Websites are great. Except when they aren’t.
Way back in the day, when my son was just a toddler, I was stuck in a job that made me cranky and miserable.
I had a weird skill set (“content marketing” wasn’t a thing people really understood back then) and finding another office gig wasn’t happening.
So I made one of those decisions that seems small at the time, and ends up being actually life-changing.
I started this website.
I had no idea what I was really doing, so I started it on the wrong platform, wrote the wrong content, and it looked terrible.
But over time I fixed the clunky parts, and started to add functionality and improve the design and content strategy.
This site got me freelance writing clients, which let me out of my toxic job. It got me business relationships and friendships that led to great new projects. It got me some excellent speaking gigs. It was a springboard for an amazing little community.
And, you know, it also led to me eventually becoming a partner over on that Copyblogger site. So that was pretty cool.
The toddler is now over six feet tall (around 185 cm.), and a lot has changed.
Lots of us have some kind of blog or website now.
And there are a whole bunch of new tools that give us better-looking, highly functional sites that plug more effortlessly into systems like email subscription services and membership community software.
But a lot of us still don’t have sites we’re proud of. And there are a couple of reasons:
#1: Working on websites is overwhelming
There’s so much we could be doing. So what should we be doing?
How do we prioritize?
The real world answer is, usually, we do what feels comfortable, and then we do some more of that, and then we do a lot more of that.
For writers, that often means lots of content, and not a lot of strategy.
For non-writers, it can mean a week spent fiddling around with brand colors and rearranging the navigation, until we get bored and just stop being able to look at it.
Alternately we might put something up on a simplified platform like Squarespace. The great advantage is that it will look decent and function at an acceptable minimum level.
“Acceptable” and “minimum” aren’t where you want to end up. But they’re totally decent starting points.
#2: Creative energy is in limited supply
We all have limits on our creative energy. We can boost this in the short run, but we need our creative focus for client work, day jobs, relationships, and just making a decent life.
So often, when we feel like we need more time, or better time management, what we actually need is more creative focus — uninterrupted time to think about what we’re doing and actually do it.
Choosing to spend that energy on your website can be a tough one to stick with. Particularly because of factor #3:
#3: It doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere
If your timelines and email box are like mine, there’s an endless rain of suggestions for things to publish on your website.
If you’ve ever gotten caught up in following one piece of advice, then another, then a different one, you know how this story ends:
You don’t, in fact, get anywhere.
- You have some content published, but it doesn’t seem to actually do anything to move your goals along.
- You have an email list, but no one signs up.
- You built it, and no one came.
There are some really good solutions to these problems, but they’re hard to see when you’re running through the rainstorm of random ideas.
How to fix it
There are a few things you need to do if you want to take the site you have and turn it into the site you want.
First, you have to get out of the rainstorm of random.
You can start by finding a model that looks like it will suit your goals. You may want to get a course that will walk you through the key steps. (I have one of those coming up, if that sounds like something you want to check out.)
The longer you stay in the universe of a million possibilities, the less motivated you’ll be to actually move in one direction.
Second, you have to give yourself a finite set of projects and a deadline to get them done. “Make the website better” isn’t a project. It isn’t even a goal. It’s a recipe for frustration.
And third, you have to get into an environment that supports creative work. Set yourself up with what you know you need to succeed.
This generally involves freedom from distractions and an environment you associate with getting good work done. If you need your special creative focus music or a cup of tea from your magical productivity cup, make that happen.
I can help with those …
If you’d like to actually make this happen in 2021, I have a resource that I think will help you a lot.
I’ll be teaching a cohort-based course (I’ll be trying out the Maven platform) that’s all about improving and “de-clunking” your website.
We’re going to be taking a fixed set of key tasks (including some of the ones that can be really discouraging to work on alone), and tackling them together.
We’ll put special focus on tasks that have more than their share of “Ugh” — like writing a good About page, or coming up with a solid calendar of things you want to write about.
And we’ll do it over just a few weeks of focused effort.
A “cohort-based course” is something of a cross between a course and group coaching. We harness the power and energy of a small group to power through the hard parts. And I’ll be on hand to help you out if you ever feel stuck or demotivated.
If you want a site you’re proud of, and you’d like to have it before Christmas, be sure I’ve got your email address. (You can drop it below.)
And be sure to swing by on Friday, because I’m going to talk about the specifics of what a “really good website” actually looks like.
That’s informed by my 10 years as a partner with Copyblogger, as well as my own experience as a freelancer, public speaker, business owner, and even (though I’m not a huge fan of the term) a thought leader.
I’m looking forward to seeing you then!