Do You Need a Website for Your Side Hustle?
Last week, I was invited to visit the Squarespace headquarters and discuss my user experience with the platform. It was so exciting to share my passion for FitNic with the team - why it started, how it has evolved, and how it bridges the gap between the online network we have and the in-person community we crave. If you’re a fellow side hustler in the earlier stages of your business, you may wonder, “Do I need a website for my side hustle?”
To find out, ask yourself the following questions:
What am I sharing?
Do I have a brand purpose?
Do I want to make the investment?
What do I need that social media does not offer?
To save you some time - If you are not sharing an experience or selling a product or service, the answer is probably no. Instagram business pages have a contact option so that brands or other collaborators can reach you via email or phone. Influencer marketing has become a massive industry and is completely changing the landscape of commerce as we know it. However, websites for non-entrepreneurial influencers are not necessarily well, necessary. A website offers additional information, insight, and features that allow your clients and community to further connect and engage with your brand beyond 160 characters or a grid of well-curated photos. I started the FitNic Instagram account about a year before my website launch, because the IG’s purpose was to share my dance videos and maintain connections with friends I’d met in fitness classes. I launched the site once I was hosting and organizing events as a brand.
That being said, a clear brand purpose must be present. Why do you want to have a website? To acquire more clients? To foster an online community? To integrate with other services (like LIKEtoKNOW.it or Eventbrite) and expand your digital cross-platform reach? I started the FitNic website as a hub of inspiration and innovation by and for the NYC fitness and wellness community. In 2016, Instagram event links were difficult to find and even harder to navigate. (Whose page was that event on again? How do I sign up? Did I just accidentally X out of the window? Why can’t I copy and paste a link?) I wanted all of my events, ticket sales, RSVPs, and blog posts to be in one place. If you have a specific reason why people should visit your site - clear information, easy RSVPs, convenient ticket sales, and a one-stop-shop for blog posts - then it’s a good time to start your site.
As exciting as having your own website may be, it requires an investment of time and money. The first step is finding a host (like Squarespace or Wordpress) then figuring out what level of their plan best applies, i.e. business or personal. Then you can register your domain (www.fitnicnyc.com - sometimes you can do this through your web host or through third parties like Google). Then comes the design, where the brand concept comes to life. Graphic and logo design, coding or webpage design, photography, and other branding aesthetics can make or break your site. I luckily can either do these things myself or have people in my network who can help me out. If you don’t necessarily have these resources, skip the headache and hire someone to do it. Use Fiverr or ask a friend from Instagram whose website you like for a recommendation. Once your site is set up, maintaining the content in a timely manner, whether it be blog posts, events, or product assortment, is critical. It helps your page stay relevant and reliable. Spend the time on it to reflect the message you want to send to your audience. Make your website somewhere you want to visit.
Creating a website is essential when you’re looking for features that Instagram or Facebook doesn’t offer. I love the fact that my website is specifically tailored to the FitNic brand. Websites may be customized in many ways to best suit the needs of your business. Host events? There’s a feature for that. Selling products? There’s a feature for that. Need to showcase your photography portfolio? Yup...there’s also a feature for that. What you providing to your audience, whether it’s pictures, videos, blog posts, etc., will help define the structure of your website. Add a contact form so that people can book services. Integrate with a scheduler to manage sessions. These features are not necessarily on social platforms, or at least they aren’t as a one-stop-shop. I like the ability to have an all-encompassing view of everything in one place. Now if you made it all the way to the end and haven’t been to www.fitnicnyc.com yet… What are you waiting for? Join the convo on my IG post and let me know what you think!