“Do I really have to have a website?”
It’s not an unusual question from people who already have a business, a Facebook page, and maybe even another social media platform. There are typically two reasons for this question:
1. Someone is already having some success with using just one or two social media platforms, and they’re hearing pros say “get a website” and they are thinking “why should I do that? This is already working for me…”
2. Someone haaaaates learning new technology and they just want the simplest, most straightforward, must user friendly option. And they are dreading having to learn how to run a website.
So what’s the answer? Can you market your business online without a website? Well, technically, yes, you can get by without a website. But it’s highly unlikely you will do more than just “get by”. And truthfully, I don’t recommend it. Here are 3 reasons why I think you shouldn’t skip over having a website!
1. You don’t own social media.
Every single social media platform that you use for your business is just borrowed ground. Facebook allows you to use their platform for free, and you can set up a business page, and you can grow an audience, and you can have tons of reach and likes and comments… but at any point, Facebook can change their algorithm and suddenly your followers aren’t seeing your posts. Or, worse yet, something that you innocently say on your Facebook page might violate Facebook’s terms, and they can permanently shut down your page. Just like that. all that reach, all those followers, that captive audience, all the work you put in, is gone. Forever. You can’t recover it.
On the other hand, having a self-hosted website gives you more control over your business. If Facebook’s algorithm changes, you don’t have to skip a beat. If Instagram’s shadowban claims your Instagram account for a few days, you still have options and don’t have to have a product launch interrupted or lose touch with your audience.
2. A website should serve as your home base, the “hub” for all of your online marketing efforts.
If you have an online hub other than your website, you have limitations on what you can do with it. (Even something like an Etsy shop that is bringing in money will provide limitations as to how you serve your audience, manage your products and services, and so on.)
And if you don’t have a home base online, you’re just making life way more difficult for yourself than you need to. Frankly, you’re just holding yourself back from greater potential! Your marketing will be random, your communication streams will be disconnected, and you will end up with loose ends. In addition, you will most likely have a ceiling on your potential, as you will definitely not be able to do certain things on Easy or social media that you can do on your own website.
Having a website and using that as a home base will position you to manage your social media and email list, hold your products and services, and allow you to communicate with your audience effectively.
3. Your branding will be limited.
One thing I believe in firmly is that your branding has to be at the core of all you do to market your business. And the reality is that if you’re using someone else’s platform (as you do with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, even Etsy) you are putting your branding on their platform. You will still have their colored headers and footers, their icons, their fonts, their placeholders, etc.
Your website, though, can be designed to represent you the whole way through! Every page, every icon, every image, every word, every color – it can all be YOUR branding and represent YOUR business. So if you choose not to have a website, you can still create graphics to represent your business, but you are choosing huge limitations for your branding. And if your branding is limited, so is the impact you can have on your potential customers, and therefore your ability to reach them… you can see where I’m going with this.
I could probably come up with a lot more reasons to have a website, but here’s what it really boils down to: Your website is the place where you have the most control. You control the branding, you control the copy, you control how you choose to use the site, whether you blog or not, whether you host a store or not, whether you have a gallery or not, and so on. It’s the one place where you really “own” your content. You don’t face the same risks of being shut down or having algorithms changed on you. You have access to far greater data as far as traffic and statistics of your audience.
If you don’t choose to have a website for your business, you can still earn some income and build relationships with some great customers. But if you want to be serious, and really grow your business, and reach a larger audience, you are going to need to consider a website at some point.
And I say, why wait? Do it right from the start.