It's 2020, do I need a website to be competitive online?

It's so easy now to get a website up and running nowadays. The question isn't really of how, but more of do I need to. Let's explore some options and scenarios on why you may not need to upfront.

It's 2020, do I need a website to be competitive online?

You’re starting a business and see that other businesses have websites so that must mean you need a website too… right?

Right!... No, wrong… no, wait, it depends…

Look it’s complicated ok, but let’s go through some reasons why you may not need to hurry and give your credit card details to one of those website builder services.

Let’s start with the why?

I believe that in the beginning stages of business most of the time you can do without a website. This is especially the case if you’re not out to sell products online.

As new (and sometimes seasoned) entrepreneurs we’re full of ideas along with no real direction, so we mimic what we see our favorite businesses do. We get inspired by fancy websites, 1-800 numbers, and business cards and think that we must do the same.

To justify us diving headfirst into getting a website we tell ourselves stuff like:

  • Potential customers will be able to find me online with this new site!
  • XYZ Widget Co generates 99% of its business through its website so I need one too to be competitive in this market!
  • My business is gonna look legit with this new site!

The truth is, most new business websites get no action. They get no action because a website is often apart of a bigger marketing plan. With a new business and a new website you now have to promote both at the same time, which takes a lot of effort if you’re a team of 1.

Do you really want to get visits to your website? Or, do you really want sales?

I don’t know about you, but I would rather have sales.

Sales == $$$

Don’t reinvent the wheel just yet

Borrow someone else’s wheel for the time being. (I know that was bad :) )

If you opt to create a website it will be an island. No views, bigger sites aren’t linking to your site for cross-promo, and it takes time and consistency to make a mark.

What if you used the leverage from platforms that already have visitors?

If you are a local service-based company signing up for Google’s local listings might propel you further than your own site in the beginning.

I worked with a local roofing company years ago and they wanted me to make them a website and “get it to the top of Google” - just like every business owner wants, nothing new. If you know anything about the roofing market then you know it’s a pretty competitive market, there are a lot of companies that have been around for a while and have money to spend on ads and everything in between.

If I would have taken these instructions literally I would have spent a lot of time and money to try and compete with these more established businesses. Luckily, I know “get to the top of Google” translates to “we want more business”.

I set off and built their website, but I also took the liberty to explain to them that local listings like Google’s will help out a ton as well. We both agreed that doubling down on the local listings, but giving a fair amount of time and attention to the website would be the best course of action.

Fast forward to months later and collectively the local listings on Google, Yahoo, and Bing outperformed the website. They were able to notice an uptick in inquiries through the phone and email inquiries that made them happy.

If you’re a writer, publishing your content on Medium might give you the jump start you need to direct your audience to your own site.

I don’t have a personal testimony on this, but I can lead you to Shaunta Grimes’ story. Shaunta is a writer who was torn between publishing content on Medium or her own blog.

Shaunta took note of the views, reads, visits, and other relevant stats for both the self-hosted blog and the content published on Medium. Within a very short time, it was clear that posting on Medium was the clear winner due to the number of views/reads, and newsletter signups gained over the self-hosted blog.

Here’s a link to the post that goes more in detail about the journey:

If you are a person looking to leverage video content, guess where I’m going to say where you should put your content? That’s right! Vimeo! - Just kidding... You use YouTube.

This one is pretty self-explanatory but I think most of us think of the big entertainment content creators on YouTube. We don’t think of other ways we can use YT to heighten our brand awareness.

I like to look at companies like Advanced Cleaning Systems (I think they are located in GA), but what they’ve done is essentially gone global since carpet cleaning videos cater to the “oddly satisfying” crowd and those who generally want to see how good they are before they book an appointment.

Here is a link to their videos page:

Before I leave the subject of YouTube I want to give another example. 360jeezy is a barber (I believe on the west coast) that cuts hair (ya don’t say…) and does videos like before and after transformations, tutorials, and other funny content that is related.

The YouTube channel and barbershop have a symbiotic relationship that allows him to create content to attract new clients, and with the new clients comes new content. If you want to take a glance at what he’s doing check him out here:

Video content allows you to take the by-product of what you’re already doing, package it up and teach and/or entertain viewers. Search for content in your niche and I’m sure you’ll find people who are sharing their experiences.

Want to show off your sweet photography skills? Instagram might do the trick for you.

Instagram can have the same effect on a business that YouTube can. It can open up the door to serve multiple markets with the work you’re already doing. Take a look at these examples here:

I could go on for days, but I’ll just showcase these 3.

As you can see each one of these profiles shows off great photos. If the line of work you’re in revolves around great imagery then IG is a great place to show off your stuff.

Instagram has an “algorithm” (I hate using that term in this context haha) that will try and serve users the content they like based on interests and other activity.

For instance, If your forte is wedding photography then it would make sense to show off as much wedding-related photography as possible so that you’ll have a higher chance of being in front of people with wedding photography as an interest. These people could be ones that are looking to get married soon and want to find a good photographer, it could be people who want to get into the wedding photography biz, it could be a wedding planner or some other viewer somehow affiliated with wedding photography.

Diving deeper and finding out what works best will go a long way in revealing what you should double down on.

Platforms like these have already done the initial leg work in getting tons of visitors each day. You’ll just need to focus on what you can do to keep them coming back to you specifically.

If you’re still wanting to learn more about all of this web stuff I’ve been working on content to help bring clarity around a lot of the basics. I like to think of it as a fast forward button for anyone who wants to start a business online, or wants to begin their journey as a web developer.

If you’re interested use the form below and I’ll send some more in-depth content as well as information on a guide I’m working on.

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