presence yours. You usually have a say on your site's branding, such as having your own logo, choosing colours and fonts and more. Generally there won't be someone else's branding messing up with yours, like there's on social media apps and sites.

You have an option to choose the publishing platform or content management system, and even migrate between platforms, systems and hostings as long as you own your domain and have back ups of your content. Depending on your publishing platform, you can choose or create your own theme. This gives you great freedom on how you brand and present your content.

Your own domain and website can work as a sort of a hub of your online presence.

Brief notes on email lists and newsletters

Email lists are often hailed as The Way to keep in contact with and promote your stuff to people. There are such widely spread myths as "you 100% own your email list", which sound great. If only it was true.

While I agree email newsletters are a very effective way to contact and convert customers, they aren't perfect either. Unless you build and maintain your own email list without a third party service, you are similarly reliant on the service you are using as you would be with social media. The main difference here is that if you keep and update backups of your list, you don't completely lose the contact in case of your email list service going down or kicking you out.

However, with all the spam and everyone now having an email list, your newsletters can end up filtered as spam, blacklisted or just deleted without ever being opened. Having your newsletters marked as spam or blacklisted can cause all your emails from that same domain ending up filtered as well. Oh and when people change or lose access to their email addresses, you will have all those dead end email addresses on your list. It happens a lot.

Not to mention all the spam addresses that attempt and sometimes succeed to subscribe to your list. Always use double opt-in!

As a personal note, I have unsubscribed from and just plain not subscribed to many email lists in the past few years. All the clutter in my inbox has became too much. So an email list may or may not work for you, depending on who you are trying to reach and how much time and resources you are willing to put in maintaining and emailing your list.

Email lists can be better than social media apps and sites, or they can be worse or as difficult and unpredictable. It depends very much on the type of the list you have or are planning to build, and especially on the people you are attempting to reach with your emails. If I'm your ideal client, you may have trouble with your email list.

Just remember, emails are personal. They are intimate. They are direct, in a sort of the same way as if you would call the person. If you choose to make emails your main way of reaching people, make sure to be aware of this and treat your list with care as if it was fragile and precious.

And hey, you can add the subscription form or a link to it on your own website!

Create a backup plan

It doesn't matter if you are on Twitter or Instagram, YouTube or TikTok, or if you have your own site. There's always a chance something goes wrong and you will have to move your online presence elsewhere.

That's why you will need a backup plan. For your website, and even other sites, it includes having actual backups of the content or the whole site. With a backup you can rebuild your site in case of hacking or forgetting to pay your hosting.

Keeping copies and backups of the content you share on social media sites and apps can help you to move your content elsewhere. In case your videos or photos or texts are important to you, never ever delete your own copies of them. Preferably keep them backed up on a couple of different places. You never know when your laptop breaks down. Been there!

Create a plan on where and how you migrate if something happens to or with your current income making site or app. Can you take your photos elsewhere? Is there another place where you can sell your products or services? Can you rebuild your courses on another site? Can you migrate your site to another publishing platform, content management system or hosting?

There may be loss of income. There may be trouble with trying to get your current customers or patrons follow you to a new place. There may be difficulties with selling your products on a new web store. But at least you are not left with absolute nothing. You still have and own what you made.

Don't rely on social media

Social media apps and sites are unreliable. They are owned and maintained by individuals and businesses which have their own agendas and their own reasons for existing. Or not existing. Social media apps and sites come and go, and generally you have very little say on all of it. And when they go, they will take your content down with them.

Nothing is forever.

Relying on a social media site or app to be there forever to give you visibility, customers and income can lead to a disaster. It sounds cruel, especially when you have very limited resources.

Social media websites and apps don't exist for you. They exist for their owners. You are always a product for them, whether you pay or not. The content you create, the data you give to these sites and apps, it's all for the owners. They don't do it for your good, they do it for them. Which means you do it for them too.

Only your own site is for you. Not completely, but more for you. The hosting or hosted platform and the domain seller get piece of it too. But you have a greater control on your content, what you publish and unpublish, the structure of your content and the branding.

Gaining and keeping an audience is the difficult part, since your site doesn't come with it built in. For this you can use blogging (and RSS feeds), email lists and even those social media sites and apps, if they allow such thing.

It's not easy, but at least it's yours and not owned by some rich dude who doesn't know a thing about business.

Mervi Eskelinen

Hello, I'm Mervi!

An artist, nerd and business sorcerer, dedicated to make world more beautiful and strange with art, illustrations and logos + to help you figure your sustainable business out.

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