Can you build a business when you can’t afford a website?

One of the questions I get most often these days in my inbox is, “Do I have to have a website to have a business? I can’t afford one.”

The short answer is: you should probably have a website, but there are things you can do to significantly shorten the time it takes to make money once you can save up for your website. (More on that in a bit.)

The long answer is a little more complicated.

In order to make money with an online business, technically you don’t need a website. I launched my virtual assistant business before I had a working website, and made a full-time income working from home without a website. In fact, while I was working as a VA, I never had a fancy website listing my prices. That’s the kind of lean and mean strategy I teach in my course, How to Make Money from Home as a Virtual Assistant… because a lot of people get caught up in the infrastructure of business long before they’re making any money, and that’s just silliness.

But, if you want to make money doing something like affiliate marketing, it’s a little more difficult to make money without a website. There are a lot of reasons why, so let me break it down for you.

Why having a website is helpful when you’ve got a business

  1. In order to make money with content, people need to see your content in the first place. Without a place for people to see your content (aka, a website) how will people see it? The most common answer is social media! It seems like an easy win, but it isn’t, and here’s why…
  2. If you share your content somewhere you don’t own, how do you make sure people see it? When people have huge followings on social media, but no website or email list, who owns your audience? Whoever owns the platform. If your social media account gets shut down, or if an algorithm changes, your income could disappear in an instant and you have no control and no recourse. That’s what you agree to when you put your business in someone else’s hands.
  3. How do you keep people there? Websites like Pinterest are an amazing way to get traffic, but unless you’ve got somewhere to send your traffic, it’s wasted. You could send it to a social media profile but see #2… that’s problematic at best. With an email subscriber list and a website, you can shoot out emails periodically when you want to stay in touch. But if your only source of traffic is Pinterest, what do you do if you want to share your content with your fans and make sure they see it? Oh right – you can’t guarantee they’ll see it!

Long story short, if you want to make money as a content creator, then you really do need a website. But, I have a few tips for you while you’re saving up that can shorten your waiting time between building your first website and making money.

Productive things to do while you save up for your website

Create content like crazy

Whatever kind of content you want to create, start making it!

  • write blog posts
  • make videos
  • create art
  • … do whatever it is you do!

Complete them, save them in a document or a folder – whatever works for the kind of content you’re creating. Then once you’re ready to purchase your website, you can have a ready-to-launch website that’s bursting with content.

Create the “content bones” of your website

There are some pages your website may need, like:

  • About page
  • Welcome page
  • Store pages (terms, conditions, etc)

Pick and design your brand elements

Don’t get too caught up in this or you’ll never get your business off the ground. Just pick something you like – when in doubt keep it s-i-m-p-l-e. No new business owner needs 5 different versions of their logo or 3 different color schemes. Trust me, simplicity is your friend.

  • a basic logo
  • your brand color palette
  • blog graphics to share on social media
  • …etc etc

There are lots of things to do when you’re waiting to invest in your business. Don’t put off taking action simply because you’re waiting on one small piece of the puzzle. Save money while you can, but keep yourself productive in the meantime!

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