Don’t be fooled…
With all of the social media platforms at our fingertips, it’s easy to think that you could get away with not having a website for your business. Why invest hundreds of dollars each year on a website when Facebook and Instagram are free? I get it. Starting a business is costly, and sometimes we have to compromise on things when we are first starting out. BUT — not having a website when starting your business is a HUGE mistake! It’s a mistake you can’t afford to make, and today, I’m telling you why.
First Impressions Matter
As a small business owner myself, I cringe when I see a business trying to operate without a website. Even if you don’t care about getting traffic or selling products, it’s still incredibly important to have one. Not only that, but it’s important that it’s clean, professional, and easy to navigate. Think of your website as your “Online Home” — it’s where people can go to see who you are and what you do before they hire you. If it’s unorganized and unprofessional, that reflects badly on you.
I’m going to be honest with you: this industry is very competitive, and people invest A LOT of money to make their sites look great. While you don’t need to invest thousands to have a great website, you can’t get by with a terrible one. Think about how first impressions of websites have impacted hiring decisions you’ve made over the years. If you don’t invest time and effort into your site, how can they expect you to invest real time and effort into their project?
It Gives You Credibility as a Business Owner
Imagine this scenario: you come home after a long day of work to find out your refrigerator is broken. You need a repair man. Where is the first place you look for someone to come fix it? You probably head to Google and type in “Refrigerator Repair in -your city-” and click on the first two or three websites that come up first. You wouldn’t go to Facebook to search for repair people, would you? The answer: probably not, and if you did, you’d probably make sure they had credible website before hiring them.
“But Emily, this is a creative industry! Tons of people find me on Facebook and Instagram!” I’m not arguing that social media platforms are a great way to market to your idea client as a creative business owner. Many of my current clients found me on Facebook or Instagram! However, you will miss out on a lot of business if you solely rely on those platforms. Without a website, your business comes across as a hobby rather than a professional business. Anyone can create a free Facebook page or Instagram profile, but people will know you mean serious business when you have a website — domain name and all!
You’re Missing Out on Referrals
Having a professional website doesn’t just give you credibility with new potential clients. It also gives you credibility with other business owners. When a professional gives out a referral, they want to make sure that person or company they’re referring has a good reputation. Their name is on the line, and if they recommend someone who provides terrible service, then they lose their reliability. That is just the reality of business! If a business owner doesn’t personally know you, the only thing they have to go off of is your online presence. If that only includes a Facebook and/or Instagram page, then they don’t have much to go on. Once again, they’re going to assume it’s just a hobby for you if you haven’t invested in a professional website.
Building a Professional Website
Building a beautiful, professional website doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg! I promise, it’s easier than you think! Let’s break it down:
I recommend using Siteground for hosting for your WordPress site over Bluehost and GoDaddy. My personal experience with Bluehost in the past was not great, so I cannot recommend them. I have had friends tell me that it was great for them, so that could have just been my personal experience! The first year of hosting with Siteground for a starter website is only $47.40! That’s only $3.95 a month!
Most hosting companies offer an extra feature you can purchase that will help protect your site from hackers and viruses. I personally pay extra for this feature, and it has been great so far. If you feel you don’t need it, that is a risk you might take! It’s only $19.80 for a year with Siteground, so it’s really affordable.
DO NOT SKIP THIS! I know you’re thinking about it, but DON’T! This is part of what makes your website legitimate and credible! Besides, it’s only $15.95 a year! That is $15.95 well spent! I recommend purchasing your domain name with the same company you’re hosting with so you don’t have to redirect the domain. Trust me — it’s just easier!
There are tons of places you can go to buy WordPress themes, but I recommend Hello You Designs. My current website template was from Hello You Designs, and I have absolutely love it! Uploading it to my website was easy, and any questions I had Jennifer answered immediately. A lot of the themes I found on Etsy were mainly for bloggers, but these give you an official homepage, which is what you want. Again, if your site looks purely like a blog, people may think your business is just a hobby.
Themes from Hello You Designs are only $59-$65, which is worth it to have a beautiful, clean, and professional looking theme on your site! You can also pay a little extra to have Jennifer install it for you if it’s in your budget.
Add It Up
Add it all up and you get about $150 for a professional looking website. That is not bad at all! That’s far less than a new computer, a tablet, a new lens or camera body…you get the idea. Having a website is NOT an option. You need to have this if you want to be taken seriously as a business owner. So don’t put it off anymore! Head on over to any of the places I mentioned above and get your website set up today!!