The other week I spent portions of 4 days (about 8 hours total) moving my entire web presence to Squarespace from WordPress where it had lived since I first started a form of this business about 4 years ago.
To say I never saw that coming would qualify as the understatement of the year. Maybe the decade.
See, ever since I started in my own business (and really even for years before that when I was running websites for other businesses) I've been a hard core WordPress supporter who refused to even consider other options.
And Squarespace in particular? Forget about it. I was convinced there were way too many limitations in Squarespace, and that anyone who built their site on the platform was making a huge mistake. Like your business is doomed to failure-sized mistake.
I was so wrong.
Over the past year I've been making massive moves in my business. I've moved from a primarily startup tech-focused consultant to working primarily with women starting and growing their solo online businesses.
And with that change my website became more and more important. When I was doing more traditional tech startup work the vast majority of my leads came from organic referrals and no one really cared what my site looked like, much less even visited it.
All the while I had the idea in my head of the direction I wanted to pivot to, and I knew that shifting full on into the online space meant I needed a robust and flexible site that would allow me to reach the women I wanted to reach and connect with them when I did.
And I was convinced I needed WordPress for that.
But then a funny thing happened. Last summer I fully committed to the change, leaving behind the (vast) majority of my tech work and focusing solely on helping women online. It was a great shift personally and I was enjoying the work as much as I'd thought I would.
Except it wasn't moving quickly enough for me, and I was frustrated and couldn't figure out why.
Fast forward to 2 weeks ago: it was a Tuesday night and I'd spent much of the last few weeks before it wrestling with plug-ins and integrations and broken stuff on my website. I know just enough html and CSS to be dangerous, so I was determined to make my site look the way I wanted it to. And every time I tried to do that I'd break something else. It was frustrating, maddening and left me with no time to actually market and grow my business, because I was spending all my time working on my business and this increasingly frustrating website.
I was frustrated, angry and over it.
And then I woke up in the middle of the night with one of the most intuitive hits I've ever received: I needed to move my site to Squarespace, and I needed to do it immediately.
I was surprised and confused (to be honest it's the first time I ever remember waking up in the middle of the night in a start like that with such a clear message) but it was so unusual that I knew there was something to it.
When I got up the next morning the first thing I did was do a little googling about Squarespace and set up a test account. Within an hour I was convinced and already in the process of moving my site.
Here are the things that convinced me to move, along with some (very) pleasant surprises I found along the way:
1. I was ready to work on my business, not in it.
As I said above I was spending a ton of time - like all my non-client time - trying to wrestle my site into looking and performing the way I wanted it to look.
I've felt the nightmare of custom-coded sites before first-hand so I didn't want to turn my site over to a developer that would code something in that I'd never be able to touch without breaking, so I wasn't willing to pay for a developer. But I also obviously wanted my site to look professional.
And since I knew just enough about html and CSS to be dangerous, and have been working online since 2004, I had high expectations that I was spending all my time trying to meet. Which means I spent no time marketing or promoting my business, and the results were just what you'd expect: I wasn't growing at near the rate I wanted to AND I hated my site because it didn't look the way I wanted it to look.
Eventually I was just over working so hard for no return and fed up with not building my business. Squarespace promised to give me a website I could quickly design while keeping it completely pro looking. Done and sold.
2. Constraints nurture freedom and creativity
One reason I always hear for people not wanting to use Squarespace (myself included) is that you can't customize the look and feel enough. Fair enough, you can go way more custom with WordPress.
But you know what? With custom comes all the problems I described above: it's difficult to actually make any of those things happen unless you're a pro developer or are willing to turn your site over to one. I was neither, so I actually found myself finding the freedom and creativity I wanted under the constraints in Squarespace. This is a common phenomenon in anything creative: constraints have actually been shown to nurture creativity and freedom of expression because they put limits on what you're able to do.
And by putting limits on you, you're free to explore within those limits instead of becoming completely paralyzed by the endless options available to you in a limitless world. For me that made a huge difference and I feel way more freedom using Squarespace than I ever did in WordPress.
3. LeadPages and other workarounds
One very legit criticism of Squarespace is that it doesn't offer the same robust plug-ins and integrations WordPress does. And that's totally true, and even a year ago that probably would've been a deal breaker for me because you just can't do what you need to do for some core business functions (like efficient list-building) using Squarespace and its limited integrations out of the box.
However, I realized the software driving those functions - in particular LeadPages - had come so far in their own functionality that I wasn't using WordPress plug-ins for those things anymore anyway. For example I'd taken all of my email subscription forms off my website in favor of LeadBoxes. And my pop-ups and sharing forms were all driven by SumoMe.
And guess what? LeadPages and SumoMe work exactly the same in Squarespace as they do in WordPress, so the exact functionality I needed for my core business activities actually happens almost exactly the same way whether I'm on Squarespace or WordPress.
4. I plan to host my courses elsewhere
Another big knock against Squarespace is its lack of a membership option for hosting courses or membership sites. Again, totally fair on one level. However, totally unfair on another.
For one, I never recommend people host their courses or membership sites on their actual main website. They should all be hosted on a separate URL that's specific to the paid product. Therefore even if you want to use WordPress for your course site you don't have to use it for your main site - they're completely different things.
And second, independent course-hosting sites have come a long way in the past year or 2, and I'm planning on using Teachable to host all of my courses. Therefore it doesn't matter whether or not Squarespace can host them or not.
5. I saved money - a lot of money
Another common annoyance with Squarespace - and definitely one of mine - was the monthly fee it comes with. People hear that, wrongly compare it to WordPress being free, and move on without considering it.
I know because, again, I was guilty of doing exactly that.
When I went to look at it, however, I realized that was completely untrue.
First off WordPress isn't free out of the box. Sure the actual open source software is, but you can't actually have a live site without paying for a hosting account. Personally I was paying $17.97/month for hosting. That's almost 2/3 of the monthly fee I'm paying Squarespace now and doesn't account for all of the other plug-ins I was paying for.
In total I calculated I would save almost 50% annually just on the bare bones basics. Add in the life-time licenses to plug-ins I'd previously purchased, the thousands I was about to pay a developer and designer to fix (and maintain) my site and this became another no-brainer in favor of Squarespace.
6. traditional seo is not a deal-breaking priority in my business
One continued limitation of Squarespace is that it can't hold a candle to WordPress when it comes to traditional SEO. For me (and for the majority of my online clients) SEO doesn't actually matter that much, though. We're driving traffic through social media sites that have their own particular versions of SEO that work on their platforms, and for that Squarespace is not limited.
So while SEO would remain a concern of mine if you did rely solely on traditional Google search, for me it was so low on the priority list that it wasn't a deal-breaker. In fact it didn't really even end up factoring in my decision.
7. say good-bye to hosting nightmares
Another classic warning against Squarespace is that you can't control your hosting - they host your site for you - and therefore you're putting yourself at the mercy of Squarespace's servers. Fair enough, and completely true.
However, this is another myth along the lines of WordPress being cost free: you don't have complete control over your WordPress site either. In fact you hand that control over to the hosting company you choose to host your site on, and that's anything but stable.
In the months leading up to my decision to switch I saw client WordPress sites going down left and right - one for a FULL 10 DAYS - and there was little to nothing we were able to do about it. While I didn't feel a huge rush to Squarespace while this was happening, once I started looking at Squarespace you can bet those experiences came to mind when I examined this whole "I have no control over Squarespace and their server" recommendations. Truth is Squarespace has way better up time and performance than most, if not all, of the WordPress hosts I've seen.
8. lots of Unintended (but welcome) side effects
And last but not least, Squarespace has delivered so many unintended but very welcome side effects since I made the change. I'm happier. I'm way less frustrated. I'm no longer embarrassed to give anyone my URL because I no longer have to worry about what's broken or what looks amateur. It just works. And I like that.
My list, my social media followings, my leads, my business - they're all measurably growing, and doing so quickly, since I moved because I have the time to nurture them. My site works and in turn I've had some of the most productive weeks in years. It's not a coincidence.
Have you thought about moving to Squarespace? Have you done it? What did you think? What can we help you with if you're still thinking about it? Leave a comment below and let's discuss!