Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Growth Of An Idea

It started innocently enough. Back in April '07 I was about to get mentioned in the LAT (LA Times) for my little Westside Guidebook (thanks to Sandra Tsing Loh), and thought hey, what a wasted opportunity it would be if the fine folks of Los Angeles couldn't point and click their way to a site, any site, to find me. Quick! Get me a url.

A You Are What?

Being the nascent blogger that I was at the time, (not even a year into it), I knew nothing about websites. But I knew how to blog, I knew how to post.

So I quick grabbed a Blogger address (I was already GoMama; ok then, GoMamaGuide) used the book title as the blatant title all across the header, uploaded an introductory post announcing the Guidebook, a coupla images, a table of contents, and a quick text link to Paypal in one day. (I'd figure out that "Buy Now button" code later. That was advanced stuff for me.)

Whew. A site. Made it to deadline.

A few months earlier, my Guidebook had been "released" (and by that I mean I was printing it out of my computer at home, burning through ink and staying up nights strip binding batches of them.) It was being hawked locally through email, through word of mouth, through posting on the online moms groups, on yahoo parent groups, other social networking groups, spreading virally, with copies being raffled off at local moms-night-outs or preschool auctions, and of course I was selling them in person at my occasional speaking events. Just doing my part to shed light and help my fellow stressed-out moms on this crazy public school choice thing...

LA. Public Schools. What a mess. Here, I can help...

But over time, my little help-out-a-fellow-mom-with-her-public-school-choices, has led to save-the-little-neighborhood-school-that-could, to use-your-voice-for-change, and then get-involved-in-the-public-school-reform-political-drama... this has BECOME my life. This is my work. This is what I DO. My Guidebooks are just one tiny part of it. I have grown. GoMama has grown. And the GoMamaGuide has become a brand. An identity. An umbrella or lighthouse of many possible opportunities and outcomes.

Meanwhile, this little url was bursting at the seams with added content. It needed to grow too.

One thing that I am very proud of is that every part of this "business" has grown organically, intuitively, from a sudden inspiration to execution, from word of mouth to shared ideas and connections, from solving a problem to growing a new platform, and I am both humbled and amazed by that growth. It's not like I ever sat down and devised a business plan for this thing...it kind of grew me.

But as I/we grew, I began to cram so much stuff into the limited confines of the Blogger template that the site was getting unwieldy and hard to navigate with its endless scrolling content. (And here I was, the mama offering navigational services.) It deserved better.

Time for a url upgrade.

But being the cheap, I should say, non-profit mom that I am, I just don't have the budget to hire fancy graphic designers, or web designers, or find web hosts and the like, and even if I did, I'm fairly certain I would still be leaning over their shoulders, controlling every little detail myself. That's just how I am.

"Minutia," my husband calls it, exasperated at me.

"Detailed-orientated and cost-effective," I counter. A do-it-yourselfer through and through.

So somewhere back a few weekends ago, perhaps feeling a bit over-confident after having played around with adding some widgets and a new custom background to this site, (love my new look here, btw), I decided to give my ole GMG url a makeover too, thinking it couldn't possibly take more than an afternoon or two, right?


Suddenly that list of a few small repairs mushrooms into a dandelion patch in a windstorm...

I'm not going to go into the whole process here because I've forgotten more than I remember, plus I got a lot of online help, but here's a brief outline of my Project GMG upgrade:

Inspired by the many free background wrapper sites for bloggers, (such as TheCutestBlogOnTheBlock and HotBliggityBlog) I spent hours trolling the web for ideas and how-to's, collecting screenshots of inspiration as I explored the possibilities of change. Many a night I was up 'til dawn. My MacBook desktop looked like someone threw up squares of colored confetti during this phase of Operation Search.

The next part was a big one. Actually making the commitment to dive in. To indeed commit to change.

Change isn't easy. Change takes time. Change requires patience... for the inevitable screw ups and longer-than-expected unexpected learning curves. Change changes the things around it, the things that touch it. Change is contagious. In the middle of it all, change is a mess. You might regret ever stepping into change. I know that feeling well. But then you push through, guided by a vision, some unknown nudging, and the transformation is your reward. That and the power you gain from going through the transition...to transformation.

Change is empowering. Change is GOOD! Change is part of LIFE!

* * *

Steps of Transformation:

Go into Layout. Take everything away. Fade to white. Everything white. It's a virtual white out.

Insert sound of clinking, clanging, banging, frustration, and rapid heartbeat...problems, delays, learning curves, work-arounds....then putting things back, adding content, fixing layouts, streamlining pages and adding links....and eventually, out comes...

Ta Da!

Ladies and gentleman, without further ado I give you:

A new url.

GoMama Go!!

Finally, there's rest for the weary!

Except that business cards need to follow....but hey, I can navigate a layout in Pages now, so....

...and btw, did you see that line-up of speaking engagements!


fullsoulahead.com said...

Congrats! It looks gorgeous!

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Take an A!

Deb Shucka said...

Congrats! So glad all your hard work resulted in such a polished product.

Deb Shucka said...

P.S. I just checked out your new sites. You are amazing! What a great and needed service you're providing. I'm inspired.

Jerri said...

I love the new look here, too, but the explanation made my head swim. I'm not tracking like I should right now. Be back later to figure it all out. Meantime, congrats and LOVE.

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