As an individual artist or maker selling your work you are probably in the category of ‘micro-business’, meaning that your organisation employs between one and nine people. If you were in in business in 2020 you probably needed a website then, but there’s no time like the present, and worth a bit of time contemplating as we each do our bit of navel-gazing and reflect on all the past year showed us. As of October 2020, almost 4.66 billion people were using the internet. That’s 59% of the global population. Rather dry facts but possibly persuasive if you are a business owner who thinks that you don’t need a website. I’ll include some other points at the bottom of the post, but if you are still on the fence about getting online, here are my top ten reasons for having a well designed website for your micro-business in 2021:
- Having a well designed, up-to-date website instantly validates your business. Without a website, potential customers may see your offering as a hobby as opposed to a legitimate business. 84% of people surveyed thought that a website makes a business more credible than social media presence alone.
- You have complete control of your brand. Think you don’t have one? Your brand is more than your logo and colour palette. It’s everything you and your product and service stand for. Your website can deliver this clearly to your community and potential customers. If there are other people offering similar products, a website gives you the opportunity to showcase everything that sets your work apart.
- Save your precious time. As a micro business you probably wear a lot of different hats and time management will be crucial to success. You can describe your products perfectly. You can clearly state your own terms and conditions and detail your ordering and delivery process. All those little telephone conversations about standard details that can be better described, just the once, on your website. At every hour of every day of the year.
- You are in control. Do you rely on social media for your business platform? Social media can be great for driving traffic to your own site, however, you have no control over the future of the platform, the amount of organic exposure you will receive or even if it will continue to be free to use. Speaking of social media, do you ever get stuck for content? By writing a monthly blog you can repurpose your content, easily giving yourself 12 pieces of content for sharing through your channels and driving traffic back to your website. More on this at a later date, but don’t worry that your community will get fed up with you posting variations on a theme. We can only dream of our audience seeing all our posts!
- Google can work with your website to attract new customers. Even if you feel you have enough customers at the moment, it’s likely that you will need more in the future. It sounds terribly clinical but paying clients are the lifeblood of your business and you need to attract new people as others come to the end of their journey with you. There are free tools that can help you optimize your site so that Google can find your business and then begin to list higher in the rankings for your search terms.
- You can share your best reviews and testimonials. Enthusiastic testimonials from happy customers are a great source of social proof. This can be placed on your website at the most advantageous or relevant points and helps potential new clients get to know, like and trust you.
- A website is an ideal way to get in touch with you. You can choose to have your contact details displayed in the header and footer of your site so that it is visible on each page, or go one step further and have a contact form set up so that you can dodge the spam that may come your way otherwise. Another website related bonus is the ability to use your domain email address. For example, I was able to change from email@example.com to firstname.lastname@example.org when I set up my site. Quite a leap in professionalism! Stop using the email address you’ve had since you were fifteen / at art school / insert your reason here, and separate your business and personal emails. It isn’t extra work, it’s clarity and efficiency which will save you time in distraction alone.
- Your own website should be clear about your ‘what, where, how’. What service or product you are offering. Where you are making that offer. How you can be contacted. What your site won’t do is show your competition, suggest other products that are similar, or advertise related and reviewed products and services underneath yours! Keep your potential customers’ focus where you want it, on your offering and stop suggesting they go and visit a space on a vast marketplace where your competition is also present.
- You can make your website so individual that it can become a virtual visit to your studio or workshop. You can show your inspiration, celebrate your achievements and set the context for your work. You can have a gallery linked to a shop, you can advertise and deliver courses and workshops, you can show work in progress and curate your archive. No more endless scrolling back or trawling through albums. Descriptions of your work will even help your SEO and help Google to send traffic to your site.
- My tenth and final reason for having a website in 2021 is… Because it’s so easy to do! It doesn’t need to cost a fortune to set up, and your website should be built so that you can update it yourself, as and when you wish. If you’d rather someone else updated content for you, it won’t take them long if you are prepared with the content that you want changed. A website gives you an infinitely updatable, persistent, shareable resource that allows over 4.5 billion people to discover you and your brand, every hour of every day of the year!
Still think that your microbusiness doesn’t need a website in 2021? I’ve tried to keep this point of view positive, but do take a moment to consider the risk to your business if there were to be (more) significant changes to social media platforms, especially now that Instagram is owned by Facebook. During the last quarter of 2020 I’ve seen artists and models affected by increased restrictions on nudity. The impact has been enough to make a significant impact to their income. But how can we complain when we are getting something for ‘free’? The average website is likely to cost somewhere between twenty and thirty British pounds / US Dollars / Euros each month for decent hosting. As a general rule,, the more you pay the better you get, and this can include ‘managed hosting’ meaning that your site is backed-up and maintained for you.
This is coming from someone who builds websites right? So of course the above is my own point of view but I hope you’ll take some of it on board. I started my business during the global Covid-19 outbreak because I can’t think of a better time to connect artists and craftspeople with their potential audience or community.
During these times of disconnection we need art and creativity in our lives more than ever and your work deserves more exposure than the equivalent of a line in the Yellow Pages.
My next post will be coming fairly hot on the heels of this one and I’ll be giving some suggestions for what to do if you planned to start the New Year with a brand new website or web presence of any kind that you didn’t quite get a grip on for whatever reason. You can get started, don’t worry. It doesn’t need to be a WIX site and it doesn’t need to cost the earth 😉
I wish you every success in 2021 and beyond.