Here’s some surprising news, or at least it was for me. A 2018 survey by the marketing firm Clutch revealed that about one-third of small businesses do not have a business website.
If you own one of them, I urge you to make building a business website your most important priority.
Granted, through online listing sites and social media, there are plenty of ways you can have an online presence without investing in a website. But, they don’t come close to the power of a having your own little piece of online property.
Now, you may be thinking, “I’m just one woman shop,” or “I’m just a freelancer. I don’t need a website.”
Wrong answer. First of all, you’re not “just” anything. You are a business owner.
And even the smallest of businesses benefit from the online presence that a website provides.
A Business Website Helps Customers Find You
At the most basic level, a website helps your business be discovered by customers or clients that might not otherwise know you exist.
It’s as important, or in some cases, more important than having a phone. Your web address serves as a destination that can and should be linked to all of your digital marketing efforts and included on any printed marketing materials you use to promote your products or services.
It gives potential clients and customers a place to go to find out more about what you offer, and it works on your behalf, 24/7 to promote your business.
A Business Website Gives You Credibility
A business website also lends legitimacy and credibility to your business.
Whether you are serving the consumer market or doing business with other businesses, people are discerning about the companies they buy from. A well designed business website communicates success and professionalism.
Redirecting your domain name to your company Facebook page just doesn’t cut it. It is a temporary solution at best, and by temporary I mean days or weeks, not months or years.
I always cringe a bit when I click on a business website link and it sends me to Facebook. It just makes me think the company isn’t very successful. Potential clients or customers want to know that you are good at what you do and having a business website gives that impression.
This is particularly important for freelancers who are offering services to businesses. Potential clients want to know as much about you as possible before they contact you for a proposal or meeting. Certainly, your LinkedIn profile can give them the rundown on your career experience. But a having a business website says loud and clear that you are serious about what you do, and successful enough to be investing back into your business.
A Business Website Gives You Control & Ownership
If you are relying on a redirect to your company’s Facebook page as a stand-in for having a business website, let me remind you of something. You don’t own Facebook.
You have no control over decisions and changes that Facebook makes to policies, algorithms and such. If Facebook decided tomorrow to pull the plug on business pages or start charging a fee for businesses to have a Facebook presence, you’d be left scrambling to find another solution. Your online presence is essentially your digital storefront. Wouldn’t you prefer to have control and ownership over it?
Enough about why you should have a business website, let’s get to the how. You have a few options.
Use DIY Business Website Builder Software
Cost is often an obstacle and the reason that small businesses forego building a website. But, there’s been a rise of DIY website builders like Wix, SquareSpace, and others. These companies are making it more affordable and easier than ever to build small business websites.
If you’re short on cash, one of these platforms can help you get a good-looking business website up and running quickly.
There are some downsides to using these services though. You’ll have to contend with shared hosting and design limitations. Your website visitors may experience slower load times and you may not be able to get your website to look or function exactly the way you want.
Also, some of the DIY platforms do not offer complete backups of your site. That means if you want to move your site elsewhere in the future, it may not be easy to do so.
Hire A Website Developer
If you can afford the investment, I highly recommend hiring a professional web developer to build your business website. That could be a freelancer or an agency that specializes in website design.
A professional website developer can work with you on securing your domain name and hosting as well as the navigation, functionality, layout and design of your new site.
It’s essential that your site be easily accessed on a mobile device. Your developer can ensure that as well.
Content management systems like WordPress, make it easy for you to make ongoing content changes and updates to your website. Let your developer know if that’s something that you want to be able to do. He or she can build the site with that in mind and train you to use the system.
Cost of a new website will depend on where you are located and the complexity of your site. It can range from $500-$10,000+. Many developers offer hosting and maintenance services as part of their website build packages. A reliable hosting service is a must. If your web developer does not offer hosting, he or she can likely recommend a service for you.
My first business website in 2012 cost $1000. A year later I spent another $1200 for a redesign. A year of two later, I dropped another grand on another redesign. Looking back, I should have sprung for $2500 – $3000 initially to get the site I wanted to begin with.
I wish I had thought of it not as an expense, but as an investment in my business, because it is. My business website generates revenue for me and attracts new clients. It’s critical to my business. It’s paid for itself over and over again.
Whether you sell online or not, a business website is essential if you want to attract new customers or clients and be competitive.
Having a website for your business gives you an opportunity to tell your story, differentiate yourself from your competition, and communicate your value proposition.
Still don’t think you need one? Do a Google search of your competition. If your competitors are online and you’re not, who do you think will get the call when a potential customer or client is searching for the products or services you offer?