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Two people are featured laughing with a turquoise background, promoting "Profitable Web Designer #98 - Mushaboom Studio" in contrasting typography.

#98 – Finding Your Biz Besties with Katie Lynn + Laura Grace of Mushaboom Studio

Welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer podcast! I'm super excited to introduce you to today’s guests, the incredible sister duo behind Mushaboom Studio—Katie Lynn (KL) and Laura Grace (LG). These two have been creating magic together since 2019, combining KL’s knack for web and brand design with LG’s eye for stunning photography. Trust me, their story is one you won't want to miss!

In this episode, we chat about everything from their early days right out of college to building a business that beautifully blends their talents. We dive into the fun (and sometimes challenging) dynamics of working with your sibling, how they’ve managed to stay inspired and motivated, and their top tips for web designers.

Join us as we discuss:

  • 🌟 The journey from freelance gigs to a thriving studio
  • 🎉 Celebrating their five-year milestone and the lessons learned along the way
  • 📸 The power of combining brand photography with web design
  • 💬 The importance of finding and nurturing a business bestie
  • 🚀 How to navigate the ups and downs of running a creative business

A Breakdown of This Episode:

  • [00:02] – Welcome and introduction to KL and LG from Mushaboom Studio.
  • [03:26] – How they decided to go into business together after college.
  • [08:03] – The early days: finding clients and building their brand.
  • [18:14] – The emotional and practical challenges of running a business as siblings.
  • [33:42] – How they balance creativity and productivity.

Resources Mentioned in the Show:

If you've ever struggled with feeling overwhelmed by client demands or wondered how to make your web design business stand out, this episode is for you.

Shannon Mattern (00:02.272)

Hey everyone, welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer podcast. And I'm so excited to introduce you to my guests today, Katie Lynn and Laura Grace from Mushaboom Studio. They spoke at the Simply Profitable Designer Summit. I loved their presentation and had to invite them on the podcast so I could be selfish and get to know them better while introducing them to you as well. So.

I would love for both of you to just share a little bit more with our listeners about you and Mushaboom Studio. So Katie Lynn, we'll start with you. Can you tell our listeners a little bit more about you and what you guys do?

Katie Lynn (00:44.654)

Yes, so I'm Katie Lynn or I go by KL. I don't know how easy it is for people to tell our voices apart because we're twins, but good luck with that. And I am the brand and web design side of our business Mushroom Studio and Laura Grace is the photography side and our business basically offers brand web and photo all in one place. And we've been running our business for five years now. We had a big party to celebrate in March when we turned five.

and it was actually the exact same day as the Simply Profitable Designer Summit, so that was a huge day for us. And it was like a really happy portion and end to like our first quarter, and we were just like enjoying having a little more reach and celebrating five years, and also we had a party at a wine bar, so it was lovely.

Laura Grace Sears (01:37.917)

Shannon Mattern (01:39.968)

I wish I would like live in the same city with you guys because I totally would have joined you at the wine bar party after after that day of the summit. So yeah, Laura Grace.

Laura Grace Sears (01:52.221)

Yeah, that's, that's Katie Lynn. This is me. If you ever see pictures of us, I'm the one with longer hair, but yeah, I'm the one with the camera in my hand too. Usually Katie Lynn did get to speak at the simply profitable designer summit summit and she was, she prepped her awesome presentation about like development. She's the web nerd. She's the coding nerd. And I'm the one who's always like,

DIYing something, whether it's putting together a set for photography or like, I like to knit. I like to, I'm trying to learn how to sew. I like to fix up furniture. So I'm very hands -on and Ketilin's very much in the digital arena in behind a screen all the time. She honestly has a little bit of a, I don't want to say fear. I want to say like not going to do it. Yeah.

Katie Lynn (02:42.414)


Laura Grace Sears (02:45.213)

apprehension about physical print design because she loves getting into the code and doing digital design. And that's really where her minimalism and like her use of kind of, I don't know, movement design, clicky. She loves making buttons sing. So that's where all of that comes into play for her. So we're lucky that we get to work together. I highly recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to start a business with your twin.

best friend. Because it's worked out well for us. But I mean, it's not easy. It's never easy. But I wouldn't be, I wouldn't do anything else, you know.

Shannon Mattern (03:26.848)

So let's go back in time five years ago. Why did you two decide to go into business together? Like how did how did Mushaboom get started?

Katie Lynn (03:27.094)


Katie Lynn (03:40.014)

So we started our business almost right after college. We both had kind of like contract positions right after school. I actually studied economics. I did not study anything creative or design, but my last year I kind of was angling that way. She had studied film at Georgia Tech and kind of was in the only creative major at Georgia Tech, which is basically all encompassing. And I would kind of hang out with her friends. I kind of talked my way into some of her classes.

And by the last year that I was in school, I was kind of leaning more towards design and I had gotten a design internship. And when we left school and were pushed out into the real world, which is very frightening, we both had contract positions and she quit after one week. She was like, this is not for me. She was working at a production company. It wasn't the energy she was wanting. And she was like, I'll just freelance, do videography until, until I find a job, a job.

And well, I didn't like my position that much either, similar energy. And after two months, I peaced out and we were just freelancing together. Freelancing until we found Jobby Jobs, it turned into, hey, we're starting a business together.

Laura Grace Sears (04:52.285)

I mean, we both dreaded the idea of looking for jobs and we thought, hey, why don't we freelance and who cares what we do if we can make rent? We were living in a one bedroom apartment with an office and the office was my bedroom. It didn't have a door. It had a curtain. I put a curtain up and we shared a closet and it was like in Midtown Atlanta. And we were like just living this tiny space, working from our laptops, doing anything and everything.

that anybody would hire us to do creative work wise. So Katie Lynn cut her teeth on some Squarespace, hourly Squarespace work and that was that.

Katie Lynn (05:32.59)

And I will say, I think we probably were affected by the fact that we were around a lot of women who were starting business in our last year of college, because the design internship I got was for women who helped other women start businesses. So we kind of were surrounded by people who just like did the thing. So it didn't feel that scary to us.

Shannon Mattern (05:53.344)

Honestly, like a little bit jealous to hear that you just like one weekend and two months in, we're like, we are not made to work at jobby jobs. because it took me, let's see from when I graduated college after making lattes for like a year, cause I couldn't find one. Then it was once I did, it was like 15 years of working in corporate.

and dealing with what you guys peaced out on after like a week or a couple months. And I love that because there's just nothing like working for yourself. I mean, even with the challenges and the hard parts of it, I would not go back in a million years. I've thought about it once, seriously thought about it one time.

Laura Grace Sears (06:30.333)


Shannon Mattern (06:50.496)

And then when I actually allowed myself to like, think about what it was going to be like, I was like, I can't, I will take, fix like getting through this challenging part all day over going to work for someone else. So I just, I'm like in, in awe of that decision and really just thrilled that you started out so, so young. So tell me how you like found.

these jobs that you were just taking whatever came your way. I mean, you mentioned your internship and being around women who were like doing the thing. Like how did you get those initial clients early on?

Katie Lynn (07:34.702)

so we, I was working for a company that doesn't exist anymore called Mavenly and Co as a design intern. And they held this big conference the summer before we graduated after before. Before, yeah, we graduated in December and it was basically all women starting businesses. And one of the things that kind of helped us find clients early on was that, LG did the videography for that conference. And then one of the speakers was,

Laura Grace Sears (07:46.941)

We were graduating, yeah.

Katie Lynn (08:03.47)

or two of the speakers were starting a women's community in Atlanta called the Lola and they are celebrating their five year anniversary this year. They had just started that they were just starting up and LG walked up to the speaker and was like, how can I join and do you need videography? And a lot of our work has come from them, especially in the early days, which is the lesson we had to learn. Like don't get all your jobs from one place. But we had a great referral network almost from the get go from

meeting the owners of that community and joining that community. And honestly, it's kind of one of a kind. It's just based in Atlanta and the people who are in that community and the members of the Lola look like the demographics of Atlanta. All ages, everybody looks different. Everybody's trying to do different things. Not everybody's like corporate or lawyers. There's lots of people who are business owners and it's just a lovely place to be.

Laura Grace Sears (09:01.789)

I will say that we have a habit, a great habit of getting each other jobs since college. Katie Lynn got a job in the Econ office and then got me a job. And then when she was doing her internship for Mavenly, when they needed someone to film the conference, she was like, I know a guy, it's my twin. And I mean, I think that...

I think that making friends that have similar realms of ambition to you when you're starting out is a really great place to start. It's not networking for the sake of networking. It's like going out and looking for people in the same level of starting their business as you to rely on, to ask for help, to give you leads because of friends that they know.

I think that's like just making friends and finding your community is so important. I moved to Boston for two and a half years in the middle of running our business. And I'm finally back in Atlanta. But listen, you said you made lattes. I've made lattes too, because when I moved to Boston during the pandemic, I could not find my community, which meant that I couldn't find work like I wanted to. So I was flying back to Atlanta doing a little bit of work. I wasn't getting as much as I wanted to.

and I was like stressing so much over it. And that's the great thing about running your own business is you call the shots and you know, when I said to Katie Lynn, I'm burnt out and I've been trying to make connections and I'm tired of failing. I just need to give up for like a couple of months. I got a part -time job, made a lot of lattes and then I was able to not be so burnt out and jaded about

when I came back.

Shannon Mattern (11:03.04)

Yeah, I just think that's so important to like, you know, give yourself the space that you need to like, because so many of us on the, I don't know a single entrepreneur that I've talked to specifically in like the creative service provider space that hasn't hit that burnout place that you just described. And for you to give yourself the space that you needed to take the break and

You know, it's just, it's without making it mean something, right? Without making it mean like, I'm a failure. I did this. It's never going to work. Like whatever. I don't, you know, maybe you had all of those thoughts going on, but you seem to know that you're like, no, I just need this space to find, to find my people. I think that's just so important. And I love how you both were just each other's wing women and yeah, you're twins and you're like, you know, living in the same city and all of that. But I think people listening to this,

You can find your person because it's so much easier to like tell someone else about how awesome your friend is than it is for you to talk about yourself when you're marketing and networking and connecting. So you guys are both like nodding along to that.

Laura Grace Sears (12:07.901)

Mm -hmm.

Laura Grace Sears (12:14.493)

my God, yes. And I want to say this. I want to say that, like, I think that your business best friend is out there. There's someone out there that like you're going to you can find and connect with. I was very, very sad missing my sister and trying to make friends online during the pandemic living in Boston. And I reached out and tried to make a lot of friends and I.

happened to meet a woman named Kate Christie who owns Folk Founded. And I swear she's older than us and she has three kids, but I swear she's like our third twin. Like she's like the triplet. Yeah, she's the triplet we never had. We have the same childhood memories sometimes. Like we watched the same movies and she's also, she's like from a Southern family. And we just kind of like connected on a very big business level and personal level.

Katie Lynn (12:53.422)

We have the same childhood memories.

Laura Grace Sears (13:11.581)

And I think that finding business friends that have the same sense of humor as you and like, get it. It makes all the difference in the world. Listening to podcasts like this, talking to the people that are on your same wavelength. my God, you can't do it alone.

Katie Lynn (13:30.382)

whether you start a business next to someone or not, or whether you just find a business best friend who is there for you, like it can be really helpful. When LG peaced out to do the copy shop for a bit, I was in need of some support as well. And Kate came in clutch because she basically does the same exact thing as me. She makes brands and she custom -codes Squarespace websites. And when Laura Grace was in full burnout mode and said, you cannot talk to me about work.

after hours and in fact don't talk to me about work at 3pm today. I'm just done. I can't I can't hear another word about it. Shut up. I could I could Marco Polo Kate or call Kate or a zoom Kate and be like I need to talk about this design. Like I need feedback. I've been ruminating our business model and our pricing and our this and our that and Kate would jump in and we talked for four hours and that's what I needed because while our grace was out I was all the way in.

And I just needed somebody to like gab at. And she honestly kept my sanity together while our grace was like taking her taking her respite. And I know that I'll be allowed that same thing if I ever need it. And we now have a business friend that you know, we can kind of turn to.

Laura Grace Sears (14:47.165)

Also, when Kate was having a really hard time a couple of months ago, Katie Lynn just like emailed her a free, like a massage. This is a place near you, go get a massage. It's like having that support system to tell you to put on the brakes and take a break is also really helpful.

Shannon Mattern (15:05.6)

I love that you're talking about this because we just rolled out in the web designer Academy. When I say me, I mean, Erica Nash, our client success coordinator, because I have a lone wolf tendencies and I am trying to be more like you guys and not like, I'm just doing it all on my own. But Erica is not like that. And Erica will likely stock people online that she wants to be friends with and then reach out to them and be like, we should be friends because you're really cool. And.

I'm like, they're gonna think I'm weird. So I don't wanna do, you know, I have all the thoughts about like all of that, but Erica doesn't. And so she did with our students, she set up like a matchmaking, Biz Besties matchmaking. And so she had him like everyone fill out a form. And because we know all of our students and like, we like work with them individually, but they, and they see each other like on weekly calls and in the Facebook community and stuff, but they don't necessarily like know each other like we know them.

She like handpicked like biz bestie matches and then like put them on speed dates together. And the whole point is just to be like, we just want you to meet someone that we think you're going to vibe with. And that's really cool because just like what you do for each other, when it gets tough and when it gets hard and you just do need to talk to someone for a few hours or whatever, like you need people who are.

doing the thing that you do. I don't know about you guys. My best friend is amazing. She loves me. She's awesome. But her eyes glaze over when I talk about business because she does not get it. She cares about me. She wants me to be successful and happy, but she doesn't want to talk about it.

Katie Lynn (16:42.222)


Laura Grace Sears (16:45.149)

my god.

Laura Grace Sears (16:52.381)

I love what you're saying and I love love love that you guys that have that going on because that's so So priceless Katie Lynn also like a really good thing that Katie Lynn's been putting together for years She's been trying to run this series that's called glitch and bitch where web designers get together and gab at each other and vent and talk through problems and we have made so many great great friends through that and recently Katie Lynn was

First of all, she ended up going to Portugal to house it for one of the women we met through that, which was a phenomenal opportunity. But then when she was about to leave and she had scheduled all of her projects to finish and wrap up, she had had a launch meeting and connected the domain and it wasn't connecting. And this business was really trying to get this launch done and Katie Lynn was like, I'm going, I'm on a flight tomorrow. So.

She called in the B team. She said, I am done. I am not doing this. Where are my girlies at? Who can make sure that this domain gets connected? Because I have to check out. This is my vacation. And she put her hands up and some of our very good friend web designers came in and saved the day so that Katie Lynn did not have to do that on her trip.

Katie Lynn (17:58.862)

Help me.

Katie Lynn (18:14.734)

that. Thank you to Becca Wood. Becca Wood saved me. I was very grateful. I also think like when it comes to business besties and just having one or multiple people that you can turn to in that dark moment when you have to write an email that is just like, okay, I have to tow the line. I have to like, I have to explain this or have to reset a boundary. I have to go backwards or restructure something.

Laura Grace Sears (18:20.889)

I'm sorry.

Laura Grace Sears (18:34.237)


Katie Lynn (18:43.086)

or enforce boundaries, having people to write the hard emails with is priceless as well.

Laura Grace Sears (18:50.621)

I've been known to write to when Katie Lynn's in a panic to completely write the email for her and just say, just read this and say it's okay to send. And she can be a lone wolf too. She can have a very lone wolf tendency about her. I think I'm the twin that goes off and is the extrovert and brings a lot of people back. But her running this glitchin' bitch has been like different for her. I feel like she's...

Katie Lynn (18:57.39)

and approve.

Laura Grace Sears (19:17.501)

put her all into writing great newsletter emails that like summarize every glitch and bitch and kind of like, I feel like she's found this network of introverts and all the nerds plugged in together and she loves it. And now I'm so jealous that I'm trying to start glitch and bitch photography so that I can have my own network of photo nerds. Anyway, sorry, I'm rambling. It is hard.

Shannon Mattern (19:35.348)

It should be clickin' bitch. Yeah. Yeah. No, so tell us, I definitely wanna link up Glitchin' Bitch in the show notes so that everybody listening to this can go check it out and be part of that. So.

Katie Lynn (19:38.798)

It's hard. Yeah.

Katie Lynn (19:43.854)

like shutter. Ooh.

Laura Grace Sears (19:44.349)

Laura Grace Sears (19:49.821)

That's a good one.

Laura Grace Sears (20:00.061)


Shannon Mattern (20:01.536)

Definitely check out the show notes for this because it will be there. But I want to circle back to like those hard emails and those tough conversations. Like, you know, five years in business, lots of clients, probably, you know, had a lot of experiences, has seen a lot of things. What are some of the challenges that you're most proud of overcoming on the journey?

Laura Grace Sears (20:30.749)

Ooh, that one's a hard question. I feel like it all blurs together after a while, like you look back and think, we got through that.

Katie Lynn (20:43.15)

I have a couple. So I think my, the first big challenge was our first big price hike because we started, it stops like the piecemeal LCS to like any small design task, whether it's just like a social media job or whatever, because we had enough like web and brand under our belt. And I had finished Standout Squarespace and the level of work I was completing and able to do was like,

Laura Grace Sears (20:44.829)

Go ahead.

Katie Lynn (21:12.558)

completely different and LG's photo work had just gotten so much better and we had just added flat lays to the roster, which is like this cool thing where basically LG takes photos in her studio and it was mid right before the pandemic. I don't remember. Anyway, our first big price hike was a toughie because we switched our client base from people who were just like bootstrapping, DIYing, just needed this random thing to establish business owners.

basically three to five to 10 years old. And because we were just changing who we were talking to, it was crickets for a while and it was tough, it was hard. And then the other thing I think would be LG's moved to Boston. Whew, that one was a hard one. Emotionally because we had to like cut our co -dependency off a little bit. And also because we were running a business from two different states during a pandemic. Like who decided to do this? We did, but okay.

Laura Grace Sears (22:11.389)

No, no, the move to Boston was rough. And I feel like, I mean, we lived together for 25 years. And then I moved in with a man for the first time. So I was going through a lot emotionally. I was like, why don't you clean the kitchen like Katie Lynn does? Because Katie Lynn is a super great cook, super good at cleaning everything all the time. She's a neat freak, which, and then I lived, you know, with a boy who doesn't communicate. He's very stoic.

So I was like, can you tell me why you're doing these things? And he'd be like, I don't know. And so yeah, I think that emotionally that move was hard for us. And then also like, I mean, I moved in January, 2021 and Boston was so closed down. And I was like, my business is very in -person. Although we pivoted to do more remote photo work. I had that on the...

But when you asked that question, the things that came to mind were the really tough moments where we were staring at the screen together trying to write an email or make a quote, or when someone was asking us to compromise on pricing or what we had set out. Mm -hmm.

Katie Lynn (23:32.11)

like a bigger name person asking for something that we're like, we should not do this. How do we tell them no without like, while being tactful and professional, that one's a hard one. And also you still sometimes just want the job. You're like, I want to do this job.

Laura Grace Sears (23:47.901)

Yeah, I think, I think, you know, when you run a business, you make a lot of decisions. And it's hard not to make those decisions out of fear or desperation. And we always try not to, but you're.

Katie Lynn (24:01.934)

Sometimes we have to check each other. Like I'll be like, no, I'll just do it. And she'll like, don't do that. One of the big moments that LG had to check me on wasn't client related, but it was about relaunching our own website, which we built and relaunched in January. And we'd been working on the tightening the bolts of the brand, rewriting our copy and wireframing, developing and building the site for almost a year. And come January, I said, it's time.

And I said a date and I said, I'm not going to be like one of these web designers who's going to keep pushing the goalposts because it's my own business. I'm going to get it out and I'm going to be done. And I picked a day and I was going crazy. There was way too much to do. And Laura Grace looked me in the eyes and she said, this is an inhuman amount of work. You're changing the date. And I had to listen. And I was like, really mad.

And then I did it and I was like, my God, thank goodness I changed the date. Thank goodness my sister made me.

Laura Grace Sears (25:02.653)

She did not want to listen. She was so pissed that I even brought it up. I was like, you don't have to feel like this. It's your business. You can make that choice. No one's going to die. There's no such thing as a design emergency.

Katie Lynn (25:15.374)

It's a goal of your own making.

Shannon Mattern (25:22.56)

But it's like what we make those things mean, right? You know, when you're talking about like the big name person who, you know, you're like, how do we handle this tactfully? Like what's underneath that is like, so that our reputation is not ruined. You know, with the launch of the website, it's like, you're like, I don't want to be one of these web designers who, and it's like, all of this like what's underneath piece that I think,

Katie Lynn (25:38.862)

Mm -hmm.

Laura Grace Sears (25:39.421)


Shannon Mattern (25:51.712)

holds so many people like captive to their own thoughts and they don't have an LG or a KL sitting there right there to check them, you know, going, going through that. And that's why I love that you guys are doing Glitch and Bitch. We have this podcast. There's, I've met so many other people through the summit who have communities for web designers because you need those people. Because if you believe everything that you think,

Laura Grace Sears (26:02.813)


Shannon Mattern (26:21.888)

about the decision, like you said earlier, like with the fear, like making decisions from fear, if you truly believe that those things are true or that you can't handle them if they happen, you just create a whole business that you're like, I would just rather go work for someone else at this point because this is terrible and I don't want to do this. And so I just love that you both can kind of see when.

when that's happening with each other and really like snap each other out of it.

Laura Grace Sears (26:57.277)

Shannon, I have a question for you, because you seem like you're super on top of things, putting together summits and podcasts. And you were telling me how you batch these podcasts. Do you, are you more on the workaholic side, like my twin sister over here? Or you, do you find yourself cutting yourself more slack? Do you have to un, like unprogram the corporate, like, like fast paced lifestyle from your own, like?

Shannon Mattern (26:59.52)


Laura Grace Sears (27:27.037)

work ethic.

Shannon Mattern (27:28.736)

This is such a good question. So I was not super workaholic at corporate. I was like five o 'clock clocking out, done. But while I was there, I would save the world. I was like, I'll take on every project. I'll get everything done. But I did have a pretty good work -life balance separation. Then when I started my business,

Laura Grace Sears (27:44.797)


Shannon Mattern (27:54.496)

At the beginning, it was like, my gosh, I love everything I'm doing. This is so fun. This is so exciting. I can get lost for hours in doing all of these things. And then that workaholic stuff kind of like creeps up on you. Like the, the passion changes to like anxiety, at least it did for me. Like it was like, it was like, this is so fun. And then you're like riding the wave of creating something really cool.

Laura Grace Sears (28:15.773)


Shannon Mattern (28:23.776)

And then you've like built this thing and then you're like, okay, but like now I have to sustain this thing. And that's kind of where my passion turned into not so passion. And you can only sustain that for so long before you start to see the results, the negative results coming through of that. So I've been through a couple of those cycles. I can kind of see when it's happening.

and check it sooner, I would say that I'm coming out of one of those cycles in terms of like overworking and from a not great place versus being in flow and having it be really fun. But yeah, I am like a, I can juggle a lot of big projects when I love what I'm doing and I'm doing it for like really pure reasons, it doesn't feel like work.

Laura Grace Sears (29:10.877)


Shannon Mattern (29:20.976)

like the summit didn't feel like work, the podcast didn't feel like work, but there are things I do that feel like dire. And those are the things that I have to be like, okay, we need to get a little bit of perspective here. Like this is not brain surgery. It's going to be fine.

Laura Grace Sears (29:41.277)

I think there's a lot of romanticizing working for yourself and owning your own business, but we still, all of us still have to face like, even if we are creating our own dream jobs, there are moments where you dread opening your laptop and looking at your emails. When you are so stressed out by making decisions based on your bank account, rather than what you actually want to spend your time doing. And we can't avoid that because we run businesses, not, we're not just doing our hobbies, you know?

Katie Lynn (30:11.918)

I resonated a lot with what you were saying, Shannon, when it comes to like the joy and the creative flow like turning into anxiety. And I think I'm in that cycle right now. I'm in the middle of a project that's like, technically a rush job. I don't have as much space as I normally do. And I also have like this pressure that's first of all to execute for the job. And second of all, like to compete with my own past work. And I'm just like, it just feels like this big cloud over my head. I'm like, I really want to create something great.

Laura Grace Sears (30:11.965)


Katie Lynn (30:41.838)

and I have to do it by tomorrow. And now I'm just like, my gosh, anxiety cloud.

Laura Grace Sears (30:48.125)

To be fair, I think, to be fair, Katie Lynn, I think I could draw the map of your emotions from beginning to end during the process of a project. And I could predict that that was how you were gonna feel today. You are emotionally on track. So it's gonna be over in like a couple of days and you'll get through it. You have to go through it. But Katie Lynn kind of freaks out at the end of every project.

Katie Lynn (31:02.798)

You think I'm emotionally on track?

Laura Grace Sears (31:16.413)

hates that brand that she just built for a little while and then loves it again. it's not?

Katie Lynn (31:19.854)

That's not true. I don't know. We're going to talk about that later.

Shannon Mattern (31:25.952)

I'm like, my gosh, I want to turn this into a coaching session. But no, we won't go there. My husband said to me once like, because I had a challenging 2023, like business did not go as planned or expected for me in 2023. Many factors, some within my control, some not in my control, some kind of like tail end of decisions I had made coming to just a lot of factors converging at once.

Katie Lynn (31:30.038)

I'm sorry.

Shannon Mattern (31:54.656)

And it was just like mentally. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And that's kind of why I, yes, I did. And I like, like, yes, I heard it from a lot of people and I still had this, this idea that somehow I caused or could fix it. Even when all ever nearly everyone around me, not everyone, but nearly everyone around me was like, yeah, me too.

Laura Grace Sears (31:55.165)

We heard that from a lot of people though. Did you hear that from a lot of people?

Katie Lynn (31:58.99)

We did.

Shannon Mattern (32:24.543)

And I'm like, no, no, but I should, I made this happen and I should be able to fix it. So really working through that has been really, powerful, I guess. And I'm like really trying to like file that away in an easily accessible place for the next time. cause there will be a next time that I can be like, I don't have to put so much, so much pressure on myself. But my husband has said to me, he goes, you've gotten through.

Laura Grace Sears (32:25.853)

Mm -hmm.

Shannon Mattern (32:54.624)

every challenge, every single one of them, you've gotten through them, you're on the other side, every challenge you faced, you've gotten through it. So why is this time going to be any different? And I'm like, man, like, I know, like, what is there about?

I question and I don't have the answer. I'm like, why do I do this to myself in terms of like every project has an end, every, you know, all of those pieces. And so I can just relate to you, Katie Lynn, in terms of being like, I'm in the part where it feels like it's all falling apart or it feels like it's not gonna go well or, you know, for me, it's like waiting for the end of a web designer academy open enrollment. And I'm like,

This is it. It's done. I'm going to sell the house and live in the camper in my best friend's driveway because this is it. It's over. Like every time. And every time it's not that bad. It's always amazing. I mean, yeah.

Katie Lynn (33:42.99)

Marketing and sales?

Laura Grace Sears (33:57.213)

Kate always talks about running away and working at a little bar or something, like just leaving it. Yeah. I think every business owner has their fantasy of something, an easier, simpler life, something less complex, where not everything feels like it's on your shoulders. But then ultimately, we don't make that choice when you...

Katie Lynn (34:05.87)

She's like, I'm gonna burn it all down and become a bartender.

Shannon Mattern (34:09.28)


Shannon Mattern (34:21.812)


Katie Lynn (34:22.254)

but there's kind of a reason.

Laura Grace Sears (34:25.373)

When you've made it this far into business, you've never made that choice yet. How long have you been running your business, Shannon?

Shannon Mattern (34:33.44)

I started freelancing in 2016. I actually started, I started freelancing in 2014. I quit my day job in 2018 and I started like mentoring web designers in 2016. So that's kind of like that whole period of, yeah. So, so I mean, I've been at this not as long as like a lot of other people I've talked to, but like, I'll have, you know, it's just one of those things where it's like,

Laura Grace Sears (34:37.437)


Katie Lynn (34:37.454)


Shannon Mattern (35:04.48)

the challenges end up being worth it. And I think you guys do this when you learn from them. It's like, if you keep repeating the same thing over and over again, then it just becomes like pass, like, no thank you.

Laura Grace Sears (35:20.541)

Yeah, absolutely. And some of the things you face feel like they're there for a reason to force you to evolve. And you end up evolving and adapting to either be a better business or to run your business in a way that makes you feel.

Shannon Mattern (35:25.408)

Yes. Yeah. Yep.

Katie Lynn (35:58.584)

good amount of time to be able to see whether something actually works or not whether it's like packaging or pricing or Promoting something or doing several rounds of selling something Consistently and talking about it consistently to see whether it's marketable or not because it when you try something for a few months and then give up you have absolutely no idea whether or not that was marketable or whether it was a season or the economy or like

something, another factor in the world.

Laura Grace Sears (36:28.797)

Or maybe our marketing was bad. But I think all of that, because we've learned that we have to give things a fair shake, we also are more careful about what big projects we do embark on. Because when you start out, you're kind of throwing things out the wall, seeing what works for you, experimenting. And if you're going to give something a fair shake in terms of like, OK, we're going to launch this item, maybe a shop, maybe a template.

Katie Lynn (36:32.504)


Laura Grace Sears (36:58.717)

Templates are hard. There are template shops on the internet out there that are amazing and they've spent so much money on getting their name out there, on reach, on marketing. It's not always that your product is a failure. Sometimes you need to hire the right help to make something work, to give something a fair shake. We haven't ever really hired a social media marketer or anything like that, but it's always been in my mind.

because I think we've got the middle and bottom of our funnel kind of figured out where you, when people find us who are the right fit, they tend to like us. They tend to like our resources, use our free resources, kind of slowly get to know us and then reach out. And that seems to work really well, but where I think we struggle is the top of funnel. Like really reaching the people who are a good fit for us.

and getting in front of enough people, because we don't have $5 ,000 to experiment with A -B testing on some social media ad. We don't really run social media ads. That's something I've been thinking about. And it's hard to know what's going to work. You have to try one thing at a time every quarter. We brainstorm, what's our goal? What problem are you trying to solve? And what do we think are some solutions? And which ones are going to be the easiest and most effective?


Katie Lynn (38:26.936)

One, there was one evening where we made like a diagram on my table with masking tape and we wrote random brainstormed ideas like forgetting our name out there on sticky notes. And we had to rank them from how, how difficult they were and how big of an impact they could have. It was a fun night. And it was just like a cool thought experiment that ended up including things like, like get on a reality TV show and like.

Laura Grace Sears (38:35.933)

on sticky notes.

Laura Grace Sears (38:52.253)


Katie Lynn (38:53.944)

Rana social media ad, like any idea was welcome. And we were just kind of like going a bit nuts trying to be like, what could we actually do to help people learn who we are and that we exist? And funny enough, Shannon, one of the things that was really effective was being at your summit. So thank you for that.

Laura Grace Sears (39:13.341)


Shannon Mattern (39:15.744)

Well, yeah, I mean, I think that that's like, you know, I want to talk specifically about like what you guys do and how you work with designers in just a second. But one of the things that you're talking about is, is what everybody listening to this podcast goes through too, in terms of like, how do I get in front of the people who I want to work with? And this is exactly how, like,

I don't do social media. I'm 44. I was in my 20s living my own life when it came out. I didn't grow up on it. It was not a thing that I really cared about or paid attention to. And it does not come natural to me. And so it's not that, it's just something that is a skill that I haven't, it's not second nature. So I have to try really hard to do it and I don't love it.

But what I do like to do is meet people, talk to them, get to know them, learn more about what they do, connect people with other people, build relationships, like everything that we're talking about today. And that marketing can go, like, it doesn't take much time at all to like meet someone and get to know them and then.

just like what we were talking about earlier, like you're each other's wing women, meeting biz besties, meeting people you'd like to work with. I'm all about building relationships and I don't, I think like have as many top of funnel strategies as you want, but like never take this one away because it's just.

Laura Grace Sears (40:52.893)

Well, actually, also, like, as far as having as many as you want, like, I think that our time as small businesses is limited. And it's better to have one really focused kind of outreach or way to get in front of people than to have 12 that you're letting things slip through the cracks. And I think a lot of people who start out, especially like our clients that we see, they think that they think that they're supposed to be.

Shannon Mattern (41:02.432)


Shannon Mattern (41:12.576)


Laura Grace Sears (41:21.469)

on Instagram and on TikTok and on podcasts and speaking and just doing too many things. And then you don't get your podcast episodes up because things, it's inconsistent and you're having trouble because you forgot to schedule the social media posts that aren't actually getting you any business.

Shannon Mattern (41:45.536)

One of the concepts that we talk about though, like that we teach is like your glitch and bitch goes right into it. We call it building your own table. So like, if you want to connect with people who are your ideal clients, you don't have to try to go find the table that they're all sitting at, like build it yourself and invite them in. And you know, with what, with what you're doing with your communities and everything, I'm like,

Laura Grace Sears (41:55.453)


Shannon Mattern (42:11.616)

That's one of the most fun ways because you're giving and you're adding value and you're also creating a room of people who you'd love to work with. So back to the summit, I'm so glad that you had such a great experience and that like it really allowed you to get in front of people. You spoke on Squarespace development for designers. So can you tell me more about like how you work with designers and kind of how did that even come to be where you're like,

I want to do this for designers and not for the end client.

Katie Lynn (42:48.12)

enjoy building the back end of a site and just making it happen very, very much. And the way it started was LG moved to Boston and she was working at a coffee shop and I needed more money and more work. And so I was just like, anybody want a hand building the thing? Like you make it beautiful. I make it happen. And I posted that on Facebook groups and

I got a couple of jobs and I was like, hey, this is easy. I like doing this. Let me do more of it. And I think one of the harder parts is like figuring out what people don't know because I'm, it becomes a little bit intuitive and it's like trying to tell someone the hot keys without a keyboard in front of you. You're like, wait, what did they not?

No, so that's kind of why I built the design development guide, which is the freebie that we gave away at the conference and is still a freebie on our site. Because I figured out, okay, I need to think through all of the things that the design people who don't care for the development side need to know about text hierarchy, things that they can design that would take me 10 seconds and things that they can design that would take me like 10 days and will cost them a lot more money.

And so we can kind of work collaboratively and make something that's beautiful and show something that that's also like efficient and also like fits their, their budget, their client's budget and things like that. But I think it's like a great, co power combo for someone who just loves the visuals to team up with someone who just likes to mess around in the CSS panel. I've met since then, I've met several Squarespace developers who only do that, who are really good at what they do. And.

I mean, there's choices out there for people who want to outsource design like that. Should you choose me? Yes, but there are also some really fun people who I would hire if I didn't know how to do it.

Laura Grace Sears (44:44.093)


Shannon Mattern (44:47.552)

I love it. I'm not a designer. I am a developer. And so if I got enough, I would hire out the graphic design piece. I would hire out all of that. And then I'm like, I can build this. I can make this. But if you want me to design it, you're going to be disappointed because it's not going to be good. But I can do that. And that's what I would do with WordPress.

back in the day before I stopped working with clients in 2019, and just started coaching people on how to work with all of their crazy clients after that. But it's, it is, it's the most fun because you don't like, I feel like you get to be creative. You get to work with a bunch of different types of like styles and, you're not really like stuck with, you know, the just one brand.

brand style and all of that. So I think it's brilliant to be like, Hey, designers who just don't want to build this thing, don't want to deal with the tech, don't want to deal with like any of that, to just stay in their zone of genius and then hand that off. And your presentation at the summit was so good. Like I was just like, I hope it brought you lots of leads. What else do you guys do?

Katie Lynn (46:07.255)

Thank you.

Laura Grace Sears (46:12.605)


Katie Lynn (46:12.824)

Honestly, like our site, yeah, so go ahead. I was gonna say our site traffic was, it was fun to look at our site traffic after the conference.

Shannon Mattern (46:15.296)

go ahead. You go.

Laura Grace Sears (46:22.893)


Shannon Mattern (46:25.248)

So what else do you do over at Mushaboom Studio? What other things do you do like for clients or for designers?

Katie Lynn (46:34.136)

So we do brand web and photo all in one place, that's our thing. So I do brand design and I do web design and honestly the development has probably made me a better designer because I do get to play around with other designers' styles and I get to see what they think up and figure out how to execute it. So that's really fun for me. But also I want to say that outside of development and design, websites are made by photography and I love having Laura Grace as my partner.

because I don't know if you've ever had a client, if everyone who's listening is a web designer and if you have a client who has a stunning photography, it makes your life so much easier when you're building a website. So I'm really glad we also offer photography. LD, you wanna talk about your photo offers?

Laura Grace Sears (47:21.693)

Yeah, I'm, I love doing photography, especially for websites. I love putting together a shot list based on like what this person is trying to communicate and sell. I think websites are, they can be the mark, like marketing workhorse for your business and it can make your life as a business owner so much easier. So if your website functions well, tells the story, shows who you are, like you're, you're converting people.

And you don't have to work so dang hard to go out and like talk the talk, walk the walk, because your photography and design and branding does it for you, talks to the right people. and so when I'm, when I'm doing photography, we offer the upper budget where the, what the is great for anybody who loves to DIY and is super creative because basically the way it, we make it more affordable is by letting you do your art direction and kind of pre -production. And then.

we show up with the camera, lights, camera, action. And then our custom is all done for you, art direction, like prop sourcing, if we're doing studio photography, if we're doing lifestyle, I like find the models, find the makeup artists, if we're doing portraits, our studio is included in the budget, so.

We really pull out the whole shebang, but I have been known to, when it comes to photography, tweak some of my packages to kind of like, when I'm actually proposing to people, to not just be portraits, to not just be flat lays, but to kind of like get all the photos we need to sit on that website. Because when someone is scrolling on a website and the photo next to the words,

is different, like doesn't tell the story that the words are saying, people are more likely to click away. People are less likely to understand and read that text. Images are really important for your audience to get and understand what you do. And I know it's expensive and kind of overwhelming, but it saves you a lot of trouble in the long run. So if...

Laura Grace Sears (49:40.285)

Katie Lynn and I can work together on, she does the branding, I do the photography, and we work with a badass copywriter. You can, as a business owner, kick your feet up and just let the audience learn about you and your inquiries are better when you have a great website. I mean, I feel like I drank the Kool -Aid because that's why we put so much work into our own site, because it just makes your life easier.

Shannon Mattern (50:10.56)

My experience with brand photography and my brand photography journey, if you will, was hiring people who were great photographers, who I liked their vibe and their style. And then when I got all of the images back as a web designer, I'm like, these don't fit the right like.

Laura Grace Sears (50:24.861)

Mm -hmm.

Shannon Mattern (50:32.96)

there's so much editing that has to happen or so much treatment or like they don't fit the screen sizes that I wanted to use them on. And so I should have, you know, maybe whether I should have or shouldn't have, I hired the wrong people for the job. So what I love about brand photo and web is that you are thinking about what's this going to look like on a monitor? What's it going to look like on a phone? What different, you know,

Laura Grace Sears (50:34.237)


Laura Grace Sears (50:59.677)

Mm -hmm.

Shannon Mattern (51:02.048)

where are the words gonna be? Like you're thinking about like how these photos are going to be used and where they're gonna be used versus like just taking a great photo. And so in the beginning I was cheap and I hired like what I could get for whatever and I couldn't even use most of the photos that I was, that I got back because they just weren't gonna work for my marketing. And then,

The last photo shoot that I did, it's been three years ago now, I probably need to update them, but I really love them because she did such a good job. They fit well on my website and they are so, I'm just like, these photos are, were like, have helped me make so much money. And I paid her really well for all the work. They have helped me make so much more money than I could have made without those photos. And that's really how like I think about, think about it. It's like,

expensive is relative when you think about like what I had before, what I have now and how much ease like just makes the whole process of making any asset I need to make to run my business faster because I know I have go -to photos to create that. So I will never cheap out again and I will never hire someone that doesn't also that isn't doing like isn't a marketing like brand web photographer.

Laura Grace Sears (52:19.805)

I'm out.

Shannon Mattern (52:28.32)

ever again.

Laura Grace Sears (52:29.821)

Yeah, wow, that's that's so refreshing to hear. Sorry, that's really refreshing to hear.

Katie Lynn (52:30.872)

the point you made about like...

Shannon Mattern (52:34.336)


Katie Lynn (52:36.92)

The point you made about aspect ratio and things not fitting on your site, the request that I make nonstop to Laura Grace is expand it until it looks weird because I can crop it till the cows come home. I can use it on mobile, I can use it on web. You expand that photo in Photoshop for me, every single one, and I'll be a happy camper. And she rolls her eyes and then she does it. And also, the impact of having photography as a web designer, we did a...

Laura Grace Sears (53:00.221)


Katie Lynn (53:06.488)

We've done a lot of work with web designers and last year we worked with a woman who makes templates and I think LG maybe took eight photos that were meant to be mock -ups but that turned into something like 32 different variations with all her templates and it was like when I was designing her social, which we also did for her, the use cases were endless. So it was so nice to have those eight.

mock -ups where we could change the screen out because we could use them everywhere and they were so recognizable and then she had Pinterest content for months to come and it was just so grateful to my sister.

Laura Grace Sears (53:46.685)

My unintentional specialty has become making like device mockups for designers specifically to fit their brand. So I've just gotten really great at taking photos of laptops.

Shannon Mattern (53:58.432)

I love it. My unofficial, unintentional specialty. I love it. Yeah. My, like, I, I don't know. One of my missions is like, I want to educate clients out there to stop thinking about their website, their brand photography, all of these things as like, as like an expense or even, yeah, or even just like, I want to, I want to.

Laura Grace Sears (54:20.669)


Shannon Mattern (54:26.88)

Like they think about like, I want it to look good so it reflects me. And I'm like, yes, we want that. But like, think beyond that. Think about how much more money you will make when you like have all of these pieces in place. Like think one year, two years, three years out and don't be cheap. Stop being cheap. Like you're not going to admit.

Laura Grace Sears (54:50.269)

Think about your bounce rate. Think about how many people go to your site and they're very likely to exit out in the first three seconds and not read anything and not follow through with anything. And it's because your homepage is unclear, confusing. The words don't make sense. You don't immediately show them who you are and what you're.

Shannon Mattern (54:55.52)


Katie Lynn (55:00.951)

To me, it's...

Katie Lynn (55:14.232)

To me it's more about like thinking about sitting with the regret when you worked with a person that wasn't quite right because you were like, it was like, and not to say spend money that you don't have, but it was on the lower side of the budget rather than hiring the person that you actually wanted to do the job. And then you feel relief and satisfaction after the project. It's that versus the regret to me all day.

Shannon Mattern (55:39.296)

And then there's that feeling of like, you know, I've worked with people just in my business, that feeling of like, I didn't even know I needed or wanted that. Like you gave me something I didn't even know that I needed. I feel seen and like cared for and supported by this process of working with you. Like it's hard to describe. So.

could talk to you too, for hours. We are like at our at our time. I definitely want to have you back because there's so much more I want to talk to you about. But I have one question that I ask everybody that comes on the show. So I'll ask it to you both. What belief about yourself did you have to change to get where you are today?

Laura Grace Sears (56:09.277)


I'm sorry.


Katie Lynn (56:31.416)

that I was allowed to be creative for a career is the reason that I can do this job. I thought I was supposed to be more practical and I obviously chose a major in economics. I just wanted to do academics and then somebody somewhere told me I was allowed to like be creative. It was what I was good at and enjoyed doing and also that people will pay you money to do that because

Laura Grace Sears (56:32.061)


Laura Grace Sears (56:41.789)


Katie Lynn (57:00.728)

those people are needed in the world also. And I was like, really? Are you sure? And then it's true.

Laura Grace Sears (57:08.989)

I'm still trying to unlearn the belief that my productivity equals my work. Some days are better than others with believing that one. It's a hard one.

Katie Lynn (57:20.184)

Like the quality of your work and your productivity are interwoven.

Laura Grace Sears (57:25.629)

It's not the quality of my work. I know I can do great, high quality work. It's the productivity and the amount of things that I produce, the quantity and how much money I make equals my worth because it doesn't.

Katie Lynn (57:38.392)

worth. That's what you said. Okay. Yeah. Got it.

Laura Grace Sears (57:40.285)

Worth, yeah. Yeah. And I think I have to let go of that in order to follow and chase the flow. Like where I find ease, the days where I find energy doing work, instead of making choices out of fear, out of like, I should be more productive. I should make more money and instead follow and make decisions based on what feels right.

Katie Lynn (58:05.56)

That's a good one.

Shannon Mattern (58:07.328)

Yeah, that's a whole nother podcast episode. I'm like, I have so many thoughts about that. my gosh. So can you tell everyone where they can go to connect with you, find out more about Glitchy Bitch, find out about hiring you as a developer, working with you guys for web brands, all the things like how can everybody get in your world?

Laura Grace Sears (58:10.749)


Katie Lynn (58:30.84)

You can go to our website, mashaboom .studio. And if you're interested in the Glitchin' Bitches, we have an events page. If you're interested in our freebies, they're listed in the bottom of our homepage and also on our shop, our free stuff's on our shop.

Laura Grace Sears (58:31.197)

Well, we have a great website.

Shannon Mattern (58:33.376)

Their website's kind of trash, but you can go there. It's fine.

Laura Grace Sears (58:38.013)

Ha ha ha.

Katie Lynn (58:49.432)

and LG, our photos and all of our brand web and photo services are on our services page and there's a little toggle you can switch between budget services and custom services and.

Laura Grace Sears (59:03.901)

Yeah, the site is mushaboom .studio and I dare you to take a look around there's something for everybody. There's a lot of free stuff. There's a lot of resources and fun articles, Spotify playlists, as well as the designs, our development guide that Katie Lynn made. And it's mushaboom .studio slash events. If you want to see when the next glitch and bitch is coming up.

Katie Lynn (59:09.688)

There's playlists.

Katie Lynn (59:19.896)

and if you want to work with us on.

Katie Lynn (59:27.224)

And if you want to work with us on development, that is under the folder, drop down folder of our services. It's development.

Shannon Mattern (59:36.224)

Awesome. Well, I will link up all of those things in the show notes. I was just like poking around on your site while you were talking about that. I'm like, this is so cool. Like go check it out everyone. KL, LG, thank you so much for being here. Absolutely.

Laura Grace Sears (59:46.909)

I'm sorry.

Katie Lynn (59:50.168)

Thank you so much for having us.

Laura Grace Sears (59:53.501)

We loved it. Thank you, Shannon.

A smiling person with a tooth showing on their chin is looking indoors.

Shannon Mattern
Web Designer Academy


I help ambitious women web designers reclaim their time, book web design projects they love, and make more as a freelance web designer than they ever thought possible.

I created the Web Designer Academy to give you everything I wished I would have had when I started freelancing:  step-by-step processes and fill-in-the-blank templates for your messaging, marketing, packages, consultations, sales and project management combined with next-level support so that you have everything you need to create a consistently profitable web design business doing work you love for clients you love.