If you’re an author, speaker, business or blogger you’re website is your homebase. The reality, most websites sink without a ripple. Maybe you feel your website has run aground, and you ask, what can I do?
When I began blogging on WordPress.com in 2009, I had no idea what I was doing. Over the years, I’ve learned, gotten better and have dramatically changed my direction of blogging in the last 12 months. I knew I needed a shift in focus and needed a website that would win.
Yet, when it comes to websites, we don’t usually put a whole lot of thought or care into them. We’ve been told, “You must have a website.” But when it comes time to designing one, we don’t want to spend the time or money to create one. So, if you’re like me, you tackle it yourself.
I’ve seen my fair share of really bad to horrible websites. But what does it take to make a great looking and functioning website? I’ll share my story in this post. I want to give you 5 reasons your website is failing and how you can change that.
1. You don’t own your domain name.
Most new websites begin in the “free” world. In 2009, I wanted a website to write devotionals for my Young Adult Bible Study at Life Church. I went to WordPress.com and set up a free domain name, jbsisam.wordpress.com.
To most people, like myself–who setup their own sites–think that kind of domain name is okay. Yet, when someone tells you, my website is yourdomain.wordpress.com, it’s a mouthful to say and even harder to remember. I knew I needed something that would be easy to remember, so I purchased jbsisam.com.
You ask, why should I purchase a domain name? 4 reasons:
- It’s easy to remember.
- It’s cheap. I pay $24 per year for jbsisam.com and jasonsisam.com.
- Google will drive traffic to your domain simply by owning it.
- If you don’t purchase one, your free domain can be taken away from you.
2. Your website is built on a rented lot.
My wife and I rented an apartment after we got married. She already was there, and because of my foreclosure, it was a natural move for me. The problem, we didn’t own the property we were living on.
The same goes for websites. If you don’t own the site, you run the risk of losing it and all your data if the company folds. You don’t get to decide what you can or cannot do with your website.
Take WordPress.com for example. While blogging there for nearly 6 years, I could not sell any product or service on my website, unless I paid nearly $300 per year to them. Only then could I run ads or sell product. I was also limited to the number of themes I could use, unless I paid for the privilege. But, again, if I left WordPress, all that money was for naught.
Why should you not rent your website? 4 reasons:
- You don’t own your website and you can’t take it when you leave. Eg. WordPress.com, Wix.com, Squarespace.com, weebly.com, or blogger.com.
- You can’t sell ads.
- You can’t add your own features and plug-ins.
- You can’t control the coding. (a big deal if you were to hire someone to design for you.)
3. You’ve not updated your website in 10 years.
Ideally, it’s worth noting that a website should be at least updated and refreshed every 2-3 years. Now, this is my rule of thumb. I have found that simply changing one or two things can dramatically help. However, there comes a time when you must start from scratch and have a new website created.
What will an updated website allow you to do? 4 things:
- It gives you a fresh edge in the marketplace.
- It tells your audience that you care about their experience.
- Your allowing yourself to stay ahead of the curve.
- It positions you for success, because your audience sees change happening.
4. You don’t hire a designer.
One of the most frustrating aspects of getting a new website is hiring the right team. When I needed a new site for our church, I contacted several companies. After finding one I liked, they designed a beautiful site. The only problem, we didn’t own the website, and were stuck with their proprietary system.
When thinking about hiring out your website design, consider asking them, “Will I own the site, and can I take it with me when I leave?” That one question will give you the power to decide what course of action you should take.
Personally, I use WordPress.ORG. Now, this is not the same WordPress I was talking about earlier. This WordPress is the self-hosted version. So, I can use a company like bluehost.com, buy my domain name, attach it for free and install WordPress.ORG onto my domain. Now I have full control to have someone design any site I need.
Why should you hire someone to design a site? 4 reasons:
- They know HTML, PHP, HTML5 and more in coding language.
- They can listen to your needs, help make your vision a reality.
- They will give you full control of your site when they’re done.
- Your site will stand above the noise and get you noticed.
If you want to take your website to the next level and you really want to stand out from the crowd, don’t use anything free. It will hurt you and you will lose in the end. I know I did. When I moved from a proprietary system, before moving to WordPress.COM, I had to start from scratch and rebuild my website.
If you have a free WordPress.COM website and you want to own and go self-hosted, it will be easier than if you’re already on Wix or Squarespace. If you’re on those platforms and want to go self-hosted, using the WordPress.ORG install, feel free to contact me and I’d love to help you. My consulting fee is $100/hour.
You can win, and your site doesn’t have to sink without a ripple like the Nave Costa Concordia. It will take dedication, a little bit of money, but with the right tools and the right message, you’ll be put in a position–with the right tools–to win and succeed in your family, business and life.
Question: What advantages have you experienced with owning your website as compared to the free WordPress.com? Leave a comment by clicking here!