Last week, Jason Fried, of the company formerly known as 37signals, tweeted that he had worked his last day for the company.

fried tweet

No, he hadn’t left the company. Instead, 37signals changed its name to Basecamp, in recognition of the fact that Basecamp is its number one product. Fried also announced the company would be focusing on its core product.

I made a similar decision over the December 2013 break.

I significantly scaled back my copywriting / book ghostwriting business. Doing so has to be one of the scariest things I’ve done in a long time. It feels like I stepped off the edge of a very high cliff.

Original Vision BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal): Be a Great Mom

When I started my business 15 years ago, I didn’t start it with the idea of being a world-famous copywriter. No.

I started it because I worked corporate the first year after my son was born. Trying to juggle taking care of him with the demands of traveling, intense deadlines and other stuff was hard.

What I really wanted was to be home with him. When I quit my job to move to the east coast, I literally woke up one morning and said, “I’ll go into business for myself!” haha

I had no clue what I’d do — I just knew I couldn’t put him back in daycare 50 hours a week.

I floundered around for the first couple of years until I stumbled on Bob Bly’s ode to freelancer success: How to Make $100,000 a Year Freelance Copywriting. (That book saved my life.) I followed all of Bob’s advice and business began to grow.

I’ve had a good run. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished professionally. Since 2000, I’ve had an average yearly growth rate (in terms of revenue) of 15% (some years more, some years less). I’ve worked with companies large and small all over the U.S. I’ve met and have become friends with some really wonderful people — Bob Bly included.

So, I’d be crazy to give all this up, right? I thought so. Why rock the boat?

But here’s the thing. During these past 15 years I’ve been working toward a BHAG that until recently, I wasn’t able to articulate: my BHAG was to give my son the childhood I never had.

And, it wasn’t until I listened to the audio of Built to Last and then Good to Great in November and December that I realized I had achieved something really significant on a personal level.

My son, who will be driving in a few short weeks and graduating from high school next June, is now a man.

He’s smart, charming, funny, and polite. His teachers love him. He’s a leader within the regional youth group organization. He gets himself up at 4:30 each day in order to take the train to the school he attends outside of Boston.

In short, I had achieved my BHAG — and now it was time to make a new one.

New BHAG: Become the Toyota of Web Overhauls

I did my first Web Overhaul in 2004 for the business unit of a Fortune 500. At the time, I didn’t call it a Web Overhaul — it was simply “marketing.”

I did a few more in 2005. As SEO and social media took hold, I kept getting more calls. By 2007, I could see I was doing something new, but I didn’t know what to call it. Each time I did an Overhaul, I’d learn A LOT (usually the hard way).

By 2010, I’d become pretty knowledgeable about navigation and usability, design, content, messaging, branding, WordPress, SEO, blogging, etc. etc. — and how all of these fit together when it came to redesigning a company’s website.

I knew I wanted to make a huge change and focus on Web Overhauls, but when you’re self-employed and you have a good thing going with a core service, as I did with copywriting, it was hard to let it go.

But I knew I had to do it — to make the Big Leap, as Gay Hendricks says.

Plus, that voice in my head — or maybe my heart — just would not shut up. Each month it kept getting louder and louder and louder.

It was driving me crazy!

After listening to Built to Last and Good to Great (twice!), I sat down over the December break and after some intense soul searching, came up with my purpose, core values and Vision BHAG for the next 10 years.

I want to contribute to the success of small businesses by providing trusted, practical, results-oriented web marketing strategies and tactics that have been tested and proven to work.

I want to help small businesses tell their stories and get leads through effective websites.

It’s a pretty audacious goal — one that scares me and thrills me at the same time.

But, I know it’s achievable. In Good to Great, Jim Collins relates a story about how his wife, who did triathlons, quietly said to him one morning at breakfast, “I believe I can win the Ironman.”

And she did. It took her three years of training, but she did it.

Once I made the commitment to close my copywriting business, everything fell into place.

In the next few weeks you’ll see some changes to my website and blog. I’m currently in the process of having it coded to be responsive. I’m also adding a project portfolio to showcase most of the 60+ Web Overhauls I’ve done to date.

And, I’m slowly implementing new social and e-newsletter / email marketing strategies.

It all feels really good!

Change has been a constant of my business since I founded it in 1998. But one thing hasn’t changed and that’s my commitment to being a trusted advisor and partner to my clients.

If you have a website that isn’t working for you, please do take a look through my Web Services pages. I’m still in the process of updating my service offerings, but the main message is now in place.

If you’ve used my services in the past, thank you — from the bottom of my heart.

  • You go girl, congrats!

    • Thanks Jill. You’ve been a true inspiration to me — in the past, when you were the SEO Goddess, and now as you move forward in the next phase of your life. I’m glad we’re friends.

  • Terence Coughlin

    Good for you, Dianna. Best of luck and looking forward to following your story’s next chapter from here.

  • percasey

    Inspiring post, Dianna. Best of luck and continued success as you shift/hone your focus.

  • Dianna,

    A touching post. Best wishes in your new endeavor.


  • edgandia

    Way to go, Dianna! I totally get the whole “scary” thing. I’ve had to make some pretty scary decisions over the past 2 years. And you’re right — that bit of fear tells you that you’re on to something. I wish you all the best in this transition. I KNOW you’ll do extremely well!

    • edgandia

      BTW, what do you mean by the “Toyota” of web overhauls? Are you referring to the way Toyota builds cars? Or the price point? Or maybe the market segment? Just curious. 🙂

      • Ed — I’m referring to the Toyota Production System where the company is constant improving — everything from their products to their processes. I hope this isn’t too audacious to say, but I want to be the gold standard with regard to web overhauls. I know I have a ton of room for improvement, and I know the industry certainly can use it. That’s why I love my BHAG — because it has some teeth to it. 🙂

        • edgandia

          Got it! Makes sense. That’s what I suspected, but wanted to make sure. I’m also assuming that this is more of an internal statement. But if it’s not, and if you incorporate it into your new copy, my only suggestion would be to explain what it means after you state it. Only suggesting that because it could be interpreted as meaning “run of the mill and mass produced.” Especially for those who aren’t familiar with the TPS, Six Sigma, etc.

          Just my $.02, Dianna. I think it’s an awesome new direction, and I can’t wait to hear more about your progress! 🙂

          • Ed — Yes, it’s an internal statement. Here’s a funny story about TPS. I purchased a new/used 2010 Corolla in December — and found myself telling the sales guy why Toyotas were so wonderful. He said, “Wow. I don’t know half of what you know.” LOL

            Thanks for the feedback on my direction. I’ll definitely keep you posted!

  • Congrats and good luck. If you’re as good at this business as you were the last two (copywriting and parenting), success is pretty much guaranteed.

  • I am so excited for and inspired by you, Dianna. You are a force of nature and one of the nicest people I’ve met in this business. Your clients are lucky to have you, but no one is luckier than your son. Onward and upward, smart lady. Here’s to a whole new era of adventure and success. See you soon! 🙂

  • I’m sure your decision to follow your intuition again will be rewarded. And I’m glad to know of your new focus. Sometimes prospective clients contact me thinking they just need a writer to improve their site, when in fact they need help that is beyond the scope of what I do. Now I have a good person to send them to.

    • Thank you, Janice. Yep, that’s exactly how I got to where I am today. I started off writing content (or copy, as it was called back in the day) and then I’d get into a website and go, “Wait a minute . . . .” Thank you in advance for any future referrals. 🙂

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