When someone asks you for your website URL, do you give them an Instagram address? Or a YouTube address? Why not give them something unique?
With the explosion of various social media platforms, there are endless ways to publish your content. Regardless of the medium, there is a channel for everything.
These tools are great and they can certainly be leveraged to support your lettering efforts, but a lot of people set themselves up for potential setbacks and failure by relying exclusively on these platforms.
Remember MySpace? There was a time when everyone had an account. And when MySpace came out with the ability to create an artist profile with an audio player, musicians and bands flocked to MySpace.
Designers and developers were hired to create stylized Myspace accounts with custom layouts, themes and widgets. Then MySpace died out rather quickly.
When you choose to let your content live on someone else’s platform, you’re putting your fate in their hands.
The moral of the story is that the game changes. It would be silly to assume that the same ways in which we share content today will be the norm 5 or 10 years from now.
Are you future-proofing all of the hard work you’re putting in now?
The Detriment of Relying Solely on Another Platform
Something to consider about unpaid platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. is that they’re still making money off of you in one way or another. Most of the time, this is done through advertising.
When you use an unpaid platform, they’re selling your attention and information to someone. These platforms don’t care about you. Their focus is profit. And based on the success metrics of their campaigning, the platform can change without notice. The majority of the time, this is in the interest increasing their revenue. Not the interest of their users.
You don’t make the rules — they do
At any point in time without notice, a platform can alter:
- Who sees your content and how frequently
- When someone sees your content.
- How someone sees and interacts with your content.
What might have been ideal when you first started using this service can quickly change into a suboptimal situation. When you rely solely on that platform you’ve invested your time and efforts into, you run the risk of letting this time and effort go to waste.
And like the MySpace example, platforms can quickly become obsolete when a competitor comes along and puts out something better.
The danger you face here is curating all of your content in one place. And when that game changes, you’re forced to start over elsewhere — unless you want to share content to no one.
Another problem with sharing content on a third-party platform is that your audience is often limited to the people that also subscribe to that platform.
Sure, it’s possible to cross-post between different social media platforms, but the impact a piece of content can provide on one platform can drastically differ from the impact it can provide on another platform.
By sharing exclusively on one platform, you’re substantially limiting your audience.
Build Your Own Platform
There are an infinite amount of benefits to having your own platform. If you create a personal website for your lettering work, you get to make the rules. You have full control of the content and the way it’s displayed.
The most important aspect is that you that you have full control over the single endpoint where your content lives.
There’s nothing wrong with using third-party services to curate content, but you should be using those other services as acquisition points that either support or lead back to your own website.
Having a website to back up the snippets of content that other people see on various third-party channels is a great way to reinforce your brand. Someone could find an interesting piece of work that you shared and they might want to learn more about you and even hire you. But they can’t do this if you don’t have a website.
When to Use a Third-Party Platform
Again, third-party services aren’t a bad thing. There are services out there that provide a lot of value and recreating these services from scratch would require a lot of time and learning on your end.
Here are a few examples of third-party services that you should invest in to leverage support of your own platform:
If you’re handling transactions on your website, using a third-party service integration is probably the best way to go. There are a lot of security precautions that must be taken into account when processing payments and personal information. This is best left up to the experts.
If you’re serving video or large data files, it’s probably best to host these on a third-party server that specializes in media delivery. Rolling your own solution is expensive and requires a lot of technical expertise and hands-on maintenance.
If you’re managing email campaigns, it’s probably best to use a dedicated email service. There is a lot of work that goes into managing subscriber lists, template optimization, and metric tracking.
You shouldn’t re-invent the wheel for everything you do. The rule of thumb is that using a third-party service should serve as a reinforcement to your own personal platform.
Take it from Someone Who Learned the Hard way
I fell into the trap of sharing all of my lettering work on social media channels. While I was able to gain a strong audience on Instagram, I ran the risk of losing that audience if Instagram were to ever change or become obsolete.
I decided to invest the time in building my own website that would allow me to share my work through case studies and my blog. I also give prospective clients the ability to learn about my professional process, contact me, and hire me.
On top of that, I use analytics to measure the impact of my content. Using this data, I am able to constantly adapt and create a better experience for my visitors.
I still use third-party platforms as acquisition points, but if the third-party platforms I belong to ever go away, my work will remain here on my website.
In this day and age, you don’t need to be a web developer to build your own platform. There are tools out there like Wix, SquareSpace, and WordPress — all of which are fantastic tools for those without the ability to code.
Don’t put your fate in someone else’s hands. Curate work on your own website.