Building Community Around Your Web Design Business with Julia Taylor of GeekPack

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This week I’m joined by Julia Taylor of GeekPack to talk all about building community around your web design business!

Julia is a self-taught web developer, an advocate of location independence, women empowerer, and founder of GeekPack, a community that teaches highly valuable technological and business-building skills so that women & girls can have the confidence to believe that anything is possible to achieve.

“‘What do I wish that I’d had?’ And that’s the only way that I know how to teach.” – Julia Taylor

3 key ideas from my conversation with Julia:

  • Just getting started will help you realize that it’s not as hard as you thought it would be.
  • Having a strong “why” and the fulfillment in helping others discover it kept her going through impostor syndrome.
  • She built her courses on combining skills with community – what she wished she had when she started her journey.

“I love those, that ‘Aha!’ moment, that ‘It’s not as hard as I thought. It’s actually fun.’ Reading those comments, that’s what gets me up in the morning.” – Julia Taylor

We also talk about how Julia:

  • Started her journey in remote work before it was “normal” in order to travel in an RV.
  • Struggled with impostor syndrome and moments of doubt, but found the courage to keep going anyway.
  • Has a very exciting announcement you won’t want to miss!

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Episode Transcript

Shannon Mattern: Welcome to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast, where we're all about helping extraordinary web designers like you to stop undercharging over delivering and overworking, and finally create the profitable, sustainable, and scalable web design business you've been dreaming of. I'm your host Shannon Mattern, founder of the Web Designer Academy, where we teach the business side of running a web design business. So if you wanna make a consistent full-time income as a web designer, but you're struggling with things like pricing and boundaries and mindset and marketing, and you're just tired of going it alone. Well my friend, you're in the right place.

Shannon Mattern: Welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast. And today I have the pleasure of getting to talk to Julia Taylor, who is a self-taught web developer and empowerer of women, advocate of location independence, and last, but certainly not least, CEO and founder of GeekPack, where she teaches women not only how to code, but how to get their web design businesses off the ground and thriving. So Julia, I'm so excited to get to talk to you today. Thank you so much for being on the show. So can you share a little bit more about you and what you do?

Julia Taylor: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for having me. It's such an honor and a privilege to, to be here again and to chat and, and catch up and kind of get into all this stuff. So I'm very, very excited to be here. As you said, I'm the founder of GeekPack and what we do at GeekPack is we empower women to learn tech skills from anything you can think of. We've focused a lot very heavily on website coding and WordPress. That's really been our bread and butter for the last four years, and that's where we will continue to kind of niche, but we are starting to kind of pull out and do all things tech with some new things that we have coming. But at the end of the day, we, we empower women to learn tech skills so they can achieve any dream that they desire.

Shannon Mattern: I just, I love your mission and what you guys have been doing, and I wanna kind of like take it back to your early days, you know, how did you get started in the tech space yourself?

Julia Taylor: Yeah. Oh, completely random. I have no tech background. I have no tech degree. I used to work for the US intelligence community and back in 2008 I was deployed to Afghanistan. And while I was there, that is when I met my now husband and he's British. So as you can imagine, I was in DC and he was in London, and we were both deploying and all over the world and a lot of long distance for a couple years. So I ended up leaving my job and moving to the UK and it was there when I was in, you know, kind of random nine to fives, nothing special. And one of my bosses said to me, make our website do x. He, he wanted some change to the website. It was a collapsible menu, like an faq, but the system that we were using, it wasn't WordPress.

Julia Taylor: It wasn't like, oh, just drag and drop or plug in. I had to figure out how to code it. So I, I went to Google and I googled, you know, it, I found this line of code and I put it in and it worked. And it was this like magical moment where it was a, oh my gosh, so if I did that, what else could I do if I learned more? And that started me, and this was in 2014. So that started me on a, on a track to, to where we are now of the learning tech. And I went through probably about three and a half years of just learning very, not confident at all in my skills. Massive imposter syndrome, learning in a vacuum. I didn't have a curriculum, I didn't have a community. And I would ask questions in kind of random forums or in Facebook groups and I would get made fun of.

Julia Taylor: And like all the things that happened to me that were, were not positive, I turned into what is now GeekPack. And it is, it is to make sure that any woman and men as well, we have lots of guys in our community and they're amazing and they're more than welcome. But we do definitely market towards women. It's our primary audience. And everything that I went through that I wish I'd had, we now include in GeekPack, the community, the support, the encouragement, the empathy, the compassion, the tech skills, the troubleshooting, the problem solving, the, the curriculum, the learning path, like all those things is now what we have at GeekPack.

Shannon Mattern: I resonate so much with that. Like my journey was very parallel in terms of, you know, having to solve business problems and trying to figure it out on my own, not being warmly welcomed into any kind of community where I was asking questions, being made fun of and ultimately like, you know, I was targeting a completely different audience, but ultimately like creating the thing that I wish I would've had and that support I wish I would've had. And I think one of the things that, like as entrepreneurs as web designers, solopreneurs, building our own businesses that we sometimes forget about or don't realize is available to us is a very supportive community when we find the right place. And with what we're doing now with, with our Web Designer Academy program, we don't teach any tech skills. You know, we teach like the business side of running the web design business and that's an amazing community.

Shannon Mattern: But like when people come to us and they're like, I wanna learn, I'm like, GeekPack, GeekPack, you like, you need to go be in that community because that is going to be an incredible incubator to like help you confidently get the skills, be able to ask any question without fear of being ridiculed or rejected or told you're stupid, or that you should already know this, or you sh you know, how dare you ask that and really get those foundational core skills that then you can go take to like, get clients and you, you support people end to end through growing their businesses and community and support is just so important. And I love that, you know, you created what you wished you would have had back in the day, so it's awesome. It's amazing. I have a few questions for you related to your journey or if it feels more appropriate to share, like, you know, some of your student stories, please feel free to to share those too. But what were some of your early challenges, you know, when you were getting started to actually like work with clients and start actually getting paid for these skills that you that you were, were learning,

Julia Taylor: Finding them ,

Shannon Mattern: Right? Isn't that the eternal, like how do I get clients like, this is super fun, I know how to do this, I like it, I love solving these business problems. Now how do I get people that will pay me for this ?

Julia Taylor: Absolutely. And I think that's kind of at the, at the high level is finding clients. That's the hard part, but really it's a little bit deeper than that because it's putting ourselves out there in order to find clients. Because finding clients isn't hard because they are there. It's the confidence in ourselves, it's the how scary it is to put ourselves out there. It's, well, what if I reach out and they say no? Or what if they reach out and they say yes. I mean that, that's a, that's a fear as well. And, and what if someone's gonna make fun of me and say, oh, you don't know what you're doing. You've never done this before. That's, you don't have a degree in this. Like there's all these stories that we tell ourselves that stop us from actually trying to find clients. And I think that's really kind of at the heart of it is that putting yourself out there and making that leap to actually finding them.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. One of the biggest things people say to me is, what if someone asks me how to do something I don't know how to do, what would you say to that person

Julia Taylor: That that's why the community exists for that exact reason. And what I tell my students is if they, if they say, you know, this is what I do, and a potential client says, oh cool, can you do X, Y, and Z for me? And I tell them, be honest. Like say if you can't or if you don't know how to then say that, but tell them that you are going to go and and learn and figure out how to do it. You're gonna ask your community of people who know how to do it and you're gonna have support along the way because no one, I mean, it would be terrible to say, oh yeah, I know how to do that. I'm an expert. But you don't just be completely honest about your skill level, what you know how to do because showing that you're willing to learn and you're willing to figure things out and you're, you're, you have people in your, your community that can help that speaks more to the potential client than you just kind of boasting and saying, yeah, you, you can do it all. So that, that's what I recommend for them.

Shannon Mattern: I totally agree with that. And I'm sitting here thinking like, in the client's shoes, it's like, it's not that they expect you to already know how in your brain they are expecting you to be the one to figure it out. Like they're paying you to be the one to figure it out. They're paying you to like, otherwise, you know, they would just figure it out if that's what they wanted to do. They don't want to, they want you to figure it out for them. And, and it's just like, there is no scenario ever that I've experienced. And I'm curious to know of you that, like with a project that you took on that you didn't run into some aspect of it that you're like, oh, this didn't work out the way I thought. Or I've not done this before, or I have to figure out a new way to do this cuz this variable over here is different. It's like you're never going to know everything. And I think that's like, like you said, that's why community is so important, especially a community of people who are like, you put all those smart brains together and everyone's just like, oh, here's, try this, try this, try that. Here's what I do. You know?

Julia Taylor: Yeah, absolutely.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. So getting clients was like your first challenge. How did you overcome that?

Julia Taylor: Huh? ? Gosh, how did I,

Shannon Mattern: I I like accidentally told people I was a web designer, .

Julia Taylor: I know actually my very first, my very first paying client was a friend and he like had to pull it out of me. And he, he was retiring from the Air Force and he knew I was building websites and, and he's, he's starting his own business, like the perfect first client. And he's like, no, you really do know how to build websites. I've seen your you practicing, I've seen your stuff, so do mine. Like, he had to force it on me. It was, it was that bad. But I, I was, I mean I still am an introvert, but it was, I joined a community of other women online business owners and I learned about how to find clients in Facebook groups and that was where I really started getting non friend and family clients was adding value in Facebook groups. And I've students that still do it to this day and it's still a valuable thing even if you're just going into a Facebook group where your ideal client is and being helpful, being supportive, answering questions, value for free, lead with value.

Julia Taylor: That's another thing that I tell my students to do all the time because people will notice you and then they will say, Hey, you know, can you do a little bit more for me here? Can you, you know, are you open to do X, y or z? And, and building those relationships by adding an immense amount of value upfront. And Facebook groups are a great place to do it, especially for introverts. And you know, if you can network locally, that's even even better. But that's how I kind of found my first non-family and friends clients was, was just adding value. And you continue to learn by doing that. So if you're new and you're building websites, say, and your ideal client are gym owners and there's a Facebook group of gym owners and you, you're just in there helping people who have website a questions. You are learning, you are troubleshooting, you are problem solving, you are improving your own skills in the moment. It's like on the job learning people will see that. So you, it's win-win on the job learning. You're helping them out. I'm not saying build a website for free, but you know, help people out on the small things and they will see that, they'll recognize it and then they will want more from you because you're already awesome.

Shannon Mattern: I love that. And I think it's like you're starting to understand like, oh, here are the common problems. Here are the things that they're trying to accomplish in their business. Here are like roadblocks that they have that they don't even really know that they have. And I think it also starts to show you like, wow, I know way more than I think I do sometimes. Cuz sometimes I think like we learn, especially when you're self-taught and you're learning slowly over time as you're solving all these different problems, you don't realize how much knowledge you actually have accumulated and the value of that knowledge to someone else because you didn't like go take a, like sit down to learn it in this like, capsule of time or you didn't intentionally like take a course or something if when you're self-taught, so you don't realize like, oh, it kind of creeps up on you, like how much you actually do know. And you're surprised when people are asking such like, rudimentary questions that you think are like, so easy and like not that valuable, but they're massively valuable to the person who is asking them. And so absolutely, if you're self-taught that way, it's like I was someone who just did not value what I had learned. I did not think it had any value beyond like I was working on this problem. Now it's solved, moving on. And the skills that you acquire are just so massively, massively valuable.

Julia Taylor: Yes, absolutely.

Shannon Mattern: So you were working with clients, what drove you to then start teaching other people, like the technical skills that you learned?

Julia Taylor: Yeah, and, and again, it was never an intention. I've never taught anything before, ever. And it, it really intimidating to kind of think that I, you know, what, what if I'm, what if I don't know what I'm talking about? What if I, I don't structure it very well and all, all the what ifs, all the imposter syndrome, all the stories you can tell yourself. I

Shannon Mattern: I, yeah. Like what if the way I'm doing it isn't the right way? ? Yeah. Like yeah,

Julia Taylor: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. And I think just like everything I've done, I, it's like, okay, well people are asking for it. And it all started in 2018. My husband retired from the military and we decided to sell everything and move into an RV and travel full-time. So while we're traveling all around the US I'm documenting it on Instagram and people are saying to me, how are you able to travel full-time? This is all pre covid remote work wasn't as common as it is now. Mm-Hmm. , how are you able to travel full-time? You know, what do you do for work? All sorts of questions. And I told 'em, I, I taught myself how to code build websites, found clients, and now I have a business that I can do from anywhere. And they all said, well, teach us how to do that. Can you teach us how to do it?

Julia Taylor: So I, I thought, well, okay, I will, but you know, all the caveats of, I dunno what I'm doing. And all, all of those things came out and I just thought to myself, okay, I'm gonna put myself in my shoes for back in 2014. What do I wish that I'd had? And that's the only way that I know how to teach is how do I create something that would've been helpful for me back then? And that's, that's what I did. And, and it was always skills plus community, because that was such a big part of what I didn't have was that the supportive, encouraging community to help me out and, you know, make sure all my, my questions were answered and, and all that. So that, that was the beginning end of 2018 is when that launched and it was skills and community and it has been ever since.

Julia Taylor: So it was really people asking for stuff. And the, the product that we have now, it's called WP Rockstar. So WordPress rockstars mostly development and marketing and clients and business and and all that. But when I first started it, it was just kind of just the skills in the community and over the four years we've progressed, we've revamped, we've added more and, and it's grown quite significantly. But, you know, you gotta iterate and you gotta kind of, you gotta just put something out there. Was it perfect four years ago? Heck no. Is it perfect now? No, there, you know, but it's really good. And it's getting, we have thousands of students with amazing success stories making way more money than I ever did with design agencies and, and things. And, and they're, you know, changing lives. I, I feel silly kind of saying that, but that's, that's what they tell us and it's, that's what I get to do now is, is teach women tech skills so that they can achieve their, whatever their dream is, whatever their why is.

Julia Taylor: And that's really foundational for us, is helping them identify what their why is. Because when you're learning tech skills, when you're working with clients, you're gonna have bad days, unfortunately. . Yeah. It's not like just a fact. So they have chosen to have their own business to learn this new skill to, to go out of their comfort zone to find clients for a reason. What is that reason? Whether it's finances, it's it's kids, it's family, it's it's travel, whatever that, what is that? Why? And keep that front and center. Cause on bad days, you wanna remember why you're going towards that thing. Yes.

Shannon Mattern: I mean, the why is the driver, because there are trade-offs, you know, there are absolutely trade-offs of going from being an employee to owning your own business that, you know, on the tough days you have to remember like, oh, this is why I'm going to send another email reaching out to my former clients, even though the last time I did this, nobody responded and I'm going to do it again because I also now get to like go do whatever I want for the rest of the day after this. Whereas if I had a traditional W2 paycheck job, I would not be able to have that kind of freedom. And, and so I couldn't agree more that a vision is so important. And I've reached points in my business journey where I've like outgrown my vision, you know, where I'm like, oh, I accomplished, like I created this vision and now things aren't feeling as like worth it anymore.

Shannon Mattern: And you have to like get back in touch with what that is or create a new vision to keep going because otherwise you do lose momentum. And it sounds like for you, your first vision was like, I need freedom and location independence. I need to be able to like, I want to travel in this rv, I don't wanna be tied down. But then that evolved to like, I want other people to have this very supportive experience and to be able to have this freedom, flexibility, financial independence, but not have to like go in alone like you did.

Julia Taylor: Absolutely.

Shannon Mattern: That's beautiful. So I'd love to hear like, what are some of your favorite students transformation stories? You know, give us an example of people who have like , because you said you have students that like, came in and made way more money as a web designer than you ever did. And I think that's like such a beautiful thing to be able to like take the skills and really help someone just kind of blow their own mind. So I'd love to hear some of their stories.

Julia Taylor: Yeah, so many come to mind on and on so many different, different levels because in Erin comes to mind on a financial kind of success. Yeah, where she joined, I wanna say a couple years ago, and she had a nine to five, but she wanted to be home more with her family. She had two young kids, it was right in the middle of Covid when she, she joined. So she needed something that could, could mean that she could be home more. And it wasn't that she hated her nine to five, but it, it took her away from what was most important to her. And she, I wanna say she was a secretary. She didn't have any kind of tech or or website design experience at all. And she went through the program and she just loved it and just kept working at it.

Julia Taylor: And within her goal, see she joined in May and I remember her posting in, in our Facebook group and saying, my goal by the end of the year is to quit my nine to five. So from May to December to make enough to be able to quit her nine to five in October, she posted and said she had doubled her nine to five income and was leaving her nine to five early. And now she's charging, you know, 10, 15 grand per website project. She's got an agency, she's hired other GeekPack students to be on her team. You know, those sorts of things where it is all like that cyclical effect where she's had success, but that means that other people in the community can have success as well and kind of see how she's growing and, and do work for her and following her footsteps.

Julia Taylor: And now she's got a, an amazing web design agency and she recently changed names and she's expanding and growing and you know, that's one example from that perspective. And then we had someone else, a lady by the name of Beverly, and she's in her early sixties and she joined because she, I know because I love it. She wanted the freedom to be able to take her parents to their doctor's appointments. So she wanted to be able to, you know, her nine to five was keeping her from being able to care for her elderly parents and take them to the doctor's appointments that she needed to go to. And now she can, and she was able to replace her nine to five income. I mean, is she making a ton of money? No, but but her why was very clear it was to be able to look after her parents and take them to the doctor's appointments that she needed to.

Julia Taylor: She needed that to not be in a nine to five. That was strict. And that is, I mean, I love financial wins, but that is, like, I talk about tugging at the heartstrings and that that's an amazing accomplishment just by having her own business and having that flexibility. And then it all goes down to when we have big live events and we, we bring people into our, into our world and into our community that have never done anything techy ever. And they're paranoid, you know, a phone and Netflix might be about the extent of it, but they, they think that maybe there's a chance they might be able to, to try and learn something. So there it's really ooh, I'm not techy, but I might give it a try. And the very first day of all our live events, I share my screen and I show them inspect tools and I show them how they can change things on a website and they can, you know, swap out text and images and, and we get them to kind of ethically hack a website and they, they'll change it so that Taylor Swift, her tour is coming to their town or a, you know, for me I love Costco, the far the closest Costco's four hours away.

Julia Taylor: So I go to Costco's website the coming soon and I can, so that they can, you know, not for, for anything untoward, but they can show their friends and family, Hey, look, Taylor Swift is coming to, you know, middle of nowhere, Durango, Colorado. Oh no, I'm just kidding. That was my ninja coding skills. And we do that on the very first day and people absolutely love it because they have a quick win and they go, it's not as hard as I thought. And like at the end of the day, it's those wins that are the most powerful for me because that's what it took for me. Like it's just planting the seed and if, if that one tiny little seed becomes something and they keep learning or join our program, awesome. But if they don't, if that tiny little thing just gave them a lift that day and they got to show off their ninja coding skills to their friends and family, then that's the biggest win I could hope for. So I, I love those, that aha moment that it's not as hard as I thought. It's actually fun reading those comments. That's what gets me up in the morning.

Shannon Mattern: Oh my goodness, I love that. It's not as hard as I thought. And I think that that mindset can be applied to like all like learning the tech piece is the same skills that you apply to figuring out tech. You apply to figuring out how to get a client and figuring out how to hold a boundary with a client and figuring out how to raise your prices. And it really takes like a little bit of courage, the same kind of courage it took you to wait in there and be like, oh, hey, I can figure this out. And maybe it was as hard as I thought, but like, I'm a rockstar for doing this and taking this uncomfortable action and having this courage. And I mean, I'm with you, like financial wins are great, but financial wins create freedom and flexibility and independence and that number is different for everybody.

Shannon Mattern: And what everybody's vision is and what they want and like making money for the sake of making money, I personally do not find that fulfilling. That's when you like you have these big financial goals and that's when like you get to the point where like, okay, like I reached this revenue number now what? And for what, you know, it's like if it's just for the money, it's a very flat feeling. It has to be for the vision and for what you're doing. And so it's having a skill that you can sell to anyone is freedom. Like knowing that, like I know how to create money anytime I want, anytime I need and nobody is hiring me or firing me and I can go like do it again tomorrow. That's true freedom. And I loved when you said Beverly is 60 years old, it's like, it really is never too late to like reinvent yourself and Yep.

Shannon Mattern: Learn something new. Ugh. That's amazing. So aside from like learning the skill of coding, you guys actually like work on learning the, the skill of like growing a business and making money from those skills. So I'm curious to know like what are some of the, I wanna know like what are some of the challenges with like boundaries and pricing that you see your students encounter and like how do you guys help them through that? Because, you know, getting clients is amazing. Mm-Hmm. , we love that first milestone. We love learning to build a site, but you put your skills of, you know, learning to build a website and then you put another human in with it and it can, now there's a whole new skillset to navigate of like, how do I keep this project moving? How do I guide this client? So yeah, what are some of the things that, that you see your students encounter and how do you guys help them through that?

Julia Taylor: That was one of the things when we first launched wpr Oscar four years ago, like I said, it was skills and it was community and that was it. And then everything that kept coming up was, what about finding clients and marking myself and systems and processes and onboarding and, and offboarding and what do I do if they ghost me or, or they they don't gimme the content. You know, all those things. And we, we recently revamped with the help of Erica revamped our entire curriculum earlier this May. I know, she's amazing. Yeah. And we, we revamped it to include all that stuff because pricing, I mean that is a huge, and it's not just how much do you charge it's mindset around pricing because yes, so much of it is is in our own head and, and we don't know how much money someone else has in their wallets.

Julia Taylor: Don't assume don't, you know, get your nose out of other people's wallets. It's something that we kind of joke about and value of what you bring and hourly versus package pricing and recurring. And so we, we start with pricing mindset and we've laid out all the different pricing options we could think of to give people ideas. And of course in the community that's always a helpful place. But when it comes to kind of working with a client, one of my students and now a team member, she has been perfecting, she loves systems and processes and, and she's been working with clients and, and has a phenomenal agency herself. And she kind of perfected as much as possible with the template from initial client interaction to onboarding, to questionnaire, to contract, to invoice, to following up to get content to how the website should be laid out to offboarding, to getting referrals, to getting, you know, all that.

Julia Taylor: So fortunately she, she built that out in the template and that's part of what we now provide in WP Rockstar is this entire client workflow and she covers boundaries and she covers communication and what should be a, in a contract because you know, if someone gets you their content late, they get put to the end of the line. And, you know, all those things that when you're excited about a new skill and when you find your first client or your second or your third, you just wanna get in, you just wanna start doing and, and provide the value and, and make it really good. But we, we really try to get our students to kind of take a step back and set the foundation early so that all the things that will happen eventually with your own business, all the client kind of interaction we try to give them if this, then that or, you know, do this ahead of time so this doesn't happen and, and have all your ducks in a row.

Julia Taylor: And it takes a lot of work to get that in place, but the value that comes with that means that, that the stress and the heartache and the the tears later is slim compared to what it could be. So we do try to, we give 'em all the tools possible, but I also know at the end of the day, like for me, when I had my first client, it was a right, I'm gonna, you know, I'm gonna start building and I'm gonna look at themes and I'm gonna start customizing and how can I, you know, use my coding knowledge to do all this. And, but that's the really fun part. But there is also like the business side of it and setting out the client workflow that we've, we've put a lot more emphasis on in this new revamped version.

Shannon Mattern: I love that. I mean, it is so important to, we talk about having an employee mindset versus an entrepreneur mindset. And so what we see with a lot of our students, it sounds like you guys as well is like, you haven't shifted out of the idea that like your client is not your boss, but you're the one in the lead, you're the one in charge, not in charge in like a bossy type of power way, but like you have been hired to lead someone through this process and through this project. And so it's your job to like take the lead and guide them through this experience end to end so that half the time people are like, they don't even know that you're waiting on them for something or whatever when you don't have all of these clear checkpoints. So yeah, it's just so like, there's the skill of of learning to build the website and then there's the skill of learning to actually like run and manage projects and deal with people and deal with situations and, and hold your boundaries and all of those things.

Shannon Mattern: And you know, one without the other makes for a very challenging experience of running your business. So it's so awesome that you guys have like both the end to end. Like we teach you the skills of this and the scale of this and you have the community behind it. And you mentioned Erica. Yeah, Erica Nash, who's just an incredible instructional designer and yeah, she's an amazing human, so it's awesome that you guys got to work with her. So tell me about like what's going on with WP Rockstar in 2023 when we were chit chatting before the podcast, you were just talking about like, I just got to share some really cool stuff with our students about what's happening. Tell me what's happening.

Julia Taylor: Yeah, so there's nothing really changing with WP Rockstar. So that's the kind of WordPress skills start a business, marketing clients, all that, that's staying the same. But what's happening, and this really, it genuinely goes back to a year ago, a year ago I was on a plane flying to to the uk. I couldn't sleep and I got my notebook out and I started writing and I, I knew then what my vision for GeekPack was for the company. And our vision is five years from now, we will reach over a hundred thousand women and empower them to learn tech skills. So that's a big number. And I knew that, and it, you know, a little bit terrifying, but that's the vision. I'm going big, so I'm on this plane, I couldn't sleep and I've got my notebook, I'm kind of, okay, what are some ideas and ways that I can create something that will achieve that vision?

Julia Taylor: And I, I remember getting off the plane and I boxed my marketing coach and I gave her some ideas and she's like, yep, go for it. She said, think as big as you can and then think even bigger. And that was my permission to kind of go, okay, I'm onto something. So earlier this year I joined a local accelerator program here in Durango, Colorado, which was an amazing experience and I learned so much and it really gave me the confidence that not only is my business successful already, which of course it's so easy to kind of compare yourself to everything else that's going on, but it gave me the confidence to kind of reach out, to apply for grants, to reach out for partnerships, to network and be, I I'm very proud of what I've built, but I'm, you know, it's still that imposter syndrome stuff that kind of creeps in.

Julia Taylor: So joining this program gave me that confidence and I, over the summer I had an epiphany that if I could create a, what I always wanted was like a Netflix for geeks. So just a, a repository of as much tech content as possible on everything you could think of and make it widely accessible. So that was the dream, the idea. And I had, I knew how to kind of do it, but I didn't have the content. And as you're probably fully aware, creating content is tough, keeping it up to date. Who would create all that content? Like I, I'm, I'm thinking like every tech skill you could imagine, how in the world am I gonna teach that? Do I, do I pay for it? Do I hire it? I I didn't know the answer. And over the summer I'm on the Peloton, I'm cycling away.

Julia Taylor: I always have ideas when I'm not in front of the computer screen, which is another kind of thing to note. And I'm on the Peloton and I have this epiphany and I think to myself, why would I create all the content when it already exists? So I then I have this confidence to kind of reach out to people. So I reach out to three companies, I reach out to Code Academy, they say, yes, we wanna partner with you. We love what you're doing, we love your mission. I reach out to Coursera, they say, yes, we wanna partner with you. We love what you're doing. We lo love your mission and I reach out to you to me. And they say, yes, we love what you're doing, we wanna be a part of it, we wanna partner. And I was able to negotiate with all three of 'em.

Julia Taylor: And in September I signed a contract with Udemy and in January we are launching a new product called GeekPack that is going to include the very, very best of Udemy's content that's over 17,000 courses across all things tech, like tech, marketing, development, design, personal development, productivity, like learn a language, learn how to knit like, and it's the best of their best. Cuz of course Udemy is a marketplace over 200,000 courses. So this is the curated, the top rated, the most up to date their their best. So that is going to be part of the new product in addition to everything that we do. Well, and I, that's the thing. Like I need to keep doing what we do well, we do community well, we support each other. We've got empathy, compassion, we love tech and we, we want as many people to be involved in.

Julia Taylor: It's possible. So we're gonna take Udemy's content, but I mean 17,000 courses, that's overwhelming. So we're gonna take that, we're gonna create custom learning paths based on what people want. You wanna learn seo, you wanna learn UX ui, you wanna learn JavaScript, Python, you know, whatever will create custom learning paths. So it's a very kind of specific take this course, then this course, then this course, we're gonna have live cohorts of some of those learning paths for accountability. And I'm gonna have, I got a, a grant recently I got a $50,000 grant because I'm a a female owned tech company because they love what we're doing. They gave me 50 grand so I can hire employees as cohort leaders. So we're gonna have learning paths, we're gonna have live cohorts and I'm gonna have cohort leaders who facilitate people getting through that content. And we'll have a, a private Facebook group as well. Cause we, we do that with everything. So that's the new thing that's coming and I'm just like popping with excitement to to be able to start offering that.

Shannon Mattern: I wish you all could see like how, cuz this is not video, this is a podcast, but I wish you could see Julia's face and how just lit up it is. And I'm over here just like, what? Wow. Like that is incredible. Like that is a bold vision like you made happen. And it is an absolute, like, that's incredible. And one of the things that I see so many people holding themselves back in their business and their dreams is the skill. Like, oh, I wanna offer this, but I don't know how to do this. And you are just like, knocking that obstacle away for everybody Like that is just amazing. So that is so exciting. So where can everybody go to learn more about this?

Julia Taylor: Honestly, it's so new. Like right now at the the time of this recording, we don't actually have anything to, to sell. We're, we're still kind of putting everything together. Yeah. But the best place is just go to the website Yep. I'll make sure that, you know, there's stuff on there for people to get information. We're creating a catalog, a GeekPack catalog that is not just all the Udemy content, but all the other stuff that we're including as well. So that, that people can kind of see the, the benefits. I mean, learning skills and having access to every skill you could imagine is great. But having it with the community, the, the learning past, the cohorts, the, the cohort leaders, I think that's really what makes it, what I'm immensely proud of is, I mean, anyone can go and buy a Udemy course, but we know from the last four years that community accountability, like having a structured learning path and in other people that are doing it with you, that's what gets you to actually learn a skill. And that that's where we're aiming.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. It takes it from being like, I'm self-taught and I hope I'm choosing the right things and I hope I'm learning the right things. Or I needed to learn this thing to like, I can have confidence that I am learning the right things and that I am learning all the things I need to know about this topic. And I'm not just hoping that I learned the things that I needed to learn to be proficient or become an expert in this. And I think that that's like such a huge difference between being able to, you know, just go on to Udemy and like learn about whatever. It's like you don't know if you are learning the best or the, the most up to date or the most comprehensive or all the things that you need and you're doing it by yourself, which is really like not as , not as fun as Yes, exactly. As being able to do it with other people. So you are an amazing human. I'm so glad I got to talk to you for this time on the podcast. Yeah. Can you let everybody know where they can go to connect with you and GeekPack and all the things?

Julia Taylor: Yeah. Like I said, or just Google GeekPack is the best. We all my social profiles are on there and everything that we've got that's probably the best place to go to learn anymore. Or you can always just, my, my social profile is Julie the Geek pretty much everywhere. So if you wanna reach out on, on social media, that's another great place to go.

Shannon Mattern: Amazing. Well thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate it.

Julia Taylor: Thank you so much. My pleasure.

Shannon Mattern: That's it for this week's episode and we've linked up all of the resources we talked about today in the show notes. So you can go to to get your hands on those. And we'll be back next week with another episode designed to help you uplevel the business side of your web design business. So be sure to subscribe to the show wherever you're listening. And if you like today's episode, we would be so grateful if you would share it with all your web designer friends. And if you're feeling extra generous, we'd love for you you to leave us a writing in review so we can get in front of even more web designers and help them transform their businesses and their lives. So simply scroll off on this episode in your podcast player and tap that, leave a review link or go to web designer and it'll take you to the right spot. Thank you so much for listening and I'll see you right here next week. Bye.

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