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April Income Report EP 91
byShannon Mattern
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How to Build SEO-Friendly Websites for Your Clients with Mariah Liszewski of Mariah Magazine

As a web designer, you're a wizard at creating visually stunning websites that resonate with your clients' audiences and turn their visitors into customers. However, the real challenge for your clients kicks in post-launch – getting traffic.

Many web designers get tangled up with how SEO fits into their offerings… sometimes skirting around it or undercharging due to their hesitance to dive into what seems like a murky SEO pond.

If you've ever felt overwhelmed by SEO or unsure about how to integrate it into your web design projects, this episode is a goldmine.

Today, I had the pleasure of chatting with Mariah Liszewski, an award-winning Organic SEO Consultant, who demystifies SEO for web designers, making it not just approachable but genuinely exciting. Mariah shared how web designers can make their creations not only SEO-friendly but also primed for optimization without needing to become SEO experts themselves.

Mariah transforms the complex world of SEO into practical, actionable strategies. With over eight years in the digital marketing space, Mariah has helped more than 100 clients enhance their online presence on Google by adopting SEO strategies that are both effective and aligned with their business needs.

Mariah not only shares insights on making SEO fun but also explains the difference between SEO-friendly and SEO-optimized sites to help web designers get way more clear on how they want to incorporate SEO into their projects.

Key Points We Covered:

  1. The common misunderstandings about SEO among web designers.
  2. Practical steps to create SEO-friendly websites without becoming an SEO expert.
  3. The importance of distinguishing between SEO-friendly and SEO-optimized.
  4. How to communicate SEO strategies to clients effectively.

Detailed Episode Breakdown:

  • [00:35] Mariah's journey from web design to SEO mastery.
  • [02:48] How to shift your mindset from SEO skeptic to enthusiast.
  • [06:28] Defining SEO-friendly vs. SEO-optimized with real-world applications.
  • [14:56] The myth of perfection in SEO and what actually works.
  • [19:21] Starting with an SEO audit and building a tailored strategy.

Resources Mentioned in the Show:

If you enjoyed this episode, I invite you to drop a five-star rating + review with your biggest takeaway, so that other women web designers can find this podcast for guidance and support through their introvert entrepreneur journey!

WHEN YOU'RE READY, HERE ARE 3 WAYS WE CAN HELP YOU WITH YOUR WEB DESIGN BUSINESS:

  • 🎧 Listen to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast: Dive into weekly discussions about strategies to create a more profitable, sustainable, and enjoyable web design business. Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify
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Transcript

Shannon Mattern (00:01.965)

Hey everyone, welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer podcast. And I'm excited to introduce you to today's guest, Mariah from Mariah Magazine. She's an award-winning organic SEO consultant and educator for online business owners and a firm believer that showing up on Google and marketing your business doesn't have to be as difficult and overwhelming as everyone makes it. So Mariah, I'm so excited to have you.

on the show today. Can you share a little bit more with our listeners about you and what you do?

Mariah (00:35.098)

Yeah, for sure. Well, thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to have this conversation. It's funny because when I got into the online business world, I never thought that I would focus on SEO. I actually hated it. I thought it was the worst thing in the world. I actually got into the industry doing website design and development. It's so funny because with that, SEO is so hand in hand.

with website design and development, but it's a completely different beast. And so I never thought that I would dive into this world. So yeah, I love breaking down SEO, search engine optimization, into a way that feels actually practical and actionable. Because I find that a lot of people, when they start learning about it, just like I did, I was super overwhelmed. Everything was way too technical. I was like, this shit's for the birds. Like, I.

couldn't stand it. And so if you can't stand it, you're not curious about it. And so I really like being able to break it down. And I even was telling, I was working with this coach on something and I was like, listen, like I really do like try to make SEO fun. And she was like, Mariah, respectfully, you cannot make SEO fun. Like SEO is not fun. And I was like, okay, cool. So then I actually, she became a client. We ended up doing like a session together. At the end, she was like, yo girl, I got to give it to you.

Like, I am super stoked about this. Like, I'm actually excited about SEO because if we just think about it from a keyword perspective, like doing SEO keyword research, you are literally getting data on what people are going into Google and looking for, AKA what problems they are looking for solutions for. And so it can just be a really great reminder of like,

Oh my God, there is so much potential out here. There's so much opportunity out here. Because as business owners ourselves, we can usually get locked into a certain way of looking at things or comparing ourselves to other people on Instagram or any other social media platform. And then you look at SEO and you look at the data and you're like, holy shit, dude. I didn't realize the potential that was really here for me if I wanted. So.

Mariah (02:48.07)

I never saw me becoming passionate about SEO, but I really do enjoy actually educating and breaking it down and just making it actionable.

Shannon Mattern (02:58.353)

I am so excited to have this conversation with you because one of the things that I hear from our listeners and our students inside the Web Designer Academy is that they are all about building the beautiful high converting website, right? And they feel like there's this gap that they have because their clients are like, okay, well, great. How are we going to get traffic here? And

you know, you as a former, you know, website designer, developer probably understand this where you're like, okay, but like, where does my responsibility begin and end for, you know, this piece of the project, right? And like, how do we define success in all of those pieces? And so there's this like a blurry little space where some people just like want to just either like declare that like, nope, I don't do it, I don't touch it.

or feel really bad about not doing it. And so they'll like keep their price low or all this weird stuff happens, or they'll just kind of like put their head in the sand and pretend like, okay, if it comes up, then we'll talk about it. But if not, we'll just like go on our merry way. So I'm really excited to be having this conversation with you because I think it's gonna help so many people just get some clarity about how they want to address it.

Mariah (04:13.335)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (04:25.197)

with their clients.

Mariah (04:27.482)

Yeah. And I feel like essentially what's really, really helpful, and I find that most clients kind of out of the gate, expect website designers or developers to know this because they see a website and SEO is basically the same thing. So I think what it really comes down to is being able to educate the client on what SEO is, but that's hard to do when you don't understand it yourself.

because everything that you're Googling is super technical and overwhelming. And it's like, I don't even know the boundaries. So how the hell can I explain this to a potential client? And so I like breaking it down in terms of there's a difference between SEO friendly and SEO optimize. You can create a kick-ass website that is SEO friendly. So mobile responsive and the pages are set up, were set up for conversions. And you...

the you're using a website platform that like is actually readable by Google and like all of these things that website designers do when set up. But there's a difference between SEO friendly and SEO optimized. I don't believe that you can say you SEO optimize a website if you don't even have a keyword because then what are you optimizing for? So that's kind of how I like to break it down for clients and for website designers that I've worked with is kind of like that's the difference. And so some people will be like, well,

I optimize for mobile, so that's SEO optimized. No, that's mobile friendly. Or I optimize for speed, that's SEO optimized. No, that's speed optimization, which in my opinion falls under SEO friendly. So I think being able to differentiate them can kind of give website designers just like the freedom to be like, yo dog, that ain't me. That ain't me, you can find somebody, you can recommend people and stuff like that. So I just find that.

making that distinction and explaining that to the client is really, really helpful at establishing those boundaries kind of from the get-go.

Shannon Mattern (06:28.689)

I love that like SEO friendly versus SEO optimized. And also you don't have to be all the things like firmly stand in your zone of genius and know what you're doing. What you like everything that you do to make something SEO friendly is super valuable for when they hire the experts to then go and optimize. So like.

Mariah (06:54.666)

Yes, because otherwise, I've had this situation before where it's like clients, they end up getting a website design from somebody that doesn't understand SEO because it's not in their wheelhouse. And then they start working with me, and I'm like, you need to put me in contact with your website designer because we have to change certain things because the website isn't SEO friendly. And so it's like really staying in your lane and being able to do that really well is so beneficial, not even just for the client, but for the other consultants or strategists that are going to come.

later down the line. And for me, that's what I do too. I stay in my lane. I'm not offering website design and development. If we have server issues that come up on an SEO audit, contact your website designer or developer. Or content creation. Some SEO people include creating content. I don't, I'm not a copywriter. So I really stay in my lane. And it's really important for me to get that across to my client. I'm the consult call and have any strong boundaries.

Shannon Mattern (07:54.529)

Oh, so good. So I want to go back to like your journey and how did you get started? You know, in, in this space, you said that you were a web designer and developer. Like, tell me about that and this transition to what you're doing now.

Mariah (08:13.79)

Yeah, so it's funny. So I was actually in school for website development. I was in school online for it. And I was one semester in, and they were teaching me table layouts. And I was like, OK, everyone. And I kind of was doing research on my own. And I was like, this is already outdated. And by the time I graduate, it's going to be even more outdated. And so I kind of went in one of those modes where I was like, burn it down city. And I just like,

Shannon Mattern (08:29.93)

I'm sorry.

Mariah (08:42.578)

school. I ended up quitting my job all in the same month. And I was like, I don't give a shit. I'm going to figure it out. And so what I ended up doing was like bullshitting an online HTML portfolio. And I ended up landing an internship that I found on Craigslist for a website design and development agency. So I didn't know that this website development agency was literally two dudes, five years older than me, like hanging out, just like working on projects. And I was like, okay, this is cool.

So the one owner was a WordPress developer. He ended up teaching me everything that he knew about WordPress. So as I'm learning all this stuff, I'm also dabbling in my own stuff. I'm learning about online business. I'm learning about blogging. I'm learning about Pinterest and all of this stuff. I was fascinated by it. And then probably about a year later, they ended up going their separate ways. And what they would do is funnel clients my way. And at that time, I already kind of launched my own thing.

They were really supportive of it. And so I started doing website design and development, like specifically for WordPress. And then after about two years, I was like, OK, this is cool. But I think that there's more. I really liked the deeper strategy versus designing. Y'all don't want me to design a website. You just don't. It's not that they were bad. I just designed it strategy and development first, where I'm not doing bells and whistles. Like,

We need this to load properly. We need colors. We're not doing fun little backgrounds or anything that a normal website designer or brand designer would weave into it. And so what was happening at that time when I was becoming super interested and more so of the strategy of it was all of my clients, like we would launch their websites, and they would come back. And they would be like, OK, this is great. But how do I get found? How do I get people to it? And I was like, I don't know. My job's done, dude. I don't have a clue. And they were like, well, how do I get on Google?

Again, I don't know, not my job. I love you, but I don't know. That's like our boundary has ended type thing. People kept asking me and I was like, okay, I feel like this is a breadcrumb that I should kind of explore. And so I started going through and trying to learn SEO on my own. So I went into a rabbit hole of Google and I found that the only kind of content about SEO was either created by agencies to...

Mariah (11:04.346)

overwhelm you or be super vague so you just end up hiring them on retainer. Or it was really advanced SEO information for other advanced SEO people. There was no content that I could find for the DIY SEO person at the time or the small business owner or anything like that. So I allowed myself to kind of just immerse myself in the SEO world and I had that mentor.

that was interested in SEO and still dabbling with things inside projects. So I had him to kind of like bounce some ideas off of. But essentially, I just started testing and tweaking it. So I became obsessed with the online business space. And I realized that, like, for some reason, I have this gift of being able to break down complex things into easy to understand ways. And so I was like, OK, I'm going to start a blog where I'm going to talk about all the things that I'm learning about on my business. And then I was like, shit, now I'm running into the same problem that my clients did.

But how do I get people to read it? Looks like I have to get found on Google. So I started kind of learning SEO, and I broke it down and took it apart and then put it back together in a way that made sense for me. And then I started testing this process on my own website, my own blog. I was getting really good results. And then I started testing it with clients. They were getting good results. And then, I mean, after probably a year, I stopped doing website design and development. And I was just like,

SEO has dug its teeth into me and hasn't let me go. I didn't think we would be here. But that's kind of how I started exploring it and following the breadcrumbs of finding the online business space.

Shannon Mattern (12:42.821)

So what are some of the things that you found that like just didn't work? What are some of the things that you tried that was like conventional wisdom that was like, yeah, no, that was a waste of my time.

Mariah (12:58.222)

OK, so I think the biggest one is, if you go out and you read all of these blog posts and everything, people will have you thinking that SEO needs to be perfect in order to get results. And it doesn't. It really doesn't. The small little tweaks that you make, like putting your keyword in an H1 heading, customizing your SEO title, customizing your meta description with the right keywords, those little things all add up.

And so they would have you thinking that like, oh man, you need to like do this crazy caching plug-in, your website needs to load within one second and like, oh, you can't use custom fonts because that slows down a website. And so then you have to do this and you have to get, no, you don't. And the other thing that we have to keep in mind is that like what it takes to get on Google is completely dependent on the keyword that you're trying to target. So if you're trying to target a super competitive keyword, then you're going to have to have

more best practices in place because you're going, it's tough competition. But if you're going against smaller business owners that maybe haven't invested in their website or haven't invested in SEO and you are, you're already ahead of the game because you understand keywords, you're putting them in the right spot. So I feel like those are the biggest things that I've realized is really you don't have to get everything perfect in order to get results. And what it takes to show up on

People out there telling you like, you need to do this and you need to do that. Don't get me wrong. There are best practices and I can preach best practices until the cows come home. But truly, like it depends. Like it all depends on the keyword. It depends on your competition. It depends on your website. Is it SEO friendly or are we trying to SEO optimize a website that has a crumbling foundation and Google can't even read it? You know what I mean? So it's really a case by case basis.

But it's all building blocks that kind of build on itself versus, my God, I need to figure this out within the next two weeks.

Shannon Mattern (14:56.589)

It makes me think of the Yoast SEO plugin. It's like, oh, I gotta get a green light on every single page in order for this to be, or people saying that their clients are like, why aren't all of these things, every single I dotted and T crossed? And what I'm hearing you say is like, strategically, case by case basis, depending on your industry, depending on who your customer is, there's a unique set of things.

that you can do and you don't have to do everything, you just need to figure out what the, what are the things that you need to do.

Mariah (15:35.398)

Yes. And Yoast is an amazing tool. It really helps break down SEO and puts it into bullet points for people to go ahead and optimize their stuff. But the green light doesn't mean anything. Just because you have a green light doesn't mean that you're going to show up on Google because is the keyword too competitive? You know what I mean? People also think when you put in that target keyword into Yoast that Google sees what your target keyword is. Google doesn't see that. That's only for Yoast to run the analysis. And sometimes the analysis isn't even correct.

Like I've found that if you put a word before your target keyword in the SEO title, sometimes Yoast won't register that you have your target keyword in the SEO title. So you're not going to get a green light. But I do have it in there. It's just not registering it. And sometimes it'll go ahead and make suggestions that wouldn't even make sense for the reader or the page. And it'll just be like, having all my content sounding like a robot. And that's not helpful.

Because even if we get traffic over to that page, what kind of people buy from you? The people that vibe with you, the people that can feel your personality, be like, wow, I really want to work with this person. So if you're spending too much time SEO optimizing, overly optimizing, you end up sounding like a robot. Now you miss out on that connection that your content could really have and really pack a punch to turn that person from Google searcher into conversion or into sale, customer, client, on your newsletter, and all of that type.

Shannon Mattern (17:04.393)

I love that. It's just like people do tend to like water themselves down for the robots forgetting that there's a human on the other side.

Mariah (17:15.277)

Yes.

Shannon Mattern (17:17.205)

So you've been doing this for years and I'm guessing you've like honed a process of like when you onboard a new client, like how do you walk through kind of like doing this analysis of figuring out where to start with them?

Mariah (17:39.238)

Yeah, so it all starts with an audit. Like, I can't work on a product. Especially, so I have a done-for-you foundational setup, which is essentially creating a solid foundation for clients so that all of the other things that they're doing, like PR, or press, or social media, all of that can build on their SEO foundation. So in order to build a strategic foundation for your website, I have to be able to see how Google is seeing you. So I run reports. My favorite tool is SEMrush.

It's a little expensive if you're not an SEO person, but that's hands down, that's the tool that I use. And so running an SEO audit to be able to see things that I can't see on the technical end or that would just take too long. So running that kind of audit, also doing competitor analysis. I want to see what you're showing up for already, not just the technical stuff. I want to see the keywords that you're showing up for already. And I want to see what your competitors are showing up for. Do we like these? Do we not like these? So just getting like...

in overall view. And then I'll do a visual website audit because I was a website designer. I understand conversions. I understand all that stuff. I'll be like, yo, we can optimize this homepage all day long, but it's not helpful. There is no journey here. There's no story here. You have 300 words and it all sounds ridiculous. We need to be able to flush this out type thing. And usually the people that work with me are like, yes, please tell me.

like, please, please tell me, like, I'm paying you to basically tell me. So it really starts with like me being able to just see where we're starting out, because if I can't see that, then it's going to be super hard for me to be able to see you.

Shannon Mattern (19:21.157)

Yeah, so once you do the audit and everything, what are, I guess, like you said, some of the things that you see that people are like, they didn't even realize, or they definitely want you to tell them, then from there, I'm guessing you move into just building out the unique strategy for each person, because it sounds like it can't be one size fits all.

Mariah (19:43.658)

Yeah, no, I can't be. Also because I work with people in different industries. So I've worked with e-commerce people that sell windows online, and I've worked with e-commerce people that sell unique handcrafted greeting cards. I've worked with clients that drop ship very expensive thousand dollar fireplaces. And then I've worked with service providers that are coaches and consultants and then local business owners and stuff like that. So...

Shannon Mattern (19:52.689)

I'm going to go to bed.

Mariah (20:10.674)

I can't just rinse and repeat. I have to do strategic keyword research based on this client, based on this industry, based on a whole lot of things, and especially based on their goals. Like, what do you even want to be known for? Because a lot of people will try to target keywords just because they sound good. But it's like, well, the whole goal isn't just to get found on Google. The goal is to grow our brand visibility and therefore get sales and conversions and help the people that we're meant to help.

And so we can't just show up for random keywords. We have to show up for keywords that are going to align with the right people. And so the strategy really does start usually with the keyword research. And I like to be able to find gaps in the market, because a lot of the time, people will think that SEO is too competitive. I have worked with hundreds of clients and students that I'm yet to find, like an industry or a niche, that I can't find any gap in the market for.

It's because it's like these bigger businesses, these big corporations, they know about SEO and they have a lot more resources. So they can go after the more competitive ones, but they don't want to waste their time on the smaller ones. And maybe you only have 50 searches a month, a hundred searches a month, even 300 searches a month. That's too quote low for them. For a small business owner, if you get 300 eyeballs on your business, even if 1% of them can convert,

That's three people a month, and that's only one keyword. You know what I mean? So it's really cool to be able to tap into everybody's different markets and just see what we got going on. Like, what's the landscape here?

Shannon Mattern (21:51.601)

I'm so curious, what is an example of one of these smaller keywords that a bigger business is overlooking? What's one of your favorite stories about a client where you're like, oh, we zeroed in on this thing that they were never even thinking of?

Mariah (22:14.278)

know if I can say. Okay, so there was this one client, she created candles, okay? And so most people, it's like soy candles, soy lemon candles, you know what I mean? Just things like that. I found a huge gap in the market for mini candles. We targeted that. We didn't even optimize it on her website yet. She turned around to her wholesale people and was like...

hey, we're going to start making mini candles because it was searched an insane amount of time every month. Competition, basically nothing. And so she just turned around to her whole side. I'm like, hey, we're thinking about making mini candles. She got 500 orders, and that wasn't even SEO yet. We didn't even optimize the page yet. That's why I like SEO, is because not only do we find the gaps in the market for Google,

It's also product development, business development. It's like being able to see where do we want to go? What's a gap in our industry, not just on Google? What are other people leaving on the table? So I feel like that was like my favorite story because like we didn't even infuse SEO yet. She just said it on the phone and had orders rolling in.

Shannon Mattern (23:30.053)

That is super fascinating to me. I'm like currently, by the time this comes out, the presentation will have come out, but I'm currently like working on a presentation for a summit that I'm hosting all about, you know, we have the parts of a profitable business, right? We have mechanics, which is like, you know, the pushing of the buttons, the skills, the doing of the things, mindset, how we think about ourselves, our clients, whatever. But then the third part is like,

mentorship or having somebody who sees the things that you don't see. And that is what I was thinking of when you were talking about that because without that conversation with you, without them working with someone who looks at their business in a completely different way, the opportunity to create mini candles.

Mariah (24:05.997)

Hehehe

Shannon Mattern (24:28.441)

may have never occurred to them, ever been on their radar. And by partnering with someone who just has a different perspective, a different lens, a different view, a different skillset and can see what they don't see, plus with this, you know, the set of tools that you have to help you do that, it just completely can change the trajectory of someone's business. And I just think that it's so important

I'm just even thinking like, I am a chronic DIYer. Like it is my Achilles heel, right? And we miss out on so much when we try to do it all ourselves because we miss out on that unique perspective and experience and lens that someone else from the outside looking in has. So that was just my thought when you were sharing all of that.

Mariah (25:21.235)

Yes. Yeah, I completely agree.

And it's funny because that's exactly why I ended up crafting one of the offers that I have. So I'm not an SEO agency. I never wanted to be an SEO agency. I don't do ongoing, done-for-you SEO optimization forever. SEO agencies typically charge around $2,000 to $3,000 a month, and you have to sign a six to 12 month retainer package. That's fine if you want somebody to do all of it for you.

my clients were smaller, they don't need that, or they didn't have the budget for that. And to be honest, that kind of project doesn't excite me. I like popping in, I like popping out. I like getting the strategy and I like helping you craft it and fine tuning your website. And then I like to educate and empower you to know what I'm doing. Because the other thing about SEO is that it's about infusing SEO friendly habits into the things you're already doing. So if you have an e-commerce shop or you have a service...

based business and you're adding a new service to your website, a new service page or a new product page, you simply understanding how I think about SEO can completely change the game in terms of you keeping your SEO optimization going. But essentially, I talked about the done for you package a little bit, but the other option is an SEO strategy intensive. And that's for my DIYers. That's for the people that feel comfortable going into the back end of their website and changing things.

but it's a two hour strategy call where like, we build your SEO strategy together. Like you're walking away with like a full list of SEO keywords. I walk you through like how to optimize each page. We can talk about blog posts. We can do competitor analysis. We can do like a visual website audit where I can be like, yo, I just know we gotta change this, this and this. And so that too our call was essentially because I had people that were like, well, I kind of wanna know what you're doing so I can keep it moving. Like...

Mariah (27:17.49)

I'm really DIY because I'm also DIY and I really like consulting sessions more than I like done for you stuff. And I jive with that a lot because I want to empower my clients to not need me forever. I'm also one person. I'm not an agency. So it's like, I can't have all of my clients needing me all of the time. That's why I'm an educator at heart is because like, let me break this stuff down. Let me empower you so that you understand what I'm doing and you can take it and run with it.

And then the strategy in terms of includes 30 days of email support. So it's like, you can get my feedback as you're learning to integrate this stuff because that's how we learn. You know what I mean? Like, I can't sit here and like read, or like learn on a call. And then if I don't integrate it, it's not going to sink in. So that's why I offer the, um, the 30 days of email support, but it's like, that's been really helpful, especially like if people have teams that are doing things on their websites, like let me train your team.

I don't want you to need me forever. And also having a VA understand how to SEO optimize a blog post, they're going to be way cheaper than me. That's just the way that I look at it. And I just think that it aligns so much with my strengths, but it also really attracts the people that I really enjoy working with.

Shannon Mattern (28:33.753)

That is, yeah, I'm just thinking like the, you know, the web designer who's just like, I kind of don't want to deal with this, but I want to be able to put together a strategy for my clients. Like it sounds like something like what you do would be a perfect fit for that person. That's just like, I don't want to learn it, but I want to partner with somebody who already knows it.

Mariah (28:57.862)

Yeah, yeah. And I mean, like that I partner with website designers and agencies all the time, because their zone of genius is in the visuals is in the setup of the website is in setting up the website for conversions. That's not my zone of genius. So like, I offer consulting sessions with people where it's like, we could just do keyword research, so that like you're building on a website that's actually like aligned with certain keywords.

Or it's like, I'll have people hire me for consulting when they're redesigning or relaunching a website and they don't want to lose the SEO juice. It's kind of like, OK, well, what do we have to have in place so that the SEO doesn't tank once we launch it? And so that's kind of like the gap in the market for me and kind of what makes me different, because my industry is weird, dude. It's very weird where people are literally like, I don't want to tell you what I do. I don't want you to not need me anymore. And I'm literally just like, I'll tell you. I don't care.

Just like, hire me for consulting, I'll tell you.

Shannon Mattern (29:54.977)

Well, so there must be a mindset behind the, I don't need to hoard this and make you need me as far as like there's always more clients or like what is your core belief about, you know, that underlies the fact that you feel like you just don't need to hoard all of the information and make people like need you forever.

Mariah (30:18.574)

Yeah, I just think that there's how many, seven billion people in the world. I can't help all of them. And how many people are in the United States, you know what I mean? And it's just like, and even I have clients that are in different countries, but like, I just know that I can help a lot of people and I want to help a lot of people. And I just trust that it's going to happen. And it's easier said than done, you know what I mean? Because like in the beginning of my business, I was like,

Oh, well, let's see if we can consider it. Like I almost did start an SEO agency. Because I was like, well, this is a way to keep the money coming in. And I was like, but my energy is not behind it. And if my energy is not behind it, then I'm going to get burnt out. And if I'm burnt out, I'm going to reset my business and I did not get into business to resent my business. And so it really, honestly, I think the mindset comes back to

When I stay in my lane and I stay in my zone of genius and I work in a way that really works well for me and I don't force other ways of doing things, I'm supported. And because I've been in business for over eight years, I've always been supported. It's always worked out. And let's say, worst case scenario, everything goes to shit. I don't get any clients. I know so many skills in the online business space that I'll be okay.

You know what I mean? I have accumulated so much knowledge that I could go and get a job. And we forget about that when we own our own business. Not that we want to if we really like our business, but it's like, worst case scenario, we have so many skills as a foundation. That's true stability in your career, in my opinion. Accumulating knowledge and skills that not a lot of people have, you are always going to be in need. So I think just reminding myself that like,

staying in my lane is doing the best for my clients and doing the best for my community essentially.

Shannon Mattern (32:08.761)

That is so good. I mean, that's just that it's something that I literally just coached one of our students on yesterday in our program. I coach myself on it all the time. You know, you have periods. Well, I personally have had periods of, you know, tons of sales. And then we, I have periods of, you know, not so many sales and managing our minds through all of that and, you know, really refocusing.

on our purpose or why we're doing what we're doing. And I think of myself as unemployable now, but I would go, I would do whatever I needed to do if I needed to do it. But like, thinking back to like the 10 years ago, Shannon, who worked in corporate and was miserable, that would not be the case today. We would never go back. Like we would.

Mariah (33:07.17)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (33:07.465)

You know, I just think of like, with like you said, everything that all of the knowledge, skills, wisdom that we've accumulated, we can really go do anything. So why not keep doing the thing that we're great at?

Mariah (33:20.718)

Truly.

We know how to sell. We know how to even create an online presence. So this week, me and my boyfriend just launched Sourdough Micro Bakery. He's been getting into sourdough. We've been testing and tweaking things. It's so fun. We love it. And I remember, so I always like the idea of doing that stuff, being in the community and selling bread. How wholesome. I love it. I love the idea of it.

If somebody was like, you need to bake the bread, I would say, absolutely not. I already found what I want to do with my time type thing, but he's like, well, he doesn't even have social media. He has no idea basically how the internet works. And so I was like, well, I'll take care of that. That stuff's easy. And so in two hours, I ended up doing all of these things for the business, like getting the website, the coming soon page up and signing up for this and setting up the Facebook page and creating the banner.

creating that custom Gmail email and creating an email signature in two hours. This would have taken this dude, I'm not days if not weeks and hundreds of dollars of hiring somebody in order to figure out even just two of those things. And that was just such a reminder of like, holy shit. We think that it's too easy, but it's only easy because we've done it. We're doing it.

Like if I told my boyfriend, you need to create a custom email signature, he would look at me like I had 17 heads. A custom what a what? Like I have no idea what you're saying. His signature would be like, gotta go by, Andrew. Like it just, it wouldn't, yes, exactly. And so it's like we just forget how many skills that we have truly accumulated. And it's just cool to think about.

Shannon Mattern (34:44.593)

Thanks for watching!

Shannon Mattern (34:52.685)

except from my iPhone.

Shannon Mattern (35:06.541)

Yeah, that just got me thinking like one of the things my most popular podcast episodes are all about like how to get clients, how to get clients. And I know we're talking about SEO and strategy behind that. What are some of your other favorite ways to get clients?

Mariah (35:28.49)

Yeah, okay, so I, since me doing self reflection, since me kind of like creating my business in a way that really aligns with my zone of genius, I have a YouTube channel. And so creating videos, so here's the thing, a YouTube channel, everybody's like, yo Mariah, like I'm not gonna vlog, I'm not a vlogger, like I'm not gonna do that kind of YouTube thing. I stayed in my lane though. What's my favorite thing? It's tutorials and it's educating.

So I've created a full YouTube channel just on tutorials for SEO, for online business, tech tutorials and stuff like that. And all the YouTubers were like, you can't grow a successful channel with just tutorials. People won't come back. And I was like, this is easy to me, though. If I tried to create like a front facing talking head video, I would never create content. And so that's the platform that I spend most of like my time and like marketing with.

quote unquote, it really doesn't take me that much time. I create new videos every other week. Each video is maybe 10 minutes, so I can hammer out like two to three videos in like three hours. And then I hire somebody that I found on Upwork in order to edit them for me. So like the system and the flow is like super good. And so that's how I've been getting a lot of visibility is through people finding me through YouTube because I do talk about SEO, they end up being interested in consulting.

where my digital product sales have like gone up a lot last year, like tripled. And I think that's simply because of like YouTube and I'm just talking about like the workshops that I host now. And so I find that most of my clients now, I would group Google and YouTube into the same thing. They're not the same thing. But essentially, I get found through search. And then the other way, it's collaborations and referrals. So like being a guest on people's podcasts or like

going to networking events, hopping on coffee chats, just simply connecting with people on a human-to-human relationship basis because that's how we refer people to each other. If somebody comes to me and they're like, hey, I need a website design, I'm not going to be like, I'll do it. I'm literally like, no, here's like five other people. But the people that I'm referring to are people that I have a relationship with that I like human-to-human. And so just taking the time to connect with people.

Mariah (37:51.382)

We overlook it, but like before social media, that's how business was run. And we think that like, we can't have a successful business if we're not posting on TikTok. I've never had a TikTok. I refuse to do it. It's just, it's not my thing. It doesn't light me up. And if it lights you up, that's totally cool. TikTok ain't it for me. But like, and then I do hang out on Instagram, but it's, it's mostly because I like the connection piece there. It's easy to slide into the DMS. It's easy to like post stories and stuff like that to connect with my people. But I would say being searchable.

And then collaborations and relationship building is usually where I get most of my clients.

Shannon Mattern (38:28.762)

I just want to point out something that you said that jumped out at me with YouTube, where you're just like, the experts quote unquote say, and you're like, okay, but if I have to do it that way, I'm not gonna do it. So I'm gonna do it the way that I know that I'm gonna do it. And I think that is where we need to really trust ourselves and why would we want to create a business

and practices within our business that we hate. Like if doing something to get clients feels miserable to you, like that's part of, but you love doing the thing that you do once you get the client, like you're creating a lot of misery for yourself to try to be a certain way or conform to a certain thing. And we get to make it all.

Mariah (39:17.08)

For sure.

Shannon Mattern (39:23.601)

good for us. Like I love podcasting. I love podcasting for this exact reason, that I get to like meet a new person, be nosy, ask them all of the questions, build a new relationship. This won't be the last time we talk. We'll probably find other ways to support each other in the future. And we just got to like talk to each other for, you know, 45 minutes, an hour, whatever.

Mariah (39:46.719)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (39:48.825)

Like that's fun to me if you told me I had to like sit here and make tik-tok videos And that was the only way that I would be successful I'm not I would rather go get a job like I would rather go get a job And so I love that you said like you found The way that works for you regardless of what the experts say and There's a human. It's like there's such a human element to what you're doing

Mariah (40:00.373)

Yep.

Shannon Mattern (40:19.013)

That's the main way we teach marketing in the Web Designer Academy, which is ironic, I guess. I don't know because we're teaching you how to build your digital platform and our people are web designers. So they're clients, they're building digital platforms for their clients. But when I talk about marketing, it's like, meet people, tell them you're a web designer, tell them who you like to help, like add value, network, get in touch with people.

If you have other ways of sharing your knowledge, like how you love to do it, great, do that, but you do not have to do any of those things to be successful. So I just love that you said relationships and collaborations because it just makes the journey so much more worthwhile than just creating content in a vacuum.

Mariah (41:10.29)

It does. And I mean, think about it. Like, how stressful if I am in business thinking that I'm solely responsible for getting eyeballs on me. That's a lot of pressure. It's a lot of pressure to put on me that like all of my visibility relies on me. And obviously, to some extent, like that is true. But to the other thing, it's like, why don't I just make connections with people in complimenting industries? Now they can drive traffic and maybe they won't.

Shannon Mattern (41:21.805)

Yeah.

Mariah (41:36.878)

drive clients and conversions, but maybe they'll meet somebody that knows somebody that then knows somebody else. You have no idea. I have gotten like, what was it? I got quoted in or interviewed on USA Weekly because I had, I made a friend online and she referred me to the person doing the interview. It's like, what? Like,

a big press PR opportunity that maybe didn't drive any clients, but increases my authority, increases how people view me on my website, gives me a cute little press logo, I would not have found that opportunity. And so you just don't know where these opportunities are going to come from. So if you can just have a conversation, even if it's just one new person a month, you don't have to go buck wild.

one new person a month, and then also get really, really clear on how you want to be visible. So I actually created a free visibility assessment, if we can put that in the show notes or whatever. It's totally free. I just love it because essentially I made the people in a workshop that I was teaching. I made them go through this list of tasks and rate them one to five. I'm like, is this a strength of yours?

And then also one to five, do you like it? And so we can just get really clear on like, okay, actually I don't like being on video. Okay, then don't start a YouTube channel. And it's like, I've had people take this assessment that have been in business for literally like 10 years. She was like, oh my God, what a relief. Like that I don't have to do X, Y and Z anymore. And I was like, who told you that you do? But like we get this thing in our head because we're.

Shannon Mattern (43:08.537)

Thank you.

Mariah (43:22.398)

always inundated with everybody else's business, everybody else's how they're doing this. Oh, they launched a million dollar business doing it that way. That's great for them. That's their lane. Also, luck is involved. Can we mention that? Like luck of the algorithms can be involved in some things. And so it's like just getting really clear what you actually like doing and what your strengths are. I feel like that just makes visibility.

not only easier, but like so much more fun because then it doesn't feel like you're like going out to get clients, like you're not cold pitching in the DMs.

Shannon Mattern (43:55.497)

Yeah, like one of the things that I like back when I started, I was like, okay, I'm going to teach people how to DIY their website with WordPress, because I had done freelancing and I was like, clients are terrible. I can't figure out how to deal with people. I'm going to teach people how to do it themselves. And I like made a training. And then I'm like, okay, but like, how do I even get people for this? Like, I don't I don't know. And at that point, like I knew

how to make a website SEO friendly, but I did not know how to optimize it. I love the way that you explained that because I did not know how to do what you do. And so I was just like, okay, I'm going to start a blog interview series called Women to Watch, and I'm going to invite all of the business coaches who are teaching people how to start an online business, and I'm just gonna interview them.

and maybe I'll package it all up nice and pretty and give them some graphics and then maybe they'll share it with their audience when they're done because I made them look so awesome and I profiled them and I talked about them and talked them up and then packaged it up and sent them to share. And like, I didn't know any better. Like, I was just like, this is how I'm gonna like start building these relationships by like giving something. And

Mariah (45:18.37)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (45:21.601)

I was so motivated that I didn't stop to think all the things that people tell me now when I tell them about this strategy. Like, well, what if they know that I'm just starting and I don't even have an audience? It's like most people don't care. They're happy to be featured. So I did that for, I don't know, 20, 25 people and it just took off. It took off, it gained momentum. And...

I made so many friends and built so many relationships, so many incredible opportunities came my way because of that, because I initiated the contact. I did not wait for people to come to me. I didn't sit back and hope people would find me. And I think that there's this yin and yang, right? Like we wanna be findable, but we also need to create our own opportunities as well. And once you get all of that working together, it's just gonna create so much momentum.

Mariah (46:01.42)

Mm-hmm.

Shannon Mattern (46:20.529)

for you.

Mariah (46:21.766)

Yeah, and it's funny because even if you would have planned that out, how would you have thought that was going to bring you opportunities or clients? You'd be like, this isn't even connected. There's no way that me interviewing this person about their business is then going to drive people to my business. There's no way. But that's the thing. As business owners, we try to think that energetics don't come into play, and it does. Your energy was behind it.

Your energy was behind it. You weren't trying to over-strategize it and squeeze all the juice out of it. You were just like, this feels fine. I feel like this is a way for me to connect with people. I feel excited about it. OK, then that's where the energy flows to. And we just never think about it. Instead, we're like, nope, I need to create seven TikToks or seven Instagram stories. And it's like, your energy ain't behind it, dude. I don't care if it's the most strategic thing on the face of the planet. It will not work.

especially sustainably.

Shannon Mattern (47:21.329)

Oh yeah, anytime I've tried to follow the numbers in that way, it never works, ever. And anytime I just like let go and be like, this is what I wanna do, stuff starts happening and comes out of nowhere. I was literally just having like this tug of war in my head today about this. And I'm just like, just let go. Like just let go. Ha ha ha.

Mariah (47:38.443)

Yeah, and-

Mariah (47:45.462)

Easier said than done. I remember like when I was like three years into business, somebody was like, right, you just need to surrender. And I was like, I don't know how to do that. I literally went to Google and I was like, how to surrender? Like, I don't know. I need like a fucking checklist. Like, I don't know. Do I take a bubble bath? Like, I don't know how to surrender. Give me the strategy so I can follow the bullet points of like how to let go and let God because like I didn't.

Shannon Mattern (48:02.373)

Give me the instructions on how to let go please. Yeah.

Mariah (48:13.062)

No, I was white knuckling at everything. And like, here's the thing. We need to make money. We live in a society where we have to pay for things in order to live. But I think that we put so much pressure on growing our business in the way and the time frame that we give it. There's too many expectations. We end up stressing ourselves out. You squeeze the juice out of it. Now you're resentful.

or now you're scared, now you don't want to get creative, now you don't want to launch that thing because you're like, shit, I have no idea how this is going to play out. I'm just trying to make money. And when you're coming at it from it, I'm just trying to make money, then it's kind of like, well, that's not very beneficial to everybody. We have to come from it from a place of like, how can I serve my people in a way that nobody else can? How can I share my gifts in a way that can support other people? That's how the opportunities come. But it is very difficult to learn how to step into that. And it's a continuous thing.

I'll fall into the pattern of white knuckling and I'm like, oh man, there's a new idea, I got to strategize it. And then it's like, I have to hit a roadblock and hit my head up against the wall to remember, what if I just like eased up a little bit? What if I just had more fun with it? And then you'll start to see opportunities kind of coming through. And it's so funny that you mentioned like in an interview series, because I did that when I first started my business too, I was like,

know what? People were reaching out to me about interviewing me and I was like, man, I don't have anything that I can offer them. And I was like, you know what? I'm going to do an interview series. Ended up making connections with 12 people. They still refer people over to me to this day.

Shannon Mattern (49:52.109)

Yeah, when you reach out to someone with a give instead of an ask and you start that, like you start a relationship that way, just like you create reciprocity in a really like generous way that works out for both of you. And that's the thing, I think that's the secret for me to like.

remembering to let go. It's not about what am I going to get, it's about what can I give. It will come back and it'll come back however it's supposed to come back and usually not the way that I think that it should. It's going to come in a different way.

Mariah (50:30.686)

Yeah, and it's the same thing for SEO. Truly, if we want to bring this all together, it's like, I'll have clients be like, I want to get on page one for this keyword. Why? Are you the best solution to that keyword? You don't just get to choose a keyword and then show up on page one because you want to. Your website has to be, or that page that we're targeting that keyword has to be, a good solution to the problem.

It has to be in line with what people are looking for. We can't just show up on Google because we want. There needs to be more strategy involved. And it's the same thing, like where it comes back to, like, you don't need to get everything perfect to get results. But I do have clients that are trying to white-knuckle. And I'm just like, listen, we are not in Google's filing cabinet for any of these keywords. We don't know where Google is going to put us. We have to test it. We have a strategy in place, a very good strategy. But at the end of the day, we have to test it and tweak it and keep fine-tuning it.

And so like trust comes into that too. It comes into everything and like people will be like, well, SEO takes so long to get results. Yeah, because it's organic. So does social media. You can't launch an Instagram profile and then in three weeks you're at 1 million. Do you know what I mean? It's like, we have to keep testing and tweaking. That's business. It's all forever an experiment. And so I think with any marketing strategy,

with any business structure, with anything that you do, try looking at it more of an experiment. I feel like that just infuses the fun a little bit more, and then it just, your energy flows into it. I just think it's all connected.

Shannon Mattern (52:13.585)

I could talk to you for like another hour about this, but we're about at the end of this episode. So I just have a couple more questions for you before we wrap up. And the first one is what belief about yourself did you have to change to get to where you are today?

Mariah (52:31.394)

thought that I had to be everything to everybody. When you were saying in the beginning, we're website designers, I feel like I have to do this, and this, yeah, that's what I thought. I thought that I had to be the all-encompassing solution. I had to really burn my own man. I had some clients that taught me these lessons, man, of just we can't say yes just because people expect it. People actually respect boundaries, truly.

me learning that in business and me finding my lane and staying in my lane while also being curious enough to see is this still my lane or do we want a new lane because we're forever evolving. You know what I mean? Like my lane used to be something and now it's something else similar but it's like we don't have to be everything to everybody and how we change the world is like showing up.

in our zone of genius in a way that only we can, and we think that that's too small or we think that that's selfish, that's how we change the world. Because we can't go out there changing the world acting like everybody else. And so I think like, yeah, that's probably the main thing that like created a whole bunch of like waterfall shifts.

Shannon Mattern (53:48.153)

Wow, that is a perfect place to wrap up this episode. Can you share with everyone where they can go to find you, connect with you, where they can get your visibility assessment and any other free stuff you have for them to help them just get in your world and get started with you?

Mariah (54:06.138)

Yeah, for sure. So everything is basically on my website. It's mariamagazine.com. So that's where everything lives. You can learn about my offers and all of that. Then I think the visibility assessment is mariamagazine.com slash visibility. I think that should take you right over. If it doesn't, in my main navigation menu, there is a link that says resources, then it's definitely on that resource page. So definitely snag that. If you want to dive into my tutorials and kind of just

overview of like my teaching style. You can check out my YouTube channel. You can search Mariah Magazine over there. If you're on Instagram, Mariah Magazine CEO, we can connect over there. I love making friends with new website designers and then I also have an SEO for website designers workshop where I kind of go through and teach you like the difference between SEO friendly and SEO optimized and I go through like the top mistakes that website designers make that actually hurt their clients.

SEO. So you can grab that workshop copy. It's over on my website, in my shop, and you can use the code SEOLOV10 for $10 off.

Shannon Mattern (55:17.35)

I will link up all of that in the show notes. So thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it It was super fun getting to know you

Mariah (55:26.41)

Yeah, thank you so much.

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

Shannon Mattern
Web Designer Academy

ABOUT YOUR HOST, SHANNON MATTERN

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.