It is extremely unlikely that you will ever sell anything on your website. Does this mean that having a website is a waste of time and money? Clearly, with the number of websites that are online, we all know that you must have a website if your are going to be taken seriously as a business. But never sell anything? That’s pretty harsh.

I’ve talked about this before – somewhere between 80% and 97% of all ecommerce websites fail. You read that right, your chances of success with your online store are as low as 3 percent! Why? The thought process of most business owners is, “How can I get on page one of Google?,” but the reality is that getting on page one of Google has very little to do with being successful with your website. Perhaps you think, “I just need a celebrity endorsement!” In fact, this type of “if-only thinking”, that magic will happen in your business, is the cause of most online business never realizing their potential. The truth is that most online businesses fail. People put up new websites every day and never sell anything.

I’ve been saying this for years, but it still bears repeating: The internet is not a magic pill. You can’t just put up an eCommerce website and expect to make money – you have to work it just like any other business. In fact, you may have to work at it harder than other businesses models. Since people can’t see you or your products, it is often harder to establish enough of a know-like-trust factor to get them to send you money online.

Let all of this sink in for a moment. If you are not willing to put in the time to working your website, consistently creating new blog posts, writing product descriptions, taking photographs, creating videos, sharing on social media, interacting via live chat, sending out email blasts, promoting your products on Instagram, developing a following, etc., etc., etc. – your website will fail. You will never build up enough traffic to it for it to sustain itself, much less make you money. Having a website is a committment and requires a substantial amount of work.

By now you might be thinking, “Forget it..If it requires that much work, I just won’t bother.” Or maybe you are thinking the exact opposite: “It must be my web designer’s fault! I’ll just get a new website that is optimized to get more views.” Are you listening? It is NOT your web designer’s fault! There are plenty of really ugly websites (just look at eBay, Google, and Craigslist), that do make money. Design is not the issue – working your website to make it perform is. You have to do the work and there are no shortcuts. Sure, you can advertise (which I strongly recommend you do for growing your following), but you still have to put in the work. This is work that you as the business owner must do – it is not something you can farm out to someone else. You know your business better than anyone you can possibly outsource to, so spend an hour a day really working your online business.

Ugly websites can still make money!

Yes, there are things you can (and should) outsource. You don’t need to be a web designer. You don’t need to be an online marketer. Hire WebStores Ltd or another firm to do those things. But don’t expect the magic to happen if you don’t provide your design team with enough information to convey your vision. And don’t think that by having hired an outsourced team that this let’s you off the hook for taking responsibility for your online success.

Okay, now that I’ve given my soap box sermon (the same one that I’ve been giving since 2005), let’s talk about your online presence, including your website. If you know that you are never going to work your website, either because you don’t have the time or the desire, should you even bother? Should you spend money re-designing your website every two or three years to keep it current? Should you spend money on Facebook ads? Is it worth getting new product photos and writing up new descriptions, knowing that you are never going to sell anything online.

The answer is absolutley YES! All businesses today are an online business, whether they want to be or not. Customers are going to write reviews about you and post them on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Facebook, and Google, whether you want them to or not. Not having a professional website with easy to find contact information is screaming to the world that you really don’t take your busines seriously. At least give your customers the opportunity to find you!

I’ve been to trade shows where the staff just sits in their booth, working on their laptops or reading a book and ignoring customers as they walk by. And I’ve had people tell me, when I design their website, that they don’t want their phone number on the website, because someone might call them! It astonishes me that in 2017 I still have to write this blog post, but it with an 80-97% failure rate, it is obvious that many business owners still don’t get it. Your website isn’t just a website – it is your business presence on the internet. It can do things for you that other marketing methods can’t and often at a much reduced cost. Make it work for you.