The Internet is active! New platforms launch weekly. Users are always finding new and innovative approaches. Small business owners and the professionals who work in small firms or as solo practitioners always feel like they’re lagging behind and hustling to get up-to-speed. It’s no game; it’s a serious competition you can easily lose.

You have to be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube, and somewhere new next week. In the panic to be all over the Internet with plenty of hyperlinks, one simple basic is sometimes overlooked. You really must have your own multi-page website, and it needs to carry pertinent, appealing content that’s updated at least weekly if not daily.

Listed here are some tips and reasons to keep and maintain your own website:

  • Keep the ownership of your domain’s name and website. Avoid any contracts that leave your domain and website under the control of another party. You can let someone else manage and run your site, but do not let them own it.
  • Do not redirect your website’s visitors to other sites. Sure, use Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks aggressively to generate traffic to your site, but not from it. Redirecting visitors to another site is giving your customers to someone else.
  • Your domain and website is your brand; you control it. You decide how you will be presented. Facebook and every other site is someone else’s brand, under their control.
  • Remember when AOL was “the Internet”? Or more recently, MySpace? Don’t tie your future to any site that you don’t direct. Don’t split your profits; other sites will either forbid sales or grab a percentage. And at your own site, you keep full control over your SEO, how search engines find you, and what your keywords are.
  • You, and not some other website’s attorneys, want to define Terms of Service. Especially if your work touches on anything that might be considered controversy, you might log in one morning to find that your account’s been deleted. Don’t let that happen.
  • At your own website you can test new technologies as they emerge. You can decide on whether to have a blog, real-time streaming video, or podcasting. Your website, not another’s, should be the headquarters of your online operations.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be in control of your online future, and there’s no time like the present to review your site or to start building it. If you’re starting from scratch, you may need to hire a webmaster or a social marketing firm that offers full website construction, maintenance, and marketing help. Plenty of help is available, but the time to act is now.