In 2024, I’m going to redo my personal website, DeborahCarver.com, for an hour each week, until it’s done. I’ll be livestreaming my process and progress on YouTube, Twitch, and LinkedIn weekly on Wednesdays at 6:30 Eastern. If you want to build along with me and you’re working on a budget, I encourage you to subscribe, tune in, and take notes.
If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your personal site or if you’ve never had a personal website, I encourage you to build along with me.
Add the weekly Wednesday livestreams to your calendar:
You can also catch reruns of previous episodes at the following times:
- Saturdays at 8:00AM ET / 1:00PM GMT - Four most recent episodes
- Thursdays at 8:00PM ET / Fridays at 12:00PM AET - Four most recent episodes
- Fridays at 12:00PM ET / 5:00PM GMT - Two most recent episodes
- The 15th of every month - All episodes in the archive, streamed beginning at 4AM ET / 9:00AM GMT
Paid subscribers can watch all videos at their own pace, on demand. Paid subscribers also receieve:
- All templates used in the process of building a website
- Notes and insights from each episode
- Commenting and Q&A
This project has several aims:
- Demystify the website development process for everyone who didn’t spend their teenage years learning to code.
- Explore the new crop of website production tech, as we move from clunky WYSIWYG editors to sleeker low-code and no-code website builders.
- Lay the foundations for better online experiences as mass social media platforms lose their appeal.
- Make the experience of building online a practice rather than a chore.
If you’ve built a website before, you know that the process won’t always be fun, per se, but if you work alongside me, you’ll have a web presence where you can promote yourself, publish your own work, host your c.v., create a portfolio, or whatever else you want to do.
The open web is a canvas. Let’s fill it with great websites.
Check out the first extremely lo-fi preview episode:
Why build a website?
More than social platforms, the open web still holds a fair amount of promise and opportunity for independent publishers and individuals to own, promote, and monetize their work. I say this as a professional content strategist with a 20-year career: the open web is more or less the same as it was when I first started building websites in the late 1990s, whereas social networks and other platforms have shifted radically.
But many, many people still enjoy using and building websites.
I fully believe anyone can build a website. But learning to navigate software, understanding the technical side, customizing templates, and setting the whole thing up is tedious and time-consuming.
The process of planning and building a website is very different than creating and printing a physical publication. It requires a different approach to thinking about content. If you’re building something that lasts, it’s not a short process.
It’s also worth it. At the end of this program, you’ll understand much more about digital publishing and have an appreciation for the web development process. You may even be inspired to move beyond a personal website and create your own publication.
How long does it take?
I fully expect this project to take a year of weekly building. I’m not going to build in between episodes, so we’ll make the progress that we make each week. The goal is to have a functioning personal website by the end of 2024.
What will the process be?
For my consultancy, I have created a process for website redesigns that we will follow in this program. It’s a process designed to help businesses create better websites that serve specific goals, but it can easily be adapted for personal projects. The process roughly looks like this:
- Strategy - Defining your goals, developing wireframes and sitemaps, and making a plan
- Administration - Creating requirements and choosing software
- Production - Actually creating and placing the content
- Distribution - Optimizing your website to be findable and discoverable
- Style - Customizing your templates and developing your brand
- Measurement - Ensuring you can track your progress so your website is an effective promoter for your business
I’ve also made a list of specific tasks that I will follow while building the website, so I don’t stray too far off course. We’ll take a look at those during the program.
What kind of website are you building?
I’m rebuilding DeborahCarver.com, a personal website meant to house my biography, writing, speaker information, and personal projects.
Many other types of websites — ecommerce, newsletter, blog, forum, etc. — are out there, but we’re going to start with a personal site. It can certainly be expanded into another type of website! But for the moment, we’re going to keep it to a more minimalist personal platform.
Think of it as the minimum viable product approach to a personal online brand.
About your host
My name is Deborah Carver, and I run a consultancy and newsletter called The Content Technologist. I have been building websites since 1997, before I could drive.
But I am not a developer. I much prefer writing words over code. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that one of the best things writers can do to boost their careers is learn how to navigate web software.
In my consultancy, I help businesses redesign, measure, and manage websites with large collections of content. I also manage my business’s website and archive, which is run as a publication and is not meant to be synonymous with my name.
But although I create the strategy on behalf of clients, I develop the builds myself — which means I am extemely rusty, and my coding skills are rather out of date.
And as of right now, my personal website — DeborahCarver.com — is embarrassingly out of commission.
Instead of working alone and cursing my way through it, leaving dissatisfied with the results, I’m bringing you along with me. Let’s recharge our digital presence in 2024.
Think of it as the Stolen Sharpie Revolution of websites. True, it’s not as inexpensive as copying a bunch of zines at Kinko’s, but I’m creating this project in the same spirit of self-publishing: charging just enough to support the effort I’m putting into creating the newsletter while remaining low-priced enough to be accessible to a broad audience.
If you follow along, by the end of 2024, you’ll have a working website under your own domain name where you’ll be able to send clients, readers, collaborators, etc., and it’ll save you time and money in the long run.