Soon after I launched my business, it began: “I want a website just like so-and-so’s, can you make that for me?”
Sure, so-and-so’s a big name and she’s doing very well for herself… but here’s why my answer to that question’s always been a big, obese “No”:
Just because a particular style worked for so-and-so and her audience, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you and yours because — you guessed it — they’re different! So-and-so isn’t you and her audience isn’t yours.
Your business needs a website built with your business goals + niche + audience in mind, not somebody else’s.
Naw, I don’t need to know your ideal client’s favorite cookie or tampon brand, but I do wanna know what she in particular is struggling with, so we can help her find your solution much faster. And I wanna know what you want the overarching goal of your website to be, and where you’re hoping your website will help catapult you in a few years. These are the ideas we’ll be hashing out if we work together.
Sure, it’s tempting to copy what others are doing — it’s scary out there and easy to feel lost, right? Especially as an entrepreneur/solopreneur/online biz owner/etc… you can bet your yoga pants-clad ass I’m right there with you a lot of the time.
Buuuut everyone is different, so it figures that everyone runs their business differently, and what works for you may not work for me. Try to take the extra pressure out and give your business (and website!) room to breathe, evolve, and transform because YOU will continue to evolve and transform and grow over time, too.
You started a business to fit your life, right? Because you don’t want to live to work — you wanna live and want work to be a part of that, instead of the other way around.
So, HEY, if the idea of running a webinar doesn’t make that much sense for your offerings, or if it makes you break out in a sweaty semi-panic attack (like it does for me!), let it go. No need to force it.
Not everyone operates best live on camera. Not everyone does great running their business the same way as certain big names, or medium names, or smaller names. There are many possible avenues you can take — with your website, with your marketing, with your business as a whole, and with your whole goddamn life.
So when you catch yourself in the sweaty, mocking grip of comparisonitis, which by the way is as obnoxious and contagious as athlete’s foot, I say this: fuck it. You’re not doing anyone any favors (and especially not yourself) if you compare yourself to someone and feel like shit about it.
Speaking of which, typically when we compare ourselves to others? Those others tend to be waaayyyy ahead of us, and we oh-so-conveniently forget that they’ve consequently had the extra time to screw up and then figure things out and then eventually succeed — emphasis on the screwing up, yo, which we all suffer through just because we’re human. In the end, they don’t know what they’re doing either.
And really, as far as “competitors” go, I don’t really believe in them anymore. I did back when I was a newbie and wasn’t as sure what made me different and who I most wanted to work with. Now? I see peers instead of competitors. I see collaborators. I see friends. It’s pretty sweet, I recommend you join me!
Let’s go back to websites for a minute, and why you don’t want yours to look like that of your favorite online biz genius du jour.
Remember when everyone had a “Marie Forleo” website? Her layout was all the rage a few years back. Sure, it was strategic — for her and her audience. You need to ask: what does my audience need?
Sure, there are best practices to follow in marketing and business and web design too — but they also leave room for experimentation.
If you can focus on your values, and your mission, why you’re doing what you’re doing and OH right also the THING itself that you do? You’ll have a much easier time deciding what to do next (including what to put on your Home page) because you’ll have an internal compass guiding you along. You can then think like a business-person, like a CEO, instead of like a scared kid looking left and right in a panic trying to find someone to emulate.
If you can believe in what you are doing enough to ignore the scary mind-drama that comes with entrepreneurship and keep going anyway (as Rebecca Tracey describes it when discussing the ups and downs of running your own online business), you’re probably also passionate and smart enough to have something that’s all your own to say. So why stop there?
Why cockblock yourself with somebody else’s thing instead of letting your own magic fly? NAW, SON. Do your own thing and stop copying your competitors.
The best business AND life advice I’ve ever gotten is to be myself, because that’s the only way I’ll attract the people who are right for me, both in business and in life. We can extrapolate this to websites.
It’ll never be fun if you’re copying someone else. And if it’s not FUN? We’re not doing our job as screw-the-9-to-5 entrepreneurs who are out there making up our own rules and living life how we wanna as we go along.
Sure, it makes sense to be aware of what others are doing — but stop looking at them all the goddamn time and instead focus on what’s in front of you: your clients, your programs, your own life. That’s the only way you’ll have enough bandwidth and energy to create what you wanna create, with your own naturally different and unique twist to it.