A Reality Check About Who Really Owns Your Business And What You Can Do To Protect Yourself

Published by 34 Comments

If you think that you are a proud owner of your own online business, think again.

We are often ignorant of this harsh truth, yet it’s there – lurking behind like a thief at night.

This truth hit me on the head a few weeks back when Twitter shut down my empire of some 130K followers.

Then, as I was reading my readers’ comments, I realized that we truly don’t own our businesses – we are at the mercy of many online giants that have much more control and say over our successes and failures than we care to admit.

Who Is Really In Charge?

1. Your web hosting company

Yes, they are your worst nightmare. Whether you “own” one website or many, they can shut you down in a blink of an eye for any number of reasons and it happens every day.

Of course, some hosting companies might be considered more reliable than others, but in the end, no matter who you are with, your website is still at their mercy.

It gets even worse if you choose to build a blog on a free blogging platform like Blogger.com, or WordPress.com.

They host your blog for free and in return they expect you to follow their mile-long Terms of Service to the “T” and, if you as much as sneeze in the wrong direction, they’ll shut you down in a jiffy.

2. Google

Many blogs drive a significant amount of traffic from Google organic rankings and we all want more of it.

And why not? Search engine traffic is the most hands-free, leveraged, and targeted traffic you can get.

However, it’s no secret that Google traffic comes at a price.

Constant algorithm changes on a daily basis, contradictory information as to how Google works and how we can take advantage of it, plus what seems to be a sheer draw of luck that can make or break our search engine traffic flow.

3. Social Media

Social media is yet another huge traffic source for most of us.

Unfortunately, we can think all we want that building a following on any social media platform is time well-invested that will result in a constant traffic flow back to our blogs.

However, in the end, just like with Google, we don’t own this traffic source and are completely at the mercy of the network with all their grayish terms of service that they can bend anyway they want to and we are left with having to accept whatever they decide to do with us.

I am sure I can come up with a few more reasons of how your business can go out of business in a blink of an eye simply because someone else snapped their fingers, but I am sure you get the point and are more interested on learning HOW TO diversify your business in a way that makes it more “slap-proof”.

5 Ways To Slap-Proof Your Business

1. TRAFFIC DIVERSIFICATION

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket; that simple.

Essentially, you have three major sources of traffic:

  1. Direct Traffic: the bulk of this traffic comes from people typing your URL in their address bar. These are your regular readers or people who are familiar with your brand enough to look you up by name.
  2. Search Engine Traffic: traffic that comes from rankings.
  3. Referral Traffic: any traffic you get when someone clicks on your site link located somewhere outside your site: social media, other blogs, etc.

Obviously, this is a very simple explanation of traffic sources, but it’s good enough for me to make this point:

You need to develop ALL THREE traffic sources to make sure that your site still gets visitors should any one of the sources suddenly dry up.

As a rule of thumb, you should work towards getting no more than 40% of your traffic from the search engines, about 40% from various (not one!) referral sources, and the rest as direct traffic.

2. BUILD AN EMAIL LIST

If your site gets shut down today, traffic diversification will become a mute point.

You need to find ways to keep your business going and income coming EVEN IF you all of a sudden don’t have your site any longer, and this is where building an email list comes in.

Your email list is one of those assets that will stay with you and even follow you should you decide to change your business direction.

They are the people who respect you enough to allow you access to their inboxes, who want to hear and learn from you, and who you’ve built relationships with.

Even if worse comes to worse and your business doesn’t have a home (i.e. website) any longer, your email list will prove to be the best way to continue generating income.

3. CREATE A PRODUCT

If you have your own product, the possibilities are endless.

  • You can sell it completely independently of your main site, for instance on Amazon.com, Clickbank, Ebay, or any other selling platform out there.
  • Your product can (and should) have its own site that functions independently of your main site.
  • You can create a network of affiliates that will work for you around the clock to bring your products to many more potential buyers.

4. NICHE MARKETING

Niche marketing is a great way to generate some fairly passive income – once all the “leg work” of researching, building, and ranking is done, of course.

You can create an independent network of many sites, thus creating many possibilities of generating income, as well as ensuring that, if one or even a couple of these sites go down, your business will continue to function.

While I am no expert on niche marketing, I know just the right people to go to if you’d like to learn more.

Let’s start with Yaro himself.

His online career started with niche marketing: creating a very successful card game site and, later, a proof-reading/essay editing business.

To learn more about his journey, take a look at his post on:

One of E-J’s very own authors, Sunil from The Extra Money Blog, also happens to be a niche marketing maven. Take a look at his latest contribution on the topic:

Then there is also a fantastic webinar with Adam Short, who breaks down his niche marketing process in detail:

If you’d like to learn even more, I strongly recommend you check out Pat Flynn from SmartPassiveIncome.com and his famous Niche Site Duel, where you can follow Pat on his journey to build a niche site step-by-step.

5. AFFILIATE MARKETING

There are two ways of going about it:

  1. Through your main site: that’s the way most marketers, including Yaro and me, do it. We use our existing readership plus existing domain authority to produce the best possible results. However, that’s not the only way to do it though.
  2. Through niche sites: the idea behind this is simple – you create a site solely based around a specific product, add some related content, get a keyword-rich domain name (including the product name), and then work on ranking it highly on Google. Very similar to the way niche marketing works.

Whether one method works better than the other, I can’t tell you – I’ve never personally built a niche affiliate marketing site. Enough people do it however, which makes me believe that it does work.

In the light of the post topic though – how to slap-proof your business – creating affiliate marketing niche sites definitely achieves the goal.

Marketing Takeaway

And there you have it.

The bigger net you create today by spreading your traffic and income sources, the more stable business you can rely on in the future.

Ana

About Ana Hoffman

Traffic, traffic, traffic... Can't do without it, but don't know how to get it?
Ana does, and she freely shares her web traffic advice that doesn't suck on her Traffic Generation Cafe blog. And don't forget to pick up Ana's 7 Steps to Complete Search Engine Domination free SEO report while you are at it - stop hoping for more search engine traffic and go get it!

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34 Comments

  • A great article Ana!

    Running an online business means you need to have traffic diversity to reduce your vulnerability to changes by any of the big internet giants.

    Mick

  • Wow! A 130k followers gone! That’s wild.. I would be pissed; but I feel where you’re coming from. To get the upper hand, especially with Facebook, I keep multiple accounts just in case. I make myself admin on all my fanpages and groups; that way if they do delete an account, I don’t lose my fan page. I’ve heard of a guy with the first page on Google (maybe not after Panda) with a weightloss fanpage and over 50k likes. They locked him out of his own fanpage where he can’t even post an update.

    I will definitely be focusing on creating my own products because I will have all the leverage. It sucks having to wait for affiliate checks to come in sometimes.

    Great post… Came here from the email. After seeing the 130k lost followers, i had to see what you were talking about.

    Have a great year

    • The followers were in several different accounts, Dennis, and banned them all – even the one where I followed only 60 people.

  • I frequently tell those I coach to forget about free sites if they are serious about an income from the internet. While free sites are great for backlinking, they are a hazard when it comes to internet marketing as they can be shut down without notice.

    Thanks Ana for the insights you’ve posted. I’m usually concerned with traffic and I’m excited to see some stuff I’ve t

    • So true, Sharon.

      And I always tell my readers that the main purpose of social media is to bring your followers back to YOUR blog – that’s where you can build the best relationships with them.

      • I agree, you should aim to bring them back to the blog, but you can’t ignore the impact of the Facebook Fan Page and facebook credits. A lot of people never leave facebook, and they do everything from buying goods to watching Harry Potter movies all withing Facebook. Moreover, a lot of groups/clubs/associations use the FB FP as THEIR sole website… bypassing WordPress or web hosting.

        • That’s a good point as well, Jimson – in some niches that works well.

          In the internet marketing niche, not so much.

  • Thanks for the info. I just started an electronics store, which I think would be considered in the Niche Marketing category and I have a stand alone site so I will be looking at the references you gave.

  • Debra Gould

    Great content as always Ana. Your Twitter story still has me freaked out from when I first read about it in your email, since I have a number of brands on there! I was at a conference recently and a so called marketing expert was telling small business owners they should build a Facebook business page and forget about having a website. I was so pissed that he could take the stage with such irresponsible advice (and that I’d actually paid to be there!). Just as you should never invest your entire portfolio in a single stock, you should never rely on a single source for revenue.

    • That’s terrible advice indeed, Debra!

      Everybody is an expert these days…

  • my dear..every post I read from you leaves me wide-eyed and keen for more!..There is soooooo much to learn, understand and implement in this business and I dont know what i dont know until you point it out..so keep on sharing and spreading your light, Thanks for above info. Stay well

    • You are so very welcome, Ntathu, and you are right: learning in this business never stops.

  • Hi Ana,

    Very, very good advice!! It is really scary when you stop and look at it. Because you have to rely on those places like hosting, your email client, social media, etc. you are really at their mercy. Diversify, diversify, diversify!

    I got my Twitter account shut down too a few months back and know how it feels. Although I don’t have nearly as many followers as you, it hurt. Hopefully you got your account back like I did. (Guess I need to follow your link above to find out.)

    Thank you so much for sharing these great tips with us, Ana!

    Ilka

    • Whatever the size, it always hurts, Ilka.

      And you just reminded me of something: I need to back up my email list, which I’ve never done before, but should become my regular practice – just in case.

      Thanks for coming by!

  • wow that unbelievable Ann 130k? ill be mad as hell my self but your right own oyur own products and list building and you will never go without

  • I was just thinking about this the other day. Glad you wrote an in depth article on it. Great job!! :)

  • This is a great article, thanks Ana. There is so much to learn when you get started with your online business, and it is just a matter of learning things,…one at a time. Usually through mistakes, but then again, what doesn’t make you quit or give-up only makes you stronger. Your suggestions on diversification are wise advice for any business portfolio.

    • I know how overwhelming it is to start online, Beth, and believe me, it never goes away. lol

      There’s always so much to learn!

  • Ann

    Thanks Mick, yes the ISP / Hoster going under is a major concern

  • Wow. I hadn’t realized that Twitter would do something like that, although it makes sense that they could. The concept “Information wants to be free” has been hobbled by the big dogs. It goes back to the free market – a business can decide how it wants to do business with its customers, and change those terms at any time.

  • This is very well written. I can’t say that I’m in the business for very long and this really cleared some of the blurry spots for me.

    I especially have troubles using big social media site…but I’ll get the hang of it in time, I hope.

    • Social media can be very useful; yet can suck the life out of your business!

  • this is really helpful – some great tips for self-SEO management, thanks. The free downloads are great too….!

    Sadie

  • This is an important reminder to diversify, to keep backups (offline copies) and to self-host as much content as possible. Thanks.

    • Yes, that was a wake-up call for me as well, Barbra.

      I now back up everything I can think of.

  • Great post, and one i’ll be sharing. You only have the check the amount of whining and wailing each time Facebook or Twitter makes a change to their functionality, to see that most businesses have totally failed to clock that you get what you pay for with free services – in this case, no control at all.
    I’m sending this straight to all my friends who claim they don’t need a website any more because they’re building their whole empire on Facebook!!

    • I can’t believe some businesses still run off their FB pages, Kate; what a huge wake-up call it might be to see your page shut down.

  • Thanks for the great advice! I have never considered how important it is to diversify with seo.

  • Thanks for the mention Ana. A bit late to notice, but noticed nonetheless. As usual, very nice and comprehensive post

  • Patricia Harris

    Hi Ana,

    That was an eye opening post I now need to re-evaluate my marketing strategies as I am in the process of creating my own internet marketing blog. I need to do more research on ways to generate traffic to my blog once I have it up. I was blown away to hear you lost 130k twitter followers that is insane but you bounced back it seems.

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