How to Stop Doing It All By Yourself with Stephanie Hudson of Focus WP

This week I’m chatting with Stephanie Hudson of Focus WP about how to stop doing everything by yourself and get some of your time back without breaking the bank.

Key highlights from our talk:

  • There’s a difference between being a “control freak” and a good service provider. Not outsourcing because you care about the quality of your service just means you care about your clients.
  • The language you use can shift the power dynamic and be the difference between selling a service and selling a valuable investment in the client’s eyes.
  • Selling outcomes and ROI versus a certain number of pages with so many features will allow you to pre-frame the value of your services and charge more.

We also chat about:

  • The beginning of Focus WP and challenges it faced early on.
  • How Focus WP grew from a need for web designers to hire support that they could trust to produce great results without having to take on all the small aspects of a care plan that they don’t want to or can’t offer.
  • Focus WP provides another “you” to help you with your business at prices that allow you to mark up the cost and still come out on top with services you might not necessarily feel like the expert in.

Learn more about Focus WP:

Episode Transcript


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

Shannon Mattern: All right, everyone, welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast. And I am so, so excited for this episode because we have been trying to make this happen for a few weeks now, and my guests and I just like hit it off so well and got to chitchatting so much the first time that we used up all the time and never hit record the second time. I didn't actually send her the calendar appointment for our reschedule date , but we didn't chit chat for a while. Third's the charm, third time's the charm. So I am so thrilled to introduce you all to Stephanie Hudson of Focus WP. Stephanie, thank you so much for being here today.

Stephanie Hudson: I'm ready. I'm psyched. I

Shannon Mattern: Am so psyched. You've

Stephanie Hudson: Our warmups. It's like, there's just, oh, it's like, it's so excited it's finally

Shannon Mattern: Happening. So can you share with our listeners a little bit more about you and what you do?

Stephanie Hudson: Sure. Boy, we really are diving right in. We're going,

Shannon Mattern: Yeah.

Stephanie Hudson: My name is Stephanie Hudson. You guys, I, lemme see, how do I explain this to you? I will take you back. Let's go back, let's go back. Imagine you're there, you're at your A o l Aim instant messenger. You've got the , you've got the Dial Up internet, you've got the humongous monitor on the family computer, right? There's just one in the house there. I was in my glory days, right then, boy, I was learning how to build websites and I was like cutting edge. I really wanted to be a designer. I like the creativity of it, but then I was like, I should design websites. I think these things are gonna be around for a while. We're in like 19 94, 95, 96. Ooh, I

Shannon Mattern: Don't even think I had the internet yet at that time. Right?

Stephanie Hudson: It's, I know, it was like, that's what I'm talking about. It's like early days. So it was so then I took one H T M L class, my first little Hello World, and I was like, my brain exploded and that was it. So since then I've done a few more things, but as far as websites and things like that go, I've been a freelancer, I've been like a contractor, like a regular contractor. I've been a part-time employee, a full-time employee as a web developer. I've started a couple businesses. I've had a partner. I've gone it alone. I've had staff, I've not had staff. I've had all of these different scenarios and I got to this point where I was like, there's something missing and I want, I wanna fix it. And so I, I met my, my business partner, Tom, Tom Jensen at a Word camp in St. Louis. No, in, did we meet in St. Louis or No, we met in Nashville and we ended up starting a business together. And now we, he's been around about as long as I have. And so now what we do is we try and give web developers and people out there who need to make websites or serve their clients in that way. We help them by giving them what we wish we had. Was this your longest intro of a guest so far ?

Shannon Mattern: I don't think so. Oh. But I should go back and check. But yeah, no, I love . I love hearing that background and just your journey to where you are many years later today to creating Focus WP So tell us a little bit more about like what were those conversations with you and Tom? Like how, how did it come to be that you're like, this is a need and we should create this and, and, and what do you guys do?

Stephanie Hudson: So it started with care plans, with maintenance. Everybody talks about care plans now, but 4, 5, 6 years ago, like, it wasn't as common. It wasn't really as much of a a saying that just was like a guaranteed everybody did. And I had built a little system. I built a system within my agency to do care plans. And it was very profitable. Everybody at the time hated maintaining websites. But I was loving it because it, I had built a system, I figured it out a way to do it. I figured out all the tools. I hired somebody, I trained them how to do it, and they would just go through the steps and it would cost me, I think it cost me $4 per site per month and I would charge 75. That was awesome to me. So Tom and I were talking about it, he hated it and we started talking about it and then he was like, I have an idea.

Stephanie Hudson: And so a WordCamp, he sent me an email, he was like, don't freak out. It was a business plan. And so we started Focus WP to do maintenance and some other little bitty things. But then the more we got in there, we realized all these folks are having all the same struggles that we always had. So Shannon, here's, here's a scenario, like everybody out there listening to you like, tell me if this sounds familiar to you. You're working full tilt, you're super busy, you need help, but you're barely making enough money. So A, you don't have the money to afford somebody else, and B, you don't have the time to train them or to onboard somebody. Like show of hands, who's been there. , I think pretty much all of us, right?

Shannon Mattern: I think that's probably every listener in my audience, every web designer I've ever talked to, it was me at one point in my journey. I don't think I know a, have met a single person who has not been at one of those two places in their business.

Stephanie Hudson: Right? Exactly. And then to compound it, you've got the scenario where you've got the project, you've got the deposit, so you're gonna use the deposit to pay a developer to help you do something. And then what happens with the developer? So help me, if he doesn't just ghost and vanish and then, I mean I've been there just, you're pulling an all-nighter, you're pulling an all weekender and you've gotta just dive in and get it done, which then is extremely stressful. It messes with your family life, it messes with everything and it ruins your like confidence in your ability to do so. You know? And then it also makes you hesitant or afraid to hire somebody to do something that you yourself don't know how to do. Because how can you trust that if they might ghost, then you can, if you can't do it yourself, then you can't trust somebody else to do it.

Stephanie Hudson: Which then gives us all these weird, like fake control freak feelings. Like everybody I talk, so many people are like, oh, I can't outsource, I'm a control freak. Guess what? I'm gonna drop a little bomb on you right now. You're not a control freak. 'cause Like if you care about the outcome of your projects and just want them done right and wanna treat your clients well and don't wanna have to be like on the hook for every single thing being done, that's just called being a good service provider , because it's not called being a control freak. So, you know, so you guys can let that one go right now. See? There you go. Whew. Just let it go . So anyway, we came up with this idea where we would sort of take off some things off of your plate. Now we're an outsource provider in case anybody doesn't know we, we have an an outsource team that you can get.

Stephanie Hudson: But in addition to just having a developer that can come and do work for you, we also take off, you don't have to put out a job listing or a project request. You know, like you don't have to figure out how to pay somebody in another country. You don't have to figure out the taxes that you have to, if you have to do any of that kind of stuff. You don't have to vet them, you don't have to train them, you don't have to worry about them ghosting. We take all of the HR and that out of the picture. You also don't have to worry about like morale. Like if you get a few people, you want them to stay happy working for you so that they don't go off to someplace else. We take that off the table. So we've, I kind of wanted to make it this place where we are, what you need in that little scenario that you're in with as little stress on you as possible so that you can sort of have these people.

Stephanie Hudson: And we have six, we have six teams at focus wp. So we have developers, copywriters, video editors, ss, e o experts, graphic designers or web designers and also admins. So we have almost all that you need to actually like run a project if you wanted to. Just, if you maybe are a designer and you need like, you hit some tech stuff, like some geeky stuff that is like stressing you out, you can just send a ticket in and say like, could you mobile optimize this site for me? Or if like d n ss, if I just said the letters d n s and you could just get like cold sweat and chills running down your body. Like you could just say like, could you guys just launch this site for me without destroying their email and everything else? You know, like, we'll do that for you. Like we're, we're just like your, your geeks on your team. Like if you had like wherever you're sitting, you guys listening out there like turn around, see that door in the room, like outside that door, there's a whole entire agency that works for you and they're just ready to do what? Like what would you go and ask them to do for you if you could just ask 'em to do anything? And that's kind of what what we are.

Shannon Mattern: I think it's brilliant. I'm like, ev I every every single student in our Web Designer Academy, like the, you are solving the number one problem that we see your company is solving this. And the other thing that I hear also is that people are like, I just wanna design and build the website. I don't wanna deal with anything after go live. Like they don't want to be mm-hmm. On the hook for client, like support requests and emergencies and updates and all of those things. And so like mm-hmm. They don't even wanna offer a care plan because they're like, yeah, it's great recurring revenue, but they feel like they don't have the capacity to maintain current clients, get new clients, do all of these, do all of the things and have a life and, and everything. And so what I hear from people is they're just like, I just don't even want, I don't wanna even mess with the care plan. Or the other thing is I don't wanna use WordPress because I don't wanna have to deal with mm-hmm. updates and things. And I'm very platform agnostic. I'm like build on whatever platform serves you and your clients. Like whatever, even though I'm a WordPress girl myself. But those are other things that I hear because people don't, because they're like solopreneurs, like they don't have help. Sure. It is all on them. And it's just so beautiful that you're an agency for designers.

Stephanie Hudson: Yeah. And we don't, we don't even serve like the business owners at the end. Like the website owners. Like we just work with agency people or marketers, web professionals. 'cause Like a copywriter could come to us and say like, could you build this site? I'm gonna do the copywriting. That would be fine. You know, but like, so we just work with the, the marketing provider, not the actual end users. And I, I agree with you about whatever works, works. Like I'm not a jam wear, press down somebody's throat. However, that is pretty much our, like that's our wheelhouse is WordPress as far as the development goes. Yeah. Now we have all of the other things too, like the design and copy and all of those things are platform agnostic.

Shannon Mattern: So I'm super curious, what were some of your early challenges in like building focus? Wp?

Stephanie Hudson: Boy, that's, so let me think. I hate when people say, that's a good question. I have like a, and I almost just said it and I hate when people say it because I think it's a stall tactic and I almost use it in that way. It's, it's certainly a stall tactic. . Mm-hmm. , because that's such a good question, Shannon. It's just like your brain is like, what should I say? ? So some of the challenges, I mean we built something that that doesn't really exist so much. Yeah. Like the care plan thing. Like it's the one thing that we learned is that it's amazing how much goes into something that you think you've got it. Like you think like, oh this is, I know what we wanna do. And then like the logistics of, well what if somebody cancels? What's our policy? What if somebody wants to add another site?

Stephanie Hudson: What do they click on? Where does that go in the billing? And how do we automate this? And you know, the, like we want this business to be as automated as possible. Of course. So we, you know, it's like there's so much to figure out. One thing that was like a great sort of principle that we decided to go with was, even though we wanna automate as much as possible, we do it manually first till we work out the kinks and then we automate. 'cause The automation part can be complicated and it could be even more complicated to go back and like if you did something like if you like, oh no, that actually doesn't really work with our workflow. You know, so that was one thing that we learned early on. And then we sort of just listened to our customers. So they would, you know, once they got in there and were having us do maintenance and stuff, they were like, Hey, could you help me with the fixing this thing and that thing?

Stephanie Hudson: And we would like just do like what you guys do out there. We would just say like, sure, it'll be about this many hours or it'll cost this much and we would do it. But then Tom and I were like, no, this is what we don't wanna do. Like we're just getting into another agency and that's not it. And that's not really how we're serving people. So that's when we sort of like said, how could we serve people better in something in a way that's different than just what we've been doing all along? And so anyway, so that's it. We've just sort of been loose and pivoted and kept going. And I'm telling you what, having a partner that you work well with, communicate well with and fill different voids in the company is unbelievably important. You've probably experienced this with some of the folks that you work closely with, but there's a book called Rocket Fuel and it's a fairly quick read.

Stephanie Hudson: It's not that deep. But the basic concept is like you've got the visionary and you've got the integrator, I think calls it integrator implementer. I've seen different things, but basically like you need an idea person to come up with all the ideas. You'll never guess who that is. the one that's excited about everything and wants to be front facing and all that. And then you've got the, the implementer or the integrator who actually like goes and does all the detailed stuff and gets all those things done. And that's my partner Tom. And like he wants to die. If he has to make a phone call, he doesn't, he never wants to be on video. He doesn't really wanna talk to people. He wants to just stay on his boat and work on the computer. You know, like he doesn't wanna like be front facing and if I have to sit there and figure out automations and stuff, I'm just like, ugh.

Stephanie Hudson: So I say he puts the tom in automation, but that's, I'm working on that joke. It's not fully polished yet, so don't judge me. But, but anyway, that's another thing that like if you are looking like if, if something's missing in your business, it's tough to find somebody after the fact. You know, like once you're already rocking and rolling. But to find people that do things that you don't do, like so many of us will say, oh, I wish I could just find another me. If I could just find another me, that would be great. But guess what? The other yous out there are all running their own businesses too. Like they don't wanna work for you , they're you. Right. They got big dreams too.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. So that made me think though, like we all think we wanna find another us so that we can like free up our time. But like that's kind of the company that you built for all of us, all of us web designers, like you just cloned us basically. And added tools to our toolbox too. Because like, you know, you probably do, your company probably does what every person listening is skilled at, but not anyone listening to this is a hundred percent skilled at all of the things that we need to be skilled at in order to deliver a project.

Stephanie Hudson: Exactly.

Shannon Mattern: And so fill none of, fill all those gaps.

Stephanie Hudson: Yeah. And we even tell our team, like the way the system works is when someone submits a ticket to whichever team it is, whoever's available, or it's they're skilled in that or whatever, they can raise their hand and be assigned that, that task. And we're very clear, like our company policies and stuff are, if you get into a ticket and you realize like, oh, this is not really good. Like I'm not the best at this, this I have a question or something like, nobody ever gets like in trouble or whatever, you know, they're not toddlers, but you know, like there's no negative consequences if you ask for help or if you say like, oh, this isn't fruit because we have a whole team there and like there's something that, like we have a guy who's like unbelievable with server stuff and hosting and all of that. But if an SS e o or a c s s ticket, maybe that wouldn't be his strength. Like that's okay. 'cause Guess what? The c s s guy doesn't know how to run a server. So, you know, it's like that way you get sort of like this, the best of all the worlds by having access to multiple different skillsets.

Shannon Mattern: So I have a million more questions for you beyond Focus WP , but Oh

Stephanie Hudson: Yeah, I

Shannon Mattern: Know. What I do wanna ask is like, how does it work? Like I'll tell you my experience today 'cause you sent me mm-hmm. a link to sign up for something and it was like, oh, I could book a certain number of hours and requested task. And I literally in five minutes, like had this thing like submitted and I think I received a response that you guys were working on it like five minutes later and it was like brilliant. But for everybody listening who's like, okay wait, I need this. Like how do I get this? Like I don't wanna make them wait till the end of this episode to find out how it works. 'cause I, I know everybody is just as like lit up in their brain right now that there's help out there for them as I was when I heard about this. So.

Stephanie Hudson: Got you. I'll tell you what they're also thinking. Is that like, oh, I probably can't afford it.

Shannon Mattern: Oh yeah, they're probably thinking that too. And that's what I wanna talk about after this. 'cause We get to get into pricing mindset too.

Stephanie Hudson: Excellent. Because I will say before we go down the road, if you're already thinking that right now and you're thinking like, I'll just skip this episode, I'm too strapped. Well the way I structure things is we, we, I call it we have markup bowl prices. So everything we do is markup bowl. So whatever your hourly rate is, it will be more than what we are charging per hour. So even if you make less per hour when you're doing this, you can then take on more work too guys. And you can also charge more. So, oh, I'm excited to get into the pricing one. But anyway, if you, when you go to the focus website, you can just hit the big red button, purchase some hours, and then it just shoots you over to your agency portal and you submit a ticket, you pick which team you wanna send it to, you know, if you wanna have like ss e o ticket, like could you do keyword research for this customer?

Stephanie Hudson: Here's all the details. Or could you write a blog post for this website? And here's whatever, like, whatever you wanna do, whichever team you wanna send it to, you just put in a ticket and then you'll get an email response. As long as the ticket is open, you will get communication from one of our conductors, we call them. You'll get an email every single day. It'll be an update of some sort of what's going on. Either they'll have questions or feedback for you or it'll just be like, Hey, we're still working. Just wanted to let you know. So there's another thing like on the backend, like if anybody ever asks like, what's the status of this? Like alarm bells go off and sirens whale and I come in with the big scary face and say, why haven't they been ca you? No, I'm just kidding. I'm

Shannon Mattern: Premix ,

Stephanie Hudson: But I'm a redhead so you gotta watch out firecracker. So anyway, so that's it. Yeah, you just, and there's just like a little ticketing board and it's just, you just send in tasks. It's, it's like magic. It's just pretty simple. Yeah, it's pretty straightforward. And we also have one, this is a fun one. In addition to the six teams, you can submit a ticket that is called a question ticket. And that is like, whenever you go and you wanna post a question in one of the Facebook groups or this or that, and you're like, please some random stranger, help me . You can just ask your team. You can just ask your team. And if you, or if you're like, I need to do a gallery or I need to put like the person's Instagram feed on here, like what should I use for that? Well, you can go spend two hours going down a rabbit hole of all the stupid different plugins to do that and not know like, oh, do I have to pay for this or should I do that one? You can just go ask a question and instead of one dev, we'll assign two devs to those, but they only will spend 20 minutes each. So, so it's not gonna chew up all your time. And then they'll just each come back and then you can say like, tell me more, or like, that's good. Got it. Thanks.

Shannon Mattern: That is brilliant. It's like having coworkers to bounce ideas off of. And I like to

Stephanie Hudson: Think of it as the phone a friend ticket. Yeah.

Shannon Mattern: I love that. I wanna be fully transparent to our listeners. I was like submitting this, this ticket for a site speed up for my website. 'cause That you were like, that's the perfect for this first job. It's like a three hour thing. And I was like, oh my gosh, I'm kind of embarrassed like submitting this ticket because I know it's kind of a hot mess. And I'm like feeling like, are they gonna judge me like I should know better than to have all of this set up this way. And then I was like, no, Stephanie's cool. I bet that they're not. That's fine. And I know what you're all about and your community is all about all about and how just supportive you are of other designers that I can't imagine that you're like, how dare she even like call herself a business coach for web designers when her site speed is atrocious. Like .

Stephanie Hudson: Oh man, you should see our Slack channel. It's so, we have so many funny gifs about your website right now. . It's like ,

Shannon Mattern: You guys are all making, you have your own channel for me. Mm-Hmm. like making fun of me. It's like

Stephanie Hudson: The little guy with the fire that says this is fine. That's you. No, I'm just kidding. . No, we don't care if everybody had perfect websites, we'd go outta business. So we're great.

Shannon Mattern: Exactly. And that's why I was like, if I'm thinking this, I feel like I need to bring it up on the podcast because only I love it.

Stephanie Hudson: I love that you did that.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. Not only are you guys, you know, helping people with their customer sites, you're also helping, you can also help web designers with their own sites. Yep. You know, when they're like, oh my gosh, like I don't have time for this or this isn't done, or I'm actually not a designer, I'm a developer, or like, whatever. You guys can step in and fill that gap too.

Stephanie Hudson: Mm-Hmm. , we actually have a special page on our site where you, it's, it's not like a separate service Exactly. But our absolute cheapest that we sell hours for, we have them like down shipped all the way down almost to our cost. Literally. And that's, it's called focus on your site. And the reason is . So that product is 10 hours, 450 bucks and it's, you can only use it on your own agency site because our thing is, if you have a good site, then you're gonna get more customers and then you're gonna give us more work. So everybody wins if you have a site that you love. Plus we all know, like we are all the barefoot cobbler. Like zero out of 100 web designers love their website. Okay. . So like, it's, it's fine, it's fine. We all hate 'em because we all know what's possible and so whatever, it doesn't matter.

Stephanie Hudson: But anyway, so that's our little thing that we have that's our little cobbler special so that you could come and you can get a lot done in 10 hours on your own website if it already exists. And you just are like, I just need to do this. And it comes with, by the way, a free 30 minute little mini coaching session so I can help you. Like you'll get on a call with me for 30 minutes and I'll help you say like, I would recommend using those hours for this, this, and this on your site. And then you can do it. So that's another little thing. 'cause We do like, we care about these agency folks and we want them to succeed. And so speaking of like, I feel like I'm doing sales pitch sales pitch and I don't like that. I wanna just talk about like, okay guys, yeah, you should go buy my stuff and everything, but like, let's talk about pricing. Let's talk about business building, let's talk about lead gen or let's talk about sales. That's one of my favorites. Like Oh,

Shannon Mattern: For sure. But like, here's the thing,

Stephanie Hudson: Let's give some tips to these people.

Shannon Mattern: I do not feel like this is sales pitch. Sales pitch sales pitch. Okay, good. Because I feel like it is solving a really big problem that from where I sit, I get to talk to thousands of web designers and I feel like it is such a brilliant solution to a very big problem that I'm just like, yes, you need to come onto my podcast and tell everybody about it. So I don't feel like you're being promotional. Okay. I feel like I'm very excited about what you guys do and I'm excited to like be a customer now too. Me,

Stephanie Hudson: I'm super proud of it. I really am. I'm proud of it because it really does help people. And here's like, here's another little sneaky way that it helps that it can help your, your folks if you are. Do you happen to know Shannon? Do any of your people struggle with confidence in their pricing?

Shannon Mattern: Oh no. They all are perfect in their price. You know, they all have

Stephanie Hudson: Thoughts.

Shannon Mattern: K plus their pricing 10

Stephanie Hudson: K plus with confidence,

Shannon Mattern: They charge. Yeah. They, yeah. They don't blink. Nobody has any tr mine trash around their pricing at all.

Stephanie Hudson: Yeah. One of our clients that worked with us for a while, and her and I became sort of like sort of friends actually. We, she, she had recorded a couple little training videos with me as a Guinea pig and stuff like that. So, and I was talking to her one day talking to her off a ledge. 'cause She was like, I don't know how much to charge for this. And I, I don't even remember what the project was now, but it was something she was gonna use our devs for. And I said, she was like gonna charge a low number. And I said, oh, no, no, no, you can charge this for that, for that thing. And she went, no, I could never, no one would pay me to do that. No one would pay me that much to do that. And I, I leaned in and I was like, guess what?

Stephanie Hudson: They're not, they're paying you for us to do it. And she went, oh, it, she sat up, her chin lifted, like it changed her posture. Like it was so fun to watch her reaction to that and it, like, it had it like flipped this switch in her brain that it was like, oh yeah, they're not, it's like, it is somebody who's an expert or knows more than me, whatever, all these insecurities that we have, it sort of like, was this weird salve on that little emotional wound that was like, okay, no, I can charge more because I have an expert doing it.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. There is one of, there's like probably 10 core pieces of mine trash that around pricing. If I, there's probably way more. But that one is a big one. Like, I don't know enough, I don't know everything, you know, I couldn't possibly charge that much because what if I do and then I can't deliver, you know? Mm-Hmm. . And it's like, I always say, you're smart. You'll be able to figure it out and I'm sure that, you know, no matter what ends up happening, you're going to do right by the customer. And now , you know, you have, you have access to people who can help you and just do it for you. Yeah. And you get to like, that's, it's a value add to your clients for sure it is.

Stephanie Hudson: Mm-Hmm. . And I love, I love helping people to charge more money. Yes. It's just fun. I mean, yeah. Then that means they can pay me, they can afford me. Of course. But like, course also, like, it's just super fun, isn't it? Like it's fun to have people like their minds open up to the idea that like, they're valuable and people should pay them.

Shannon Mattern: Well, they have the shift of

Stephanie Hudson: Mm-Hmm. ,

Shannon Mattern: It's the shift from like, I'm taking money from someone and I am harming them because money is leaving their bank account. Like that's a, that's a common core belief that I see with a lot of our students before they come to work with us to, oh no, like I am actually, this is an exchange where they're actually getting more than they ever gave me. Like when they can make that shift

Stephanie Hudson: Mm-Hmm.

Shannon Mattern: , like that's, that's a huge, I'm curious like for you, 'cause you do some business consulting too mm-hmm. , what are some of the mindset shifts you've seen people make or you help people make or you even just like want people to have around their pricing?

Stephanie Hudson: My very well, oh, around pricing specifically. So I was, I I love the sales stuff.

Shannon Mattern: Both all of it. Anything.

Stephanie Hudson: And so it's all sort of interrelated of course. Yeah. But like the psychology of it that if you tell people like the way that you present the pricing even, so should I ask me how much this is gonna cost? So

Shannon Mattern: How much is this gonna cost?

Stephanie Hudson: 5,000

Shannon Mattern: . Right. Okay.

Stephanie Hudson: Ask me again.

Shannon Mattern: So how much is this gonna cost?

Stephanie Hudson: Your investment's gonna be $5,000. All you have to do is click this button here, sign there. We will get you right into our onboarding thing and we will start tomorrow. You see the difference? Exactly.

Shannon Mattern: It's

Stephanie Hudson: So fun to teach people how to do that and how to just, how to present things even if something goes wrong or if somebody has an issue how to present it. Or if somebody asks you for something that you can't do, you don't say like, oh sorry, I can't do that. For starters, all of us females especially, but all of us watch out on your sorrys. Don't let them eat you alive. Watch how that puts you, it shifts the power dynamic. Not that you can't regret anything you've ever done and not that you should be, you know, a jerk about stuff, but like watch using the la the language that you use affects the power dynamic in the conversations that you're in. So if you, you know, whenever something is there that your client really, really wanted and maybe you even accidentally led them to believe that you could do it, then you can't, you don't say like, no, we can't do that.

Stephanie Hudson: You say, actually what I recommend here is that we go in this direction instead. So you never just say no, you always have an alternate, but then you move them in that direction. And when it comes to like the pricing of all of that, if you need a pep talk , I, I do this, I call it my proposal pep talk and I do it free once for anybody. And that is you do a proposal and then you book a call with me on my website and I will go through it and I will tell you where you could charge more or if it's good if you want to do that again and again. Like you could pay for that little session. But like nobody does. 'cause It's like if you start to learn like, oh wait, , and then I say like, okay, so I'm gonna tell you what to do and you go and do it and then if you make more money you have to come back and tell me like, Hey, that actually did work. It's super fun.

Shannon Mattern: Ah, that sounds so cool. Yeah. So, okay. One of the things I hear from our students all the time, and I'm curious what you have to say to this. There's the whole no one would pay me that much mm-hmm. , but then there's the other, no one would pay that much

Stephanie Hudson: For this. Right? Right. Exactly. Mm-Hmm. ,

Shannon Mattern: What is your comeback on the, you know, the, the core fear is like I won't get any clients if I charge this much or they'll say no and I won't make money. Like that type of thing. Mm-Hmm.

Stephanie Hudson: No, totally. That's a huge issue. This is not the answer anybody wants to hear, but math , I know we all just love some math first thing in the morning, right? No, but so you say, who was I talking to recently about their website? It was like a contractor or something like that, that, or I was talking to a person who had a contractor that they were trying to sell a site to and I said, well, so you're gonna redo their site so that they can capture leads and make more, you know, like get more customers. How much do they make on one? Like what's the lifetime value? What does their product cost and what is the lifetime value of that? And he was like, oh, if they sell a roof it's like 20 grand. I'm like, okay, and you're gonna charge 'em like 6,000 for a website.

Stephanie Hudson: Like if for starters, if they don't get one new lead or customer from brand new website you're building like that, that's this, the price isn't the issue. We've gotta go back to like what's actually going on with the website. So like if you can bring them money, like then it's worth it. Like if, if I said to you, Shannon, if you hand me $6,000 right now, I'll hand you back $20,000 in a couple months. Like how fast would you find $6,000 to gimme? Right. So if, if you think about it in that way, like don't think about it as the value that they're providing to you. You think about the value you're giving them and what they're gonna get for that money. It's r o i people's.

Shannon Mattern: Exactly. Oh my gosh. This is one of the things that we, we work really like intensely with our students in the Web Designer Academy on, is you're not selling an X number of page website with all these bells and whistles. You are selling the outcomes that the people can create mm-hmm. when they have that thing. And so you get to stop thinking about, oh I'm selling myself and I'm selling my skills and I'm selling a website and I'm selling branding and logo design and all of this. It's like, yes, those are the sort of yeah, those are the tools. That's the path.

Stephanie Hudson: That's who you're selling 'em. But that's not exactly what they're buying. Yeah. .

Shannon Mattern: So you have to like spend time learning about them and their goals and their business and then when you do present your proposal or whatever, you do the math for them. You get, we, we call it pre-framing the value. You get them thinking about what they can create as a result of working with you and you don't like not talk about it and just hope that they do the, their own math for themselves. You know? Right. And you say here is what is possible for you when we worked, worked together. And if you can get your confidence up around that as a designer and as a salesperson and truly believe that they're better off working with you , then they are better off working with you than you will. Than just like what you said it, you have to think about it differently. You have to think about what you're selling differently. I get so passionate about that.

Stephanie Hudson: Hey you guys out there, would you like to hear my very favorite sales tip for selling websites right now? Yes. Would you like to hear anybody?

Shannon Mattern: I'm gonna answer for everyone out there . Okay,

Stephanie Hudson: Here's what you do. Now you can't see us 'cause we're on a podcast, but I'm gonna tell you what I like, there's a physical aspect of this, which is best if they can see you, but even if you're just on a phone call, that's okay. So what you do is you talk to them because let's frame it a little bit. If somebody come like everybody knows they need a website. Yes. Almost everybody knows they need a better website , right? So like that's an easy thing to understand. What people don't understand is like, oh you need a form plugin or you need a call to action or you need to funnel it. Like people don't understand those things. They understand like the basics of we need a website and if somebody comes to you and tells you what to do, like says like I want a website that does this, this and this and looks like that, then you are a code monkey.

Stephanie Hudson: That's it. And those are, we call it a pixel pusher around here. And that's a commodity and it's not expensive. So what you need to be is, is it basically a consultant or a partner mm-hmm To that person with the idea that if their business succeeds, then you succeed because they'll keep working with you. Right? You'll keep making money off of them. So if someone comes to me and starts telling me what they want the website to look like or function like or any, or what tools to use, I put the brakes on that immediately and I say, let's do this. And I put my hands up like I'm holding something and I say, let's just set the website. I'll keep my microphone's in the way , I go, let's just set the website over here for a minute and I physically pretend like I'm picking up a small object and setting it off camera.

Stephanie Hudson: I said, let's just set the website over here for a minute and let's talk about your business. What do you want to achieve? Yeah. Set that website over there. Shannon can, Hey, let me hand it to you. Can you put this over there ? Yes. I set it down. So you say, let's talk about what you're trying to accomplish. And then you sort of start to get to the point of like, do they want the phone to ring? Do they want to have a portfolio that really impresses the visitors that they send to their site? Do they want to get people to whatever it's whatever action it is, they want 'em to pick up the phones, they want them to stop by their storage, whatever the action is, they want more of that on their site. So what you do is you say, let me help you.

Stephanie Hudson: Like here's where we are and here's where you want to get to. Let me be expert on all of the digital things. Let me figure out how to use your online properties and your online tools to get you from this point to this point. And a lot of times, depending on what they do, you are almost never an expert at what they do. Right. So I was working with a tennis coach and he was like, well couldn't we just make this website? And I said, sure. Couldn't I just go teach tennis ? You know, like sure I could, would I be good at it? No, absolutely not. So you know, it's, it's all about like what are you trying to accomplish? So tell that business owner or you know, gently kindly of course, but like they do what they're good at and as long as they keep offering a good service or product to their customers, then let you do what you're good at.

Stephanie Hudson: Which is to figure out how to make them more money through their website or Google business page or whatever it is, you know, all the online properties. And that changes the conversation. It reframes it, it puts you in a position of being the expert rather than just a practitioner or a, a pixel pusher as you call it, code monkey. And it, it's unbelievable what that does for the conversation for how that person views you. And even if you feel super insecure, you can say those few sentences with confidence if you practice it, do it in front of the mirror, do it to your dog, tell your significant other whatever, practice it and you can do it. I'm like, let's just set your website over here for a second. I've done it. I've done this with my coaching students where like we practice it and they do it and then it like they go and they're like, I did the thing with setting it over and I'm telling you it works. That's my number one sales tip you guys,

Shannon Mattern: I love that so much. This is what I hear too from people. They're like, but what if I can't guarantee that they're going to get a new tennis coaching student after I build this website for them. I can't guarantee that. Like you can't. So then they let that get, erode their confidence in the sales process and they wanna like back way off of talking about results because they're like, well I can't, I can't promise that. So what do you say to that objection?

Stephanie Hudson: I say it depends on a lot of different scenarios, but like, let's dig down into the whys why you can't guarantee it if it's because like you can bring in leads but then those leads go to them and they have to close this deal that's legitimate and that's a very real world marketing versus sales scenario. And so you wanna always make sure that that's clear and you wanna make sure that you put metrics in place to track the leads that you're generating so that you can't get this like, we haven't made any money since we started working with you. And you're like, well we've sent you 5,000 leads and you haven't converted any of 'em to sales. So you know, it's like you have to be able to cover your butt but all, so, so there's that like track things and cover it. But if the issue is that you don't know how to deliver those things, then that's a skill gap that needs filled.

Stephanie Hudson: So why can't you or why aren't you sure? Is it just 'cause you lack some experience? Well that's okay, you just get out there and you start doing it. Or you bring in some experts, like you get the Focus WP team like get a professional ss e o keyword research thing done and it'll tell you like here's the things that on this site that need to be changed for their organic search to work better. And then you can go do those things. You know, like again, nobody's an expert at everything. So figure out like, and I think Shannon, this is probably something that you are really proficient at helping your people with is like that digging down into like what is actually going on at the core here. Like what's really, what's really the issue there? Is it because like it's too many things that are out of your control? Is it because you're not good at what you do? Or is it just because you just haven't figured it out yet or haven't had the chance to do it yet or whatever. You know, once you can get down to those core elements, then you sort of address that rather than just addressing the big old, like what if what? I can't guarantee that. No, you can't. You can never can. I mean there's no, there's very few guarantees in marketing.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. And and most business owners know that. Yeah. And yes, that is what we do. Like the answer is so simple. It's like, yeah, you, you tell them here's your role in this project and your responsibilities and this is my role and my responsibility and when we both do our job great then

Stephanie Hudson: Mm-Hmm. ,

Shannon Mattern: You're good to go. But yeah, the thing becomes, you need to get aware of like all of the thoughts and fears that you have and then get those, we call it mind trash around here. Mm-Hmm. , I love, love that. Find all the mind trash, sweep it up into a big pile and we help you just like mm-hmm. Either throw it out piece by piece or get it all out in one fell swoop so that you can take action on those things because there's a lot of perfectionism wrapped up in it. There's a lot of imposter syndrome wrapped up in it when the solutions are actually very simple , you know? Yeah. But the reason we don't do the solution is, is a lot of that stuff

Stephanie Hudson: In all honesty. I do think there's another element though that is a lack of education or skill. Sure. not in like a ignorance way or anything like that, but like we've got so many people that we know who are probably side hustlers or things like that. And when you come at something sort of sideways, like borderline hobby kind of a thing, like not necessarily a hobby, but it's something that you're interested in. So you start doing it and you're like, oh I think I could charge people for this. When you kind of come into it sideways, you don't get a lot of the foundational understanding sometimes. And that can lead to insecurities. So sometimes, like what is it again when you get dig down into what you're really concerned about, like you're not confident that when they, the tr traffic comes to their site that they'll convert into a lead? Or is it that you don't think you can get traffic to their site? Maybe. You know, those are two very, so like go take a course, work with a coach, hire an expert to come in. I know all of these things cost money or you know, go do a lot of YouTube research, like level up a bit, confront that issue, like don't complain and be terrified that you can't do something. Go like, go be a victim. Go work on a solution.

Shannon Mattern: I love that. And every, yes they cost money, but like all of those things are investments that compound over time in your future ability to generate more time, money, and capacity. 'cause That's all, you know, we're all in business because we want more of those three things. Mm-Hmm. . And when you take the time and spend the money to like develop the, to fill the gaps that you have, whatever they are, that's only gonna come back to you many, many, many times over. And I think one of the biggest lessons that I have had to learn the hard way over and over is because I do like to dig in and figure stuff out. Mm-Hmm. , but there's an opportunity cost to that right there. There is you, you have like, I only know what I know and when I try to do everything myself, I don't get outside perspectives. I'm working with only my current like paradigms and beliefs. The time that you spend on those things takes away from from other things. And that goes from like being a baby business owner, DIYing, bootstrapping everything all the way till now where I'm like, okay, well I wanna grow beyond where I'm at. I can't do that with what's currently in my brain right now. I need to expand. You

Stephanie Hudson: Gotta level up,

Shannon Mattern: You gotta level up and you do it by not doing it on your own.

Stephanie Hudson: Yep. There's another thing that I refer to that I sometimes see people do when they are in that vacuum. I call it learning themselves off a cliff. ,

Shannon Mattern: I, I call it procrast learning.

Stephanie Hudson: No, no. This is, this might be different. It's

Shannon Mattern: Different. Okay.

Stephanie Hudson: Yeah. So like I've worked with some people who they, it's that same scenario that I just sort of said before. Yeah. Where it's like, oh, I'm interested in tech, I'm interested in web, I'm gonna tinker. Oh, I did this thing. Okay, I'm actually kind of good at this. I'm gonna do this. I think people would pay me for this. So your confidence level is going up, up, up and you're like, if I'm gonna do this, I just need to learn a little bit more about it so that I can do it. Good. And so you go and you take a couple courses where you learn something and then you get to the point where like you could make a perfectly good website for somebody that would serve them and their business. But then you're like, but I don't know anything about security and SS e o and D n s and all this other stuff.

Stephanie Hudson: And you start, so the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know. And then you absolutely just implode because you think you must obviously need to know all of the things, otherwise you're a failure. And it's like, nah, not so much. Like, you probably know enough, like you probably know enough to get the job done to serve your clients and you know, and there might be little gaps that you need to fill, but then you work with other people and you do all this stuff like, I don't know how to do all the things you can do you like none of us do. So you just gotta, you gotta understand the big picture and you gotta know how to work with people and you know how to ha have to figure out the end goal and then you can get there.

Shannon Mattern: I think one of the most important things in all of that too is relationships and meeting other people. Mm-Hmm. , who do the similar things in your space community. We have a mutual friend, Josh Hall, who introduced us and I think the email introduction was like, how the F have you two not met yet? .

Stephanie Hudson: . Which is hilarious because somehow that's subject thread is still going .

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. That's a subject line that gets your attention. Yeah. . And you know, just, I go through times in my business where I'm just like a workaholic lone wolf and I'm not meeting people and I'm not like, you know, I'm just kind of like holed up in my little office here. And those are like the most challenging times. And it's when I like realize like, oh, I've been doing that thing again. I need to like get out there and meet people and connect and build relationships. The, I don't know if it's serendipity or synchronicity or the like, magic happens when you meet other people. I just like your partner in Nashville, it's unbelievable. Mm-Hmm. to create focus. Wp. So you have a big community aspect of what you do. Mm-Hmm.

Stephanie Hudson:

Shannon Mattern: With your business. Can you share more with our listeners about that so that they can get like connected to some really brilliant, generous, smart people

Stephanie Hudson: ? Yeah, absolutely. So we have a group called Focus on Your Biz. And this group was started a couple years ago, live on a podcast that I was on. So I'm, I'm a panelist on the Divvy Chat podcast, which is about to change names and be not about just divvy, it's gonna be the WP Biz Chat, which doesn't roll off the tongue nearly as well, but it's a lot more accurately describing what we're doing. So, and I'm not sure the date of this airing of this podcast, but Shannon's gonna be on the show, so that'll be fun. So we were talking about online communities and all that, and I had said, ah, I wish I, I've always wanted to start like a group because you go on Facebook, which Facebook obviously is like the grandma's social network, right? , but . But it's unbelievably useful in business.

Stephanie Hudson: I just am like blown away. Not the front facing like people talking about their politics and their grandkids, but it's like the groups and the hidden little nooks and crannies where all the magic is happening and the connections are being made and there's a group for every freaking plugin or line of code out there, there's a whole plugin, there's a whole group for it. But there was no group to go and like talk about like, do you guys like what, who do, who does your taxes? Or do you do your books yourself or do you have somebody else do that? Or what do you guys think about pricing on this kind of a thing? Or do you offer that? And it was like, there wasn't a group for that. And I wanted to start it to where you can just like, I mean, yeah we can ask some little technical questions here and there, but it's like basically like, let's talk about the business of like running a business.

Stephanie Hudson: You know, like that's, that there's so much to talk about with that and it's so fun. So I was on this podcast talking about that and they were like, just start, just do it. And I was like, okay. So I just like jumped over into another browser tab and like started a group right there and then a bunch of people listening signed up and, and here we are. So it's a lovely little friendly corner of the interwebs. I have almost no moderation to do, which is astonishing 'cause it's just nice people. And then we get together on Thursday nights we do a group Zoom where we, sometimes I have a topic or sometimes we'll have a speaker or sometimes we just share some wins or you know, like this week for example, somebody asked me a question about a their contract and I said, would you wanna come talk about it in the group on Thursday?

Stephanie Hudson: And they're like, yeah. So, you know, well sometimes we'll just have somebody come and talk. Like I just say, we're just crowdsourcing solutions for people in there. So anyway, I love all that stuff. I am like, in case you couldn't tell, I am 100% extroverted. I'm gregarious. And so I really need all of that. And the little Thursday night thing started with some, just some friends that were colleagues and we, if somebody dubbed it mental health for web developers, that's what we call, that's what our little nickname was for the group. And it kind of is, you know, we get so many people come in there and say like, this is so great because my girlfriend has told me I'm not allowed to talk about websites anymore. Or like, you know, like the, or like, my parents won't let me mention my clients to them. You know, like whatever it is, it's like your people in your world outside of work, they don't understand it and they don't care and they don't wanna hear it. But we do, we love it. Like when you come in and you're like, oh my God, they ask me to make the logo bigger. We're like, no. You know, like whatever. So it's like, you know, you have that, that support group and it's remarkable how it changes things. And, and then we're gonna be at WordCamp together. I r l.

Shannon Mattern: Yes. I think this episode might go live before WordCamp.

Stephanie Hudson: If it goes

Shannon Mattern: After 2023. Shannon

Stephanie Hudson: And I had a blast in person together.

Shannon Mattern: Yes. And if you are listening to this, I think it's gonna go out before. So if you're listening to this and you're there, definitely email me, let me know you're there. We'll meet up and

Stephanie Hudson: Look for a

Shannon Mattern: Bunch of, yeah, we wanna hang out.

Stephanie Hudson: Uber's wearing three D glasses. That'll be my people.

Shannon Mattern: Amazing. Yeah. Well, I'll link up to the group and the podcast, whatever its name ends up being and focus wp this chat in the show notes of this episode. Can you, I could talk, of course, 'cause we already have talked for hours, but I could talk to you for hours more on this podcast. It's so fun. We do have to wrap it up. Can you share with our listeners more about how they can find you, connect with you, get in your world?

Stephanie Hudson: For sure. Head over to https://focus and Awesome. We'll have all kind of goodies and tips and things on there for you. And maybe even a little discount, maybe a little, maybe a little something, something get you started and give us a shot over at Focus WP. That's the main way that'll link out to the Facebook group and all that kind of stuff too. I'll link all the things that we chatted about if you wanna get a proposal, pep talk or whatever. Anyway. Yeah, this was fun, Shannon.

Shannon Mattern: That's amazing. This is the first of many I'm sure. Well

Stephanie Hudson: We already do this every week. We just don't always publish some so

Shannon Mattern: . Yeah, exactly. It'll, we Great.

Stephanie Hudson: Talk to you next week.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, exactly. . So I'll link all of that stuff up in the show notes. I'll share that out. And oh gosh, there was one more thing I wanted to say and it totally slipped my mind. No. Oh, I was gonna say, if you go to sign up for Focus WP and you're having a bunch of pricing, mind trash, let Stephanie or I coach you through like all of it. Like, if you're like charging enough and you think you can't afford it, like we want your business to thrive. Mm-Hmm. . So take the opportunity to get some support with that because it will unlock your whole business when you make the shifts around the value of what you do and how you do it and who you surround yourself with and all of those things. So,

Stephanie Hudson: And it's, it's absolutely a judgment free zone. I mean, I feel like you know that about Shannon too, right? Like you can say stuff and I get it. I get it. We don't wanna be vulnerable and we don't wanna show where we think we're weak and where we're failing and stuff like that. But like, we're truly white label and I, I, it's almost like, you know, it's like a doctor patient confidentiality thing. like, I'll be your biz therapist. It's private, it's fine. Love

Shannon Mattern: It. Yeah, love it. Well thank you so much for being on the show this week. Thank you. I really, really appreciate it. We'll definitely have you back to dig into some of these other juicier topics, so

Stephanie Hudson: Can't wait. I'm gonna pop into your group too and go like, hang out with some peeps.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, for sure. . Alright everyone, thank you so much for listening. We'll see you back here next week. Bye

Stephanie Hudson: Bye.

Shannon Mattern: If you are ready to finally stop undercharging and overdelivering, if you're ready to take back control of your time and book more high paying clients you love and make more money as a web designer than you ever thought possible, then book a zero pressure discovery call with me today. All you gotta do is go to, choose one of the available time slots, fill out the intake form, and we'll meet on Zoom to talk about your goals and what's really in the way of you reaching them. And if it looks like I can help you inside the Web Designer Academy, we can talk more about what that looks like. It is super chill. There's zero obligation to say yes to working with us. If you book a call with me, it is simply a chance for you to learn more about how we can specifically help you, you personally, with your unique skills, personality, and experience to create a highly profitable, sustainable web design business and create the freedom, flexibility, financial independence, and fulfillment that you started this business for in the first place. So just go to web and I can't wait to talk to you more about your web design business.

Speaker 3: This podcast is part of the sound advice FM network. Sound advice, FM Women's Voices amplified.

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