The Worst Ideas I’ve Ever Had | TONIC SITE SHOP
The Worst Ideas I've Ever Had
Today’s blog post is coming to you from the Tonic West Coast HQ / Jeff’s desk.

I’m an ideas guy.

Now and forever, amen. So much so that (my fiancé) Darren may or may not have a code word to get my attention because I’m so often off in another place — thinking, dreaming, scheming. (The code word is “HARK!” in case you’re trying to get through to me and I’m showing no signs of life. It mostly works.)

Team TONIC is often probably like, “Oh boy, here he goes again with some crazy idea…” and while some of them stick and end up being BRILLIANT (if I do say so), a decent amount of them are… pretty bad. Or don’t make sense at the time. Or are just plain unnecessary.

Some of the worst ideas I’ve ever had? Here are just a few:  

Extreme Makeover: Website Edition. Remember when it was a thing in the photography industry to tour around the States in a legit tour-bus with your face on the side circa 2008? If not, yes, it was a thing and a whole thing at that. And, wellll, I could just imagine my face in larger-than-life form cruising down the freeway at 55mph on its way to the town wherein I would film an episode of “Extreme Makeover: Website Edition” and completely transform someone’s brand and business and share the whole process for all the world to see via YouTube. True story. But it never happened and that’s all probably for the best. (Or is it?)

Next: Shipley Magazine. Back in oh, I don’t know 2013, I wanted to start a men’s lifestyle magazine so badly that I even designed a prototype, wrote a “letter from the editor” and pitched the idea to some friends who were great writers and photographers to see if they wanted to contribute. And yet the only name I could come up with was my last name. Haha. Cool, Jeff, real cool. Also, fun fact: print magazines were dropping like flies back then and I had already worked on a failed magazine concept (not my own) a few years prior. Thank you, NEXT!

And while all those *super great* ideas were swirling around, there was another idea brewing…

That same year, I met an amazing designer online via a Showit Designer Facebook group and proceeded to DM her with a whole list of edits for the site she was about to launch. I was honestly trying to help and thankfully she received it as such and thanked me for being willing to take the time to comb through her work (which was the best I’d seen, btw, and I was blown away!).

We basically became Facebook Messenger pen pals and began consulting each other on various projects and chit-chatting along the way. Soon thereafter, we got the chance to meet in person at a designer retreat Showit hosted. We quickly bonded over our shared love for a heavy pour of wine, good bourbon and being the catty duo in the back of the room “in class”. At some point during the retreat, I’m pretty sure I gushed over her brilliance as a designer and said, “We should design some sites together or something.” She agreed to explore the idea and a few days later, over some cocktails on a LA rooftop, the concept of a site shop for modern, stylish creatives was born.

That idea, my friends, was TONIC SITE SHOP. And that rando designer who I met online was (THE) Jennifer Olmstead. (I know, I know such a modern meet-cute, right?)

“So, here’s a great idea for ya, Jeff… Start a virtual, bi-coastal business with someone you met online that you’ve only met in person a few days prior and barely know at all, period. Oh, and do all of that during a time when you’re planning on moving to an entirely new state to start a new chapter of life and thereby relocating your (kinda flailing) photography business that only has a whole of four Cali weddings on the books and not a single job other gig lined up where you’re moving to. BRILLIANT IDEA—JUST BRILLIANT! Good luck with that one, big guy!”

The pitch sounds terrible in retrospect, but now, seven years later, Jen and I both agree that was the BEST worst idea we’ve ever had. We don’t regret for a second jumping headfirst into the great unknown… of starting a little website template shop. And let me tell you, that start was small and sloppy and very much unplanned.

We didn’t have a formal business plan, or a marketing strategy, an email list and sales funnel or even an Instagram following. I repeat — we barely knew EACH OTHER. In so many ways, we didn’t have all the things you “should” have in place before you start a business and we did many things “wrong” in the beginning. But we were willing to do the work and open to learning and iterating along the way.

Dare I say, in a world that’s telling you need to have it all together before you leap, sometimes it’s enough to have grit and a little talent and an idea that helps people.

TONIC started with us seeing a need (for website templates that weren’t boring so that creatives could properly showcase their awesome) and figuring out how we (as custom web designers) may be able to meet that need.

It’s kinda crazy to think about how my unrealized ideas of a reality website makeover show and a lifestyle magazine ultimately made space for, and in many ways, actually lead to what turned out to be the better, more viable, more sustainable idea.

And as Jen pointed out the other day as we were chatting through this email, TONIC and the work that I get to do here still gets at what I was trying to do all along: help people be seen and feel seen for who they are and what they do best. That was the “dream” all along and while I never did get to plaster my face on the side of a bus, I now get to do something way more my style. Design pretty things with Jen for awesome people from the comfort of my home with my pups underfoot. Le sigh.

“Sometimes it’s enough to have grit and a little talent and an idea that helps people.”

So, can I ask? … What is it that you’re dreaming up where you just need to do the damn thing? Where can you lean in and push yourself toward making that a reality? How many more bad ideas do you need to come up with and test to get to that one idea that changes everything for you?

What’s the right next step? Buy a domain name? Get a business license? Record that first podcast episode? Start building an email list? Finally launch a website?**

(**Psssst. We’re pretty good at this one and truth be told: we really don’t want you to have to hit pause on your dream — we want to help make it a beautiful, profitable reality, and our designs do just that and offer a really solid start.)

Wherever you are in your bad idea / good idea trajectory, here’s my advice: find a fellow dreamer like I did, share your idea, and workshop all the possibilities together. And then, let us know where you land.

We’re here to help bring those crazy ideas to life and online and to cheer you on along the way.

Previous Post:

Next Post:

Ready for More?

03

02

01

FEATURED POST

In these times, it's more important than ever to stay inspired.

Social (Media) Distancing

three ways Not to go Crazy Right now

FEATURED POST

Everyone's favorite macaroni and cheese lover on the biggest light bulb moments in her brand, the essentials in her carry-on, and her best advice for a designing website that's unmistakably "you."

Jenna Kutcher is Not Going with The Flow

BEHIND THE BAR:

03

01

02

FEATURED POST

Creating connection points, narrowing your scope, and all the inspiration you need to make it your own.

Top Shelf About Section

03

02

01

FIVE STEPS TO A 

buy now, pay later: on 6 month payment plans, your first payment is now *free*   |

all other sites:  TAKE 20% OFF with code: LETSDOTHISTOGETHER

The website of your dreams? It's already mixed to perfection and waiting for you at the bar.

Completely Customizable Websites

FOR THE MODERN, STYLISH CREATIVE

not your average templates

So, you need a website. Your current choices are: a ) a boring, big box template that does nothing to showcase your particular brand of awesome, and that you’d need to be some sort of code wizard to change, or b ) plunking down your life savings and your firstborn to hire a designer and a cranky developer, who will spend months and months of precious time cranking out something arguably “custom” you may or may not love in the end.

We’ve redefined the website template. And not only what it can be, but how it can look, what it can do, and what it can do for your brand.

THE MANIFESTO

Right? Nope. Enter option c ) Tonic Site Shop. Throw out everything you know about templates: these are cocktail-inspired, completely customizable websites designed for the kind of people that give a damn. Simply select your “cocktail,” download, customize anything −ANYTHING− you want, go live, grab the champagne and wait for the compliments ( and clients ) to roll in. They’re designer-made, and tailored just for you. Your old website is already jealous. 

View the Design

Has being a total boss ever looked THIS fun? We submit that it has not.

Margarita

View the Design

The cure for the common wedding photography website — fine art, high-impact, built to wow.

Clover Club

View the Design

It's the tonic for tired, too-complicated design, and it goes down real smooth.

Gin & Tonic

View the Design

For those who like their website warm, stylish, and modern, but finished with a little zest. 

Limoncello

View the Design

Clean and classic, tailored to perfection, and served with signature style. 

Martini

View the Design

Oui oui, très chic! Our sweet Vieux is fresh from fashion week in Paris.

Vieux Carré

View the Design

Built for the creative who craves simplicity - a stunning environment for beauty to thrive.

Bellini

View the Design

 Sleek, efficient, strategic, and ready to send all the dream clients straight through your door.

Greyhound

View the Design

A classic take on modern design, with personality peeking through the clouds of pretty.

London Fog

View the Design

A well-balanced cocktail of feminine and modern + dynamic and clean. 

Rosé Royale

View the Design

Stylish, sexy, bold and bright … undoubtedly the fashionista of the collection.

Cosmopolitan

View the Design

A minimalist’s heaven designed to make maximum impact.

Moscow Mule

View the Design

Your monthly Vogue was lost in the mail? Fortunately, we have its replacement.

Amaretto Sour

View the Design

So spacious, fresh and clean, it can’t go down without an “ahhh.”

Gin Fizz

View the Design

For the minimalists, the artists, the romantics, and really, everyone in between. 

Adriatique

View the Design

So smooth and seamless that if you get lost in all the pretty, it must be by choice.

Smokescreen

View the Design

Two parts classic, one part charm, with the kind of elegance that never goes out of style.

Charleston

View the Design

Your images can almost taste the Campari, and it goes down even smoother than it looks. 

Negroni

View the Design

Fashionable free spirits, stand (or twirl) at the ready: Lillet Blanc is your website home of dreams. 

Lillet Blanc

View the Design

Good news: Summer is never over when you've got a cool, refreshing Lemon Drop in your hand!

Lemon Drop

View the Design

If you're looking for simple and honest, with style in spades and space to breathe ...

Vodka Soda

View the Design

Long summer days at the lake and those cozy winter nights at the cabin in the mountains ...

Hemingway

SHOP our showit template COLLECTION

What's Your Brand Cocktail?

PULL UP YOUR BARSTOOL & TAKE THE QUIZ

take the quiz! (it only takes 60 seconds)

Find out the secret ingredients in your shaker, and what sets you apart from everyone else on the (top) shelf... Plus, get our specific strategies to ensure your ideal clients pick you off the menu every time.

what's your brand cocktail?

“If I could go back in time, I would purchase a Tonic site much earlier in my career. The high end feel of the template site combined with Jen and Jeff's creative direction and advice, instantly brought my work and brand to the next level. It allowed me to increase my prices and reach my dream client!”

PRAISE FOR TONIC

- Annamarie Akins

“If you know your website isn't as good as it SHOULD be and you're riding the struggle bus trying to figure out how everyone else seems to have gorgeous websites, buy a TONIC site. It's time you look just as good (if not better) than others in your industry and stand out in a way that's unique to you.”

PRAISE FOR TONIC

- Jenna Kutcher

“The creative geniuses behind Tonic Site Shop are the only people we trusted to help us build our brand, and you can trust their sites to build yours, too. 

PRAISE FOR TONIC

 - Amy & Jordan Demos

“To think that something like this exists purely from the heart of helping small businesses fly and have access to this level of branding that was once reserved for only the most established and top of the top of the market…I just think this is going to change everything.”

PRAISE FOR TONIC

- Mary Marantz

“If there is ONE thing in your business worth investing in (even more than your camera and lenses) it is your brand. TONIC is the only resource I recommend if you want to get it done right.” 

PRAISE FOR TONIC

 - Ben Hartley

“Tonic is the PERFECT resource for anyone needing a quick and simple way to get an incredible, flawlessly designed website.”

PRAISE FOR TONIC

- Hope Taylor

“Being able to create a creative, editorial, and professional website with TONIC has taken our brand to higher levels - more inquiries and bookings with our ideal clients! Cheers, indeed!”

PRAISE FOR TONIC

 - Luke & Cat Neumeyer

“TONIC revolutionized my business, I never wanted to send people to my site before, then Jeff & Jen re-mixed my online presence, and wow, THEY ARE GOOD. They got to the core of my brand and built a hand-crafted site around it. Wouldn't want to work with anyone else."

PRAISE FOR TONIC

- Joel Allegretto

“The idea that someone could take a gallery of their 50 best images, pair it with one of these incredible designs and have a brand and virtual storefront that will start going to WORK for them and allow them to hit the ground running by the weekend is mind-blowing. It’s game-changing.”

PRAISE FOR TONIC

- Mary Marantz

“TONIC not only gave me a gorgeous, sleek (easy to use!) design that elevates my brand, but also regularly introduces me to new cocktails I've yet to try. Win, win!”

PRAISE FOR TONIC

 - Abby Grace

see our sites in action

Beth Kirby

"From colors to fonts, my brand new site is everything I ever wanted in a website — and I didn't even know such magic was possible without knowing a lick of code, but my homies at TONIC completely changed my world."  — Beth / @localmilk

Visit the Site

Elanaloo

“I can now say from experience, it feels phenomenal to have your corner of the internet feel like HOME. If you're tired of being embarrassed by your outdated website or  craving something that can really feel like YOURS – TONIC is your people. This is the BEST solution to web design I've ever come across.”— Elana, @elanaloo

Visit the Site

Caroline Logan

"If you're thinking about getting a TONIC site, is it too cheesy to say 'DO IT, You won't regret it?' Because it’s true. Your business will grow. Your bookings will increase. You'll be able to raise your prices. You'll attract and book your dream clients. You’ll be more confident than ever before in your brand. It's a no brainer!"  — Caroline

Visit the Site

Valorie Darling

“Not only are their designs gorgeous, intuitive and perfectly built for photographers, but their team really couldn't be more loving and supportive in the journey of bringing it all together.”  — Valorie

Visit the Site

The White Hearth

 "I always sought to make a fine product, but now I have a fine website to showcase it. If you’re putting off getting a Tonic site, learn from my experience and don’t wait any longer. It will be the site you’ll wish you always had!“ — Talia

Visit the Site

Amelia Brown

"With our Tonic template, we’ve been able to create a lush, magazine-style layout that showcases our process, inspirations, and story. It's been a pleasure to work with Tonic in creating our new website." — Amelia

Visit the Site

THE NEWSLETTER

Friends Don't Let Friends Get Boring Email

Ready for a little TONIC in your inbox? We send occasional, moderately witty emails with exclusive deals, design tips, recent blog favorites, cocktail recipes, and more.

Get on the VIP List