I taught myself enough HTML and CSS to build and customize WordPress websites. Knowing how to use the tools gave me freedom to pursue my own side projects and deepened the way I thought about other ones.
When my freelance client Lena Franklin, a mindfulness-based psychotherapist, talked to me about a new site, I proposed she build it herself with guidance from me. Just as understanding how to use the tools had accelerated my work, I thought if Lena understood them too, it would give her a launchpad for all the things she had in mind for her business. Approaching her project as the teacher, not the maker, would be a new role for me. But I could school her on what she needed to know. After all, I’d once schooled myself.
A FOCUSED, BUT FLEXIBLE PLAN
The website was important, but it wasn’t enough. Lena needed a blog and a social media presence to bring people to it. I made a list of things she needed to know and broke it down into manageable, weekly topics for us to discuss.
THEN SHE POSED A PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTION:
“Should therapists even be on social media?” Lena recognized the power of these platforms to share her work, but she had some concerns. Traditionally, psychotherapy has been a humble, quiet service profession. Now with social media shaking up the rules of engagement, the field is wrestling with questions on self-disclosure and self-promotion. I appreciated the conversation, and it was one we’d continue to have. I put together a playbook for her reference, and we worked on blog and social media strategies that were sensitive to these issues.
PLEASE DO TRY THIS AT HOME
Before we could build the site, foundational pieces like registering a domain, buying a hosting service, and installing WordPress had to be in place. We could’ve knocked them out together, but I wanted Lena to get comfortable handling some light technical parts on her own. I flashed back to my beginner days, with all the plodding steps and confusing moments that broke the workflow. Then I wrote a pre-production playbook that anticipated those speed bumps and saved her from them.
PLAYING THROUGH THE POSSIBILITIES
We built the website on paper first, putting the colored blocks for text and photos in place. Making a miniature website thrilled my inner-Wes Anderson, but there was also a practical reason. If we had to make all these decisions as we were building, the website would take forever — and we’d only scheduled a weekend.
THE MOST ZEN WEBSITE BUILD EVER
Before we started work on Friday, I made an ordered to-do list, optimized the photos, and put all the text and hex codes into digital document so she could copy and paste. I’ve never worked on a website in such a methodical way, but here it was a must, not just for the sake of time, but for her comprehension. I gave direction while she built it. Even with a tight execution plan, I’m still amazed we got it all done by Sunday night. The giant cappuccinos helped.
IT’S LIVE! NOW WHAT?
Although Lena had built her own site, the real ease with it would come over time as she wrote blog posts and handled the upkeep. I made a playbook of the common things she’d have to update, including a few simple checklists. Once she got the hang of it, there was no stopping her.
THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD…
…is her playful Dachshund. The second best thing is seeing her career flourish. Collaborators across Atlanta and around the globe have reached out to her after reading her posts or following her on social media. Both the website and blog have been recognized for their beauty and utility, landing her on “Best of” lists alongside the top national practitioners in her field. Being self-taught on the subject, I’m happy to pass along what I know to help people do the work they’re called to do. And besides, I learn a little more each time, too.
Website Photography: Stephanie Albanese, Grant Della Vecchia, Keith Taylor
WordPress Theme: Codestag Developers