A work in progress......
When I began researching how to create a website, I immersed myself in books, blogs, on-line courses, tutorials and podcasts. It was quite a task to teach myself all the skills I thought I needed to design, build, launch and self-maintain an online space. Despite feeling quite overwhelmed by the end of that initial research phase, I gathered all the information and ideas that I’d collected and created in various notebooks, took a deep breath, and thought, “Now or never!”.
Only problem was, the “now” quickly gave way to the “never”. I started to compare my assembly of scribbled notes, ideas, drafts and zero design budget to well established, highly followed sites with all the bells and whistles that skilled, brilliant, professional website designers are rightly paid to provide. Two totally different things, I know. But by fruitlessly comparing what were essentially apples and oranges, I lost my nerve to even try.
And, in allowing myself to become entangled in the sticky spiderweb of comparison, I also totally ignored the fact that even though finances dictated that my first website would have to be a go-it-alone, completely DIY effort, I was actually really well prepared, to at the very least start, and even finish the job! I had:
1. A plan: I'd created my sitemap and organised every page and its content. I also understood what I wanted my website to do and who my target audience would be.
2. Images: I had, what I considered to be, a series of decent images that I’d styled and photographed myself. They were edited and organised into a folder on my desktop, ready to go.
3. Words: I had experience in SEO writing and knew what I had to do make my words “work” and give my site the best possible chance of being found by search engines. I had drafts of content, ready to go.
4. A timeframe: I was realistic that creating a website on my own, without the help of a professional designer, was not going to be a quick (or easy!) process so I gave myself plenty of time to write, photograph, edit and learn the technical side of a website build.
5. A website home: I'd originally planned on learning coding and building my site from scratch (what was I thinking!!). But after a lot of research and a reality check, I decided to save my sanity and some time by using the all encompassing website building tool that is Squarespace. I had my template selected, had watched plenty of Squarespace tutorials, and was ready to start building!
6. Support: Most importantly, I had a cheer squad of creative friends I could call on if I got stuck and who were there to encourage me every step of the way. (As well as a great coffee bar close to home to keep me caffeinated for the duration! )
Despite all of the above, I kept up with the self-inflicted, confidence sapping comparison habit (with an entirely unhealthy dose of perfectionism thrown into the mix!) until I completely ended up doubting myself and had utterly convinced myself that my site just wouldn't be good enough for human consumption. Then, I relegated all those hours and months of work, planning, creating and learning to the bottom drawer of my desk and let them languish in the dark for about a year. Yep, a whole, entire year! I'm not proud of that fact, nor am I proud of how I let an avalanche of negative thoughts crash into my headspace so easily. “Comparison is the thief of joy”, as the saying goes. I’ve learnt it’s also the surest way to completely paralyse your creativity, kill off your dreams, and make yourself feel totally inadequate and anxious. Noxious little beast that it is!
I finally hauled my neglected notebooks from my bottom drawer a few months ago when a chorus of “Do you have a website?”, and “Why don’t you have a website?” and "You should really have a website so people know what you can do!" started to grow increasingly louder at my photo styling workshops, among clients and creative friends. I also started to listen to that little voice inside my head that was constantly telling me to get over myself and get that website started and finished! So, I got out of my own way, stopped comparing, stopped torturing myself trying to make every element completely perfect, and just got on with what I had to do to finally bring ‘Creative Moments Daily’ to life.
And here you are! Reading my first blog post, on the first website I’ve ever imagined, created and launched! A big thank-you to you!
I have no doubts that as time goes on I will continue to make changes to both my website design and content as I learn new skills and act on the feedback I receive. My website is, after all, a bit like me- a work in progress! I guess the main message I want to leave you with today is that if you’re passionate about creating something, whether it’s an entire website, a blog, or your first series of styled images for Instagram- whatever it may be: just have faith in yourself and your abilities. As I remind myself daily- even the people and brands I admire the most had to start somewhere too!