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#90 – Profitable Proposals and Processes with Cass and Amanda of Foxtrot Branding

Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed with client projects, managing difficult client situations, or figuring out how to set boundaries? 

I get it – we often put ourselves on the back burner while trying to please our clients, and it's easy to lose sight of why we started our businesses in the first place.

That's why I'm thrilled to share the latest episode of the Profitable Web Designer Podcast with you. In this episode, I chat with Cass and Amanda, co-founders and lead designers at Foxtrot Branding, a design studio offering strategic branding, packaging, and website design services for niche ecommerce and lifestyle brands.

In addition to working with clients, they offer courses, templates, and coaching that have helped over 500 designers improve their skills, grow their businesses, and raise their rates.

If you're feeling overwhelmed with the idea of finding clients, creating proposals, or setting boundaries, you're going to want to tune into this episode to hear how Cass and Amanda tackled these challenges head-on and built a business they love!


  • How they started their business together
  • How they got their first clients and what they'd do differently today
  • Their evolution from $200 projects to a thriving design business
  • The challenges they faced and how they turned them into templates and courses
  • How to set boundaries and manage difficult client situations effectively
  • …and much more!


  • [00:02] Introducing Cass and Amanda from Foxtrot Branding
  • [01:02] Their origin story and how they met
  • [05:02] How they got their first clients and what they'd do differently
  • [09:17] The evolution of their business and offerings
  • [16:32] Early challenges and how they overcame them
  • [23:20] Advice for getting clients today
  • [32:07] Managing difficult client situations
  • [35:18] The importance of processes and boundaries
  • [41:24] Finding the right education and guidance
  • [44:48] Beliefs they had to change to get where they are today

Resources Mentioned

If you enjoyed this episode, please take a moment to leave a rating and review. Your feedback helps us reach more listeners like you!


Shannon Mattern (00:02.826)

Hey everyone, welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast. And I'm so excited to introduce you to my guests today, Cass and Amanda from Foxtrot Branding. They spoke at the Simply Profitable Designer Summit and I always love to use that as an excuse to invite cool people who are doing cool things on the show to like pick their brains and be nosy and curious about how they run their businesses. And I know you guys love listening in on that too.

So, Cass and Amanda, welcome to the show.

Cassidy (00:37.27)

Thank you! Yeah, thanks for having us.

Amanda (00:37.312)

Thanks for having us. Hi.

Shannon Mattern (00:40.362)

So I would love to just hear a little bit from each of you just about you and your background. And then you can share like how you two met and how you became Foxtrot Branding. So I'll hand it over to you to dive in on that.

Amanda (00:58.336)

Yeah, Cass, you want to introduce yourself first, and then I can tell our origin story.

Cassidy (01:02.306)

Sure, yeah, Amanda's really good at telling that. So I'm Cass or Cassidy either way. I got a college degree in English. I guess I can kind of start there, but I kind of always knew I would want to work for myself in some capacity. I tried a lot of creative endeavors in high school and college, like photography, graphic design, social media management, but ultimately I really liked the creativity of website design. And so I was thinking...

out of college, I was like, maybe I'll do photography and website design for local clients because I feel like that could be a good pairing. And then I met Amanda who was doing graphic design and that's kind of where our story starts.

Amanda (01:39.784)

Yeah, so I, we went to the same college. I was studying fine arts with a focus in digital design, graphic design, and I was pretty sure that I wanted to move towards branding.

and I was getting into my senior year and looking for jobs and there just wasn't really a lot out there in our small town so my options would be to like move away to a bigger city. That felt really scary to do. Like I didn't have any friends there, also didn't know if I could afford that. Like the town we lived in and the Castell is like very affordable so I was like I want to stay here and for some reason I thought starting a business would somehow be easier than like moving and

Cassidy (02:17.851)

I'm sorry.

Amanda (02:22.207)

always very creative growing up. Cassidy and I both had like blogs growing up too, like craft and fashion blogs and stuff, so that was always like part of our background, just like being creative and being online. So yeah, my senior year I decided to start Foxtrot branding. I had the idea for it.

I saw that Cassidy was doing photography. Our families knew each other, but we didn't know each other super well. But I just sent her a DM and I was like, hey, could we do a photo shoot? Here's what I can afford. What can we do with that? And then at the photo shoot, she was just asking me so many great questions about my business idea. And I was like, this girl's super smart. She knows way more than I do about starting businesses. She was just asking me so many questions, things I had thought of. And I was like, I think our skills would actually really complement each other very well.

because I do brand design and she does web design and photography at the time. So I proposed the idea just like one week after meeting each other in person. It was like, Hey, what if we started this business like together officially, like 50, 50 co-owners, like.

which I think is kind of a crazy idea. And like, I don't know if like that's something that could be, you know, something someone else could ever repeat really. It's kind of our like crazy rom-com version of starting a business. But yeah, so we started Foxtrot one week after knowing each other. That is our origin story.

Shannon Mattern (03:42.95)

I love that. So Cassidy, like what made you say yes to this proposal?

Cassidy (03:48.266)

It just seemed like the perfect fit and honestly it felt like we didn't have a lot to lose at the time It was kind of a unique situation that Again, like I don't know if that's replicable today. We were really young We had pretty low life expenses and we just knew that we wanted to start a business of some sort So we were like, you know, let's just let's try this thing. Let's do it together. Let's see how it goes I think we got really lucky on the front of being compatible

Amanda (03:55.352)


Cassidy (04:16.098)

as far as business partners go, just because of how our personalities work together and also like our willingness to work on our relationship and just, I don't know, we just mesh really well. So we got lucky on that front. But yeah, it just happened to work out for us.

Amanda (04:33.048)

Something about it, it just felt like it was supposed to happen. That's just kind of how it felt. Like, I don't know. I was like, I just had this idea. I'm going to start it. This just feels right. It's like, we mesh really well. Let's just try it and see what happens. I don't think we could even take that kind of risk with where we're at today. Like, you know, our lives are bigger, our lives are more expensive or whatever, you know, like Cass said. Like, we were poor college students or Cass had just graduated. So it just was a good time for us.

Cassidy (04:37.128)

Yeah, I agree.

Cassidy (04:43.087)

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Cassidy (04:53.983)


Shannon Mattern (05:02.13)

Yeah, it's like when you know, you know, and you, like you said, you really, what was, you didn't have much to lose and you know, why not just like go for it? So back in those early days, how did you get clients? Cause I know that's such a, that's such a challenge for, um, people who are just starting out or who are maybe like transitioning out of like coming from an agency where someone else got the clients and it's just.

Amanda (05:08.5)


Shannon Mattern (05:31.062)

They always want to know like, where are the clients? How do I get clients? So how did you guys do that in the early days? And, and to add to that, like, what would you do differently? If anything now.

Cassidy (05:46.578)

Yeah, so most of our clientele when we started were local. We weren't even, I don't think it was really on our radar to try to get remote clients from our online platforms. At that point, it just seemed like the logical thing to start with any connections we had, any networking opportunities we had. My dad was a business owner, so I had some connections from that.

Amanda (06:08.5)

And our small town too, like I feel like it's just everybody kind of knows everybody. So I think having that like trust factor was very easy for us. Like, like the same way that Cass and I found each other and immediately just kind of trust each other. Like our family's kind of knew of each other. My mom actually worked at her dad's business for a while. So like that trust was built in. I think that's the same way it was with some of the clients too locally.

Cassidy (06:29.998)

Mm-hmm. And that's not to say these local clients we were finding were like...

paying big bucks or even the kind of work we were super passionate about. We didn't know what we were passionate about. We didn't know, you know, necessarily what we should be charging. We were just doing our best and finding anyone who seemed like it could be a good project fit. So our very first project was with a good friend of mine who had like a lifestyle blog, kind of a casual thing, but she was like, would you want to do my logo and my blog website? And we were like, that's a great opportunity for us to

Cassidy (07:03.456)

charged like $200, which I don't regret that, honestly, because I think that was a fair price for us never having collaborated together and trying this out. We were compensated a little bit for our time. And then we just continued to find a little projects like that where we would slowly charge a little bit more. But we were figuring it out. So I think it's important to, you know, do discounted projects like that, or, you know, charge what you feel comfortable with as you're learning so that you can grow your portfolio.

Amanda (07:33.108)

I think we also made a lot of great connections by getting involved in our local entrepreneur center. It's like a very small little place, small group, but like they were so helpful and so hands-on. We have lots of access to mentors and business owners in town. We had so many struggles just like the business side of things, like how to manage our finances. And so one of the main owners there was super helpful and just like teaching us basics about managing business finances.

Amanda (08:02.722)

that really helped us learn and also then they would recommend us to people that they knew who needed branding or website. So.

Cassidy (08:08.126)

Yeah, it was definitely like a hub for us and it was also a co-working space and they actually have like a lot of locations now and they've grown a lot too, but they were newer at the time so I was like, I wonder if I could do trade-out work with them and they would give us some co-working space because we didn't have like monthly money for that, but I'm really glad I did that because they did end up helping us out in a lot of ways.

Amanda (08:34.376)

Yeah, they were so nice too. They charged us as like one person instead of two people. Like just the little things. Like everyone was just so giving, which I think is just so helpful.

Cassidy (08:38.289)


Cassidy (08:41.886)

Yeah, the name is the Biz Foundry in Middle Tennessee, just to put out their name, because they really did help us so much. So I think if anyone listening has any kind of local business center or entrepreneur center, definitely reach out and see if they can help you because the state and the government funds these kind of startup places. And so a lot of times they'll have free mentorship or classes.

Amanda (08:47.788)


Cassidy (09:08.594)

And if anything, you just get to meet people and meet other business owners. And I think that's like the most important thing you can start doing.

Amanda (09:15.731)


Shannon Mattern (09:17.978)

So, you know, when you spoke at the Simply Profitable Designer Summit, and we were just like chatting before we started this interview, you guys have so many things now to serve like freelancers, and you're, you know, selling templates and things. And I know that's like such a big evolution from, you know, selling a $200 blog and logo and, you know, working your way through

like these connections and relationships and, you know, networking and being part of your local business community. Tell me more about like that evolution. Like, I know that's like a longer story, but like I wanna know like, how did this evolve to where you are now?

Amanda (10:05.016)

I think it was kind of a natural thing that happened over a long period of time. You know, I think we, especially I was just very obsessive about wanting to learn. So like all the content when I was first starting my business or our business too, like, and even before starting that and like trying to figure out what to do and how to start it. I was just like listening to podcasts constantly trying to learn everything that I could going to every free summit, like the summit that you have. Um, those were so helpful, you know, at the start of our business, because we,

Cassidy (10:05.061)


Amanda (10:35.11)

like free content out there and free education. And I just took advantage of like all of it. And I think that really helped us try to, you know, just start the business, get the ball rolling. And then we had to figure things out for ourselves too, because that content, free content can only get you so far. It was so helpful, but you still have to like learn and adapt.

for your own personal needs and wants in your business and your life and your work style and all of that. So we kind of did our own trial and error over a couple of years, figured out what worked best for us. And yeah, just kind of like all of that education, all of that life experience just kind of like came together and eventually we were like, okay, what if we like started launching our own free resources? I think we started with like a mood board template, something people could just use for their own like...

small projects and stuff and just to try to reach like a very like new audience of designers who like just didn't really know what they were doing, could use a little bit of help and we were teaching from a place of like you know we've been doing this for a few years, we don't know everything but here's like a little bit of what we know, here's what we can help you with so just kind of started there.

Cassidy (11:40.818)

Mm hmm. Yeah. And I don't even know if we had a specific plan of like what we wanted to offer a designer audience or if we even like, actively knew, okay, we're growing a second audience that we're going to sell products to in the future. I don't think we had any kind of specific strategy there. It was a pretty natural evolution. And it's always been like pretty important to us to be to not act like we're further along or no more things than we actually do. Like we try to be very authentic and

the level of resources that we share, that was important to us. But we did get to a point where we were booking a lot of remote clientele. We're getting a lot of reviews of clients really happy with our process, and we were feeling like we were really nailing down some things. And...

when we launched our first course, which was called Pro Design Process at the time. That was just a collection of everything we had learned. And at that point we had grown a surprisingly large audience of other designers who

Amanda (12:42.56)

which I don't even think we realized we had. Like we knew they were there, but we did not know how much they wanted to learn from us. We were kind of shocked with the first launch. We had like, gosh, like three times as many students as we were hoping for, which was amazing. Mm-hmm.

Cassidy (12:45.198)

I know we didn't.

Cassidy (12:58.066)

Yeah, a lot of things just aligned. At the time, that style, of course, was just really taking off and people were super interested in it. And we had done free resources for so long that we just had built a lot of trust with people. And I think we kind of have the brand archetype of like the everyman or we're kind of like the girl next door. We just, you know,

I don't think we put on a lot of airs. We're not like guru necessarily personalities. We're pretty down to earth people. And I think that just connected with a certain audience of designers. And so we launched that course. And since then we've been launching templates and some other courses and just trying to share more of what we know in a way that feels true to us and has proven really helpful to a lot of other designers too.

Amanda (13:24.013)


Shannon Mattern (13:44.254)

I think that's so cool that you're like, I don't think we knew how many designers were like following us because when I kind of think back to like my early days of, you know, freelancing and growing my business and like, you know, I'm sure we as we all do, we're like looking at other designers websites trying to be like, Okay, how are they doing this? Like

What's their process? They're the, what they're doing looks cool. Let me see if I can like reverse engineer this. Oh wait, that didn't work at all. Like that was a mess. That was a disaster. And like, you're just trying to piece together everything. And then yeah, like at some point we all figure out like, Oh, we're all doing this. How about we just all come to like, how about we just actually start sharing this with other people and really start helping other people because

There's just so much, there's so much learning to go around. Like we all, like we all figure out, we're all so techy and smart, and we all figure out all these different ways to do things. Like why not just share it with people who are, you know, trying to like emulate in the best way. It's like, I'll just help you emulate faster. Like here's my stuff.

Cassidy (14:51.742)

way it's like I'll just help you emulate faster like here's my stuff sorry hang on just one second I think I got my editors okay because I accidentally opened my air pod case that's what happened okay now I'm good sorry about that so sorry

Amanda (14:56.632)

I think we're getting echo.

Shannon Mattern (14:59.31)

It's all good. My editors can.

Amanda (15:06.264)

Oh yeah. I was like hearing it from like three places. It's so funny. Yep.

Shannon Mattern (15:11.131)

Technical difficulties. It's all good. If we don't edit that out, cool. If it's here, it's fine. So I just think it's really cool that like, you know, you're just like, Hey, like, let me just give you what I, what we've figured out has worked for us. Like we've gone through the trial and error and really like.

Amanda (15:17.418)

I'm sorry.

Shannon Mattern (15:34.506)

perfected a process that we know our clients love. And that just makes the process easier for everyone. So I just love what's happened over the past. I'm sure it's been happening longer, but the past 10 years that I've been in it where it's just like, we're all kind of like opening up the doors to our strategies to help as many people as possible. So it was really cool to see what you guys presented at the Simply Profitable Designer Summit on.

like your processes and all of those things that you figured out because I know that that's such a huge pain point for designers when you have the skill and you're doing the thing but then you involve another human into it and it kind of like, that's when things can go sideways. So I would love to know like, what were some of your early challenges that you experienced that you're like,

Amanda (16:22.83)

Oh yeah, for sure.

Shannon Mattern (16:32.267)

Oh, we like that kind of your processes and the things that you do were like born out of those challenges.

Amanda (16:40.308)

Yeah, I think sales calls were like a really awkward thing for me personally. Like I really struggled with those. I just like didn't have a lot of experience. I experienced in like in sales somewhat. Like I worked retail for three years in college, but like, I don't think that's the same as trying to sell like, Hey, I'm a designer, you can trust me to deliver this product, deliver what you're looking for. Like I had so much doubt, I think too, like just besides like.

lack of sales skills, right? I also lacked the confidence because I was like, why would a grown adult with a established business want to hire me, like a 22 year old at the time, and like pay me money to do this? And so I think that was something that I had to kind of work through and we had to figure out, you know, how do we really sell ourselves on a sales call in a way that feels like authentic to us, that feels more conversational and not like a sales pitch.

Cassidy (17:13.953)

I'm sorry.

Amanda (17:32.76)

How do we just like come across more confident? So I think that was one thing I really struggled with just starting out. And I'm so glad we like over time figured out of their process for that and like figured out our like questions. So now every time, like I don't even really feel nervous going on to sales calls anymore. It just feels pretty, I don't know, just, uh, what is the word I'm looking for? Yeah, just, yeah, it's just natural. It just comes naturally to me.

Cassidy (17:52.468)


Cassidy (17:56.542)

I think a big part of that was understanding the value of what we provided, which sounds kind of cliche, you know, and people say that a lot, what does that actually mean? But I think it's important because if you don't truly believe that what you're offering is valuable and useful and worth the price, then you're not going to sell it very well. And then if you do end up booking it, you're just going to feel so nervous and like, can I deliver on this thing that I just pitched? So I think you really do need to feel...

Amanda (18:19.838)

I'm sorry.

Cassidy (18:25.058)

confident in yourself and that confidence comes from a variety of factors. One just being time, just getting used to talking to new people, getting used to the service that you offer and like seeing the results and how it actually helps people like seeing that proof over and over again. Also for us just getting a little bit older and more comfortable like in ourselves, that definitely helps. And then knowing what questions to ask and understanding kind of how sales work.

and how, like what angle we wanted to take with it.

what felt like Amanda said, like authentic to us. So having a set script of like questions we can ask was really helpful for us and we kind of curated those questions a lot over the years. That's one of the templates that we sell is our sales call questions and scripts. And if you're a new designer, just having it written down because it's really helpful because you're going to get nervous and you're probably going to like forget what to say or how to say or what to ask. So having that in

more confident on sales calls.

Shannon Mattern (19:33.454)

Oh, for sure. I mean, I just remember, like, I don't even know if I would consider what I was doing a sales call back in those early days. You know, and then I just remember like my hands sweating and my voice would get weird when it was time to like say the money. And like, just all of those things that, you know, when you have someone that's like, Hey, we're not sleazy, slimy, salesy, pushy.

Cassidy (19:41.623)


Amanda (19:47.617)


Cassidy (19:49.248)


Shannon Mattern (20:02.482)

We're normal. We're just like you. This is what we say. Take this and say it. Like practice it. Practice saying the number. Notice if you feel weird. Figure out what that's all about. Get some help with really like believing in the value of what you have to offer. Like that's invaluable. Like those early days. I mean, like when you were saying Amanda, you're like, I'm 22 and these grown adults are gonna give me money to do this. But like...

Cassidy (20:21.297)


Shannon Mattern (20:31.282)

You know, I remember being like the 25 year old at my day job who like knew how to work the internet and they want to just pay me money to like solve these problems. And I'm like, all I'm doing is Googling it. Like, I don't understand why this why you're paying me and why you keep me employed here. But OK, like, but you know more than people know. And and you just don't like realize that what's like so easy to you is so valuable to someone else. But it just takes like you said, it takes.

Amanda (20:43.785)

I'm sorry.

Amanda (20:52.509)


Shannon Mattern (21:01.674)

time of figuring that out to be like, Oh, wow, I know so much more than what I think I know compared to the people that are hiring me. And you guys, like from what I know of like just working with you at the summit and talking to you, it's like, you don't use that to like make people beholden to you, you use it to add value to their businesses. And there's just like such a huge difference in.

working with someone like you guys who care about the outcome versus someone who's like, you have to pay me a lot of money because you're incapable of doing this yourself, which is the vibe that a lot of clients used to come to me with to leave their old person and come to come to a new person. So.

Cassidy (21:45.71)


Amanda (21:50.768)

Yeah and I think we always try to remind like newer or younger designers that like even if you're not you know you're not several years down the road in your own business you don't have several years of experience the experience you do have and the skill you do have still is valuable and it's going to be valuable more or less to different types of businesses like

There truly is, like, I don't think that, you know, we're over-saturated in this industry at all. Like, I think there's truly, like, a designer and a business match for every designer and every business, because we're all at different levels, all at different skill levels, all at different price points. We're all over the world, speak different languages. Like, there's truly a match for everyone and for every business. So...

I just, I try to remind people of that because I just, I don't want any designer to like not start their business because I think, oh, there's already so many out there, like there are, but there's also so many new businesses popping up every day too, especially with just how easy it is to start an online business even, you know, I just think that there's, there's just, there's enough to go around for everybody.

Cassidy (22:51.218)


Shannon Mattern (22:52.938)

Yeah, definitely. And to that, and we were talking about how you guys got clients in the early days, and then you grow your audience now, but what is your best advice for people today who are kind of maybe experiencing a drought of clients or who are starting out today who don't necessarily have a local connection? What would your step for them be?

Cassidy (23:20.682)

I think the number one thing you can do is...

be consistent with whatever marketing plan you have or you come up with, be consistent and set the expectation that it's going to take time for that plan to pay off. We had somebody we were like messaging on Instagram with and they were like, you know, I've been doing this for four or five months. I'm just not seeing a lot of results right now. And I was like, that's normal to not be seeing like huge results and payoffs from four or five months of marketing. I think sometimes it feels like you've been doing it longer because you've had this idea for the business in your head for a long

time, maybe you like have been doing some work on Fiverr for a little bit or doing odd jobs here and there, but you just actually started putting your business name out there and your website and your Instagram three months ago. It's going to take a lot of time for the word to get out for people to recognize your brand and have that like

brand recognition when they see you to build that trust factor to fully understand what you do. It takes a lot of marketing and messaging to get through to the right people. So I think it's important to make sure you have that like expectation set for yourself so that you don't feel constantly, constantly disappointed or like you're failing because when you feel like that, it's going to make you want to market yourself less and it's just, it's not going to be a good cycle. So

Set that expectation. If you can find communities of designers who can relate and support you, that's helpful too. But there, as far as marketing goes, there's definitely some things you can be doing consistently online.

Cassidy (24:54.898)

We have a checklist in our Pro Design Business course of a daily, weekly, and monthly marketing checklist you can do. And some of that is going to be content creation, like posting on Instagram or TikTok or Pinterest or whatever. But some of that is also going to be actively finding businesses that you want to work with and reaching out to them. You don't have to call people literally on the phone or send them sleazy emails. But you do have to pursue the people you want to work with.

for us starting with our local community was really, really helpful because there were businesses that needed our help and we could go talk to you in person and we had a little bit more of a trust factor than just being like a profile online. So if you do have any kind of local community or local businesses, I think it's a good idea to start there. But if you don't, just know that finding remote businesses online is going to take a while to build that trust factor.

We made a post recently about how people will follow you for years before reaching out to you because it just has to be the right time. Just because your post didn't immediately bring in an inquiry didn't mean it didn't serve its purpose. You got to have so many touch points with clients before they feel ready to reach out to you or before it's the right time in their business. Maybe they need a couple more years before they can afford to work with you.

But when it's time, who are they gonna reach out to? It's gonna be that person that they've been following forever and they like really connect with and like their content and like have that trust factor with now.

Shannon Mattern (26:26.49)

Yeah, I mean, it's just it's a proactive thing. I think like everything I heard you say it's not like, okay Well, I'm gonna we know this for our clients too We can't like build them a website and then like magically they'll get clients like they have to do their part They have to do their marketing and you know all of that piece and so like just being really proactive And and maintaining like a good mindset and having a support system when you of course we want things to happen

immediately and instantly. We all want instant gratification. It was like that patience and that persistence and that consistency of continuing to show up that like also builds trust with the people who are sitting back waiting, waiting for you too. So I love that you shared all of that.

Tell me a little bit more about, like we were talking about some of the early challenges that you overcame that you created some resources for. Sales being one of them, what are some other early challenges that you guys experienced that you were like, we need to help other people with this?

Amanda (27:40.664)

Yeah, I think another one we struggled with was our proposals and that whole process. We didn't really have a process when we started. That's not something that I was even taught in school. My college was definitely geared towards more like engineering and nursing. Like that's our focus. Their fine arts program was amazing, but like the graphic design side of things, like I don't think it was as like up to date and modern. They didn't talk about business and marketing and all that kind of stuff as much. So that we really had to learn on our own.

And I think some of our first proposals cast were, you have to remind me, but I think they were just like Google docs that we made and they kind of just listed out the services and the pricing for things and it didn't really like remind the client of, you know, what the goals are or what were specifically uniquely, you know, skilled to help them achieve.

Yeah, it just didn't have a good process or flow to it. It wasn't very professional looking. It's just a Google doc. So like, it just wasn't really converting super well. Um, and it did kind of make us look more inexperienced. Made us appear cheaper, you know, like less value clients. So, I mean, designers, but yeah. So I think like what we do now is we have like a really beautiful designed, um, proposal document. We actually had started with like an AI Adobe illustrator file. Um,

And we would use that for every client. But now we actually use HoneyBook because we really love using our smart files and features and we have like a whole new process there of how we actually, you know, we'll remind the client of the goals that they said and how we were going to help them achieve them. And then we also break down the project timeline, the expectations that we have. So we really have a very clear understanding mutually of like, here's how the project will go and here's what's expected of everyone involved. Then it includes like the project actually details, all the deliverables,

the pricing and then we actually have the ability for them to go ahead and sign and pay if they're ready and that has like drastically increased our conversion rate. That's made a huge difference so that's something we do sell now in our template shop too is our project proposal template in Adobe Illustrator. We don't have a honey book version yet but I would love to do something like that in the future if possible.

Cassidy (29:55.186)

Yeah, I think another one would be our client communication and messages. We've just come so far with how we manage projects. It used to kind of be like just messy strings of emails, random questionnaires, and we just missed a lot of information. And I think also.

Amanda (30:07.252)


Cassidy (30:12.67)

it wasn't putting our clients at ease very much with the way we were probably talking to them and maybe missing details. So now we have a whole library of message templates for every part of our process, which really saves us a lot of brain power and energy too. I think that's one of the biggest factors with all of our templates is that you don't have to think about it. It's just there. You can duplicate it and then just change a few things and you're able to.

get those messages or the proposal, whatever it is, off to the client a lot faster, you're gonna have less typos in it because I'm kind of a typo queen. That's what I call myself. It's just never a good look when you have to, you know, follow up with a whoops, wrong date or whatever, which it happens, you know, it's gonna happen to all of us, but it lessens the chance of that. So I just think having all of those templates ready to go lets us focus more on the design work and the creative work that we want to be doing because...

Amanda (30:49.469)


Shannon Mattern (30:50.895)


Amanda (30:56.544)


Cassidy (31:08.846)

as we all know, like you're wearing a lot of hats as a designer and you know hopefully you get to the point where you can work with some contractors or hire people onto your team where you go when you grow to that point. But until then and even when that does happen, you really need to have the business and the process aspects of your business as streamlined as you possibly can so that you're not spending too much time on things that really should be concise and just ready to go.

Amanda (31:37.672)

I think especially as a creative too, and at least for me in my experience, it's so important to conserve my energy for creative tasks, because that does kind of take a lot. And it's really hard to like actually get into a creative flow if you have like all of these things floating around your head that need to be done or all these little tasks that you're trying to constantly write a new email, new message for every client and like that really could be a canned email. So that's why we made those templates and they're so helpful.

Amanda (32:07.446)

communication library, there are some templates for what to say in difficult client situations and we've pulled that from like our own experience, our own lived experiences, things that have gone wrong in the past, clients ghosting, clients not liking the design that you did and having a ton of revisions or you know they're trying to scope creep up on you so...

Shannon Mattern (32:14.338)

Thanks for watching!

Amanda (32:30.912)

We have lots of great templates for like what to say to clients in situations like that. And I really wish we had that at the time because that was like a lot of like a big cause for a lot of stress for me and Cassidy. If anything did happen, we're like, what do we say? Like this is going to affect like, you know, how I feel about myself and our business. This is going to affect our reputation. Like, how do we handle this in a very professional and appropriate way? So.

Cassidy (32:41.565)

I think.

Cassidy (32:48.622)


Cassidy (32:54.514)

It took so much time and like energy for us to work on those. Like when we had to cancel a project one time, we spent probably three days on that email. Um, and that is one of the emails that we've turned into a message template in our client communication library. Like what to say if you have to cancel a project, you know, hopefully it never happens. Um, but if it does, you're going to need some resources from people who have been through that before, like ASAP. You're going to want to have that so that you can handle it and move on.

Amanda (32:58.56)


Amanda (33:02.813)


Amanda (33:09.004)


Shannon Mattern (33:24.83)

I think, I mean, that's one of the biggest things we work on with our clients is like, like setting boundaries, communicating boundaries, the mindset behind boundaries, confidently communicating them what to do when you do communicate them and your clients don't care that you communicate them. All of those things. And it's so much easier to mitigate.

Amanda (33:44.811)


Shannon Mattern (33:51.658)

those situations when you have processes in place. Like when you have like what you guys said, like you have a sales process that you set all these expectations upfront. You have a proposal where you set all these expectations. You have like all of these pieces that line up to hopefully like put some parameters and boundaries and expectations around the project. And of course you're dealing with humans and you're dealing with

life and circumstances that are out of both of your controls. So you have like the variables of like, if this then that and you know, that's, that's the piece that I see, you know, we talk about like profitable, sustainable web design businesses, you can charge as much as you feel like you are capable of charging. But if you don't have the sustainability side on the back end

Shannon Mattern (34:50.622)

and making you question your value and your worth and worried and anxious, like that's not sustainable. So it's like, yeah, we want systems and processes in place to make things like more efficient and easier and everything, but also so that we actually love what we're doing and it doesn't feel like, how am I ever going to like, you know, it affects things when you, when it feels messy on the backend, people are like,

Amanda (34:57.329)


Shannon Mattern (35:18.258)

I don't want to market because I don't want another client because I don't want more of this. But yet I want the freedom that I know this can have for me running my own business and being my own boss and they feel like they're in a rock and a hard place. So that's why I like, I love what you guys are doing so much with your templates and your processes. Like they serve so many functions, not just, oh, I know how to lead a client through a project.

It's like, and you're going to actually like not hate your life at the end of the day as well.

Amanda (35:52.124)

Yeah, yeah, it does serve a big purpose. And I think like having an established process and templates and all these tools for yourself really helps you keep you protected in a way from being taken advantage of by the wrong clients or even and these aren't even like bad people by any means. But some clients just, they'll tend to request a lot extra right and they don't know that they shouldn't be requesting stuff that's past your scope of work or like

Shannon Mattern (36:09.794)


Amanda (36:18.944)

They just have unrealistic expectations for communication and they always want you to be available for a phone call, things like that. So just like having like processes, systems and boundaries in place is so helpful for just like, like he said, mitigating that. Um, and I think the biggest part too, um, that a lot of people miss with boundaries is they forget to even like set the expectation from the start. So that's something we've integrated into our proposal process now that wasn't there before.

is really including a section that talks about the expectations of the project and of them as the client. Like, here's how much time you can expect to spend communicating with us and sending us materials for your project, things like that.

Here's when we are available to talk and here's where we will talk. We will talk in our project management system. We're not going to do a bunch of emails. We do not exchange phone numbers. I think we just get their phone numbers sometimes for technical things, for the website design that Cass does, but we don't chitchat, we're not always available. So just setting those expectations from the start is really, really important. And I think a lot of designers forget to do that. And then if you forget, that's kind of when things kind of, you either you mess up or a client takes advantage of you in some way.

cycle until the project's over.

Cassidy (37:29.998)

you're not going to have the confidence to enforce the boundary because it feels unfair. Yeah.

Amanda (37:33.384)

Right, because you didn't tell them the expectation. Yeah, you're like, how can I enforce a boundary that they didn't even know was there? And in a way you can to some extent, like you can bring things up mid project, like, hey, we actually do not do what you're asking for. For example, if they're asking for some service that you're like, actually, I'm not going to do that for you. Or that's actually not included in our project proposal, but I would be happy to send you an extra quote for that. Like there's ways to work around it. You don't have to let yourself be taken advantage of. You don't have to do everything your clients ask of you.

but it certainly makes it easier if you mention it at the beginning.

Cassidy (38:06.826)

Yeah, like with a late fee, I think so many of us run into the situation where the client has incurred a late fee and it's in.

your contract and maybe it's even in your client expectations, but you like forgot to send them reminders about it. And then it's like, I feel weird about enforcing this because like, I feel like I didn't fully prepare them for this boundary. So like, and you could, you rightfully could, but I think emotionally for maybe, maybe it's just me, but it's hard to enforce that. So we have a message template for how to remind people, hey, this is due tomorrow.

you know, looking forward to seeing it. I don't know what it says. That sounds a little condescending, but I'm sure it doesn't say exactly that. It sounds kind. But you know, if I've sent that message, then I feel 100% good about enforcing that late fee. They really have no room to even act surprised or, you know, be upset about that. It just is what it is. And all of these things.

Amanda (38:48.114)

Get your work done, it's time. I see that you've not touched your content properly. Your content, dog.

Shannon Mattern (38:51.098)

TikTok, TikTok.

Cassidy (39:11.078)

these challenges, these difficult client situations that come up. We learned them just by experiencing them and you know we'd be like well I'm gonna add that to the contract or gonna make a template for that so that doesn't happen again. And you as new designers you can learn it that way or you could you know have these things from designers who have been there before and like Amanda said like just protect yourself a little bit better from the beginning. I know how overwhelming it can feel right now with all of the templates.

Amanda (39:21.185)


Cassidy (39:39.922)

and the courses and, you know, the free resources out there, it's a good thing, but it can also feel like I bought so many of these or I don't know which one to buy. But I think it's important to find educational resources from people who you really do connect with and you trust and you feel like are going to be high in value because it's going to save you a lot of time and then also hopefully difficult situations. You know, for example, like

back when we wanted to start offering VIP days, we did invest in educational resource about VIP days because we were like, this person's been doing them for a while. So they're gonna have probably a few elements that are gonna save us a lot of time that we could implement from that. And I think that's honestly how a lot of educational resources go. Like, for example, from the summit, you might not take something away from every single speaker, like everything that they said, but there's gonna be a few things that were

100% worth the value because like you took that one resource or that one tip and you implemented it and I think that's how we've definitely felt about like courses and resources that we've taken. There's been little snippets or just specific things from that creator that were like, oh, that's genius. You know that saved us so much time or eliminated this problem or helped us grow in this specific way.

Amanda (40:58.64)

Cass, I wanted to add to something you said about just finding people that you trust, because I think that's a really interesting part of trying to weed out all the education out there. It is really important to find someone that you do connect with or who's living a life that looks like something you'd want for yourself. I think it's important to not go after, like we talked about, the gurus, the whole mentality. There are certain people out there who kind of have like...

Cassidy (41:05.719)


Amanda (41:24.672)

Just a very different vibe. And if that's your vibe, that's cool. But like you should want to learn from people who are, you know, leading by example and have values that you align with and are living a life that you aspire to. I think that is really important. Um, cause everyone has great education out there, but if you really like the way that they teach or the way that they run their business, then there's a likelihood that like education is going to work well for you and your personality and your work style. So I think that's important.

Cassidy (41:52.722)

Yeah, definitely.

Amanda (41:54.666)

like we actually have found that a ton of our students and our courses are actually like a lot like us and I was like I feel like we'd be friends with a lot of these people if we met them in real life you know like what you do tend to attract like people who are kind of like you so I think that's kind of a funny thing but it is true like I think it works for you.

Cassidy (42:10.778)

And I think there's an overall movement that I'm seeing. Like, I'm seeing a lot of discourse on threads. Who knows if when this podcast goes live, if threads will still be a thing. But I'm seeing people talk about realistic lives they want to live as designers and like, you know, we're not out there wanting to be.

Shannon Mattern (42:21.654)

Thank you.

Amanda (42:22.395)

Yeah, true.

Cassidy (42:32.79)

CEOs of huge startups, like we want to have lifestyle businesses. We're doing this because there's a specific life we want to live. And it's not being a millionaire. Maybe it's just being able to like work part-time so you can stay home with your kids and still contribute, you know, to your household income. Or maybe you want to be able to like.

travel every month. We have a designer, one of our courses who literally like is always traveling every month to a new country and she does design services to be able to support that lifestyle. There's just a lot of like really, I think like beautiful like humble lifestyles that we want to live and

That's why most of us have design businesses. So I'm glad there's like, I feel like a movement towards that right now and people are talking about it. Like somebody was talking about cozy. I wanna be a cozy designer. You know, like I'm kind of like, I feel like people are at a 10 all the time and I kind of wanna be at like a three, you know? And I definitely relate to that.

Amanda (43:29.073)


Yeah, Katz and I are both very chill, kind of mellow, baseline everyday kind of people. Yeah, I don't want to be stressed all the time. I don't want to be running a huge agency. Back in the girl boss days, when that was a big thing, that was kind of the vision. We were like, yeah, I wanna have a huge agency. I wanna have lots of people who work on our team. That'd be so fun. But over time, we kind of realized that we don't really love managing other people that much. I personally also really enjoy being creative.

so I don't want to give away too much of that work. I just think it's kind of funny, but you just got to figure out what works best for you over time.

Shannon Mattern (44:07.602)

Yeah, it's like a shift towards autonomy and whatever that looks like to you and whatever you resources you need to create that versus empire building or whatever, whatever the late 2010s were all about there. It has been so awesome chatting with you too.

Amanda (44:26.192)


Cassidy (44:27.193)


Shannon Mattern (44:32.298)

and I could talk to you for a whole nother hour, but we do have to wrap up. So I would love to ask both of you one final question, and that is what belief about yourselves did you have to change to get to where you are today?

Amanda (44:48.736)


Cassidy (44:52.166)

I think I had to...

start believing that I was skilled and capable enough to deliver for my clients. I think I struggled a lot with feeling like since I wasn't an expert at every aspect of website design, because that's my specialty, because I didn't know how to fully code a website or I didn't know every single website builder or you know the terminology out there. There are a lot of like, I say this in

Cassidy (45:26.076)

both in real life and online who will, you know, talk down to you a little bit sometimes, especially as a woman, I think. And that would get to me when I was younger and I would feel like, man, maybe I don't know what I'm doing. Maybe I'm not offering enough value to my clients. But I've had a real mindset shift in the way that I've realized that there are so many web design and design specialties, just in general, and no one is doing it all.

We all have learned and honed our specific skill, whether that be like your approach to it, the services you offer, the platform you specialize in, and that's really what makes you attractive and provide so much more value because you are specialized in that. So.

I feel a lot more confident now, I think, because I don't feel like I'm not good enough to offer what I'm doing. I feel really confident in it because, number one, you know, there's been time and I've been able to hone that skill, but I've also just talked to a lot more people and been in a lot more communities with other designers and realized that, oh yeah, we're all specializing in our own things and that's actually a great thing.

Amanda (46:37.768)

Yeah, I'd say for me, I think a big thing that I struggled with at the start was like just showing up online and being myself. Like it kind of, and I still struggle to an extent.

And I think all of us kind of have like our business persona in a way, like you, you don't show your full self online, right? Like only your closest people in your life know the full version of you. But I think at the start, I was really afraid of like having my, like showing my own personality. I kind of thought I had to have like a bigger bubblier personality to be online. And you can kind of see that if you go back on my Tik Tok and like scroll down to the beginning, I kind of did have like more of just an over overly bubbly kind of like vibe that I was trying to portray, cause I was just like, that's what

to see on TikTok, I don't know. And but it wasn't really me, like I'm just, I'm a very chill like, like I said, just chill baseline person all the time. I'm not like super bubbly or whatever. So yeah, I think just like learning that it's okay to be myself and like present myself as I am online was like a huge mental shift. And it's something I'm still of course working on. Because being online in front of strangers is always going to be a little scary. But I'm getting better at it.

Cassidy (47:44.57)

It takes time. It's not going to happen immediately. Like, it's going to take a lot of making videos and just practicing. So you just have to start doing it, and you will find, I think, your online presence and personality as you do it.

Amanda (47:51.318)

Thank you.

Amanda (47:56.81)


Shannon Mattern (47:58.886)

So good. I hate to have to wrap this up. Can you share it with everybody where they can go to connect with you, learn more about you, get their hands on the templates, all the things.

Amanda (48:02.63)

Thank you.

Amanda (48:11.112)

Yeah, so you can find all of our templates and resources. We've got courses, free downloads, free blog posts, all that on our website at We're also on Instagram at foxtrotbranding and then we both have TikToks. Mine is amanda.foxtrot. Cassidy, what's yours again?

Cassidy (48:29.682)

Mine is Cassidy.FoxTry. So yeah. Mm-hmm.

Amanda (48:30.892)

Cassidy, okay, you changed yours at some point. So I was making sure. But yeah, we both kind of talk about our own, you know, unique skills on there. She talks about web design. I talk about brand design on my TikTok. So you can find us there too.

Shannon Mattern (48:44.09)

Awesome. Well, thank you both so much for being here. I'll link up everybody, everything we talked about in the show notes, everybody listening, go connect with them, check them out. And yeah, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Amanda (48:57.984)

Thank you so much for having us. It's been great.

Cassidy (48:59.202)

Thanks Shannon, we really appreciate it.


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.