Hot Dates and an Interview with Sarah Bray
There’s been some heavy petting happening in my (virtual) world. I’ve been going on hot dates with my websites.
I really think it’s creatively genius. And smarty-smart. And valuable.
And so I decided to interview Sarah about it. My FIRST interview on caligater.com. Whee! And I actually shipped off these interview questions to Sarah before she brought me onto her team as Master of Ceremonies. Too funny. :)
Sarah does incredible, strategic web design. She doesn’t just make pretty things (though her designs are most certainly gorgeous)—she helps business to be smart about how they craft their online presence. She helps businesses thrive.
Interview with Sarah Bray
1. Was there a specific event/conversation/image in your toast/tweet that sparked the Weekly Hot Dates? Or was it a gradual build?
Sarah: Haha…you know how I love toast! But no, my toast didn’t whisper sweet nothings in my ear (this time). Going to the 99% conference this year reminded me that genius is only 1% inspiration. The rest is persistent, intelligent work. Not just doing things, but doing the right things.
The reason I decided to do the Hot Dates was really for my clients. We build this amazing thing together…and then what? It’s up to them to make it happen. I wanted to develop something that would support them through the happening. I wanted them to love their website as much as I did (and in return, have their website love them back). And the only way to do that is to spend time with it.
2. It’s fantastic that Weekly Hot Dates shifts the paradigm around having a website: you encourage people to have an ongoing relationship with their website (rather than a hit-publish-and-I-never-look-at-it-again relationship). How do you maintain this steamy relationship with your website?
Sarah: One of the tools that we use on our Hot Dates is a timer. It sounds cheesy, but it really works. Any time that I need to focus creatively on something, I set my timer for half an hour (in fact, my timer’s on right now!). When it goes off, I have permission to finish. The caveat is, there are no interruptions. No Facebook, no Twitter. No emails squandering my attention.
I have four areas that I focus on every single day, each for only 30 minutes. One of those areas is my website. I get more done in that 30 minutes than I do in a lifetime of to-do lists.
3. You want to “create a more meaningful web”— by helping people get clear on what they offer and how to better connect with their audiences. What else does “more meaningful” look like to you?
Sarah: I’ve talked to you personally about this, but it’s really about craftsmanship. About putting the quality back in our work. I think a lot of people take the “just put it out there; at least it’s something” advice, and that’s ruining the web. We feel better about ourselves and our world when we are giving our all to our work.
4. Your company, S.Joy Studios, is a team of 4 people. You’ve talked about how you maintain your momentum. What are some ways you cultivate the momentum of your team?
Sarah: This is really funny, because you wrote these interview questions before I ended up hiring you — actually, before I even realized I was hiring for that position (and for the record, this interview had nothing to do with it…lol). So now we are a team of four, including myself.
January was really a turning point for me in my role as a leader. When I first started building the team, I thought, “Oh my gosh, I can’t do this alone anymore. This is too much.” And so I treated it that way — getting anything and everything I could off of my plate.
I realize now that I was completely burned out. It took me six months to figure that out, and to get energized about leadership. Since then, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the future of our company; who we are and what that culture looks like. Without vision, momentum can’t exist – there is no driving force behind it.
So really, I’m still figuring that out. Right now, it’s about meeting up regularly and being present with everyone (that’s more of a challenge than it seems, since there are always more “urgent” things happening). I’m just sharing my excitement with them; when something is truly worth doing, you don’t have to make people get it. You just have to share it; it develops a momentum of its own.
5. Speaking of momentum, you recently attended the 99% Conference in New York City. What’s one make-ideas-happen nugget you took away from the conference?
Sarah: One hour less sleep does not mean one hour more of productivity! It sounds silly, but I really believe in filling the well now…before, I thought I believed it, but I regularly pushed myself to work harder, faster, smarter. Now I know that breaks are an essential piece of productivity. I can’t give myself more hours. I can learn to protect and invest in my creative energy.
6. Did you draw Mo? Because he’s perfectly, nerdily charming.
Sarah: Haha…no, I didn’t! I bought him. It was one of those things where I wasn’t actively looking for anything — he just appeared in my life, and I knew he was the one. I was actually planning on hiring an illustrator for the project before he dropped in my lap. Glad you like him!
Thank you, Sarah, for droppin’ your knowledge!
(Say “Hi!” to Sarah on Twitter: @sarahjbray)
Since I’m often long-winded, I’ll give you the skivvy about Weekly Hot Dates in short order:
What: Weekly “dates” in the form of emails with a workbook-style download. In that “date,” Sarah prompts you to think critically about your website: how to make it better tell your story, how to increase conversions or make more profit, how to be strategic about your online presence.
How: You sign up and immediately receive your first date. You can complete your dates on your own timeline, but you’ll get a new date each week. It’s an investment of $32/month—pretty cheap for weekly dates, huh? (Psst – yep, I’m an affiliate. First time I’ve ever done the affiliate thing. Because I hadn’t found something I was willing to share until now!)
Bonus: Every time you complete a date, you can email a super-secret email address and receive a reward. Yay rewards!
Community: You know how I love community. And I was thrilled when Sarah created a Facebook group and a Twitter hashtag. There are tons of really creative, fun people who are also dating their websites. So cool.
When: The community has grown so much that Sarah will be closing registration for Weekly Hot Dates this Friday, June 17th. So…time is of the essence.