There are a few conversations I have so often with my coaching clients that they must become blog posts.
This is one of them.
Here’s the deal
When you first start out in business, experts from all over the planet tell you that you must have a targeted niche, a clear and compelling brand and a snappy unique selling proposition.
This is very wise advice to people who want to have thriving businesses, not expensive hobbies.
Here’s the problem
When you are first starting out, you may not KNOW exactly who your market is. You need to work with some people to see exactly whom you like working with, the kind of work you like doing, and the kind of people who will pay for what you have to offer.
But to get any clients at all, you need to have some kind of website. A place where you can have a simple “About” page, and a description of your services. And if you are looking to share content over the long-term, you need a blog.
Here’s the metaphor
Your first website can be like a bland, basic, boring house. It is functional. It meets your needs. It is agreeable to many, but exciting to few.
But as you grow and develop your business, and clarify your brand, you can add rooms to your house, and paint the walls, and plant beautiful flowers out front and fill it with music.
The foundation and basic structure will be the same. But it will look and feel quite different.
Here is the permission
It is OK to put up a website that is not perfect. You will not lose branding karma points or be laughed out of your web neighborhood.
Most importantly, you will stop obsessing about clarifying your perfect brand before you have had the experience necessary to define it properly.
The important thing is that you get a web presence established so that you can move on to more important things like getting clients.
Here is the caveat
Please create your first site on WordPress. It can grow and flex with you, and there are thousands of talented designers who can help you with it.
Please do NOT create your first site on Godaddy or some other web host site. It looks clunky, and you are going to have to move it to a more elegant site later.
Please do not mistake my advice as saying that a clear, crisp brand and well-defined niche is not important in the long run — it is. It is just not important at the very beginning of your journey, when you are testing everything about your business, and building a relationship with your market.
Here is the opportunity for web designers
- Create a really simple, affordable ($500 or less) web package on WordPress that will allow clients to get started without having a totally snappy brand name or tagline.
- Don’t freak them out with too many questions about branding — they don’t know the answers yet.
- Create a follow up plan with them so you can check in when they are ready to do a more extensive, full-on branded project with Twitter page, banners, color palates, business cards and other critical pieces for a well-established brand.
Here is my wish
Those of you who have been freaking out about your perfect brand can relax. Get your dang starter site done, and feel a flood of relief.
Take the time to discover your right market, and your brand will emerge.
My delightful buddy David Billings (aka SparkyFirePants) wrote a brilliant and related post on branding (the day before this one) that is like peanut butter to my jelly. You will get the analogy when you read his post Where’s the Hurry, Murray? What’s with the race to create your branded visuals?