Welcome to Episode 22 of the Profitable Web Designer Podcast, where we’re committed to helping web designers to stop undercharging, overdelivering, overworking, overworking and create profitable, sustainable web design businesses.
I’m Shannon Mattern, your host and founder of the Web Designer Academy where we teach the business side of running a web design business, and if you wanna make a consistent, full-time income as a web designer but you’re struggling with things like pricing, boundaries, mindset and marketing and you’re EXHAUSTED from going it alone… well, my friend, you’re in the right place.
Love the show? Tap here to leave us a rating and review!
This week I’m chatting with Danbee Shin about embracing your full identity as a web designer!
Danbee is a web designer and global inclusions specialist, who specializes in creating inclusive websites for online coaches. She also mentors other web designers to build a successful web design business their way, while showing up as their full selves.
“Because I was so unhappy in the day job that I left, I think I just wanted to cut all of my ties with my past self.” – Danbee Shin
3 lessons Danbee shared from her journey:
- Create workflows to make processes as simple as possible for both you and your clients.
- How to set your pricing – even when it feels like your work is too fun to charge for.
- How to remain true to who you are and do what feels right for you in your business.
“That’s when things started getting more fun. Because I knew what to do at every stage, it took away so much of the stress.” – Danbee Shin
We also talk about how Danbee:
- Earned 10 years’ of experience working all over the world and still felt unfulfilled by achieving the white man’s version of success.
- Left corporate to start her own business after being judged for prioritizing people over profits.
- Used her knowledge to create systems, talk to clients, and build a six figure business on her terms.
Follow Danbee Shin:
- Website: https://www.danbeeshin.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cafedanbee
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danbeeshin/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danbeeshin/?originalSubdomain=sg
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/DanbeeShinTV
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/danbeeshin
To work with us to transform your web design business into a profitable, sustainable money-maker, get started by joining the waitlist.
We will be sending a weekly email to you with teachings from the current Web Designer Academy, Profitable Web Designer podcast episodes to start applying our concepts now, and advice from our new five-figure month earners on how to make at least $10k every single month as a web designer.
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. And today I have the pleasure of getting to talk to Dan Bein, who is a web designer and global inclusion specialist who creates inclusive websites for online coaches. She grew her own web design business to six figures and also mentors other web designers to show up as their full self and build successful web design businesses their way. So Danbee and I have chatted on other podcasts and in other trainings and it's been, you know, several months since we last got to talk. So I'm so excited to have you here and to have this conversation with you today. So thank you so much for being here Danbee.
Danbee Shin: Thank you for inviting me back.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah, absolutely. So I wanna, you know, I kind of know your backstory because we know each other, but I'd love to take our listeners back to the beginning. How did you get your start as a web designer?
Danbee Shin: I started my career in the corporate world working for large multinational conglomerates and also some startups, some techie startups. And what I learned in that process was that I needed to do my own thing. I was really tired, um, at the end of it working for other people, not being able to express myself fully, not being able to, you know, be true to all the aspects of who I was. And even though some of the places that I worked at were great, I had a lot of fun, learned a lot, I was in all sorts of industries from airport operations to construction to tech and advertising. So I learned a lot. But after about 10 years I was like, I'm not finding what I'm looking for. And that's when I decided to start my own business. And as you know, I tried a whole lot of different side hustles before I landed on web design.
Danbee Shin: But when push came to Shov and I decided that okay, like no more experimenting, no more like waiting around for my ducks to line up, I need to start making money right now with my side hustle. Web design just made so much sense. And I know that this is also what you teach not just on your podcast but inside your web design academy. You know, you just have to go out and sell the thing that you know you can do right now. And for me that was web design as it's for a lot of people out there. And that's how I became a web designer. And that was literally just as Covid started where I was living then in Singapore. So it's been quite a ride, but somehow it's 2022
Shannon Mattern: That's amazing. Like time is weird
Danbee Shin: Over complicating everything? Um,
Shannon Mattern: Guilty,
Danbee Shin: The thing that I
Shannon Mattern: Say
Danbee Shin: That. I'm like, I had to go touch the stove myself just to make sure that it was high
Shannon Mattern: I'm curious like what are some ways that you like were over complicating things and then change them to be easier
Danbee Shin: Thinking, oh every client is so special and they're, but recognizing I, I didn't recognize in the beginning that you could have a set process that you could follow with every single client. I felt like every client was so different. I had to, you know, I couldn't just like take them through a process that I had created for myself, which is what I do now.
Shannon Mattern: Yes, yes, yes. I could not agree with that more. And I think that just even marketing is something that like we tend to over complicate as business owners. It's like you don't have to like create content marketing plan. You can literally just email people you know and let, like let them know what you're doing and and ask them if they, you know, if they're interested or if they know other people. And that, it's interesting though, like when I think about that, I say that as if it's easy but it's not that
Danbee Shin: And to your point, easy is a funny word, right? Like emailing someone you know and asking for help getting a new client is literally one of the easiest ways to get a new client. It's so much easier than spending a whole year writing blog posts that gets in front of like, you know, very few of the right people and gets, you know, clients. But like in the moment it feels like the blog writing thing is the thing to do. Letting such an that's really hard.
Shannon Mattern: Sometimes we have to get out of our own way and work. It's like the things that would hold us back from sending like a simple email. Like I would say that that's a simple tactic. It might not be easy in the moment, but the things that will, will hold us back from sending that will also be the same thing that holds us back from telling a client like, I'd love to do that for you and here's how much that will cost or mm-hmm
Danbee Shin: Yeah. And those are really stressful things to do, right? Mm-hmm
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. Yes. So you found yourself in a place where it sounds like things were stressful and you weren't. It was like, oh I left this for this reason and it's not what I wanted to be yet. How did you pivot from there?
Danbee Shin: You know, what happened was because I was so unhappy in my day job that I left, I think I just wanted to cut all of my ties with like my past self. Yeah. And I think I finally got the place where I was like, okay, no. Like I learned a lot. Like I grew like those were my twenties that I spent working in the corporate world. I grew a lot in that time. Let's look at what I'm bringing to my business. And a big part of that was project management across all the different industries. Whether it was at the airport, I used to work at the Hong Kong International airport of traffic in the world. Whether it was working in construction, managing, you know, multimillion dollar projects that ran for like five, six years. That took a lot of project management
Danbee Shin: Now, you know, there are a lot of moving parts with people who wanna advertise like small businesses but businesses based on the experience of individuals and also organizations, there is a certain way to do things. And one of my least favorite things from these old businesses is we do it this way cause it's always this way and that's really awful reason to do anything. But one time like I feel like that makes sense is when like it's based on experience and it's, it's tested and it's tried and there's a reason we do it this way. Doesn't, we never question why we do it that way. But there's reason we do it way. So I back to my project management.
Danbee Shin: So when I a new client, what are the things that make sense for me to do to get them on a sales call When I'm on a sales call? What are the things that make sense for me to say and ask and get into place before we decide to move forward? Once you know, they say yes let's look at the contract and the the invoice. When are they gonna pay? When do we start? What goes into a kickoff call? What happens? Like how do I present a project brief before we start to discuss the scope and the objective and so and so forth, right? Like throughout the entire project process. And I was like, oh I can put this all on paper and then I can just do it the same way every time with every client. And that's when honestly things started getting more fun. Cause I knew what to do at every stage. It took away so much of the stress.
Shannon Mattern: And if it took away stress for you, imagine like how much relief your client also feels knowing like this is handled. I don't have to think about this. Like Danbee's got it, she's just gonna lead me through this whole process. I'm gonna be so taken care of this thing that is like I'm investing in this, this is really important to my business. It's gonna help me create the life and impact I wanna create by having this tool that Danbee's like creating for me. They've got a lot at stake too. And that process must make them feel so cared for. And so just like absolutely I made the right choice.
Danbee Shin: Mm-hmm
Shannon Mattern: And it makes it easy for them too,
Danbee Shin: Right? I mean it's good for the designer but it's also so great for the client. So it reminds me of this story that I heard from one of my customers who took the course that I designed to tell people about this process. It's called Fast to More Clients. And they came back and they said, you know, I used to show my work in progress at the wrong times to my clients and that made them feel really uneasy cause they didn't know that I had things under control. But then when I implemented this process, I started showing them work in progress at the right times and made them so happy. Made them feel really, which is exactly what you said Shannon. And she says there was this really like happy tone to the entire project throughout, you know, the months that we tend to work with our clients for.
Danbee Shin: And she said it's not something that's really measurable but something that was very obvious in all of their interactions. And work is so much more fun when you're working with someone who wants to be there with you. And yeah, obviously they trusted her so much more and that's what I love. Like yes let's focus on the marketing stuff that brings us more clients. But when you create experiences like these and the clients are so happy to just like be there
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. And imagine that the high note that that client left your client's project on, that they, they feel so good about what happened that they now have momentum to go do the thing that that they hired you to build the website for in the first place instead of getting to the end of this project.
Danbee Shin: Right. Cause we forget the websites are just like
Shannon Mattern: Yeah.
Danbee Shin: Are just part of their business thing. Like there's a whole business behind it.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah, there's a whole business. They have a mission, they have an impact that they wanna make. They have goals and instead of getting to the end of this project and they're exhausted or just overwhelmed or whatever and they feel like they're gonna go on to do the thing and yeah, they're gonna send us more clients and that's great, we want that too. But like it gets to be like a ripple effect of just momentum when you have that system in place that's beautiful. Like we think, oh we need processes to make it easier for us. But processes have such a bigger impact than just that.
Danbee Shin: Mm-hmm.
Shannon Mattern: I wanna talk about like processes and making things easy and simplification and pricing
Shannon Mattern: So how do you talk about like the juxtaposition? I guess it feels like that to me it doesn't feel like that anymore but it used to like the juxtaposition of ease and how much it costs.
Danbee Shin: I think about the value to the client, right? I about you just said Shannon, the website of their business website is gonna help them do that. So I try to frame it in that way to look at it from the client's perspective. And part of, I think also it's easy to forget that people are looking for web designers because they don't want do the web design thing. They websites are complex things when you've been just tinkering with websites for ages cause it's so much fun for you, it's hard. Remember that they're fun for other people. Some people do not.
Danbee Shin: And also to be into, you're doing, providing someone like, I'm gonna call it a service cause that's what it's, but it's like so much more you're, you're really stepping in into that position as a business partner. I try to always help customers. My clients kinda step into that role as a trusted advisor and a strategic partner for their clients. Cause you're not just making a website, you're taking the time to get to know the client business. Where they're, what their vision, what their goals are, are piecing that together with ok how is a website gonna help them do that? And the processes we just talked about. Right? And then you're leading through this amazing crafted stream process. Make things for business results that your website will help them achieve down the line. I mean that's worth a lot of money.
Shannon Mattern: I love that. And it's like, it's not just, oh I bought you know, five pages and some branding and sometimes oh my
Danbee Shin: Goodness, don't talk to me about five
Shannon Mattern: Page websites.
Danbee Shin: Website.
Shannon Mattern: I'm so glad that that like gets under your skin as well. Like yeah. Five pages, 10 pages, 20 pages. Like it's your intellectual property. It's so many things. And tell me more about why your reaction to five pages was. Yeah.
Danbee Shin: Okay. A part of that is my own personal baggage
Danbee Shin: And that didn't feel right for me. But I didn't, I, that's how I presented my packages as well. Cause like there must be a reason people are doing it this way. Yeah. This is, so my like little tip here is if something doesn't feel right and you don't understand why people are doing it that way, go find out, go ask someone why things are done that way and they'll make your own decision. But I didn't and it took a long time for me to figure, you know, together with the rest of the other things where I really had to look at decisions I was making and whether that felt like a decision that I would truly make on my own. I'm trying to think of examples, but this is certainly one of those, you know, like why
Danbee Shin: Maybe it was working for, didn't work for me. And as also like as I started thinking about websites this way, you know, as marketing tools that help my clients, I just realized it doesn't matter how many pages and I wanna able to provide packages based on outcomes. Outcomes. Where I can say, okay, we're gonna talk about your strategy and I'm gonna build a website that matches that strategy. Not like, ok, maybe this package is right for you because it has like five pages but then uh, you know, the website that I think you need actually needs like seven pages. Or what do I do? Like if it just needs three pages.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. That's where like process, it comes back to process. It sounds like the process that you have needs to have the freedom and flexibility within the process for you to like Yeah. Be able to adapt with a client. And this kind of is a perfect segue to talking about like you've mentioned throughout this interview, like you weren't really able to be yourself at your day job and now you're building this business and you're, you're finding your way and you're finding your way of like, oh but that doesn't fit with me. That doesn't align with me. Mm-hmm. Like I wanna do things in a way that aligns with me. And then just talking about like your focus on building inclusive websites for your clients and you're an advocate for like global inclusivity and you, you've done trainings and different things. Can you share like more about where that came into your business journey and how that like shows up in all the things that you do now?
Danbee Shin: Yeah. Uh, thank you for asking this question. When I was in the thick of building my business, you know, I was out there learning all the things, taking all the courses, attending all the, all the trainings. And at one point I just realized after a series of really unpleasant experiences that I was just learning from a lot of very white, very homogenous US based business owners. Mm-hmm.
Danbee Shin: Um, because I wanted to be able to fit into these spaces that were created by white business owners for very North American audiences. You know, like I can do a really good job. I spent all of my life fitting into these spaces and I was doing the same thing in my own business. And as soon as I realized that, that felt really off. Cause you know, when people thought that I was, cause I was up at a random time night for to attend these things, I didn't correct them when they assumed that I was American was like I didn't see a need to necessarily step in and be like, oh actually I'm Korean and I've in the cause wasn't gonna do any favor my business, right. Lot of my clients is part of my privilege. All of my clients find working with me comfortable because I speak English the way I do and I present myself the way I do.
Danbee Shin: And then yeah, I just realized that I wanted to bring all of my identities to my business and that was talking about, you know, hey it's kind that I have to be up at you know, un hours to participate in these learning opportunities that I'm paying the same amount of money for as everyone else. It kinda sucks when I, you know, sit in discussions about how VAs based in developing parts of the world are paid less because their living costs are lower. Like conversations like that that I would just kind of have, you know, glossed over or not participated in. I had opinions and I wanted to share and that kind trickles into the way I work with my clients. You know, like I want to, if someone says something, I don't know, there are a lot of microaggressions that people encounter online and it could just be something like there's so many, my mind is just blanking.
Danbee Shin: Just kind of like ignoring, ignoring me when I correct someone when they say my name wrong or when maybe just not ignoring but just kind of like waving it off as it was a minor mistake or not being flexible with times that we meet. Cause you know, they have their business hours and those are the only times they wanna work during things like that. I just decided that okay we're gonna have a conversation about that cause I have opinions and it doesn't work out and that's so hard, right? Cause these are clients who want pay me money and to be able to put my foot down and say this is where I draw the line and cause this is my business. I can fire the clients I want. That was, yeah that was really big for me.
Shannon Mattern: I remember just, well I'm on your email list so I get all of your emails and I open every single one and read every single one and just being thank you. Like inspired by your boldness, you know, because it is, it's something where I have opinions about certain things and I come from a place of privilege of you know, the white North American fitting into the box of that business owner. And like I can only imagine like you're saying like how you didn't feel like you could speak up if I've ever felt like I couldn't speak up and just being inspired by your boldness in all of the things that you shared and you're like, hey, these are causes that are important to me and this is what's going on. And like the news media isn't covering this, but I feel like it's important and I want you to know about that.
Shannon Mattern: And you know, hey, just like, you know, if you're gonna
Shannon Mattern: And I took notice like for sure. And it really inspired me to change the way I was doing things that I was just like following the status quo of what I saw other people doing too without any thought behind it. And so I find you so inspiring for really like, you know, we always talk about like run your business the way you wanna run your business. But there's more to it than that. Like you're talking about like no, like fully stepping into I am who I am and I'm not gonna hide or change or withhold my opinions because I'm afraid you won't work with me. Like turning into like I don't wanna work with you if you're not going to like let me be, not let me like cuz that's, if you're not going to be okay with who I am, like you're not invited into this space.
Danbee Shin: Thank you so much for seeing all of that. Yeah. I just feel like this is one of those things that are, you know, what we talked about like easy and not easy. Like yeah it's easier to fit in.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah.
Danbee Shin: You don't have to turn away clients cause then you don't have to, you know, like deal with people who disagree with you. But life is a lot easier
Shannon Mattern: It's like also creating space for like the right people though. And this conversation reminds me of, I was talking to one of my students and we were talking about like, what are your goals for 2023 and you know, what do you think you need to do to get there? You know? And she was basically like, well I need to be like a completely different person than who I am in order to make that happen. And I need to look a certain way. I need to dress a certain way. I need to have like hair and makeup a certain way. And we were in person at this retreat and every single person in the room was like, absolutely not. Like you have to be you. But like, we also don't like it's easy for us to say in the room, we're not the clients, we're not the ones Yeah. She's putting herself out to. And so it is a constant, I think I I love how you're like leading the way of like, you have to, you have to be who you are cuz otherwise, what is the point of doing this? Like go back and get a job because it's not fun. Right.
Danbee Shin: That's so much easier because they give you money every single month. I know in the US it's sometimes every two weeks
Danbee Shin: You get guaranteed money when you just fit into their boss and do what they say. Yeah. Here's the cost in a of ways that's, that's easier.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. Here's the cost of us giving you money every month you act like someone you're not, you don't have any opinions. You're just a corporate robot and you, you know, do what we say and don't rock the boat and then we'll pay you every month. Like mm-hmm.
Danbee Shin: Cause I did it
Shannon Mattern: Yeah, yeah. You did it because you believed that's how Well it's not, you believed that's what like the world says you have to do to be successful.
Danbee Shin: Yeah. And also that's all I knew. So I feel like it was just almost Muslim too. But yeah, why would we go through the pain of starting our own businesses and figuring all of this out just to create an environment where you have to be someone else. Like we don't want that. And I love that we are also talking about, you know, the risks that come with it. Like you said it, the people in the, you need those people who tell you no, just be yourself. But also those people are not your clients. They're not the ones paying you. So in the end, like it's also your decision, like it's your business. So you get to choose what are you willing to compromise because also you deserve to have a business that you know earns your living. And sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to support yourself and where are you willing to take the risk to just be your full self. And I think what's so great, and also what kinda sucks is that you get to make that decision. Like only you can make that call. Like, I can't do that for you Shannon. You can't do that for anyone else. And that's also what's so awesome about being your own boss.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. And it might be different, it might be that so times of your life you feel more like willing to take that risk and other times in your life mm-hmm.
Danbee Shin: Absolutely
Shannon Mattern: You, like you said, you get to decide who that is. But I also think one of the most important things that you can do is put yourself in supportive spaces with people like Danbee and like, you know, just people who are going to champion you as you build a business in a way that is supportive of you and not like, this is the only way it's gonna work and this is how you have to be and this is how you have to show up. And if you don't do these things well, I guess like you're not gonna be successful
Danbee Shin: I guess. You don't care enough about your business, I guess you don't have care enough about your success. These are all things I've heard. Like, oh, I guess you just don't care enough. Like, no, life is a lot more complex than that. I'm with you. I could not have done any of this I feel without, without my community, right? I'm like, oh, that's so cheesy. My business coach, I've always had, you know, conversations like these with you just kinda reinforces all the things I know to be true. My business friends who, you know, like, yes, we've exchanged some work, but they're more friends than anything else. Like coaches that I have worked with just on, you know, short term basis as well. Just people that I've surrounded myself with and now, now that I am a lot more authentic in my business, a client whose websites I've built, that website is, they're still in my circles. Just, you know, it's still reading my emails and still having conversations with me, me I am doing the right thing. And obviously I'm also very fortunate to have a super supportive partner. Like all of those things just make such a big difference.
Shannon Mattern: Wow. I could talk to you forever about all of these things, but unfortunately we are coming to the end of our episode. Can you share with everyone more about, I know people are inspired in by this conversation and wanting to connect with you more. Tell us more about how you work with web designers. Like in what capacities do you support them to really go down this path of having a business that allows them to like fully express who they are and work with people that are all about that and respect that and also have it be easy
Danbee Shin: So my main, the main way I uh, work with web designers right now is through my course Fast Track to more clients. And this basically covers my entire process that I take my clients through from the beginning of the sales process all the way until after their website is launched and how I offboard them. And I've just given it an upgrade this year so that I could infuse all of my global inclusion ideas into the course before. It was very, again, it was very much, you know, this is the work, this is web design and now it feels so much more like a course that, you know, that I would put out into the world, which has a lot of conversations and pep talks for me about how to bring different parts of who you are into this process and how to also recognize that in your clients, right? Cause what you can do as a web designer is not just create a website for your clients, but also just kinda know and see who theyre and that into their websites as well. So that's the course and is, I'm sure it'll be links with this podcast episode, but you can always find it at com slash and it comes with access to my private group for customers. So I'm always there to answer questions, to have discussions about tricky situations and to celebrate all the wins and all that good stuff.
Shannon Mattern: Amazing. And you're, are you still like a Instagram, heavy Instagram user?
Danbee Shin: You know me, absolutely. I'm there all the time. Instagram is honestly the best way to, you know, get in touch with me, to hang out with me, chat with me in the dms. I'm always stories, my family jokes that they don't. I'm @Danbeeshin on Instagram.
Shannon Mattern: Amazing. Well, we'll link all of that up in the show notes. Thank you so much for your time today and for being here and for just sharing everything that you shared. I really, really appreciate you.
Danbee Shin: Aw, thank you so much. I appreciate you Shannon. I love talking to you always.
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://webdesigner academy.com/review and I'll take you to the right spot. Thank you so much for listening and I'll see you right here next week. Bye.
Speaker 3: This podcast is part of the sound advice FM network. Sound advice FM Women's Voices amplified.