You’ve got a business or a portfolio of creative projects and you’re doing fine on social media. Do you even need a website?
Yes, and not just because our business is hosting websites. There’s a long list of ways a website can help your business or creative empire-building, even if you have a strong social media presence.
Relying entirely on social media is like couch-surfing: No matter how welcome you are, you’re a guest in someone else’s space. With a website, you can rock social media and enjoy the perks of having a place of your own.
Here are 4 compelling reasons you need a website, too.
1. You Control Your Online Content
When you have your own website, you get to choose which information visitors see and decide how to present it (provided you’re following your web host’s terms of service).
When your content and contact information is only on social media, that information is available at the discretion of the social network. If your social media accounts are temporarily suspended, your information disappears from public view until things get sorted out. And if the network decides to ban your account altogether or to close down, your info goes away for good.
Losing social media access is a rare but real concern, and not just for fringe figures who get banned for extreme speech. Remember Vine? The social network where users could share 6-second video clips was popular for about four years, until its parent company Twitter shut it down. Then the Viners who had built their income streams on the platform were out of luck.
Even social networks that are in no danger of going anywhere can change their policies and algorithms, like Facebook did in early 2018. That newsfeed change means users now see more content from their personal connections and less from news outlets and content creators. The result has been a drastic, sustained drop in traffic from Facebook for many publishers. Think about how a change like that would affect you if your content or business information is only available on social.
2. You’re Easier to Find and Inspire More Trust
Think about how you search for things. Do you ask your phone or Alexa to look it up for you, or do you take the time to go to each social network you’re on and use their search tools? If you’re like 80 percent or so of the population, you rely on search to find what you’re looking for. Without a website, your business or page is a lot less visible to people outside your social networks.
A website gives you the freedom to influence how you appear in search results, too. You can use SEO best practices to help your site rank higher for the keywords your audience uses. You can claim your Google My Business listing for better visibility to local customers. And you can use schema markup on your site to display rich results like summaries, reviews, recipes, or whatever’s relevant to your niche and your audience.
A web presence and credibility go hand-in-hand for a lot of people. Search engines have a high level of trust with consumers. A 2017 Local Search Association survey found that when it’s time to make a purchase, the only source shoppers trust more than search engines is company websites. Meanwhile, the public’s trust in social media has declined. A 2018 Edelman survey found that just 30% of Americans trust social media, thanks to data breaches, privacy concerns, and fake news scandals. So even if you have a strong social media following, a website can boost your credibility.
3. You Can Create and Share Content the Way You Want
You have more creative freedom on your own site than on most social networks. Twitter has a 280 character limit. Instagram Stories videos max out at 15 seconds. Want to serialize your novel or post your documentary film? That’s what a website is for. Serve up samples in your social posts to bring people to your site and start conversations about your work.
When it’s time to audit, update, and repurpose your older content, it’s usually easier to search your own site than to dig through your old social media posts. And thanks to the huge and growing number of website themes, you can make your site look however you want it to look, rather than being stuck with the format and color scheme of your social networks.
4. You Can Make Money the Way You Want
Social media can be a great moneymaker for major influencers, but social media mostly makes money for investors, not users. If you’re serious about earning money online, a strong social media presence is a valuable part of your marketing program. But a website is key because it gives you options social doesn’t.
First, you can create a better, more valuable email list with a website. Yes, you can encourage your social followers to opt in to your list, but remember that when people are ready to make a purchase, they look for websites. If you have one and people visit it, that means they’re already interested in buying what you offer. These are the people who are most likely to be valuable email list members.
It’s also easier to make an opt-in offer visible on a website than on social media, because you can create a pop-up or eye-catching opt-in box on your site instead of having to rely on a post in the same format as all the other social posts on the network.
You can also monetize your site in other ways. Google Adsense is one revenue stream to consider, because you have some control over the types of ads that appear on your site. You may also want to join some affiliate marketing programs related to your content niche or business. You can also set up a shop on your site to sell your products. If you’ve got a good-size group of loyal and engaged followers, your site can also serve as your hub for selling courses, coaching, and premium membership-based content and services—all of which you can promote on social media.
Ready to get started? You can build your website today with HostGator’s drag-and-drop Website Builder.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.