Don’t Build Your Internet Business on Rented Land

There are all sorts of places where you can build up your online presence and whether you want to be a professional blogger, an e-commerce guru, or a highly sought-after public speaker, it’s worthwhile putting your name out there and getting known. For many of us, the natural inclination is to develop our social media presence as much as possible.

We want to have more followers on Twitter, more fans on Facebook and more subscribers on YouTube. And these are all worthwhile endeavors, but they have to come back to a very simple and fundamental philosophy about how you should go about building your online presence: don’t build on rented land.

Let’s start with the perspective of actual land with actual real estate. Let’s say that you are renting a plot of land somewhere and you want to erect your business there. You spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so and things are going well. As time goes on, the neighborhood gets busier and your business is thriving. Your landlord realizes that the land underneath your shop has dramatically increased in value.

Your landlord can then do one of two things. He can dramatically increase your rent, dramatically eating in your bottom line. Or he can kick you out at the end of your lease and rent the spot out to someone who is willing to pay more rent. Under both scenarios, you are virtually powerless to do anything.

Now, what does this have to do with the Internet and social media? In the context of the web, a social network like Facebook is “rented land.” Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the people behind Facebook own that website. They can and do change the rules on a regular basis and you are virtually powerless to do anything about it.


You can put up a world of effort to build up your fan base on your Facebook page. You can work hard to get those likes and to increase engagement. You can find yourself with about 20,000 fans, as is the case with the page for John Chow dot Com. But what happens if Facebook makes a dramatic change and you suddenly lose touch with those 20,000 fans?

It’s not just Facebook either. The exact same thing can just as easily happen nearly anywhere else on the web. You can see the same thing happen on Twitter, Pinterest, Ello, YouTube, eBay, or any number of other channels. As large as your fan base may be on any of these sites, the rug can be pulled out from under you at any moment.


Does this mean that you shouldn’t build on “rented land” at all? Not exactly. It is still very worthwhile to get that user base active and engaged with you on channels like Twitter and YouTube. There is definite value there.

However, it is positively critical that your overall strategy doesn’t end on these sites. Instead, you should be using social media (and other websites) as a funnel, leading those key visitors, fans and leads back to something that you do control. For most of us, this would be our own websites. And from there, you can grow your mailing list too.

Yes, it may be true that your own site and your own mailing list are likely hosted by someone else — like HostGator and Aweber, respectively — but you do have complete control over them. Should you choose to change web hosts, you don’t lose your website. Should you decide to power your mailing list with MailChimp instead, you can export and import your list accordingly. It’s still entirely yours.

You’re no longer building on rented land, because the real land is in your hands. And that’s the real power that you’ll hold for sustained growth and success as an Internet entrepreneur.

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13 thoughts on “Don’t Build Your Internet Business on Rented Land”

  1. faisal says:

    Very well said, do it on your own.

  2. Leon Smith Jr says:

    Just started in April 2015 Platinum level. Bought 36 mttb’s 2000 post cards 2000 solos from 4 vendors. Taking all advise I can get. Thanks John.

  3. Well put, exactly what every smart webmaster must strive to achieve. Getting all social media attentions to reflect on own land (website).

  4. Vinay Pandit says:

    Hi Michael

    I totally agree, you should always be funnelling traffic, whether its from Youtube or Facebook back to your own, what I like to call hub site, whether that’s a blog or whatever.

    Then once you have captured leads through your autoresponder and built a list, you have your own traffic. Who knows what could happen with Facebook and all the other social media you mentioned. However, as long as you keep your list and site visitors happy with valuable content and helpful offers, changes in social media shouldn’t be a problem.

    Your post is also a useful reminder not to rely on 1 traffic source either.

    Thanks again Michael and John

  5. Rory Singh says:

    Yes having your ‘own’ website or blog is essential. Without one you may be ‘perceived’ as a homeless person begging for money online. Thanks Michael!

  6. Rudy says:

    The point is use all resources for your own benefits!

  7. Alan says:

    And that is why Mcdonuts (Mcdonalds ) is also in the Property business as well as the Hamburger business.

    They buy all their top sites around the world.

    Premium properties !

  8. Hi Michael,

    I advice any free platform user, or renter, to do much creating on their own real estate to avoid the nightmare of losing it all when a big league change occurs on said sites. Happened to me more than once back in the day. Now I own and create mostly where I own. Smart post, thanks dude!


  9. Michael,

    Well said. Couldn’t agree with you more. The last thing anyone wants is to have their blood, sweat, and tears taken away without a moment’s notice.

    Also, by having your own piece of online real estate you are perceived as more credible, and legitimate. Perception is reality. Who are you more likely to do business with. A company that only has a Facebook page as their online presence? or A company that has their own branded blog or website?

    Great post!


  10. Julio says:

    Definitely true. Its always good to have your own website that you own.I’ve had many things happen over the years and lost quite a bit due to changes in search engines and Free domains and Free hosting of websites. Its important to set your foundation your own domain and web hosting. Then your autoresponder service you can back up your list. Thanks Michael and John.

  11. Caleb says:

    Although technically it is not renting you do still have to pay for hosting which is like your utility bill for your home so make sure you can consistently afford that as I have set up sites for ppl who fail to realize that it is indeed a monthly utility bill they have to pay in order to keep their site live and viewable.

  12. Gaurav Barot says:

    Playing safe and keeping clean is the no longer a sane advice in the internet arena. You can get locked out of your online account in a “rented” e-estate. A case in point is a person who wrote more than 500+ informative guidance posts at “Yahoo Answers” platform, just to get banned by them. I know a similar case, the tyrant platform this time was – Blogger.

    The real buzzword should be: Don’t keep all your eggs in a basket; distribute them in as many baskets as possible (means diversify); own the baskets and keep all baskets close enough.

    Hi, John.

  13. Neil Duckett says:

    I branded my original blog all wrong, if I’d chosen the topic as the name rather than making it personal I would have make a killing when it came time to sell it.

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