Do you remember the good old days when someone wanted to promote their product or company online and some intrepid individual would say, "we need a website!" Once approved, that would start the ball rolling to find the right person or company to build that site for them. Until the last few years that was really the only option you had for an online presence. Now, however, that's not the case at all. Blogs have emerged as a free (if you choose to get a free one) and easy to use tool that gives you a web presence in many ways equal to traditional websites.
What got me thinking about this was that I met a guy this weekend who said something similar to what I've heard many times over the last few years. He's looking for an inexpensive website and, as I've done several times in the past, I told them it wasn't necessary. What he's really looking for is a web presence, not a full blown website. He just wants an online destination where people can find out about his business. In my view, a blog is a great alternative for his web presence rather than getting a website.
So, when do you need a website and when could you use a blog instead? Here is a short list of items that would likely require you have a website:
- You have a lot of information to communicate (whether in volume of information or complexity of information)
- You want a highly visual and/or Flash driven web presence
- You need an ecommerce engine/shopping cart
- You need a secure login area for some people but not everyone
- You want a fully customized web presence (in design and function)
If, however, you're just trying to get an online presence so people will learn something about what you're selling, know, or offer, a blog is perfect for you. Blogs now do many of the things people have only thought could be done with websites. For instance, if you wanted a website because you were looking to incorporate video or audio, a blog can do all of that. If you wanted a website that's branded for you, a blog can do that. If you wanted a website you can control instead of paying someone to update it for you, a blog can do that. If you wanted to show pictures or a variety of other visuals, a blog can do that. If you wanted to be found in Google searches, a blog can do that (and in many cases better than traditional websites too.)
The idea here is that getting a web presence is no longer just for the people who can pay to have a website built. A blog is available to anyone. You can have one up and going five minutes from now if you choose to. You own web presence is no longer an issue of accessibility or price, but is really an issue of strategy and convenience. Strategically a blog may be all you need so you can save the money you would have spent on a site and put it elsewhere. From a convenience standpoint, you may just prefer to pay someone to take care of you online presence for you, and if so, that's really what you're paying for.
The bottom line is that if a blog will do, why get a standard issue website built and pay the $3,000-$10,000 to do it? A blog may very well be your best strategic choice. It will almost always be the cheaper choice.