Small Town Leadership has been live for one month and I will use this week’s blog to answer the top 3 questions I’ve gotten from people since launching: Why, How and When are you doing this? I’ll close with 3 asks of you to help continue the momentum.
Why are you doing this?
Last summer, I worked with a career coach. A major component that came out of this coaching was to identify activities I am passionate about to see how I could embed them inside and outside of work. She took me back to when I was a child and what I enjoyed doing the most. The themes that came up over and over were writing and speaking. This in depth thinking about when I was younger also made me nostalgic for small town life. That is when I began to reflect on all of the important lessons I learned from growing up in Republic, Ohio. That’s when the idea hit me: What if I could combine my love of speaking and writing with the nostalgia I was feeling for small town life? In August 2015, I determined the name of this venture would be Small Town Leadership, with the tagline “Big stories from a small town”.
How did you do it? Warning: Technical details ahead!
Fast forward to December 2015. I was listening to a podcast and the interviewee mentioned that she had an idea and immediately went to Go Daddy . com to secure the domain name. In that moment, I said to myself “Is that all you have to do?” That night I checked for the availability of smalltownleadership.com. Unfortunately, someone else already owned the rights to the site, so I utilized Go Daddy’s brokering services to help bid, and eventually purchase the rights to the domain name. On January 4, I became the owner of https://smalltownleadership.com.
Once you own a domain, it has to live (be hosted) somewhere. Since Go Daddy’s service was awesome so far and their prices are competitive, I decided to stick with them and utilize their managed WordPress hosting product. (WordPress is a free product that allows users to design websites.) Now that my domain had a place to live, I could work on designing my website. At first, the design process was very intimidating. There are thousands of design options and templates to choose from – some requiring extensive coding expertise, and others requiring little or no coding knowledge. I spent the entire month of January and most of February searching for the best template that would suit my level of coding knowledge. I ended up utilizing the WordPress Optimizer theme. From there, I used Adobe Stock to get high quality images I could include on my site without worry of copyright infringement or citation requirements. That is where I got the red barn siding and multi-colored planks photos for my homepage and headers.
After I got the main pieces of the site together, I added in a few PlugIns and widgets to include things like contact boxes and subscription fields. There is an amazing community of people who create these features for anyone who is interested. In most cases, they are free. How the creators make their money is through upgraded features and content that is only available by purchasing a premium version of the product. So far I’ve done my entire site with free plugins.
I purchased one training to help me kickstart using WordPress. For $35, I got an annual subscription to WP101 – WordPress Tutorials for Beginners.
When did you work on this?
The inevitable “how do you have time for this” has come up in several conversations. The short answers is: I have learned how to maximize 25 minute blocks of time – which is the length of a children’s cartoon. Instead of sitting on the couch watching a cartoon, I would spend that time working on the website. I also spent a few blocks of 2-3 hours on Saturday mornings to do more of the intense work that required greater thought and creativity. I created the entire Podcast page in one of those 2 hours blocks. Half the time was spent figuring out how to design the page utilizing the features available to me. Once that was figured out, the rest was a matter of plugging in the information. Now that I have that page created, adding an additional Podcast takes less than 15 minutes.
My typical blocks of time to work on blog content and site additions are between 6:45-7:00am before my kids wake up, 7:30-8:00pm when they are watching their evening cartoon, and 8:30-9:30pm after they have gone to bed. Somedays I utilize all three blocks of time, other days none of them. As a friend recently pointed out to me, we can make time for things that are important to us – and bringing this to life has been worth skipping some of the time I otherwise would have spent watching TV or surfing social media.
Now that I have the site live, I’m spending more time on strategy and figuring out what’s next for Small Town Leadership – which is where you – my readers and friends – come into play.
What’s next and how you can help:
Along with continuing weekly blog posts, I will begin to introduce guest interviews and blog posts from other small town residents and alumni.
Reader Ask #1: If you or someone you know would make a good guest blogger or interviewee, please comment below or email me directly at email@example.com.
Also, I want to bring this to life through speaking engagements. I have two distinct audiences in mind.
- High school and first generation college students from small towns. I want to provide motivational speaking to this audience to help them realize how powerful the lessons they are learning as part of tight-knit communities will be as they embark on their futures – whether that be within their small town or away from their small town.
- Companies and professional groups who are looking to personalize their approach to business. Even though new ways to connect are unveiled every day, the world seems to be getting more and more impersonal. People do their best work when they have a personal relationship with those they are working for and with – something that is second nature to me from both my upbringing and professional experience. I use my small town lessons to bring a unique perspective to: networking, collaboration, having meaningful conversations, and building key relationships for career success.
Reader Ask #2: If you are or know of a potential audience for these messages, please let me know. I enjoy creating custom content and am willing to work to produce a unique presentation for each of my audiences. View this sample speaking page from a recent keynote presentation I gave at the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.
Reader Ask #3: Please help spread the word. If one of my posts resonates with you, please share through your social media channels or directly with those you know who would enjoy the content. Also, subscribe above to receive notification when a new blog post is added. Right now, the frequency is once a week.
P.S. Credit for tagline “Big stories from a small sown” goes to my husband, Rob.