This week I’m chatting with Anchen le Roux of Simply Digital Design about the power of hosting a summit and community in web design.
Anchen le Roux is the creative director at Simply Digital Design and the co-host of the Page Builder Summit. She’s been a contributor to the WordPress community for over 7 years and specializes in summit and funnel development, website development, and VIP days as a web design expert.
She’s also the host of the Page Builder Summit – and I’m a speaker AGAIN this year! Get your hands on your free ticket right here!
3 key takeaways:
- Page Builders are just as valuable, if not more so than custom-coded websites because the value is in the strategy and execution of the design.
- Productizing services and setting specific packages and systems helps establish boundaries from the start.
- Summits and networking sessions are critical for web designers to learn from each other and gain insight into other tools and strategies.
We also chat about:
- Anchen’s experience with organizing summits and resources available for those interested in running their own.
- Her experience as a web designer and involvement in the WordPress community.
- The importance of networking and community for success in the web design industry.
Connect with Anchen:
Speaker 1: 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.
Speaker 1: Welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast, and I am so excited to introduce you to today's guest. Her name is Anshan LaRue, and she is the creative director at Simply Digital Design, which is a boutique studio that focuses on summit and funnel and website development. And she does v i P days. She's been a contributor to the word WordPress community for the last seven years, organizing work camps, speaking, contributing to core. She is also one of the co-hosts of the Page Builder Summit, which I have gotten to speak at a few times now, which is one of my favorite summits. And she's also the creator of the 30 day Summit site Bootcamp and Summit site Kick and helps people get their summit website set up. So she does so many incredible things. She's also a student inside of the Web Designer Academy. So Anshan, thank you so much for being here on the podcast. I would love to hear a little bit from you just about like, how did you get your start in web design? Thanks
Speaker 2: So much, Shannon, for having me on. I've been meaning to come on for quite a while, but yeah, so glad that I'm finally here. Okay. So I studied development or whatever it was called back then,
Speaker 1: 2016 you decided to go full-time. That's incredible. So how did you get your first clients back when you decided to go full-time? So
Speaker 2: When I went full-time, I can't actually remember
Speaker 1: Thing kind of similar to my experience too, just in like talking to a friend and he was like, oh, my dad needs help, you know, and it's just like, it's so interesting how those just little moments kind of turn into a bigger thing. So was this in, were you in South Africa when you were just getting started? Yes.
Speaker 2: So in the beginning it was, I was only doing like local cli. I only had local clients When I started going full-time, I started working in like a co-working space. So then things really, um, you know, snowballed, like got one person from the um, uh, coworking space and they referred me to a, a lot of other clients, but definitely in those days it was like the what I could charge for in South Africa. It was, it's not a lot. So yeah, it wasn't like, but I was made
Speaker 1: So how did you then go from, you know, just getting started with WordPress and loving it to like starting to like go to Word camps and, and really contribute to the WordPress community?
Speaker 2: Yeah, that was also in 2016 that I found out about Word camps. I didn't know, I, I think there were, uh, like a camp a year or two before 2016 in South Africa, but not in my city. So I started like, you know, I started looking for Word camps and I found one in Cape Town and I went to that one and there I met like a lot of people and I heard about actually contributing to, to WordPress. So I went back and started my own meetup inside my city because there weren't any, and I also at that same camp joined the Joburg, uh, group that, that they were doing their first word camp. So I, I joined that and was, yeah, also started also, it was was the first word camp that they ever did. And I was part of that team, like all the years that they did it.
Speaker 1: Word camp. I have to say I went to
Speaker 2: Yeah, so you know that I'm super introverted, so I've got that same thing and I always been on my own. I didn't know anyone. So what I always do, like I've never gone to a word camp and not be part of the volunteering group. So I go, because then you, you just have to participate, you know, you're one of the volunteers you
Speaker 1: Yeah, I was gonna say that is just really brilliant way to immerse yourself in it without having to be an extrovert. We talk about a lot inside just on this podcast and in the Web Designer academy about like relationship building and connection and how that is what really creates clients and relationships that lead to clients. And yet a lot of us are intimidated by putting ourselves out there in that way. And I love to hear that you're saying like, yes, me too, also very introverted and the way I I work with that is to, I don't know, it's like you found a way that worked for you
Speaker 2: So it's weird. Like it's one of the easiest things for me to do is if I can't belong where I don't feel I just, I start a group, like I would
Speaker 1: I love that. I didn't, I've never heard of Girl Geek dinners. So how did you, I know this is like kind of a weird question, but you moved to New Zealand Christ Church, you don't know anyone. How do you advertise this? Is it just on Meetup? Like how do you get people to your Girl Geek dinner?
Speaker 2: I think Girl Geek, it was similar to WordPress meetups where, where that is on the meetup group. So I think Girl Geeks had their own like website for go for different cities. So you just start one and they, they do the marketing and thing and they, they, they were like people interested at it was very similar to Meetup in in the old days like
Speaker 1: Gosh. So I'm sitting here listening to this. Yeah. And I'm just like, I have a tendency to be such a lone wolf and I am just in, not in awe, but I'm just like, I probably, and I don't wanna, I don't regret a lot of things. Like I try not to spend a lot of time, but I'm just like, I missed out on so much in those early days of like community building and meeting other developers and participating in these events and I just think that there's so much value in doing that. And when you were saying that, you're like, oh, whenever I felt like I didn't belong, I would just create my own space. It reminds me of this concept we talk about in the web designer academy. Like we build your own table and we did a podcast episode on it where it's like one of our students and one of my team members, Erica Nash, she's a curriculum designer and she has that business that she does on the side and she was saying like, I don't feel like I belong, I don't feel like I have anything to contribute to other people's conversations.
Speaker 1: And one of our other students, Lee said to her or she said like, I don't feel like I deserve a seat at the table or I'm good enough to have a seat at the table. And Lee was just like, well build your own table then. And I feel like that is just what you have done. Like everywhere you go you build your own table and then you're like, okay, New Zealand, I don't know, where did you go after New Zealand? Back to South Africa.
Speaker 2: Yeah, went back there. Yes.
Speaker 1: And then Portugal
Speaker 1: It's like you're this like secret powerhouse behind the scenes though, like making all of this stuff happen, but you're not like necessarily like out front like as this like extroverted personality driving it all, but you're like just quietly making it happen behind the scenes.
Speaker 2: Yeah, I, yeah, that's how I
Speaker 1: Tell me about your first summit. Like what, which summit was your first one? So
Speaker 2: The first one I did was, uh, on my own. It was just like a WordPress summit, so very like Word Camp Europe. I think it was the 2000 and, no, it was the 2019 one. Yeah. And I met a few people there that I thought, ah, it would be great interviewing them. And I actually spoke to one of the guys, um, Jonathan, he's also from South Africa. He is also well known in the workplace community. I kind of asked him to co-host but he wasn't, it was more like just so that I'm not alone. So he co-hosted some of the, um, of the interviews for me and yeah, we, um, I, yeah, so it was just like my idea of that summit was, it was before Covid and any everything, the idea was just to give people, especially people from Africa that doesn't have, might not have the opportunity to travel to Word camps to give them a similar thing. There wasn't really something like that in the workplace space at that stage. Um, yeah, so that was the first one and then Nathan saw it and we started talking about it. Nathan, uh, Wrigley and then, yeah, that's how the, we decided to start the page builder Summit.
Speaker 1: Yeah. So Nathan is your co-host of the Page Builder Summit. Why did you guys choose to do a summit about Page Builders?
Speaker 2: So it was his idea. He came up with the idea of using Page Builders and I, at that stage I, well I was, I just love Page Builders. I, page builders changed a lot. I think I started using Page Builders around 2000 in 16 as well. So before that I was custom uh, coding themes and things like that and it just, when I found Beaver Builders, the one, well I did uh, dabble a little bit in Divy, but at that stage DIVY wasn't as powerful. So when I found Pivotable that I was like, oh, more word. This is so much easier and this is like awesome. And yeah, so at that stage I was really loving page bald as well. I still, I still do so
Speaker 1: I love page builders as well. If not for page builders, I would not have gone out on my own freelancing for sure. I found Make, which is what I taught the free five day website challenge on originally then Divvy, then I fell in love with Elementor. And I'm curious what your perspective is since you guys are on six of the Page Builder Summit, which is incredible that, I mean it is one of the premier summits for web designers and I'm honored every time I'm ex I'm invited to speak there. I'm curious what your thoughts are from your experience in hosting the summit and talking to all the attendees and all of the things. Because one of the biggest, I would say uphill battles I have with Web Designer Academy students when they join our program is that they think they can't charge that much because it's so easy to build a website with PA because of page builders and because it's so easy they can't charge that much and because it's so easy, why wouldn't their clients just do it themselves because it's so easy. And so they have like mind trash around how page builders have just kind of really, I would say, leveled the playing field in a way, but also not at the same time. So I'm just really curious, like what is your perception of that in the space since you've been so immersed with so many people that use page builders?
Speaker 2: Yeah, so I don't really see why a page builder would be, or building a site in a page builder would be less valuable in, so I don't think about building websites in terms of the time it takes, because I know it, like even if you custom code, you can do like a copy of that, that site and just change a few codes and you know, and it'll still be, so it's not about the time it takes, it's about the value and especially a site build with a page builder is just so much easier for a client to use. So I think that it's more valuable, like if you make it easy for them to, to change, make changes and you, you empower them and you educate them to do it. Yeah, I definitely think it could be like
Speaker 1: Say. I love that so much that it's not even
Speaker 2: Yeah. And also things like the value doesn't actually lie in how it's built, it's lies in the strategy before. So it lies in the way that, you know, the flow of the site and oh, talking to you to the ideal clients and things like that. And that doesn't matter if you are using a page builder to set that up or whatever else. So yeah.
Speaker 1: I would love to talk to you more about like your journey in terms of how you see your value as a web designer from when you started freelancing in 2016 to now. Like what do you think are some of those key transformations that you've had along the way?
Speaker 2: Hmm, okay, so when in 2016 when I, I did the, was it called Mavens? Wp? Sure. I forgot what it was called back then. Uh, Troy Dean's course. So I was like, well, like I mentioned, I started freelancing like two 13 I think. So I was doing websites for about three years at that stage and that was the first course that that taught me about mindset and uh, you know, not having the employer mindset when it comes to clients, but I was still, I, I still praised myself on being that, you know, that flexible, giving the client everything they wanted and being like, could do anything and whatever you want, you can just come to me. I will just custom do proposals every time. So I think the first time that things, you know, really changed for me was in 2019 when I did Sarah Matthew's IP Day course.
Speaker 2: So the thing with her course was that it, I think we've talked about this before, it, it taught me that the idea of having boundaries and boundaries with your time and boundaries with what you do. So even though, um, when I joined the um, W D A I moved to bigger projects, but it was still the fact that it's like a set time or it's like a set package. It's um, the whole idea of that's one of the biggest things that changed is to think about it as a more of a product productized because it makes it, the first thing is it makes it easier for clients to understand what you're offering because you have this, you know, this thing that you can sell. And then also just the, it makes it so much easier to offer it because they, it's like, uh, you know, you have your boundaries set and you've got your, um, specific systems. So yeah, I think that was the biggest change for
Speaker 1: Me. I love when I see web designers really like leaning into boundaries
Speaker 2: Definitely.
Speaker 1: So you and Nathan host the Page Builder Summit twice a year it seems like. Is it twice a year?
Speaker 2: It's supposed to. I think last year we only did one. We did, didn't do one in September because life got too busy. So then that's why we did it like early this year. So yeah, more or less one or once or twice a year.
Speaker 1: What are some of your favorite like topics and sessions that people talk about at the page Builder Summit
Speaker 2: Yeah, no, I, the types I I like is like anything to do with like behind the scenes, like stuff like how they do things. Like I know I always love seeing behind, behind the scenes how she does like setting up a and project management in general and the systems they use. And even though I've probably done, I dunno more than 10 different systems, uh, website system, just just so that I can see behind the scenes, I, I just love those type of things. So anything specific and then focus maybe like, I like to see it sessions maybe focused on onboarding or a session focused on offboarding or something specific. So it might not be very page builder specific, but still how they use page builders in their business.
Speaker 1: When you were saying that it was making me think of I'm so glad I don't have a day job anymore. However, I do miss having coworkers who just have really unique, brilliant ways of doing things. And when you're like in the same room with someone and you can literally like stand behind them and peer over their shoulder and see how they're doing what they're doing or just be like, I didn't know you could do that. Or I didn't know that was a thing or I didn't know about that tool. I think that that's one of the things that I think summits like Page Builder Summit are really good at kind of, there's this connection that's missing when we're all solo independent entrepreneurs working by ourselves from home that we don't get that connection and collaboration and just idea sharing and just the power of multiple different brains together that I think is such an important thing to experience. And that's why I love, I love speaking at summits but I love, like I also love watching summit presentations 'cause I'm like, oh and then sometimes I have to just not watch some because I will go off on a tangent and be like, I need to change my whole business now 'cause that is so cool. And then I'm like, Nope, don't do it. Sit on your hands.
Speaker 2: Yeah, that's always
Speaker 1: Yeah, one of the things we do inside the Web Designer Academy are Genius chats. And that's a way, that's just a session that we do and we're like, Hey everybody come, we're gonna talk about, I don't know, random tech tool or systems or how you do X, Y, Z. And then they just all get to like come together and basically it's like a show, like an a really geeky, nerdy show and tell and it is just, yeah,
Speaker 2: Yeah, so for um, just normal websites, I love working with, um, service providers. Um, I, I always say creative service providers 'cause it's just a, a certain yeah type of person that's very fun working with and for them it's mostly like setting up, just making it more scalable like booking systems and most online service provider nowadays do have some sort of, you know, scalable offer in any case. So there, there's always some funnel set up, like even if it's just like a small product or whatever. So, and then, so that's the website side. And then obviously summits are still a big part of what we do. I really do love them because it's just, yeah, it's a big project and if you go in and it's like I've mentioned before, it's that whole prioritized thing so we, I know exactly when to do what, you know, in the process. 'cause we've done so many summits and we, we always follow Krista from Summits in a box process and usually the clients also, they've done that so they know what it's supposed to look like. So yeah, it just makes for, for really easy and fun clients.
Speaker 1: Summit websites are like, they have a lot of moving parts I guess would be the best way to describe them. It's a complex project and for people who are running their first summit as like a list building or relationship building or whatever, I have talked to colleagues of mine who are like, I wanna do a summit and they can get really overwhelmed by the tech really, really quickly. And I know that that's something that, that you not only do with one-on-one projects, but you also created an online course or a program to like help people walk through that. Can you tell me more about that?
Speaker 2: Yeah, so the, there's the 30 day summit site bootcamp. It's just uh, basically taking them through 30 days of every day they do something to set up those sites. So it's, it is in WordPress and I mainly talk about creating in with Beva Builder, but that part's not that important because I, you know, like the plugins, the rest of the things are all agnostic of a boulder. Yeah, basically in 30 days you can set up your whole web summit website.
Speaker 1: I love that concept
Speaker 2: That's awesome. I think that's one of the things that, sorry, people don't realize that it's, yeah, it's really hectic setting up your first summit, but if you just stay with the same topic like we are doing with the
Speaker 1: Yeah. So I have just a couple more questions for you before we wrap up. The first one is, what is one piece of advice you would give to a web designer who is in those first couple years of their business? So
Speaker 2: I, I was thinking about this one and I, and basically I already uh, mentioned that, um, trying to productize but it, it's hard to do in your first few years. I remember like all the courses I did, but either saying niching down or productizing and I, I understand that why you should or I now understand why you should do it, but it is really hard in the beginning to do it. But what I think is that you should still try and do it but just change quickly. So try a niche or try a productized service like you know, ize site for plumbers or whatever and then if it doesn't work, move on. Move on. Because you do need to experiment quite a lot in the beginning to find what you like. So yeah, it's one of those chicken egg things, but I think that is what I would say
Speaker 2: In the beginning that you can't afford to say no to any project, so yeah, you just do whatever. So, but it does make it hard when you start, start doing messaging and things, it makes it harder to speak to the correct people. So yeah, it's that
Speaker 1: Yeah. Interesting. One thing that I've noticed with you is that like mentorship has been a key thing that you have incorporated into your business. You know, you said, oh, I took this course and it taught me how to do this and then, you know, working with Sarah Massey and being a member of the Web Designer Academy, how has mentorship like helped you throughout your journey?
Speaker 2: Yeah, it definitely, definitely played a really, really big part. It's mentorship, it's the, the actual training or courses that I took and it's also the community that I was part of. So I remember being like the very first time the, the Mavens or whatever they were called WP Mavens, the people that I met there that, that, those were the people that I invited to podcasts and that's how I connected to other people again. And you know, you even get clients that way. So I definitely, I'm, I'm a big believer in, in mentorship. Definitely.
Speaker 1: I love that you mentioned the community aspect of that because I mean, maybe this was like a little shortsighted of me or naive, but when I started the Web Designer Academy I created the community, the quote unquote community as a place for people to just be able to ask me questions when we were in between calls and things. And it has taken on, it's a life of its own, its own identity, its own, it's just own vibe. And it is one of the most joyful and unexpected unplanned for things that I'm just like in awe of. And it's one of my favorite parts about this 'cause I'm like, oh, I didn't mean to like create a place where I just like, I look forward to being there every single day and I can't wait to like check in on it. I love being with our students and I didn't really, that wasn't my intention and it's just, it's just really, really fantastic. So I'm really glad that you're a part of it as well because we have some really special brilliant people in there. I ask this question to almost everybody that comes on the show and that is, what's one belief about yourself that you had to change to get to where you are today?
Speaker 2: I think yeah, definitely the, the whole that I'm such a big introvert. I still like having to do like challenges or anything that, you know, have you have to go live in a Facebook group then I, I just say no I can't do it, I can't do that thing. But yeah, definitely just thinking that it is possible like English doesn the well or whatever the thing is that yeah, that I can do it.
Speaker 1: I love it. I love that so much. So thank you so much for being here. Can you let everyone know where they can go to just connect with you and meet you, learn more about you? I have a feeling we have a lot of people listening that would love to be more involved in different communities and just don't know how to get started. And I think you are a great place
Speaker 2: I'm so not on socials anymore, so I'm trying to think which one. Me
Speaker 1: Either.
Speaker 2: So, but yeah, the easiest might probably be Instagram because there I'm just forward slash simply digital design, so, um, yeah, that's, that might be an easy one. Or Facebook. It's, I think it's so an easy one to get me. So yeah, I think that's it.
Speaker 1: My Awesome, I'll up your website. Go
Speaker 2: Ahead,
Speaker 1: Fantastic. Yeah, I'll link all of that up in the show notes so you all can go and connect with Angen and get in her world and learn more about her. So thank you so much for being here. This was really, really fun to talk to you and get more of your backstory, even though we talk a lot inside the Web Designer Academy. It's been really cool to see this side of you. Cool.
Speaker 2: Thanks so much for having me.
Speaker 3: This podcast is part of the Sound Advice FM network. Sound advice, FM Women's Voices amplified.