Web first publishing means publishing your carefully crafted content to your website first. We recommend it nine times out of ten.1
We like this approach, because you own your website (hopefully). And you own the content there. And by publishing it on a platform that you own, you have more control. You control the domain name and you can export and save and move your content as needed.2
Losing content in closed advertising environments
Newsletters like Mailchimp, or social media companies like Instagram and Facebook are relatively closed environments. If you have published your content to a newsletter, or to Instagram, it will probably never be found through search on the open web.
If you’ve ever struggled to find the thing you saw last week on Instagram, or Facebook, then you will intuitively understand the downside to putting your content there first.
We love Instagram and Mailchimp, by the way. But they’re not the open web.
Publish to the open web
We believe in this model of publishing because we still believe in the open web, and we still believe in search. People go online to the open web and search for stories, for information, and for help: your website is the best place for people to find that content. You can take care to archive your content and make sure your URLs are stable and findable.3
Web first, then share to channels
By publishing on your website first, you can then share those URLs to your other channels and communities.
Suppose you have a Facebook page for your business. Or a Twitter account. Instead of publishing directly to Facebook or Twitter, consider writing a short article on your blog and then simply share that article to those communities. By owning your content first on your website, and then sharing it, you get the benefits of the search traffic. And your readers get the benefit of being able to find you.4
Or suppose you have an email list and use a service like Mailchimp and you like to send out newsletters. Instead of writing a long email, we generally recommend to say what you want to say on your website. You could write one long post, or several short posts. And then send out an email to your list and simply copy and paste your posts, or excerpts from them, and provide links back to your website.5
Hub and spoke model of sharing content
Some organizations like to visualize their communications plan as a hub with spokes. At the centre is their website, which they own and control. Once an article is published, then it can get shared out to the “spokes” like Twitter or Facebook.
- The provisos here are pretty obvious. Don’t publish private communication to your website. You probably don’t want to publish your book to your website. Your research paper should probably not get published to your website. Content that your customers pay for should be paywalled. Etc.
- If your website is published through a third party and they stop existing, or decide one day that you’re breaking their terms of service agreement, can you move your content? Can you move your URL?
- Websites are by nature much better than Instagram or other advertising platforms at being found through search.
- Twitter and Facebook are advertising companies. They love it when you publish there first. Stop giving away your content to advertising companies.
- Please never republish your HTML emails on your website as blog posts. This content is not well-coded, and tends to not be very accessible or well-designed.