It's rebelifying time!
Because once you start you cannot stop. I should know.
This time we're looking at your website and how you can make it more YOU. How you can finally let go of the expectations of others and the expert advice. How you can stick your flag on the Moon.
Oh yeah, almost forgot...
Some people ask why they should have a website, and even though I am not one to set rules for others - or use the word should - I will admit that I don't understand the question.
It's like going to the Moon and not sticking your flag on it.
In Merlin's name, why.
If you're on the Internet and everyone else has a website - even if it's just a static page with your info and links to your projects and social presence - they expect everyone else to have a website too, and when they discover you don't, they think you're a psycho killer or a conspiracy theorist or worse, a dinosaur.
So don't ask me that question. Especially on Wednesdays.
I'm going to throw some ideas and basic principles I have embraced in my own pursuit of the "perfect" personal brand. It's in inverted commas because there's no such thing as perfect and if you pursue it, then you'll procrastinate a lot.
(Pursuing the most authentic brand is wayyy better.)
1. Speak from the heart.
How are people going to connect with you if you say what "you're supposed to?" Or worse, letting someone say it for you. Unless you find one of those amazing copywriters who can basically read your mind, it's not good enough.
Deep down, you know exactly what to say, but you're afraid that it's going to sound stupid or that people are going to call you unprofessional.
Trust me, the opposite is going to happen.
When you show up exactly as you are and use the words that just come naturally, you are letting people know the real you and connect with you on a human level. Which is where people want to connect! Duh.
Everyone is tired of the experts and gurus and everyone saying and doing the same things. Yeah, your website should look professional, but it should also look and sound authentic, which is where you come in. The words in your heart are bursting to come out, and all you have to do is let them.
In this rebrand, I followed my heart, and people came to me and said a lot of it resonated. That's what I consider a true victory.
2. It's not just you, it's me.
The experts will tell you to consider what your ideal client wants, what their goals and fears are, and to connect by reflecting this information back to them on your website. That is how you build trust, right? That is how you show them you understand and you can help them. Right???
I've seen beautiful, professional sites that have literally read my mind - probably done by an expert copywriter - but have failed to show me who the website owner was. I mean, why trust someone who's invisible?
Why trust someone who's just telling me what I want to hear?!
There's nothing wrong with reading your people's minds, they'll be relieved they're not alone and that someone gets it. Just don't forget that they landed on your website to learn more about YOU, and then how you can help them. There are so many ways to gently guide them from page to page, from offering to offering, but you should consider starting from ground zero:
Hey you. My name is Violeta, and this is my story. What's yours? :)
Don't forget yourself when you build your website.
3. Social proof, schmochal proof.
Yeah yeah... I know I "should" have social proof on my homepage.
I don't care.
It's not that it's wrong, but everyone has their pet peeves and this is mine. Another is popups that ruin your reading experience.
Just listen to me.
You don't have to do anything on your website you don't want to do.
If you hate popups, find another way to lead people to your mailing list. If you hate social proof, find another way to enchant them on your homepage. If you hate things as they are done, come up with your own things.
Just be a rebel! Use that brain of yours to make up your own world.
Your website, your rules.
4. Your site, your experience.
The thing to understand here is that your website is not just a static business card, but an actual experience - a journey you provide for your peeps.
Depending on how engaging the journey is, your website can become the hub of everything that you do and provide. It can draw people organically, without you having to come up with complex marketing tactics. It can become a marketing machine that works for you. But you gotta see it as a living thing, not static.
Your site, your rules. You can even turn it into a game if you want!
A lot of people are failing on that front because they don't give us the next step. When I think of my website, I'm always asking myself, What's the next step after that? The answer is the next page, and so on. Sometimes I would create 100 hidden pages, to be sure I'm giving the best experience I can.
I call this "the rebel journey," and you'll call yours something else.
Something that fits your brand perfectly, like mine does.
The pages you create don't just go on your site's navigation bar, people won't just magically find what they're looking for, or what you want them to find. If you want some sort of control over what they find, you'll have to be gentle and patient, and most of all, enter a strategic mindset that is also fun.
Now imagine you're the owner of an amusement park and start building and arranging the stalls. Then start building and arranging the rides.
Give people the chance to feel something when they land on your website.
No more boring websites. Rebel sites are better.
5. Trends change.
And if you try to go with the trends, you'd be changing your site so often, you won't be able to stick with one look for even one week. You won't be able to stick with one message. Everything you create will be so discombobulated that you won't be able to see yourself in it anymore. Then people won't be able to see you and that's when you're in trouble - when your site isn't YOURS anymore.
Trends are great. They can truly help when we need them.
But when you put more importance on them than you do on authenticity and your unique style, then you're just another robot who is telling us that the trends matter more than you do. So why should we listen?
In the end, it's your decision what you take out of this article and what you disagree with. That's the whole point! We are all wildly different, we like different things, and that's the way it's supposed to be. That's what brings variety to the Internet, what differentiates us from the others. That's what fascinates the people who visit our websites and get entangled into our brands.
Finding your own voice and style on your own website is something so magical, but it is also something that takes a while. Don't rush it.