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A recent article by Rachel Kaiser on TNW asked if it’s time to kill the personal website, and made a case for its demise.

Is it? In a word:

No.

Why? Consider this simple fact: as long as we pay our bills, our website operates under our control.

Kaiser makes the point that sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Medium are where the people are. From her perspective, a personal website “is a way of presenting that information in a way that seems a bit archaic.”

I disagree.

As has been the case for over a decade, we do not own our social properties:

  • If LinkedIn vanished tomorrow, I would keep none of my network or my profile data.
  • If Facebook chose to suspend my account, I would lose access to my profile URL.
  • If Medium runs out of money, all my content will vanish into the ether.

We don’t own these properties, and they are not public utilities subject to regulation or supervision. They are private enterprises, private businesses attempting to make money – and when they fail to make money, they vanish. Just ask anyone with a MySpace page.

  • As long as I pay my bills, my website sticks around.
  • As long as I pay my bills, my email newsletter remains active.
  • As long as I pay my bills, my domain name works.

Should we not participate on properties we don’t own? Of course not – participate and engage where the people are. Share pointers to our owned content, participate in conversations, make friends, be social. Know, however, that in these spaces, these places, we are the product, not the customer. The advertiser is the customer, and thus we have little to no recourse if we lose access to our unpaid profiles.

But at the end of the day, just as in the real world, we can’t and shouldn’t hang our hats in public spaces we don’t own. We should hang our hats and rest our feet in the places we pay for.


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