“Your website is your dojo,” is a phrase I’ve said a number of times over the past few years to clients.
If you want to get good at martial arts, you need to practice. And the dojo is where you practice.
You don’t go to the dojo to win. You go to be defeated. You go to learn. You go to push yourself.
I suppose it’s the same in any art form. A writer is constantly defeated by the blank page.
As Arnold Schwarzenegger put it, “A hundred pounds is a hundred pounds. It never gives you a break.”
It is supposed to stymie you. You’re supposed to see how little you know and how meager is your skill.
I see this with websites and entrepreneurs all the time.
They’ll tell me that they’re very clear about their niche, their point of view, their story and their services.
“Show me your website then,” I’ll say.
And the website is usually generic, confusing or uncompelling.
Don’t tell me you’re clear. Show me.
It’s easy to claim that you’re a karate master until you get into a real fight.
I see people defeated by their homepage all the time. What should they write? What options should they give to people?
I see people defeated by their bios all the time.
I see people defeated when they try to write a page on their site describing their ideal clients and their point of view.
I see this all the time.
It’s supposed to defeat you. You’re supposed to be appalled by how hard it is to express the things inside of you. It’s a good reminder: if it’s this hard for you to articulate what you do imagine how hard it is for your clients. And if you rely on word of mouth, this is a ponderous consideration.
People often ask me if they need to write a business plan. I always encourage them to do it; not because the plan will be of much use to them by the time they’re done. It’ll likely be useful for a few months and then not worth the paper it’s written on. But the clarity it will bring them in the process will be invaluable.
Writing a business plan forces clarity on the core questions of business: What are you doing? How are you doing it? Why are you doing it? For whom are you doing it? etc. These are questions that are so easy to ignore. They are the scales that the world’s greatest musicians still practice regularly.
They are the basics. They are the fundamentals. It’s easy to go to karate class, watch people at work and nod and say, “Got it,” but you don’t got it until you’ve practiced it and wrestled with it hundreds of times.
Nobody wants to practice that same damned jump shot thousands of times.
No one in the military wants to do drill after drill.
No musician or actor is stoked about rehearsing over and over and over until it’s perfect.
But it’s this kind of rigorous practice that creates masterpieces.
Marketing makes you better at what you do. Marketing asks you the questions that shape your products and services for the better; honing and focusing them. Marketing trims the unnecessary fat.
And so, your website is your dojo. It never gives you a break.
Most people I know write and then rewrite their home pages, bios and other central pages. Rarely does someone write the perfect thing on the first draft. It ends up being an iterative process.
But a dojo isn’t just where you practice, it’s where your practice is recognized. It’s where you’re given your next belt.
I suppose this is why having marketing coach can be so helpful. They’re like your sensei, or your voice coach, your fitness instructor… they push you harder. They keep defeating you but what comes out of it all is something more beautiful than you might have done alone.
Your website isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to flummox you. It’s supposed to point out to you every place you’re not clear. That’s its job. But, if you stay with it, you come out with something simple and glorious. You come out with something so clear that it makes your entire business life easier.
Your website is like the CD you finally put out but it all starts with years and years of writing and rehearsing songs. It’s the book you finally publish. But it all starts with the blank page.
Your website is where all of your hard work appears both as practice (various drafts and versions over the years) and as final product (the pages that are up on your website now).
Additional Resources for Your Website:
Bye Bye Boring Bio (best workbook on writing your bio ever)
Point of View Marketing (most websites don’t have a point of view page but I think they should)
The Art of Relevance (the core issue around which your home page must be built)
The Website Toolkit (incredible resource from my colleague Robert Middleton that tells you the pages your need as a service provider and what should be on them).