July 05, 2014
I gave my business card to a friend a couple of weeks ago and after taking a look at it for a few moments, he asked me a very good question:
“You’ve got a personal website, a Twitter account, a G+ page and a LinkedIn account, but how come you don’t have a Facebook page?”
I didn’t really have an answer, I just shrugged my shoulders and said that I didn’t feel like I needed it as I had a personal website and a Twitter account already, and that I didn’t have the time to start and maintain another social media profile. But it did get me wondering whether it was better to have a Facebook page AND a personal website, or whether you should have one or the other.
If you are a complete newbie to the online world and the sheer thought of looking through WordPress themes and putting together a website gives you heart palpitations, then it is very likely that the ease-of-use and ready-made format of a Facebook page will lure you away from creating your own website from scratch and building it over time.
There are hundreds of tutorials and guides available on how to put a website together, and although it is easy for somebody who already has experience of building a website to say it, is really has become a less painful process to build a website over the last few years. This is because developers and designers understand that more and more of us spend our time shopping and looking for businesses online than any other medium, so businesses understand the importance of having a website is higher than it’s ever been before. There’s no excuse for being a Luddite any more, especially if you want your business to thrive online. Writers have to view themselves as a business or a sole trader as much as an artist, so it’s just as essential for you to have a website as it is for a supermarket or coffee shop!
Depending on which way you look at it, it is more rewarding to build a following and a profile over time and be able to say wholeheartedly that you built that following from scratch and on your own merit, without the help of a social media giant that laid out all the tracks for your journey. Facebook is amazing in that it enables you to make connections with so many people, but when you find an audience organically, there is something all the more special about it. You could have an interesting debate about this subject, because it completely depends on your viewpoint.
Facebook definitely has a huge advantage over a personal website in the short term, simply because it is a ready-made network with over one billion members and counting. It gives you instant access to a wide range of businesses, groups and networks and you can quickly build a following on Facebook, which has over 200 countries signed up to it. You could find an audience from all four corners of the globe if you play your cards right. There’s no question that Facebook gives you instant access to more people who might already be looking for what you have to offer.
Take a step outside of yourself from a moment and view yourself from the perspective of an employer, an agent or a publisher: What looks more professional and legitimate, a Facebook page or a personal website that has a little bit of you and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears that has gone into making it as good as it can be.
When you hand over a business card and it has a Facebook page as the main point of contact, it gives the impression that you may not be 100% serious about yourself as a writer. If you’ve spent money, time and effort into building a website, nobody can question whether or not you are taking your writing journey seriously, because it will be all there on the screen. It also shows that you’re not afraid to take risks and put yourself out there, which can be the hardest part of being a writer for some people. By creating a website in your name, you are showing more courage than even you might realize.
Facebook is a great site, and there are pages for businesses and writers that look the part, but they are always going to belong to Facebook, and there is only so much creative control you are going to have. With a personal website, you can pick from hundreds and thousands of themes, custom designs and styles, and then you can start to have fun: Experimenting and tweaking your site to your heart’s content until you’re ready. And when you get bored or fidgety three months later, you can do it all again!
Simply put, there is a playful element to having a personal website that you just don’t have with Facebook, where you have limited scope for change. The whole point of being a writer is to create your own world, so why wouldn’t you want to be able to create your own world within a website, too?
As marvelous a job Mr. Zuckerberg has done in building such an incredible social networking site as Facebook clearly is, there is something altogether more exciting and individual about having a personal website. Facebook will have thousands upon thousands of writer profiles on their books, and there is nothing wrong with you having a Facebook page as well as a website, but in this face-off, there is only one winner: You dot com!