You Do! Duh. Everything with your name & a link back to your website belongs to you.

There was a ton of commentary about “who owns your content” as a result of the Move – Active Rain lawsuit a couple weeks ago — should you focus on building your own content on your own servers or exert time creating content on existing platforms with built-in audiences? This topic is not specific to the real estate industry; it’s a fundamental strategic business decision for every business spending time building an online brand through blogging.

In my mind, the answer is pretty simple — own and devote time to your own (primary) web audience, but also take advantage of opportunities to reach broad audiences. You need to realize as long as attribution is provided, your content is building your personal brand no matter where that content is posted. I’ll never tell anyone that spending time building your own audience is a bad idea — but what I will tell you is that building your own brand via blogging is hard; it takes lots and lots of time and energy. If you don’t realize writing (content creation) takes a shitload of time, you either a) have not been writing very long or b) don’t write very well. If you don’t have the time (a lot) and dedication (a lot) required to build your own audience, save your energy & blog on someone else’s platform with built-in traffic.

Though I’m in favor of building your own web presence on servers that you control (spend $10 a month and set up a free blogging platform like WordPress), you also need to capitalize on opportunities presented to you to build your brand. Writing article after article is not a good use of time if no one is reading that content. Ask any blogger — building an online audience is definitely not easy and they’d likely love to write on a blog with 20x (or more) the audience that their own blog has as a way to gain personal brand awareness.

Take my specific case as an example. In addition to having a fascination with real estate, my passion is in the convergence of technology and business. As a tech blogger building my personal brand for the next several decades, I devote time every week to my blog — which I will own forever. That said, would I guest blog on TechCrunch or Mashable or Read/WriteWeb? Absolutely; I’d be an idiot not to. Those blogs have massive, massive audiences. When building your brand, the same dynamics as a company selling widgets are at play  — reach is important. Would you sell widgets through a distribution deal with Target or just sell them via your own web site? I think any smart business owner would choose to utilize the opportunity with Target, even though that distribution channel can ultimately be shut down at any time. Why? Because Target reaches million of consumers — instantly.

In summary:

  • Create your own presence and spend time creating unique content
    • This way, you control your audience forever (as long as you can keep them that is) and have strategic flexibility to do as you wish
  • Take advantage of opportunities that provide access to large, built-in audiences
    • This is the quicker way to built your brand
  • All content you create online is building your brand (assuming you are given attribution)