I am a fashion designer in my spare time and I want to sell my dresses online. I see a lot of other designers just using Instagram and Facebook for selling their clothes instead of websites, and they seem to do well. I don’t have a lot of money to invest in a website. Can I get away with not having a website for my dress business at least at the beginning?
– Simone Davis, Secaucus, New Jersey, USA
Congratulations on the new business! While social media marketing is a great way to generate leads and provide customer service, it shouldn’t be used as a replacement for a business website. Social media is especially great for small businesses just getting off the ground, by selling new people onto your services and products. However, this largely depends on how dedicated you are to using these platforms effectively. It would also depend on what social media tools you use. In your case, using a visually based platform like Instagram and Pinterest to showcase your dresses can work to your advantage.
Here are our reasons to get a website:
- Credibility: Anybody can start a Facebook page or Twitter account, including scammers. Taking the extra steps to build a website that has its own domain name and unique, quality content makes your business more credible and trustworthy to potential customers.
- Control the appearance: Everybody’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube page looks the same as far as colors and format are concerned. A website allows you to control the look and feel you want your users to experience. Digital spaces work the same way as physical real estate. Websites are houses you buy and social media tools are apartments you rent. When you get a website, you can use whatever colors or install or take out any features because you own the website. Whereas, with social media, you can only “move in” your content, and if you are lucky, you might get small permissions to make some changes, but that’s it.
- Control your content and brand: As with having a house, you can control how and who sees your content on your website. Many social media tools use algorithms to determine who sees your content. For example, in Facebook there is no guarantee your followers will see all of your posts, unless you pay for Facebook advertising. Sometimes there are so many ads for other stuff in social feeds that your content gets lost in the shuffle, and your followers miss out.
- Home-base: Websites are the center of your online marketing efforts. When people want to learn more about a business, they tend to go to a website before going to social media to find out about its services and products. Websites also allow you to collect analytics information about users like what pages they view while visiting, as well as get contact information from them. Social media is good for driving traffic to your website, but social analytics can be more limited.
- Social media is fickle: Just because Twitter and Facebook are hot right now, doesn’t mean they will remain so a year from now. Social media tools are always coming and going in popularity and use and these trends can be hard to keep up with, especially if you are a small business owner who already has limited time to do marketing. While the way a website looks and is used by visitors may evolve over time, websites are not going away anytime in the near future, and will continue to be a central part of your marketing plan.
Having a solid marketing plan is vital to the growth of your business, which includes having a business website. A website is a long-term investment in your business. There are many ways to get a professional looking website that still works for your budget and marketing plan, either by building one yourself or hiring a professional web designer.
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