Adding a ‘now page’ to your website might be a helpful way for freelancers to explain what they do.
“So what are you up to these days?” How often are freelancers answering that question? Or anyone, really? Jobs and work situations change so frequently, it’s hard to keep up with what people are doing.
That Twitter update or blog post explaining your latest change is here and gone again so quickly. That ancient update doesn’t help people today.
So Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, came up with the idea of a now page. He sold CD Baby and bounced around between a few projects, and so—surprise, surprise—people keep asking what he’s doing lately.
What Is a Now Page?
It’s very much like an about page, except it explains what you’re doing right now. An about page often emphasizes history or background, trying to build trust and explain how you became who you are today. It can include elements of what you’re doing now, but it’s often pretty broad.
A now page, on the other hand, is narrowly focused on right now. It’s a quick glimpse at the few things you’re focused on in the present.
It’s also not the immediate answer we give to Twitter’s “What’s happening?” prompt. Social media is hyper focused and the answer can change minute by minute: I’m watching TV, I’m laughing at this joke, I’m liking this image (often at the same time).
Think of a now page as explaining what you’re doing at this stage in your life. It’s much bigger picture than a tweet or a blog post, but it’s much more focused (and current) than an about page.
“Think of what you’d tell a friend you hadn’t seen in a year.” That’s how the Nownownow.com site explains itself. And yes, it’s an entire site highlighting people’s now pages. It’s a good place to see examples of how this works.
Why Do I Need a Now Page?
A now page isn’t for organizations or businesses. It’s for individuals. It’s ideal for freelancers or entrepreneurs who are often doing multiple different things. If you’re not already seeing how this would be helpful, then it’s probably not for you. For those who are feeling the need, it’s about giving that big picture answer of what you’re doing now. It helps minimize those questions and focuses people on exactly what you do.
- Many people may know you’re a developer, but they don’t know your expertise.
- Many people may know you do freelance, but they don’t know the specific type of work you do.
- Many people may know you, but they haven’t caught up with you lately.
- And many people may not know you, but they want to know who you are and what you’re focused on today, not eight months ago when you had a different job, different priorities, different circumstances.
In addition to answering those questions, a now page can offer focus—both for you and for anyone reading the page.
“It’s a nice reminder for myself, when I’m feeling unfocused. A public declaration of priorities.” -Derek Sivers
Finding your niche is powerful. It helps you focus on the work you do best and bring in more work. It helps other people understand what you do better and refer work that better aligns with your skills.
A now page is not designed to be a marketing tool, though it certainly can be. Some people use it to exclusively focus on their professional lives. Others include some personal things as well, because that’s what people want to know when they ask what you’re doing these days.
Lessons From Creating a Now Page
The act of creating a now page can help you focus. Maybe you’ll realize something you’re still doing shouldn’t be on the list. So you’ll give yourself permission to start disengaging and giving less priority going forward. It can be a way to help you quit.
The process of writing down what you’re doing now helps to sharpen your view. In some ways it’s a helpful filter. Maybe you had that filter in your head, but this makes it concrete. It has a way of forcing certain questions to the top.
It can also help you say ‘no’ to new opportunities that aren’t the right fit. Rather than welcoming every idea, every possibility, every opportunity—a now page can can be a buffer to fend off the distractions. In some ways it can hold you accountable.
In the process of writing this article I decided to create my own now page (it’s a work in progress). It’s harder than I thought. But I’m finding it helpful. Even as a writer, putting words to what I do is difficult (it’s always hardest to work on your own stuff). How can I say this succinctly and in an engaging way?
I’m also struggling with personal or tertiary interests. Do I include my wife and kids? Sports and hobbies? I find myself asking what this page says about me and if I like that or not. In some ways it’s simply a tool or an exercise to help you hone in on what really matters.
It also helps to read other people’s now pages. Often they included something I wanted to say or approached something in a unique way that I found helpful.
- Include the date when your now page was last updated. (There’s some accountability to keep it current!)
- Mention specific projects you’re currently working on, either with links if it’s public or in a vague way if it’s not something you want to make public just yet.
- Talk about your current goals. (More accountability!)
- List upcoming appearances or events you’ll be attending. This is a good way to encourage people to connect with you.
- Include something visual. A lot of the now pages I’m seeing had photos at the bottom of the page, whether they were showing off their latest photography or just something personal (kids and pets). Since this is about who you are as a person, something personal makes a lot of sense.
- List the current books, music, TV you’re enjoying. This can just be for personal interest, but depending on the books you read it might spawn some professional conversations.
- Include your availability for new projects, opportunities, interviews and speaking engagements.
Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned creating my now page is that I’m too busy. I knew that anyway, but seeing it in a list immediately made me think about what I could cut.