How I Launched a Killer Website (and Saved Heaps of Money + Time)
Okay, I know… You are super creative, super skilled, and surely you can “go it alone” when it comes to creating a professional, consistent and visually coherent web presence.
I thought so too until I found myself staring at my laptop screen for hours on end, fumbling about in Squarespace, and failing miserably at achieving the polished look I desired for my business.
Spoiler Alert: Starting a Business is Hard Work
Starting a business is not for the faint-hearted, as anyone who has done it will tell you. It’s not easy to put yourself out there, especially as an introvert or as someone who is not used to self-promotion (me).
When I decided to launch Cloudberry Writing, I was quickly overwhelmed by the vast amount of new skills and platforms I needed not only to learn but ultimately master. These included: social media, self-promotion, financial acumen, graphic design, photography, content creation, client-booking…the list is almost endless.
Not least of these new and foreign skills is website design and hosting. I would consider your web presence among the most important in a lot of respects because it is how you communicate your unique proposition, your values and aesthetic taste. It is also how clients can learn about you and contact you directly (and book your services!).
Because I have been through a journey of discovery and a healthy dose of continuous refinements, I wanted to share what I have learned. I hope that I can shortcut for you some of the hurdles that had me stuck for weeks and months on end.
Why a Design Kit (or Theme) is your New Best Friend
This was me, about five months ago: I would skip into my office, crack open the laptop and think "Today I am going to get this website thing done!". About 36 minutes later, this was also me: "I am never going to get this website thing done."
I went back and forth between Pinterest (for inspiration on sites I admired) and Squarespace (where I clumsily tried to execute said sites). I just couldn't get the look right.
I was stuck in a cycle of believing I could create a great site and the reality that I did not have the technical skills or confidence to execute my design in a way I wanted. Then it dawned on me: I didn't need to add "Web Designer" to my massive list of tasks as I launched a business. I was launching a writing and editing business, after all. I realised, I could get help…and, boy, did I get help!
Enter the Knights in Shining Armour
Aka, Station Seven: a dynamic duo that punches a whopping mix of design savvy, technical skills, and super helpful blog posts (plus they are all-around lovely humans, which doesn’t hurt a bit). By reviewing their portfolio of impressive work and their products, I knew that this was the help that I needed.
What I loved about working with their Design Kits (which they offer for both Squarespace and Wordpress) is that all the design and aesthetic guesswork was removed from my list of worries. Not sure how much space to add there? No problem. Not sure what font pairings work well together? They have you covered. Not sure what Squarespace Template to choose? They can help!
Best of all, the price point was outstanding for such high-quality products - which is essential when you are starting out in business and trying to keep your overheads as low as possible.
Squarespace is a great platform, and I love their templates. I personally found that I needed a little more support in taking those basic templates to the next level, and this is the pure genius of design kits.
Recently, I had the joy of being asked by Station Seven to be featured in their Showcase - where they highlight business owners who have created beautiful sites using their products. I was thrilled to be in the company of other creative folks. Most importantly, I was proud to have a website that looked great and that would communicate my business effectively.
Read my interview here.
1. Squarespace - I would recommend this web hosting platform. It is very user-friendly and enables you to make updates to your site without a lot of technical know-how. Their drag-and-drop feature is especially appealing.
2. Station Seven - for all your design and web needs.
3. Keep your colours, fonts and photos consistent. You will get sick of looking at them, but consistency is king when it comes to a recognisable brand.
4. Get help! You do not need to do everything on your own.
5. Keep going! You will have days when you feel like it’s not working. Try to stay focused on the endgame - creating a business that you love.
Share the Love (and Ask for Help)
You don’t need to be an expert in all aspects of your business. It’s okay (and beneficial) to rely on the help of experts who have honed their skills over years, such as web designers. Keep your eye on the prize - YOUR unique skills!