Today we are tackling the big question, “Do I really need a website for my business?”
You might know that websites are important, but think it’s not THAT important for you and your type of business.
Maybe you know that websites work because you can see other people benefiting greatly from their website but you might still be thinking it isn’t for you right now. Are you thinking you can get by without one and just sell things for free on social media or Etsy?
If you are killing it on social media already, think about how much BETTER you could be doing if you had a beautiful, strategically built website. That’s just how it works! And, that’s just how much the website matters.
First, some words of encouragement for the business owner who doesn’t have a website. Don’t beat yourself up for not having a website yet. It’s never too late, and a website is a living home for your business. It will change and evolve anyway. And, congrats that you didn’t let that one to-do item hold you back from going after what you wanted!
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5 Reasons why you actually DO need a website:
1. A website is your own little piece of the internet.
I’m sure this isn’t the first time you are reading this but, it’s true. You don’t own your Instagram or Pinterest followers. You don’t own your Snapchat, YouTube or podcast.
These social media platforms and other media outlets can do whatever they want. They can kick you off or penalize you. They can change up their systems to where you’re suddenly not doing as well on there anymore. It’s not YOURS.
Is that the worst thing ever? Does that mean you should ditch Instagram and Facebook? NO WAY! This is only a problem when you’re putting all your eggs in one basket. You can’t be dependent on one place to bring in your revenue.
Reach on social media is going down and has been for a while. In the early days of Facebook being used by businesses, for example, you couldn’t even run an ad. A basic post was similar to an ad as it was shown to everyone following you and some of their friends if they shared it. Today, your reach is lower. Additionally, these platforms can change anytime.
This is where a website comes in. The website is YOURS. You can control what’s happening on it. It’s your little slice of the internet.
You do “own” your website even on sites like Squarespace and Showit. You don’t have to have a custom coded website on your own server. Your website is yours even when you’re hosting it with an amazing hosting company. It’s still your content and still yours to control.
You own your website WAY more than you do your Instagram. Don’t let that “owning your website” thing trip you up! You need a website because it’s your only way to truly have a piece of the internet for your business.
2. With a website, you won’t be at the mercy of someone else.
It’s ok if most of your income is coming from another platform like Etsy or affiliate marketing on Instagram. It is scary sometimes and you’re at the mercy of those platforms. One change to how that platform is set up and you could be basically out of business financially.
The commission structure could change, you could get kicked off, they can put you on page 15 instead of page 2. They can say your products are no longer approved. Someone could write you a bad review and now suddenly you’re kicked off.
None of these things have anything to do with your product or service. It has to do with you being at the mercy of the platform you are on.
Other platforms are great ways to get found, but you should also have a website as an alternative way to book clients and receive payments. Try to turn sales that are mostly being made somewhere else to be made with YOU.
3. A website gives you credibility and sets you apart from people who are “just playing”.
Hobbyists just sell on Instagram. Hobbyists might just sell on Etsy. Business owners have a website. A website shows you care. It shows that you take yourself and your business seriously.
Many consumers will not consider buying or booking services from someone if they don’t have a website.
In fact, 30% of consumers won’t consider a business without a website. 46% of customers say a website is the biggest determinant of whether they trust a company. (Both of these statistics are from 2017, so I think if anything the percentage would be higher now.) A website shows that you are a legit person who is not just telling me they have a service and then trying to take my money.
If you’re thinking “I book plenty of people right now without a website for my services!” Then that is amazing. You have completely proven your business model, and you’ll do better with a website.
Just because you can do something one way doesn’t mean that’s the best way to do it. A website shows you’re credible. You invest in your business. You are legit. Selling solely on social media looks a little more questionable. A website gives you a space on the internet that you are in full control over to tell the world what you are and to give you authority.
4. You get the power of SEO and become searchable.
Unfortunately, that wonderful, strategically written Instagram post isn’t going to show up in search results on any search engine. The chances are extremely low because those posts aren’t being optimized for search engines. Anyone tired of hearing about SEO yet? SEO is one of my favorite business tools.
Believe it or not, your small business can be part of what’s showing up in search engines and getting clicked on in those Google searches. A website helps you double down your efforts on the content you’re already making. You did a great Facebook live to talk about your launch? That’s awesome. Now, take your notes from the live show and make it into a blog post that will be able to live forever on Google and have the chance to bring you new business.
People are typically searching Google first for likely what you are selling. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the potential to show up in the results? Even if it’s not the first page to start. Just to be there. You have to have a website to have a real chance of ranking.
You might see YouTube videos and content from Pinterest that rank. These platforms are also search engines. Instagram and Facebook aren’t search engines so those pages or posts aren’t typically going to rank unless the search involves those words too. [Tune in to the full episode to hear some examples from my website.]
By having a website you can basically work on your SEO. By just having social media or just being on Etsy or Creative Market or Instagram, you’re likely missing a lot of potential sales and customers just from search result possibilities alone.
5. You can speak to your ideal client in a unique way that you can’t without a website.
Unlike social media platforms, with a website, you can have an online home that is unique to your business and that speaks directly to an ideal client. Thanks to the evolution of website design, you actually, as a non-designer can have a website that you have full creative control over YOURSELF.
You can share more information on your website and you can share that information YOUR WAY.
It’s different writing an Instagram caption about something versus a blog post. You’ll say more in a blog post. An introduction post on Facebook every couple of weeks is different than a solid about page on your website.
Talking about your services on your Instagram stories is different than having a services page on your website. A website is your opportunity to wow your potential customers, speak directly to them, and ultimately book them.
But, what if I can’t afford it?
You can’t afford to not have a website. It’s a lame excuse, and I mean that SO LOVINGLY. I know as a website designer, it’s extremely convenient for me to be telling people they have to have a website. I get that. I see that.
But seriously, you need a website! Websites do not have to cost thousands to start anymore. Your first website can be less than $1,000 to set up. It’s the cost of having a real business. Your potential customers will see it this way too.
Your email list and website are the only things you truly control online. So, this matters. It’s worth investing in.
When is the “right time” to get a website?
You don’t have to have a website on day 1 of your business. I have so much respect for the people I see starting fast and moving quickly, which sometimes means starting without a website. Starting a business is often subtle.
You might be in a corporate job now, and the first step towards starting your business is just a post on Facebook saying that you are offering this thing on the side now. Do you need a website at that very moment? No, you don’t. Starting sooner and testing the concept is a good idea, and then get a site a couple of months later. If you’ve been in business for over a year with no website, you need one.
Listen to this episode to hear more about my story of starting my business gradually and without a website! You can also hear more about how I found my first paying clients here.
If you are crushing it on social media and earning through the roof without a website, you need a website. You have proved your business concept. Now it’s time to protect your business. Steward it well. Give it a home. Make sure it has a future if something were to happen to your Instagram account and give it a website.
What do I start with?
Your first website does NOT need to be 20 pages of content. In fact, most people’s websites do not need to be that much. But, I know sometimes it can feel that way. (If you’re just selling a course or membership type program, you might need even LESS than this.)
Here’s what you need in most cases:
- A home page
- Services page
- Contact page
- About page (maybe)
Are you ready to take your business seriously and set up your website? Starting with a template is a great option! Check out EM shop to pick out the template that is right for you and your business. In addition to the awesome website, you’ll receive training videos from me in a course format so you can learn everything you need to know and take the headache out of the tech side of things.
Also, stay tuned for new and exciting things coming to EM shop!
Links mentioned in this episode:
Listen to this on the Breakthrough Brand Podcast (episode #56)
Connect with Elizabeth on Instagram
3 Lessons I Learned From My Etsy Shop Side Hustle
5 reasons why websites still matter to local search in 2017
Stop Treating Your Business Like A Hobby: 5 Ways To Step Into The Business Owner Role
8 Ways To Find Your First Paying Clients (And How I Got Mine!)
March 10, 2020
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