Today I’m chatting with Web Designer Academy student Courtney Wilson about how she tailored the Web Designer Academy curriculum to grow her web design business!
Courtney started her web design business, Moonsoar, with her husband after both got downsized from their jobs within a year of each other. Since then, they have grown a successful web design company through word of mouth and delivering a premium product. Through her time at the Web Designer Academy, she’s restructured how she offers services and has raised her package prices by 50%!
“It felt like I wasn’t giving my clients the attention they needed, but then I realized that every time I’m taken out of my workflow it takes me longer to get back into it – whatever I was working on – than if I had just worked through and answered my voicemail later.” – Courtney Wilson
3 key takeaways from my chat with Courtney:
- There’s no right or wrong way to do something; you have to find what you will do consistently and make it your own.
- Creating boundaries can serve your clients as well as yourself.
- Word of mouth is incredibly powerful. Sometimes the best marketing plan is simply telling people what you do and fostering relationships – eventually you’ll be top of mind when someone needs your services!
“It was never luck and it took somebody saying to me ‘you do a lot of hard work and that’s how you’ve gotten to where you are’.” – Courtney Wilson
We also talk about how Courtney:
- Started getting clients from a social media networking event – that she attended with no intention of getting business!
- Raised her prices immediately after the first presentation she saw from Shannon when she realized how much value she provided her clients.
- Structured her boundaries from a place of service that helped her clients in the long run while also giving her more freedom.
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: Before we dive into this week's episode, I wanna let you know about the Simply Profitable Designer Summit happening March 21st through 23rd, a summit that's all about helping you simplify your design business so that you can work less and make more money doing what you love. Tickets are completely free. You can go to https://simplyprofitabledesigner.com to get your free ticket. And we will have 20 experts over three days teaching you strategies that you can use both to improve and simplify your design business, no matter what stage you're at, all from the comfort of your own home. So go ahead and go to https://simplyprofitabledesigner.com to get your free ticket today.
Shannon Mattern: Welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast. Today I have the pleasure of chatting with one of our Web Designer Academy students, Courtney Wilson. Courtney is the creative director at Moonsoar Services and she has been working in the graphic design and web design industry for close to 20 years. She's been running her own business with her husband for almost a decade, and they work with small businesses to build their online presence. And Courtney is here today to share more about her business journey with you, her backstory, the wins, the challenges, the lessons, and all the breakthroughs that she's had along the way to get where she's today. So Courtney, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Courtney Wilson: Hello, this is
Shannon Mattern: Exciting. So I know I'm so excited to get to talk to you cause I see you on every strategy call and you ask the best questions and yeah, I'm, I'm excited to get to share your story with our listeners. So take me back to more than 20 years ago, what led you into the web design industry?
Courtney Wilson: Well, when I graduated high school I decided to go to university for computer science and I got about a year and a half through there and decided it wasn't fun enough
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. What's just cuz my, I'm curious, what platforms were you building on back then? Were you like coding, like
Courtney Wilson: Hand coding and using Dream Weaver to push to the server? Yeah,
Shannon Mattern: Macro Media Dream Weaver, right?
Courtney Wilson: Probably about 15 years ago.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah,
Courtney Wilson: Probably. Yeah.
Shannon Mattern: And how did you get those first freelance clients?
Courtney Wilson: Other company at that time they were all word of mouth. It's always been word of mouth.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. So you were working with another company at that time and like was it something where you were like, oh, I want to start doing my own thing on the side? Or did it just kind of like happen organically where people were coming out of the woodwork asking you for helpless stuff?
Courtney Wilson: I always knew that eventually I would be working on my, like for myself, but it took a long time to build up the confidence to do that. And it actually weird enough, it took the company my husband is was working for at the time and the company that I was working for to downsize both of them basically within a year. So we were both like, well what now I guess we have to start our own business now, so.
Shannon Mattern: So you guys got downsized and decided to start your own company and then you got clients word of mouth that way?
Courtney Wilson: Yeah, our first clients were, because I went to some social media conferences and did networking there.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah.
Courtney Wilson: And that was where our longest time client and our biggest client came from, which is pretty amazing. It was, I don't know if they still have it in the States, but they used to have the Blist conference and it was at that conference in Canada where we actually made all of our connections.
Shannon Mattern: So did you go to that conference with the intention of getting clients or like No. What was the intention of going
Courtney Wilson: I went to learn more about social media.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah.
Courtney Wilson: So it just
Shannon Mattern: Sort of, and so you're just talking to people and they're like, oh Courtney, what do you do? And you're like, I'm a web designer, a graphic designer. And then they're like, oh, I need, I need to talk to you. Is that kind of how that
Courtney Wilson: It was more like I met people and I planted seeds and a couple months later, you know how it always takes a couple of months to really nurture that relationship to get them to sign.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. So I think that that's one of the things, and I was just doing another interview before this one, you know, asking one of our other students like how did you get your first clients? And you know, she went heavy on an Instagram strategy. Like you just met people in person, told them what you did built Rel told
Courtney Wilson: Yeah. And I think what happens is that some people feel more comfortable in some situations, like they'd be more comfortable marketing on Instagram versus marketing in real life, which is terrifying in all honesty. But what you feel comfortable with can work depending on your strategy for it.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah, absolutely. I still, still to this day
Courtney Wilson: Do. Yeah, absolutely.
Shannon Mattern: So how did you find the Web Designer Academy?
Courtney Wilson: You were a speaker doing the five Ps at a web designer summit. Yes, and I sat in there and we raised our prices immediately after watching that. And so we were like, this person really knows what she's talking about. Let us see what her Web Designer Academy is really about.
Shannon Mattern: So what about that conversation or that talk I did inspired you to just go raise your prices right away.
Courtney Wilson: We were already humming and hawing about raising our prices, but it gave us the confidence too because it helped us realize that we're already providing a premium service for our clients. So we wanted the pricing to really reflect that.
Shannon Mattern: And did you have any like fears or hesitations about doing it? Or were you just like, let's just rip the bandaid off and go for it
Courtney Wilson: Oh yeah, we were terrified.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. And I think I love what you said, like, you know, you provide a premium service mm-hmm.
Courtney Wilson: Definitely.
Shannon Mattern: And relieving. Right.
Courtney Wilson: Yes and no. We've sort of restructured things a little bit because we have certain clients that are on an hourly rate. Sure. And I know that's not your favorite thing
Shannon Mattern: Oh, I love hearing that. And you have posted in our Facebook group and in our weekly live strategy calls that you guys are invoicing some of your highest months ever recently.
Courtney Wilson: Yes, we are. It's, it's very happy for our bank account,
Shannon Mattern: So coming back to like the conversation of like, we have some clients on hourly, some clients doing this, some clients doing that, there's this like myth I think that like, especially if we've been in business for a long time, that we're gonna be able to just like wave a magic wand and get every client like doing all the same thing like standard across the board. And if you've been in business for a long time and you've been doing things a certain way for a long time, sometimes you do have, you know, you roll out new things to new clients and you have legacy clients that you continue to serve in the way that you built the relationship with them in the first place because you make an analysis and you make a decision and it's like, okay, well this is actually best for both of us going forward to keep this same arrangement.
Shannon Mattern: Mm-Hmm.
Courtney Wilson: And I think that's one of the good things that we took away from the Web Designer Academy. That there were bits and pieces that we applied to our business and there were bits and pieces that we were like, this isn't quite how we run our business right now. And it's not how we're likely to run it that in a way that our clients would be okay with changing. So it's good the way that we were able to take what we needed and apply it.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. One of the, the things that I recall working with you on the most is like boundaries and things like that. So tell me a little bit about what things were like with you with boundaries and over, like working a lot and all those things before coming to work with us.
Courtney Wilson: I would answer the phone every time it rang. I would answer my email as soon as it was sent through. Basically I would not know how to, I didn't know how to say no to clients and it's something I still struggle with a lot. So since then I have structured my inbox so that I only check it first thing in the morning, first thing after lunch and right before the end of the day. And if I am working on another client's stuff, I don't answer the phone if someone's calling.
Shannon Mattern: How has that been for you to make that change?
Courtney Wilson: It was really difficult. It felt like I wasn't giving my clients the attention they needed, but then I realized that every time I'm taken out of my workflow, it takes me longer to get back into it to work on whatever I was working on than if I had just worked through and answered my voicemail later. So it makes things a lot easier.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. I love how you are using, you have like a, I I would say like a heart of service. My experience of you is like, you want to provide a really high level of service to your clients. You want your clients to feel taken care of and for you, part of that was being like immediately responsive and also you knew that that was like not helping your business, it was causing you to overwork mm-hmm.
Courtney Wilson: You know,
Shannon Mattern: Yeah, for sure. And like, so you have to know yourself and you have to know like, okay, here's the pattern that I'm doing. Why am I doing this? Okay now how can I take that reason and like use that reason to create the result that I want? And yeah, I think you, you're the boundaries that you've set around your work and coming up with a reason that like, this really is the best thing for my clients is great. And like you being, you know, having space and having a sustainable business is the best thing thing for your clients. Like, they don't want you guys being like, we're shutting this business down and getting jobs cuz this is not worth it. Like, that's not in your client's best interest. Mm-Hmm.
Courtney Wilson: Absolutely
Shannon Mattern: What you have ever wanted to do, but I've thought about it before
Courtney Wilson: Oh yeah. I think everybody has working Yeah. For yourself can be quite challenging at times, so I'm sure everybody's thought that.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. So what's a pivotal moment you can remember on your business journey? Is there anything that like stands out to you as like a turning point?
Courtney Wilson: No, I mean being downsized at my job was kind of pivotal.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah.
Courtney Wilson: Yeah. It made me start the business. That's probably the biggest one.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. The thing that I love the most about what we do as web designers is like, we can always make our own way. You know, I think that that's one of the beautiful things is like, it was something that happened to you that you didn't wanna have happen and yet hear you and your husband are like running a bus, like a very successful web design company together.
Courtney Wilson: Yeah. It didn't happen the way I expected it to, that's for sure.
Shannon Mattern: What did you expect, because you had said earlier on in the, in the interview like, oh, I always knew I was gonna be working for myself.
Courtney Wilson: Yeah. I expected to build up enough on the side to be able to quit my job. So
Courtney Wilson: Mm-Hmm.
Shannon Mattern: So we talk a lot about mindset in the Web Designer Academy, like a lot
Courtney Wilson: My biggest all-time not mind shift. And this has been coming on over years, but at the beginning I often said that I was lucky, I was lucky to get the clients I did. I was lucky to be landing a job. I was lucky to be completing this. I was lucky to be meeting these people, but it was never luck. And it took somebody saying to me, you do a lot of hard work and that is how you've gotten to where you are. So that is the biggest mind shift I've had.
Shannon Mattern: That is so powerful. That gave me chills when you said that because if it's luck when things are working out, then it's bad luck when things aren't and nothing's ever in your control ever and mm-hmm.
Courtney Wilson: And when I really think about it, it's, yeah, it is powerful and it helps me to feel really proud of what we've accomplished. Yeah.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. So what are you you most proud of accomplishing in your business in this past year?
Courtney Wilson: I think the relationships that we've built, obviously I'm proud that we've been able to raise our rates, that we've been able to work with some really exciting companies. But I think what it all comes down to is I'm most proud of the relationships with both clients that we work with, with subcontractors, with potential people we might work with. That's the hardest for me. So that is where I feel like I've accomplished a lot.
Shannon Mattern: That's huge. Like, it's so easy to just stay behind your computer screen and like do the work. At least it was for me,
Courtney Wilson: Mm-Hmm.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. So what's next for you guys? What's next for your company? What are your goals for 2023 and beyond?
Courtney Wilson: We haven't had a chance to even think about that yet. Our busy season starts in October and January is supposed to be our slow month, but it wasn't, so we haven't had a chance to sit down and think about that yet.
Shannon Mattern: I love it that you're like, we have so many clients and we're so busy and we're so doing all the work that it sounds like that's what's next for you, right? Just keep mm-hmm.
Courtney Wilson: Absolutely.
Shannon Mattern: So I asked this final question to everybody that comes on the podcast and that is, what is one belief about yourself that you had to change to get where you are today?
Courtney Wilson: I have a lot of mind trash where I am not good enough for things. I am not good enough to lead a company on my own. I am not good enough a designer to create something that clients will like. So this is something, and I've been suffering through this my whole life. This is something that I am still struggling to change, but as I get more experience, the confidence builds up and that definitely helps with that belief. Helps make that voice a little bit smaller.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah, I think that one, I mean that is, so, it's one I hear so often and like maybe you still hear it, but you don't stop believing it every time it comes up, or are Yeah. It just gets quieter and quieter and sometimes it comes back roaring loud and you know, it's always a decision like, am I gonna choose to believe this old thought that is just, well, has a well worn path in my brain, or am I gonna choose to look at all of the evidence that I have collected over the 20 years that I've been doing this, that this, it's just not true. It's just not true anymore. Mm-Hmm.
Courtney Wilson: Yeah. I mean, even if you are starting in your business now, just by building up like a couple of projects and a couple of clients can help you say, okay, maybe what I'm saying isn't exactly true. Maybe I'm too hard on myself. Maybe this is just that little voice inside my head that for some reason just doesn't think I'm good enough. So Yeah.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. It can be there. I'll just prove it wrong over and over and over again.
Shannon Mattern: Awesome. Well thank you so much for being here and being willing to share your journey and your story. Where can everyone go to connect with you and learn more about you?
Courtney Wilson: The best is probably my website, so that's https://www.moonsoar.com or I'm on Twitter @moosoar and that Twitter is probably where I spend most of my interactions, so that would be where you can go to learn more about me and there's a link there to my website.
Shannon Mattern: Awesome. Well we will link up all of that in the show notes and yeah, thank you so much for being here.
Courtney Wilson: Wonderful. Thank you.
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 https://webdesigneracademy.com and joining our waitlist. 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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