New enterprises seem to be expected to have a website but it isn’t always necessary right at the start. It is really common for people to be oversold when it comes to websites but my ethos is to start with what you need and build up from there. At the risk of doing myself out of work I’m going to tell you why you might not need a website.
- You might not be ready
- You might not have the time
- You might not find buyers
- Your customers might be offline
Don’t worry, there are ways around this
- Here are the alternatives to starting off with a website
- Print off a handy checklist
- Talk to an expert
You might not be ready
We need websites so we can tell the world what we do. If you are new at what you are doing, and don’t have much to say or show about it, then your website could well do you a mis service. At worst it will make you look unprofessional.
You might not have the time
Websites take time. Even if you handed everything over to a designer, including your social media campaigning, you would still have to give them the information. Having someone else be your voice online is a risky undertaking. You have to find a good match and that also takes time. If you are just starting up it might be better to devote your time and money to building up your enterprise rather than paying for a website in time and money. Prioritise what will help you grow your business first.
You might not find buyers for what you sell
I just Googled ‘how many websites are there’ and the internet told me “There are 1,197,982,359 websites in the world as of January 2021.” What are the chances of people finding your tiny grain of sand in that big beach? If you have a super niche it will be easier to be noticed but as a one tiny person, doing something a just a bit different from other people you will struggle to be seen. The same is true for selling platforms like Etsy, it is easy to get lost. Focus on building up a fan base first, then move onto a website.
Your customers might be offline
If you run a fruit and veg stall in the local farmers market your customers will be face to face. Have a good think about the people you want to attract to buy from you. Will they be online? Are they more into paper magazines than scrolling and swiping? If your current customers are not connected it may be the right time to build up more and different customers but there will be the occasional person whose work is entirely offline. People might look you up to get in touch but they won’t care about a website.
The alternatives to leaping straight in to a website
Get a domain name
The domain name is the website address. This site has www.thinking-green.co.uk as it’s domain name. The name doesn’t need to point at a website though, you can redirect it to your Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn or anywhere you want. I like 123reg for straightforward easiness..
Build up content so that you can populate a website when you are ready. Start a free blog on somewhere like wordpress.com (I’m not an affiliate) and move it over to a ‘proper’ website when you have enough stuff. I suggest WordPress because you can export everything easily. Be careful not to fall into the trap of paying for anything there until you are totally ready and even then, check with an expert (like me) first so you don’t spend unnecessarily.
Get good pictures
There is a skill to taking good photos and that takes practice. You can probably use your phone and get really good images that will work perfectly on a website but avoid using any old picture as a placeholder. Be professional from the start. Your own original photos are best but if that isn’t possible spend some time hunting down really good stock images on Pixabay, YayImages or Pexels. (I’m not affiliated to any of them)
Choose a social media platform and get busy, post, follow, like and comment on other peoples posts. Say nice things, make people feel good. Once you have a hundred or so people following you think about a website. It may be that you still don’t need one, especially if you are on Facebook as it is notoriously difficult to get anyone to click away from Facebook.
Build a list
Start a mailing list so that when you launch your website you can tell your fans. Mailchimp is a really popular one (I’m not affiliated).
Here is a handy checklist for you
This is not a one size fits all checklist but it does cover the basic things you need to have in place before you think website thoughts. You might not need a shop on your site, you might decide to sell via Instagram instead. You might prefer Stripe to PayPal or you might deal in cryptocurrency. Please take it as a starting point and get in touch to talk it through when you are ready.
Whatever you decide, please don’t leap into a huge website. Start off small and let it grow organically. Speak to someone who is on your side and who will look out for you. Speak to someone like me who offers half an hour free consultation time.