A Manifesto About Starting and Building a Website

Manifesto about starting and building a website

If you’re anything like the other members of the community who visit my website, you’re here for one of two reasons.

Most of you already have a website and now you're ready to optimize it. You want it to have a killer design, great functionality and you want to make it as profitable as possible. You've already put in the hard work to get it up and running and now you want to take it to the next level.

On the flip side, what if you fall in the second group of people: those who don’t have a website yet? Maybe you have an idea in your head for either a personal or business website, but at this point, you have nothing to show for it.

Have you asked yourself what's holding you back? Why haven’t you started this project?

Before I even began my entrepreneurial journey, I read a book by Seth Godin called Poke the Box that had a huge impact on how I started and built my business. His book may be small but it is mighty - in fact, it lit the spark in me to take my passion for all things web related from hobby to business.

In this book, Godin wrote a manifesto about the value in starting something (anything!) and ultimately it helped me get to where I am today.

In today’s article, I want to share my thoughts on starting something and how it relates to me personally and my business. I also want to show you that you too can start a project. Building and launching a website could be the first step of huge change in your life and business. I have no doubt that after your initial discomfort, you’ll have actual results and something to show for it.

Starting my business

Since you've found my website, you probably know that I run a web development business. I work with clients every day to build the strongest website possible for their business. By creating a website that meets their needs and pays attention to their business goals, they are able to enjoy profitability, awesome online presences and strengthen the relationships with their customers and community.

I also write extensively about web development and design, specifically about how having a good website can make a business more profitable and functional. The more I learn, the more I want to share with those who are interested in those topics.

Here’s the thing - while I’m a skilled developer and a confident writer now, I wasn’t always that way. Just like everyone, I started out as a total beginner.

When I was starting out in web development and design, it was scary. I remember feeling embarrassed that the finished product looked so bad, and frustrated that it had taken me so much time to produce something I didn’t like.

But do you know what? From the day I started, I was hooked. Even though it was insanely hard at first, it was fun. Every time I sat down at my computer, I got a bit better and refined the process a little more. I found workarounds and ways to troubleshoot my problems, got faster and more confident with each project.

I started off doing mock websites for imaginary companies and fake people, and that took the pressure off. When I finally moved to doing “real” projects for “real” people, it was thrilling.

I kept on tinkering until eventually I became good enough to start charging for my services. I took it from hobby to business and now I am able to make a livelihood from it. I get to create websites every day and it’s something that I love and never gets old.

All of this is possible because I pushed through my fears and just started.

Here’s the thing about starting: it’s scary but it’s always worth it.

Whenever you begin a project, you’re basically announcing to the world that there’s something you care about enough that it’s worth your time and energy. That alone can be terrifying. Starting a project means taking a risk by putting yourself out there. You’ll be creating something concrete that people can see or consume, and you know that they’ll have an opinion about it, good or bad.

Starting something, therefore, takes initiative and drive to push through the awkward and uncomfortable early stages. More often than not, people get paralyzed by thinking, meeting and planning - basically anything that stalls the actual project from getting off the ground. The ones who succeed and those who plough through, experiment and tinker away until they have something half-decent!

Eventually, as the project moves forward, those people gain more and more control over the situation and ultimately the results. Because they had the guts to give it a shot, they have something cool to show for it.

Initiative is scarce

Because initiative is scarce (since it is riskier than sticking to the status quo), it’s inherently more valuable. Fewer people take initiative so those who do have a higher chance of standing out, for better or worse. Doing a project properly, however, allows you to stand out from the crowd much more clearly and hold greater authority in your field.

Half the time, just starting a website for your business gives you loads more credibility than the freelancer who only has their Gmail account set up, even if you both produce the same quality work.

Starting a website

When you decide you want to start a website, whether its for you personally or for a business idea you have in mind, you’re in exactly the same boat as I was. You’ll have hesitations about starting the project right now and you’ll come up with a million reasons why it “probably won’t work or look good anyway”. But, as I’m sure you know, the biggest challenge won’t be figuring how or when to start building a website, it’ll be actually doing it.

When you initiate change (in this case, you decide to and start building a website), you’ll have a result. You will have a web presence, a way to showcase yourself or your business, a way for people to get in touch with you, and a platform to share your ideas  or offer your services. This gives you ownership over your situation and you can take action on whichever direction you choose.

You just have to start before all that is available to you.

When should you start?

The answer to this is easy : NOW. Not tomorrow, not next week, and definitely not next month. Now is always better than soon, even if things a little rocky at the beginning. You’re a smart person and you can always refine the project as it trucks along.

Dealing with resistance

If we’re being honest, most of the resistance to any project will come from you personally. You’ll be hesitant to assume the risk that comes with putting yourself out there and you might not want to “rock the boat”, disrupt the industry or make any rash moves that could make you feel out of control.

This resistance might sabotage any opportunities you could have by creating a website and making yourself or your business known. It could ruin any chance you have to do exciting and interesting work, in whatever form that may take.

My initial resistance to starting a web development business came from comparing myself to others in my industry who were years ahead of me. I looked at their portfolios and skills that came with experience and thought, "man, where does that leave me? Why would someone choose to work with me when these other guys are so good?". But here's the thing: they got that way by starting and doing, and that's exactly how I have done it too.

The number one rule of doing work that matters

Godin explains how the biggest thing you can do to have results and make work that matters, no matter the outcome, is to work and create on a regular basis. By scheduling and putting in the time on a frequent basis (e.g, every day), you will be more likely to start, stick to and finish a project.

If you show up, you’ll work on it and it’ll get done.  

I know that when I put something in my calendar, the project gets completed during that time because I've mentally committed to finishing it.

Put your name on it

Godin also talks about “the ego and the project”. He explains that when your name is on the project (in this case, on the website), the go pushes the project along and drives you to produce higher quality work. The ego pushes you to initiate better work and you’ll be more likely to finish the project.

I’ve seen this work firsthand. Whenever my name is associated with a website and will be on display (e.g., most websites that I work on have my name in the footer and link back to my website), I’m more likely to produce better work since I know it’ll be a representation of me in the public domain. When I started building websites for others, and not just "tester" websites, that's when I really started getting better and honing my skills.

Permission to start

If you’ve read through this far, it sounds like you know what you want. You have an idea in mind and you understand that having a good website will make your idea real and could set you up for success...so what’s holding you back? If you’re waiting for permission to start, let me tell you that you don’t need to search for it. No one out there is going to tell you to go for it except for you (and me!). Just do it, get started, build the website, launch your business, make those dollar bills rain.

Don’t forget, your first website might suck but that’s okay! It will improve, your business will get better, you’ll have a stronger online presence and much more credibility. And shameless plug, if you don’t know where to start, get in touch and I can work with you on building an awesome website.

Trust me, a year from now you’ll wished you’d started today - so go for it.

Leave me a note in the comments so that I can check out your site and see what you come up with. You’ve got this!


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Charlotte O'Hara

Vancouver