#1 We’ve come a long way from 1991.
That’s the year when the first website went live – 27 years ago. Things have moved on greatly since then. John Major was the UK Prime Minister and Bryan Adams broke all music records with 16 weeks at the top of the charts. Some things haven’t changed though – the Ford Fiesta was the best selling car in 1991, and remains so, now.
#2 Street cred
Your business will have credibility with a website. You may be doing well on social media and selling well on Instagram and Facebook and LinkedIn, but you want those bios on there and Twitter and Pinterest to have a link to a website. Your website. Professionally designed. Responsive on desktop, mobile and tablet to make you look the part. I revamped this one because it lacked street cred in my new passion to design websites. It’s sick now, I reckon.
#3 Saves money
If you’re serious about saving money and time, you need to invest in a website. They cost very little to create and maintain. Some web designers charge eye-watering amounts, others don’t. There’s skills involved in web design and it takes up a lot of time, trust me, but when you’ve commissioned and paid for a website, hosting it costs very little and with a web designer making back ups and updates, it should last 5 years or more. 5 years of you being able to showcase your products and services on iMacs, iPhones and iPads – or if you’re Applephobic, any other inferior devices! You can then dump the Fiesta for a Golf R with the money you’ve saved? Phwooar.
#4 Influence people
Let’s face it. We’re all glued to devices daily. And if you’re not, you’re in a minority. You’re not going to influence people to use your services, buy your products and trust your judgements if you’re without a website. In 1991 to 2011, you may have managed without a website, but with every consumer aged 11 upwards glued to the internet, not having a website in business is a bit like admitting you’re not bothered by missing out a daily global audience of 2.4 billion users. Ridiculous to not have one – agree?
#5 Show off your knowledge
No one apparently likes a show off but if you’re not prepared to show off your knowledge online you’re in danger of becoming a dinosaur. Call it what you will – B2B or B2C or P2P (People to People), your website needs to connect and engage. How many times before a major purchase or sale do you head online to check credentials out. I buy my whips (street cred again) from a car dealer 60 miles away when there’s ones closer. They inform me regularly of news via email, social content and blog posts on their websites. If they hadn’t, I’m certain I’d pick someone nearer. Same with meals. I look at reviews. With Google WiFi I read product reviews on various websites before I purchased and decided where to buy from. Before I book hotels and holidays, I look on Trip Advisor. You get the idea. Websites show off your knowledge. You should have one.
#6 The 24 hour a day shop
Your website doesn’t close at night, on Bank Holidays and your customers expect instant information and purchases. John Lewis stores physically close at Christmas but their briskest trade takes place annually I read on their website and app on Boxing Day. It doesn’t mean you have to sit there, surrounded by sprouts, sherry and the Queen’s Speech, running your website. Orders can be placed any time and you choose when to respond to these – but without a website, like the turkey, you’re potentially stuffed.
#7 Tell your boss to swivel
Probably should be number 1, because this for me and others is the biggest and best reason to have a website. That company you’re working for, commuting to, those colleagues you’re just about tolerating and those bosses. Yuk. I had my fill of them in education and estate agency but when you have your own business, your own website, your own workspace, bye bye office politics, petty gossip, stifling hierarchies and working to make someone else rich. By all means, have the security of a job, but use it to build an escape tunnel. A website, a freelance business, doing what you love for yourself and your family, is priceless. I feared the huge step for years but regret not telling school leaders to swivel for the past two decades and creating my own business.
REPEAT AFTER ME: “NOT FOR MUCH LONGER.”
#8 Find your real voice
Going self-employed with a business idea and a nice little website is like being let out of a cage. We’re all caged – but the door is wide open. You can find the real you, your authentic voice when self-employed. Add a blog to your website and you’re armed with a platform to air your views, show off your knowledge, inform, entertain and persuade.
#9 You own the website
Don’t forget this either – any web design company you choose should let you own the website. You register the domain, pay someone to host it and keep it backed up and updated but it’s not a hire car, a library book. It’s yours. You own it. Not the company, you. You own the property and pay rent to host it. Think of it like that. You can build your social media links on there, and showcase what you do, safe in the knowledge that the website belongs to you. I own this company name, the website and pay for hosting. No partners. No stakeholders. It’s brand Stuart Walton, Get Pro Copy Ltd and I won’t be owned ever again. Watch and learn, kids.
#10 A website makes you money
If you’ve a skill, a passion and mine is writing, you need a website because to be bluntly capitalistic, it will make you money. I live handsomely on the earnings from social media contracts, web design and copywriting. I had a big gross salary as Head of English and Assistant Headteacher in a local high school, but that made me increasingly miserable. This website never makes me groan or sigh, when a writing contract materialises, I don’t prevaricate and employ work avoidance strategies. This website, along with its active social media channels, makes me money. A website will make you money too whether you spend £200 or £3000 on a smart digital presence. I’m proof of it. Trust me: a website makes you money and if you work at it, lots of money.
#11 Get found on search engines
Okay, rephrase that: Google unless you go on Bing to search, you have to be found on Google, ideally near the top for search terms you’re targetting. It’s a long haul though, think of it as getting to Australia but on foot. I get found on Google for various search terms and make many sales from being found. But. There’s 3 years of digital networking, social media whoring and over 2000 blog posts that have made me appear online. Google is not an overnight fix, or over year. Getting found takes time, strategy and persistence. It’s worth it though when you can walk a dog daily, work when you want and think about those bosses who you wanted to tell to swivel still in miserable workplaces.
A website gets you found – my home address, landline, mobile number is public for all the world to see, but what makes it a bit better is it has a dedicated professional company email address – no [email protected] for me but [email protected], meaning I can be contacted whenever people need to. Without a website, where would I be found? On a card in One Stop, a local rag or in some doctor’s surgery screen? I’m online and can be found online 24/7 and emailed or phoned. You can even have live chat added to your website with manned outsourced agents or intelligent chatbots. Social media done well makes you digitally available too – see point 14.
Not as cheap as chips, one of my fave foods, but cheap nonetheless and if you’re quoted huge prices, keep looking. A website can be had for less than a weekend in Center Parcs and its impact will live longer and be more cost effective than that hole in your wallet from the Sports Bar and Parc Market. It’s quite a straightforward process too I’ve realised, but because many web designers wrap it in some Masonic mystique, and Joe Public is uncomfortable with buying a domain and installing WordPress and themes, adding content and design elements, they accept exorbitant pricing. A simple website is quick to build and launch and don’t let anyone kid you otherwise. It should be cheep and if that word appals you, call it affordable or cost-effective.
Your website and social media platforms can have a cosy, symbiotic relationship. Your website links out to Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram and those repay the compliment by linking back in their bios. Your social media channels show off your website content and drives visitors to it. Your website converts visitors into social followers. 54% of my website traffic comes from LinkedIn according to Google Analytics, which your website should have incorporated. That tells me to focus on there and spend less time on Twitter. It’s no coincidence that most of my earnings stem from LinkedIn. Sometimes Facebook, often organic search but LinkedIn is a big lead generator, as well as my favourite social media hangout. Check out my LinkedIn feed and connect.
#15 Serious about business
A website to me and others indicates to the world that you’re serious about business because you’ve invested money in designing one and time in making it work. That street cred again. My website, its content, its functionality shows this is a business, not a hobby or pastime. You can succeed with an eBay shop, an Instagram feed, don’t get me wrong, but a website says “Look I’m serious.” That’s not me below by the way. I’m much older looking but deadly serious about this business.
#16 Blogs rock
Video apparently killed the radio star but have blogs killed books? No. Has the Kindle killed book sales? Yes.
We’re in a 300 MBPS information rich world where we can ask Alexa to play James on Spotify, ask Google Home to turn the heating up and learn about celebrity deaths online 3 seconds after they’ve drawn a last breath. Blogs are easy to read and find on any topics you want and search engines, like Google, bloody love fresh content. Every algorithm change featured on SEO Roundtable (how nerdy am I?) mentions the importance of fresh content. Not 300 word little posts that unshared get 5 views – and 3 of them are from people you Whats Apped it to. A website with a news page, a blog page will be caressed by Google and customers and get you found online and your content shared. This blog post is intentionally weighty as I long for the day when a post of mine goes viral or some media company rings me and says “Stuart you’re the main man – write for us and we’ll pay you handsomely.” I know detailed content in a blog like this will have more impact than 4 blog posts of 5oo words. It’s like skimming a few stones across a lake, making little ripples that disappear or carrying a massive rock and chucking that in to make a real splash and impact. This is long form content. This is using the Skyscraper technique and I will be genuinely gutted if it gets 50 views and not 1000 in the next few weeks. Blogs show your authority, keep website visitors returning to read more and are loved by Google. You can blog on Medium and Tumblr of course, as well as others, but you’re piggybacking when you need to be striding proudly with boulders, to stretch that rock metaphor to its final extreme. I hope I’m making sense?
#17 Stand still and you go backwards
Okay, vinyl records may be back in vogue and you could say the Compact Disc and streaming should have killed the LP, but it’s unusual. If you’re adamant you’re managing okay without a website, you’re stationary. A website is not a luxury in 2018. Anyone can afford one but by standing still you’re actually slipping into reverse gear long term. The internet is not going anywhere. 5G is on the horizon, 83% of web browsing is carried out on mobile devices: smartphones and tablets and if you’re thinking the world will slump into some nostalgic longing for advertising in newspapers, Yellow Pages and the BT Phonebook, give your head a wobble and get in the 21st Century.
Any business needs a website and if you become one of my many clients from Manchester – you can tell your boss not to swivel, but to “do one” as you walk out with a Gallagher swagger, to become your own boss with your own business.
#18 Have I convinced you?
If so, get in touch and free yourself like I have.