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Marketing Your Web Design Business with Virtual Summits with Krista Miller of Summit in a Box

Effective marketing can be done outside of social media – Krista will show you how.

This week I’m chatting with Krista Miller of Summit in a Box about using virtual summits to grow your web design business!

Krista has been a good friend of mine for many years, and is a virtual summit expert whose proven strategies through Summit in a Box have helped me and other clients host highly profitable summits. She went from launching a website in an attempt to offer design and development services, which eventually turned into her web development business, to eventually developing Summit in a Box and helping other entrepreneurs.

“I’m living proof… You can see a growth in services when you launch through a summit.” – Krista Miller

3 takeaways from my conversation with Krista:

  • Recognize opportunities and gaps in the market – these are what you can make an income out of, always coming from a space of service.
  • Take your great ideas and run with them, despite your fears and hesitations!
  • Surround yourself with the right people who you connect and align with, and listen to their feedback and experiences.

“I was like, ‘It could work.”… [and] that’s kind of what gave me the courage to move forward with this idea.” – Krista Miller

We also talk about how Krista:

  • Entered entrepreneurship as a way to escape a toxic work environment, and how she set and achieved her income goals to get there.
  • Learned to develop organized processes from the start.
  • Let the needs of her clients evolve her business into what it is today.

Follow Krista:

Episode Transcript

Shannon Mattern: Welcome to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast where we're all about helping extraordinary web designers like you to stop undercharging over delivering and overworking, and finally create the profitable, sustainable, and scalable web design business you've been dreaming of. I'm your host Shannon Mattern, founder of the Web Designer Academy where we teach the business side of running a web design business. So if you wanna make a consistent full-time income as a web designer but you're struggling with things like pricing and boundaries and mindset and marketing and you're just tired of going it alone, well my friend, you're in the right place. But before we dive into this week's episode, I wanna invite you to sign up for our totally free profitable pricing framework training that breaks down five mindset shifts to five x your prices without working five times harder. Just go to and enter your name and email address and I'll send you our proprietary pricing framework that will totally transform what you think about how much you really can charge for web design. So go sign up and then meet me back here for this week's episode. Okay.

Shannon Mattern: Welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast. And I am so excited for today's episode because we are gonna be talking to Krista Miller who is a virtual summit expert whose proven strategies have helped me and hundreds of other clients and customers host highly profitable summits. But Krista did not start out as the premier expert on hosting virtual summits. She actually started out as a web developer who used a virtual summit to book out her services and things just snowballed from there. Kristen and I have known each other for many, many years and I'm so excited that you are here today to share your story with our listeners. So can we kinda start back at the beginning like before Summit NetBox became the huge hit that it's been and all of your coaching and mentoring and training has like has just kind of exploded. Can we go back to the beginning and can you share with us like how did you even like get your start as a web developer?

Krista Miller: Yeah, it's always so like surreal to think back to that. You know like when you're starting a business and you have these teeny tiny goals that you're terrified of, so surrounded in self-doubt like you, you are just so sure it's not gonna work. And so it's always so weird to look back at that. But I actually started my, like the very first website I launched that turned into my love development business was me attempting to offer like design and development services. Please note I had never designed anything in my life. I was like, I can probably make pretty things. So like that's what my first website was. And luckily I tried to do like my own little portfolio project. I was like, oh, design is harder than good designers make it look. So then I shifted into just offering development services and that was a much better fit for me because I had a full-time like corporate job doing software and website development.

Krista Miller: So like that's what my degree's in that's what my background is in and everything like that. And really I just started it as a way to attempt to get out of that nine to five job that had become really a toxic environment for me. Like I was in the tech space, I was on a team of, I think it was 19 people. I was both the youngest and the only female and it was a lot of just really immature people and as you can imagine, things just were not always very appropriate and very uncomfortable. And I was like, I just can't, I can't deal with this anymore and I didn't want to find a new job cause I was like I'm just gonna find more the same. Like that's what this tech industry is, you know, which I'm sure isn't completely true but I just didn't wanna deal with the anxiety of trying to find a good job.

Krista Miller: So I was like okay, let's, I mean I see other people on Pinterest sell doing their own like design businesses. If they can do it, I can do it too. So I launched I think in September I think, yeah September, 2015. And my goal, I had done all the math and I figured out that if I made $1,200 per month, my husband and I could get by if I quit my job. Like it wouldn't be pretty, we would be like, it would be bare minimum we'd be canceling, you know, lots of things but I could do it. And my goal was to do that within a year and I landed my first client, I wanna say yeah, it was in December. So I was at four months, four months later. Like a little $200 client but it was something and then I just kind of picked up from there and I was able to quit my full-time job within six months.

Krista Miller: And that's kind of how it started. And like at that point I was kind of doing development for anyone and everyone who needed it, just random projects here and there. And then things took off a lot more when I was like, I can help designers. Cause when you're trying to market development to everybody, you end up having to do some design and I just wasn't good at that and I was like, oh, there's these people who can make things really pretty. I can make their pretty things like actual websites. So when I niche down found that I could focus on those people and I literally just sent out like 20 cold pitches and got a couple takers, that's when things you know, really started to take off and I was able to exceed the $1,200 a month fairly quickly. Like not anything wild but enough. So I was like, okay, this is comfortable. I can do it. It's worth exploring and continuing to do.

Shannon Mattern: I love that you are like, I am gonna figure out like what is my minimum baseline to create the freedom that I wanna create and to get me out of this situation that I don't wanna be in anymore. And that's like a concept that we talk about all the time on this. This show is like figuring out like what is your minimum baseline? Like yes, we all have like the big goal business, right? But like that does not happen overnight. We don't create that overnight. We don't go from zero to six figures in six months. Like I haven't met anybody that has done that. And you know, it took me three years to hit my minimum baseline, which was, it was a higher number because that's what my, my husband and I like decided on. You know, that we wanted to like slide right on over from paycheck into, into business.

Shannon Mattern: So I side hustled for three years to make that happen. And I love that you guys were like, this is what I want my life to be like and this is the money that it's gonna take to get that. I'm making some sacrifices here to make it happen. But the reward on the other side of those sacrifices is just like so much better to get out of that environment. Yes. Another thing that you said that I was like, this is fascinating is that you sent 20 cold pitches. Can you tell me a little bit about how did you come up with the idea to do that? Because if I go back to 2015, cuz we started our business around the same time, like with the same online marketers and online marketing strategies and all the shiny objects and things that we're seeing about like host a free challenge and like just all of these things to like market yourself online and yet you are like, I'm gonna send out 20 cold pitches. Like can you take me back to what was the driver behind that decision and how you felt when you were sending those out?

Krista Miller: Yeah. I know I was terrified. I can tell, I can tell you that for a fact now. Exactly. What led me to that, I don't remember, I don't think I was working with a coach yet at the time or anything. Mm-Hmm. who would have told me that. So it was either something I came to on my own or a friend was like, Hey you should do this. But I know the reason I did it was because it truly, like, I wasn't even an an advanced enough marketer at the time to see it for the strategy that it was . I was just like, I have something I can do for these people. We should be friends and work together. Let me email you about it. Like it was literally such an innocent email that I sent these people. So like I remember looking for designers who were not offering website services or were who were offering like website design for like Squarespace or something where they wouldn't need a developer. I was savvy enough to pay attention to those things, but that's like the rest of it was just me coming out out of a place of service and really like seeing an opportunity for true collaboration. I was like, hey, I think we could do, do you get on a call? And a few of them did and and like it turned into long-term relationships with those couple of people, which, you know, now that I am marketing savvy, I'm like good job. Like baby 2016 business owner Krista. That was good .

Shannon Mattern: It's so funny because like that, you know, you think about like, you know, everyone's like, oh I need to be on TikTok and Instagram and reels and have a YouTube channel on a podcast and all of these things to get clients and be taken seriously. It's like yes, all of those things can work, but what also can work is something very, very simple and direct and authentic. And if you're not, if your business isn't marketing at scale because you only need X number of clients to you know, reach your goals, you don't have to like go all in on content marketing strategies to get clients. And I just love, you're like, I was terrified and it was such an innocent email, which is like, you didn't overthink it. You were just like really in the place of like, I see how I can help this person. I see how we can work together to accomplish both of our goals. And whether that was like a end user client where you were doing all of it for their business or a designer or whatever. Like if we approached all of our communications that way it's not sleazy or salesy or pushy or stocky ,

Krista Miller: Right? Like, and I know like even since then I've seen opportunity for that even with local businesses, you know, where like I try to go check out their website so I can figure out if we want to go there or buy something from them and like it's terrible. And if I was a designer that would've been like a a fairly, I mean it would still be scary, but like a easy in air quotes opportunity to be like, Hey, I see an opportunity for you to make more money and I can help you with that. You know, like if I was was a designer, I would've totally done that by now. Yeah. So yeah, it doesn't have to be like a B2B type thing like I did.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. And it's like, well why don't we do it? Like what are we so afraid of? We're afraid of someone being like, how dare you, who do you think you are? You know, reaching out to me or we're afraid of like their silence meaning we're not good enough. It's like we make their reaction or inaction means something about us, which is why we don't take action. And like the biggest thing I think you can do is just come at it from a place of service and being like, Hey, I'm okay with whatever this outcome is. I'm not going to make that mean something about me, but I'm gonna go ahead and like give myself the chance to get the opportunity. And you know, so many people hold themselves back and be like, well I have to start a blog and before I start the blog I have to write 10 blog posts. And here I am a year later and I don't have a client.

Krista Miller: Right? Oh my gosh.

Shannon Mattern: Or a portfolio, right? ,

Krista Miller: Yeah. Why do we do this?

Shannon Mattern: I dunno. To keep ourselves safe and to act like we're doing something. Yeah. I mean mm-hmm , I find myself doing that at every like new level of my business even now. So .

Krista Miller: Yeah. Yeah.

Shannon Mattern: So you sent these 20 cold pitches, you developed some relationships, you got some work, you got some money coming in, you left your toxic work environment. When did you have the idea of like, I should host a summit for designers to grow my business? Tell me about that.

Krista Miller: Yeah, so that was over a year after I left my job. So I just kind of, I don't even know what I was doing honestly to get clients. I was on Twitter, I was in Facebook groups, , I was getting referrals, thank goodness

Shannon Mattern: Planting tons of food,

Krista Miller: But really yes, right, doing what I could to try to become the like go-to developer for designers. And honestly there wasn't really a whole lot of competition. It was just that they didn't, like at the time, designers didn't know it was a thing. There was no one else doing it. And you know, we got into 2017 and I was bringing in like three, $4,000 a month. So like for me at the time that was fine, but I was like, okay, well what's next? You know, like it's just, it's kind of the entrepreneurial thing. We want the next thing we want more. I had grown my email list to like between four and 500 people. So again it was, that was like two years. It was still small. I was like, I need more, I want more people to know I exist. I want relationships with people.

Krista Miller: You know, I had a couple friends in the industry but not a whole lot. I wanted to be booked out. So I was like at the point where I was booking clients as I needed them. Like there were several times where a project would end and I'd be like, oh crap, where is this next client coming from? And then luckily someone would slide into my inbox like that's how I was living for years. I was like, I want more leads on my email list. I need it to stop brewing at SNL's pace. And like a summit kept coming to mind as something that could do all of those things for me at once. But back in 2017 there weren't just like, you know, little business owners running summits. It was all the big names, the big companies, all these big influencers doing it. So it was one of those things where I knew it could potentially get me all those things I wanted, but I was like, I am not like I am not those people.

Krista Miller: I literally had a dream, I'm not exaggerating. I had an actual dream of like sending pitches to speakers and having them just sit and laugh at their computer screen when they read that like, oh gross doesn't think she's gonna host a summit. So like that held me back for a really long time, even though I was like it could work. And one day I was driving in the car, I remember this very vividly and I just like had this stop coming to my head like, I can do it differently. I don't have to do it like all these other people. I can make it something just for designers. No one was doing that. No one was hosting like super niche summits that I had seen in the industry. I was like, if I host a super niche summit just for designers, like no one else has done that yet, that's gonna stand out.

Krista Miller: So that's kind of what gave me the courage to move forward with it, this idea. And I still have like really small goals with that. I was truly hoping to bring in a couple hundred people. My goal for revenue was $3,000. And I wouldn't even admit to that. I was too scared. I was like there's no way I can make $3,000 with this event. But that was my goal and I, you know, I was just hoping to build some momentum, build some relationships in the industry. So I went ahead and I did this thing and I'm a very detail-oriented systems person, so it's not like I just went and leaned it. No, I did a lot of research into other people's events. There weren't like any really any resources or courses at the time, but I just like made this big massive over organized process before I went into it.

Krista Miller: And in doing so, I was able to create a really incredible event and experience both for my speakers and for attendees and for myself. Because going in with those tiny goals, we absolutely smashed 'em all. So instead of the two to 300 subscribers, we brought in 1500 attendees. Instead of the $3,000 in revenue, we brought in 16,000 in revenue. And I booked up my services for six months and for someone who was at the place in business that I was, that was 100% life changing, I had never brought in even a small fraction of that amount of revenue. All that once before, that was like, I wouldn't, wouldn't have even have set the goal to like have a 10 k month or something like that. And here I did one thing that brought in $16,000 and totally booked out my services. It was like absolutely life changing And yeah, that's how we got to the first summit. I'll, I'll pause there for now.

Shannon Mattern: . Yeah, no. So was it called the Simply Profitable Designer Summit at that time for the first summit?

Krista Miller: Good question. It was not, it was called the Simplified Designer Summit. Ah, just the fyi. Yes. Do your trademark searches before then because someone has the word simplified, trademarked and I got a nice little cease and desist after that first summit. So we changed the name .

Shannon Mattern: Well it happens when you're an entrepreneur and you're moving fast and you have a great idea and you know, and then you're just like, oh, but I think it kind of worked out for you because the Simply Profitable Designer Summit is like the premier summit for designers that's like, you know, the one that people attend year after year after year. And like you created a a movement out of that. So like it kind of worked out ,

Krista Miller: It did work out. I, I still don't like the name as much but we definitely powered through anyways and it worked out as fine

Shannon Mattern: . So you hosted your first summit, you got booked out for six months. When did you have like this moment of like, oh wait, I just created this whole system and all my intellectual property and all of my, like this whole package of something that could be like massively valuable to other people. Was that like a conclusion you came to on your own or how did that unfold?

Krista Miller: Yeah, that was definitely not on my radar. You know, we got to the end of the summit and of course whenever you do something cool in business, there's gonna be people asking you how you did it. And that's what I experienced. I was getting emails from attendees and speakers, how did you do that? Can you show me how to do that? Can you help me with that? And I was working with a coach at that time and I ran the idea by her. I was like, oh my gosh, there's people asking me to do this. I can do that should I? And she's like, you know, I think you should just focus on what you're doing. You don't have to teach people things just because you did it successfully. Just cuz you did something doesn't mean you have to teach it. And I was like, oh yeah, you're right.

Krista Miller: I don't have to do that. So I brushed off the idea. I told a lot of people no and just kind of kept plugging along with my development services and jumped right into planning the next round of the summit. I was like, oh that was wonderful, let's do that again. So I planned the next one for six months later, a little bit different setup. So yeah, I kind of just brushed off the idea of teaching people how to host summits. And then a couple months later, like again not on my radar at all, I had three people, not at all like related to each other, reach out to me on different platforms saying different things. So one person, it was an attendee basically saying that was awesome, can you show me how to do it? I had a speaker message me on Facebook, similar thing like you should create a system for this.

Krista Miller: And a different coach that I was working with then at that time sent me a message on Voxer saying I had a dream last night that you built this summit hosting empire and I think it would be really incredible if you did it. And I was not like religious or anything at the time I am now. I would've looked at it differently now, but I was like, okay universe, like I get the hint, let's do something with this. Like it was just too much for me to ignore at that point. I still wasn't taking it super seriously though. I was like, I am not willing to risk everything I've built around this development business to go pursue this summit idea. So I did like the very minimum viable thing that I could. I set up a super simple website on Kajabi that gave, was like a homepage and an about page and a sales page I think was really all it was.

Krista Miller: And the sales page was for literally just my Asana template. So I took my project plan that I had created in Asana to host my own summit. I organized it a little better than it was for myself. Added more notes to all the tasks and I was like, okay, if you want me to teach you how to host a summit, prove it basically. And I put that on sale, I think it was for 1 97, maybe it started at 97, doesn't matter. Put it for sale. Point is people bought it. And I was not used to that , I was not used to creating digital products that people actually bought . I was like, oh this is what it's like when you create something that people really want and really need. And again, like from there I didn't, I mean I guess looking back, I had the name summit in a box from the very beginning.

Krista Miller: So I guess I must have had that idea at some point. Like I could give them everything. And when they proved it to me then I was like, okay, let's do this. And people were asking for different templates and things like that. And then I did have the idea, okay, let's build this full-on summit in a box that is absolutely everything someone needs to plan in house to summit. And I remember sitting down to kind of do that one day I'm going, oh no, this is a lot, it's a lot of templates and emails and resources and trainings. I can't just sit down and make all this like number one, it's going to take months if not years. Number two, I can't put that much time into it if I don't know if someone's gonna buy it. So I actually switched, I kept, I kept that template up for sale and started a membership.

Krista Miller: And my plan with this membership was I would add resources to it every month, increased the price every month to continue to get that buy-in from people. Are they willing to spend this much? Okay, yes. Are they willing to spend this much in the meantime I'm using that as my motivation to continue and to get paid to build this thing. And it took me over a year to add all of the resources and make everything. But eventually we had our full-blown course that is now some in a box and people kept paying and I kept adding stuff and it turned into a beautiful thing.

Shannon Mattern: I obviously purchased Summit in a Box back in the day and hosted a summit and we could talk about that because it was like a no-brainer to just get that and follow that system and like have all of the thinking about it done for me. It was an amazing experience. But what I wanna come back to is something you were saying just kind of like really resonated with me. It's like you have this thing that people keep asking you for and that like keep buying and it keeps working and but on one hand you're like, I'm not ready to like go all in on this until until it's like prove like prove it to me that you really want this. I'm not gonna spend all this time making it just for like one person. When you were saying that I was thinking about my business journey was like the thing that I was doing that was the easiest was the thing that like I kept dismissing and discounting and ignoring as the not important thing.

Shannon Mattern: So my business was like 2015 teaching people how to DIY their website. And then I wanted to teach people how to do all of of the like tech behind their marketing, like the funnel building and the freebies and the email list stuff. And I went through so many iterations of trying to sell that to people and it was like banging my head up against the wall. But then I had this other like web designer group coaching program off on the side where like you people kept asking me like, how are you getting web design clients when you're giving everything away for free? When you're giving away how to build a website from start to finish, how are you getting people to still pay you to do it for them? And I'm like, well I can show you like I can teach you this. Like come join this group p croach king program and we'll meet every week and like whatever.

Shannon Mattern: And people were like, sign me up, sign me up, sign me up. And even when I would like lo do a launch for it, it was so easy. But I kept putting my just effort and energy into like making this thing work that was just A not working and B, everybody else was doing it too. Mm-Hmm , I wasn't the only one teaching the strategy for building an email list and making offers and like all of the tech behind that. And so I'm still curious about like what is ? What is it about me that makes me like ignore the path of least resistance and like have to take the hard road. But I guess I point that out to say like if you have people that say I want something that you're doing, pay attention to those things unless it doesn't feel aligned with you and it's not gonna make you happiness, gonna make you miserable. Sure. But it felt so easy for me to show up and make time to talk to those web designers and I loved it so much and yet it didn't occur to me that that was gonna actually like be the thing that I do, which is now the thing that I do. You know what I mean? ,

Krista Miller: Right? We have to get there the hard way I guess

Shannon Mattern: I guess. I guess. And it's like we get there the hard way so that we can help people get there the easy way I guess.

Krista Miller: Yes. See there it's

Shannon Mattern: Hopeful. . So you have this membership, you finally like, you grow it into a course because it has, you're like waiting for not waiting but you're like, you're making it prove itself every step of the way it sounds like. Mm-Hmm . So what are you doing with your web design business during this time?

Krista Miller: Yeah, so I was still focusing on my development clients for my main source of income. Like that's what I was relying on because like the membership, I launched it for $12 per month. There are people who got access to the full sum inbox course who paid $12. Well they paid $12 for a few months but still less than a hundred dollars.

Shannon Mattern: Wow.

Krista Miller: So it wasn't like bringing in a ton of money. Yeah, it wasn't bringing in a ton. So I was still hustling hardcore with development clients. Website development is no joke. like each of my projects took like five weeks of me sitting and hustling almost every day. Four or five weeks to make, I was charging $1,200 or something like that. Not enough. But that's kind of what I was doing that whole time. But as the membership got into those final months, luckily I had like enough foresight to start kind of backing off on clients a little bit. So I think in those final months of the membership I was bringing in like $3,000 a month through it and then we launched Summit in a Box in 2020 and that initial launch brought in 60 K and I wasn't even to hire employees, like do all these things.

Krista Miller: I was like I cannot, I cannot take clients anymore. So I think after that launch I maybe took I had a couple retainer clients left and that stuck with me until I went on maternity leave for the second. The second time I was like Guys, peace out . And then I maybe took a v i p day or two just kind of more as me being scared and having that as a safety net. But then after that, like I am had a development client in probably two years as of the time I'm recording this, which is kinda sad for me but also like again when I look at the money I was making at the time I was putting in, oh man it didn't make sense so

Shannon Mattern: Well let's talk about pricing Yeah. For a minute because your pricing absolutely evolve. I've watched your pricing for Summit in a Box evolve as the program has transformed from membership to course to like premium course to high ticket like group coaching, like implementation support. I've seen that evolve. What has shifted for you in your like money mindset, pricing mindset from those early days until today?

Krista Miller: Yeah, it was definitely like a stairstep. So I think the process I went through for the membership showed a lot like starting at $12 a month and not knowing if anyone was gonna pay that to now charging a lot more for our group program and feeling very good about that. And now I can look back and be like, I was just positioned for the Latin people. I was targeting people that felt really, really safe for me and I had to charge lower prices because of that. And like that was just me not really understanding positioning and business and I needed a Shannon in my life to be like, Hey , this is not it. And now I know like if I want to charge certain prices, I need to be solving a problem worth that amount more for the level of people who have that problem and are willing to put money into solving it. And I know I can do that. We have lots and lots of results that show that we get results far above and beyond that we charge. Like when I look at our client results, I know what we're charging even is just absolutely silly. But I just, I just feel much more confident in it now both in in terms of the return we're getting for our people and the types of people we are positioned to help.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah and I think it's not only like the value of solving a problem, but it's also like the value of an opportunity that is created. So like it might not be that like you're, you know as a, like as web designers are listening to people here that you are solving like a painful problem for someone. Mm-Hmm it might be that you're opening up opportunities that were not there before too. So thinking of it on both sides of the coin, it could be that you're solving a very like a problem that has revenue generation potential, but it also could be that you're like creating opportunities that weren't there before. And I think for when, you know, when I chose to get someone in a box to run my side hustle to self-employed summit that I was doing for the side of my business again where I was you know, just trying to, to teach like DIY entrepreneurs, like I think I made $20,000 off of that summit and it was like what, I don't remember what Summit in a box cost at that time, but it was at least a 10 times return on my investment if not 15 times return on my investment to do that.

Shannon Mattern: And so it was a complete no-brainer for me to do that. And you know, it wasn't like, I don't think of that as like solving a $20,000 problem for me as much as I think of it created a $20,000 opportunity for me and then mm-hmm , I've hosted my own summit. I speak at like any summit I can like get my foot in the door on especially your summit when you were the host of the Simply Profitable Designer Summit. And as a summit speaker, I can tell who is not using Krista's process because it is a painful experience to be a speaker in those summits. Not only is it like a painful experience to be a speaker, the engagement is not as high and the return on my investment of time and contribution and showing up is basically like it's not worth it. Like to me as a, as someone who is spoken at, I don't know, you know 50 different events of since I discovered summits as like an incredible way for me to like get in front of my ideal client. It's crazy the difference in quality of someone who's hosting using the summit of Box strategies or someone who is, I don't know, either making it up on their own, like trying to reverse engineer what they see other people doing. Mm-Hmm or I don't know if there's anybody else teaching it but they're not teaching it as well as as you teach it. So just my own personal experience, full disclosure customer of Summit in a box client of summit, what is it called? The launch accelerator where

Krista Miller: Yeah, I launched with the Summit Accelerator

Shannon Mattern: Launch with the Summit Accelerator sponsored summits where I've launched my high ticket group program off the back end of that and had success with like all of these things. And so yeah, I don't know where I was going with that other than to say that the value of creating opportunities for business owners that may not have existed before, even if you're not solving a problem, that's what we do as web designers every single day and Krista does it really, really well with what she does for business owners. So segue into , segue into Simply Profitable Designer Summit. You started it in 2017, you hosted it several, several times and I've spoken at it the past few years. I sponsored it last year and behind the scenes you and I were having conversations, was it in 2021 where you were like, I think this is gonna be the last year I'm hosting this summit and I'm like, no , no.

Shannon Mattern: But tell me what led you to the point of I we understand you're no longer working with clients because you've gone all in on some in a box. Simply profitable designer felt to me like this is my testing ground for if I'm gonna build templates and processes and things, I might as well like build it in real life and make some money off of this summit while I'm building my things to then repackage and resell. When was the realization that you didn't need to host your own summit anymore to successfully run Summit in a Box?

Krista Miller: Honestly I feel like I'm still coming to terms with that. I'm be real with you . . Like looking back at the past couple years, like if we wouldn't have run that summit, we wouldn't have turned a profit overall because we've been putting so much money into like growth and team and everything like that at Summit in a box. Like we have needed that summit for revenue generation and I'm still to the point where I'm like ugh, it's scary to not have that on my list for 2023. But it's time. And the reason I say it's time is just because of how it has felt to run it for me the past. Yeah. Two, two-ish years I guess being detached from the industry. Now this might not be an issue for everybody, but I am very, very relationship focused. Like it's in all the personality tests and things like that, relationships and community and stuff like that are it for me there are core focus for me as much as I would prefer to just sit in silence all day long apparently that's the thing I care about.

Krista Miller: And going in once a year, being like, Hey haven't talked to you since last year but you wanna come speak at this thing I'm doing has felt terrible. It feels so transactional to me. And there's people like, like you Shannon, you know like several other people on my speaker list too, I do talk to in between who like we, I have actual friendships with but a lot of them, I go to them once per year and I show up in their Instagram dm gonna be like, Hey wanna come back for another round? Or I am like searching for someone I've never heard of before on Instagram to see who's new in the web design space and I'm reaching out to them cold for the first time asking them to come speak at this event. And they do because it's a well-known event. We have a really great reputation but again it feels so transactional.

Krista Miller: I am only reaching out to them so I can put on this event to profit from basically. It's not because I want a long-term relationship or anything like that. And that feels awful to me. I do not like it at all. And I feel like it's also showed itself with our engagement for the summit the last couple years because I'm not in that space anymore and it has felt really weird for me to also try to show up as an expert in the space. Again, I think you can go out and host summits for industries you're not necessarily an expert in, but for me it did not, it did not feel good. It did not feel in alignment. And that is what kind of started leading me to the decision probably after the 2020 summit that like, okay, it's really time to start thinking about this. And I did I think even have that idea for the 2020 summit, but that one was such a hit. We made over a hundred thousand dollars for that summit. I was like oh we should probably do this one more time. You know and then yeah after that every time I was just like, I don't wanna do this again. Yeah. And that's where it came from. Just didn't feel right

Shannon Mattern: When I stopped doing one-on-one client work as a web designer and then I was like going all in on the Web Designer Academy. In the coaching, in the mentorship, I felt kind of the same way to where it's like, oh if I'm not still serving clients, how can I possibly like coach other people on serving clients? But I had to just be like, I have enough experience doing this . Like you know, and if my mission really truly is to impact as many web designers as I possibly can to create profitable and sustainable businesses, me continuing to work with clients is actually like in hindering that mission. And if you like wanting to help business owners amplify their message and make more impact and grow faster and build a community around their niche and their topic and their summit in a really like quick way is hindered by you running your own summit and you feeling like this no longer lights me up but it's actually pulling me away from the bigger impact I could have over here.

Shannon Mattern: Those are tough decisions to make as an entrepreneur and I think that that's kind of like you took a long time to make that decision, you hosted it one more time. You're like, let me look at the bottom line. And the bottom line is that it makes sense for me to run this event again because this allows me to invest in the bigger vision over here. Mm-Hmm . And so it's so funny that you're like I saw as like transactional and profit driven. I think every like, I never felt that, but I've had those thoughts about some of the things that I've done where I'm like, oh I'm not fully in it but you still created an amazing experience so I hope that you know that that like everybody still got value out of those events. Whether or not you had kind of one foot out the door so out the door into the next, what was the beauty of it?

Shannon Mattern: Like thing that you're growing to support business owners but we have to take risks all the time. And you said it earlier, it's like you still were doing design because you weren't willing to risk like that for this business, you know for the summit in a box it's like well I gotta keep doing that. And it's like at some point we can't do it all and we do have to move on and I'm in this place in my business right now where I have things that I started in the beginning that aren't in alignment with what I'm doing anymore and yet I continue to operate them and I continue to put resources into them because I'm like, well it's still valuable to some people but it does pull our attention and resources away from the bigger vision. And I'm like I'm having right now currently as we're recording this, like what do I do about these things?

Shannon Mattern: And I haven't made a decision, I know what I need to do but I'm afraid to do it. . Yeah. So I get it. I totally get it. I'm right there with you. So I had said to you, hey, if you're ever considering like selling this, please reach out to me. Because for me I was like, this whole event is like my ideal client. Like I would love to run a summit for designers but I'm not gonna try to like compete with simply profitable designer cuz like that would be silly. So , tell me about the decision to actually, the decision to sell the summit rather than just like sunset it and wind it down.

Krista Miller: Yeah, I mean my initial plan was to just stop.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah,

Krista Miller: That's what I thought the option was. I've never seen anyone sell or give away or anything like that. A summit. It had not even crossed my mind that you have like a really valuable asset that could really benefit someone else. So yeah, my plan was to just stop. But like you said after, I don't remember if it was one, I don't remember what year it was but after, in after one of them I like, I think I included in an email to speakers or something like that. Like this might be the last one. And I had several people, you being one of them come back and be like, oh no, no, no like this, you're not done , you cannot stop. And yeah, then you and Sarah had come to me and they're like, we want you to keep running this. This is such an impactful event in the web design space. Let us help you. Yeah. It's like ok I don't, I like, I don't wanna stop. It doesn't feel good to me anymore but if I have you two who are in that space here to help me and you have the connections and you have something to do moving forward with this audience, I can do that. So I don't know if you want me to tell the story but like

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, go for it.

Krista Miller: Our plan was that you and Sarah were gonna kind of take the lead and plan, was it the 2022 round?

Shannon Mattern: I think it was a two. It was either 2021 or 2022. And Sarah is Sarah Mastery,

Krista Miller: I think it was 22. Yeah.

Shannon Mattern: Of day rape mastery by the way for anyone that's like who's Sarah?

Krista Miller: Yeah, it was 22 cause it was this last run of

Shannon Mattern: The event. Yes. Yep.

Krista Miller: And we started mm-hmm , we had meetings, we were all excited and then I was like oh I really hate co-hosting summits . And I had co-host of the summit. I have done it before in 2020. My co-host was absolutely wonderful. But as someone who is an expert at summits who never misses a due date, who likes to move quickly, I do not like waiting on other people. Yeah. I do not like asking other people for approval. It just gets very frustrating for me. And I don't even think you and Sarah had gotten to a due date before. I was like you guys, I can't do it. Like it had already given me so much anxiety. I like we just can't do it. So I felt awful. Luckily Shannon is literally the most gracious human I've ever met and she was like, this is no big deal, lemme be a sponsor.

Krista Miller: I was like Oh okay, let's do that. So I brought Shannon and Sarah both on his sponsors of course gave him discounted rates that I would've for anyone else. We went forward as sponsors and I put the brand up for sale then. So seeing you and Sarah and other speakers be like wait a second, like you can't stop. Made me realize okay there are people who are really interested in this. And in the meantime I had met and gotten to know Chelsea Clark who runs blogs for sale. I think it's blogs for Mm-Hmm where she sells websites and blogs and things like that. So I actually was working with her in the meantime and en listed the summit for sale. Cause then I had seen it as an opportunity and in the back of my mind all along I was like you know, well I can figure out something with Shannon if it doesn't sell. And that's kind of like how it eventually came to be. But I don't know if you want me to pause

Shannon Mattern: And Yeah, I mean we can talk about like what our agreement was and everything like here in a second, but like going back to you know and we're like Sarah and I had like a side conversation where we're like, we're gonna talk to Krista and be like hey, like we'll co-host this because for us that was a huge opportunity for us every year that we spoke to get exposure in front of our ideal client. And for me it resulted in clients and several thousand dollars in revenue, just that one opportunity to speak at the summit you created. And so I wasn't ever of the like, oh cool, this is ending, I'm gonna start my own. I was just like, no, like this brand in and of itself has become such a valuable thing that whatever Kristen needs to continue to do this. Like I'll do all the work for the opportunity to get in front of people.

Shannon Mattern: However, when you sent that email I was like I totally get it cuz I am the same way I am. Like when it comes to a project I'm like can everyone just get outta my way please? Like I don't wanna wait on anybody. I don't wanna ask anybody for anything I wanna do When I feel inspired, I don't wanna have to wait to meet. I don't like I totally was like, I get this, I fully . Like I feel like we're a lot oflike in many ways and that is one of the ways that I, I knew you felt bad but I was just also like I get you, I understand you at a core level. So I was just grateful for the opportunity to like be able to do that for another year. My sponsorship resulted in, I don't know if it was 60,000 or 90,000, I'm getting my numbers mixed up, but significant revenue off the back end of sponsoring that summit and tons of incredible leads and all of that.

Shannon Mattern: And so I saw the blog up for sale and I was like Oof. And I remember writing you and saying like if I had that much money in my bank account right now, I'd be like buying this today. You know, I was like if anything ch I said unfortunately like I can't make that work right now but if anything changes let me know. . Which I had never even considered buying a business. Like what? Like that didn't even, but I was like I could buy a established business pre stocked with my ideal clients who I already have gotten the opportunity to be introduced to over the past however many years and especially this year. And it's like a proven model that actually converts for me. Like how can we make this happen? And so I remember saying that to you and then I was just like thinking in the back of my mind, okay well if this is gonna go away, I could start my own and I'll use Summit a box and like whatever. And then I don't remember like how we reconnected on the idea. Do you?

Krista Miller: I think I just, it got to the point where I was going to have to start planning the next one. Yeah. If it didn't sell and it wasn't selling and we had lowered the price of it. You know, she just kind of calculates price based on how much profit you generate year after year, which was a lot. So it was a big number. I was like can we just lower the price? Like I do not wanna start planning this again. And we did that and still we didn't have any takers. I think the whole time it was listed we had one person reach out and ask if it included something that it didn't include. I don't even know what it could have been cause it came with our email list and everything. But like basically there was no interest, there was nothing that was proving to me that was going to sell for that price she had listed.

Krista Miller: And also that entire time there was also this underlying feeling of like, this feels weird. It feels so weird to pass off this brand I have worked so hard on and that means so much to so many people. To someone I don't know, they could go burn it all down. They could go run my name to the ground with how they're running it even if I'm not associated with it anymore. So that was always at the back of my mind. And then I also just knew Shannon was interested and I love Shannon so like I wanted to make something work, I just didn't have very many ideas and yeah, we got to the point where I was going to have to run it again because we wanted to keep running it year after year while it was for sale so we could keep the price up and keep proving hey this is an active business that generates profit and I did not wanna do that.

Krista Miller: And that's when I was like, Hey Shannon, let's figure something out. And I had to like make sure it wasn't gonna breach any contract or anything with this other company, which I was very careful about because I do really love Chelsea and everything she's about but we were able to come to an agreement that did not require you to throw a bunch of cash or take out a loan to get it. That just feels good to both of us because we have an established relationship. I would recommend this to like no one else . There's risk involved for both of us. Yeah. But it came to the point where like, I didn't care. And knowing Shannon valued the brand so highly and would do such a great job with it, I was like all right, let's come to an alternate agreement. So

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, I was just honored that you trusted me to you know, run the event to the standard to which you would run it. And the agreement that we came to is like a revenue share of ticket sales, you know? And so it is in my best interest to a run an incredible event because I'm gonna make an offer for the Web Designer Academy off the backend and if I run a crappy summit, no one's gonna wanna buy my program off the backend. Their experience of me is going to not be good. And it is in my best interest to get as many attendees to that summit as possible because the more people I have there, the more people get to be introduced to the Web Designer Academy and my brand, the more community that gets created between solopreneur lone Wolf web designers who it's hard enough to build a business on your own and we get to like create that and provide education that we don't provide inside of our programs.

Shannon Mattern: And it's just this whole opportunity and it benefits Krista because the better the event goes, the more ticket sales there are and the more money she makes just by not having to run her summit anymore, but by passing it on until we fulfill our agreement. And so it just is like a huge win-win for me. And it is, this is a relationship that's built on trust and I have every incentive not to screw it up . And so like, you know, we have the email list for the Simply Profitable Designer Summit and you know, we are being very careful to not just be like, oh this is now the web designer academies email list, we're just gonna start pushing our offers programs pro. Like they didn't sign up for that. They signed up for Simply Profitable Designer. And if we do things right by everybody that is going to like stay very engaged and the right people will come to us, the right people will go to our other speakers and everything.

Shannon Mattern: And so there's so much opportunity to like continue to grow that brand And like my vision for it is for it to really like become the premier educational resource for freelance web designers outside of like our 12 month Web Designer Academy program. Cuz that's not for everybody. And so what you built is, I think is so important to the freelance web design space and I'm just honored to be able to carry it on and like with your brilliant processes and everything that you created with, with some in a box to be able to continue that. So yeah, it's like a love fest for you right now. So thank you .

Krista Miller: Well right back at you because yeah, I mean it feel, it totally feels like a win-win for me too. Like being able to su to support you, being able to pass something I worked so hard on for so many years off to someone I know will do it justice and not just have to let it die like that would've made me so sad. . I mean I would honestly, I'd probably be running it again right now and just be miserable . Yeah. Having to do it again. But like it just, it was just a win-win all around for sure.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. Amazing. So you're all in on Summit in a Box and the launch with the Summit Accelerator. What is next for that brand? What's happening for that in 2023?

Krista Miller: I mean if you could tell me that would be really cool.

Shannon Mattern: Awesome. .

Krista Miller: Well right now, actually next week, as of recording this next week, we're hosting our own summit for that brand. We haven't done that in two years cause I haven't had the capacity to do it. Yeah. Now that I'm not planning Simply Profitable, I do have the capacity for that. It's going to be a smaller event. The positioning is not as good as, you know, if I can run assignment just for designers, but I knew that going in and now all this work I'm putting into it, we'll have long-term benefits. Whereas when I've been running Simply Profitable the last few years, I don't have offers for those people on the backend. Yeah. I have nothing for them. Yeah. I get to the end of the summer, I'm like, thanks for coming, see you next year. Where like now this, I'm going to be able to leverage these connections I'm making with my speakers. I'm gonna be able to do something with the people who sign up for it. And that feels really, really good. So honestly that's where our focus is right now. And you know, we're just gonna keep trying to build our little Summit Empire in 2023, whatever that ends up looking like

Shannon Mattern: , I love it. Just to kind of tie this back to our listeners who are web designers in all different stages of their business, do you have any advice for those people in that space? For like how to, you know, create more visibility and get more clients? What would you say to them in terms of growing their business?

Krista Miller: I mean I feel like I would not be doing my job if I did not say consider hosting a summit . I feel like a lot of service-based business owners don't even consider that as a growth option for them. And to be quite honest, our accelerator, our launch of Summit Accelerator focuses on course creators. It doesn't focus on service providers. Right. But I mean I'm living proof, you're living proof that like you can see a growth and services when you launch through a summit. We have all kinds of I can think of several designers off the top of my head who use summits once or twice a year to book out their client schedule. And it works because you don't need hundreds and hundreds of people like course creators do. Yep. Buying after your summit, you need enough to get your client schedule booked out for a little bit and to fill your email list with the leads that will fuel that schedule moving forward.

Krista Miller: And that's what it does. Like I've seen people, a lot of people with services including myself, you don't even have to pitch afterwards. Yeah. Because it's just hundreds or thousands of more, more people who now know you exist and know your services are an option and you're the clear go-to for them. I never had to pitch after my summits and I still got booked out six months every time. So consider hosting a summit. If growing your list, booking out your services are a priority for you. It's really, really a powerful strategy. It's not just for people with like digital courses or memberships or anything like that. It definitely is effective for service providers as well.

Shannon Mattern: Oh my gosh. I mean like yes cuz like my wheels are spinning now. Like, you know, even if you have a very spec industry specific niche or you help a certain type of business owner, imagine pulling together experts that can help them in all these different areas of their business who also serve those people who have networks of those people that you would all be collectively inviting to this event. And you know, what we teach in the Web Designer Academy is marketing through relationship building. I mean that is relationship building and relationship building through giving before asking and del creating value and all kinds of things. And a summit is an incredible way to build relationships, build your referral network, deliver value, get connected and continue to like create that so that you have like a just a list of like warm leads of people who know, like, and trust you, who may not quite be ready to work with you yet, but they know other people and you know, they maybe will be in the future to just kind of supercharge those efforts. And so it's a no-brainer to me. So where can everyone go to learn more about you and Summit in a box and all the cool stuff that you're up to?

Krista Miller: Yeah, well you can find me at If you just go there, you'll see all the things. We have a podcast with over 200 episodes. We have, you know, downloads you can grab and check out. But if you're curious to diving more into the world of summits, that is where you can go. You can also connect with me on Instagram at Summit in a box. If you just wanna gimme like more details on your business, I can help you also like show you where to get started. Like check out this training, check out this podcast episode, check out this resource. So feel free to connect with me on Instagram as well.

Shannon Mattern: Amazing. Well thank you so much for being here and we'll link all that up in the show notes and save the date for the Simply Profitable Designer Summit, which is happening in March of 2023. I think it's the 20th through the 24th. It's that third week in March, whatever those dates are. So save the date for that. It's gonna be amazing and I get to host it for the first time and I'm so excited. So just thank you for creating that Krista, and thank you all so much for listening and we'll see you right back here next week. That's it for this week's episode. And we've linked up all of the resources we talked about today in the show notes. So you can go to to get your hands on those. And we'll be back next week with another episode designed to help you uplevel the business side of your web design business.

Shannon Mattern: So be sure to subscribe to the show wherever you're listening. And if you like today's episode, we would be so grateful if you would share it with all your web designer friends. And if you're feeling extra generous, we'd love for you to leave us a writing in review so we can get in front of even more web designers and help them transform their businesses and their lives. So simply scroll up on this episode in your podcast player and tap that, leave a review link or go to and it'll take you to the right spot. Thank you so much for listening and I'll see you right here next week. Bye.

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Shannon Mattern
Web Designer Academy


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

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