Your website is your gateway to the world. However, today’s world has many gateways, so in this article, we discuss various answers to a question we often hear, which is: “Do I need a website?“
Table of Contents
- Audio Article – Do I Need a Website
- The Age of Options
- Setting Up Shop from Social Media Platforms
- Do I Need a Website?
- Dramatic Losses from Social Media
- Dramatic Losses on our Websites
- Another Social Platform Problem
- So… is a Website is Better? That Depends.
- Fine to Start with Social Media
- Which is Best: Website vs Social Media Comparison
- In Summation?
Audio Article – Do I Need a Website
The Age of Options
There are so many options for getting your work out into the world today. The Internet, aka, the World Wide Web, aka, The Information Superhighway brings the world to your fingertips, and your work to the world. Not only does the Internet grant unprecedented access to global reach, but so far, most all of the social platforms are absolutely free.
The world shall be forever indebted to the inventor of the internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and all who came before—and after—to lay the groundwork necessary to make it possible.1)https://webfoundation.org/about/sir-tim-berners-lee/
Talk about creators and entrepreneurs, Sir Tim Berners-Lee was the perfect visionary to receive or conceive of the idea of the internet. Few others would have done so for free.
Speaking of free, no matter the frustrations or opinions on Facebook and Google and of the other social platforms… it’s important to put it all into perspective.
Don’t waste time and energy complaining about the idiosyncrasies of Facebook. Remember, it’s free!
Setting Up Shop from Social Media Platforms
For all the grief Facebook gets and frustrations at their algorithm changes that reduce organic reach, or their politics or privacy policies, or change of design and access… whatever it may be, remember, it’s all FREE! You may be able to set up shop on your city street corner for free, or run a hotdog stand downtown for free for a time, but…
To stake your claim and open your kiosk on the corner of the world for free, is truly an amazing thing.
~LeAura Alderson, cofounder-iCreateDaily.com
Some of the social media platforms have features that can make your page or profile something like a website. Many Influencers use Instagram to direct message brands for paid sponsor contracts. Facebook Pages give you the ability to create a shop, run ads, and accept payments on products or services.
Pinterest is one of the biggest buying platforms, though their system is one of the few where it’s far more effective to have a website of your own. Twitter and LinkedIn aren’t so much selling platforms (yet), but they both serve as ways to distribute content blog style and connect with your tribe… with the people who will love who you are and what you do.
Yes, you can run a business from Social Media. The question isn’t can you, but should you.
~LeAura Alderson, cofounder-iCreateDaily.com
Do I Need a Website?
So no… but YES! You can start and run a business from a free social platform. However, it’s not a good long-term strategy. Any of these platforms could decide to shut you down for any reason… or no apparent reason. It’s rare, but it does happen.
The online platforms can also change the traffic flow to your page which can dramatically affect your business. We’ve had direct experience of that with one of the websites we own on two social platforms.
However… you can also lose traffic to your websites. As with any business, there are risks and few guarantees.
The only guarantee in business is that problems will arise.
To succeed in any business, you need a positive solution-oriented attitude and a learner’s mindset.
~LeAura Alderson, cofounder-iCreateDaily.com
Dramatic Losses from Social Media
Our family business purchased a monetizing gardening website at the end of 2015. Gardening is an area of interest for our family, so when the opportunity presented itself, we bought it. That website was set up such that the majority of traffic to it came from Facebook instead of organically from Google.
Two weeks after purchasing it, Facebook had an algorithm change that resulted in a dramatic decrease in organic and paid traffic. We increased our advertising spend by 6x but the traffic and revenue decreased by about that same multiple.
Our investment was reduced dramatically within just a couple weeks of purchasing a website, due to an algorithm change on a social platform. Though we’ve been working on it (mostly) diligently, it never recovered that original traffic loss from Facebook, three years later.
Dramatic Losses on our Websites
A Google Gut Hit
The website mentioned as suffering losses from the Facebook algorithm changes was hit again. This site is one of two websites we own that were drastically impacted by two Google algorithm changes in the fall (September 1 and October 1) of 2018.
Further, after a year of diligently growing two of our websites through regular in-depth original content, a Google algorithm change reduced our traffic—and thus our revenue—by approximately 1900%!!!
Another Social Platform Problem
Pinterest Closed Our Account
Shortly after we purchased that gardening website, we had another major problem. As soon as we started posting on Pinterest, they shut our account down overnight with no clear or relevant explanation.
It took about 6 months of sending support emails consistently—and eventually daily—to rescue that Pinterest account.
We were following all of Pinterest’s guidelines. None of our content was inappropriate or harassing, and we weren’t even directing to any sales pages or links. It was still a small account, but it was the namesake of our website so we didn’t want to lose it.
To this day, there has never been any clear or legitimate reason for the ban. We barely had more than 100 followers on that account at the time and were only pinning images about gardening and growing food. I mean, it’s a gardening page! Nothing offensive there!
We were at the mercy of Pinterest algorithms and poor customer service. But remember, this is NOT a complaint, because hey… it’s free for us to be there at all.
Thankfully we got our account back, because today, Pinterest is a significant source of traffic for that website.
“There is no problem outside of you that is superior to the power within you.”
~Bob Proctor, author, speaker, mindset expert
So… is a Website is Better? That Depends.
As you can see, we’ve had problems on social platforms as well as on our websites.
Beyond what was shared above, our websites have gone down, requiring us to be on tech support for hours and even for days. Our websites have been hacked and jeopardized more than once. A few times it was the redirection of our website traffic to some spammy ads on some other website.
Another, more serious issue was a dangerous infiltration of all of our websites with malicious malware in addition to a security breach that affected and compromised numerous sites and passwords. That malicious attack took weeks to clean up.
There’s no question that these were all huge hassles. However, a popular quote about business is that, “Business is about solving problems.”
These challenges would be comparable to weather damage to a bricks and mortar store or a robbery causing damage and loss. It can happen… it sucks… but you deal with it and move on. In the end, you still have your website and clean up and renovation can help to restore and revive your asset.
Your website is your own and it is an asset… like owning your home or business location.
Having a website, decent sized email list, and large Facebook following all proving we were a legitimate brand may have helped us get our account back.
Fine to Start with Social Media
Starting on social media provides many benefits. Especially if you’re unsure whether you want to go all in on creating a brand, or if it’s taking you longer to build or get a site built.
You can absolutely start with growing a social media following to get going. In fact we recommend that. Growing your brand through a Facebook business page is a great way to start. You can grow followers by publishing content and sharing relevant information from your social sites, such as a Facebook page.
If you don’t plan to build a brand or business, then social media might be enough.
For instance, some people just want to generate cash, such as via internet marketing or selling their arts, crafts or books, etc. If that’s your goal, and you never plan to grow that into a bigger business with its own brand, then sure, social platforms alone might be fine.
However, consider your long term goals. If you think you’ll want to grow a business eventually, then you’ll want at least a landing page—a one-page site that promotes your offerings—to start with. From there you can begin to collect emails and grow your email list of those who are interested in your content, creations and offerings.
Social media puts you in more direct contact with your audience than a website. But your social accounts all become avenues for directing traffic to your site.
Nowhere else in the world can you set up “shop” for free on the largest “town square” in the world.
~LeAura Alderson, author entrepreneur, cofounder-iCreateDaily.com
Which is Best: Website vs Social Media Comparison
Benefits of Social Platforms
- Easy to set up and get started
- Great way to start growing your following
- Puts you in close connection with your audience
- Helps you test and hone your branding and offerings before investing money in domain names and other branded items
- No limits to how much you post
- Provides tremendous insight into your audience’s interests and needs
- Some provide the opportunity to advertise to get vastly more exposure toward growing your page
- Advertising is still relatively inexpensive
- Advertising on some, such as Facebook, allows you to target your exact audience demographic, which makes ad spending more efficient and economical
Disadvantages of Social Platforms
- It’s not your platform – including “your” page or profile
- Their home, their rules or you could be out (legitimately or by accident)
- You can put out a LOT of content and it may or may not be seen
- You have to advertise to get better exposure
- These are increasingly crowded marketplaces, which decreases organic reach (how much Facebook shares your posts without your paying for advertising to boost and share it
Benefits of a Website
- Not free, but costs can be minimal:
- hosting – like renting land on which to park your business… like an RV or mobile kiosk
- Website builder
- Website maintenance and service provider
- Annual fee for your domain name
- Your website is your online home… like staking your claim on the world wide web
- Gives you potential exposure to the millions searching on Google.
- No limits to how much you post
- You can advertise to drive traffic to your site from the social media channels
- You can learn about SEO and write articles that include search terms that help you get found
- Personalized email address. E.g., You@YourDomainName.com is better than You@gmail
- Easier to send people to your website domain name than to your Facebook page name
Disadvantages of a Website
- More expensive
- More—and ongoing—maintenance
- Industry updates and trends are more challenging as the internet matures
- It’s Google’s playground, so Google’s rules, and their algorithms may not always be fair
- Organic reach takes work over time. You can put out a LOT of content and it may or may not be seen. You will need to:
- Learn and implement SEO – Search Engine Optimization strategies such as keywords
- Advertise to get better exposure and traffic to your site for faster growth
- The Internet is an increasingly crowded “interstate system”, making it harder for your one little site to be found. However it’s the same, no matter where you hang your “shingle”.
Social Platforms Can Be Closed Without Warning
Earlier, we shared about how our Facebook page lost tons of traffic, decimating the traffic—and thus—profit of one of our websites. We’ve also heard examples over the years of individuals and businesses who’ve had their personal profiles and business pages accounts closed without warning.
Here’s just one example that happened to our favorite outsourcing service, FreeeUp just a couple months ago, in their words.
Asking for Your Help – FreeeUp Facebook Page Updates
|Hey everyone, sorry to bother you with this today, but we figured you’d be willing to help.|
A couple weeks back, we had a super unfortunate situation with our FreeeUp Facebook
A Facebook bot flagged one of our job postings and it led to our page being unpublished.
Long story short, we don’t think we’re going to be able to get our original page back 🙁
We’re still working to appeal Facebook’s decision, but in the meantime, we created a new
page for the business: https://www.facebook.com/FreeeUpMarketplace/
We lost over 150 reviews and 10,000+ likes.
We were wondering if you’d be willing to Like the new page and Invite others in your
network to like it as well.
We would really appreciate your help to getting back to where we were.
While it is not business ending, it has been a rough few weeks.
Thanks so much for your support in advance.
Nathan Hirsch, CEO, FreeeUp
Connor Gillivan, CMO, FreeeUp
To reiterate, we realize that hosting our business page on Facebook is a privilege that’s completely free. It is a tremendous resource for connecting with your audience, until it isn’t.
When it comes to business pages, there’s no way to see a list of fans for contacting them. This is one of the important reasons to invite and encourage your fans and followers to sign up for your email list.
You can require emails for admission to closed Facebook Groups, which is definitely recommended if you’re growing your brand and following. That way if something does happen, you can do as FreeeUp did and contact your list should there be any issue.
Is a social account ban likely to happen? No. But growing your own email list is not only important for connecting more with your audience, but it’s insurance, and like insurance, chances are slim that you’ll have an “accident”, but when you need it, you really need it.
Owning your own website versus using other’s platforms is analogous to owning your own home versus renting or living with your parents. It’s yours to do with as you please without risk of getting evicted.
However, if you want to grow a business brand and gain traffic to your website, you definitely have to play by the rules of the Google game. We cover more on this in some of our podcasts.
Many young adults live with their parents until they can establish themselves in the world. That’s a great time to save, prepare and learn from the security of a free place to stay. Same thing for your young business.
Social media is great for practicing content creation, posting, engaging, connecting and learning about your audience. It is an important component of your online presence to support and leverage your brand and website.
Your social accounts are integral and vital for building your brand.
You can practice publishing consistently to your social account while steadily growing your following. It’s a great way to get to know your audience and discover what they respond to most, what they need and how best to serve them.
You may enjoy this article on best social media platforms for creatives.
If you plan on growing a brand into a business, you’ll want a website eventually. If you can’t hire out your site build and you’d like to try it yourself, (it’s NOT hard these days), you may find this article from GoDaddy helpful.
Keep in mind that it’s all learnable and doable. Don’t let overwhelm overtake you. Be patient with yourself and carve out time each day to learn something new… and you will make steady progress. One step at a time… one day at a time…. the day is the way.
Your website is your online home… the one you own.
Your social platforms are your “kiosk” in the “social malls”.
~Devani Alderson, cofounder-iCreateDaily.com
Hey! I’m Devani, a multi-passionate creator who enjoys honing the craft of writing (mostly;)), photography, cooking, podcasting, learning about business, and growing brands. I co-host the iCreateDaily Podcast with LeAura Alderson (my mom), and co-own the iCreateDaily brand. I hope through the content and products we produce, you will be inspired to start, sustain, and succeed in your goals.
My non-business and artistic hobbies include: enjoying a good movie, discovering obscure but epic music, obsessing over The Beatles, and developing fictional stories in my head. My Maltese dog, Caspian, provides an insane amount of creative inspiration by just being his adorable self. #HeWokeUpLikeThat. 😉
Want to submit your photos, videos and/or article content for publication? We love to consider your contribution for publication! firstname.lastname@example.org
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