What’s cooler than an authority website?
There’s a word that comes up a lot when people talk about strong, business-building content: Flagship.
You can build flagship content, and you can even build out an entire flagship site.
But you know what’s even better than that?
What’s a mothership website?
A mothership is a website that serves as your content home base on the web. But that’s just the start of it.
It can also fly around the universe (well, your universe) and discover things. It’s big enough to invite people to. It’s interesting enough that people will seek you out.
It’s a vehicle that doesn’t just sustain you, it’s equipped for adventure and discovery.
A mothership is bigger, bolder, and just cooler than a flagship.
Every mothership website is different.
- One person’s mothership is a sleek client-finding machine that plays Chemical Brothers all day long.
- Another person’s is on a mission to spread peace, love, understanding and improved voter registration throughout the galaxy.
- And another’s is building an intergalactic empire of awesome, with sharp-looking uniforms and a business model made of solid vibranium.
Your mothership, your rules.
But I do propose one guideline:
To be a mothership, you need to embrace your version of epic.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be flashy or fancy. Some motherships are small and funky.
But a mothership is bigger than you are.
It’s got space for gatherings — whether they’re dance parties or intergalactic diplomatic talks.
Let me walk you through a few of the components — which might look familiar if you’ve been hanging out with me for awhile.
Your mothership values
To be cool enough to qualify as a mothership, you have to build on real values.
It’s not just about being big. Facebook might be big, but it doesn’t get to be a mothership. (More like the Evil Empire.)
Copyblogger, for example, is built on the values of autonomy and the integrity of excellence. Unlike many sites that teach digital business and marketing skills, they’ve never tried to be anyone’s guru.
And when I coined the First Rule of Copyblogger, it wasn’t “join our cult because we have the only correct answers for your business.”
For just a few more examples,
- Pamela Slim’s mothership is based on social responsibility and ethical ambition.
- BlackFreelance is built at an intersection of autonomy and antiracism.
- Slow Business Adventure is built on a Nordic blend of collective action and a love for nature.
Those are a couple of the motherships in my personal federation of planets … and I’m sure you have your own favorites.
If there’s a site or business you would consider a mothership, take a look and see if you can figure out what values they’re building on.
And think about the values you want to build on. As long as it’s a concept (or two) that you care deeply about, it will work.
Your mothership expertise
It’s good to care about values, but it’s also important to help people with what they care about.
Part of your mothership’s mission is to help your audience get something they want.
You might help small businesses find better customers. You might help new parents improve their physical fitness. You might help dog owners create a great relationship with their pets.
There’s an almost infinite number of missions. But you always find them at this intersection:
A group of people with a desire for change, and your own expertise in delivering that change.
There are a lot of ways your mission can fail:
- You haven’t drawn a big enough crowd (yet), so no one can see what you’re doing
- You don’t have the skill to facilitate the change you promise
- The people who can see you don’t want the change you’re offering them
- Your mission confuses the people you’re talking to
- You’re too shy to talk about your mission, so you’re hoping people will just see it for themselves
The great news is, every one of those can be fixed.
Mothership missions can also evolve and change over time. You do usually need to work on them one at a time, but you’re not stuck with the one you had last year, or even last month.
Your mothership personality
One business I know hires a DJ for their digital events. (That DJ is ShammyDee, and I can 1000% recommend him for physical or virtual gigs. He brings a ton of joy and fabulous energy.)
Slow Business Adventure sets out reindeer hides on the benches around their speaker stage … which was built (sustainably, of course) outdoors, right on the fjord.
Andrea Vahl’s mothership has always been influenced by her love of standup comedy and improv. Wigs, fabulous costumes and pink feather boas are just part of her everyday world.
As the captain of your mothership, you set the vibe. You might be upright (maybe even a little prissy) like Jean-Luc Picard. Or funky and fabulous like George Clinton.
(I found out that Parliament front man George Clinton was a Star Trek fan, which is where he originally came up with the concept for the album Mothership Connection. Awesome.)
The universe is a big place, and there’s lots of room for different kinds of motherships. Don’t feel like yours needs to fit into a particular “professional” personality.
If everything else is running on all cylinders, a mothership can still work if it’s boring … but it makes their mission harder.
People would rather connect with personality and flavor than a Borg Cube of Bland.
An invitation to join me in building the next mothership
Remarkable Communication has always been fairly small and funky. More Millennium Falcon than Starship Enterprise.
And as we all know, the Millennium Falcon is a wonderful place, even if it has a few rusty corners.
But over the past few years, I’ve started to see the need for a new mothership that has more room and a wider mission.
One that’s a combination of dance party, an Occupy the Universe protest, and The Zócalo from Babylon 5 — a lively marketplace where tons of different folks come together to get the things they need.
In other words, a place to hang out, buy a few things, learn stuff, support each other, and smash a little racist patriarchy.
Let’s get your mothership site built out … this year
Starting in the next week or so, I’m leading a workshop that will help you get your own mothership built before Christmas.
You’ll get the critical pieces put together, get support and accountability while you’re working on the hard parts, and have something you feel good about bringing people to.
(To be ultra clear: This is about the navigation and the words, not about the tech. It’s intended for people who have a site that they want to take to a higher level of awesome. But your site can be pretty bare bones, and we’re still going to get you to a really good place.)
And while you build your mothership, I’ll be building right alongside you.
So as we’re talking about the critical pages that need to be on your mothership site, and what to put there, I’ll be adding them to my own.
It’s going to be practical, it’s going to be intensely productive, and it’s going to be a ton of fun.
Drop your details below if you want to know when we open the doors.
I have every intention of teaching this workshop once or twice a year in the future. But the opportunity to build and launch the next mothership with me is for this time only.
Be part of that journey with me, and get your own site ready for some interstellar excellence.
Update: We’ll be opening the new version of this program in November, 2022
Photo by the blowup on Unsplash