"Do I really need a website?" is one of the most frequent questions I see from women who are in the start up phase of their business.
It's probably something you've been wondering too.
The thought of getting a website all set up can be overwhelming, so I bet you've been trying to avoid making the decision.
I know that's how you're feeling because that's exactly how I felt a few years ago.
When I finally bit the bullet and launched my own e-commerce site in January 2017, selling handmade small business stationery, I took 31 sales and over £800 in the first 7 days alone (and the sales didn’t stop coming!).
It was the first time I’d made anywhere near that amount of sales so quickly.
Every other sale had been gained through Facebook messages (usually for just a few pounds, after many back and forth messages, and PayPal invoices that didn’t work properly!). I think I took more that week than I had for the entire previous 6 months.
So, why did it work? Here are 6 reasons that I think that my website launch was so successful, and why I think that you really do need a website too:
The website made me look more professional
When you first start your business, you might just be selling from your Facebook page, or even from word of mouth alone. It's likely that the first of your sales will come from friends and family; people who already know, like and trust you.
But if you want to grow, you'll need new customers from further afield. The problem is, these new customers don't know you personally. Before they'll hand over their hard earned cash, you'll need to show that you're trustworthy.
It is possible to run a really professional online business without a website. But when you're selling products and services, potential clients need to know that you're a serious operation, and that you're going to deliver on what you promise.
A website will help them to see that. Visible terms and conditions, a clear payment system and the knowledge that you've invested your time and effort into your business will all help potential customers decide to invest in your business too.
There was a clear and easy path for my customers to follow (so no back and forth questions through FB!)
The main problem with selling on Facebook (or any other social media platform) is that it takes so. much. time.
Answering the same questions, taking information from the customer and then setting up some way to take payment; all things that can be done with great ease through your website!
Not only that, but your processes and call to actions just can't be made clear enough on social media. No amount of graphics, notes or photo albums can set out a clear and easy path for your customers like a website can.
And the worst thing about relying on social selling is that if you're not around to answer questions, you're not making sales.
Your website makes it possible to put down your phone, enjoy your day and still make sales.
Having to list products on the website forced me to become clear about what I was selling
Before I set up my website, I didn't really have a specific range of goods.
I'd try to stick to certain products, but if someone asked me if I could make a variation of something for them, I'd usually do it.
This meant that ordering supplies, planning my diary and even pricing were chaotic at best. I lost SO much profit margin and was permanently stressed out.
When I was forced to decide on which products I would stock on the website, I had to refine my collections and decide on set pricing.
This made it easier for my customers to see exactly what was available and for how much (including postage costs!), making the decision to purchase much easier.
It also meant I could plan my diary and the supplies I needed to buy, increasing my profit margin and decreasing my stress levels.
I had a discount code, which I had total control over
Discount codes are just so difficult to manage if you're sending out invoices or using payment links. You have to remember to apply them when you're adding everything up. And who wants to do the extra maths?!
Using discount codes is such a major part of online selling and so to be able to easily issue and track them is incredibly valuable.
Not only can it prompt people to spend more (with minimum spend codes), but it can also make the purchasing decision easier (with free postage codes for example).
Being able to easily control and track my discount code made me shout it from the rooftops, which increased my orders.
I finally felt like I was a ‘real’ business, and this gave me confidence to shout about my work
The feeling of finally seeing your logo at the top of your website and being proud to give out your domain is really something.
There's no denying that a business is a reality when they have a website.
Knowing that you have something to show for all your hard work is such a confidence booster, and something which I didn't expect to get when I launched my site.
I finally had a place to send people to show them all my work and that was just the most amazing feeling.
I was so proud of what I'd achieved, and so were my friends and family, now they finally understood.
I was forever giving out my business card too, and telling all and sundry about my business.
No more 'search for me on Facebook' required!
Taking payment was easy (no more PayPal invoices!).
Oh the joy of seeing payments automatically arrive in my account!
No more send out invoices that never arrive, or setting up payment links that are confusing and look dodgy.
The best part? No more chasing - if they didn't pay, I didn't make.
Setting up your eCommerce website means that you have an automatic system for your customer to make payments. Everything is calculated for you and for the customers it's as simple as 'add to cart'.
Sales while you sleep? Yes please!
I clearly remember lying in bed the night I launched and watching the orders come in, thinking ‘why didn’t I do this sooner?!
So if you’re putting off getting your website sorted, because you don’t have time, MAKE THE TIME.
If it feels too scary, FACE YOUR FEAR (if I can do it, you can too!).
And if you feel like you don’t really need a website, THINK OF THE SALES YOU COULD BE MAKING!