These days, it seems as though there are more places to host your content for free, than there are paid hosts. Between the free sites and social networks where you can have a profile, a page or even a blog, there are many people questioning whether there is any benefit to hosting content on their own domain versus driving their visitors to a site that they do not own.
If you’re a marketer, the right answer is to use your own hosted website as a home base and utilize all those “other places” as traffic cops to direct the traffic safely to your home.
That being said, should you decide to explore the free hosting route, it is important to review their Terms of Service beforehand for potential pitfalls.
For instance, Blogger, Typepad and the hosted version of WordPress all have clauses allowing them to remove any content they deem in appropriate.
Additionally, WordPress controls whether you can advertise on your blog or not. And while Blogger provides the ability to publish from their site to your own domain, they also can remove your content from your domain as well.
GeoCities is another example of a place where people hosted for free for years and years and thought they would never have to worry. Yahoo is shutting it down. Several other “free” hosting services through the years have done the same, some vanishing into the night without warning.
HyperMart changed from free to paid accounts. If you didn’t upgrade, *poof* your content was gone.
While free sites have their place, and social networks are certainly great places to have a presence, it is important that your social marketing efforts be used to drive traffic to a place that is under your control; a domain you have purchased on hosting you pay for. Additionally, be sure you keep a local backup so that if your host goes down, you can move that content to a new host without worry, and quickly.
Anyone remember NBCi/Xoom.com? More recently, Podango? Facebook, MySpace, Squidoo, Flickr, YouTube and a myriad of other sites are wonderful for creating a presence and connecting with people.
But don’t use your Facebook page as your presence on the Web. Use it as a funnel to send people to your space where you control the content and the ads.
Anytime you rely on another company or their business model to host your content, you are playing with fire.
Deborah Carney (TeamLoxly.com) is an Affiliate Manager and Consultant that also hosts a podcast on Geekcast.fm to teach affiliates the ABCs of getting started (AffiliateABCs).
Download the entire FeedFront issue 6 here – http://feedfront.com/feedfront-issue6.pdf
FeedFront issue 6 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article00date/2009/06