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celebrating the big 2-0!

Wow, 20 years goes fast. I just realized that’s how long I’ve been creating websites.

Remember 1999? It was the era of The Matrix, Britney Spears (v.1), Backstreet Boys, Will & Grace (v.1), and Sex and the City. Serena Williams won her first U.S. Open. Fashion-forward geeks were buying Game Boys in kiwi, teal and atomic purple. And the Internet was just gaining steam.

I published my first website in 1999 to promote an online business I had back then. It was a grueling, torturous process. I used an early DIY make-your-own website program, and the resulting site definitely looked homemade. I hated it.

In 2000, I redesigned the site with a different program. It looked a little better, but I nearly tore my hair out making it. Late one afternoon I uploaded the site over what was probably a dial-up connection and went out for a hike to unleash the web-building frustration.

At the trailhead I parked next to an SUV with a magnetic sign on the door advertising a local web design company: “It’s All Good.” A woman was standing next to it, suiting up her baby for their hike. I asked about the business, which turned out to be her husband’s. Shortly after, I hired him to create a professional website for my business. And then I paid him to teach me how to maintain it myself.


things get real

I learned HMTL and used Dreamweaver to edit text, design and upload new pages to my website. The professional design and training fees were an incredible value, even then. I loved that website, and I loved learning how to work on a real one. I had no idea this would be the birth of a career in the web design world, but that’s how things turned out – eventually.

So on we went like that with a website and email as my primary marketing tools as I built my business through the early 2000s. In 2003 WordPress came along, and things started moving in a new direction. I was doing a whole lot of content marketing, and that’s what WordPress is designed to handle. At first I had a WordPress blog separate from the main website. As WordPress evolved, it became a web design platform in its own right, and eventually I converted my entire content-rich website to WordPress.

Working from home with an online business I built myself was a blast. At the time, not a lot of people were doing that. Google and Facebook weren’t calling all the shots back then. We made things up as we went along, learned by trial and error. Online businesses were still an emerging sector of our economy that continues to grow and flourish today.


so, the recession

My online business took a hit starting in 2008 when the financial crisis rocked consumer confidence. In the economic reality that began to take shape, it was more prudent to refashion my lifelong career in marketing to meet the needs of the new economy than continue with a business that relied on my customers’ disposable income.

Today my work is purposely geared to small and mid-sized businesses. I combine my expertise in agency and corporate marketing with two decades of web design experience to help other entrepreneurs get noticed online, tell their stories and build business.


the bottom line

Small business owners are excellent in their areas of core expertise and don’t need to become expert in web design, branding and all the other facets of marketing that are so necessary to grow a business.

As I learned 20 years ago, trying to handle everything yourself in business can lead to frustration and lackluster results. My niche is catering to businesspeople like I was in 2000. I wanted and needed a great website, so I hired a professional. Two decades later, I’ve become the web design pro also offering a full menu of creative marketing and branding services for small businesses.

let’s talk

What’s on your marketing wish list? Let’s have a conversation and explore what makes sense for your business. Contact me for a complimentary 20-minute consultation.

Learn more about effective website design and optimization here. How to tell if you need a new website or major redesign here.

Based in southern California, Allison is a brand marketing expert and web designer with an extensive background in consumer and business-to-business marketing. She's also a professional photographer. Her passion is blending creativity with business savvy to achieve results with her clients. Sōlfire Creative is the third iteration of her marketing agency.

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