15: Are Websites Still Important?

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Are websites still important?

Hi everyone and welcome to episode 16 of your social media journey. I hope you have had a great summer and are ready to get back into work with renewed excitement. I know that I am!

Today’s episode is about the importance of having your own website and my own experience of making one from scratch. If you are someone who is worried that it is beyond your level of expertise to make your own website, you are listening to the right podcast because I am about to prove that it isn’t.

Behind the scenes, I have been working on my website, www.yoursocialmediajourney.com. It might not look like much, depending on when you are listening to this episode - I hope to have it close to where I want it to be before the end of October 2019! So if you are listening after then, you will see the result of my work. If you listen to this episode beforehand, you will be able to see the “before” website.

Now, why is it so important that I have a website - after all, I am a social media consultant and I should be getting all my clients on social media, right? Well, sort of! While I am a big fab of using social media for business purposes, I am also very aware of its limitations. You will have heard the phrase of using someone else’s real estate for your own business. That is exactly what social media is - unless you ARE Mr. Zuckerberg and own Facebook, you are simply a Facebook user. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever. However, if Facebook were to change their rules tomorrow, what you need to be able to figure is where YOUR business will land? Is Facebook too big to fail? No, it isn’t. Remember MySpace? Or AltaVista? Or AskJeeves? My point is that having your own website is not only peace of mind, it is still THE place people will look for you if they are to part with hard earned cash. A business that thrives only on social media is not exactly thriving, it is fully dependant on the head honchos of social media companies not changing their minds.

Ok, so you are convinced about having your own website, but isn't’ it a bit too technical? Well, my friend, no, it is not anymore! There are a bunch of ways you can make your own website, with no technical knowhow needed. Before you roll your eyes, let me explain. It USED to be the case that to have a great website you absolutely needed a web designer and an IT expert, but things have changed rapidly in the last few years. You really do not need much technical knowledge to create your own website now. And besides, once you have even a BASIC website, at least your business is up and running and you save yourself thousands of pounds in doing so? Now do I have your ears?

So, here is how I made my own website this time. I say this time because I have two businesses. One is called Fair Cake, you can find it at www.faircake.co.uk - that is NOT a website that I have made myself. That is an example of an expensive custom written website that my business depends on. My second business, this podcasting business, can be found on www.yoursocialmediajourney.com. Now THIS is a website that I have made entirely myself. It took me three whole days, it was a bank holiday, and I made myself this website. The reason I am such a big fan of making your own website is that you can change your mind any time you want! If you do not like a colour, change it. If you do not like an image, change it. If you do not like the way you are coming across, you can change it without spending a penny. Here is the process I followed and I hope that is useful for you - my mantra is BREAK IT DOWN. You will see what I mean -

My first requirement of this website was that I was going to put my podcast episodes on it. So the first thing I did was to google “websites for podcasters”. A huge number of resources came up. Reading around, I found that podcasts need to be hosted by a different company and your website merely links to it. This was getting complicated. But somewhere, during all the googling, I found a link to a YouTube video by Jess Freeman and it was called How To Start a Podcast on Squarespace. I will link to this video in the show notes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsG1kTh5Vn0

I watched her video and ended up interviewing her for my podcast once my website was up and running, META! It was episode 6 of this podcast, have a listen to it!

It took me just a bit more googling around to figure out that Squarespace was looking like the right choice and I was going to use it for my website. Then I immersed my self into more YouTube videos about how Squarespace websites were built. Much tea was consumed, the occasional coffee, too. Then I found videos by Louise Henry on YouTube, also known as Solopreneur Sidekick. I also interviewed her for my podcast - what can I say, I lead a majorly meta life, it is episode 9, if you wish to listen to that one. Louise has this unique way of breaking things down into extremely simple steps on her YouTube channel. I was then hooked. This was made for me. If other people could make their own websites from scratch, so could I!

The next step was opening an account on Squarespace, watching some of THEIR videos on how to get started and then I got started. I chose a theme, watched a few videos on how other people had used the theme and then set about making my own site. The images? I am bit of a dab hand with a camera, but most images are graphic design images that I use apps on my iPhone for - I use several apps, some of which are Canva, Adobe Spark, Snapseed etc. Again, mostly free stuff. You are listening to someone who loves free stuff. So I created my images on my phone, transferred them onto my computer and then onto my website.

I had a clear idea of how many webpages I wanted - NOT many! Come on, we live in the age of tidying up and decluttering, why would I want a cluttered up website?! And once everything was looking lovely and clean, it was time to buy the domain. The domain is that address, yoursocialmediajourney.com - which I bought on a domain registeration website. Once I had the domain, it was a simple case of mapping my website to my domain name and bingo. I made my own website. If you are someone who is considering making your own website, I highly recommend Squarespace, it is super simple and easy to use.

Coming back to why websites are so important. In the last couple of weeks, I am sure you will have noticed, the signup page slogan on Facebook homepage has changed. it used to be, “Its free and always will be” to “Its quick and easy”. Not reading too much into it, but it is a fairly significant change and if I were putting all my eggs in Facebook’s basket of fake accounts mingling with real accounts, I might think twice. So while social media is all well and good and a fabulous way to market your products services, I still maintain that there is no better advertising than your own website.

Once you do have your own website, you can start treating it as the central location to which all your customers go to. You can then link the website everywhere - from your Facebook page to your Instagram, from your Twitter to your Snapchat. It them becomes THE place that people start going to look for you when Facebook or Instagram is down.

Having said all this, there is an even simpler way of making your own website and that is Google! If you have a few images up your sleeves and are confident about what you want to write about to attract customer and clients, then head over to Google’s My Business service. My previous podcast episode is exactly about this and how you can use it to make a placeholder website until your real one is up and running. It is extremely simple to use - I do recommend using a computer, rather than a phone, at least to begin with.

Now what does all this have to do with your social media journey? Well, plenty, my friend, plenty! When you create content for social media, which you do, on a regular basis, you are giving it away, for free, literally to another website such as instagram.com and facebook.com. If you used some of that content and created a blog post on your website, and keep adding content to your own website, you will then be using the content that you are creating anyway for your own benefit - twice over. Let me explain. Ultimately, you are listening to this podcast episode because you want to make money, right? More money in the bank, who does not want that? So if you are creating content anyway, why not have it on your own website? So that the next time someone is looking for a product or service similar to yours, YOUR content from YOUR website will be picked up by Google. If your content is shining brightly only on instagram, there is so much on there to distract your viewer! Say you put your heart and soul into making a video about how to make the perfect pasta dish. You know, those beautifully shot 30second videos? Well, as soon as your video is finished, the viewer will scroll away to another video. Now imagine if you had a website with several such videos, the scroller would only go to YOUR next video! So while you should be using social media to promote your business and put those videos on social media, no two ways about it, do consider the merits of owning your own piece of real estate on the internet. It is a game changer.

I hope you enjoyed this episode! If you have any questions, I am always available by email or on social media. You can find my contact details on my website, that I made myself, www.yoursocialmediajourney.com. I am now taking bookings for Skype consultation sessions that I tailor make for you and your business. If you are interested, do get in touch. As always, I would love it if left me a five start rating and a good review. I have lots of cracking podcast episodes planned for the next few weeks, including a couple of interviews that you would not want to miss. So hit that subscribe button if you want to be kept updated with new episodes. Until next time, bye for now…