In this week’s episode I’m diving into how you can be proactive with your marketing through giving value and creating spaces for your ideal clients.
- You don’t always have to follow the pack. You can build your own table to sit at and invite your best clients to sit at it.
- There are SO many creative ways to authentically build those relationships without having to always be the expert.
- When you find yourself dreading a certain task, it’s probably because you’re making it mean something about you personally, rather than what you give.
I also break down:
- The different stages of business and what challenges I see web designers face at each level.
- The feelings that came up for me around acquiring the Simply Profitable Designer Summit and the responsibility I felt for taking over the experience of attendees.
- Why we changed up the format of the summit to better serve our ticket holders.
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 under charging, overworking and create profitable sustainable web design businesses.
Shannon Mattern: Before we dive into this week's episode, I wanna let you know about the Simply Profitable Designer Summit happening March 21st through 23rd a summit that's all about helping you simplify your design business so that you can work less and make more money doing what you love. Tickets are completely free. You can go to https://simplyprofitabledesigner.com to get your free ticket and we will have 20 experts over three days teaching you strategies that you can use both to improve and simplify your design business no matter what stage you're at, all from the comfort of your own home. So go ahead and go to https://simplyprofitabledesigner.com to get your free ticket today.
Shannon Mattern: Well, hey there, welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer podcast. So I was thinking about today's episode while I was walking my dog the other day, like I do when I'm walking her. I'm always like thinking about what's going on in my business and thinking about our students and just so many different things going on on my mi mind other while I'm, while I'm walking her down the country roads by my house. And I was thinking about the different stages of business that web designers go through and the challenges that they have at each stage. So really there are like four stages that basically every web design business goes through. You have the startup stage, the sustainable stage, the simplified stage, and the scale stage. And at the startup stage you're really just figuring out how to put yourself out there and get clients. You're learning what you love to do and who you love to work with.
Shannon Mattern: You're figuring out how much you really need to charge, how long things take, when clients are involved. Cuz timelines are two completely different things when you're doing stuff for yourself on your own versus
Shannon Mattern: Because it's always evolving, you move into the simplify phase. So this is where you've like discovered your secret sauce, that thing that you love to do that you know you're an expert in, that you know is priceless for the right clients. And you are ready to let go of old clients and get just more selective about who you allow on your project schedule. You are confidently and expertly leading clients through your unique process instead of following their lead, you're intentionally becoming known for what you do and clients are lining up to be led by you. So that's the simplification phase. You strip away all of the other things, like all the things that you've tried and you really just like boil it down to that core thing that you love to do that you're really good at. You might just stay there. You can stay and simplify forever or you can move on to the scale stage.
Shannon Mattern: So when you have repeatable systems and processes, you've got your marketing down and you're booked out with a waiting list, you can either stay booked out and just continue to get booked out and create that consistent steady income. Or this might be when you decide to grow a team so that you can serve more clients at once without working more. It might be when you decide to turn some of your systems and processes into intellectual property that you sell for others and sell digital products and things instead of your time and build a whole new audience for those things. So the scale stage is really once you've like maximized your one-on-one client work to the point where you are either cool with the consistent revenue coming in or you're like, you know what? I would like to like grow from here. And that either comes from like adding more people to your team or adding more things to sell one to many, right?
Shannon Mattern: Both come with learning a whole new set of skills, a whole new timeline and kind of just like starting over with trial and error. So sometimes people are like, I just wanna stay in the simplified stage because I don't want to learn a new phase of business like team management and leadership or I don't wanna learn how to sell one to many and grow an audience and sell lower price products and provide customer support and service for those things. It's a completely different ballgame than selling one-on-one services and I've done both of these things. And the skill that they require is just different. So there's no wrong decision here. It's just all about you and your business. The fascinating thing that I was contemplating on my walk with my dog, Scarlet, is that
Shannon Mattern: Startup stage people are like, how do I even find clients? Like where are they? Where do, do I go to find them? Is there some store that I can like go to that all the clients are there and I can just like sit on the shelf and like wait for them to like pick me up and put me in their cart or where do I go so they can find me
Shannon Mattern: People are like, but Shannon, okay, but how do I find investment minded clients? Where are they? Where can I find them? What bar coffee shop? Are they hanging out in
Shannon Mattern: And Erica is an educator, she's a curriculum designer, she's also a graphic designer, like she's artist, she's so multi-talented and she's just a brilliant human and I'm so lucky to have her on our team because she is so good at what she does and she makes sure our curriculum is designed to create the quickest results possible. And she was talking about, because she's a curriculum designer, right? And so she was talking about starting a podcast for course creators like me to get in front of other people like me to offer her curriculum design services, right? And so she was like, I wanna start this podcast, it's called Next Level Course Creator. She did start it and I'll link it up in the show notes cuz it's so good. And she's like, okay, I wanna start this podcast, but how do I grow the audience for this show? I'm not known in this space and all of the things. And so I actually have a clip cuz I asked Erica, I'm like, can you tell me how this story went down because I know that I'm gonna like mess up the details. Can you just tell me how this went down? So here is Erica talking about how this happened at our retreat last November.
Erica Nash: Yeah, so I was sharing how, you know, I had the podcast planned, but I was really afraid that because my network was so small and this whole issue of belonging is just a theme throughout my life that because I changed careers, it's almost like I I don't belong in this entrepreneurial space. And I was talking about how as I was planning the podcast, I was afraid that I was afraid to ask people to be interviewed because why would they wanna talk to me? Like I don't, I didn't really have anything to, to offer them. And so Alecia was asking me what the point of the podcast was and so I was telling her about how, you know, it, it was to give these course creators that support students at a high level the space to talk about sort of the nuances and the struggle of what it's like to run a program with high support and really move beyond the talk of like marketing and launching and like spinning all of this effort to get new leads and maybe switch the conversation a little bit to talk about the client experience and how we can create something that students want to stay in so that we're really nurturing those relationships and and increasing retention.
Erica Nash: And so as we were talking, I think it was, yeah, it was Leigh at that point, she raised her hand, she said, can I ask a question? She said, is anybody else having this conversation? And I said, no. Like everything I've heard that talks about course creation is really talking about marketing and about getting new leads. It's not really about the client experience and retention and just, you know, having these sort of candid conversations. And she said, well then it sounds to me like you get to build your own table, build your own table, and then of course you belong at your own table. Invite people to sit at it. And then my entire life was changed
Shannon Mattern: So Erica is like not joking when she said that what Leigh said changed her life. Like it blew the minds of every single person in that room when Leigh's like, just make your own table. Like the whole room went silent and you could practically hear like the gears grinding in all of our brains being like, wait, wait, wait, what did she just say? Make your own table. Make your own table and invite people to sit at your table instead of waiting to be invited to sit at theirs. Like mind blown And shout out to Leigh of Zainatain Design for just the simple comment that like Erica, like it literally changed lives of every single person in that room. That's, that's what happens when you get people like that together in a room who really just care about the success of everyone else in the room.
Shannon Mattern: And that's, that's one of the my favorite things about the Web Designer Academy. But so many web designers are just searching for the magical room filled with tables that all of their clients are sitting at are just like waiting to find them and walk in and, and yes, those tables do exist, right? And you can absolutely go find them, but what if instead you created your own table and invited your best clients to sit at it? One of our students, Corey made her own table. It was a blog interview series where she interviews bold women entrepreneurs about their business journey, who are Corey's ideal clients? Bold women entrepreneurs. She gets to reach out to anyone she wants to talk to, say, can I interview you? Build that relationship. Oh by the way, I'm a web designer. Do you know anyone who, and that's how Corey creates relationships to get get clients.
Shannon Mattern: It's one of the ways that she does it. Another one of our students, Laura made her own table with a podcast called Bead Bold Make Waves, and she interviewed women in the online business space who are Laura's ideal clients, women in the online business space. Rachel is a web designer for interior designers in the vacation rental and investment space. And she made her own table by setting up a local networking event for people in real estate in her local area. So vacation rental management companies, interior design companies for them, realtors. And she is creating a space where they can just all get together and talk and meet each other and who knows who needs what from whom, but they're all gonna be there at the table talking. There are so many creative ways that you can create your own table in a way that feels really aligned to you, that allows you to give value and build relationships and facilitate connection simply by holding the space for other people to connect without having to be the expert at the table.
Shannon Mattern: It is one of the most rewarding ways to build relationships that lead to future clients. And I have been in business for eight years now and I have built so many tables and I didn't even know that's what I was doing in the beginning of my business. I just was like, I don't know how to market my business. I have no idea. And I came up with, well how about I just like what Corey's doing, how about I just interview women who coach like women business coaches who coach the students that I want to teach how to build a website, how about I interview them and then when they share the interview, part of that will be like they'll see my free five day website challenge and sign up. That's how I got all of my first clients when I was starting to sell digital products.
Shannon Mattern: And it's been eight years now and like I said, I've been built so many tables I didn't even know that that's what I was doing until Lisa just like build your own table. Like oh yeah, that's exactly what it is. Build a table, invite people to sit at it. And so it's just a really lovely way to think about how to market your business in a way that feels the complete opposite of pushy and salesy and sleazy. And so like I said, I've built so many tables over the years but I didn't actually build my latest table, I bought it from someone else that built it
Shannon Mattern: And she built the Simply Profitable Designer Summit from scratch. She built that as her table to meet designers because she was a developer and she wanted to partner with designers. So she created this summit and she was like, Hey, I'm gonna invite people who served designers who have content for designers and then I'm gonna invite designers to come to this thing and then that's how I'm gonna meet people who I could be like the developer and they're the designer we partner on these projects. And so she built her own table to get clients for her design business and then what ended up happening is the summit was so successful and she worked so hard on all the systems and processes and she was doing it completely different than anybody else in the industry that people were like, oh but wait, can you just teach me how to run a summit?
Shannon Mattern: And she pivoted off to to Market Summit in a box and she was still running the Simply Profitable Designer Summit every year, but she wasn't even doing web design anymore. And it came to a point where the summit wasn't feeling aligned for her anymore and she and I had built a relationship over the years. I'd spoken at her summit a few times in the past, I sponsored it last year. Long story short, when she decided she wasn't gonna run it anymore, I was like, oh hey, like is that something you consider selling to me? Because it was so valuable to me, I didn't want this table to just be like sitting in her basement gathering dust, right? I was like, it's like it's invaluable. So she agreed to sell it to me and we have all of the details of that deal on her podcast, the summit host hangout, but she built it from scratch, she nurtured it, she took care of it for six years, she added so many seats to it and now I'm the noon owner of it and it's my turn to take care of it and nurture it.
Shannon Mattern: And we acquired it in September, started planning in November and we just opened up registration. So you can get your free ticket at https://simplyprofitabledesigner.com and if you've attended in the past, you are going to love what we have in store for you this year. So I'm gonna talk a little bit about how the summit works, but I wanna also talk about some of the mind trash that I found myself experiencing during the summit planning because of the fact that this is something someone else built and I feel like I have to take such good care of it. So we'll talk about that in the ways that like that those things can come up and actually create the result we're trying to avoid. It's fascinating. So you can get your free ticket, like I said, https://simplyprofitabledesigner.com and the way that it works is that we invite experts in the web design space or who serve the web design space in some capacity to submit an informative and actual presentation in one of three categories, simplifying your design business, simplifying your client process, simplifying your marketing.
Shannon Mattern: And so this year we have 20 presentations and so when the summit opens on March 21st, all 20 of those presentations are going to be available to you to watch whenever you wanna watch them for 72 hours. So this is a little bit different than how this summit was run in the past where every day a set of presentations unlocked like every day for five days, a set of presentations unlocked and available to watch for 48 hours and then they were no longer available. And we made this change this year for a couple of reasons,
Shannon Mattern: We didn't want all of the moving parts that Krista had expertly developed over the years. We wanted to like slowly weave those in. And so we're like, how about we just keep this simple for us the first time that we're doing it? And so we also accepted less speaker presentations this year. We sent out call for speaker applications and oh my gosh you guys, we had I like over a hundred I wanna say people apply to speak at the event and we're like, oh my gosh, we want to accept all of these. Like they are so good. But we knew that the capacity of our team and and just like running it for the first time, it just wasn't gonna be possible to accept everybody. So we picked 20 and 20 over three days. So we wanted to shorten it too just because we have gotten so much like we do.
Shannon Mattern: Krista has done a survey after every single one and we did a survey before we started planning this year and like overwhelmingly the feedback was like five days is too long, we're not gonna be paying attention for five days. So we shortened it to three and especially after like post pandemic, well I don't know that we're post pandemic, but pandemic work from home fatigue, pandemic, sitting at your desk at your computer online fatigue five days is just too long. So we condensed it to three and we accepted only 20 presentations and I can't even say like it was the 20 best presentations. We accepted only 20 presentations and were like really excited to be able to bring more of those speakers who applied in the next time we do it to just have a unique set of voices and perspectives and all of that. So we have 20 presentations over three days, just all available for 72 hours a for simplicity's sake and that's 72 hours with your free ticket.
Shannon Mattern: But also because one of our core company values is time freedom. So the way our program, the Web Designer Academy is set up is that no one ever has to be anywhere at a certain time to get the full value and transformation of the program. Like we all have enough going on that we don't need one more obligation to be physically or virtually present for
Shannon Mattern: But sometimes we also do like live reviews where you, we all come together and we talk through things and other people get to see that kinda like hot seat style and we have guest speakers come in and do workshops and trainings and stuff. All in addition to like our curriculum. That's all videos that's all there for you. So when we were planning the summit, we were like how do we incorporate all of our favorite elements of the Web Designer Academy where people get to connect with each other in a super low-key, low pressure, fun and engaging way. They get to learn but they also like have total time freedom and they don't have the FOMO thing going on, right? Where it's just like, oh, I have to be here, I'm gonna miss something. It's like no pressure. And what that creates is like people want to be there.
Shannon Mattern: I love it because I'm like it's all totally optional and people like set aside time for it and come. So that's the experience that we wanted to kind of replicate for the Simply Profitable Designer Summit. So in addition to the prerecorded trainings submitted by our generous and super smart speakers, we'll also have some live events that come along with the free ticket. So we use a platform called Crowdcast for our live events. So we'll people will be able to like once you get your free ticket, you get a Crowdcast registration too so that you can join us virtually in the room on Crowdcast for the live events. We're gonna try to simulcast them into the Summit Facebook group, we'll see how our tech holds up on that. So no promises
Shannon Mattern: We'll do live q and a panels with our speakers at the end of each day so you can come and ask questions of our speakers directly. You can listen in while I ask them like juicy questions and get to hang out with others in the chat. You can listen to the replays of those while the summit's open. I'll do a live panel with some accessibility experts so that you can be on the leading edge of designing accessible inclusive websites and experiences. And you will get to ask them your questions live in real time. We will do a live genius chat where you'll have the opportunity to swap your favorite tech and design tips, tricks, hacks, and shortcuts with other designers. Those are my favorite things, like those blow me away because like literally none of us have the time and capacity to like just stay up on everything and when you can like rapid fire just share with each other in a room of other people who are so smart, like it's so fun.
Shannon Mattern: I'm so excited for you guys to experience that. We do those quarterly in the Web Designer Academy and I'll also be doing sales page reviews for a handful of people live. So when you register at some point during the summit, we'll send a forum, we'll be like, hey, if you wanna get it out on the hot seat, like submit a link to your sales page and we'll be picking I think probably five to seven people that I'll be giving feedback on things like are you speaking to your best investment minded clients and are you focusing on value rather than price? What are a couple of tweaks you can make right now to completely like shift your positioning? So we'll be doing a marketing co-working session or you can come and implement one of the marketing strategies that you learned during the summit. And then I'll also be hosting a live bonus masterclass the Friday after the summit, all about how to work less and make more.
Shannon Mattern: And our seventh step process for doing that, which you are welcome to attend regardless of whether or not you register for the summit, it's like something I'm doing just off the back end of it. So you can sign up for that at https://webdesigneracademy.com masterclass, but you are gonna definitely wanna get your free ticket to the summit so that you can just participate in all of this. So just go to https://simplyprofitabledesigner.com to get that ticket. So all of those live sessions are open to you with your free ticket as well and recordings of them will be available just during the 72 hours of the summit as they happen. And so on top of all of that upon registration, you'll have the option to purchase our designer power pack and that comes with lifetime access to all the speaker presentations and a bundle of additional courses and trainings that our speakers have contributed.
Shannon Mattern: It's worth well over $3,000. I think that's low balling it and you can buy it for way less than that. It's kind of insane the stuff that they have contributed, it's just next level. So they're someone contributed scripts for messaging potential clients on LinkedIn. Another speaker gave email templates for managing projects and keeping them on track. There's a course on designing high converting sales pages. There's one on creating compelling case studies for your own website. There's a course on how to pick a profitable niche. There's a whole entire toolkit on pricing and getting started on Upwork and how to plan your business finances and so much more stuff in that one. There's a course on conversion rate optimization for clients. There's one on search engine optimization for clients. There's a month membership to Savvy Social School to learn the latest social media strategies. There's 30 day trial of Geek Pack with access to over 19,000 courses.
Shannon Mattern: There's a workshop on how to get web design clients. There's one on how to sell your services with micro info sessions and one on how to launch VIP days. So seriously if you participate in nothing else,
Shannon Mattern: So whatever floats your boat, obviously those bonuses only come if you buy the designer power pack. So I am so proud of the Simply Profitable Designer Summit and what we are kind of like taking and making our own cuz it's now it's my table now like
Shannon Mattern: So I just wanna invite you to think about this for a second. Like if you dread marketing your business, it's likely because you're focused on marketing yourself and you're not focused on what's in it for your clients. If you hate sales or if you hate following up, it's likely because you are making it mean something about you. Exactly what I wouldn't know unless I talk to you. But you're likely mean making it means something about you. If you are putting a lot of pressure, not necessarily on your clients, but like needing your clients to say yes and booking with you. Like if you're like, if I'm gonna take the time to get on a consultation with you and put together a proposal for you, like I need you to say yes. And if you don't, you think that something has gone wrong. You're making it about more about what you're going to get than what you're going to give.
Shannon Mattern: And so I noticed myself putting all this pressure on myself about the summit, and when I took some time to think about it, I was like, okay, well what's underneath all of this pressure was like living up to what Krista created, fulfilling my financial obligation to her upon acquiring the summit, building a relationship with a totally new audience, hopefully in a non spammy way and building collaborative win-win relationships with speakers, benefit all of the speakers and the audience. And so all of that in theory sounds like, yeah, of course you should care about those things, right? But that is focused on what I'm going to get out of hosting the summit. And whenever I'm living there in my brain, like I have to create this in order to do this, like I have to, you know, all of that. Whenever I'm focused on what I'm going to get and why I feel like I need it whenever I'm living there, my brain running my business is not fun.
Shannon Mattern: It's hard. It's pressury and it's just like you forget to have fun
Shannon Mattern: I'm always in control of what I give. Might not be in control of what I get, but I'm in control of what I give. So I am really excited to be able to give you the experience of the Simply Profitable Designer Summit in whatever way you wanna experience it. You get to choose your own adventure. And our speakers have generously contributed amazing presentations and bonuses, and I can't wait for you to meet them if you haven't already and connect with them in all the different ways. We're gonna give you opportunities to connect with them and learn from them as you continue working on making your business simpler and more profitable. And I want you to leave this episode thinking about, okay, where do things feel hard in my business and where am I making it all about me? And how can I turn that around and make it all about my clients and what is possible for them?
Shannon Mattern: Okay, so that is what I have for you this week. And if you're listening to this after the Simply Profitable Designer Summit is over, you can still go get your hands on all the replays of the speaker presentations and the live sessions over at https://simplyprofitabledesigner.com. You can like purchase the replays. You can also get on the wait list for next year's event. It'll be happening in March, 2024. And if you wanna speak at next year's event, also be sure to get on the wait list because we will send out a speaker application every November. We'll invite speakers in December. All the presentations will be due in February. The summit will be in March, just like clockwork every year. So we will hopefully be able to accept more speakers next year. We'll gather feedback on this year's event and make changes based on feedback. But definitely go get on the wait list if you wanna make sure that you have the opportunity to present at feature summits.
Shannon Mattern: So go get your free ticket at https://simplyprofitabledesigner.com. If you're listening to this before March 24th, you can go to https://webdesigneracademy.com/masterclass and sign up for that masterclass. And otherwise, 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.
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