4 Shifts to Make in Your Web Design Business to Work Less and Make More

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In this image, Shannon Mattern is discussing how to make shifts in a web design business to work less and make more money. Full Text: profitable web designer EPISODE 48 4 Shifts to Make in Your Web Design Business to Work Less and Make More with Shannon Mattern

This week I’m breaking down four common problems web designers face and how to fix them so you can work less and make more.

3 top takeaways:

  • When you stop making your prices mean something about you, it’s easier to see the value you provide and charge more sustainably.
  • You are not an employee of your clients, but instead get to be a leader in your business by holding boundaries and creating systems that drive results.
  • Taking control of how you spend your time and intentionally blocking space for specific activities is how to stay ahead without overworking.

I also discuss:

  • The importance of designing your business around the life you want to live and share my own experience of feeling trapped in my business.
  • Common mistakes web designers make when pricing their services and how to overcome pricing challenges.
  • Key shifts that can help web designers improve their business: changing the mindset around pricing, transitioning from an employee mindset to a leadership mindset, improving time management, and conflict avoidance.

Episode Transcript


Shannon Mattern: Welcome to the Profitable Web Designer, a podcast for web designers who want to work less and make more money. I'm your host Shannon Mattern, founder of the Web Designer Academy, where we've helped hundreds of web designers stop undercharging, overworking and create profitable, sustainable web design businesses.

Shannon Mattern: Before we dive into this week's episode, I wanna invite you to join us for a summer workshop series that we're hosting in June, July and August, where we're gonna teach you three of our tried and true strategies for marketing your web design business, managing your clients, and help you stop undercharging for good. These are live interactive workshops where we'll teach you a strategy, coach you on any mind trash getting in your way of implementing, and then you will actually implement the strategy during the live workshop using our step-by-step system and scripts so that you can leave the workshop with a smaller to-do list and go enjoy your summer and you'll have repeatable strategies that you can use over and over again in your web design business. We want you working less and making more this summer while also setting yourself up for a fruitful fall season.

Shannon Mattern: So all the workshops will be happening live and they will all be recorded and you keep lifetime access to replays of the trainings as well as the workbooks, templates and scripts for each workshop. So even if you can't join us live or you're hearing this after a workshop has passed, you'll still get all of the benefits of being there via the replays. So the first workshop is Marketing Momentum and it's happening on Thursday, June 22nd from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Eastern. We'll be teaching your tried and true marketing strategy that you can implement in under an hour a week, and you'll actually do it during this live workshop. Next is Boundaries Bootcamp on Thursday, July 13th from one to 4:00 PM Eastern, and we'll be teaching you our strategies for getting stalled client projects, moving again, we'll teach you how to manage client requests so that you're no longer working 24 7 and taking your laptop on vacation with you.

Shannon Mattern: And the last workshop is the Stop Undercharging Work Workshop on Thursday, August 17th from one to 4:00 PM Eastern, where we will take you through a pricing mindset makeover and help you completely transform your belief and your value, and also give you a strategy and script for raising your prices with current clients without fear of losing them all. Each workshop is just $99 when you register before June 21st, and you'll save an additional $50 when you register for all three and you get lifetime access to all the replays, workbooks, templates, and scripts that we include in each workshop. Be assured to register today. You can get all of the workshop details https://webdesigneracademy.com/summer and I cannot wait to hang out with you this summer.

Shannon Mattern: Hey there, welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast, and this week I'm gonna talk about the four most common problems we see with web designers that keep them maxed out on their time and plateaued on their revenue and what to do to fix it. So I'm actually just coming off of an entire week of like, we call it a quiet week here at the Web Designer Academy where the week of 4th of July and the week between Christmas and New Year's, we close the company down. So no meetings, no calls, no emails, no anything like that. And that goes for me and our two employees, Allie, who's our operations and marketing coordinator, and Erica, who's our client success coordinator. And we just take that downtime and it's so awesome to do that because it's something that I always wanted to do just to be like, Hey, guess what?

Shannon Mattern: No one's working this week. , you know, the whole company is closed down. You don't have to worry about coming back to all this, you know, stuff that happened while you were gone. And I get to do that because we really intentionally decided how we want our lives to look and then built our company around that in a way that is a win-win for us and for our web designer Academy students, right? And that's what we teach our students to do as well, is to design their business around the life that they want to live from day one, because it's totally possible to do, but it can be challenging to deconstruct and rebuild a business where you have given everything to your clients. And that's what we're gonna talk about today because you as a web designer, get to work less and make more. I know it sounds so counterintuitive to how we were conditioned to be as employees in a corporate environment, but it is absolutely true and that's what I want to share with you today.

Shannon Mattern: So the web designers that we work with are mostly self-taught. They may have gone to school for design or had a job in the marketing or tech field, not always. Sometimes they discovered a love of web design through another business or hobby. They use all platforms, WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify show at Webflow, Kajabi, et cetera, and all of the related systems that they hook up to do automations and they love how just powerful and flexible and easy they are to use. Sometimes we do have developers that code from scratch and are basically a solution architects and they love learning. They've taken lots of courses to learn new skills, they've invested in business courses and marketing courses, they listen to podcasts like this one about entrepreneurship. They are super driven and resourceful and they love figuring things out as they go and they care deeply about their client's happiness and success.

Shannon Mattern: So if that sounds like you , this podcast is absolutely for you. Because another thing that they all have in common, and you may feel like this too, is that you feel like you're working all the time. Like if, if you are listening to this and you have gotten past the point of like figuring out how to get clients, which we have so many podcast episodes on like how to market your web design business and how to get clients, please go back and listen to those if that is the challenge that you're experiencing in your business. And also listen to this because we want you to get clients and then operate your business in a sustainable way. I always talk about creating a profitable, sustainable web design business. That's what we're talking about here. So this is still absolutely relevant to you if you are still working on the side of the equation of like getting the clients.

Shannon Mattern: But this episode is really for you when you have booked the clients, right? Because you feel like you're working all the time, you're not maybe not making nearly as much money as you wanna make. Maybe your clients aren't following processes and project timelines. Maybe you're working way more than you want to. Maybe you have a lot of open projects that are at a standstill. Maybe you've got open invoices that aren't getting paid and you feel like you're on call 24 7 and everything feels like it's piling up and you spend your days just putting out fires that like land in your inbox from your clients. And so you're not doing all of the things that you think you need to be doing to market your business. And then you just kind of find yourself like with a ton of work that you can't do, no new clients on the horizon, no money coming in, just a bunch of open projects that aren't really progressing and you feel really trapped and burnt out.

Shannon Mattern: And you also start to get resentful of your clients and you really feel like something's gotta change and you're super motivated to change it because you're very driven for freedom, flexibility, and financial independence. But you're like, where is that? That's why I started this business. It doesn't feel like that. It feels the opposite of that. And you're really like at the point where you're about to burn your web design business down, like if any of that sounds familiar to you, this episode is going to get to the heart of that issue so you can start fixing it today because that was me back in the day. My clients loved me, it looked great from the outside, they were so happy. But my business was a hot mess and I was about to burn the whole thing down. And the only reason I didn't honestly is because my day job was worse just to be like fully transparent.

Shannon Mattern: I'm like okay, so the options in front of me are burn this business down and go find another job or get this working. And truly, I had interviewed for another position maybe six months before I started my side hustle. And I remember going to that interview and it was like, oh yeah, I could totally do this job. I could do this job in my sleep. And then I remember I had the interview was on a Friday, a Friday afternoon and we were chit-chatting. And so I got through like I met with the first people and then I met with the second people and I was like, yeah, so tell me, tell me a little bit about the hours and like what are the expectations? And they were like, oh yeah, we're definitely eight to five and you know of course like we're totally fine if you need to leave like 15 minutes early for like your kid's soccer game or something like that.

Shannon Mattern: And I was just thinking, well I don't have kids so in what circumstance is it gonna be okay for me to like make my own ske like I was, I really wanted freedom and flexibility that was more important to me than money hands down. And I could not imagine again being like sitting in rush hour traffic driving downtown. And I know it's different today cuz so many people work from home with the changes after the pandemic. But I was just like, this is not what I want. And I remember thinking like, well I guess I'll just settle for the devil I do know, which is my current day job then the devil. I don't, knowing that I'm gonna have all of these like restrictions on me and I'm like, I was like 35 years old at the time. I'm like, I'm a grown adult, I know , I know what my responsibilities are.

Shannon Mattern: I know when I need to work and when you know when I don't need to work and I will handle all of my stuff. And if you think that means I need to be in a chair at my desk at a certain time until a certain time, that's not gonna work for me . And so that's the whole reason that I was so determined to solve the problem of like this hot mess of inside my business is because I wanted freedom, I wanted flexibility. And what I realized was that I had created the same trap for myself that I had at my day job where I, I let everyone else dictate what my day looked like. And so I decided I have to fix this broken web design business because that's the only way that I'm gonna create the freedom that I want. This is the only place that I actually have the control to do it.

Shannon Mattern: I didn't have that control at my day job, I wouldn't have had it at the at the new company but I got to determine exactly how things ran in my own business if I just had the courage and confidence to make it happen. And so when I actually got coaching, like I got, I hired a a business coach that really helped me like see that I could do it differently cuz I didn't know, I was just like, oh no, you have to keep your clients happy, you have to hustle to keep them happy for the future promise of more work referrals or good reviews. Like if I can just get through this, if I can just get through this project and they're happy, then I'll get another client and then I can start fresh right with the same busted mindset. Or I'd be like okay well since I can't work on these client projects cuz I'm waiting on the clients, I will set up this project management tool that's gonna make my life easier and magically get my clients' content from them and help them meet my deadline.

Shannon Mattern: So you know, I'd set up Asana and I think I did content snare and all of these things and lo and behold it wasn't that my clients didn't have a good project management tool to use that was keeping them from giving me the things that I needed to move forward with the project. Like it's not that you don't have the right systems to get them to cooperate or that they don't know what all they need . Like that's just not why. So I'd also had hired subcontractors to help me with project management and client work. And the reason that I needed to do that was because my business was messy. I didn't have the time, I didn't feel like I had the time but I was really putting my energy into the wrong places to manage everything. And because I was massively undercharging anyway, I was basically passing every penny I made on the projects over to my project manager and my subcontractor and it wasn't sustainable and it didn't magically make my clients cooperate either.

Shannon Mattern: So the way my business was structured back then, I had 50% like courses in affiliate marketing and the web designer academy, which I didn't even really treat like a thing . I was trying to grow this like Amy Porterfield like course business and then 50% one-on-one client work. But I was just sending all the money I made on client work over to my subcontractors and I was like, oh this is not gonna work if I wanna quit my day job. And I also felt like I couldn't raise my prices with my current clients. Like I just could not wrap my mind. And it's so funny in hindsight to think about this, I'm like, it's so easy to build a website, I can build a website in a day, it's so easy, it's not worth that much. I can't charge that much. I was not even factoring in like all this time like managing the client and basically business coaching them.

Shannon Mattern: So I just thought, okay, well if I wanna make more money, I need new clients to make more money and I need a team to be able to manage all of this but I wasn't charging enough. And so that's what I tried to do at first, like to kind of clean it up and it didn't work. And I see so many other web designers do this too. It's just like, or they'll do things like I need to change my niche and get better clients or rebrand or all of this stuff. And none of these things actually solve the problem when you try to solve the problem of working too much and not making enough money and waiting on clients by hustling harder or searching for the magic tech tool that will make everything easier. Or hiring people to deal with clients and tasks that you don't wanna deal with or waiting out your pain in the butt clients or just like saying yes to everything that they want or rebranding or just you know trying like, oh now I need a Pinterest strategy.

Shannon Mattern: Like doing these shiny marketing tactics that are tech and time intensive because you're just like, well I need new clients and I want different clients than the ones I have cuz the ones I have suck. Like it actually creates more overworking, more overwhelm, less time and less money. So when you're maxed out and not making the amount of money you wanna be making, there are four key areas of your web design business to look at first and to solve for first. Okay? And that is pricing, employee mindset, time management and conflict avoidance. Okay? Those are the four things and you are in the best news is you are in total control of all of these. And when you fix these four things in your business, everything will change. I promise you everything will change and you will fundamentally be a different person. , okay? And your web design business will get so much easier.

Shannon Mattern: So the first one, pricing. What we see most often with web designers that contributes to unprofitable unsustainable web design businesses like the one I had in back in the day, is that they are using the wrong pricing strategy. It is that simple. And it has nothing to do with whether they're charging hourly or by the package. It's that they're setting their prices based on what they believe about the value of their skills and their experience. Or they're looking at what everyone else is charging and they're trying to pick a price that they think the quote unquote market is willing to pay. And then they figure out how many clients they need to book at that price to make the money that they wanna be making. And then they worry about being too expensive. They just want someone to tell them how much they can charge so that they feel confident about their pricing.

Shannon Mattern: They worry about ripping off their clients, especially if they're like me. And what they do feels really easy to them. And where it gets really interesting is that they know they need to raise, raise their prices. Like they know they're undercharging, they know, they feel like they, they, if the telltale sign is they're like, oh my gosh that was like way too much work for how much I charged, right? But then they worry that they can't actually live up to the price that they really want to charge, right? Like they worry that they won't have the time or the emotional bandwidth to serve at the level that they think is required at the price that they wanna charge. They feel like if they wanna charge that much that they'll have to like add more to the projects and they don't have the capacity to add more to the project.

Shannon Mattern: They're like, well if I wanna charge 10,000 then I have to write out a copy and do SEO strategy and do a fully custom brand and like all of this stuff. And they're like, I don't have the time to do what I'm doing now, let alone all of that. Or they're already doing that and they're undercharging or they worry about taking money from their clients, they worry that their clients won't make the money back, won't get results that they're harming their clients by charging that much. So they never raise their prices so that if something does go wrong, this is their deep down thought. Like if I keep my price where it is, if something does go wrong, their clients will be less disappointed because they didn't spend that much money. Right? You are trying to protect yourself with your pricing and this happens at any price point.

Shannon Mattern: We see it for people who are already charging five figures for their projects but should be charging more because they're doing way more and adding way more value and way specialized in all of this stuff. And we see it for people who want to be charging five figures for their projects and what's driving all of it is fear and worry and anxiety, fear that they won't get clients, that they'll lose clients, that they won't make enough money that they'll be rejected or told they're not good enough to be charging that much or that they'll harm their clients. So they're keeping their prices low to protect themselves. And what's fascinating about this is that you end up creating what you're most afraid of anyway, not making as much money as you wanna make because you're chronically undercharging for fear that you won't make enough money if you raise your prices .

Shannon Mattern: Ok? And I know it seems like this pricing drama comes from wanting to like be fair to your clients and be affordable and all of this stuff. But what we see with our clients underneath it all is the purpose it's really serving is to avoid conflict or negotiation or prevent any objections someone might have about your price. So the solution is simple. You have got to stop making your price all about you or what other people are charging or what you think the market would pay and start thinking about your pricing in a way that focuses on the value of the outcomes to your clients. You have to change how you think about pricing fundamentally at your core. You have to change how you think about it. You must stop trying to decide for other people what they can and can't afford, okay? You have to choose pricing that is sustainable for your business and for your life so that you don't have to hustle to book five new clients a month at your current prices or to keep working with clients that you hate.

Shannon Mattern: The value of a project does not come from how complex it is for how much time it takes, even your skills or expertise. It comes from what the client is able to create as a result of not only using what you create for them in their own business, but also how they are able to invest the time that they didn't have to spend on the project themselves. Like if they were to do it themselves and from now, what is possible for them now that they have it instead of like delaying a year down the road. Like opportunity cost, right? The cost of inaction is high for business owners. So when they're like, oh, like I can't afford that, I'm gonna wait. They are delaying their results. So when they work with someone like you now they'll actually make more money than if they wait. So in order to really work less and make more and have a profitable sustainable web design business, you have to stop making your price all about protecting yourself or protecting your clients from, which is really when you're like, oh I need it to be affordable for my clients.

Shannon Mattern: You're trying to protect your clients but you're also actually really trying to protect yourself from them thinking that you, that you ripped them off, right? You have got to stop thinking that it's not worth it or you can harm your clients. It's a fundamental shift. It's when they pay me this money, they will get way more out of it than they ever gave me, way more than they ever gave me. You need to think of them as brilliant, capable and responsible and not that they're someone that you need to take care of or protect, right? You have to believe that they will get way more than they ever give you when it comes to your pricing. And even if you don't raise your prices now and you're listening to this, start believing that. Start believing that they are gonna get 10 times more than they ever pay you.

Shannon Mattern: And when you start thinking like that, you create relief for yourself and you're not so afraid to raise your prices. So I need you to understand this. It is not your job to save your client's money. I've said this over and over again. That is not your job. It is your job to create a tool for them that will help them make more money. And you are completely allowed to choose a price that's sustainable for you. Just like your clients are allowed to choose prices for their products and services that are sustainable for them, then you sell yourself on it being worth 10 times more than what you're charging and you learn how to communicate that value to your clients. You stop talking about websites in terms of number of pages and here's, here's all the things you get. You start talking about results. And when you do that, you completely shift the caliber of clients you work with because you're, you're no longer working with people who are also afraid and need you to protect them with your prices.

Shannon Mattern: You start calling in people that believe themselves to be brilliant, capable and responsible who know exactly what they're going to do with the tool that you create for them no matter what services you provide, right? So you must learn how to confidently have pricing conversations with clients, believing fully in their capability and what is possible for them and then let them feel however they wanna feel about it after they hear what you have to say without making it mean anything about you as a web designer. Okay? And this is a learnable skill and this is a skill we teach inside of the web designer academy. It takes some deconstructing, it takes some analysis and awareness of your current beliefs about value and pricing and then it takes like deconstructing it and rebuilding it in a totally new way and it is totally learnable. So this is what we help our students do inside of our program and seriously like it changes everything.

Shannon Mattern: So the first shift is just how you fundamentally think about pricing. So the second shift is employee mindset and the next problem that we see that keeps web designers working too much and maxed out on their income is employee mindset. Meaning like they are the best employee in their business. Maybe you were like a high achiever at your day job. We see this so often with people that come to work with us in the web designer academy. Like they were that all-star team member at work. They carried their teams, they carried their departments, they were like the go-to person, right? And it makes sense on the surface that you would wanna be the best employee for your own business, right? It's your business. And most of us have trained to be quote unquote good employees our whole entire lives. That good behavior, that ultra dependability, it gets you good reviews from your boss and your peers.

Shannon Mattern: It gets you promotions and raises. It makes you quote unquote indispensable when rounds of layoffs come and that that behavior, it's rewarded in a corporate environment. It keeps you safe, it keeps that paycheck coming when there are rounds of layoffs and things that are happening. You have like created that indispensability, right? And what ends up happening though that you don't even realize is that you end up trading your freedom for faux safety and security because at the end of the day it doesn't matter how good of an employee you are, you're never safe from a layoff or from losing that job. And what I didn't realize when I started my web design business and what I see was so many web designers who are overworking and underearning was that I brought that employee mindset with me into my business. I let my clients take on the role of employer, I let them call the shots, I let them tell me how much I was worth and how much they were willing to pay.

Shannon Mattern: I let them determine my value just like we let our employers determine what our role is worth and how much they'll pay us. And in order to keep them happy and to keep getting paid, I felt like I needed to overdeliver and provide quote unquote good customer service. And for me and for a lot of our students before coming to work with us, being a good employee in their business still means going above and beyond to make sure that their clients are happy. Dropping everything at a moment's notice to get it done and probably not even bill for it cuz it was just such a quick fix. I don't feel like I can charge for that. That was so easy for me to do. And your clients are happy and they love you and they rave about you and they refer you and that feels awesome.

Shannon Mattern: But you dread checking email, your clients call and text you at all hours when you're with friends and family when you're on vacation with their urgent deadlines and emergencies and you secretly despise working with them. But you need the money, you need to keep the money coming in. So what makes you a quote unquote good employee and what keeps you thriving in a corporate environment is really not a mentally, physically, emotionally, or financially sustainable way to run your own business. And so the solution for this is to make that transition from like the best employee to like the best leader, right? To be the one calling all the shots and making the decisions in a way that benefits both you and your clients to design your business around your life and your goals instead of around your client's life and goals. And to intentionally create processes and systems and boundaries.

Shannon Mattern: And I'm not talking about software, I'm talking about like rules for your business. Like if this happens then I will do this and that, right? To intentionally create those processes and systems and boundaries that are mutually beneficial to you and your clients and then become the person who can confidently communicate and hold those boundaries and let your clients decide do they wanna operate within the boundary or not? Do they wanna take the consequence of not operating in the boundary? It's all their choice. They are adults. And then you get to not make their decision mean anything about you because you're so confident in your ability to lead them, to guide them, to give them empowering options, to let them choose and to always get more clients and make more money. So when you step out of that, like I have to keep them happy to keep making money and get more clients to, I get to lead them through this process and guide them and give them choices and let them choose and maybe their choice isn't what I would want them to do.

Shannon Mattern: But when people feel empowered, they feel satisfied regardless of whether everything went their way right? Like projects are not always gonna go how you plan them, they never do. There's life involved in it. But if you are always at the effect of the whims of whatever's happening in your client's life and it derails you and your business and your vacations, there's something is out of balance there and we get to fix that. Like that is where you get to shift into okay, this is happening in your life, I'm gonna present you with a set of options and you get to decide and those options are always gonna work for me in my business. So that's what we really do. inside of the web designer academy, I know people think we teach and we do, we teach packages pricing and marketing sales, how to sell premium web design projects.

Shannon Mattern: But really like that's the first like three months of working with us. People implement that stuff pretty quickly. What happens after that is, okay, I got this client and now this situation is happening and I need some help navigating that. And that's truly what we do is like, okay, here's how you, here's bring us your situation, tell us what's going on. We're gonna help you figure out how to set the boundary with them so that you get to still live your life and that you're not trapped. So that's the second shift is to go from the best employee that that team player to a leader in your business.

Shannon Mattern: So the next shift to make the the problem that's responsible for a lot of overworking and being maxed out on revenue is time management. And I don't mean that like you're missing deadlines or that you're late to calls or meetings. In fact it's like quite the opposite because most often like you are that best employee, you're organized, you're resourceful, you get stuff done, it means that you're actually spending too much time on your clients, meaning you're being like reactive with your time instead of proactive. So you're reacting to like all the client emergencies and urgent requests that land on your inbox. Like you basically sit down at your computer, open up your email first thing and then just start feeling that anxiety of like all the stuff that people need from you and you, no matter what you had planned for that day, you start working on that stuff to create relief because you feel like, oh if I can just get this done then I can move on to the other stuff.

Shannon Mattern: You're reacting to client delays and demands, you're rearranging your schedule or you're putting all of that stuff first and then you're burning the midnight oil and working weekends and taking your laptop on vacation to get it all done instead of proactively planning your time ahead of time And then sticking to that and establishing those boundaries with your clients, communicating that when they're like, you know they say Hey I need this done by the end of today and you you are like, oh my gosh, I need to do it by the end of today. Instead of being like, Hey got your email, here are your options, which one would you like? And just like holding the line, holding the line, holding the line.

Shannon Mattern: Cuz the truth is if we don't have a plan for our time, our clients will , they'll delay starting projects, they'll delay getting content to us, they'll add stuff on when they get all excited about a new idea, they'll ask for change after change after change. And it's not their fault they don't see our calendar, our inbox, our to-do list, they don't see our li list of other clients. They are literally only thinking about themselves and their own commitments and their own deadlines. And what your business ends up looking like when you're being reactive and have zero boundaries around your time is that you are working constantly and you're not marketing and you're not like getting new clients and you act like to every client that you have unlimited time for client work. But like here's something that I need you to shift in your mindset is that client work is not the number one priority in your business.

Shannon Mattern: , I know that sounds so counterintuitive, but marketing your business, getting new clients, new projects, new projects from the same clients, that is your number one priority in your business. That's what pays the bills. Yes, you need to deliver, right? You need to deliver on what you said but you, that's where you put a plan together to do that. And you do that when you have plan to do it. And if you don't have a plan for your time, if you don't have a plan for when you're doing the delivery and when you're doing the marketing and sales, if you don't communicate project timelines before and during and even after your projects, like if you're not communicating like hey this project is over, if you want more stuff, here's how to pay me for that. And then you don't hold your clients to it. Your clients will just take and take and take as if you have infinite time and it's because you have not drawn the line with them.

Shannon Mattern: They don't have a frame of reference for what this looks like and you won't have a clear compelling reason to say no because you also act like you have infinite time and so you end up delaying getting paid, you'll have unpaid time going to waste. And when you allow all of this to happen, you are giving your valuable time away. And then what ends up happening is you're not getting paid and you're spending all this time and then you need money, right? So you'll take on new projects while you still have a bunch of open projects, then you start to feel really overwhelmed cuz you have too many things going on at once and you stop marketing cuz you're so overwhelmed because you're like, I don't, I can't take on another client but like I'm actually not making any money. And then you find yourself trapped in this cycle of working all the time and not making enough money and feeling desperate and taking on more bad fit clients or just wanting to burn the whole thing down.

Shannon Mattern: And it just happens over and over again. And like I said, this happened to me back in the day and I was just, I remember just thinking like this is not worth it at all. Like I would rather have one bad boss than 10. This doesn't feel like freedom. And I wanted to burn it all down. And this was the biggest shift I think I ever like made in my web design business is to shift the power dynamic, shift the power dynamic, take your time back and it starts with creating a plan for your time. That includes when you'll be doing paid client work and to have a marketing and sales and project management process that takes your plan into account. And then to learn how to confidently communicate timelines and boundaries and hold the client responsible for their decisions during the project. And this can only happen once you've solved for your employee mindset.

Shannon Mattern: Also taking control of timelines and calling the shots as part of that transformation from employee mindset to leader. And when I say like planning your time, I don't necessarily mean that like it has to be the exact same thing every single week. That's not realistic for a lot of people who have children or caring for aging parents or just have a variable life week to week where like sometimes they have childcare, sometimes they don't or it's just not predictable. It means like looking ahead at least a week if not two, planning for like what you know is actually happening, leaving some white space in for the variables. Having like a backup plan for what do you do when you don't have childcare? This is one of the things that I see with people who struggle like who want to like sell v i p days but then they actually like their time isn't so structured that they can commit to the day that they sold.

Shannon Mattern: And so it's really challenging and so you have to learn how to plan your time fluidly but also like with boundaries around it. And so planning your time and being proactive and managing not just projects but clients, you have to manage the client . It's part of running a web design business that most designers put the least amount of importance on. They spend so much time and maybe you're guilty of this too, which everything I'm telling you, I've done all of this so I'm not up here on my high horse saying like, oh don't do this. You know it's the wrong way. It's like, oh when I did this everything was a hot mess, right? We want to learn like we wanna put all this time into like learning new skills and getting better at design and learning SEO and all of these things and learning skills is absolutely important but those are not the skills that are going to like make money, right?

Shannon Mattern: You cannot design your way out of a messy business. You can't hire your way out of a messy business. You can't add more services and in thinking that will clean your business up. It's all about learning to run the business is one of the most important skills that you can develop. You get to learn all that other stuff all the time as you go, you're like those things are always gonna change, they're always gonna evolve. Design trends are gonna evolve, tech is gonna evolve. You are always gonna be learning. You will have never learned that. It's an ongoing thing with every new client. You're gonna learn something new. Time spent learning how to actually like run your web design business as like the leader of the business and how to manage clients and how to communicate all of that. That is what is going to make you exponentially more money than just getting better at a certain skill.

Shannon Mattern: So once you learn how to be proactive with your time and apply it and then find all the pla places where you let it break down and you try something different and it's almost always a thought or a belief that needs to be cleaned up and then fix that and get good at it. It's one of the most profitable skills you can develop as a designer. It's like when you're like, oh my gosh, I actually do have time for everything cuz I get to decide how I spend my time, right? So that's the third shift so far we've talked about pricing, employee mindset, time management, and the fourth shift to make is to stop avoiding conflict. So the fourth core problem that we see that results in web designers not making as much money as they want and working too much is avoiding conflict at all costs.

Shannon Mattern: And I truly do mean at all costs. because avoiding conflict costs you time and money and so much mental energy. It is draining. You do all kinds of mental gymnastics to justify not having uncomfortable conversations. I've been there, it's exhausting. You're in the middle of a project and the client's like, oh I forgot, can we just add this one more page? Or it's like go live time and they want you to change a bunch of things that they already approved right before launch. Or they say things like, can you just make this one more change? It should be really quick. Or it's just a small thing and you know it won't be quick at all, but you justify it with thoughts like, oh that's an easy fix. Like it probably won't take me that much time. Or you know, they think it's so simple but it's really not, but I don't know how to explain to them that it's not.

Shannon Mattern: Or it's just one more page. No biggie, I can just like clone this page and swap this and that out. Or it's not their fault that they forgot or I should have thought of that, right? I can't charge for this because I didn't tell them upfront it wouldn't be included. Or I should have thought of that. Like you take on the responsibility for their extra because like they bring it up and then you think, ah yeah, I should have included that in the first place. Or you'll think things like, does this really count as a revision? I didn't clarify that up front ahead of time, so I'll just do it. I'd rather just do it than like have this uncomfortable conversation about money or time or whatever. And you think things like, oh they'll be upset with me if I tell 'em it's gonna cost more for something that they think is an easy fix.

Shannon Mattern: I don't wanna blindside them. Have you ever thought I don't wanna blindside them? I hear that one over and over and over. When I'm coaching students inside the web designer academy, they'll be like, I don't wanna blindside them or maybe this time the offer to pay or just tell me to invoice them or I'll just go ahead and do it because I want them to be happy and I want them to refer me. Like it's fascinating how we come up with a million reasons to justify doing extra work for free just to protect ourselves from the discomfort of a conversation and from the fear of feature consequences. Because really truly it comes down to we are afraid that they are going to be mad at us and leave us a bad review and not refer us or whatever like core root fear we have about like rejection or failure or whatever.

Shannon Mattern: And so we just do the stuff and we don't get paid and we delay and we overwork and all of the things. And so what we ultimately create is instead of the discomfort of the uncomfortable conversation, we take the discomfort of overworking and not making the money we really wanna be making. We spend so much time worrying and ruminating on how to handle client situations or heading off all the what ifs instead of just making a decision and handling problems as they come up if they even come up. So this is what I always say to our web designer Academy students who say, I don't wanna blindside them, I just wanna do it, but I know it's gonna be a lot. And you know, obviously they don't wanna do it otherwise they wouldn't have come on the live strategy call and asked the question. So I always say to them, I'm like, why are you doing the work and paying for it out of your own pocket?

Shannon Mattern: And they're, they look at me like, what? And I'm like, okay, think about this. Every time you give away time, you've set aside for paid client work without charging for it, you may as well have taken out your wallet and paid for the work on behalf of your client because that's effectively what you're doing when you don't charge or when you undercharge, it's like, hey, let me just pick up the bill for you on that one. You're paying to avoid a conflict that might never even happen. And I also see this line of thinking when a client comes to you and says, oh my gosh, I had such a bad experience with my last designer. I paid them several thousand dollars and I didn't get anything. And then you feel bad like, oh well I can't charge them that much because they just wasted all this money over here, so now I feel like I have to help them out and I'm not gonna charge that much.

Shannon Mattern: You may have as well have just given them seven grand for the last designer and then now you're just like doing the rest for 3000. Or like, why would you do that? That is not your responsibility. It is not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to run a sustainable web design business that keeps you taking care of, put your oxygen mask on first so that you can create something incredible for your clients that they can then go on to make money with and make back what they paid that other bad designer too. It's not your job to to fix their mistakes that they made before they ever found you. And it's not your job to not get paid for stuff that they forgot or extra things that they wanted, but you need to learn. But, and this is the thing to learn. The reason that you're doing it is because you fear rejection or loss of safety and security.

Shannon Mattern: And so you have to learn how to communicate boundaries in a way that is going to protect you from losing safety and security. That's what we do in the Web Designer Academy and we do it differently than everybody else is that we understand the core reasons why you're doing it and it's okay, you're normal, you're protecting yourself. But if I give you a solution that goes in direct conflict with your core reasons for why you're doing it, you're not gonna implement the solution, you're gonna just take the one that protects yourself, which is avoiding the conflict. So I need to teach you how to communicate in a way that avoids conflict, but also sets the boundary and helps you protect your time and money. And that's what we do inside of our program. Okay? So I can give you all the scripts in the world, but if those scripts create fear and anxiety in you too, you're gonna choose the path of relief every time, which is just saying yes to the client and not asking for more money.

Shannon Mattern: So if you find yourself doing that, you probably should just book a discovery call with me. I'm just gonna be straight up like go to our website, book a discovery call, https://webdesigneracademy.com, click on that link if you can't find a time to that works with your schedule to talk to us about our program and how we can help you. You can fill out our application and we'll chat back and forth via Loom videos and email about like how we can help you change all of this in your web design business. So learning the skill to confidently navigate these time and money conversations before, during, and after projects is one of the most lucrative skills that you can develop. And when you do, you will create so much more time and money. It's not just knowing what to say, it's just developing that self-trust that you'll be able to safely have these conversations with clients and be okay with whatever their response is.

Shannon Mattern: All of these shifts that I'm talking to you about making you are so normal. If you operate your web design business in this way, you're operating your web design business in this way to protect yourself from the things that you're most afraid of. Conflict, rejection, bad reviews, loss of financial security. And there's another way to protect yourself from all of those things. That's way more empowering, that's going to help you have freedom, flexibility, fulfillment, and financial independence. So like I said, the four shifts are shifting how you think about pricing at its core. Shifting from being the best go-to employee, not only in your business but in in all of your clients' businesses to being a leader. Shifting how you manage your time from being reactive versus proactive and learning to communicate that with your clients before, during, after, and on the fly. And learning how to stop avoiding conflict, learning how to stop people pleasing, to protect yourself.

Shannon Mattern: And learning how to confidently, safely, calmly communicate that this will cost more or that this will add time or that I'm not doing this. So you can make these shifts. This is exactly what we help our students do inside of the Web Designer Academy. So if you wanna learn more about that and how we can help you, if you're ready to make these shifts, just go to https://webdesigneracademy.com. You can find all of the information about our program, like how it works on that page, and then if it is something that you're interested in learning more about, if it feels like it could be the thing that's been missing for you, you can either book a discovery call and if it feels you'll fill out a form. If, if I look at everything and I'm like, yep, we can absolutely help this person, then we'll have that call and we'll talk about all of the details of the program, zero obligation, zero pressure, just an opportunity for both of us to find out if working together is right for both of us.

Shannon Mattern: Alternatively, you can fill out the application that's also linked up on the homepage of our site and just answer all those questions. And if I feel like we can help you, I'll invite you to go even deeper in learning about our strategies and our processes and answer any questions. And then you can make the decision for yourself if you think that this is the right next move for you to kind of clean up some of these problems that you've been experiencing in your web design business that maybe you've been trying to solve in counterproductive ways. So that's all I have for you this week. I am so excited to also tell you that like I'm on threads now. So I'm recording this at the, gosh, right? Like threads launched a week ago and when I heard about it, you access it through Instagram or you can go to threads.net and download the app and it actually connects to your Instagram.

Shannon Mattern: And I was like, wait a minute. So you're telling me that I don't have to create graphics, I don't have to like make, go on camera and make reels and put stickers on things and like just try to be like a, create like a scrapbooker on my phone and like be witty and keep it under 30 seconds. I get 500 characters so I can actually put like a fully formed thought out there and yeah, like I can just do it whenever I'm like all in like this is the type of social media that, you know, kind of, I feel like it kind of takes us back to like what it was in the first place. It's been really fun. So if you just find me on Instagram at Profitable Web Designer, you can find a link to my threads, follow me there. Let's connect, let's chat, let's have conversations.

Shannon Mattern: I will totally follow you too. And it's just been super fun, like just sharing our, I don't know, our thought leadership there. So come connect with me there. And if you have not taken our profitable pricing training, go to https://webdesigneracademy.com/pricing, sign up for our free pricing training. It's going to help you start with that first shift of shifting how you think about pricing and why you absolutely get to charge more and you should never have to feel guilty about it. So that is all I have for you this week. Thank you so much for listening, and I'll see you back here next week. Bye. Hey, so if you're ready to stop undercharging and overworking, if you wanna take back control of your time, work only with the dreamiest of clients and make more money as a web designer than you ever thought possible, get started now by going to https://webdesigneracademy.com and joining our wait list. We'll send you exclusive teachings from the current Web Designer Academy so you can start applying our concepts now. And you'll be first to know when enrollment opens up again, so that you can work with us to completely transform your web design business.

Speaker 2: This podcast is part of the sound advice FM network. Sound advice FM Women's Voices amplified.

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Hi, I'm Shannon!

I help ambitious women web designers reclaim their time, book profitable web design projects they love, and make more as a freelance web designer than they ever thought possible inside the Web Designer Academy.

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