How not to get screwed by Facebook

A few days ago, I got an email from an influential marketer. Her multi-million dollar business was built on Facebook. She used Facebook ads, had multiple Facebook groups (some of them paid), each with 1000s of members.

Then, Facebook deleted her account.

And in case you’re wondering what she did to deserve this, she writes:

For those of you wondering, I was following ALL the rules. I had disclaimers, I removed income claims, I didn’t use the word ‘you’ excessively, I didn’t spam people, I monitored comments, I didn’t target irrelevant people…I did everything right…and it didn’t matter.

This isn’t just about losing money or getting “space” from social media addiction, this is about the real revelation that in my quest for freedom — financial and lifestyle freedom — I am actually at the mercy of a company that doesn’t care one lick about me.

The only one who will protect me…is me. And you should think the same way… Build your network on software you can control. Convert traffic you don’t control (social media) to traffic you own.” (bold sentences, mine)

She is not the only one that this happened to. This week, my Facebook timeline has been flooded with high-level marketers much like her, who’ve found themselves in Facebook’s firing line.

Own your platform

What she wrote in her email, ‘Build your network on software you can control’, is a version of what I’ve been saying for many years, which is this: ‘Do not build your business on someone else’s land.’

I know people who spend hours and $$$s building up their social media profiles, while their website (that’s if they have any at all), languishes on the web.

How to make money from your website

If you want to make it in the business of writing, you have to invest in a platform you own, and the best platform is your own website.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with having a strong social media following or community (for example, Facebook groups). But if that is all you’re doing to build your author or freelance business, then I would ask you to revisit your strategy, because you are exposing your business to risk.

Nobody knows what the future holds. If Facebook, Instagram or Twitter decide to pack up shop, or even shut down your account, where would your followers go? How will you start rebuilding your author or freelance business again, having worked so hard to build your social currency on those networks?

Real-life talk

Maybe it’s because I have a digital background, but from the onset, I’ve always invested in my own platform, which is primarily, my website.

I haven’t got a huge social media following (one Twitter account has just over 1k visitors, while another about 750. My Facebook page has about 500 ‘Likes’, while one Instagram account has about 150 followers).

But you know what? That’s okay with me, because I have invested in my website in such a way that it generates revenue for me.

People say you need a huge social media following to be an ‘influencer’ and be taken seriously as an expert. Well, I can tell you from experience that it’s absolutely nonsense — Abidemi Sanusi

At least once a week, I’m approached by a company or person who would like to collaborate with me. Sometimes they offer payment, and nine times out of ten, I say no. Not for so-called ‘moral’ reasons (because I believe that if you’re promoting a product then you should be paid for it), but because the partnership isn’t right.

And guess what most of these companies say in their first email?

“We love your website and we can tell that you’ve spent time building up your readership and audience — you’ve got a credible business here.”

Sure the same could be said of anyone with a large following on social media, but if those social media networks became bankrupt or deleted your account without warning. What will you do?

This is a genuine question: if those social media networks that you’ve invested so much time and money on became bankrupt or deleted your account without warning, what will you do?

At least, with your website you are the master and surveyor of your own domain.

With a website, you won’t have to post several times a day to multiple networks and pray that people ‘like’ your posts. Not to mention that social selling is an art form in itself.

With a website you won’t have to rely on Amazon only to sell your books (more on this later).

With a website, the sky really is the limit when it comes to developing your brand; you won’t be limited to a certain number of characters or scramble around for hashtags to increase your post reach (hello #RIPHashtagTyranny).

You can do what you want, how you want, and when you want. Which essentially is carte blanche to market yourself and grow your author/writing business any which way you want (remember it’s your website).

So, how do you build your business on your website and build resilience in the process?

First, build the website itself.

Second, if you want to sell your books, don’t limit yourself to Amazon. Try Selz; it really is one of the best ways to sell your books on your website, or even social media channels.

For context, here’s my Selz website, which is hosted on this website.

Third, I’m a big fan of having a plan ‘B’. It’s not paranoia; it’s common sense.

So, while I still sell my books on Amazon, I use Selz on my website. And talking of plan ‘Bs’…

My online courses are hosted on Teachable, but I have two other ‘back-up’ learning management systems that I can call on, in the event things go pear-shaped with Teachable (I doubt it, as Teachable is a robust platform, but one never knows).

Fourth, wherever possible, I try and minimise risk in my business. That’s why I buy domains and host my websites with different companies. I do have a website that’s hosted and the domain bought with the same company, but the website is a non-earner, and I haven’t invested enough in it to mind too much if for some deranged reason the hosting company goes down, and with it, my website.

To conclude, if you are a hobbying writer and have no intention of making money from your work, this post isn’t for you (probably). But if you want to write and make money from your work, then you have to start thinking like a business owner, and the best place to start is your website. I mean, your website address is the first thing that people ask for if you tell them you’re a writer. Might as well make sure it’s an asset that you will be proud to invest in, and that will deliver good ROI for you.

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