Escaping the Algorithm: Why You Need to Own Your Audience and Content

Escaping the Algorithm: Why You Need to Own Your Audience and Content

As an independent creator, it's crucial that you take ownership of the content you produce. Relying solely on platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok to host your videos, tweets, and other creative works means you don't truly control your creations.

While these sites can help you reach a wider audience, they also come with major drawbacks. Your account can be deleted, suspended, or censored at any time per the platform's terms of service. Your content could be removed without notice. YouTube and other sites have complex, opaque algorithms that determine how and to whom your content is shown. Toxic commenters can hijack your work, spreading negativity that impacts your mental health and creative process.

That's why as a creator, you need to diversify where you post content and build your own sites to control how your work is distributed. Here are some ways to start taking back ownership as an independent creator.

Create Your Own Blog or Website

Having your own website or blog is the best way to control your creative content. You can write blog posts, share videos or music, post comics or art, and more, all on your own domain that you operate.

Options for building a site include WordPress, Ghost, Squarespace, Wix, and more. Many have free tiers to get started. While it does take some work to set up and maintain a site, you'll have full control over the platform and your content.

Some key benefits of running your own site:

  • You own the domain and host content on your own servers or web host. No platform can remove your site without your permission.
  • You control how content is designed, organized, and displayed. You're not beholden to someone else's layout or algorithms.
  • You decide what features to enable, like comments, social sharing, and more. You can turn off or moderate areas that enable harassment.
  • You control the visitor experience and can enable subscriptions, memberships, donations, and other monetization. You keep the revenue earned from your work.
  • Your site establishes your brand and central hub online for all content in one place.

While it takes effort to build traffic, you own the audience that comes to your site. And you can leverage platforms like social media to drive traffic.

Share Content, Don't Just Post on Social Media

Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube make it easy to distribute your creative work. But simply posting directly to these sites means you don't actually control the content.

A better strategy is to share links to your content hosted on your own site. Write a blog post, create a video, record a podcast episode, etc., and upload it to your own site. Then share links to that content on social platforms.

This lets you use sites like Twitter for reach while retaining control. If the platform deletes your account, you still have the content on your own site. You can also embed or host your videos on YouTube, but using your own site as the main hub.

This takes more effort than just posting directly to social networks. But in the long run, it enables you to control your work and not cede ownership for the sake of convenience.

Diversify Your Content Distribution

Relying on one platform like YouTube or Twitter puts you at risk if that site bans you or changes policies. That's why you should diversify where you post content.

Some other platforms to consider:

  • Vimeo: Paid plans but offers a more professional video platform alternative to YouTube
  • TikTok: Great for short video content and reaches a different audience
  • Facebook: Still has wide reach, especially for visual content
  • Instagram: Focused on mobile photo/video content and stories
  • Medium: Blog platform that makes it easy to publish long-form writing
  • Substack: Popular newsletter platform for building an email subscriber base
  • Spotify: For audio content like podcasts
  • PeerTube: Open source, decentralized video platform

The key is to not be overreliant on any one site. Post your content in multiple places, but use your own website as the hub that everything links back to.

Monetize Your Content Directly

Large platforms not only take ownership of your content, they also monetize it by running ads and sharing in the revenue. They build a business off creators’ work.

You can fight back by monetizing your content directly from your own website through options like:

  • Subscriptions where fans pay for exclusive content
  • Tipping/donations to support your work
  • Affiliate marketing where you promote relevant products
  • Selling merchandise such as t-shirts
  • Offering paid services like consulting or shoutouts
  • Using crowdfunding for special projects

By utilizing multiple monetization streams, you can sustain yourself independently and rely less on other platforms. You retain all the revenue earned from your true fans.

Owning your content distribution and monetization enables you to control your destiny as a creator. Yes, it means more work building your website, diversifying your posting strategy, and figuring out moneymaking methods. But in the end, you own your content, brand, audience, and can build a sustainable independent creative business for the long term.

The worst thing you can do is hand over all your power as a creator to other platforms. Value your work, creativity, and viewers enough to put in the effort. Take control of your content ownership and distribution - your future as an independent creator depends on it.

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