The Dangers of Digital Sharecropping
Posted On: 2014-07-23
by: Mercedes Tabano

July
23, 2014
Do you remember learning about sharecropping in school? It's where a people worked farmland for a landlord. The landlord lets them keep some of the money for their hard work, but took most of it for himself.

Then, the landlord would eventually kick the people off and leave them with nothing for their years of toil. Fortunately, we've come a long way since then. Or have we?

Do you remember learning about sharecropping in school? It's where a people worked farmland for a landlord. The landlord lets them keep some of the money for their hard work, but took most of it for himself. Then, the landlord would eventually kick the people off and leave them with nothing for their years of toil. Fortunately, we've come a long way since then. Or have we?

The concept of sharecropping has once again raised its ugly head, this time, in the online world. What's even worse is that unlike the real sharecroppers in the past, most digital sharecroppers are unaware of the danger.

What Is Digital Sharecropping?

Digital sharecropping is a term coined by Nicholas Carr to describe the act of putting all your eggs in someone else's basket. Whenever you rely on platforms such as Facebook, Amazon, Google, YouTube or any other third party site to drive traffic, you are participating in digital sharecropping. So what's the problem? It turns out, there are several.

Landlords Care About Their Bottom Line, Not Yours

It sounds obvious when you say it. Yet, millions of marketers and indie authors were shocked when Facebook introduced their new 'pay to play' model for their site. Suddenly, all those thousands of fans you collected weren't' worth very much. Some indie authors were lucky if 7 people out of 7,000 saw their posts. While I'm sure this made Facebook a lots of money, it also left millions of marketers staring at their empty pages wondering what they did wrong.

You Can Be Kicked Off At Any Time

When you're dealing with a digital landlord, you play by their rules. One site might say it's okay to use this tactic, while another one strictly forbids it. If you accidentally mix the two up, you could be banned from your favorite site. Then, despite all your cleverly created pages, you're left with nothing. This can even happen if you've done nothing wrong.

Sites Do Not Last Forever

Remember Yahoo? Myspace? Farmville? Digg? Orkut? You might recognize some of these names. They used to be some of the biggest sites in the industry. Then, almost as quickly as they rose, they fell. Marketers and businesses which spent thousands of dollars and millions of hours of time on these sties soon discovered they were left with nothing. While a few of these sites are still around, they don't have anywhere near the drawing power that they once did. Eventually, big names like Google, Amazon, and even Facebook could end up this way. The only questions are 'when?' and are you prepared when this happens?

How To Protect Yourself

Fortunately, there's a way to protect your business from the harmful effects of digital sharecropping. That way is to build something you own and control. A list and website can be backed up on a regular basis. This way, even if your autoresponder service goes down, or your host gets hacked or sold, all you have to do is find a new one and move your assets there. Yes, I said assets. Having a list and website you control is your biggest asset.

Don't give away your biggest asset to the digital landlords. Start building a list as soon as possible and keep up with your site. That way, when you do leave one these sharecropping sites, you're not starting over from scratch. When you handle platforms this way, not only will your indie author business not lose momentum, you will even be ahead of those authors who did not build their assets.

Until Next Time,
Mercedes Tabano