Each morning, you desire to wake up and put on a pot of yummy coffee, then walk into your home studio with huge bay windows that fill the room up with the most glorious natural light, and you start painting or knitting or creating whatever it is that you love to create. Your fingers are itching to get messy with paint or to feel the yarn of your most recent creation wrapping around and around your knitting needles.
THIS is the vision of your perfect morning, and it’s all you daydream about on your lunch breaks when your co-worker is lamenting about how it’s only Tuesday.
And it finally clicks in your mind that you just need to make your side hustle your main hustle.
You’re ready to put some skin in the game and create your own branded website so that you can make a living from your passion.
But you’re not 100% sure of what you need to get started.
You’re asking yourself this question, what do I need to create a website?
You’ve gathered up some of the obvious things. You’ve taken a few photos for the site, and you’ve written a couple of blog posts because you heard it was a great idea to have several ready to go when you launch your site.
And at the moment, you’re not sure if you’re going to hire a designer (because let’s face it, the money you’ve earned from the couple of scarves that have sold on Etsy isn’t enough to even buy a pro theme), or maybe you’ll take a course, or something else but you feel excited that pretty soon you’ll have your own website.
All you know is that you are legit sure that you can do it if you have a beautiful site.
If this sounds like you, then today’s post is pretty important. Last week I posted the 16 things that you should have ready before you start your web design (or redesign) project but one thing wasn’t mentioned.
While you need your website copy before redesigning your site, it’s not what I am going to tell you is the most important thing.
And likewise, you need a hosting company and a domain name. But it’s not going to be mentioned in today’s post.
What I’m going to tell you is that the #1 most important thing you need before you create your website may be a little out of the ordinary from what other designers might say.
I believe that what you need is an offer.
It doesn’t need to be an earth-shattering offer. (No diamond encrusted, gold inlaid, sent down from the heavens in a ray of light offers required here.)
It doesn’t even need to be 100% completed and ready to go.
But if you’re creating a website with the intention of making money in the long run (perhaps so you can quit seeing your grinch of a coworker who shares your desk or maybe to go on that vacation you’ve always dreamed about but never could afford), you should at least have an idea of what you want to offer. I recommend having at least one offer ready to go when you launch your site.
You need a website because you’re starting a business to make money online so you should go into it with an idea of what you’d like to sell.
When you create a website first and create an offer later, you muddy the waters of who you’re selling to and of what you’re selling. There will be confusion and doubt later on because you’ve put the cart before the horse.
Create the offer first.
Then you’ve already taken the time to figure out what your customer needs. And you’ve put some thought into who your customer is, and your website should always be more about your customer than about you. So the result will be much more effective and strategic.
Again, your first product or offer doesn’t need to be something huge. It could even be something as cheap as $10. (Are you going to get rich off of an offer that’s priced at only $10? Well, no. But you will start out with a website that has goals and when you market it, you’ll get people to your existing offer and start making money right off the bat.)
Here’s how to find out what to offer if you’re not sure where to start:
Step #1- List out all the things that you’re good at and can make money from by doing a service or creating a product:
By listing out all of the things you’re good at, you’re allowing yourself to think broadly and come up with creative ideas that you might not have had if you’re just thinking about selling one thing on the Internet. Even if it’s not something that you hope to sell, when you’re brainstorming and throwing ideas out there you may come up something you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. You’ll also come up with things that you might be able to do right away, quickly and with little effort. Try to list ten or twenty things and stretch your creativity. You might throw out 19 ideas and feel like they all sorta lack that extra sparkle but that 20th idea might be a winner.
Step #2- Write out who you’d most like to help in the world:
Again, you can make a list. Maybe you’d love to help other moms or perhaps you’d like to help grieving widows. You can think about the answers you put down in step one and consider who your skills were meant to help. Think about who you’d like to work on a daily basis, as well.
Step #3- Consider how your customer struggles and how you might be able to help:
If you wrote down that you’d like to help moms and you’re good at hand-lettering, then maybe you can create a method for stay-at-home moms to keep track of their kid’s schedules by using a fun hand-lettering technique that you came up with to write out your own kid’s schedules. You can package this up in a PDF workbook that you sell on your new site for $12. You’d help the moms by tapping into their creative side and also by helping them to create something fun and practical for their day-to-day.
You’ll need to think about the people you’d like to help and what things they struggle with in their lives or their businesses.
How can you get them from the point of struggling to a point where they’re able to do something with ease or where they’re ready to enjoy their life more. I wrote a post recently about using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to uncover what your customer is needing, so check that out to help you if you’re stuck.
Step #4- Choose one thing from the list to have completed by the time you launch your website.
It’s really easy to get sucked into the trap of creating a TON of things just because you’re good at them or because they can help someone else (or because you second guess yourself and feel like everything is going to fail). When you’re just starting out, I recommend trying to create only one thing to begin with and to test it out to see what happens.
A friend of mine, Olivia from Random Olive, did this well. She started off with hand-lettering and built up her business over the span of a couple of years. Just recently, she decided to branch out and try something new by launching a shop of super cute items that she’s crocheted.
I did the opposite when I first started out with my online business. I tried to launch two businesses with multiple offers at the same exact time. I was barely able to keep my head above water.
I had way too many things on my plate and not enough time to devote to any one thing. When I quit my photography business to pursue website design alone, that’s when I started seeing a significant increase in my yearly revenue.
By focusing in on one offer, you will not only be able to come up with something great (instead of a bunch of things that are all sorta bland), but you’ll also be able to implement your offer before the launch of your website. So when your site goes live, you already have something there for people to purchase.
All too often, I see creative women trying to launch a website, but they haven’t created a product or service to sell yet. Then when they go to write a blog post or they try to figure out what to post on social media, and they’re stuck because they aren’t sure what to post.
You don’t necessarily need the offer to be completed before launching your website, and as always things might shift when you get feedback from customers, but by having one solid idea in mind, you’ll be able to handle all the other parts of the web design process much easier.
Need help coming up with your offer? Check out my upcoming challenge and workshop on Planning Out Your Next Offer.