Own Your Content: How Creators Can Take Back Control

Own Your Content: How Creators Can Take Back Control
Photo by Rohan Makhecha / Unsplash

As content creators, our work is one of our most valuable assets. However, many popular platforms that host user-generated content retain ownership over what we publish. This leaves us vulnerable if those platforms decide to change policies or algorithms in ways that negatively impact our reach and income potential.

While major platforms make it easy to quickly share our videos and articles with a large audience, true ownership means having more control over how our content is used and distributed now and in the future. In this article, we'll explore alternative hosting options that allow creators to retain full ownership of their intellectual property.

Self-Hosted Video Platforms Like Peertube

YouTube has long been the dominant platform for hosting and sharing videos, with over 2 billion users watching hundreds of millions of hours of content daily. However, YouTube retains ownership of all videos published to its servers. If your channel is suddenly deleted or demonetized, you lose access to all your past work.

A more creator-friendly alternative is Peertube, an open-source, decentralized video streaming platform. Peertube allows anyone to install and run their own video streaming node. This means you can upload your videos directly to your own server rather than relying on a third-party service.

Some benefits of using Peertube include:

  • Full ownership and control of your video files and playlists. YouTube can delete your channel, but it can never take down your Peertube node.
  • Privacy and security, as your videos reside on your own hardware rather than a for-profit company's servers.
  • Decentralization means no single point of failure. If one Peertube node goes down, your videos are still accessible through other nodes globally.
  • Ability to embed videos on your own website for additional exposure and monetization options beyond ads.

While Peertube has a smaller user base than YouTube currently, its open protocol means it can scale globally as more creators and platforms adopt it over time. Self-hosting ensures your videos are truly yours forever, with no reliance on the whims of a large corporation.

Writing Content For Your Own Site

For creators focused on written content like blogs, tutorials, or long-form essays, the best option is to publish directly to your own domain. Building an independent website gives you complete control over your content and the ability to monetize it through ads, affiliates, or subscriptions on your terms.

Some benefits of centering your publishing efforts on your own site include:

  • Ownership of your content, brand, and copyright. As the owner of the domain and server, you control access and distribution.
  • Ability to curate an ongoing archive of all your work in one centralized location that your fans can access indefinitely. No risk of articles or posts disappearing due to platform changes.
  • Increased opportunities for monetization like display ads, sponsorships, or e-commerce that you fully profit from rather than a third party taking a cut.
  • Creative freedom without platform restrictions on content, affiliate links, or monetization techniques. Say what you want without fear of "ghosting" and hidden censorship.
  • Independence from algorithmic reach and overreliance on social media traffic. Owned traffic directly to your site is more stable long-term.

While a self-hosted site requires more work than platforms like Substack or Medium, it allows creators to truly own their brand and intellectual property into the future. With some technical skills or a small investment, any content creator can have their own publishing home base.

Distributing Content Across Networks

Even with self-hosted options, social media still plays a huge role in content discovery today. The key is using platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to promote and distribute your content, while still retaining ownership by housing the full library on your own channels.

Some best practices for sharing without relinquishing control include:

  • Linking back to your owned sites and channels rather than hosting full content on platforms.
  • Using platform share buttons, hashtags, and groups to drive fans to follow you across networks rather than locking them in one silo.
  • Embedding or linking clips, quotes, and snippets selectively to maximize interest without giving platforms full portfolio access.
  • Proactively expanding your owned publishing channels over time vs. over-relying on any platform beyond your control long-term.
  • Adding opt-in email lists to directly market to engaged fans outside of algorithms.

By thoughtfully distributing across platforms while keeping ownership of the full library centralized on your own domains, creators can expand their audience without ceding power over their intellectual property or future income potential from past works. Social channels should complement, not replace, self-hosting efforts.

In conclusion, as the controllers of our creative work and brands, content creators must take back true ownership to survive potential future disruptions from large platforms. Self-hosting key content libraries on our own domains and channels gives us independence and protects our long-term interests in an uncertain digital landscape. With some technical skills and strategic syndication of excerpts, any creator can retain full control of their content into the future.

Read more