Outside perspective is an interesting thing. As I worked on my rebrand with Braid Creative, something I apparently kept telling them was that if I want to make a change, I start with my website. It’s why I created my website in the first place, and it’s how I’ve shaped my business over the years. It’s why I love helping people get their own websites together — so they can make things happen from there.
This belief has been a driving force behind everything I do and is now a big part of my brand message. So with the launch of my new site, it seems the perfect time to share how I’ve started with my website over the years and what you can do for your own goals.
I bought my first domain name in August 2010, but it still took me another month to hit the publish button on this site. I think my first post on September 27, 2010, a post that took maybe five minutes to write, really set the stage for everything that was to come:
One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog is also one of the reasons it has taken me so long to actually do it.
I spend way too much time thinking, and not enough time doing.
So, without further ado, welcome to my blog! The design will definitely change, the theme may change, but one thing is for certain: this is not my last post.
And I hope you will join me for more.
It’s funny looking back on that post now, because this site truly became a vehicle for me to stop thinking and start doing.
In the beginning, I really just needed a personal creative outlet in my life. I enjoyed my job, but my work was constrained by this little thing called brand standards, and I just wanted to play with fonts and colors I’d never be able to use at my day job. I also had just been introduced to this thing called WordPress and needed a site of my own to play with code.
Let me stop here for a second and point out one thing: Notice the use of the word “play” above? Some people have a bigger mission in mind when they start blogging, but I didn’t — and I’d say everything turned out just fine. Yes, if your goal is to create a community, get your name out there, and build a brand, creating a bigger plan for your blog is important. But it’s also OK to just play around with it. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t. Your brand will naturally develop later as you start seeing the connections between what you enjoy and what your readers want from you.
A little over a year later, I settled into my design style and wanted to commit to posting on a regular schedule. So naturally I took inspiration from things I wanted to do in my life at the time. I documented inspiration for DIY projects for my apartment to do on the weekends. I rounded up recipes so I would cook more. I created dream outfits to figure out how to use what was already in my closet and identify what pieces were missing. Every time I sat down to create my editorial calendar, I asked myself what I wanted to do in my life and reverse engineered those ideas into blog posts. My site turned from a space to discover my graphic design style to a place to discover my personal style for my life.
About two years in, my readership had grown, and readers began to take notice of my frequent blog redesigns and my blog post graphics and ask me to do the same for them. So what did I do? You guessed it — I put my work on my website to show people what I could do for them.
The more work I did, the more I understood what kind of work I wanted to do. I put only the kind of work I wanted to be hired for in my portfolio. I updated my hire me page to talk specifically to the kind of people I wanted to work with.
When I quit my job to pursue my business full-time three years ago, I started feeling more creatively fulfilled in my daily work and less interested in creating lifestyle posts. So I started writing more about the work I was doing to teach others how to do it themselves, and show potential clients how I approach my work. In turn, I kept receiving more inquiries for the work I wanted to do and was able to steadily increase my prices.
Now I’m not saying that I put wishes on my website and they magically came true. More work goes into it than that. It’s about constantly experimenting, and sometimes experiments fail. I once relaunched my site and tripled my prices in the process, reasoning that my new design would show I was worth the price. I got a lot of traffic, but no one booked at the new rates. I had to swallow my pride and reduce my prices, but you know what? No one said a thing about it, and I eventually bumped my pricing back six months later and did have clients book at the new rates.
The point is that your website is a platform to give you a starting point for your goals. It gives you a place to put it out there and make it real. And it gives you a place to connect with the right people for your work.
What do you want to do in your life right now, and how can you start putting it out there in the world through your website?