ith the abundance of ways to reach out and find an audience on the internet, a common question I hear most people ask is, “Why do I even need a website? Can’t I reach an audience without having to pay for a website?” The short easy answer to this question is yes, but you won’t reach them in a way that is most beneficial and efficient. The more complex answer is no. Here are a few obstacles that can make reaching your audience difficult and how a website can help you solve those problems.
Can’t I just use Social Media to reach my audience? Again, the short answer is yes, however, the number of social media outlets is abundant. Now if your audience is only using one specific social media outlet, it is certainly easy to find them using only that one, however, chances are they are using multiple platforms. Of course, you can spend time and ensure you are posting on every single social media platform, but you also want to make sure every person you are trying to reach views the same message. The truth is, not every social media platform allows you to post the same content, and information you’re trying to convey can get lost.
Having a website, while it in no way replaces the need to advertise and promote yourself on social media, it gives you a central hub for all your social media to funnel to. If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, all of these platforms, including their news feeds, can be represented on your website, so anyone who is interested in knowing more about you, can find all of that information in one neat place. No reason to pop from account to account, your website will have everything they need, and then you can focus your social media push on attracting people to your website.
The best way to keep people informed about what you do or what you sell is going directly to their inbox. While you can certainly link mailing lists to social media posts, you again run the risk of having people not see the posts as it gets buried in their ever-growing feed. Maybe they’re on the wrong medium at the time you posted and just missed it. Maybe they took a day off and now that post is lost in the depths of their social media. Anyway you slice it, it puts another obstacle in your path.
A mailing list can live on your website as a major call to action. Now instead of having to bombard social media with information about what you do, and adding on calls to join your mailing list, as you drive traffic to your site, they will automatically be prompted to join your mailing list to ensure they won’t miss any communications. This will allow you to build a mailing list with far less work, and create a following that helps build itself.
There are absolutely websites, (even free ones, although you get what you pay for) that will allow you to create and share events for free. Facebook has an event tool built directly into their platform. But again, you run the problem of sharing those events to other platforms and having your audience see them, and customizing those events to your exact needs.
On your Website, you can have sections dedicated to events and an event calendar. Any events you create from that calendar, you can share directly to any social media platform of your choice, and any visitors to your site, if you allow them to, can also share those events. Plus, anyone who comes to your site to view an event, you will have the added exposure to all your events. On top of the benefit of exposure, having events hosted on your website, allows you to control the look, feel, and information you want presented to anyone interested in those events, making sure you’re presenting them as a positive reflection of your brand.
While not everyone online or who has a website is selling something, people who do sell online use third-party sites, such as Etsy or Amazon. Having a website doesn’t fully eliminate the need to use these sites, but it can certainly enhance them. If you are selling on Amazon, Etsy, and some local independent shops you are again scattered about the internet and risk getting lost in the shuffle. By having your own website, you offer all your products in one single location. You can link to the third-party sites and even open your own online shop which can put more money in your pocket.
On its own, an online store would be reason enough to create a website, because when people see your products online, they only see a product and not the story and passion behind it.
The Major Upside
Having and maintaining a professional website is obviously not free, but there are many cost-effective ways to obtain and maintain a website without breaking the bank, especially with services like RocketSites by Cosmital Designs where you can get a basic site for $50 per month or an e-commerce site for $75 per month (I promise there is no catch. Check them out.). The site you are on right now is a RocketSite.
In addition to being easier than ever to have and maintain a site, the added benefits are numerous.
People can learn about you and your brand more in depth than they can on any other medium allowing a greater connection.
While you’ll still need to connect and reach out via social media, a website gives you a central hub where all that information can be stored, connecting every social media outlet in one convenient place.
You can provide people interested in what you do more opportunity to connect with you.
Mailing lists as a call to action on your site help expand your brand and your reach.
You can offer events in one central location, formatted to fit your brand, and allow visitors to see all your events in one place.
You have an online sales platform that you manage to channel to third-party sellers or sell directly.
And I can’t stress this one enough, you have a destination where you control the narrative of your brand.
There are many reasons as to why a website can enhance and expand your online presence, and taking advantage of all those reasons will help you control and direct the way people see both you and the brand.