and why social media isn’t enough
Which comes first - a solid website for your business or a solid social media following? Depending on who you ask, the type of business you own, and your level of digital media experience, the answer will vary.
But since you are here and this is my website I’m going to tell you what I think is the most important area to focus on when you are just starting out.
I always recommend starting with a strong website.
For many reasons, which I’ll explain.
This doesn’t mean social media isn’t important (because it is vitally important to any digital business). But if you are just starting out in creating a digitally based business and you only have a limited amount of time to work on it each day or week, focus on creating a strong foundation with a business website first. You can branch out from there.
Think of Your Website as Your Digital Home
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are like a busy marketplace. There’s a million things happening all at once. You have ads, photos, conversations, polls, articles, memes, gifs, and the list goes on…. are lots of things to see and do and try.
And there are lots of people and organizations trying to get your attention.
It’s estimated that the average digital media user can receive up to 5000 ad messages a day.
That, my friends, is a lot of noise to try to cut through.
That’s why I like to compare your business website to your home. It should be easy to navigate, clean, decluttered and beautiful to look at. And most importantly, if should reflect your personal brand and business mission.
You may meet someone in a busy place, such as Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram, but to really get to know them and learn what they are all about, you need to go someplace quieter. Someplace like an awesome, beautiful, clean website (aka: their digital home). Once you are there you can poke around and see what they have to offer, without being distracted by other people or businesses clamoring for your attention.
Easily Share & Organize Information on Your Website
One of the main reasons I recommend starting a with a website rather than social media sites is that you can organize your most important information (contact information, services provided, customer testimonials, freebies, additional resources, etc….) all in one place that is easy to navigate.
A Website Will Help Grow Your Digital Business
A website is the hub for your marketing strategies. Social media can help you connect with your audience, while your website allows for a place for people to learn more about you and your services.
Lots of businesses operate just out of their Etsy store or even just Facebook page or group. And that is fine. But if you are creating a digitally based business that you hope to grow over the coming years, you really need a website, which will allow you to do things like:
Build an email list (V Important!)
Sell products and services directly to your audience
Offer in depth information about your niche
Having lots of social followers is fun, but it is also considered a vanity metric - in that is it really doesn’t matter. What matters is how many people you are connecting with on an authentic and personal basis through email sign ups or products bought. Those are the numbers to focus on.
A Website Keeps You In Control of Your Business
For many years I wrote for a large website, producing a monthly quota of long and short form content. All the writers for the site (there were hundreds of us) were paid based on page views of our articles. So we wrote with Google SEO in mind. The higher we ranked in Google, the more page views we got and the more money we earned.
And there was nothing wrong that. You can write quality content that integrates keywords to boost results, without turning your site into a content mill. And that type of monetization was pretty standard practice 10-15 years ago.
But then Google started changing up its search engine algorithms and our page views would plummet. Articles that had ranked #1 in a google search were not even showing up in the first page of results.
I won’t go into the particulars (if you want to know more about Google and SEO check out this article) but the short of it was, I had no control over my income. And the company didn’t really either - they weren’t privy to how Google ranks search results (no one really knows that, even today). We had to just deal with it.
Eventually our page views would increase and revenue would go back up. However it was frustrating because I was doing my job and posting valuable information for my audience, which didn’t mattered because Google arbitrarily decided that my content was not worthy of showing up on the first page of a search (so it might as well be invisible).
From that point on I knew that I would never rely on just one platform to build a business, brand or income.
This same thing happened recently in the YouTube community. YouTube, which is owned by Google, changed how videos were monetized and ads placed. As a result, many YouTube channels lost a lot of money.
When you rely on a social media platform as your primary means of making money for your business, you will always be at the whim of that Social Media Giant. You have no say in what happens, even though it can have significant impact on your business. This is one reason many YouTubers have moved their more valuable content to Patreon, because they have more control of costs.
There are lots of glitzy headlines of millionaires on Youtube and Instagram - but the reality is, for most people creating a digital brand and business, their focus should be more than followers, pageviews and ad revenue. If you want to sell a product or service, stand out as a leader in your field, and build a strong connection to your niche audience - it’s going to require a combination of creating awesome content and sharing it on multiple digital platforms. This will include some social, for sure. But it all starts with a beautiful and clean website to serve as a hub for all your information and communication plans.
A Final Word on Websites
If you are just starting out as a business entrepreneur, it can seem like it’s more important to focus on gaining social followers than building a strong website. But remember, your website is the foundation of your digital business. It needs to be strong and supportive in order for you to grow. While it may take more time to build in the beginning, once you have that digital home, you can easily invite people in to learn more about you and your business.