’m gonna to start this off by saying something pretty shocking: You don’t need a website to run a business. I know what you’re thinking, “Wait…a web designer telling me I don’t need a website? No way!”
YES WAY. You heard me right. You can have a successful business without having a website.
We’re going to cover how and why that may be, as well as 5 reasons why you actually need to launch your website before you can really start marketing.
Let’s go through a few reasons why you might not have a website right now:
- You’re validating your idea.
- You’re selling on a marketplace like Etsy.
- You’re using your Facebook page or Instagram profile as your storefront.
- You’re working through word of mouth, networking, or referrals.
- You’re selling at local events like Farmer’s Markets and haven’t thought about taking things online.
All of those are valid reasons and circumstances. And still, if you’re at the point where you’re wanting to get serious about growing your business, you need a website and you need to launch it before you implement marketing strategies.
For starters, if you already have a website and are looking to push some new strategies, I would highly recommend taking a good look at your current site and asking yourself a few key questions like:
“Is my website currently attracting the right customers and clients?”
“Are there any pages that need refining?”
“Is there any content that’s missing?”
For a period of time, I actually didn’t even have my own website up yet–and I’m a web designer. I had shifted direction in my brand aesthetic and my website at the time was not matching, or even up-to-date for that matter.
I was still getting clients through a business relationship, and had my most profitable year yet. All that being said, I knew that not having my website up was a huge roadblock in me accomplishing my goals. I was ready to get serious about growing my business.
I wanted to start a blog, but where would it live? I wanted to start providing resources and freebies, but how would people know where to find them if they weren’t in a consistent location? And finally, I wanted to build an email list, but I needed a form where people could sign up.
It’s not that I didn’t want to set up my site, I just knew it would be a huge investment of time, and my normal strategy for getting things done is to focus on the easiest things first.
I have a feeling that creating a new website might feel like a daunting task for you, too, but I encourage you to make it a priority.
Here are 5 reasons why you need to have your website up and launched before you start seriously marketing your business:
1. Make Your Website the Destination
I believe that the most effective strategy in using social media or any other marketing method is to build community, warm up your audience, and drive traffic to your website where they can learn more.
Your website should be where your content lives–where it’s painted the walls and thrown its socks on the floor. Every marketing effort you make should drive traffic to your website or a landing page where your audience can either make a purchase, or take another action to go further into your pipeline or funnel. (If you think you don’t have a funnel, you do. Everyone does, it’s just a matter of whether you’re aware of it and are optimizing it intentionally.)
Are some people successful at selling through social media? Absolutely. I see it all the time and I’ve even tried to purchase a dress through Instagram. I say try because the business owner never followed through with the order. Had that dress been stocked on their website, they would have made the sale.
Let’s talk about marketplaces like Etsy. If you have one, do you still need a website? I say yes. The faster you can get potential clients off those platforms and onto your site, the faster you remove them from easy access to your competitors. Those platforms are also an impersonal experience. Every vendor page follows the same template. With your own website, you control the entire experience.
2. Earn Credibility
The first place people are gonna go to learn more about you is your website. It’s your online storefront that shows you’re a legitimate business and can be trusted with your customer’s hard-earned dollars.
3. Market on Auto-Pilot
Your website can sell while you sleep. Know of people that shop after 11 PM? I bet you do.
4. Rank In Search Results
To rank in search results, you want to be building your website authority as early as possible. What is website authority? I’m glad you asked. Your website authority is how well you’re going to rank in search results. But, your website can’t rank if you don’t have one.
5. Attract Your Target Audience
For service-based businesses, your website can help you filter out potential clients. Through your copy, imagery, and design, you can attract your target audience and repel those who wouldn’t be a good fit for you. You can even further filter them through questions on your contact form. All of this is happening before you’ve even had a phone call, meaning that if they decide they aren’t a good fit, you just saved yourself a 20 min consultation call. If even 3 people a week decided they weren’t a good fit for you on their own, you just got back an hour of your time. You’re welcome.
If you’re struggling to get your website up, I know there are real reasons why. I believe the biggest hurdle is mental. Creating a website can be a gargantuan task, and maybe you don’t know where to start. It can seem so overwhelming that it’s easier to push it aside until ‘later’. Does that sound familiar?
Here are a few ways you can move forward and divide this task into manageable pieces.
Break the project into phases
What do you absolutely need to launch? And what can be added or refined later? Your website doesn’t need to be perfect in one fell swoop. Actually, your website should be living and breathing and always changing. I hope that helps take off some pressure that it needs to be perfect, right now.
Establish phases for launching your website.
The essentials go in Phase 1. What can wait a little longer? Put that in phase 2. Here’s the tricky part though. You need to commit to finishing phase 2 or 3 or however many phases you decide on. I know it can be super tempting to get phase 1 up and not get around to the rest. I’m guilty of this myself. Make a detailed plan and commit to following through.
Here is a brief suggestion of how your website could be phased in.
Phase 1: Coming Soon Page
Phase 2: The Essentials – Home page, About, Services, Contact
Phase 3: Refine pages from phase 2, plus any other necessary pages
Phase 4: Launch & Promote
Can you outsource any of the work?
I know not everyone has this luxury, but if you can outsource some of the work, it’s going to speed up the process significantly. This might look like hiring someone to help with parts that are holding you up, like copywriting or photography. This might also look like hiring a web designer / developer to do the heavy lifting.
Time and time again, content planning and development is the biggest hurdle I see when it comes to creating your website. That’s why I’ve created this checklist to help you start the process. It’s an all-inclusive list that is meant to help inspire ideas and make sure you’re not forgetting anything important.
This post was born out of personal experience and somehow I think I’m not the only one who’s faced this quandary. If you’re tackling this right now, I hope my thoughts and notes can help you navigate the challenge.
All the best,