It’s possible to truly enjoy your work as a freelance web designer – you just need the right mindset.
This week I’m joined by Paige Brunton talking all about creating a profitable web design business with SquareSpace!
Paige is a fellow web design coach and Squarespace web designer. She’s also developed two signature courses: Square Secrets™, where she teaches web designers the ins and outs of Squarespace, and Square Secrets Business™, with the focus on making a business out of your website design skills.
“Find a method that brings you joy.” – Paige Brunton
3 lessons on mindset from my chat with Paige:
- Your mindset will dictate how far you go! Once you work on your mindset and deal with your doubts, you’ll start to have success.
- You don’t need to know everything! Find the areas that bring you joy and focus on getting better there. Find the marketing strategy you enjoy and put your effort there. Find others who are experts in your own niche and collaborate with them.
- Be comfortable with charging higher rates – your rates reflect your confidence in yourself based on the skills and expertise you have developed over the years, and the quality of work you produce.
“What your price is pretty much based off your confidence.” – Paige Brunton
We also talk about how Paige:
- Started teaching the business of web design only after multiple people asked her for help.
- Failed at her first attempt at web design business because of her mindset and how she found success.
- Got into web design as a way to support herself in a different country.
- Website: https://paigebrunton.com
- Facebook: https://facebook.com/impaigebrunton
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/paigebrunton/
- YouTube: https://youtube.com/c/paigebrunton
- Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/impaigebrunton/
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, mad 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. But before we dive into this week's episode, I wanna invite you to sign up for our totally free profitable pricing framework training that breaks down five mindset shifts to five x your prices without working five times harder. Just go to https://webdesigneracademy.com/pricing and enter your name and email address and I'll send you our proprietary pricing framework that will totally transform what you think about how much you really can charge for web design. So go sign up at https://webdesigneracademy.com/pricing and then meet me back here for this week's episode. Okay.
Shannon Mattern: Hey everyone, welcome to this week's episode of the Profitable Web Designer podcast. I am so excited to be in your earbuds today because today I have Paige Brunton with us and this is a conversation that I have been so excited to have. Paige is the premier Squarespace web design expert and she has helped over 4,000 students in her two popular online courses to build both Squarespace sites and Squarespace web design businesses. So Paige, welcome to the show. I'm so excited to have you. Can you share a little bit more with our listeners about you and what you do?
Paige Brunton: Yeah, thank you so much for having me Shannon. I am absolutely honored and thrilled that you invited me. So yeah, my name is Paige. I started a web design business quite a few years ago, a little bit out of necessity. So I met a very charming German guy in college and in a bar and then followed him across the ocean to Germany and realized when I got to Germany I had no job options so I needed to find a way to work online. And so I chose, well I built a travel blog before, that was the extent of my website building experience, but I was like, this is my best bet. So yeah, I decided to become a website designer, completely self-taught, learned all the things the very, very hard way. And so what I do mostly these days is I help other people to start their design businesses with much less trial and error that I went through
Shannon Mattern: I am right there with you in terms of like learning everything the hard way, being completely self-taught and all the things. So I wanna kind of go back to those early days when you're like, okay, I'm gonna be a website designer. How did you get your first client?
Paige Brunton: Hmm, yep, great question. I actually started this little like website side hustle while I was still in university. So I had less than no time. I also, I didn't really had no idea how to market myself and find clients, so believe me, I was googling how to find clients as a website
Paige Brunton: They saw some of my work on Etsy and they were like, oh, she seems to know what she's doing. So they got in touch with me and they started feeding me projects, which was very nice except for the fact that I made a fraction of the total like what the client was actually paying. And the timelines were really annoying and the projects weren't necessarily what I would call like ideal client. Like I literally built a website for a retirement home once, like it wasn't the most exciting work in the world. So my very first foray finding my own clients was Etsy. Whenever I found like low pay and not consistent clients and then also really high Etsy fees, then I worked for an agency, didn't love the processes, didn't love the pay again, also the projects not that exciting. So that was how I was very first getting clients and again, that was still when I was kinda like side hustling on side of university.
Paige Brunton: When I moved to Germany, that's when I was like, I'm gonna get serious about this. Well to be honest, I went full-time twice the first time I failed the second time I like went at it
Shannon Mattern: I do wanna talk about how you failed the first time cuz I also failed the first time and yeah, like I same, I had like an asphalt company as a client
Paige Brunton: Yeah, I think it's very important for people to hear is that like people do this thing where they compare themselves to people like five years ahead of them and they're comparing themselves to say us right now and then they feel awful about themselves and it's like, don't do that. Believe me. We started not hear
Paige Brunton: Well and my stress level, it was my mindset that literally killed it. It was like my, in my brain the whole time. It was just like a parade of negative thoughts of like you're not gonna find another client, this isn't gonna work. Why would someone hire you? There's so many other better website designers out there, other people have better portfolios and better work and all these things. It's amazing celebrity clients and you don't. And so it was just like constant negativity going to my brain and I just like didn't know how to stop it
Paige Brunton: And then she's like, oh you're an English speaker. She worked at a kindergarten and they needed, it was a bilingual kindergarten so they needed an English speaker and they're like, do you have a job? Do you wanna start a job like tomorrow? And my husband was like, yes, yes she does
Paige Brunton: And yeah, so anyways, not a fun workplace. So I did that for three months and just decided no, like I'm gonna give it a second shot. I'm gonna do whatever it takes to figure out how to get clients, how to run a business and how to stop these negative parade of thoughts going through my mind and like fix my mindset. So I did a lot of mindset work, read a few really good mindset books. I also took a course at the time I took B School for Marie Forlio. It was not web designer specific so I had to fill in a lot of the, you know, bits myself and everything. But it did at least give me me some general direction of what I should be sitting down and doing every day. And it also helped me nail a marketing strategy which brings us back to blogging basically. So that's what I chose and that really worked. It took time, no question. It's not a super fast marketing strategy but it is a highly effective one.
Shannon Mattern: Oh I love hearing that story and I can so relate to
Shannon Mattern: And I was like, I can do that too. I can do that too. I can teach people how to do it instead of doing it for them and this is how I'm going to like, you know, replace my day job income and like grow my empire and all of that. And of course like led me, you know, to the Marie four Leos and the, you know, all of the things and I never took B School. It was one of the things that I always wanted to do, but I just, I, it was one of the ones I, I did everything else but not B School
Shannon Mattern: I don't really wanna do this, can I just pay you to do it for me? And I was like,
Paige Brunton: Mm-Hmm
Paige Brunton: I tracked my statistics every week and I would see like, okay, more traffic than last week. So it was like an encouraging sign that it was going in the right direction. I found the more blog posts I wrote, the more traffic I was getting to the website, the more people in every blog post I would make mention like if you wanna work together, like here's my services, I can build your website for you basically, which people think is kind of, it doesn't make sense cuz like well if you're teaching 'em how to do it for free, then why would they hire you? And the truth is, is that yeah okay, a huge portion of those people will take that information and go do it themselves. And I'm so happy that I can help those people at a free price point. Cause I know when I started my business I had less than no money, like I was just outta college.
Paige Brunton: So happy to be helpful to those people. But then another percentage of people who read those posts are like, well she seems to know what she's doing so screw it, I'll just hire her to do it. Or like I had a post on how to choose the rate Squarespace template brought in a ton of traffic and then from there a bunch of people decided to go pick their own template and go do it themselves. A whole bunch of the rest of 'em got in touch on my inquiry form. Were like please just build this thing for me. Like I can't even
Paige Brunton: And so the snowball started building a couple months in, I was getting inquiries then I was landing those inquiries booking clients from it. And once I got the first one it just truly like new inquiry, new inquiry, new inquiry, continued blogging, got more to the point where I did work my way up in Google to be the first actual website designer that appeared when you Googled Squarespace website designer. So before me was Upwork and Squarespace. But then right after that I was the first actual web designer and that led to a inquiry a day in my web design business and I was one person. And so then I realized like I was considering like do I become an agency? Do I hire other designers? Do I run a template shop? That was a very typical thing to do or a course was also the option.
Paige Brunton: So that was the one which I finally went with was I was like, I'm just gonna teach you basically everything which I know about Squarespace, how to make a website which isn't just cookie cutter and where you drop your content in but where it looks nothing like the template. And so that was my first course Square secret and so that's how that came about. But I do wanna say when it comes to blogging second, I say like both of us said this like we left blogging. You don't need to blog if you don't want to blog. Like if you don't enjoy creating written format content, don't force yourself into doing it. So many people come to me and they're just like, I could not imagine writing. And for me it brought me joy. But truly what I tell people is like find the client finding method that brings you joy. I literally created a quiz on that to be like, here's like answer these questions and I will shoot at the marketing strategy you should do. Because for it could be Instagram, it could be speaking, it could be whatever, like it's different for each person. Blogging worked for me and for you. But it doesn't need to be what everyone else listening to this does.
Shannon Mattern: I'm so glad you said that because it's like any tactic you choose will work if you focus on it and stick at it and stay consistent with it and don't give up on it right away. I mean, and one of the things that we teach our, our students inside our program is like just be a real human and reach out to people and connect. And that's one of the quickest ways to find your next client. And then once you kind of figure things out, if you do feel called to create content and be creative in that kind of a way, like go for it. Find, find the thing that's going to just like you said, that's gonna resonate with you and like bring you joy. Like if someone tells me I have to be on TikTok to get clients, that would not bring me joy. I would, I just wouldn't do it. And so, you know, I'd be like oh I need a TikTok strategy and then I'd be learning forever and never actually like making or posting TikTok cuz I would dread it.
Paige Brunton: That was me on Instagram. I, I had my official breakup with Instagram. I actually posted on Instagram a few months ago. I was like, this is the official breakup. I've debated this for years but like no I'm a hundred percent done with Instagram. Like I don't enjoy being there
Paige Brunton: So pretty quickly, which I did not expect at all
Paige Brunton: And I was like, okay well clearly you wanna know how I run this business so alright, if that's what you want then I'll, I created Square Secrets business and that was like here is how I run my entire website business from like start to finish. Here's the things I encourage you to customize for yourself. So that was the one thing which I was a bit stumped when I went to go create the course cause I was like, well I don't wanna only teach blogging because there's other ways to get clients but I also don't wanna speak about something which I'm awful at slash or have never done. Well like say Instagram for example, it's like I should not be teaching you about Instagram but it is a good option to get clients if that's what you want. So then I just asked all my like friends in the web design world and was like, Hey would you mind coming in and talking with me for 30 minutes about like your chosen marketing strategy and how you do it and what the steps would be if someone else wanted to do it and what you learned along the way and everything.
Paige Brunton: So I got in a bunch of guest experts who then all shared their favorite marketing strategy. So that's how I kind of overcame that little hurdle. But yeah, so Square Secret Business came like six months or so after Square Secrets. And then I very consistently had both those courses for years. Now.
Shannon Mattern: One of the things that jumped out at me when you were talking about like, okay, well how do I teach the things that like maybe I haven't tried yet or I haven't accomplished yet, is to not think that you have to be the only one that knows all the things about all the things to be able to, to serve and teach your students. And I think that's one of the hear things I hear a lot from web designers. They're like, but I don't know enough yet. I don't know everything yet. I don't like I've never done that before and I'm just like you, it's not all on you. Like P your clients are paying you to be the one to figure it out or curate the resources or find the solution not to already know.
Paige Brunton: Mm-Hmm
Shannon Mattern: I love that. So one of the things you mentioned earlier was your mindset in those early, early days. Mindset has also been like my biggest, I would say opportunity
Paige Brunton: The pricing. A hundred percent
Paige Brunton: Yep. It's interesting when you work for yourself all of a sudden. So let me explain something which happened to me, which I think will explain this situation. So I was charging $2,500 for a website. I would do it in two weeks. I would wrap up the project, I would work with one client at a time and just give them a really exceptional experience and project at the end. And so again, that agency which I had been speaking of, I was talking to one of the guys and he was like, Paige, seriously your work is incredible. You are so reliable and do such a good job and the experience with you is fantastic. You could charge twice the price and not change, like not add more deliverables, not whatever. Like you could literally just double your price and that would still be worth it. And I was like, you're completely insane
Paige Brunton: But this like seed in the idea had been planted. And so I literally went to my website the next day and I changed it from 2,500 to $5,000. No like increase in the number of pages or anything else I was delivering. And I was again tracking every like week how many inquiries I was getting, how many of those I was booking. And then I realized like, yeah, okay, there's been no difference in the number of inquiries and the percentage of them that you've been actually like locking down and everything. And so that for me really, so I just got way easier clients to work with, with better content and better photos.
Paige Brunton: And so I was, I like just didn't know how to give myself a raise. Like I, I kind of needed like outside permission in order to increase my prices. And so that's what that guy basically did for me was like you should probably do this. And from having done it and having a good experience with it, I was like oh okay, I can do this again. So then I would increase my prices again. But yeah, so coming back to the mindset in students. So it's definitely, I think one thing is it's a confidence aspect like that will that it, what your price is is pretty much based off your confidence and yes also to agree the quality of the websites that you're building. Like that's also definitely a factor. I don't wanna ignore that but I would say 90% of it is probably the confidence problem.
Paige Brunton: And so I think what I find is the students, like when they go through a course, whatever course that is, I find that that's very beneficial because they're like okay, I know all the things which I need to know now. So that is just like gives you a huge leg up in increasing your prices. We actually did a survey in my business we were really curious to kind of get like a overall view of the web design industry. So we surveyed over 700 website designers and we noticed when people take courses they charge significantly higher prices than if they don't take courses on the field. And again, I'm I a hundred percent put that down to okay, yes your skills are slightly better and everything and yes your process is better. There's a huge number of benefits but mostly it just gives you the confidence. So I would say whatever way you can build the confidence is important, whether that's taking a course or alternatively I found when I was having my mindset problems some really good books. So like You Are a Badass, fantastic book The Miracle Morning what were the other ones? Those were the two most major ones which really helped me get my mindset in the right place when I was like failing and then trying to get back
Shannon Mattern: I could not agree with you more like in terms of pricing being like the big opportunity for people and like the underlying thoughts that I hear all the time is like, well it's so easy for me to do this. It's not hard therefore it doesn't take me that much time so I can't charge that much. And what I try to like the mindset shift I try to instill in people is like your pricing is not about you. Your pricing is about, is about like the value that the tool that you create can help your clients create. Mm-Hmm
Paige Brunton: Mm-Hmm
Shannon Mattern: Yeah absolutely. What are some of the other challenges beyond pricing that you help your clients with?
Paige Brunton: Definitely I think the big one which I have to really work on is again, not trying to do every free marketing strategy and just picking the one which brings you joy. So that brings me back to like why I created this quiz because it was like everyone was having the same problem and I was like, I felt like I just wanted to like ask some bunch of questions and then it would just like shoot our response. I was like perfect, I'm gonna make a quiz on that
Paige Brunton: So again, I think letting go of the, I have to be everywhere, I have to be on Instagram, I have to be blogging, I have to be whatever it is. Like you don't have to do that actually. You just need to get the like 20 to 30 clients that you need in a year and that's all you have to do. And if you wanna scale your business later okay perfect then maybe we choose like another scalable marketing strategy for you in the future. But for right now, if you just wanna do one-to-one services, like it doesn't require you being everywhere and you are definitely going to do worse at everything if you try to show up everywhere.
Shannon Mattern: That's such good advice. So tell me more about Square Secrets business. How often does it open every year? What is the program like? What can people expect to learn when they work with you?
Paige Brunton: Yeah, so as Core Series business has helped thousands of people to build website businesses, our students blow my mind. Like it took me a while to start and run a design business cause I had to learn everything but these bunch just consistently like blow my mind. People are going on to do like $11,000 projects and $30,000 months and one girl hired a team of seven within two years after she took the course. So basically it shows you start to finish how to set up and run a web design business. Most of the people who take it build websites on Squarespace, but we've actually had people now who take it and they build WordPress web design businesses or show a web design businesses or Shopify web design businesses. So it's more Square Secrets business is about here's how to set up and run a web design business. So going from like setting your packages and your prices and figuring out your process and making sure that your client projects stay on time every time. Finding clients, managing the onboarding and offboarding of clients legal and taxes. We also actually cover that too, which is nice. But yeah, so Square Secrets business opened about twice a year. We just finished up an enrollment so our next one is gonna be probably spring 2023 would be the next one. But yeah, we tend to open it for enrollment twice a year.
Shannon Mattern: Where can people go to learn more about it?
Paige Brunton: Yeah, you can go to Paige Brunton, p a i g e b r u n t o n.com and then you can find all the information on the different courses there.
Shannon Mattern: I love it and I see like, you know, I think one of the biggest things that web designers need but like don't know they need
Shannon Mattern: And that's why I was like, oh this doesn't feel like freedom, this is not worth it. I might as well just have one boss at my day job instead of 10 bosses in my web design business. And when you don't have these processes and systems and everything, of course that makes your business more efficient and it makes it easier and it makes your client experience more amazing but it also gives you a set of guidelines and boundaries within so that you can like become the boss of your clients instead of the other way around. Mm-Hmm
Shannon Mattern: Well you know, it's like it's not worth it to make that much money when you don't have freedom.
Paige Brunton: Totally. And the thing which I find is that like newer web designers are terrified to give their clients deadlines or to tell them they need something from them. Whereas more experienced web designers are like, all right, this is what I'm doing, this is what you're doing, this is when it's due. Like this is the process you need to meet deadlines,
Paige Brunton: I could guarantee people an end date but I was like, I can guarantee you an end date and that's not normal because most web designers won't do that for you. But like I'm going to guarantee you an end date but you have to get me your content by this date and this is what it means to get me your content. Like here's a whole guideline on like how to get photos and how to write the copy and everything. And so that's the thing is do know that like you are fully allowed and if anything it's gonna make you look more professional and more legit because I can tell you the really high-end amazing designers out there, they are doing that for their clients or telling them this is what it needs to be to mean by. And that will significantly solve your problems of not finishing your projects on time or not knowing when you can book the next one. Cause you don't know when this one's gonna finish.
Shannon Mattern: I'm so glad you said all of that and and it like also ties back to what you said earlier about when you doubled your price, your projects were easier. Like when people make a bigger commitment to the project, they are way more invested in making sure that the project is successful and they are way more willing to follow through on all of their end of the deal. And so if you're struggling with that, consider raising your prices. In our program we talk about investment minded clients versus expense minded clients and they operate differently in terms of like what they value the most. And all the things like I started my business back in the day, we were kind of talking about this like I didn't have the budget to do things like, so I had an expense mindset. I would rather spend my time versus my money.
Shannon Mattern: I would rather try to get things as cheap as I possibly could. I'd try to reverse engineer what I'd see other people doing instead of just hiring like the person to help me like all of the things versus now I, I have an expense mindset and I'm like I am willing to pay someone to lead me through this and I'm willing to like pay a premium for that person to make it as easy on me as possible because I value my time so much. Mm-Hmm
Paige Brunton: And I understand like when people are afraid to raise their prices they're like I would never spend $5,000 on a website. It's like okay, yeah. Like at the beginning of my business I would never have spent that money on anything cause I didn't have it. But just know that there are people, there are businesses out there with money who are just looking for like someone to do a fabulous job and to really care for them in their project and to create them a fantastic website and they're literally looking to spend the money and when you see people getting 10 K projects like that means there's people willing to pay for 10 K projects. That's what that means. So I know that when people are like, oh well I could never spend there, I would never spend it. It's like okay, yeah but you're maybe different from actually the client who's gonna be hiring you and that's totally fine. And I feel like I've seen that progression of like I started a business with genuinely no money and now our business makes fantastic money. And so we hire things out all the time and I'm like, oh thank you, thank you for doing this. Like I'm so grateful and I'm so excited to pay you this money. So there's clients out there who are gonna be thrilled to pay you the money and again, there tend to be a lot easier to work with as well.
Shannon Mattern: Oh my gosh, I could talk to you forever about this topic. I like totally geek out when I get to talk to people who also coach
Paige Brunton: Ooh, that's such a good question. Lemme think of one, one second. Gimme a minute. I wanna give you a really good
Shannon Mattern: Answer.
Shannon Mattern: As many as you wanna share whatever comes to your mind.
Paige Brunton: So I had to change the belief that I could make great money. So when I was younger I assumed if I was ever going to be wealthy it was gonna be because of my husband. Like I, in no realm of my mindset of possibility, would I make good money That just didn't like all my examples just, it was always like, oh, if someone was wealthy it was because like they were a housewife to a some rich man. And yeah, that was a major thing, which it kind of came with time. Like it, the belief changed as I started to realize, oh okay, no, I can book 5K projects, time, fork projects, whatever. It's, so yeah, it came over time. But I think that was something which really changed for me is like I make these significant amount of money in our relationship and yeah, it, it is possible even though I hadn't seen any examples of that growing up necessarily. Like that is a thing which can happen these days. So yeah,
Shannon Mattern: I love that. Like it's so powerful to realize that like our mindset and like how we grew up as like a really important part of, of our business journey, I didn't know that. I thought I could just like power through and try all the things and learn all the things and I didn't realize that like the the biggest lever I could pull was just identifying those things that I thought to be true and never questioned and then start questioning everything about what I thought to kind of unlock, unlock that next level. Yeah,
Paige Brunton: I agree with that. I think that's so key for getting to the next level. Like is changing the belief because if you don't believe it, like I forget what the, some example, I wish I knew the exact details, but it was like someone had never run a mile in some timeframe and then the first person did it and it and it was like, I think it was a four minute mile. I don't even know, I have no idea, I'm used kilometers. But anyways,
Shannon Mattern: That is the perfect place to wrap up this episode. Can you tell everyone where can they go to connect with you, get all of your amazing content, learn more about your courses, trainings, and all the things?
Paige Brunton: Yeah, so my website is https://paigebrunton.com. You can find quite literally hundreds of blog posts on there helping you build Squarespace websites and a web design business. So if you want some fabulous free content head there. And again, if you want that quiz to figure out which client finding method matches your personality type that you should be doing, that is at https://pbcourses.com/quiz.
Shannon Mattern: Awesome. We'll link everything up in the show notes, so go check that out. And thank you so much for being here.
Paige Brunton: Thank you Shannon. I really appreciate it.
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 https://webdesigneracademy.com/podcast 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 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 up on this episode and your podcast player and tap that, leave a review link or go to https://webdesigneracademy.com/review 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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