Issue #394

Sent to members on August 30, 2022

Can They Shut You Down?

A little food for thought today. It is something I’ve touched on before. And perhaps because of that I’ve even had people mention it to me on strategy calls.

It is the idea of reducing reliance on outside organizations.

This is something I’ve definitely thought about – and have taken definite action on. And I’ve had a few clients want to do the same.

For instance, building a community right on their website (often using BuddyBoss) specifically to NOT have to use Facebook.

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Or trying to reduce reliance on Google.

Or moving your email list off of a hosted CRM.

I think awareness of all this really increased in the last few years. Big tech has become a dangerous beast, in some ways. There have been many incidents of people being de-platformed for saying the wrong things… or being in an unapproved business. And with the whole ESG scheme now acting as a corporate bullying mechanism, you often see large mega-corporations all making the same decisions, simultaneously, in unison. If that doesn’t say central control… I don’t know what does.

Sure, that isn’t likely to happen to us. I get it. That only happens to…. “those crazy people spewing misinformation”. But, history is rife with how those slippery slopes develop.

It comes down to… sovereignty.

When you’re sovereign, it means you’re in the driver seat for yourself. You’re independent. You’re autonomous.

And you’re seeing a lot more interest in this. The whole prepping movement has never been bigger than it is now, and it isn’t without reason. Keeping excess food at home, having alternative power sources, alternative water sources, etc. It just means… you’re more independent. You can enjoy the benefits of modern society with the best of them, BUT… if it got interrupted, you wouldn’t be in the crowd of weirdos raiding Walmarts trying to buy up all the butt wipes and bottled water. 🤪

This same idea can be brought over to how we build and structure our online businesses. But, it does take intention.

The really good news is that the technology has never been better for it.

The tools available for Wordpress now are so good and compete favorably with what used to require expensive third-party bills. It is amazing. A great time to build Wordpress-powered businesses! 

My personal interest in bringing things “in house” and not relying so much on third-party services is part of that. Let’s see…

  • I was using hosted shopping cart (Thrivecart) and before that MemberMouse (which literally stops working if you don’t pay them). Now, I’m on WooCommerce. More capability, more control.
  • I was using Facebook groups for member discussion. Now, it is all in-house powered by BuddyBoss. WAY better experience. Yes, engagement is lower, but frankly I don’t care.
  • I was using Drip for my email. Now, I am using FluentCRM. Honestly, it is way more convenient, more affordable by a long shot, AND… I own the list because it isn’t hosted on some third-party, separate company.
  • I used to use Calendly for appointment bookings, but recently even moved that in-house by using Simply Schedule AppointmentsSee how it works here.

The tech options available for Wordpress sites now have never been better. And it is SOOOO easy to intentionally set up a sovereign online business these days.

Sure, you’re using outside services for billing (like Stripe) or sending email (like Amazon), but YOU own the data. Not just on paper, but you actually physically have control. When you back up your site, you back up EVERYTHING. And if one of those services gets weird on you for some reason, you just plug into another one and keep going. There’s always a way.

Now, on top of this, you have to build sovereignty into your strategy, too. Not just your software choices.

Google is so damn big (unfortunately) that you can’t get away from it. And honestly, they’re a good search engine. So, you play ball. BUT…

  • If you’re using Youtube for your videos, be sure to also back everything up and maybe even cross-post to another network. Rumble might be a good option. Also, make sure you back up all your videos in-house.
  • Don’t use Google apps like Gmail and Google Drive, but instead use something else. For instance, I use FastMail for all my email. Speaking for me personally, I will never use Google applications ever again. I’ve chosen to make Google optional in my life. I don’t even use them for search anymore unless it is for local businesses (since they’re great at that). I still have my account, but hardly ever log in.
  • Always be focused on building your email list. Always. Without fail. Because, that is YOUR community and regardless of what Facebook does or Google does to their algorithm, you can reach out to your community via email. If you’re relying on a Facebook group to generate business, you’re in a really bad place as far as I’m concerned.

I personally think that a lot of online business owners have gotten too relaxed about using “rented land” on a plethora of hosted services you pay monthly for.

It racks up a lot of renewal fees and means your business data is scattered all over the place. It means third parties can affect the operations of your business in some way.

It pays to be sovereign.

To be an online business prepper.

It has nothing to do with paranoia.

It is called building up an asset and you OWNING it. Not being slave to a ton of renewal fees. And not being even remotely subject to any company being able to shut you off in any permanent way. Even if it is just server downtime.

And I’ll tell ya…. the options available for a Wordpress site these days are astounding. In most cases, there’s just not much need to use third-party SAAS products for core business functionality.

At least in my opinion.

Tech Talk

Well, some big news I was honestly suprised by…

My favorite host – Cloudways -is being acquired by Digital Ocean. Digital Ocean is one of the providers that Cloudways supports (among others), but now they actually bought the platform. Hhhhhhmmm.

As with a lot of such acquisitions, they say it will not impact anything. But, whether that ends up remaining true, we shall see.

I love Cloudways. I use them myself. I have a lot of clients who use Cloudways (many of them on my personal recommendation). I vouch for it. And I hope I never have to retract that. I myself use Vultr servers via Cloudways and Vultr is a competitor of Digital Ocean. So, my main concern is that they’re going to somehow force me to switch. I don’t have any problem with Digital Ocean, but I didn’t join Cloudways to have my choice made for me.

This acquisition was for a total of $350 million in cash paid out over 30 months from closing. And Digital Oceans says it will add between $13 million and $15 million in revenue annually due to Cloudways. This puts the acquisition at around a 26X multiple which is…. a bit crazy.

So, we shall see. For now, I’ll just keep an eye and I’ll let you know if something changes.

I am a big user of Advanced Custom Fields. And it looks like they’re going to soon be coming out with a brand new user interface in version 6.0. I wouldn’t call it a complete sea shift in the existing interface, but… it looks good!

WP Social Ninja was updated to 3.7.0, adding functions such as global styles, new options for responsive design on mobile and new filtering options. You can read all about it here.

On the Thrive Themes front, Thrive Automator keeps expanding it’s list of integrations, with the most recent additions being Wishlist Member and The Upsell Plugin. You can check out the full list of app integrations here.

Also on the Thrive Themes front, they continue to work on new enhancements. Some of what’s coming includes filters for the Post List element, new certificate designs for Thriver Apprentice, a beautiful reporting dashboard for student activity in Apprentice. Plus, Automator will be entering the official WordPress repository. Pretty cool! You can read their full update on their blog.

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