Any time you launch is stressful. Today was to be one of my favorite type of days–LAUNCH DAY! But alas, my new website refresh has been pushed on the back burner yet again. I wanted to launch this site in December. It is February. I am okay. If my ever present goal is to improve my clients’ lives and to always be increasing my skills, any time I launch is the right time.
At some point, I think we have to put progress over perfection. There will always be something to improve upon. It is best to just get over that, work with what you have, and decide that any time you launch is fine. I see far too many people who are eternally “getting ready”. Start before you are ready. There will always be hundreds of things that you will want to perfect, enhance and improve. But the sooner get in there serving your clients, the sooner you will be able to take care of all of those things, to both your liking and to your clients’ liking.
Admittedly, I have a little bit of website shame. Although I think it looks okay, it is not yet optimized for high engagement and it is not yet fully aligned with my current business model and offerings. I always work from a pre-launch checklist to make sure I have completed everything on a site that I need to and that checklist only has a few ticks on it. Yet, this site has already helped me generate substantial sums as an entrepreneur in just two months.
After spending the last three months or so of my business in a period of exploration trying to figure out what my “sweet spot” was in terms of service offerings, about two months ago I finally felt myself emerging with some sense of clarity on the direction I would be moving forward. However, with that new focus in mind, it became painfully obvious how ill-suited my own website structure was for communicating my new message effectively.
Over the course of a few weeks I began to re-imagined and restructured my website so that it would work with me–not against me– in attracting new clients for my business. Today, will share with you some of the thoughts that went into that process with the hope that it may prove valuable to those of you who are at a similar spot in your creative journey.
The New Focus
I have been doing my best to juggle branding, web and blog design, illustration, marketing consulting, digital products, and print design. I am exhausted just writing all of that. In the beginning, I admit to enjoying the variety, but after a while it became frustrating to constantly be taking on projects with different timelines, price points, expectations and processes. It was hard to feel any sense of momentum or mastery in any one thing. That is when I sat down and thought long and hard about which of those things brings me the most value (both in terms of financial freedom and daily joy) and which of them brings others the most value.
When I framed it in that way, it became clear to me that brand development and identity design for service professionals is my passion. I feel that my strength as a designer is my desire to get to know my clients in a real and authentic way — their motivations, their passions, their personalities — and then to design a brand around what makes them unique.
There is nothing I love more than when a client takes a look at the mood board or new logo I created for them and says: “Holy crap, this is ME. You nailed it!” Even better is when a clients tells me that people are magnetized to them online now. This is why on the home page of the new site, you will see the following big and bold sentence: “Get Noticed Online”.
There is a purpose behind that big, bold statement. The No. 1 thing that your website should do is communicate plainly and simply what you do so that potential clients/customers immediately know what you have to offer.
Why I Will Integrate My Sites
Another huge factor in this site refresh was the structure of my sites. When I launched Rachel and Co, I essentially had four different sites, each one with a slightly different focus. When I created these individual sites, it made sense to me at the time because I really didn’t know which of those four arms would become my passion, nor could I find a unified theme that integrated functionality for each piece. However, here is why that approach became a bad strategy:
Blogging doesn’t pay my bills. I love it, of course, but at the end of the day it should act as a marketing tool for the paying part of my business: the business coaching and the creative studio. I thought that by putting a couple of links on them to redirect would drive traffic and clients to my paying services, right? WRONG!
So here is the lesson learned: Wherever your traffic is coming from, make sure it is a seamless transition from where they land to where you want them to go. Keeping that in mind, I knew that it was of paramount importance that my design services and my blog live under the same roof. That way, if people came to my site through the blog, it would be seamless for them to check out the rest of my site.
Why I Am Considering Squarespace
This is a whole can of worms for a different day perhaps, but for those unfamiliar with Squarespace, it is another website platform similar to WordPress. I have been falling in love with Squarespace since a client begged me to build her site on that platform. Unlike WordPress, there are no updates, no plugins to worry about breaking, their themes are highly responsive and flexible and, most importantly, their user interface is simple and powerful.
That said, I do love WordPress and I love Genesis. I find that I am a bit tempted to offer design services only using WordPress because that is the platform that I am the most familiar with. When we do things based upon that, I don’t think we are necesarily serving our clients in the best possible way. For example, if my client requested a robust membership area on their site, WordPress will be their best choice. Squarespace may have some workarounds; however, it is not as flexible as WordPress when it comes to adding advanced features (for the most part).
I will likely be diving into this much more in detail on the blog in the future, but many of their templates include the ability to house a portfolio, a number of pages and a blog, which was the integration I was looking for. When I went hunting for a beautiful solution that served my clients needs, I realized it may be time to make the switch. Any time you launch, new things to consider come up.
Now, all of that said, some of you might be wondering…
Will My Blog Topics Change
The answer is… not very much at all! So some weeks (like this one) the topic will be more business-related and geared toward the service-based entrepreneurs, but other weeks I will be discussing broader topics such as whatever challenges I am facing in my own life.
I have (thankfully!) been completely booked through mid-March since early December. That fact alone is already proof that focusing on one thing can positively impact your business. (I just need to re-design a new banner declaring that on my home page…similar to the singular focus on my business card and other printed material). Despite the packed schedule, I am still committed to creating great resources for you.
I am excited for what is to come and I hope you all will continue to follow along as I grow.
Oh yes…please feel free to notify me of any typos, broken links, etc. And remember that any time you launch is fine!