👋 Good morning from Los Angeles! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is Plan Your Next—a Sunday newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.
The best purchase you can make under $100
The answer to this conversation bait will always be a personal website with a $12 domain and a $15/mo web host.
I remember the moment I launched my own website. It was in the early 2000s, and I used it to host my design portfolio to land my first in-house design role. Having my own website with portfolio back then was like being able to bring my own offer sheet to the interview for them to sign.
Prior to getting the job, I spent a week straight on it. I stuffed it with as much portfolio work as I could, even if most of it were volunteer design projects I assigned myself.
It was built in Flash, a now-defunct technology that I honestly have no idea how to load the hundreds of files on my computer anymore.
Like an old photo album, my own personal site has taken on a dozen personalities. From its very first emo incarnation to my early entrepreneurial efforts, to clean and modern Nate, to a simple hand-coded about me page, to a cherry dipped take, to its version today.
It’s fun to look back through the years to get a sense of how it’s changed. But one thing hasn’t: Having a place for your own weird ideas should exist, even if they evolve over time.
Take it seriously, but don’t be too serious
In many of my creative calls, I’ve fielded more questions about personal websites and how to blend the professional and the personal.
“Should I have separate domains for my consulting and my personal blog?”
I get it. It’s the same reason we dress up for interviews. To separate the, “I’ve got my shit together” person from the “I can’t get out of bed in the morning because I’m doom scrolling TikTok videos of cute things dogs do.”
But, splitting up these personas only complicates things more, so I generally advise people to start building their online home, then add a detached garage or ADU if you get to that point.
At the end of the day, we want to work with people we enjoy and we trust. Giving people a glimpse into your personal life through your writing and your hobbies is a great way to demonstrate your personal monopoly of skills and interests.
Don’t wait to build your site the moment you need to put on that dress shirt you wear twice a year. Start building it now and evolve it over time.
An investment in yourself
Listen, you’re going to spend $8-18/mo and you’re going to like it.
It’s one of the best investments you’ll make. What Ramit Sethi says about personal finance also applies here: “Spend extravagantly on the things you love, and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.”
Stop trying to save an extra $5/mo and just do what allows you to launch something you can edit over time. Having an online presence is worth more to your career than it is to reject a tool like Webflow because of price.
It seems every creator and indie thread will promote Carrd as the best option, but I believe it’s a stopgap that doesn’t allow you to grow. One page is better than zero pages, but you’re going to need a blog and the ability to add more pages.
Newsletters and blogs
Substack is great for starting a newsletter, but ultimately you should bet on owning your own platform. The website vs newsletter line is being blurred by Substack on purpose, but ultimately I believe writing a newsletter is different than writing a blog, and owning your own web host is different than viewing Substack as your website.
If you know how to code using HTML/CSS, I’d recommend using Wordpress or a static site generator like Jekyll to create your pages using markdown. But for most, this is overkill and creates a much larger learning curve.
To get started quickly, I’d recommend Webflow or Framer. I personally host my own site on Webflow, and it’s been great for me.
A process for building your personal site in Framer without being a designer
The single biggest problem with building your own site is not knowing how to design it. This is usually one of the biggest stumbling blocks, which leads most people to choose a template that they get bored with within a matter of months.
But what if you could see exactly how your favorite site was designed, and download that into Figma? There’s a way.
If you use Figma, you can use this plugin, then enter in your favorite personal website. It will visually render the HTML code directly into Figma, giving you a sense for how they constructed their site!
Once you have it in Figma, start to look at how they laid out the text, the background colors, and the navigation. Pay attention to the details and how they chose to place their text. If you want an example of my downloaded site, you can see it here.
I will always recommend copying as a way to learn design. If you’re curious to learn more about Figma and design, you can check out my 80/20 design challenge.
Framer is changing the game
A newish tool on the block for building websites is called Framer. It’s essentially a visual design tool that lets you design directly on their canvas, then click Publish without ever seeing a line of code.
I’ve never witnessed a tool work so easily and flawlessly.
To see it work, create a free account and start with a template. Click ‘publish’ and your site will be live at a temporary domain.
Starting at $5/mo, you can build a completely custom one-page site and publish to a custom domain within minutes of creating an account. I’ve never seen this type of functionality before for $5/mo.
If you want to add additional pages and a blog, you’ll jump to $15 a month. This sets it apart from using platforms like Carrd in my mind because it can scale with you without having to switch products.
We’re truly in an era of no-code tools being able to express yourself visually, and it’s never been easier to create something truly unique for yourself, whether it’s personal, professional, or a hybrid like mine.
⚡️ Your next creative hit
📦 The delivery design of this drone is wildly creative and has the potential to upend drone delivery.
🔊 Can a $4,000 pair of speakers make you cry? Great thread by Julian Shapiro and here is the full HiFi sound guide where he tests speakers worth $360k. Btw, the guide is hosted at his *ahem* personal website.
Checking out Framer thanks to you. This is just what I've been looking for when creating my portfolio page. Thank you!
@Nate: Absolutely agree with you on the power and usefulness of having a personal website. Even if it's a total PITA when it comes to migrating between platforms.
This speaks to the overall point that there are good benefits from creating and not just consuming.
PS: Thanks for the Framer tip. Will take a look into that. If you have a referral link, feel free to DM me.