It’s almost the end of the decade. 2020 is going to be here any moment, and while we’re prepping to finish out our work year strong, we know you all have goals on top of goals, too. Right? So, here we are: The sign you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to do the damn thing, don’t wait for a new calendar year or a different circumstance—get started now and make it happen. We’re here to inspire you, push you, and help make it easier (actually, it’s Squarespace who makes it easier)—so dive in and make it happen. Here are our tips for making your website before a new decade is here (and a story about how we did just that)—it’s time to show up for you.
One of the best things I did for myself last year was apply for, and attend, The Huddle, a womxn’s business retreat put together by my friend Liz Stanley. Ten years ago, attending a conference like this would have felt like a huge and scary risk to me. But a decade into working for myself, it just felt like a natural thing to do. (Though as it turns out: I learned a ton, and it was a huge deal.) One of the coolest parts of the conference was that it was a mix of womxn. There was a subset of folx who had been running their own business for years (many I knew really well) and had that old hand, strong and steady, bad-ass boss energy. But there were also womxn who were in the early stages of running their businesses, who had that brave AF, boss-b*tch, here-to-make-sh*t-happen kind of energy. If you could bottle that, you could power cities, and inspire nations.
And that was Sabia of The Black Doula.
She showed up at the retreat knowing all of no one. I mean, we could have been axe murders for all she knew, but she brought her A-game (and her T-shirt that said, “You could be racist, sexist, and transphobic or you could just be quiet.” So I know right off she was good people). But she walked into that room, and said, “Some of y’all have done some amazing stuff, but I am here to PLAY.” And frankly, nothing at The Huddle would have been the same without her.
So when she got in her business hot seat, I had a keen eye out for what I could do to pay it forward. I mean, let’s be real. Sabia is an amazing doula. She could mentor me any day of the week. So I wasn’t about to offer her business advice. But when I looked at her website, I saw that it was good… but not as big and sparkly and amazing as she was. And helping womxn create amazing websites is part of what I do. So I asked her if I could help her build a website that better told her story, and she was really into it.
Because, full stop, y’all. There are not a lot of black doulas out there, and there are not a lot of doulas doing the kind of work for marginalized communities that Sabia is doing. As someone who had two difficult pregnancies, and two dangerous births, I can tell you how important a birth doula and a postpartum doula was for my (literal and metaphorical) survival. I want that for all women… and Sabia is building an empire that will train and empower other womxn to become doulas for underserved communities. And that, my friends, is something I really care about.
But first: she needed an amazing website. And what she had was a good enough website. But Sabia isn’t good enough, Sabia is amazing. And she needed a website that reflected that.
Shout Your Story
We’ve talked over and over again about bragging about yourself, and creating a strong portfolio website to show off your work. And we know, as womxn, that those are not always easy things to do. The first thing we noticed when Sabia sent over her original site was that she had all the information and assets she needed to make a good site (which true story, means she was way ahead of the game). But all the great logos and color palettes in the world will not give you an amazing site if you’re not—and I think you know what I’m going to say here—bragging about yourself.
Pro Tip: Having a designer create you a brand guide and logo (or creating a logo yourself with Squarespace’s handy dandy logo builder is a key first step to a kick ass site. But on it’s own, it’s not enough. You need a logo… and to brag about yourself.
And here is a funny thing. Sabia is one of the most amazing, bold, putting-your-best-foot-forward womxn I’ve ever met. She is, in short, brave AF. She’ll walk into a room of womxn she doesn’t know—some of whom are running multi (multi)-million-dollar-a-year businesses, and take up all the space she deserves. So if Sabia wasn’t bragging enough about herself online, you know it’s an epidemic. But also, I was determined that Sabia’s website was going to be as all-out, bold, and delightful as she is in real life.
Lesson 1: Bragging about yourself online is hard. It’s even hard for those of us who walk, jazz hand (me), or twerk (Sabia) our way into rooms. And if it’s hard for us, it’s hard for everyone. So once you’ve created a website draft that seems big and bold and like it shows you off in the best light… pass it to several someones who know you and who love you, and have them tell you all the things you left out. (If you want to walk down memory lane and reminisce about the time I made Najva take her own bragging medicine, and she didn’t like it at all, feel free.)
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have
When it came to building a new website for Sabia, we asked for a list of priorities and goals for her business. Specifically, I wanted to know, “what do you want people who visit your website to know, to click on, and to do?” Often, figuring this out (or just giving voice to it) is a struggle for womxn. But not for Sabia. She’s in a season of change in her business and she is ready to tell the world about it.
Pro Tip: When you’re building your website, you need to figure out first what you want people to know about you, and second, what action you want them to take.
Previously, Sabia had been highly involved in hands-on doula and birth work. She was working a lot directly with folx who were preparing for birth, but that isn’t what she plans to do moving forward—so we needed to present not just what she has done (the job she has), but what she wants to do (the job she wants).
Her response to our question about goals for her business and website was: “I want my new site to focus on my shift to teaching (online and in-person), mentoring, and continued activism. I would love a blog, since next year, I will be traveling more and documenting full spectrum work around the globe on my blog, as well as on my podcast.”
So many womxn I mentor know what they want deep down, but are afraid that if they say it publicly, maybe they won’t follow through on their goals and they’ll embarrass themselves. I always remind people that A) Failure is part of the process, and B) Everyone is too damn self-centered to notice when you don’t live up to the goals you set for yourself (because they’re too worried thinking about the goals they didn’t live up to).
But with Sabia, I didn’t even have to have that conversation. When I met her at The Huddle it quickly became clear that she knew what she wanted, and she was ready to step into it, and shout it from the (virtual) rooftops.
Lesson 2: You may not feel ready to speak your dreams into being on the internet, but you have to. This is less, “Fake it till you make it” and more “Admit that you are currently making it.” If you say “Maybe, one day, I want to be a doula educator,” nobody really knows what to do with that. If you say, “I am a birth doula educator, and here are my years of experience as a birth doula, the class I’m offering, and oh yeah, sign up for my email list so I can let you know when my podcast launches next year,” people will know who you are, what you do, and what actions to take. (And remind yourself: YOU ARE QUALIFIED FOR THIS. Likely, more qualified than most. Because womxn are taught to never own their experience and knowledge.)
What’s Your Why?
At The Huddle, someone recommended that we all watch the video “What’s your Why?” I now send it to every friend who’s in the process of building a business, or launching a new website. It explains, in a quick and straightforward manner, how what we all really respond to is manifestos, big ideas, reasons for being.
And when I saw the first draft of The Black Doula’s new website I liked it. But something was missing. It had a great template, tons of good information, but… It needed Sabia’s why, written big and bold in the stars (or okay, fine, in pixels). I knew that Sabia really (really) understood her why, so it had to be on the site somewhere, but I didn’t quite understand what it was when I hit her front page. And that’s when I clicked over to her “About” page, and saw that Sabia had a killer manifesto/elevator pitch right there. Jackpot. All she needed to do was move it to the front page.
Now, when you get to The Black Doula’s site, you immediately understand the who/what/where and why of Sabia as a person and The Black Doula as her business.
Sabia also listed the types of work and services she offers in the menu options at the top of her site. So many sites make me dig for information on who you are, and how I can work with you. Sabia’s makes that super clear right in her menu. She is a: Doula, Educator, Coach, Advocate. Click on those options and you’ll find out exactly how you can work with her in each of those areas of her practice.
Lesson 3: It’s not enough to tell us what you do (though please, tell us what you do, and how we can work with you). It’s also key that you tell us why you do it. There are a million doulas, writers, catnip crochet artists, and underwater basket weavers on the internet. But you are something special. Tell us why. Tell us your why.
Dance it off, then Take It Live
And now, the brand new internet home of Sabia C. Wade, The Black Doula is live! It’s everything I wanted Sabia’s website to be when I met her, and more. Squarespace is the platform that helped it all come together quickly, and seamlessly—plus, it’ll be really easy for Sabia to make updates when she launches her podcast next year, and starts sharing about all her epic world travels. Sabia is a force to be reckoned with. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.
Lesson 4: There are people who I’ve mentored and worked with to build websites… who still don’t have a live website, a year or more after the website was completed. (True story: sometimes I get tipsy and angry Google people who’s websites I poured endless time and energy into, and then yell into my phone, “WHERE EXACTLY IS THE WEBSITE INTERNET?” You know where it is? Sitting in an unpublished Squarespace draft, because hitting publish seems too scary. Here is the thing: you can follow all our advice to the letter, and build the world’s most perfect website. But if you never publish it? Every moment of that time was wasted. Squarespace’s current tagline is “A website makes it real,” and my friends: they are not lying.
This post was sponsored by Squarespace. We are thrilled to be continuing our partnership with Squarespace talking about what it means to be a womxn with #goals in this modern world. Whether you’re stepping up in your career or striking out to do your own thing, one of the best things you can do for yourself is create a place online where you can show off your work in the form of a portfolio site, an online resume, or another hub that displays just how awesome you are. Squarespace provides an all-in-one hub (including everything from custom domains to templates, SEO tools, and now even built-in marketing tools like e-mail marketing) that makes it easy to build your online home beautifully. Never made a website before and have no idea where to start? Check out their webinars for free help and step-by-step details, or hire a designer if that’s more your speed—plus they have 24/7 support. Click here to get your website started today with a free 14-day trial from Squarespace. APW readers get 10% off your first Squarespace purchase when you use the code APW19 at checkout.