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The 2018 Version Of Don’t Build Your Content House On Rented Land

You have to build and steal from the places that are not yours, by any means necessary.

This article is about why you have to build your house anywhere you can, in order to create a call to action and for people to commit.

This picks up and gives a 2018 slant on a content marketing mantra and something that I stand stoically next to. This is associated with the term, ‘you cannot build your home on rented land.’

Copyblogger wrote this seminal article in 2015 that had a content marketing angle on this, it’s called Digital Sharecropping: The Most Dangerous Threat to Your Content Marketing Strategy and is a fantastic article. Here is another great article from Lauren McMenemy from Skyword this year on The Facebook Algorithm Furor Proves One Thing: It’s More Important than Ever to Own Your Land.


Some Context For You

The premise for ‘don’t build your home on rented land’ is this:


You do not have any say for how your narrative performs when it is on a space that is not yours ie. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google etc


It is stronger to build your asset base around a website, a subscriber list and creating consistent value that offers value to others


Once you publish somewhere else, you do not own the subscribers from that platform


Followers from someone else, belongs to someone else


It is getting even harder to build something organic somewhere that isn’t yours (well….apart from LinkedIn)


Paying to use someone else’s space is fine, just as long as you know what you want to get out of it


Tomorrow could be the ‘this is the last day I use this platform for free’


Building a space you own means you can reach out directly to people and connect on a far deeper level. 


Imagine if you backed the Google+ horse as the place for all your narrative to reside


This is the way I am now approaching things, with a slight change of tact.

You have to build anywhere that will house your narrative and then it’s up to you to not pay any rent and steal audience away. Let’s look at it this way LinkedIn, Google, Facebook are not your friends, will never be your friends and do not care about the growth of your business.

Comedian, Stewart Lee said in a StageLeft Podcast episode (2018) the comparison with the world of entertainment and business when it comes to control being handed to the few (thanks to Andy Headington from Adido for pointing this out). “Everyone tries disruptive techniques to end up owning everything so there is no competition. Companies own the talent and the means that talent is distributed.”

Have a listen, it has a real solid message:

When you play on someone’s channel, you play by their rules. Here are some examples from August 2018 that things aren’t as welcoming, transparent or open as they seem:

Search Engine Journal highlighted during August (read here) that, “Google has started inserting links to Google My Business profiles to a third-party website called” The leads are not passed onto the actual company but to


Netflix recently highlighted, during August, that they will be testing skippable ads between episodes and movies. This looks like a similar model to Spotify where you pay more to not hear any adverts. So does this mean, that you will pay your monthly fee to access Netflix and pay extra for their ‘premium service?’ It certainly looks the next natural step to monetise.


In February 2018, LinkedIn removed their Groups App for iOS. Fast forward to the end of August, this is being relaunched. Proof that if this was a core part of your communication, you’ve been on a six month hiatus, not knowing when you will see another dawn.


The UK’s competition and consumer watchdog, in August, has launched its own investigation into social media influencers. Transparency is a big thing here where celebrities and influencers are misleading others by not stating that what they are sharing they have been paid to advertise. Read this article from Variety.



What Can You Do?

It is time to fight fire with fire.

Build a house that has a great garden, with a huge trampoline and at the same time become a squatter with a sense of decorum and principal.

You can still create a centre of gravity (your website), but in order to get people to commit and spend time, it is also worthwhile for people to see a level of consistency in other places. Why tease people on a social space with a relentless ‘click here to read more’ when you can go native (or undercover) and show your hand wherever and whenever.

In 2018, it is time to move away from thinking that you just dedicate time and resources to one place that is yours ie. your website but to utilise and take from anywhere and everywhere like it’s the first day after the Zombie apocalypse and no one is at Asda.

Let me explain this in three transparent stages that I now have a bit more clarity (as this is what I have been doing and practicing).

1.Build a presence where you are confident that your message is not the same as everyone else and you can house the blogging, the video and the audio (your website)

2.Transfer a strand of that narrative to any channel where the audience already exists

3.Pull people away so they can see that the party is happening at yours ie. an email that you have control of, events that you can target better, a stronger subscribed audience


Five Things To Take On Board

It is better to build a massive tent at the bottom of your garden than people comfortably fit in, rather than getting people to come to yours only to find out you haven’t hammered in any tent pegs and there is no ground cloth.

Here are five things you can do where you steal and build:


Show your hand on social channels. By this I mean publishing directly on other spaces. For instance, LinkedIn does not want people to click away to read something on your site, they’ll reward you when you place content natively within their platform. Using a LinkedIn post as a micro story (with a text limit of 1,300 characters) or posting an MP4 directly to LinkedIn and not YouTube/Vimeo results in a pat on the back. Play the game, there is no shame. 


Recognise what it is you ultimately want to achieve and build content around your goals.  My social goal is to convert people to subscribe to the You Are The Media Weekly email. This becomes the place where everything starts, whereby there is a commitment from someone to receive and over time trust is built ie. the email is weekly and the themes are based around building audience and ownership. Over time it becomes easier to make a higher value decision ie. convert to clients or come to the You Are The Media conference.


Make the return offer compelling enough that stands on its own merits. Whilst you have provided something of use, that doesn’t have an inward focus on how good you are, but the value you provide, you have to make sure that the reason to entice away is worthwhile. You are better than solely getting someone to click away to read an article. Tell someone that the party is happening at yours. Whether it is a piece of research that does not have a sales chime on it, a regular newsletter, a place where they can contribute and feel a part of something, it all helps in someone else being comfortable that they made the right choice. Persistence is magnified in your space, not someone else’s.


Always have in mind what you want someone to do. You can’t just publish and walk away. It becomes easy to be sucked into a channel that is not yours and end up playing by someone else’s rules. At some point you have to be clear on the exchange that is taking place. For instance, whenever I publish a full article on LinkedIn or Medium, I will always add at the bottom a link to subscribe to the weekly You Are The Media email. Using on Medium works perfectly with a code to embed at the end.


Be consistent on another channel, but not lured in by the channel.  When the focus switches from yours to theirs you are in big trouble. This is how I have found a new form of consistency on LinkedIn that does not affect my creation for my main site (where you are reading now). I write my synopsis for what I am going to write deeper on within LinkedIn, in old money this could have been the ‘news’ section on any website. By writing down my ideas down, it has the potential for more people to see what I have got teed up. Once I have taken my shower and used the wi-fi from someone else, I can then focus on the deeper content ready for the email the following Thursday (four days later).


Let’s Put It In Context Of A Children’s Book

Don’t Build Your Content House On Rented Land

My daughter’s love the story Six Dinner Sid. It’s about a cat who can get six dinners a day, from six different owners.

Sid plays up to the character of each owner and because no one talks to each other in the road, no one knows. Sid is happy because he has six dinners, six beds and six different places he gets scratched.

There is nothing stopping you from becoming the B2B version of Six Dinner Sid, where you adopt the etiquette of each channel you use for your own benefit. In Sid’s case it was having an always full belly, in yours it is the sense of ownership that you can facilitate and orchestrate an ongoing form of engagement.


Let’s Round Up

If your goal is to build your audience, then you have to go where the audience resides and the message looks far too compelling to refuse when they see they can feel part of something else.

You play on someone’s channel, you play by their rules, that will never change. However, in order to grow your audience, go to where people already are, but you are already building an asset base (website, email) you can’t solely rely on people to come to you.

You have to build your house anywhere you can in order to create a call to action. 

Whilst your source of the best content is your website, take advantage of where others hang out to entice them to come to you. 

Stealing from ‘the man’ is good.

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