1. It is all about the brand
Sure you have a great logo, a beautiful cover photo, and maybe you got professional product photos done. Unfortunately, on third-party sites not only is your logo and photos etc. masked by an ocean of other stunning logos, stores, products and photos, but most of what you see is the site’s own branding.
Think “Facebook” and you instantly see blue in your mind. “Etsy” and you see orange! Your brand will never be more important than their own brand.
On your own site your brand gets to play front and centre and you decide how you are going to be presented.
Do you want your customer to remember to shop at your store – or on (where you are fiercely competing with hundreds of others similar businesses)?
2. Who can find you – and for what?
Good luck trying to manage or master the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) on a Facebook or Your store.
If you are active enough your Facebook page can rank well in a Google search, but for what terms? Often it will be only your business name or your most popular post, which may not be relevant to what you do or sell.
With your own website you have control over your SEO, over how the search engines will see you and the target keywords that will get people finding your business.
If you have a strong presence on the various social network sites with links back to your website, Google will see those links and will improve your rankings.
3. Playing by other people’s rules.
Social media sites and other online stores or directories are always changing their rules, often making it tough for the little guys who don’t have the time to be researching the Terms and Conditions on a regular basis. This leaves many businesses facing a situation where their accounts can be instantly closed or cut-off due to breach of site usage, often never to be re-opened.
Recently Facebook bought in a rule that limits the amount of text used in a cover photo or a sponsored photo to 20% of the total image size. If you don’t comply with this new rule, which you might not even know about, your page could be shut down without any warning.
4. What happens when things go wrong?
Any social media site, e-newsletter platform, or other online business directory/ storefront that you are using could go belly up or shutdown tomorrow. Suddenly you have lost contact with all of your customers, sales records, contacts and followers. Or, perhaps you broke a rule (knowingly or not) and you get permanently locked out of your account or your page gets shut down.
Your followers don’t receive a notification to say you are no longer there or where they can find you to buy your products. Their life goes on blissfully unaware of the occurrence. Meanwhile, you might have just lost access to your biggest customer base with no way of contacting them to explain or informing them how to contact or buy from you.
When you have your own website you have much more control over the data you collect and keep. Sure your site can crash or be hacked, but the information people provide on your site is yours to keep, and can be restored or recovered.
5. It looks more professional!
It is important to give your customers, potential customers and media, the opportunity to take you seriously. When you have dedicated time and effort to creating your own website as the core online home for you and your business – even just something small like your own domain name – your business comes across far more professional and customers get the impression that you are a business and you take that seriously.
When magazine editors, bloggers etc. are sourcing content they may find you somewhere on social media, but chances are they will pass you by if you don’t have a beautiful online home they can send their readers too.
Starting your own website can be a daunting task, but it isn’t as hard or as expensive as you think. You can start simple and build on it as you learn more.
Creating an online home to showcase your talents and products can often be done for very little money and with limited technical knowledge required.
With content management systems like WordPress, Joomla and others, this too is becoming easier than ever before.
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