As their work gains notoriety, many indie creatives begin to wonder: should I get a website? Will it help me reach a broader audience? Is it even worth the hassle? These questions will irremediably litter your independent career.
Asking fellow creators for help often proves fruitless. There’s people who’d swear they never needed a website, while others confess they couldn’t survive without one. Marketing experts also seem to be uncertain, as their guides bounce all over the place.
With so many conflicting opinions, how do you understand what’s best for your future?
First of All: Consider Your Odds!
The truth is, you can’t! Opening a website is a gamble. Just like any other part of your project, you won’t be able to predict the outcome of this endeavor. The site might become extremely popular or barely see users at all. Before you even begin to ponder your options, consider your likelihood to succeed.
Above all else, a website feed on time. Ever since The Indie Toaster first came online, there hasn’t been a day where I didn’t have to look after it. Especially if you customize your space, things will break and bugs will show up. Of your average weekly schedule, this will swallow up to 30%.
Then comes the content. Regardless of what you do, the newborn website will need constant updates. Occasional visitors – like the press – want to learn all about you and your fans will look for the latest news. That often means hiring a copywriter or at least spending a few days with a notepad.
Finally, web space costs money. Even if you manage to do all by yourself, you still have to pay for hosting. A solid server will set you back by about 100 bucks per year. This might be nothing for larger project but still exceed some people’s budget. If you’re just starting up, make sure you’ll be able to afford the investment first!
No Magic Wand
Furthermore, the website alone won’t suddenly halt your race to the bottom. If your project’s already on the ropes, the additional weight might actually tip it over the edge. To make things clear: a flashy new homepage won’t magically fix a botched release. In that case, you’re better off starting anew.
Even past its birth, your website will need nurturing. People, for instance, have to learn of its existence before they visit. It’ll take Google at least a couple of months to notice you and a portion of your following might never catch on. That is, if you manage to get out there and tell them you’re running things from a new HQ now!
Those are all new entries in what’s likely an already-bloated PR checklist; new tasks you’ll need to add to your daily routines. Additionally, that workload has to be spread somewhere. As you wait for the site to bear its fruits, someone in your team will be working double shifts for what look like no tangible results.
The Benefits of Perseveration
Why haven’t websites gone extinct, then? Why would anyone invest in such a risky accessory? Easy: if you can make it past the stress and struggle, you’ll have a sharp edge on most competitors. You managed to colonize a tiny part of the internet. As long as you follow your host’s terms of service, you’re the boss!
Layouts, content, appearances, and structure are completely in your hands now. Although social media remains a vital part of your marketing strategy, you no longer have to deal with sudden changes in Facebook’s policies; no longer risk your posts are taken down because they offended someone.
You’ll also have solid foundations upon which to flesh out your project. If you ever plan to expand, your site can evolve to keep up. Most content management systems support online stores, as well as mailing lists and other advanced features!
For all intents and purposes, a good site is the face of your business. Your files are all in one place, just like all of your past work and portfolio. Whenever someone asks what you do, you can simply direct them to your company’s homepage.
Lastly, most hosting solutions come with a number of customizable mail-boxes. In layman’s terms, you’re able to create and use your very own e-mail address. Imagine how much more attention a message that doesn’t come from Gmail!
So.. Should YOU Get a Website?
All things considered, each case will slightly differ from the previous one.
Different businesses also have different needs to satisfy. A comics publisher or an indie game development team should prioritize getting a website. Solo artists or freelancers can use other services such as Tumblr or wordpress.com.
Although I can tell you what a company website will do for you, I can’t be sure of whether your project actually needs one. Consider what we discussed up until now and draw a picture of your situation. If you feel you can afford the time and money then, by all means, go ahead!
Bonus Tip: Pick The Right Hosting Company!
When The Indie Toaster was only an idea on a piece of paper, we decided to go with a cheap hosting package. We were on a budget, unsure of whether the portal would end up anywhere, and wanted to minimize the risks. At the time, the choice made perfect sense.
In hindsight, though, trying to save a few bucks was more of a curse than a blessing. For the next 10 or so months, we dealt with continuous issues and complains. Team members would report unresponsive pages; colleagues and close friends often messaged me to inform that the website was offline. No matter how hard we tried, our posts always ranked below average.
Eventually, we switched to SiteGround, with whom we soon partnered. Several months in, I’m yet to experience one second of downtime. Images load faster, our pages rank better, and visitors spend more time with us! I personally feel safer knowing there’s someone ready to help me at a moment’s notice!
Whether you’re starting your first site or want to grow your existing one, consider using our referral link! You’ll get top quality hosting, access to the lowest prices, and a chance to help us keep doing what we do best!