Lately, my inbox has been filling up with notices. Notices about the impending renewal date of my web-based server space, and the domain names attached to said space. Which means, as the emails ominously remind me, that once it lapses, neither I nor anyone else will be able to get at that data. I know I’m meant to be terrified of this possibility, but I just can’t muster an appropriate degree of fear.
I thought about it long and hard, but in then end, there were just too many reasons against keeping my own server space in operation, and too many reasons for storing and publishing my data, portfolio, and contact information elsewhere. Here’s what convinced me to stop the madness and save a little money in the process.
- Discoverability. Because I am not myself anywhere near an expert on SEO, and because I’ve been entirely uncomfortable with shoving links to my content down the throats of people in my network, any content I might post on my own domain goes largely unnoticed. Sure, I have the occasional link via profiles on sites like this one, but let’s be honest, how many of us click through to those, and even having done so, how often do we follow further links off-site from there?
- Maintenance required. When it comes to your own site, you take responsibility for the look and feel, the user experience, and the content. The look alone requires pruning, refinement and the occasional overhaul to keep it feeling fresh and current. Keeping content up-to-date might be as easy as updating other social networking site pages, but more often than not, it’s actually a lot more work than making sure your Facebook or LinkedIn profile is accurate and current.
- Low Rate of Return. The monetary investment involved in setting up a web site is not inconsiderable. Even if you’re only paying between $100 and $200 a year for server space and domain name registration, are you really seeing that money come back to you as a result of having your own web site? Think about the professional connections you make that turn into profitable relationships. Do they come mostly from your own site (if your business isn’t operated solely from your site, of course), or from connections made via the social web and other sources?
- Distraction Factor. A web site of your own might be doing more than just costing you money. If you’re spending a lot of time trying to boost your visitor count, set up advertising, and basically justify its existence in some way, you could be spending your time in a much better and more productive way pursuing additional contracts, working on high priority projects you’ve been procrastinating about, or even just improving your work/life balance.
- Reputation. If you do have a web site, and it languishes in disregard, as mine does currently, than it might be even worse than just distracting or wasteful. Stale, dated content with your name on it automatically becomes part of your personal brand, whether or not you’re actively trying to cultivate one. If someone is looking you up online, and they come across your web site before anything else, whatever good things they heard about you via word of mouth could be tainted or even completely erased by the impression your site gives of someone who is either lazy or out of touch.
A web site is admittedly a nice thing to have if you’re a web-based professional. But if your business isn’t dependent upon it (which it would most likely be if you were a web site designer, for example), then that’s all it is: a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have. If you can let it go, maybe you should. You’ll save yourself time, money and possibly even face in the bargain.
Do you have your own web site? Do you use it? How often does it bring you business/real value?