There are good reasons to save yourself the stress of having your own website and prefer to use a third-party service. Instead of a blog with WordPress , you can use site like Medium, or instead of a shop with WooCommerce , a seller account on Amazon. However, relying on such platforms has decisive disadvantages and risks. How they look like, I will explain in this article.
For me nothing beats having my own website. At the same time I understand very well why third-party platforms are so tempting. For example, when I am on a site like Medium blogging, then I don't have to worry about the technical issues. Not only that: The service is free to use and in this case I can even earn extra money.
But that is only tempting as long as I do not repeatedly reach the limits of what is possible there. Because if the technical issues don't concern me, I also have no direct influence on what is possible. And if a site like medium from one day to the next thinks that my contents are not that interesting after all or even violate their freshly changed rules, then I am also helplessly at the mercy of that.
Own website vs Facebook Page
Let's take a look at your own website in comparison to the social networks. Today, hardly anyone would say that you should give it up in favor of a Facebook page. In the past that was quite different. In the euphoria over Facebooks enormous growth, many a person left their own web presence and relied entirely on the social network.
I see it especially with smaller and local providers today that they still rely on your Facebook-site . Your own website may still exist and offer more or less up-to-date information. But if I want to make sure that the information there is really correct, I'd better check Facebook again.
Why is the Facebook site so popular in these cases? It is - with little technical understanding - for some people easier to maintain and keep up-to-date than their own website. Sometimes the company has to ask the service provider first when a link needs to be corrected. Who wants to change opening hours or update their own offers on an ongoing basis? With Facebook, this sometimes works by itself, is very easy to understand and costs nothing extra (at least not directly). Paid advertising via Facebook ads can also be effective.
However, some people find out at some point in their Facebook statistics that each post only reaches a fraction of their own fans and followers. This is a trend that has been emerging for years: Commercial content is having a harder time on Facebook. This is no wonder, because people interact with each other rather with people and not with stamps.
Instructions: Scattering content successfully
Yes, of course there's something we can do about that. There are certainly still Facebook Pages with a decent reach today. You can find examples in the comments! But that doesn't change the fact that Facebook can change the rules already tomorrow and also these sites don't have a reach anymore.
And what does the owner of the Facebook page actually do if he or she wants to switch to another social network in the future? The existing fans and followers won't let themselves be taken away so easily.
Newsletter vs Messenger
Another example: e-mail. This medium certainly seems old-fashioned to many. And for some target groups it is not the right choice. But in many cases it is still the perfect channel to reach interested people.
The "modern" communication tool Messenger has the same problem that Facebook and other social networks have: The rules are made by others and I can't take my contacts here either. The different messengers are not even compatible with each other. So you cannot send a message to a Twitter user from WhatsApp. Only Facebook now wants to link its various offers with each other. A uniform standard is obviously not wanted by the providers. Instead, everyone wants to stand up to the others on their own.
By e-mail, on the other hand, I can reach anyone, regardless of where the e-mail address is hosted. This is so natural that it is hardly ever mentioned. For example, if I don't like MailChimp as the service provider for my newsletter anymore, I can send my subscribers migrate . I did this a few years ago when a MailChimp automatic froze my account and the support did not feel it necessary to answer me. In the meantime, I send my newsletter with WordPress instead.Plugin Mailster via Amazon SES. I am very happy with that at the moment.
If at some point this is no longer good enough for me, I look around for an alternative. In fact, I look more or less regularly at what other options I have. I have complete freedom here and I really appreciate that.
WordPress vs Medium
The situation is very similar with the blog: Should I your own WordPress installation or rather use a site like Medium? As mentioned at the beginning: Such a one is not only free of charge, but can even earn me money directly.
At least that is currently the case, because Medium has changed its business model and its boundary conditions several times over the years. Sometimes it wanted to be a site for beautifully designed texts, then a platform for publishers, now an offer for paid content ... Many a person has moved to Medium with all his or her might and has given up his or her own site , because the start-up promised the moon. When this didn't develop as hoped, Medium suddenly dropped the "partners" that were so important only yesterday.
No wonder some people are so frustrated makes the most of publicity. With WordPress I can even have both and start my blog on WordPress.com take off. Then I don't have to worry about anything for a while. If I want more later, I will move the site to an own installation. Specialized hosters like RAIDBOXES are making it very easy to do.
WooCommerce vs. Amazon
Anyone who wants to enter the world of e-commerce is also faced with the question: Even something with WordPress and WooCommerce build up? Or cling to Amazon's success? See our e-book for the first variant Online shops with WooCommerce.
The entry at Amazon is finally quickly achieved. But the devil is in the details, as so often. Because soon you will discover: ...there's a lot of potential audience out there... very much competition. There are more than 240,000 sellers in Germany alone. And they are all jostling to be listed by Amazon as first choice in the "Buy Box". Because that's when the cash register rings. Incidentally, almost 30 percent of the "Top Sellers" on Amazon.de do not come from Germany, but from China.
At the same time you should never feel too safe here when things are going well. Account suspensions happen again and again. So it doesn't help to be the second largest trader on the German marketplace, as Rebuy experienced earlier this year. Or the prices for important services suddenly increase.
Besides, it can always happen to you that Amazon itself becomes a competitor. After all, the merchant almost 150 own brands on offer - sometimes more, sometimes less obvious. According to their own statements, these products account for only one percent of their own sales. But compared to small retailers this is of course a lot and the numbers are rising fast. It is not surprising in itself that Amazon is so successful in its own marketplace: After all, the company knows very well what is being sought and what is selling.
Amazon has publicly denied to look into the data of its dealers in order to offer its own products. Officially, this is probably also prohibited internally. As it turns out, it was nevertheless common practice.
Why not both?
To pre-empt a typical objection: Yes, of course you can do both at the same time. You can use both on your own WordPress site start a blog as well as write on medium. You can have your own WooCommerce shop and be present on Amazon at the same time. And of course it is a good idea to be active in the appropriate and relevant social networks. All this can complement each other wonderfully - if you the resources to do so you have.
With this article I would like to plead above all for your own website to always be available and well maintained. It should be a priority, even if it does not have the (potential) reach of offers like Facebook, Medium or Amazon. See also my article on this topic content hub. In it you will find more ideas on how to make your own website the central hub.
Why is it worth the effort? Look at it this way: It is the difference between a rented apartment and your own house. Of course you have more work and more responsibility when you own your own home. But in return, you can furnish your home as you please and plan for the long term.
In addition, there is no tenant protection on platforms such as those mentioned above: Facebook, Amazon & Co. can remove you from the platform at any time, with immediate effect and without giving reasons. Sometimes it is even an automatic feature that blocks your account - just like it was for me with MailChimp. Only in exceptional cases you will be able to resistwith corresponding effort.
Since you are an irrelevant case for such large companies, you can usually just move on and start your project from scratch elsewhere. Or have you ever tried to get a human support representative on the phone at Amazon, Facebook or Google? As a small provider, you have virtually no chance.
What third-party platforms are ideal for
With all this going on, I don't want to hide anything: There are moments when such external platforms are wonderfully appropriate. I have already mentioned the built-in range, which a small company usually doesn't have. But you should use it to build your own long-term relationships with fans, prospects and customers - for example via e-mail.
In addition, the platforms mentioned are very well suited for experiments. See my contribution Test content ideas in advance. Here you can gain your first experiences and also learn from the competition. At first you do not take any risk and your effort remains low. This fits in with the "Lean Startup" idea: Find out as early as possible how well your own idea works and what you need to improve.
Third-party platforms can also offer functions that cannot be easily imitated by other means. So you always have a good chance to get in touch with your fans and followers on the social web. This works better here than on your own website. This is a chance you should take.
Or they offer functions that you could only implement with difficulty. For example, think of a platform like Udemy for online courses: To find out whether you want to offer content in this format, you don't want to set up a complete learning platform first. The everything goes with WordPress. I use Sensei LMS and there are several alternatives. But I only implemented this after I had gained experience on Udemy.
Your presence on Facebook, medium, YouTube & Co is only borrowed. It's not yours. You can get a lot of range here and be very successful for a while. But tomorrow, this can be over.
All the better if you have created your own parallel platforms and channels, such as your website, a blog, a Podcast and your e-mail list. All those channels, no one can take them away from you so quickly.