I can’t tell you how many emails, phone calls and in-person conversations I’ve had in regards to people losing their content and access to their audience.

Then I encounter the following article and it all the emotions come back fresh to mind, heart and soul: Google Wiping Out 14 year old blog…

All the blood, sweat, and tears of writing content day in and day out now gone, and not one soul came looking for you and long lost content.

And this is not just content, but world-changing content as most categorize their prized possession of thoughts.

And this starts my questioning to no end in attempting to figure out what happened to their long lost content.

And my first question:

Where is or was your content hosted?

Sometimes it was a careless mistake of using a cheap and unknown web host.

And if not that question, then who stole your content?

Quite often it’s a simple copy, paste and lift of the content from a website to another’s website.

And if not that question, then did and do you have website backups?

Sometimes it was simply not performing consistent website back ups and testing those backups.

The Rise and Costly Fall of Digital Sharecropping

And yet, so many times, it’s been that the person(s) never once thought about the impact of digital sharecropping.

Yes, digital sharecropping is a term and is alive and well across a vast growing number websites.

Everyone and their grandmother is in a content arms race for generating the next viral video, post, email and whatever the next flavor of the month is with high hopes of generating traffic and income in short order.

Yet, quite often many fail to understand and comprehend that the content they feverishly generate will not return so much as a dime to their pockets, while padding the pockets of the very networks and platforms the plaster their content all over every waking minute of each day.

Nevertheless, it’s when asking what platform the website is hosted on that I have to be the voice of reason and reality to state the obvious.

Your content is gone! That’s right, every single letter, word, sentence, comma, period and more is gone, PERIOD!

How did this happen? Let me explain how it happened.

In two breaths or less… See, you were so anxious to get your non-tech savvy self online with your newly found thoughts and business that you didn’t take the time to plan and think through the true cost of a FREE website platform.

I know that last sentence is a mouthful, so take a deep breath and re-read it once more.

It was the ease that Blogger, Weebly, Tumblr, WordPress.com, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and the list of FREE website platforms goes on miles long.

Or maybe it was those guest blogs you wrote for 3rd party websites that are now defunct.

Or maybe it’s much more gruesome in that you now realize your bio and contact info was erase from your content and replaced with someone else’s name.

Or maybe your content was removed altogether and is now redirecting all your search ranking value to content that’s now yours.

They had you at FREE. They comfortably suckered you into believing you shouldn’t have to pay for a quick and easy set up for your website.

And so you started crafting, writing and posting your little heart out. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and months years until one day you were locked out from you very own contract.

Maybe you took your first amendment a bit too far, or maybe you were in violation of the terms and conditions that we all admit to reading, right? 😉

Well Mr or Ms Business Owner, welcome to the hard lesson of digital sharecropping.

You thought you owned your content and the site in its entirety, yet you failed to realized that the land you leased that was so FREE has now cost you a fortune to say the least.

You can remember some of the content, but not all of it. And don’t forget about all those years of links, shares, posts, tweets, pins and the list goes on.

Hate to be the one to break it you, but they are lost for good. Don’t attempt to put a price on it.

It’ll only break your heart that much more at why you never took the time to invest a fraction of what you lost in cost to begin with.

7 Steps to Effectively Combat Digital Sharecropping

I know you’re wondering, how do I combat this digital sharecropping nightmare, right?

There is a way you hedge against digital sharecropping and the loss of your content. It starts with some simple steps.

1. Register your own domain name

DO NOT let anyone else other than yourself ever register your domain, or you’ll likely be paying big bucks in legal fees or a large domain price tag to reclaim your lost domain. Take every step necessary to own the domain yourself.

Use GoDaddy, 1And1.com, and Google Domains to name a few domain registrars. You can buy a domain for as low as $0.99 when purchasing at GoDaddy. Click here to review more domain savings.

2. Host your own website with paid hosting

Don’t let cheap cost you a fortune when considering hosting your own website. There are many types of web hosting plans to choose from (read here). For typical websites, a simple WordPress or VPS hosting package should do the trick.

Use InMotion Hosting, GoDaddy, HostGator, or Bluehost to name a few reliable, affordable, and speedy web hosting providers. Review my 10-minute video tutorial on setting up a Bluehost WordPress installation.

3. Start a website newsletter subscription list

This is yet one of the BIGGEST mistakes I often see with website owners. They forget to ask for their audience’s email address. Your audience email addresses is GOLD, and should be treated as such.  Use email newsletter services such as MailChimp, Aweber, iContact, and Constant Contact to name a few.

If you guest blog, then you should have at least one action item link to lead them to your website. And don’t be afraid to ask for their email using a popup form or page form. Review my tutorial on setting up a Mailchimp popup form.

4. Consistently perform and test website backups

There are too many services, such as CodeGuard.com, DropMySite.com and BackupMachine.com to name a few, and a variety of plugins available for you not to have a stable copy of your website and it’s golden content.

In fact, most web hosting providers offer backup services both free and paid. Also, you can manually backup a website with a few simple MySQL queries or accessing phpMyAdmin, if using WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.

And don’t just back up your website and keep the file stored away. From time to time, attempt to restore your website to ensure that the backup is usable.

5. Sparingly guest blog and do this when you do…

I have nothing against guest blogging. Just make sure that you have a call-to-action to visit your website should you guest blog or provide content for 3rd-party websites.

Always request for a bio section with picture and at least 2 links within the bio section in addition to the links offered in the main body of your content.

6. Keep digital copies of your content

Always, always, always keep digital copies of your content. And if you need to, keep hard copies in a safe of some sort (overkill!).

Personally, I keep copies in Google Drive, External Hard, and I even email the content to myself. Again, how much is your content worth to you???

7. Use content detection software to hedge against content theft

Another service I use to catch content thieves and to guard against content thieves is Copyscape.

There are other online content detection solutions, both free and paid services, such as ContentPlagiarismChecker.com, ArticleChecker.com, DupliChecker.com and Plagiarisma.net.

So, the next time you think about saving money to launch your website to the masses, think about ALL you’ll lose in such a simple, yet costly decision in choosing a FREE website platform.

Written by Alvin Brown
He's an experienced and passionate serial entrepreneur, founder and publisher of Kickstart Commerce. Alvin possesses a great love for startups dominating their market using profitable digital strategies for greater commerce.