Black & white photo of a Macbook Pro, a pen and paper and a black coffee. Photo Credit: Death to Stock

The Internet is big business. Without a website of your own, you may be leaving too much to chance. With social media, business directories and online blogs, it’s now easier than ever to create an online presence for yourself. Yet, it’s not uncommon to find that a brand or business’s only online presence is a Facebook page and Google Maps point. Only having these methods to communicate with your audience is a missed opportunity and could be damaging overall to your brand.

The website is central to the internet and stands out as your ‘home’ online. Your website should act as a central hub for your message and communicate your values to potential customers. Readers of your website will expect to find out who you are, what you do, why you are in business, where you are and how to contact you. If they can’t find it on your website, they may give up their search.

Below are three of the most compelling reasons for why you need a website of your own.

You Make The Rules

If you want to communicate your message powerfully online, you need to play by your own rules. Social Networks are great for communication, but you relinquish control over how your message and brand are treated.

Twitter allows you to reach your customers, but limits your message to 140-characters. Facebook allows you to engage, but history has shown that it continuously pressures businesses to increase their monthly advertising spend to ensure they continue to be seen by users. Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are great visual methods to communicate. Yet, they have increasingly stricter controls on what you can and cannot do with the content you share there. Sometimes too, the time you spend building your profile can disappear altogether or become irrelevant… remember MySpace?

This isn’t to suggest social media shouldn’t be a part of your online strategy, but that your website should be the place you funnel your social media users to, the place where you hold the cards. If you want to publish articles or product news, sell to customers or gain newsletter subscribers — invest your time in building a great website which will become a priceless asset to your business.

Your Space, Your Branding

You are unique and so your website should be too.

​Whilst social networks are unbeatable for communication and search engines & business directories are great for information finding, they are often uniform in design. Your website is instead a unique opportunity for your visual branding to shine online, unrestricted by uniformity.

Your brand, no matter how new, has a visual cue, colour-scheme or logo which communicates to others something about the values behind your work. By having your own website, you are able to expand on this branding in a digital space: on mobile, tablet or computer. You can gain absolute control over the look and feel of your own website, ensuring that customers engage with your brand in the way that you want them to. Although you can create a website or blog yourself in many places online for a low cost, putting aside funds to budget for a professional design and hosting for your own website will allow you to stand out from your competitors with a digital ‘home’ in-keeping with your brand. Many free or low-cost website solutions rely on templates to get the job done, which often don’t evoke the kind of unique individuality you want your business to be known for.

Reach a Wider Audience

Your website can also help you to reach new markets with multiple language support, accessibility features and an e-commerce, direct-sales store.

Search will often be the first point of call for people who want to find out what you do, yet without a website of your own, you are leaving much to chance. Potential customers might find themselves on the websites of your competitors or a business directory which holds out of date information about how to reach you.

One area which has seen huge growth over the past decade is search-engine optimisation (SEO for short). SEO is about ensuring that your website is perfectly optimised for search engines. Top search engine Google also now offer market-leading tools for website owners to track and understand their audience far better than ever before. Google Analytics (paired with AdWords) allows website owners to find exactly what path their readers are taking through the website and to determine potential stumbling blocks which may be getting in the way of sales. There may be added costs in pursuing these options, but they can enable you to anticipate your audience’s needs. In addition, you can also sell your products or services at any time of day or year, to anywhere in the world — making your website an invaluable sales tool.

Without a website of your own, you are missing a vital opportunity to communicate with your audience, reach a wider-market and ultimately, to make sales.

Take the time to consider what purpose your website will serve and think about how it might help you to spread your message. You will find that in time, your website will act as a unique member of your team: connecting you to your customers, creating sales opportunities and spreading brand awareness.