Expert Strategies for Getting Web Design Clients

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Shannon Mattern is discussing strategies for getting web design clients and how to make web design profitable. Full Text: profitable web designer EPISODE 34 Expert Strategies for Getting Web Design Clients with Shannon Mattern

Hear from several experts at the Simply Profitable Designer Summit on what’s working now to get web design clients:

In this episode, we talk about:

  • The main opportunities and trends we see in the design industry right now.
  • What boundaries to set to make projects run smoother and simplify your workload.
  • Exactly where our clients come from and how we build those relationships to keep our project calendars booked.

We also touch on:

  • How everyone is self-taught and you don’t need to be an expert with tons of certifications to run a business.
  • Processes to get clients to follow through with your deadlines.
  • The normal ebbs and flows of business and how to prepare for them.

Episode Transcript

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

Shannon Mattern: Hey, welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast. So this week on the show I have a really special episode for you. It is a replay of a speaker panel that we did at the Simply Profitable Designer Summit and one of the topics that we talked about in depth is how to get clients. So we had our panelists share their best advice and their best strategies for how to market themselves and get clients. And you guys, it is so good because we have people who are from all different types of, you know, they're at all different stages of their business. They're doing different types of things in their business now and to hear them share their client getting strategies, we just wanna arm you with as many strategies as possible for getting clients. So that is never a barrier for you in your web design business that you don't know how to get clients.

Shannon Mattern: So I wanna introduce you to our speakers on this panel. We have Cameron McBeth who is the director of Education for Dubsado. He's also been on the Profitable web designer podcast. We have Sarah Masci who is the queen of day rates and she is just a good friend of mine and a colleague and I love her perspective and her viewpoint on strategies for getting clients. We also have Rache Araja-de Luna who teaches people how to like how she teaches Squarespace to designers. She's a brilliant, she has beautiful designs. She also works one-on-one with clients selling premium Squarespace design projects. So you get to hear from her on how her strategies for getting clients. Melissa Berkheimer, who is a sales page design expert and also has the Design Business Show podcast. And also Laura Kamark who is a web developer who partners with graphic designers and who's also a web designer academy member sharing her best strategies for getting clients. So these five speakers are, you know, on the speaker panel talking about a lot of different topics, but I want you to listen in for all of their best client getting strategies. These people are experts and they're gonna help you make sure that you have like just a lot of different tools in your toolbox for getting clients.

Shannon Mattern: So let's dive into our speaker panel from the Simply Profitable Designer Summit. All about getting clients. So we'll get everybody in, but as I'm doing that Sarah, do you wanna go ahead and introduce yourself and then Cameron you can introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about you and what you do and I will continue working on getting the rest of our speakers in the room.

Sarah Masci: Okay, yes. Hello everyone. So good to see everybody here. My name is Sarah Masci and I am the CEO and founder of Day Rate Mastery and a former brand and web designer. So I help other, I help designers basically scale their business with a one day intensive or a day rate business model. My session, my presentation was today, so hopefully you guys are able to catch that. There's a lot more information about me in that presentation, but I'm just super excited to be here today and talk all about how you can simplify your web design business.

Shannon Mattern: Awesome. Cameron, go ahead. Yeah,

Cameron McBeth: Yeah. My name is Cameron McBeth. I am the director of education at Dubsado, which is a client management system where you can take care of all of your backend admin tasks, workflows and all of that. And so my job is primarily around teaching the system, making sure that people understand how to use the system. Obviously running a business there's so much that you need to do on the front end of things and with the client experience. So my job is helping make the learning of Dubsado and, and the learning of the CRM a little bit easier for business owners. So that's, that's my primary responsibility.

Shannon Mattern: We are so happy to have you here cause in the web designer academy I always say like DOA is like our unofficial CRM tool that everybody uses and loves and geeks out about . So awesome Ra, this is the first time I'm getting to like meet you in person. I'm so excited for this. Welcome. Can you just tell everybody a little bit about you and your business?

Rache Araja-de Luna: Sure. Shannon, I'm so proud to be here. Thank you so much everyone for tuning in. I'm actually tuning in from the Philippines . I am a web designer and developer south one and have courses for above designers, sandals, Squarespace and standout Shopify. Basically advocating web designers to stand out with skills and create the unexpected in different platforms such as Squarespace and Shopify.

Shannon Mattern: You know, I always like stock all of our speakers and I'm just like, just everything you create is just so gorgeous and so thank you for being here and like just teaching everybody else how to do all of that. So Awesome. I am like still trying to like figure out how to navigate getting our other speakers in here, . I'm like trying to find them in a sea of a thousand, a thousand people. So we're learning as we go but we have a question for Sarah from Angie that I'll go ahead and ask while I continue to let the other speakers in. But she wants to know how long it took you to phase out your other services when you started doing day rates. Was it pretty line in the sand or did you do it hybrid for a while?

Sarah Masci: That's such a good question. Thank you so much for asking Angie. So I started, my first day rate was in February of 2018 and I officially like drew the line in the sand in December. So it was about 10 months of transitioning. But to be like, to be honest about it, it all of those 10 months was basically just phasing out all those long drawn out projects that were already on my schedule that were already taking me forever. So I was just kind of trying to wrap up all of the projects that were already in the works between February and December while onboarding all new day rate clients. So any new lead that came my way pretty much from like April, 2018 on my first offer to them was a v I P day or multiple v i p days in order to accomplish whatever it was that they needed done. So I think I maybe took out one or two very small projects in that timeframe, but it was pretty much once I decided I was all in, I was all in.

Shannon Mattern: That's awesome. So before we continue on with questions, is Alia our speaker, Alia Katib here or Melissa Burkheimer, if you guys are here, can you like just put something in the chat so I can find you and promote you to promote you to the panel? That would be super helpful. I'm like okay, there's gotta be a better way to do this and I will figure it out because that's just what we do , right? So yeah, thank you for sharing that Sarah, I'm gonna pull up my questions here, but one of the, one of the things that I wanted to ask you, oh, Laura's here also. Awesome, thanks Laura. Can you guys raise your hands? That would be awesome if you can't. But then I'm like, what happens when you do like, I'm trying to find that. So one of the things that I wanted to ask you guys is like I did a state of the web design industry keynote earlier today and I was just talking about like all of the opportunities that we're seeing just now in the web design space and I was wondering like if you could share like what you guys are seeing in terms of like opportunities or what you're seeing.

Shannon Mattern: Like I know with Dubsado you're not necessarily a web designer, but like what you're seeing with clients in terms of opportunities. So I'll let you guys riff on that a little bit while I try to figure out how this person's raising their hand, how to actually like let them in . I see your hand being raised, but, so I'll figure it out.

Sarah Masci: Okay, so I'll just jump in. I wanted to so your question was like what are we seeing kind of in the, in the web design space? So as far as opportunities now, because of what I teach now and because I have actually been out of web design personally for a couple of years because I'm now just teaching this model to everyone. I'm teaching a lot of different creatives. So the people in my programs are web designers, brand designers, copywriters, marketers, all of that. What I'm seeing is collaborations and relationship building of relationships amongst, there's, there's so much like networking opportunities when you kind of build your own little mini pod or your mini tribe of other creatives that you all can kind of work together even if you're doing solo solo projects, but you have your, your mini network that you can then use and refer your clients to and it just becomes so much easier for you to refer out and get referral business when you find your little mini tribe of other people who kind of balance out what you offer.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, I think relationships are just so, so key. Rache, do you have anything you wanna add?

Rache Araja-de Luna: Yes, definitely. So the opportunity that I'm seeing for designers nowadays is to really create a ladder of offers, like a tier of offers. It depends on what works for energy as well as for our lifestyle. But it's best if you're not only relying on just one custom service like that one big service. It might be best look into something like what Sarah is advocating like day rates, which is for me like a mid ticket offer, something that is more fixed priced instead of just adding custom proposals. So in my case, as of now, I still work with clients. I do have like big enterprise clients who I work with for custom projects and I work with them for months. But then I also have fixed price, I call them minimum ticket offers, like day rates. I also offer like clavio services for example, I work a lot with the Shopify merchants and sometimes they're, they come to me thinking that they need a, a website recall, but taking to account their current budget as well as their current and needs, it seems like, I think because we have enough traffic, all we need is to convert that traffic.

Rache Araja-de Luna: We can do a mid ticket offer, like a, like a clavio setup. So that's, that's something that I'm really looking into opportunities, like even low ticket offers, you can be a web designer and come up with a live workshop like this and charge $17 or so. So those mid ticket offers like a tier or a ladder of offers that will work for you as a web designer. You don't have to be really boxed into custom service, especially this times

Shannon Mattern: Melissa's here. Amazing. Okay, cool. I'm figuring this out. . Cameron, anything to add before we introduce Laura and Melissa?

Cameron McBeth: One thing that that I would add, and I know this isn't necessarily, you know, Dubsado is kind of more the backend thing, but something that we really noticed as far as the design space was is that a lot of people who were in the design area when they were using our system, the design capabilities of Dubsado was kind of minimal in the beginning. And so obviously as a designer you want your branding to match obviously what you're creating with the client experience and everything in between. And so one of the big things that we recently introduced was our new form builder, which allowed a lot more ability to customize forms to make it match your branding and really entice new people to work with you. So that was a big thing that we noticed that was lacking with Dubsado was just the ability to customize things to fit what your branding looks like. So that's something that we've had a huge influx of designers say they really love about Dubsado now is the ability to make all of the backend, the client experience, everything that they do with their clients, match their branding and make it look really great to also set you apart from other designers and whatnot that they might be trying to work with. So that was a, a big thing we noticed.

Shannon Mattern: I'm just sitting here thinking there are probably people watching this like, ooh, I wanna design Dubsado forms for my, for our clients. Like I want to provide that service to people too. So it's just like so many multiple opportunities for people. So yeah. Really cool. So Laura and Melissa, welcome to the speaker panel. Amazing. So Melissa, we'll start with you. Can you just tell everyone a little bit about you and what you do and then Laura you can jump right on in.

Melissa Burkheimer: Yeah. my name is Melissa Burkheimer and I'm the CEO and conversion design director over at Melissa Burkheimer Studio where we basically design brands and create buzz building strategies for launches.

Shannon Mattern: Love it. Awesome. And Laura?

Laura Kamark: Hello, my name is Laura Kamark. I'm a website and tech automation specialist for women who love their work but not their website. I also partner with brand designers and web designers who really love staying in their zone of genius of designing and want to outsource the development because that is the piece that just lights me up.

Shannon Mattern: Ah, love it. Okay. This is so cool. I'm just like, how is this like my life right now? I I love this. This is my favorite part of of what we do. So this question I have for anyone who wants to jump in but we have people at the Simply Profitable Designer Summit who are like brand new just getting started all the way to like multiple six figures and like maxed out on that and ready, ready to scale. And so I would just love to hear from each of you like what is one of the biggest challenges that either you have overcome in your own business or that in your service of clients you see them overcoming in their business and whoever wants to just like start and then if you have something you wanted I'll just like raise your hand and then like I'll just let that person like call on the next person.

Melissa Burkheimer: I can speak to this one like so fun. I started out doing freelance work for pretty much like anyone who would pay me back in like 2011 cuz I wanted to get paid to like take my, I wanted to get paid to be creative but also take my kids to and from school. Now they can both drive and like don't wanna ride in the car with me. So it's, I'm like at this different phase in my life in both business. And so almost 10 years ago I got my first sales page gig and the market was completely different back then than it is now because there's so much more technology that's available to users and the type of clients I was working with were starting to integrate their own teams and bring a lot of the work I was doing in-house. So I felt like I had this quote unquote reputation.

Melissa Burkheimer: I don't like saying that cuz it makes me, I'm not like Taylor Swift but where people were like oh my gosh you've got all these great clients you've worked with. But then I'm like the work's kind of slowing down a little bit and then I had had some mentorship programs for designers for a little bit and I really just shut everything down around the pandemic just like some other personal stuff in life had to happen to, I had to take a step back but I was like, I love sales pages but like I'm getting bored, I need to be able to do something else. So the last couple years I've been testing like other things outside of our little online business space and it's been so fun. So I managed a campaign for just for success worldwide last year. It's their biggest fundraising campaign and I've really gotten excited about like the product brand strategy specifically because it still applies to like my experience but I can create a whole new type. I've got a whole new suite of offers that I wanna do for both online businesses and physical product businesses, which is new for me. So it's, it was hard to like say oh my gosh this works really well but I don't wanna do this anymore but where do I start? And I'm someone who has to go inward and I'm like slow to implement and now I'm just like coming out of that and I'm really excited and nervous and scared and it's fun.

Shannon Mattern: I love that reinvention.

Melissa Burkheimer: Yes.

Shannon Mattern: Ah, so good. Laura.

Laura Kamark: I just wanna first say Melissa, I love that so much and I, that speaks to me a lot too and I think the thing that I've learned so much in my business is it's okay to pivot and it's okay for us to make tweaks and changes to our offers and who we wanna help and how we wanna help them and I think a big part of it is our own business and we can run things the way we want to run it and really owning that and stepping more into that because I think it's so important also to work with coaches and other mentors and have help because I know for me I get stuck in these like over analysis paralysis downward spirals of like what do I want to do? And I think a lot of people feel that too. And so having someone to mentor you, having a coach to reach out to someone who can help you when you kind of get in this like overthinking thing, that's been huge for me.

Laura Kamark: And then also just like giving permission to make changes like it's my business, I can do it however I want and that's okay and I think that's the thing that we get so stuck in cuz we do look at other people's businesses and we try to, you know, we do a lot of comparison and I was just talking to a friend today and she was ta doing some comparison stuff with to other people. I said why don't you stop and go compare to how your current launch that just finished up did. And I want you to go look at what you were making when you were working corporate in a year. You just made more in a one week launch than you made your entire like teaching career look at it that way. Don't look at it as oh the last launch I did more. And so really like keeping that in focus of we are making steps forward and we also have to remember that business goes like this and not this . So those are my, that's my 2 cents so good. Anyone else wanna jump in on that one?

Sarah Masci: I'll just add, yeah I think it's so easy to look at successful people in business and feel like they got there overnight. Like how is she doing this and that or he doing this and that and, and they've only been in business for two years or three years or whatever and as someone who's been in business since 2005, it's been a very long business journey for me but very likely like just a such a comfortable, I mean yes there's lots of ups and downs along the way but if you look at that whole trajectory it's you're constantly pivoting. Micro pivots are like just moving, inching you forward a little at a time. And so I think patience is a big thing that a lot of people are struggling with is like just remember like you know, you're not gonna grow this massively like six figure seven figure business overnight.

Sarah Masci: It takes time to build up to that and you learn so much along the way and a lot of times like all of these little lessons that we're learning as we're growing and and when we think that we're failing and we're not not doing well we're learning stuff from it. Like every single thing that I've done in my business, I've taken away something that I can use moving forward. So I think just keeping that in mind and the thing I was originally gonna say before you guys all like sparked that idea was the whole idea of boundaries and saying no, knowing when to say yes and when to say no. When I started my business it was very much like Melissa. I said yes to anyone that would pay me anything to do like I said yes to everything because I was also trying to pay for my kids' preschool tuition and things like that. But eventually that resulted in burnout and that's why I switched over to VIP days in 2018. But that was like a, a line in the sand for me. Like I cannot continue to say yes to every project and the whole people pleasing and letting things like drag on like that. So being able to say no, being able to say no to certain projects but also being able to say no to an existing client who continues to ask you for more and more things beyond the scope of work that you guys have agreed to.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, that's definitely like a big growth point I think for a lot of designers is just like saying no and being okay with whatever that reaction or responses . Anyone else wanna add to that? Yeah Cameron. Okay.

Cameron McBeth: Yeah so this is again a little bit difference is I don't actually own my own business but I can kind of elaborate a little bit with some of the other points. But a big thing for me was when I first started at Dubsado and I think we actually talked about this on the podcast Shannon, but when I first started at Dubsado I didn't have a PhD in small business education or I didn't have all of these elaborate titles and things like that after my name. And it took me talking to so many different business owners to eventually start to understand how small business works and here I am being the director of education at Dubsado without actually owning a business. And so I really had to overcome a lot of imposter syndrome and there's a lot of people that were looking to me for hey what should I do with this on my backend or what should I do with this in my business? And to have the confidence to be able to step into that and say no I need to trust the process. I've been here, I've been doing it for a while even though it might be scary in stepping out on that ledge, that was a big piece of the growth from just coming from a, you know, a personal training background and not knowing anything about business to now over the years being able to have a little bit more knowledge about it. So that definitely has been a, a big piece of it.

Rache Araja-de Luna: To add to what Cameron said, being self-taught, I really did not have design or a coding background but I took every project, this is a learning opportunity so my advice to not not let your background define you, you can actually define your path, you can learn anything you set your heart into. So even if you're starting out, even if you're coming from a, an entirely different background, I came from a formulating ice cream from my day job and now I'm designing websites. I just learned everything and you can learn anything probably that's what I can like building on what Cameron said, we can upscale if you want to.

Shannon Mattern: Aren't we all self-taught though? I mean aren't we, no matter how we like if we paid for a degree or we learned on trial and error on our own because we like we are all self-taught so those of us like cuz I say that too like oh I'm a self-taught web designer but like everybody is, everybody is so don't like use, I think it's, it's amazing. It's amazing that we are that persistent and and passionate that we want to teach ourselves a skill that we enjoy and that we have a lot of fun doing. So just never like use being self-taught against yourself. It is not any less valuable than someone who paid to learn it and has a piece of paper hanging on their wall or a certification. So yeah. I just wanna add to that. So we have a question in the chat asked by Sarah, she says I love Doto and I've been using it for years but something I haven't figured out is how to use the client portal efficiently. So I'd love to you know, first ask Cameron like do you guys have any education on this or how would you advise Sarah? She said I set it up and I would walk my clients through it but they don't use it. So user adoption stories and then she's, and then for the rest of you I'd love to know how how panelists use any type of client portal to simplify experience on the client side.

Cameron McBeth: Yeah so the client portal to me is the best place to have everything that you've sent to someone all in one place so you're not constantly having to resend a contract that they've already signed or resend an invoice that they've already paid. It is tough sometimes to get clients to use it but there are a couple tips and tricks that I can offer with that. One of the big things is inside of the client portal there are ways where you could essentially put in like a video because there are ways where you can put in YouTube videos or video videos so a lot of times people don't like to read and so if you wanted to put maybe a video or something in there explaining to them how to use it, sometimes that helps. The thing that I would say with the client portal as well where I see it most effective is after the client has booked your services, usually with Dubsado and business processes, by the time that you've sent them a proposal, you sent them a contract or an invoice and now they're fully booked, the client portal is kind of an extra add-on to the client experience and so that way they can reference all of the material that you sent them to that point.

Cameron McBeth: The other really great use for it would be to upload or have them upload different documents or things like that to you. You can put questionnaires or things like that in there if you want to get more information about the project you're working on, especially with our schedulers as well, using that for onboarding calls, kind of to walk them through the process of how the design project will work. So there's a lot of really awesome uses for it but what I would say just from a business process perspective is I usually see it and like to use it right after you get done booking them and that way you can introduce them to that, put all of the information in there that they might need as far as education on it, that's actually something that I am currently working on is I'm going to be having sort of a deep dive course specifically on client portal. So that's something i I am working on.

Shannon Mattern: Awesome. So this is like market research for for your training Love it.

Cameron McBeth: , yes, a hundred percent.

Shannon Mattern: So the second part of that question was I'd love to know like what the panelists use to simplify the client experience and then I would also add like how do you guys get your clients to like do what you need them to do . Like what is your process for getting them to follow whatever process you want them to follow? Like how do you get humans to do stuff that you want them to do Laura?

Laura Kamark: So I did spend quite a bit of time doing project management or web designers, actually,

Shannon Mattern: She's an amazing project manager, web designers just saying.

Laura Kamark: But one of the things I found that is most helpful is a lot of communication with the client. So really spelling out with a lot of bullet points and a lot of highlighting in emails, here's what I need from you and like literally breaking it out as simple as possible and really highlighting what the due date is for those assets. Because that's the thing that I found is clients get so overwhelmed like they don't know what they don't know, they don't always fully understand all the things we need to build the website and the more we can simplify it and just make it super clear and then also continue to follow up because they forget they aren't, I mean for us when we have a client project for like, this is my main focus right now is getting this project up launched and like sign seal delivered and for them they're still running a business.

Laura Kamark: This is just like another piece of something they need for their business. So really just like clear communication. I do have the power pack, I have my client process for my project management templates, emails of the emails that I use in projects to really just again, just check in, keep 'em on track after calls I always send a follow up of here's all the tasks we talked about and here's what I need you to do and again here's the due dates for it. So just repeat, repeat, repeat is my best advice for getting things from clients.

Sarah Masci: I'll just add to what Laura said, tons of communication starting with your services page. Like you want to let them know before they even get on a discovery call with you that they're, you know, they're going to, if they should shoot well I mean depending on the type of project you're offering or if it's you know, whatever your design offer is, but letting them know like here's the process you we're gonna have a discovery call, we're going to agree or not agree to work together if we agree you are going to receive this packet of everything you need to know in order to make sure that our project is successful. So then they get that, they see that before they even book a discovery call. Then you talk about it on the discovery call. Then when they book your service it goes out to them in the confirmation email, the welcome email that they get, here's a link to your portal and then like Laura said, a reminder email, here's a link and this is what I need you to do and this is why it's so important and if this is not done by this date then we're going to have to reschedule or cancel or whatever your scheduled project.

Sarah Masci: And so it's just about setting those boundaries and being very clear and it might feel a little harsh at first the first couple times you do it because you're like putting it everywhere but it works like it totally works to and that's how people will com complete that, you know, pre-work or whatever. And in regards to the question about like what other portals people are using because a lot, a lot of our students use Dubsado because it has the all in one, it has everything it needs in there. I personally did not use when I was doing VIP days, so I had everything set up, I had a lot of the stuff set up through acuity payments, booking contract, that kind of stuff. But I actually had a course platform that I was selling a couple of my little mini branding courses on.

Sarah Masci: So for anybody out there, like if you look at memorable Kajabi Thrivecart learn any of the course platforms out there, you can actually build a little mini course and add your clients to that course where they're gonna get videos and tutorials on exactly what they need to do, why they need to complete it, how they need to complete it, five PDFs, whatever they need. You put it all in a course portal for them and then like add a little bit of, add a bonus to it, add something extra that almost makes them feel like they're getting this special extra thing by working with you. So we've found that the course portal with Acuity or Calendly works really well or if, you know, a lot of people do have the all-in-ones like Dubsado and Honeybook

Rache Araja-de Luna: In my case I agree it's all about communicating early and often. So I communicated as early as the discovery call we're in, I share with them that on my contract I am very particular about the timeline. So I always tell them it's on the contract . Yeah. So that they have to communicate, they have to respond within two days and that's on the contract. Otherwise we may either forfeit their chance for the revision or we will reschedule. So there are consequences and I remind him, of course I'm gracious about it. But those are things that I, I highlight and I tell them that it's on the contract, it's written and then after the discovery call I still remind them on the proposal. So I have a proposal and I have there a setting expectation section wherein there is a section about timely feedback. Again, I I ask them to respond within a two days and then I also have what is expected of them cuz I highlight that this project is not just about me, it's all about you agreeing to, to commit that we are collaborating for this project.

Rache Araja-de Luna: And then before of course they book the project, we have to sign the contract we're in. It's everything is their responsibilities are also written out. I personally, the platform that I use is a notion. So I, in my presentation I shared my notion dashboard and how I share it with my clients, but I also share it with designers and my mentor and while in my case a notion works for questionnaires for, for project management, my other, my students, my, my the, the designers and my mentor mention that it's, it's easier for them to house their questionnaires in DSA or their invoices in Dubsado. So of course you can use a mix of different tools but what I advocate is for you to have essential place wherein you have all your assets, all the references, even inspirations for projects. So in my case notion works but you can also consider other project management software such as click up and Asana. They work the same way. For me it's just that notion is the most internship cuz it works like Google Docs but for invoicing of course and if for questionnaires you may use other platforms such as the,

Melissa Burkheimer: I use a mix of things and I wish I had everything all in one place when I was doing sales pages I wasn't working with a ton of clients. So I found it very easy to just kind of handle the process with the client and meet them where they're at because they might use or they might use Asana or they might use, I dunno, whatever it would click up, whatever it is. And so I really like to meet them where they are. So I always started out with a proposal after we did like the quote unquote sales call where I had a slideshow that explained my services that was pretty much a duplicate of the sales page for my service. And then once they reviewed the proposal I didn't have to mess with the contract or invoicing or anything unless they wanted to move forward.

Melissa Burkheimer: Like I didn't wanna go through that whole process without it. And so I really wanna automate that now. But I find that when you have at least the step-by-step process done and meet the clients where they are, because like I know some people design in a v I P day and unless I was doing like your brand, I can't do that with a sales page. They're too big, there's too many words, too many moving parts and it's just not something that I have found works for me yet. And so sometimes like the design isn't coming to me, like we might have like a week to get something done but maybe on day three is when we really hit it and then we can move really far from there. So, and some clients also don't wanna be on the phone to review calls. Some clients want to be on Zoom.

Melissa Burkheimer: So I really like to kind of just say, okay, this is our timeline and we'll stick with this timeline. It's an addendum in the contract, it's in the proposal before they get it. And I'm really strict about, we only do client like feedback about revisions or copy or things that need to be changed because we all know that that happens within the project management software. No email, no texting, no slacking, it's all in that one place so that there's a dedicated thread for that specific change cuz there's so many moving parts to a big project like that. So I think no matter what you do or use, as long as you have your systems in place, like your process in place, then it's a good experience for people.

Shannon Mattern: Awesome. Does anyone else have anything that they would like to add to that before I ask my next question? Awesome. Okay, so marketing and lead generation, I know this is the simplified client process day, but , everyone is always like, how do I market myself? How do I get clients? How do I get premium clients? How do I get clients in this niche? I would love to hear from those of you who would like to share like what is your best or favorite marketing strategy for, for designers or if you don't serve designers like Cameron, like what are you hearing from people or what does Dubsado do you know, to get in front of of their ideal clients?

Sarah Masci: I will just say that this is one of the questions that, I mean everybody asks this, it's like everybody needs to get clients and there's, you're always, there's always gonna be ebbs and flows in your client work. You'll find you'll have months where you'll have like these leads coming in and you're like, where are these all coming from? And then you'll have slow months and that's just normal. But personally for me, I mean a referral, some sort of a referral, a relationship like management, not system but like referrals, that's where you're gonna get your clients. You're going to connect with people and those people are going and you're gonna deliver an amazing experience for one client who's gonna go and tell their friend about their amazing experience and then they're gonna come, they're gonna send their friend to you and you're gonna just kind of build up your network that way.

Sarah Masci: Another thing that I found really effective for me a few years ago, kind of when I was a local web designer for a long time. So I was doing a lot of local businesses all and I was in a small town where all the local businesses were at the chamber of commerce, everyone knew everyone and I pretty much became the town web designer that was amazing. But those people could only afford about $600 for a website. So that's where I got all of my scarcity mindset from when I was in that local business as a web designer. Then I, in 2015 I discovered Facebook groups and this whole world of on like international D digital marketing, there's like people across the world who needed my services. So that's when I started kind of branching out and doing web design for obviously online business owners.

Sarah Masci: And so I still got referrals from the local clients but online I found by positioning myself as one of the few web designers inside of a larger group of business owners who were not web designers. So just for example, I'll just share this I was part of the Stu McLaren tribe launch back in 2017 I think or 2018. And I joined the program because at the time I wanted to to launch a branding membership. There was 2000 people that joined his launch that year and there was only about five designers out of that 2000. Everybody else was in all these different other niches wanting to launch memberships. And guess what they all needed branding and web design. So by figuring out what your niche is and figuring out where you can strategically put yourself into another larger online group, but the caveat is you don't wanna join free Facebook groups full of business owners because those people are looking, they're not looking to hire anybody.

Sarah Masci: They're looking for free information and free resources. You've gotta be willing to invest in a program where other people are already investing because that's a sign that people are willing to invest in their business. And I mean from that, from Stew's membership program, I probably got 20 or so clients out of that from that year in there. So for a $2,000 investment I got about 20,000 or 20 clients. So you know, just doing the math, that was a really smart investment and a great roi. So if you're thinking about launching a course, launching a membership, launching a podcast, launching a YouTube channel, but join a program that's teaching those things because there's gonna be other people in there who are not designers,

Melissa Burkheimer: I'll say that thing is, that's worked best for me is like really, really simple. It's like doing what you say you're going to do when you say you're going to do it. Because so many people have horror stories of working with designers and it's a reality. Like you're gonna have a client who said, oh this person ghosted me and like you don't want them to bring that baggage to you but they don't know any difference. You have to show them the thing. I don't, I really truly believe that people always came back to me for more than one project cuz most of my sales page clients, I did more than one sales page for them. Not because of my design skills and not because of the millions that made them, but because I did a good job and provided a good experience for them. But the magic within that is behind the scenes of a launch, there's a Facebook ads manager, a copywriter, there's a project manager, there is the business owner themselves, they have a mastermind.

Melissa Burkheimer: All of these people are working with the same types of clients with you. It's like the wedding analogy, like there's a DJ of florist, a caterer like all these people. So when you build relationships with those types of people and come into a collaborative project setting boundaries like okay, let's try this this time, let's keep it open. Like here's how we're gonna work together. I brought in a, a copywriter one time to work with a client and she ended up getting to speak on that client stage like that very same year because she lived in LA and I live in Iowa. So I think that you know, building relationships and being really strategic with like who's on your podcast, who like I could connect with all of these speakers who are here today, the people leaving the comments, the people leaving the comments are the ones who wanna connect with you. So you could go just DM people and say hey it was great to connect and just be like, hey here's what I'm up to if you know anybody wanna be a referral partner, you know, let's chat.

Rache Araja-de Luna: In my case what really worked is using my product as my portfolio because when I was starting out I just did white label web design for large agencies and also that's also my scarcity mindset because I'm from the Philippines, I thought I wouldn't be able to work directly with clients. It's best if I just lower my rates and work white label. But then I started creating Square Stylist if, if you visit is, it's mostly about creating plug-ins and templates for Squarespace. So these are not necessarily client projects, these are just passion project of mine like plugins and templates which I created based on the type of work that lights me up and I just sold to them and eventually I became known for creating those types of layouts and features on Squarespace and that's what allowed me to really work with with global clients. So that's one. And of course a lot of networking as you've mentioned in collaboration with other creatives. It's really best to tap your network, especially other creatives. And yeah, that, that has worked for me but what worked for me might not necessarily work for for everyone.

Laura Kamark: So I know for me the thing again and it just kind of bounces off of what Sarah and Melissa said is like the building, the relationships and collaborations has been huge for my business. I try to connect with people and just build that network. I have some very close friends that are copywriters so they're also serving the same industry. I do find that like the referrals, that's how I get clients. I mean I have a beautiful Instagram but I don't know that I've ever gotten a client from Instagram. It's but it's pretty and I feel good about that but truly it. But part of it too is letting people know what you do and not sitting there and just waiting like okay this is what I do. I told someone once, now everyone's just gonna come. It's being actively going out there and creating those opportunities to have the clients come in.

Laura Kamark: And that's what's been huge for me. I mean again, like the network joining masterminds where not everyone's a web designer in there necessarily. So I'm like, like what Sarah had said, where I've gotten a lot of clients from programs I've joined where there's other people that need the website in the tech piece of things and so I was able to support them in that. So I would say just, you know, really build those relationships because people want to work with people And I'm gonna assume that all of us here really are focused a lot on that client experience because I know that's the kind of people that come to this event and that's what's important. And when you do have, like Melissa said that like amazing client experience, people come back. Cameron do you have anything to add to this conversation? ?

Cameron McBeth: Yeah, no, this is really interesting because I, I honestly thought that I was gonna hear about all of these really awesome Instagram ads and marketing campaigns and all of this. And so I thought to myself Dubsado doesn't really do that. I don't know what I can contribute to this conversation. But what I will say though and what I, you know to add to it is the client experience and referral aspect of it is so massive and to be transparent, Dubsado grew because of referrals. Someone used Dubsado, they said, Hey, I use this platform, you should check it out. And that's how Dubsado grew. And so it wasn't necessarily running all these flashy ads and doing all this really expensive marketing. It came from having an awesome client experience. We capitalize on really great customer service. We always wanna make sure that we're, you know, helping our users to the best of our ability doing what we can to help educate our users.

Cameron McBeth: And so for me, the client experience and referral piece of it, if you have a really great client experience in Dubsado that's going to have people, especially in the design industry where you have the ability for sort of re people coming back, not so much with maybe like the wedding industry where it's one and done and you might never see 'em again. But with design especially, you always have the ability to have repeat customers and have new people come in that you that got referred to from someone else. So that was a big thing for me that I would say is just having an awesome client experience and then when you're finished working with them, see how they enjoyed the service and then obviously that can spawn into, into referrals as well.

Shannon Mattern: Such good advice. And I would just add, like just ask, you can literally ask for those referrals. You do not have to wait for those referrals to come to you. You can be proactive and you can ask and just like add value to all of the relationships that you build. You never know, you never know what's gonna come out of those and it's just really fun to like meet new people like we're doing here and get to know like-minded people. So I wanna make sure that if the audience has, cause I have, I always have questions cuz I'm always very curious. But if any of those of you that are here live have any specific questions for our panelists today go ahead and post those in the chat or the q and a box and I'm gonna continue asking our questions for the last 10 minutes and then at the end I'm going to announce today's bingo winners.

Shannon Mattern: So if you submitted your bingo card, stick around for that so you can find out if you won some of the awesome prizes that are speakers. So generally contributed to the summit because they're awesome. So, oh gosh, I have so many good questions here that I wanna ask. I'm trying to like ta keep it , keep it back, back to client process but we'll just go for it. I wanna talk about like what is your philosophy on pricing Each one of you here, I wanna know like what is your like soapbox moment on on pricing for everybody that's here? Cuz I talk about it all the time and I would love to know what you guys think.

Melissa Burkheimer: I think it's such a complicated answer because we all have different niches with different talents, with different experiences with different clients and it really is gonna depend on really what the market will pay. I think that that really at the end of the day, you don't wanna be losing money on projects. I didn't understand until I had Amber Crudderup on my podcast that designers are supposed to charge for the design file and for the a fee for creating the file. I had no idea. I still haven't implemented that. I'm not that far ahead with my life yet. . So I think, I think that it's so subjective because there's so many different ways you can do it, but looking at things so that you're not taking a loss on either your time or if you're outsourcing design work, which I do a lot in my business, that you're not losing money and that you're happy. Like I did a magazine design this year for the first time since probably college. I didn't know what to charge for it. I hadn't done that in years so I guessed and my guest was a little bit low, but I have a client who I've got guaranteed work with for you know, the entire year almost. So you win some, you lose some.

Sarah Masci: Love it. Who else? Although it's funny, I just, I just had a podcast interview a couple hours ago. We got very into pricing. I think I definitely did not charge enough for a long time. But I do believe that charging lower prices when you're first getting started will really help you build up your portfolio. It's gonna help you build your testimonials, case studies, your portfolio. And it's also going to give you the ability to strategically raise your rates over time through urgency, scarcity, and just becoming better if you charge a lower price when you get first get started, it allows you to get client work faster and then you learn from that client work what you're good at, what you're not good at, you improve your skills over time and then you bump it up a little bit, right? And then you'll get a little bit faster and a little bit better and then then you know, a couple months later maybe you raise your prices a little bit more and each client just raise 'em a little bit.

Sarah Masci: But not each client, but you know, every so often make sure you don't stay stuck at that low starter, brand new designer rate. But if you come out trying to charge too much too fast, you're gonna have a harder time getting clients because you don't have a portfolio, don't have testimonials, you don't have any social proof, but yet you're trying to, you know, charge what someone who's been in business for several years is charging because you think that's the market rate when it's really their rate because of their experience, their skills, their abilities. So come out with a price that feels comfortable to you that you can confidently say on a discovery call, you've gotta be able to say your price, but don't be afraid to come out at a lower price because you can always raise your prices over time. It's a lot easier to raise your prices than it is to lower your prices after you've already had somebody pay a higher price and all of a sudden you don't have any clients and so you need to discount your prices just to get clients in the door that's a little bit more uncomfortable and more difficult to do.

Sarah Masci: Also, it helps with your mindset when you're charging a lower, a little bit lower price and you get clients booking and you get faster and better, you all of a sudden feel more confident in what you're doing and it's becomes so much easier to increase your prices over time. So I know a lot of people are against like slower prices, but for me that's what worked. And I will honestly say that I think that's why I was able to establish such a huge client base in my first few years as a designer. Yes, I burnt out because I didn't know how to raise my prices, but I did have a lot of clients, you know, when I first started out.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, I feel like sometimes like you have to grow into your pricing, right? And it's like you charge some, like just like what you said, it's like you might realize that you didn't charge enough and then you shift it to the next time. But if you try to, if you overshoot it and your mindset has not caught up with that, you're gonna like end up subconsciously self-sabotaging yourself anyway.

Melissa Burkheimer: or your confidence. Like as I've been doing these new services, I'm not charging premium premium rates. I mean I'm not charging zero, but you, I feel like you have with everything you do, you have to test it, see what works for you, what doesn't work for you, and go from there.

Laura Kamark: So because we are in a room full of designers, I want to talk a little bit about the little tasks that get sent through the little request from clients and pricing that, because I have a soap box about this one. . Yes. Because the thing that I see so much with my design friends is they're like, oh, it only took me like five minutes to change out this link for the client. And the thing that I like to remind people is it took you five minutes and how many years of experience to know where to go to log in and change that link? How long would it take your client to go through the video tutorials you sent? They're gonna sit there and stress about it. They're gonna have this like mental weight of like, oh, I need to change that link on my website.

Laura Kamark: I don't really wanna get into my website. That's not my zone. They keep putting it off. And the peace of mind for your client to just send over a request and it gets done, that has value and it has value worth a lot more than whatever an hourly rate is at five minutes. So figure out, and I don't necessarily think that everyone should have hourly rates, but I do think there are stuff that come through and so figure out what that value is for the client and get confident in saying, yes I can do that, and maybe have a 30 minute minimum or a one hour minute minimum and have a process for that so that even though if it only takes you five minutes, they're still gonna be so happy to pay it because they didn't have to deal with it. So that's my advice when it comes to pricing and those little tiny tasks that come through from clients, cuz you will get 'em, we all get 'em

Shannon Mattern: So good.

Rache Araja-de Luna: My main advice when it comes to pricing is to not be afraid to ask for the client's budget. Especially during sales call. I can't even tell you how many times I come to a call with just $10,000 as the most premium package and then they would tell me their budget is at $30,000. Especially because I'm working with a lot of Shopify merchants who considers their website as their revenue generating asset. And after asking about their budget, then I will work within that budget even if my, even if my highest initial highest package is at $10,000. And that's because for me, pricing is about honoring our value. I would feel resentful if, if, for example, I would, I would price the same pack even, even if it's the same package that I would usually price at $10,000, but then an established company like Tesla would come to me and I would just price that same package for $10,000.

Rache Araja-de Luna: So it's all about fair exchange of value. So it's okay for us to work within their budget. And also something that really is impactful for me. I, I read a book Pricing for Design by Dan Mall. That's really a good book. I, I encourage everyone, all designers to read it. And one line from there is that he said, it's all about asking yourself every time, what are you willing to trade your time and energy for? It's not just just time, it's all about your energy. Because even if it just takes you a minute, it might mean that it'll also interfere your whole day, right? And then another line is that the largest factor in your current value is your ability to walk away from a prospect. So if you really, really need the work, then you'll bend over backwards all the requests and probably lower your budget. But then if you have other means, like for example, in my case my breakthrough when it comes to pricing, it is when I was able to build other revenue streams. In my case I created Squarespace templates. And so when I was starting to earn from my templates, then I'm not overly reliant in client work and so I can increase my price for that. So yeah, those are some of the like the impactful advice I got about pricing .

Shannon Mattern: So good. And I know Cameron, you don't necessarily deal with pricing necessarily, so I don't wanna put you on the spot unless you have anything that you would like to add. But I do wanna wrap up and I'll start with you Cameron. So in case you have anything to add, where can everyone go to connect with you, learn more about you and just like get in your world? And we'll start with you Cameron.

Cameron McBeth: Yeah. with the, with the pricing I don't have too much input as far as how to specifically charge for a, a specific business, but what I will say that I've noticed just from simplifying a client process, especially with Dubsado, is the more options you give your client, the harder it is to automate your process. So if you're saying you pay me 50% up front now and 50% later and then you tell the other person, oh, you can do it, just give me a hundred dollars here and then I'll do the rest. The more options you give your clients, it's gonna be harder to scale your business. And so that's something, and that extends outside of design as well. That's kind of more of a, of a every industry situation. But I will say that the more options you give, it makes it harder to automate.

Cameron McBeth: So I would say that's more of like a confidence thing and be confident in your pricing. Say this is what it costs and obviously there might be some wiggle room, but if you kind of adjust your pricing a ton and you're doing a lot of different things that can make it really hard for you on the backend to automate things. But that also can play into whether you're just starting out in business or whether you're established. There is some some spectrum there. But as far as where you can find me though, as you can tell I work for Dubsado. But if you want to go to, you can definitely check us out. Our free trial is awesome because it's only three clients that you get in the system and it's not time-based. So you can jump in, sign up for a trial, you're getting your business set up if you want to, and then decide to to sign up on a paid subscription. So we also have a lot of different resources and whatnot at your disposal. We have an education course and a lot of great things to help you learn this system as well. So that's where you can, can find me.

Shannon Mattern: Amazing. Thank you so much for being here and sharing all of that. Melissa, your next.

Melissa Burkheimer: Thank you so much for the opportunity to be here. It's been super fun. Once I figured out how to work Crowdcast, my name is Melissa Berkheimer and you could find me at I forgot to mention I have a podcast that's all about design and business called The Design Business Show. Sarah's been a guest. Shannon was recently a guest. Krista was a guest when she was hosted this, and I'm most active on Instagram over at Melissa Burkheimer, just many.

Shannon Mattern: Awesome. Laura,

Laura Kamark: This was so much fun. , I just wanna say it. Great. So my name's Laura Kamark. You can find me at I also have a podcast, the Be Bold Make Waves podcast. Or come hang out with me on Instagram at @laurakamark.

Shannon Mattern: Awesome Rache.

Laura Kamark: Oh, thanks

Rache Araja-de Luna: Again Shannon, for this opportunity. I am most active in Instagram. Please check me out @SquareStylist

Shannon Mattern: And Sarah.

Sarah Masci: Yeah, I was too comfortable here. I'm just thank you. This was super fun. I don't have podcast, but I do have a lot of resources over on my website at Lots of ways to get started with VIP days, whether you're just testing it out or whether you wanna go all in, there is something for everyone over there if you wanna connect with me. The best place to do that is on Instagram @sarahmasci.

Shannon Mattern: Amazing. Thank you speakers. I so appreciate all of your contributions to the summit and to our, to our panelists who are welcome to jump off, I'm going to announce our bingo winners and wrap up today. So thank you again. It's so great to get to meet you and see you and hang out with you. So amazing. All right, so we have our favorite game Summit Bingo. So if you have not submitted your Bingo card yet, go to Download your bingo card and when you get a bingo post it in there. At the end of every day, we're gonna do a random drawing for one of our prizes from our speakers. So today's Bingo winners. And when I tell you that you've won, then you can just email us at and we will send you instructions on how to claim your prize.

Shannon Mattern: So the first prize is from Matt Casner. He is one of our speakers this week and he is giving away a 60 minute Spotlight strategy session and that session goes to Sharon Blalock. So congratulations, Sharon. Send us an email at and Ally will hook you up with your prize. And Anchen le Roux is giving away a VIP half day for a summit or website development, which is awesome cuz Anchen is a brilliant designers who can collab with her on some stuff. And you can, oh, the winner of that is Melissa Angel Digs. So congratulations. Just send us an email to claim those prizes. So thank you guys so much for being here, and we will see you tomorrow for day two of the Simply Profitable Designer Summit. All right, bye everyone.

Shannon Mattern: Hey, so if you're ready to stop undercharging and overworking, if you wanna take back control of your time, work only with the dreamiest of clients and make more money as a web designer than you ever thought possible, get started now by going to and joining our wait list. We'll send you exclusive teachings from the current Web Designer Academy so you can start applying our concepts now. And you'll be first to know when enrollment opens up again, so that you can work with us to completely transform your web design business.

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