Nowadays online presence is an acknowledgment of existence. ‘I think therefore I am’ has transformed itself into ‘I am online therefore I am.’ The fun (or sad?) fact is that it can be applied to both individuals and businesses.
While the first and evident choice for many companies, big or small, is to make websites and use them as the main source of online exposure, there are other options—especially helpful for startups and small businesses that might not have enough funds to spend on websites, let alone maintain them.
Some of the website alternatives that help reach more of a diverse crowd than you would by just building a website include:
- Listings, directories, review sites
- Medium, flipbooks
- Social media
How do you choose what option works best for your company? It depends on the goals you want to achieve while being online and how well you master goal setting. In our article, we’ve gathered the main goals and the options that help implement them, so let’s get to them right away.
Goal #1: Build Online Presence
Review sites, like G2 and Capterra for software, Trip Advisor for travel, or OpenTable for restaurants, are often the first step for many people that need to choose products or services online. Such websites also tend to perform exceptionally well in search engine results.
The strength of review websites is that they generally present unbiased reviews of services. Although you can’t control the reviews, they’re at least mostly fair, and that’s what counts here. So find the sites where you or your industry is discussed, register, and use them as a promotional channel to accept and respond to feedback.
Another simple way of how to build a website without a website builder and get yourself online is by adding your business to relevant directories. It’s a good thing to do for every business and particularly useful for companies in local trades, as many directory sites will allow your past customers to leave testimonials and ratings.
Adding yourself to industry and niche directories allows you to optimize your online presence. Having precise business information across the whole web is essential for any company. Name, address, contact info, working hours, etc.—all such data about your business should be available to anyone who requires it, quickly and easily. Moreover, it's also important to choose the right website name to reflect your brand. It serves as your online identity and can significantly impact your brand perception.
If you are a member of a trade organization or association, then there's a good chance you'll be able to join a listing on their site—make sure you do it and always keep the info up-to-date.
Goal #2: Raise Brand Awareness and Get the Expert Status
Flipbook is a digital format for presenting content online as interactive documents with a page flip effect. A flipbook is created with the HTML5 technology that makes it as powerful and flexible as any modern website and allows you to view it in any browser and on any screen. Such a tool as FlippingBook can help you convert your PDFs into ready flipbooks in just a few moments.
See for yourself! Flip through this gorgeous flipbook example—it has all the main sections that a website usually has, like the main page, examples, and the 'About us' page. What's more, it's packed with valuable info and is fully interactive thanks to engaging pop-up images and insightful videos. And all this just in three pages!
Gathering, structuring, and putting your insight, wisdom, and practical knowledge into a professional-looking flipbook helps establish you as a thought leader and a credible authority in your field. You don’t have to give away your business secrets, but if your company uses a certain approach that no one else in the industry does, brag about it. If you’ve worked out a useful method, tell people how you got there, your audience will appreciate it.
With online flipbooks, you don’t have to worry about web hosting, and you don’t need any design skills to craft beautiful SEO-friendly flipbooks. Read more about what makes a flipbook a great website alternative in our article.
Medium is a community-centric platform that any visitor can access and read. It’s also a platform for companies or individual writers to express themselves on any and every issue. You’ll generally find serious writing on niche subjects on this platform.
If you want to grow your brand’s presence on Medium beyond a single account, you can create a Medium publication. Publications are essentially content hubs that allow posts published by many authors to live in one place. As the publication's owner, you'll be able to customize the layout of its homepage and add feature pages (tabs) for specialized content.
Thus, you can gather valuable knowledge under the name of your brand and add articles, directly connected to your products and services, raising your company’s awareness and getting a solid reputation.
Overall, Medium is a good alternative to a website creator if you’re looking to publish long-form content and want to simply focus on writing and leave all technicalities to the hosting platform.
Goal #3: Sell Your Products and Services
If you’re planning to sell something online, you don’t always have to build your own eCommerce site. You might consider online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Bonanza, or Etsy as good starting points to sell online instead.
The advantages of using marketplaces are that they allow for fast launch times, have their own established programs to help the sellers (like easy marketing, advertising, and delivery options), and most importantly, they already have large customer bases.
To empower your marketing and sales strategy, you can also create an online catalog via FlippingBook. It allows you to showcase your products at their best by adding interactive elements like pop-up images, GIFs, and videos. You can make your buyer’s journey fast and easy by linking the items in your catalog to the products in your online marketplace. This way, people just click on the stuff they like and buy it right away. This will make your catalog very convenient to use and will increase orders.
Read more about the advantages and tips and tricks of creating digital product catalogs in our article.
Goal #4: Connect with Your Clients
If your first goal of going online is to find your audience and connect with them, consider social media. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok are perfect for micro-enterprises and people whose customers spend less time online searching for services in their industry.
One major benefit of using social media is that the costs are considerably lower than those for creating a website. And such marketing tactics as using smart hashtags, posting user-generated content, creating content collaborations, and partnering with influencers on various social media platforms can greatly increase the amount of traffic and purchases.
Working with social media influencers allows small or large businesses to reach customers that they might never have connected with via a website. The set-up of social media also helps to bring the clients closer to the product or the business thus they’re more likely to purchase, try out, or subscribe.
As you see, there is a large variety of website alternatives that make it perfectly possible to be visible online without building a website. It still takes time and dedication but the result will surprise you. So don’t hesitate to start your online adventure right away and good luck to you!