I tackled the ole website this week. I know what you are thinking. Really, she has actually spent time working on this thing?!
Yes, I actually have, and I realize that it is still very, very sad. I am trying to be honest, though, in this journal so I admit that I have had a big hand (the only one) in creating the appearance of this site. And, I spent more time on it this week than I had allotted myself. I am being honest with that too so that I have accountability to do better with time management next week.
I'm Killin' It!
In today's society, this statement has come to mean that you are owning it...crushing it...in other words, doing a great job with a task.
I DO NOT MEAN any of these things when I write, "I'm killin' it." I mean it literally. I want it dead...out of my life! Surely, I can't be the only one to feel this way about creating a website.
Even with a great platform like Squarespace, I still can't make my site look and behave like the ones of some of my favorite bloggers (Melyssa Griffin, Tiffany Griffin, & Michael Hyatt, to just name a few). Now, I know you are laughing at me because these people are big deals and also are using Wordpress.org for self-hosted sites. But, a girl can dream!
And, the more I work on my site, the more apparent it becomes that a great site takes three things.
1.) Lots of work! I am not scared of hard work, and you probably aren't either. However, a website is only a portion of what I am creating as a part of my overall business goals, yet it takes a majority of my time if I am not careful to limit how much I work on it.
2.) Lots of knowledge! Once again, I am not scared of hard work! I am willing to do the research to become knowledgeable, but this takes time too...time that I am willing to spend, up to a certain point. Hence, why you see the site you see! I have spent my allotted time (and more!) so now I am moving on. I will continue to improve this ugly thing over the coming weeks. (The perfectionist in me is screaming, "NO!" I am trying to grow myself and this business so I am taking others' advice here. I am not waiting until something is perfect before rolling it out. As Nike advertises, just do it!)
3.) Lots of people who know what they are doing! I have decided that the big names probably don't maintain their own websites any more on a day-to-day basis. I bet they started out as their own website developer, designer, and webmaster! Now, however, they have grown large enough to hire knowledgeable people to maintain their sites; that way they can focus on other aspects of their businesses.
What do these three realizations mean to a beginner like me (and maybe you) designing a site?
Do what you can with the amount of time and money you have!
1.) Ask yourself if a website is necessary. My sister-in-law is making money on the side creating specialty t-shirts; she is using her Facebook page for marketing, and PayPal and Square (and even Facebook) to accept payment. No website required!
2.) If a website is needed, allot yourself time each week or each month to improve your site.
3.) Make a list of the most important task to accomplish that week or month, and use your time to do that task. If you finish that task quicker than expected (extremely rare for me), tackle the next most important item on your website to-do list. But, when your time is up, move on to another aspect of your business.
4.) Grow your site slowly over weeks and months. Know that I am writing to myself here and anyone else who suffers from perfectionism!
Why Squarespace over Wordpress.org & Wix?
While I am rattling on about website design, I feel that I must be honest about what led me to Squarespace as my website-design platform. (Thanks, Jeff, for suggesting it.)
Squarespace vs. Wordpress.org
I am well aware of the hype around self-hosted sites using Wordpress.org as their design platforms. (A self-hosted site means you, yourself, purchase hosting services from an outside company like Bluehost or GoDaddy. Hosting is similar to buying a parking spot for your website on the internet.)
Yet, as I have lamented, I am no designer or developer. So even though I enjoyed using Wordpress.org at first and felt like a big-time developer doing it, all of the possibilities with plugins and themes became more of a burden than an advantage. I'm just being honest here. For example, it took huge amounts of time to research the best plugins and then determine whether to go with a free one or to spend money. The decisions were killing me and my time!
I admit, though, that it is very scary to think that Squarespace (or any company like them--Wix, Weebly, etc.) has ultimate control over my site and all of my hard work. In fact, that is a huge bonus of a self-hosted site; the power is balanced between you, the design platform (Wordpress.org), and the hosting company (Bluehost, GoDaddy, etc.). Squarespace, on the other hand, provides a platform for designing and hosts the site so almost all of the control is in their hands.
Squarespace vs. Wix
Squarespace and Wix are both hosted platforms, meaning you design your site there and get hosting there too...an all-in-one deal. (You cannot design your site there, and then purchase hosting elsewhere. Not an option.)
Wix is by far my favorite design platform because of its drop and drag interface. It is easy and fun to use. Also, Wix offers free websites. At one point, I had three websites there, and I hadn't spent a dime. This option is great for slowly perfecting a site over time without paying hosting fees. Of course that means the free site address includes wixsite.com within it. (example: yoursitename.wixsite.com)
Then even cooler, your free site can become a more professional site with just a click or two! You must pay for a plan from Wix first. (I suggest to start with paying month to month until you are positive about owning a website and/or using that company.) Once you have a paid-for plan at Wix, you can choose to assign your free site as your "Premium" one, meaning the one you have been playing around with for free quickly becomes the one that gives you more bells and whistles with Wix. It takes just a few clicks. At this point is when I suggest getting a domain name from Wix or having one you already own (from Namecheap, GoDaddy, etc.) connected to your Wix paid-for site.
But, I am with Squarespace for a reason right now. First, I had a very difficult time getting help from Wix. Most of Wix is very user friendly, and the Help tab is chocked full of info. Yet, I barely found an email address to ask a direct question after I couldn't find an answer at the Help section. It took some digging to find. Very frustrating! It was days later when I did receive an answer to my inquiry.
Second, and the straw that broke the camel's back, Wix is not a Pinterest-friendly design platform. I market to women, and women use Pinterest! As of February 2017, you could not "attach" a Pin-it button to an actual picture. The button stays where you first place it, which usually is on a photo you hope readers will pin. But if you add something to the post while still writing or revising, then the Pin-it button ends up in the middle of a paragraph, not on the picture. In other words, the Pin-it button is not assigned to the photo, but rather to the spot in the post you originally placed it. Sure, you can move again (and again and again) once you have finished editing. But, it is tiring and frustrating. Trust me. I tried that option for a post or two. Many users have asked Wix for a fix but to no avail. This problem is a deal breaker if your business or brand is closely tied to Pinterest.
Squarespace - The Happy Medium for Me, Right Now
Squarespace is a happy middle for me. Of course, I don't have as much overall freedom with it as I would designing with Wordpress.org. But, I like not having to decide every little detail, at least for now. And, even though it is more Pinterest friendly than Wix, it is not perfect. The Pin-it button attaches to every photo on the site, not just the pictures you want pinned. (With Squarespace, the button at least assigns itself to photos and isn't found wandering around in the middle of paragraphs as it does with Wix.) Furthermore, in Squarespace's Help section, there is a Contact tab where you can directly email someone with questions. Before deciding on Squarespace, I sent an email asking a random question; I received a kind response back within 24 hours. Squarespace offers a free 2-week trial that I strongly suggest using before paying. Its interface is not as easy as Wix's and does take some practice.
The Bottom Line
You must decide what website-design platform is right for you, or if you even need a website at this point. All the options available will have positives and negatives. By allotting yourself time to experiment with each for as cheap as possible, you will get a feel for what you can live with and what frustrates you too much. Most hosted sites (Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, etc.) offer free options or free trial periods. Wordpress.org is free to use, but you must have a host before starting. Therefore, go to Wordpress.org, choose a hosting company from the suggested list, and pay only for one month at a time; that is the cheapest way to get a trial with Wordpress.org.
Not related to website designing (Yay!), my friend April and I held a Dreamers' Meeting over the phone where we dreamed together...set goals, threw out product ideas, and encouraged each other. Way more fun than going it alone!
I strongly suggest you find someone to dream with - your spouse, your sister, your best friend, a coworker, a neighbor, your grandmother, your mother, your brother, your father...someone who cares for you enough to listen, to ask about your progress, to call you out if you need redirecting, and to pray for you and your business.
Weekly Timesheet - Summary
Time Spent on Research - 3 hours & 25 minutes (suggested time by Dan Miller = 3 hours)
Time Spent with Clients - 0 hours, officially (suggested time by Dan Miller = 4 hours)
Time Spent on Content/Product - 4 hours & 25 minutes (suggested time by Dan Miller = 5 hrs.)
Time Spent on Marketing - 7 hours & 55 minutes (suggested time by Dan Miller = 3 hours)
Total Time = 15 hours & 45 minutes
My Takeaways = I realize I spent too much time on "Marketing". All of that time was spent on making this website more presentable. I am limiting myself next week to only a few hours on this task. For now, I am counting any work on my website as Marketing because I intend to use my site to gain customers and keep customers.
Monday - reading Business Boutique (Research) for 1 hour = 1 hour
Tuesday - reading Business Boutique (Research) for 1 hour; worked on website (Marketing) for 1 hour & 50 minutes; had a Dreamer's Meeting with April where we discussed our business goals (Marketing) for 40 minutes = 3 hours & 30 minutes
Wednesday - reading Business Boutique (Research) for 20 minutes; worked to make website at least presentable (Marketing) for 40 minutes; finished Dreamer's Meeting with April where we discussed product ideas (Content/Product) for 45 minutes = 1 hour & 45 minutes
Thursday - reading Business Boutique (Research) for 25 minutes; reading EntreLeadership (Research) for 10 minutes; worked again...ugh...on the ole website (Marketing) for 1 hour & 45 minutes = 2 hours & 20 minutes
Friday - writing end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 25 minutes; writing book review for this website (Content/Product) for 15 minutes; working on graphic for end-of-week post to share on Pinterest (Marketing) for 40 minutes; worked on the website (Marketing) for 1 hour & 25 minutes; reading Business Boutique (Research) for 20 minutes = 3 hours & 5 minutes
Saturday - reading Business Boutique (Research) for 10 minutes = 10 minutes
Sunday - writing end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 2 hours & 45 minutes; created post for Instagram (Marketing) for 15 minutes; tallying work time for this week (Content/Product) for 15 minutes; worked on website to get domain name error fixed (Marketing) for 40 minutes = 3 hours & 55 minutes
*For now, I am counting website work as Marketing because I intend to use it to gain customers and keep customers. It could easily fall under Research or even With Clients at this point of my business.