One of the biggest questions small business owners face is what should they have first – a website or a social media account?
Katie said she started with a website but later on found her social media accounts can also serve as her mini websites. According to her, Facebook is one of the most indexed sites by Google. This means that if you have optimized your profile to include the best keywords to describe you, then you will still show up on Google. However, Kendra said she believes otherwise. She started with her website and gained clients from there. Her photography business grew as her website ranks on Google.
Learn more about this and get the strategy that might also work for you by tuning in to this week’s episode of the Business Besties.
Visit Kendra’s website: https://girlmeansbusiness.com/
Learn more about Katie and Next Step Social Communications:
Katie Brinkley 0:02
Hi friends. I’m Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs, realtors and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode.
Kendra Swalls 0:21
Hey there and welcome to another business besties episode. I am Kendra swas, your business coach for mompreneurs and podcast host and I am here with my business bestie
Katie Brinkley 0:33
Katie Brinkley, your resident social media strategist of 18 years excited to be here with another episode with my business bestie met right online. And here we are another podcast in another month down and I’m excited for today’s conversation.
Kendra Swalls 0:50
I am too. So today we’re gonna kind of battle it out between websites and social media. I know this is when you’re starting a business, one of the things you kind of think about is, what do I really need for my business? You know, what are the things that are going to help me get off the ground quickly and efficiently without having to invest a lot of time or money into different programs and platforms? And there’s so many options out there. So today, we’re gonna kind of look at what comes first, as I was saying, it’s not the chicken or the egg. You’re in my head, get out of my head. It is social media, or is it a website? So let’s just dive right in. I know, Katie, you have some pretty strong thoughts on this. So I’ll let you go first. And then I’ll come in and give you my thoughts.
Katie Brinkley 1:39
Well, I’m going to give you guys a quick story. When I first started my business, it was because I was laid off from my job. And I did not know what the next step would be. I had no idea I thought I was going to get another corporate job doing marketing, social media would be one of the side jobs that was going to be part of my tasks. But until I found that next job, I was just going to see what would happen with my passion for social media, could I actually make a business doing just social media. And so the very first thing I did, I had a three year old Walsh, I guess two and a half year old at the time, I was pregnant with my second daughter. And it was 930 at night and I said okay, the very first thing I need to do is make a website. And this is the reason why I’m going to tell you guys, I made a mistake, I should have sat down and claimed my domain. Sure. But I should have claimed all of my social media handles, and found my spot on social media. Because social media when used the right way, when you grab your handles, when you optimize your bio, it can really be that many website. And and Facebook is one of the most indexed websites from Google. So if I had started with my social media accounts, writing the right type of captions, posting the right type of content that my ideal client customer was searching, I probably would have gotten more clients than by spending all those nights after my two year old, went to bed, creating and drafting and writing my own website. So I am team social media. Kendra, what say you?
Kendra Swalls 3:32
So I think all the things you just said are very important and valid. And I hear you and I see you and do my therapy, please. No, I think social media is definitely important. And I I know for me personally, I did the exact opposite. Well, I mean, I did what you did, too, but it worked well for me as I jumped right into a website. First I grabbed my domain, I actually had a couple of domains that were like variations of my business name, they all pointed back to my website. So I grabbed those first, I was fortunate that like I didn’t have to worry about like social media handles because my business name was kind of unique enough. But for me, that I’m kind of team website because the website I mean, for my photography business, that is how 80% 75% of my people find me is through my website is through a Google search through SEO. You know, there’s a lot of factors that go into you know, being discovered online and through, you know, searching and things like that, but I also will put like a little asterix there and say, I think a lot of it depends on the type of business you have. It’s very different between and I kind of get to see both worlds is it’s very different between my locally based photography business that relies a lot on moms going onto Google and searching for a high school senior photographer for their daughter or when I was doing weddings a bride searching for wedding photographer versus like this more global Double brand with my coaching business and the girl means business brand where people aren’t just necessarily going in and searching for business coach. And if they are, it’s a much larger pool that I’m trying to compete with. So having the SEO and the website and things like that it’s very different based on the type of business that you have. But I found that for me having a website as a home base, where I could house all the content information and create, like blog posts that was huge for me was having blog content that was a little bit longer format, whereas the social media, you have either limits on your text accounts, character counts, you know, you’re not going to write out a whole blog post an Instagram feed, or post and have somebody actually read it. So there’s a lot of variations. And I think there’s definitely pros and cons to both that we’ll dive into. But I’m going to kind of go, I’m going to go to website for this one. So well, a team divided here, but that’s okay, we need I think having both perspectives is going to be really beneficial. Well, in
Katie Brinkley 6:03
this is the thing, I know that there’s so many entrepreneurs who are just getting started, and or they’re thinking, Okay, how do I how do I get started? What is the very first thing that I should do. And if someone had said this to me, if I had a mentor that said, hey, Kati, I think that you should do this first, I would have done things differently. I’m not shy to say that I made some big mistakes. And I don’t think that doing the website first is a major mistake. But tied along with only doing the website, I didn’t even grab my social media handles, I didn’t even start posting on social media until basically 2019, that the end of 2019. And after being in business for two full years, so that’s time that I lost on building my community around my business in my brand, because I made the mistake that so many small business owners make, I didn’t have time, for my own my own business, I didn’t have time for it, I was so focused on helping my clients and my customers, grow their businesses and brands, I put myself on the back burner, I’ll get to it someday. And two years went by where I missed out on that opportunity to really dive in and focus on growing my business and my brand on social media. Well, I did things changed.
Kendra Swalls 7:27
Yeah. And I think one thing I want to add to that, too, is on the flip side of that I see this happen a lot is I will have people who I see on posting in social media groups or clients that I’ve worked with, and I’ll say, Okay, what have you been doing this week to work on your business? And they’ll be like, Oh, well, I went and I updated the photos on my website. And I’ve been working on a couple blog posts and, and or, you know, I’ve been creating one or two posts on Instagram a week, I think that it’s easy to for us to say, I’m going to do things like build a website. Is that really the best use of your time though, but it’s I guess, is arguing it’s okay, I guess my point, but I’m gonna get back to my point in a minute, a big website being good, too. But I think that you need to also say, okay, am I putting energy and effort into something in my business? That’s not really helping me grow helping me get out there and find clients and reach clients? Because I’m scared to do other things? Or is it? Because like, because that’s how it was for me. I was like, Oh, well, I’m quote, unquote, working on my business by going in and updating my website. But that’s not really, it wasn’t really moving my business forward, like those updates moving the needle. Yeah, those updates, were gonna make a difference between whether the client a booked me or not, but it was just my way of kind of feeling like I was doing something when I wasn’t really doing something, if that makes sense.
Katie Brinkley 8:48
Yeah. No, it really does it because you don’t realize how much time you end up spending on these tasks that are just simple updates. But really, it ends up being half an hour. And what could you have done productively in that half an hour? Yeah, no, it makes perfect sense. I think that it’s a wormhole or rabbit hole that we can end up falling into very easily where you think that you’re working on your businesses, not to say, don’t pay attention to your website and making updates to it, especially if it’s you haven’t updated your website since 1994. But I mean, you there are certain things that are going to move the needle and do need to happen, whereas maybe updating the pictures can be put to the backburner. Now, as I said, at the beginning, I am team social media. And it’s not just because I am a social media strategist. But hear me out. We’re just gonna stick with Instagram because if I go down the rabbit hole of all the different social media platforms, we don’t have all day. I know we don’t have all day but this is just a 30 minute podcast. So I think that if you decided to start Hey, I’m going to start next step social or I’m going to start my crocheted quilt for baby dolls company and it’s going to be my my main business. I don’t know why I chose that. But that is I don’t even know how to crochet. But anyways, okay, call
Kendra Swalls 10:06
it crochet me baby, they already have a business name ready to go for you. This is what I bring to the table.
Katie Brinkley 10:12
Okay, so I decided to launch the Instagram page crochet me baby. And I can use Instagram, as that mini website, there’s so many different ways that you can show up for and build a community and build an audience on Instagram, that I think that it can act as your website until you get your full blown website launched because there’s a lot of different website providers out there that you can use, which one’s the right one that there’s a lot of research that goes into it. So if you decide to just start with Instagram, you can show up in the feed, posting pictures of your crocheted like gifts for baby dolls, you can show up in reels, showcasing you crocheting the blankets for baby dolls, you can show up in IG lives, talking about some of the different craft shows that you are going to be going to or some of the different orders that you’re working on. All of these different ways to show up in front of your audience is go even if you haven’t even opened your doors yet. It’s going to build people that want to see what’s coming next. And it acts as your sales page. You can even set up a shop through Instagram now can act as your sales page, it can act as your behind the scenes getting to know you. I think that if you decide to go all in on social media, when you’re first getting started, and you do it the right way, when you have your website done, you’re going to have people ready to buy from you. Okay, so
Kendra Swalls 11:40
say on this topic of social media, I do want to like throw out a few questions for you here. Because if I’m somebody who is brand new, starting a business, Instagram can feel very overwhelming. There’s so much to it, I feel like there’s a lot you have to learn. And not to say that like, you know, everybody starts from ground zero and builds up. But I think that it can be you have to have some skill and knowledge when it comes to how to to effectively create a social media following an account that is productive and gets you sales and gets you followers and clients and builds connections. So like what are the like knowledge skills? Like what’s the prerequisite someone needs to go into Instagram, knowing how to do in order to be effective on on social media, if that’s where they decide to kind of build their business.
Katie Brinkley 12:29
So if they’ve decided to build their business on just Instagram, I think that you need to have some understanding and a strategy going into it. Because one of the things that we talked about a lot, Kendra offline and in our Instagram posts are the different content pillars, how are you going to showcase what it is that you offer, and not everyone really has that understanding when they get started. So I mean, obviously signing up to work with a coach or a strategist will definitely intent intent help you with that decision and with figuring out what you should be posting and how to build that audience. But I think that when you’re first getting started, it’s realizing that you are the brand, and nobody knows your logo, yet, Nike didn’t become Nike overnight, it took them a while to get there. We all know the swoosh now. So if you are not Nike, and you don’t have that brand and your match, I already forgot the name of our business for that crochet baby. There you go. Nobody knows that logo yet. You have to be willing to show up as your face with your face as your brand on these different platforms to give people that know like and trust factor, they’re going to want to support you, because they feel like they know you I come back to this my daughter, she is a girl scout. And I had her make a little video for it was going to just go to my mom and my dad and I was gonna have them share the video with their friends. She didn’t really good at it. And so I posted it on my Facebook timeline. And it’s just a 92nd video of her talking about the Girl Scout cookies. I had people that I haven’t talked to in years, reach out to me and say, I will buy cookies from her. And it’s because she showed up and she looked cute and she was going through all the cookies and they had somebody to support now I just would have written Hey, my daughter selling my daughter selling girl scout cookies. Come buy them from her, let me know if you want any. I might have gotten half, maybe even a third of the people responding because they didn’t see her love of being a girl scout. They didn’t see how she was excited to be a part of this new community and to sell cookies for the first time. So when people can see that they’re going to want to support you and I think that it’s the same with a business owner. I’m not saying to show up and be like Hey everybody, I’m selling crocheted baby blankets now Hurray and have the money start flowing in. But people will start seeing more and more and more of you on there like they’re done. Oh, I love that blanket. Oh, look at this one that she did. Oh my nephew’s going to be having a baby soon. I want to get one of your blankets for him and I can tell them On Instagram, I mean, like, that’s what I’m talking about.
Kendra Swalls 15:02
Yeah, it’s hard for me to not like jump in to be like, Yeah, and this and this and this. Because I mean, I agree with everything you’re saying. However, I also think that for some people, social media can be a barrier like that they have you know that there’s a huge barrier to entry. Obviously, it’s free, you don’t have to pay for it. Whereas with websites usually are having a cost that comes with it. But it is very intimidating. And if it’s not done, well, or not done, only you say correctly, but if it’s not done in a way that, like you said, connects you to the people, then you could be spending a lot of time and energy on something that’s not going to move the needle very quickly. There’s definitely a flip side to every coin there is.
Katie Brinkley 15:45
So tell me, your flip side to why I should not focus on social media, which can is still getting indexed by Google, it’s still searchable, it still gives you that social proof, it still can help you build your community of people who are ready to buy from you when that website is done. Tell me why I should do my website first?
Kendra Swalls 16:06
Well, I think a lot of it for me was about having something that felt like a home base for all of my information. Because if you go on to social media, you’re kind of seeing little bits and pieces of somebody’s business. I mean, yes, they can go to your feed, they can scroll through. Again, you have one link in your Instagram bio, where does that link go? Where are you sending people to? Because if you have an email list, well, okay, an email list, I’ll give you that. I am an advocate for that. But I just find it like that. So well, you know how to get to me. But I think that you they have that link there. And if I’m going to, let’s say crochet me, baby, if I find you on Instagram, and I’m like, Oh, my girls, baby dolls, the crocheted blankets for their birthdays, like, let me see what you have. And I go to the link in your bio, because I like your content is fine. I see the blankets, but it’s harder for me to figure out how to buy one do I have to message you directly? What do I like? I just feel like it’s a little more cumbersome. There’s a lot more steps. And we know that that idea of a confused mind doesn’t buy. And so the less difficult you can make it for your clients, the better. So if you have a website, because websites were way around longer way longer than social media, it’s kind of like just something that everyone is asked like, well, what’s your website? Where do I go? And I guess a lot of it also depends on your demographics of who you’re targeting. But I think a lot of people are going to be looking for a website, they’re going to be asking like, Okay, where do you live on the internet, like social media is great. But again, like we don’t own those platforms. What happens if Instagram goes down again? What happens if social media? What if your account gets shut down? Okay, just like I talked about with an email list, having a website that you can direct people to, they can they can then go find you. If they’re like, Oh, her Instagrams gone, but I really wanted to buy this baby blanket. They still know where to go to find that baby blanket, or you know, whatever you’re offering. So, yeah,
Katie Brinkley 18:12
I heard it here. First, folks crushing the baby happens on the business bestie when you can
Kendra Swalls 18:17
grab that handle like I don’t know how to crochet.
Katie Brinkley 18:23
I agree. Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, man, you own my followers on Instagram and Facebook, Bill Gates knew on my LinkedIn and you know, Rohana and Paul, you own all my people on clubhouse. So that is true. It’s true. They we don’t own that community.
Kendra Swalls 18:40
Yeah, and I think it’s I mean, I’m not saying like I’m this is not a I know, we sit like versus but it all has to work together. And I think that having a website is just this foundational piece. It gives you a little bit of validity. So people are like, Oh, okay, she’s not just someone who popped up on Instagram. And is it legit like if I’m going to send you money to buy this baby blanket that costs $150? Because
Katie Brinkley 19:05
you know, I got into something expensive.
Kendra Swalls 19:07
Hey, it’s handmade with lots of love, Katie
Katie Brinkley 19:12
but I agree. I don’t know. 100% agree. I have been I can’t think of a good word snake. I don’t know a good do. Yeah, I’ve been duped on Facebook. There’s been plenty of things around like perfect example. We were going to get some as we have two little girls, and they love kicking the back of the cars of the seats in the hall. Yes. I wanted to get some nice seat covers for my husband’s car whenever we were going up to the mountains because there was snow and mud. And it was a mess. And so I wanted to get them some nice seat covers but they’re expensive. And Facebook. They knew I was searching for some seat covers so what pops up in my feed, but some car seat back covers. I’ve saw them I was like these look legit. They’re leather look Get all the spots that they can put their books in their water bottles. They’re leather $35 For one, or if you order two, it’s for a penny. So I was like, Okay, well, 3501 I’ll get two of them. That’s a steal. What shows up four months later, Josh was felt the felt seatback covers that literally, I could rip with my hands. This was not what I ordered. And who did I have to deal with? I had to deal with somebody that didn’t speak any English. That was a factory out of China. And I got duped. Yeah, I didn’t do my research. I trusted their Facebook page, which by the way, had zero posts, but they did have reviews. So I went to are probably all fake. Exactly. I mean, like, this is one of the things like you can do that. You can fake your pages. You can fake your reviews, you can fake your followers, but I went to their page. I was like, Oh, they just haven’t posted, they probably just do ads. They look real. They have plenty of reviews. And I got duped. So I definitely feel like Yeah, you. You’re kind of right, Kendra. Yeah.
Kendra Swalls 21:03
Well, I mean, not to say that, like, you can’t have a fake website to like, because there are things I’ve come across that too, like, same exact thing almost as you’d like, Okay, I’m looking for this thing. You go on Facebook, you see the ad, you click on it, it takes you to a website somewhere. It all looks legit, that you know, I mean, this day and age. Unfortunately, that’s just the case. Like, you’re gonna have those people who are out there scamming you. But I do think that as a small business, one way that you can kind of say to your followers, like, Hey, I am legit, is that you don’t just have just an Instagram account, or just a Facebook page. Like you need to have more than that in order for people to say like, Okay, this is somebody who has put in the time and energy to create a business, you have a URL, you have a great looking website, you have, you know, social proof with social media, like all these things kind of go in together. But I do think when it comes to websites, too, like, it’s not as simple as just saying, Okay, I’m gonna go create a website, you know, like, and I’m curious, hey, when you’ve created your first website, do you remember what platform you used? It was Squarespace. Okay, and what was your experience with Squarespace?
Katie Brinkley 22:12
So I use Squarespace because I didn’t really have a ton of training on creating a website, it was very easy to drag and drop it. I could buy my URL directly through the Squarespace website. And it made things really, really easy to use templates. A year later, I went and got certified with WordPress cert creation. So I know how to build and maintain an entire WordPress site now. It’s great just to know how to do it. I don’t do any website building just for the record. But I wanted to know how to do it. Yeah, but I still have my next step. Social communications.com is still on Squarespace just because the idea of transferring everything over to WordPress is extremely daunting.
Kendra Swalls 22:53
Okay, so this is my, like, I will give you my kind of what you should do. If you’re thinking I maybe you already have your social setup, and now you’re ready for a website, or you’re like, Well, no, I really want to build that good, solid, like foundation of a website. Not all website platforms are created equal. It’s kind of like when I talk about email marketing platforms, you have like your MailChimp the world which are, they’re cheap, they’re easy, everybody knows to go to them. Like everybody thinks that’s where they should go first. But once you start getting into it, you realize pretty quickly, this is not the best fit for me long term. And then you have like your, you know, high end like Active Campaign Ontraport that are they cost more, but they have all the bells and whistles, they may not be for the start out, you know, starting up email marketing person, website to the same way, the one that I see a lot of people talking about is Wix, because it is I believe it’s free completely, I think or maybe there’s like a small fee, but it’s fairly cost effective. And it’s they tout themselves as being like, quick and easy. It’s, you know, easy for beginners. Here’s the problem that I have with Wix. Because I know a lot of especially I know a lot of photographers that have used Wix, one, you have very limited control over the design of your website. So if you’re someone who visually wants a really nice website, it’s not going to work for you. And two, you don’t have SEO control. So this is a big thing. And for anyone who’s not familiar, SEO is search engine optimization. So it is how easily Are you able to be discovered? If somebody goes into Google and searches for a keyword? You know, if someone says, I’m looking for a social media manager in Denver, Colorado, how easily will Katie’s company come up? And so that’s SEO. And if you don’t have control of your SEO settings and features, it’s going to be really hard for them to find you because you your website lives on their platform. So unless somebody is specifically searching for your website name, you’re probably not going to come up necessarily. So Squarespace is actually I don’t think it’s a terrible one is I mean you Do you have more control over your SEO features? It’s kind of like what I would say the next step up. You hear it talked a lot about like on a lot of podcasts, I listened to their, you know, they Squarespace or sponsors of their podcast that use them for their websites. It’s a good it is easy to use drag and drop. I have actually I’ve used WordPress and I love WordPress, it’s the most robust website platform it you have complete control of almost everything you do on there. However, it is not something that you can just like login and
Katie Brinkley 25:32
drive by yourself when your two and a half year old is gone to bed. And yes, no,
Kendra Swalls 25:38
it requires a lot more knowledge skill, you have to have, you know, a lot tangible, you pair it with like a pro photo, or I use show it which is one of the another platform that I really love. It gives you kind of it’s kind of one of those in between where it gives you the SEO functionality. But you also have a lot of like super easy drag and drop, I actually have helped a couple people design their show at sites. And it’s kind of fun for me on the creative end. But the big thing is, when you are starting out your website, if you know that you have a pretty big vision of what you want your site to be. And it’s not just a simple information based, you probably need to have somebody help you do it. Because this is one of those areas where you, if you really want it to be done well and you want it to look a certain way, you’re going to spend so much time and energy and frustration trying to get it done yourself, when you could hire somebody else to do it for you. And it’s done. Now I know that’s an investment. You know, you’re incurring a cost there. But it’s worth it. If that’s where you want to you feel like you’re going to get the best return on your investment there. I will say one more thing is, you know, domains, go get your domains. Like if you have a business name, like Katie and I had just discovered, you know, trying to to get a domain for our business besties brand that we’re building here, it’s not always going to be available the way you want it. So if you have a business company, just like Katie was saying, with grabbing those Instagram handles those social media handles, if you are like, Okay, I know, I’m gonna want to build this website, I want it to have this domain, go get it, you know, go buy it now because someone else is gonna snag it up and sit on it and try to charge you a ton of money in the future for it. So go grab those domains while you can.
Katie Brinkley 27:23
I agree with everything that you said Kendra. And I think that what it really comes down to is when you are ready to start your own business. There’s a lot of thought that needs to go into it other than what is it called, and where my logo is going to be. There’s a lot of different steps that you need to take. And all of them need to be done intentionally and with a strategy in mind. So grabbing those domains, figuring out do you have the budget to have a website design or build you a SEO strong website that people are going to be clicking on and buying from you from? Are you ready on social media? Are you promoting yourself out there? Are you showing up and building a community around your brand and your business? Are you ready to sell and have your Instagram act as that mini website so people can learn more about you and your product? All of these things are part of the bigger picture. And they all have to be done intentionally. So that way when you’re ready when you’re ready to open your doors and say Come buy from me. You have an audience that’s ready to buy from you both through search and organically. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com. Connect with me on LinkedIn or check me out on Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.