computer and mouseWritten by Becca Edwards

You’ve probably heard that you should create your own site to build your personal brand. But you’re busy, and it’s confusing. Is it really that important?

As complex as it is, having your own site is essential for your brand and online presence. You can easily find more than these five reasons, but these are the most important arguments for having your own site.

1) Online Hub for Your Brand

In the online marketing world, your website is the hub of your online presence and the focus of your business or brand. In this way, your website is your primary site, which allows you to control your brand image. Whatever new platforms the internet thinks up next, your website will stay secure and solid, keeping your brand secure as well.

2) Marketing

Secondary sites direct people to your primary site. They are social media presences, email lists, websites that you write for, marketplaces such as Etsy, and mobile apps. They can have a variety of purposes, such as selling tickets (Eventbrite) or sharing pictures (Instagram), but ultimately they point back to your site and encourage people to learn more about you.

If you use these two types of sites in this way–primary as the hub for online efforts and secondary to refer people back to your site – you’ll build up an audience who is familiar with your web presence and knows exactly where to find you. Using this strategy strengthens your online brand and gives your page more credibility in an increasingly competitive world.

3) Ownership

Ownership means security. Your content is not altered by Facebook updates because you control the posts and the display. This is the simplest reason, but also the most important. Basically, without your own site, you’re just renting, and your content is subject to the whims of the proprietor.

I’ve had a few people tell me horror stories about businesses that have an outside company create a new website for them, but be in complete possession of the domain and hosting. The business ends up paying hundreds of dollars each month to rent their website from the development company! They could shut down the site, and all the business’ traffic would land on a blank page. If you’re asking someone else to build your site, make sure you own the domain and all other web properties. If they’re a good company, they’ll ask for you to make web purchases, keeping the ownership in your name, while they access the FTP (how they connect to your site remotely) to work on the site.

4) Customization

Right now, having too many options can be confusing and overwhelming. But if you want to add a banner on every page leading to your newest book, you can. When you host your own content, you can move it, change the layout and theme, sell on it, etc. You can collect emails, create a members only area, embed a YouTube or Etsy page, advertise, and more. You have the flexibility to control your own site.

 5) Analytics

So here’s where I geek out a bit:

How many new visitors are coming to your site? How long do they stay? How many pages do they visit? Are they coming from mobile devices, on tablets, or on desktop computers? Do they come from search engines like Google and Bing, or are they referred to your site from Facebook or a local news site?

You don’t have to be a numbers person to enjoy analytics. Website analytics show how people are engaging with your content. Are they interested, or bored? Do they come from searching for you, or from friends sharing your work? The answers to these questions help you understand how people connect with you online, and you won’t be able to get this data easily without adding the code on your own site.

The idea of starting, building, and maintaining your own site can be overwhelming, but the results are incredibly worthwhile. Read on for tips on getting your site up and running: “Website Jargon” 

REMINDER: If you haven’t yet, GO BUY YOUR DOMAIN. I don’t think I expressed in my last post how valuable they are. Would you rather pay $10.99 for a year now, or buy it for thousands when someone else owns it and has raised the price? This actually happens–some people make a living of buying domain names and selling them back to people at a higher rate. Once they’re off the market, they are either very hard or expensive to claim. Just buy it. Now.