Do you actually need a website for your business in the beginning? Sorry if this is an annoying answer, but maybe, maybe not.
You should have a website for your business within the first year or two, but you might not need one right now.
It also does NOT necessarily have to be custom! Utilizing a template is super smart in many cases.
So, let’s talk about whether you need a website right now, whether or not it should be custom, and how to tell if you should be looking at website templates or if you’re ready to start connecting with web designers for custom work.
Do you need a website for your business?
It depends on a few things, but the short answer is that you may not need one at first but eventually, you should have one.
I don’t believe that everyone needs a website when they first get started. Especially not a custom one. (And this is coming from me, a web designer!)
Actually, I think that unless you are super clear on your goals and audience, you probably should wait a little while before spending major time and money on a website. Until then, use a website template or Facebook page.
Here’s a few questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking about building a site, buying a template, or hiring a designer:
- Are you getting more than enough customers and interest without a website? If so, you might not need one right now, especially if you don’t have the time in the day to dedicate to such a big project. I’d recommend waiting until you can set aside a major chunk of time to see your website project through so that it’s done right. If you still want a site soon, consider hiring out some of your current tasks even if it’s on a temporary basis.
- Do you create long-form content, like blog posts? If you do, you’d benefit from having a website so that you can start building up your SEO and content marketing strategy.
When your business gets some initial momentum and you’re more clear on your goals, that’s when you should start thinking about a custom site build for your business.
The last thing that I’d want for you is to spend a ton of time or money on building a website for your new business only to have to redo the whole thing 6 months from now because you’ve gotten clearer on your goals and your audience.
It’s almost always a smart idea to have a site no matter where you are with your business, just don’t think that you need something custom at the very beginning. It can’t hurt your business to have a site unless your website is confusing to your customers or scaring them away somehow.
Related Reading: How to Book More Calls from your Website
How do I know when I need a website for my business?
When you’ve been in business for long enough to understand what’s working and what’s not. All of us go through a period of time after starting our first business when we’re not exactly sure who our audience is and we don’t know what services or products we’re going to focus on.
After some trial and error, most of us land on a specific thing that we do or sell. Maybe it’s a group of things. But the point is, we start out less clear on what we’re actually doing and after a few months or years, we’ve strategically narrowed down our products, services, audiences.
Once you’re pretty clear on what you need your website to accomplish for you is when you should start thinking about a custom or semi-custom website for your business. Before you get to that point, though, website templates are the best way to go.
There are SO MANY great choices available for professionally-designed website template kits that will allow you to quickly put together a sleek-looking website without coding or hiring a designer for custom work, which can quickly get expansive because of how time-intensive and detail-oriented the process is.
Here are some beautiful and functional options for website templates, organized by the website platform. My favorite platform to build websites on is WordPress because of the versatility and limitless functionality, but I’ll list my favorite template shops for all of the major players here.
WordPress Website Templates:
Squarespace Website Templates:
ShowIt Website Templates:
- Tonic Site Shop
- Saffron Avenue
- Megan Martin Creative
- Create With Danielle (Life Coach Website Theme)
Wix Website Templates:
Spending $100-$500 on a stunning website template kit is smart during the beginning phases of your business rather than hiring a professional web designer for multiple thousands of dollars – save that investment for later on when you’re leveling up your business!
Why you should have a website for your business
A few major reasons and a lot of little ones. Let’s talk about some of the main reasons why you should have a website for your business. I’m going to highlight 5 reasons why you should have a website.
I’m sure you and I could think of more reasons to have a site, but adding them to a list and putting them all in one place like this can be helpful if you’re on the fence about whether or not to go for that template you’ve been eyeing or finally contact the web designer you’ve been Insta-stalking for a few months.
It will serve as a hub for information about your business.
It’s so helpful to have a place where you can send your customers to rather than typing out the same answers to questions over and over again.
On top of that, a lot of your potential customers won’t have the time to reach out to you and ask questions before they buy – they just want to be able to go to your website and find the answers to their questions.
Your website will show up in searches related to your products and services provided that you’ve spent some time on SEO, so new customers can discover you every day. They can browse your site and discover everything that you offer, find your social media links, sign up for your email list, buy your stuff, and learn about you/your business all in one place.
Whether you have a custom site or a template-based one, you’re going to get this benefit.
You own your website, unlike your social media accounts or profiles on other platforms.
This one is pretty much self-explanatory. Your social media accounts are definitely a powerful tool to have in your arsenal in terms of marketing, but those profiles can be deleted or deactivated at any time.
There’s been so many stories of people having their accounts deactivated after spending years building them up. While that’s devastating in any situation because of how much consistent and strategic work goes into social media marketing, it’s even worse when you don’t have a platform that you actually, fully own to fall back on.
You can benefit from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) when you have a website.
Search Engine Optimization is a free way to get more traffic to your website, and hopefully, more customers. It’s definitely a long-term strategy and it’s not realistic to expect results before 6-12 months of hard work.
That being said, you can’t really even get started on SEO until you have your own website. You’ll need to publish regular, high-quality content on your site in order for Google to pick it up in search and start recommending it to Google users. But if you keep at it and you focus on making sure the content you put out is valuable to your audience, people will share that content on social media and other websites will start linking to it.
The more this happens, the more Google trusts that your content is helping people and that it’s a good idea to show your posts and pages to people who are searching for related info.
There’s a lot more to SEO, of course, but the point is that you can’t benefit from it if you don’t have a website that Google can start looking at and showing your work in search results.
Related Reading: 12 Reasons Your Business Absolutely Needs SEO
You can start integrating content marketing into your strategy, which helps you majorly with SEO and to boost your authority in your industry.
Writing blog posts and creating content is the most important way to start getting traffic from SEO. If you don’t publish content, Google doesn’t have anything to rank.
Unless you’re a local business and all you want to rank for is “Kansas City newborn photographer” you’re going to do more than just try to rank your homepage for that keyword. You’re going to want to create a content marketing strategy that will allow you to start targeting and ranking for all kinds of keywords that your primary audience might be searching for.
Even local businesses( like photographers) blog to get more traffic.
Content marketing is a long-term strategy as well, but it pays off on average much better than social media marketing and tends to have a snowball effect since it goes hand in hand with SEO. The more great content you have on your site, the more chances you have to end up in one of the top spots for different keywords.
I recommend blogging at least once a week if you’re able to. If content marketing is central to your marketing strategy, you might have posts going live every day. But blogging 2x per month is a great start if you’ve never blogged before.
Related Reading: Why Content Marketing is Important
It just helps you look way more legit.
There will always be people out there willing to work with you or buy from you before you have a website. But there’s also a lot of people who won’t even consider working with you or buying something from you if you don’t have a website.
This is just how it is – lots of customers like to see that you’re professional and that you already have answers for a majority of their questions right on your website.
You can also link people directly to pricing, your portfolio, FAQs, scheduling and booking, and any blog posts or pages you’ve written with the information they’re asking about.
Having a website for your business will increase the likelihood that your customers or followers will actually buy from you or work with you.
What if I’m not ready for a custom site or a template?
Everyone starts somewhere, so no worries! If you know you’re not ready for a custom site and you don’t have the budget to get a website template, start small.
Utilize a social media plage as the main touchpoint for your site. Facebook works pretty well for this!
If you’re a service-based business owner, you have the option to allow potential clients to book appointments with you. If you sell products, you can set up shop on both Facebook and Instagram, which is pretty dang handy.
Optimize your social media profile you’ll be using by filling out all the information that you can and being as specific as you can without spewing out an overwhelming amount of information.
Related Reading: How to Optimize your Facebook Page
If you need to have a portfolio for your business, check out Dribbble, Behance, or use Google Drive and create a folder with your best work in there. Then share this link with prospective clients when you want to share examples of your work with them.
In terms of taking payment, a lot of times you’ll handle this with third-party tools even if you do have a custom website, so don’t stress about this. You can use PayPal, Stripe, Square, Wave, and a number of other payment processors for this. It’s a good idea to outsource this to a platform like these because storing your customers’ payment info can be a security liability.
Once you’re more on your feet and you’re ready to get your own website, you’ll need a domain name, website hosting, and a website template for the platform that you want to use.
- I recommend using WordPress, but you could also go with Squarespace, Wix, Webflow, ShowIt, or something else. Here’s an article I wrote that explains the differences between WordPress and Wix.
- Dynadot or Namecheap are my favorite places to to buy a domain name. Here’s my explanation of what to look for in a domain registrar and what to stay away from (some of them charge extra fees and stuff, so avoid those!)
- I’d recommend Dreamhost or Siteground for web hosting.
- For your website template, I listed some great ones close to the top of this article! Check out Creative Market for tons of template choices and ideas. And grab a custom font while you’re there to jazz things up.
What should I do if I’m ready for a custom or semi-custom web design?
First, congrats! Reaching the point in your business where it makes sense to level up your online presence and start to streamline everything is a big move.
Find a web designer who is an expert in your preferred website platform (WordPress, ShowIt, etc.) for the best results.
I have a whole article on what to look for in a web designer right here, actually! Give it a read before you book any calls with a designer just so that you have an idea of what to ask them when you both sit down to talk.
If you’re leaning toward WordPress as your platform and you’d like to learn more about working with me, check out my packages and pricing right here and book a call with me over here! And of course, if you have any questions then comment below or shoot me an email.
If you’re looking for a designer for another platform, I’d be happy to provide recommendations! Email me at email@example.com and let me know what kind of web designer you’re looking for. Happy to help and happy web designer hunting! 🙂