listen to my latest podcast episode:
Thinking Your Way to $10K Months with Lauren Paige EP 85
byShannon Mattern
The image features a promotional graphic for a podcast called "Profitable Web Designer," specifically Episode 81 about selling high-ticket websites, featuring a person.

Selling High Ticket Websites with Chaitra Radhakrishna of High-End Web Designer

Welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast! Today I'm talking to Chaitra Radhakrisha, the founder of Pinkpot Studio, a Shopify design studio for product based businesses. After taking a long maternity break, Chaitra got back to rebuilding her design studio in Jan 2020 and was able to scale her income by booking consistent high-end $10K website projects and working less than 20 hours/week. She’s passionate about helping other web designers raise their prices, design high-end websites and scale their income doing what they love.

Mentioned in this episode:

Shannon Mattern (00:02.423)

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer podcast. And this week I'm super excited to introduce you to my guest, Chaitra Radhakrishna. She is an old friend of mine and we have not talked for, it's been at least a year, if not longer. So we're very excited to catch up on the podcast and...

Yeah, talk about all the things. So can you share with our listeners a little bit about you and what you do?

Chaitra (00:36.266)

Yeah, thanks for having me here, Shannon. So excited to be here. I know we were supposed to do this sometime last year, and I'm so glad we are together on the podcast. Hi, everybody. I am Chaitra. I am the founder of Pink Pot Studio, which is a Shopify design studio. So we primarily work with Shopify product-based businesses on building their e-commerce strategy and their websites. And on the other side, I also coach fellow web designers.

on how to build their web design business in a very profitable and a very sustainable way. And that's where I guess me and Shannon really connected because we both kind of have a similar mission helping web designers specifically and we hit it off instantly. So it's been a fantastic journey seeing how Shannon has evolved her business and helping other web designers. And similarly, I'm like going on the side with her too. So it's amazing, yeah.

Shannon Mattern (01:34.087)

But yeah, it's just, it's so, this journey, I just, anyway, like it's been a ride, that's for sure. And I love that we both are, you know, we've experienced challenges and really great things in both of our businesses that we want to, you know, help other web designers like sidestep the challenges and take advantage of the things that we see.

Chaitra (01:43.636)

Yes. Yeah.

Chaitra (01:59.586)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (02:02.983)

are really working well, I'm curious to know like, gosh, I feel like it's been at least a year, year and a half since we last talked. Like, what are some changes or trends that you've seen in the industry over the past 18 months since we last chatted?

Chaitra (02:24.446)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think this is such a great question because even recently, like I think mostly last year, I heard a lot of talk inside the industry about how people aren't booking high-end projects anymore. They aren't willing to spend money on website design and things like that. And I personally, if you know me, I advocate for raising your prizes, charging fairly and value-based pricing, providing more value and all that good stuff. So

When all this talk started happening, I'm like, yeah, I mean, there's definitely a side of it to that. But at the same time, what I particularly noticed, yes, people were saying no, and I think designers were getting ghosted and hearing no's to proposals. It wasn't that people weren't buying, though. I think what the difference has been in the last 18 months is they've become more careful about how they invest.

and who they invest in. And I think that's the difference that I've seen, which means now web designers need to be even more careful about how they market themselves, what is the value that they provide. And I think that is what has shifted more in the last 18 months than, oh, it's not true that nobody's buying or nobody's investing high end prices in their website design or design projects. It's just that they've become more and more careful about who they're investing with.

If there's an ROI in that investment and customers have just become more careful about how they spend their money inside their businesses. I think that is the biggest shift that I've seen in the last eight months. What do you think Shannon, similar or different?

Shannon Mattern (04:02.951)

I completely agree with you that that's what the, I don't want to say chatter, but just the thing that people were saying. And what we were also experiencing was that people were still absolutely booking high-end clients, however,

Chaitra (04:05.504)

Okay.

Chaitra (04:27.406)

Exactly.

Shannon Mattern (04:29.031)

it was maybe it would take longer for the person to make a decision than they normally would, or they had to do more marketing to create more opportunities to book those clients. And so I think, you know, I know that both you and I are all about mindset. It's like, when you hear people like

Chaitra (04:39.884)

Yeah.

Chaitra (04:43.905)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (04:52.259)

saying that and then you just decide that it's true and start to believe it. Whether it's true or not, it does not help you to think that nobody is buying, nobody is booking premium web design projects because what do you do then? You start to roll back your prices. You start to stop marketing. You start to try to niche or pivot or change when all you really need to do is stay the

Chaitra (04:55.636)

Yeah.

Yeah, exactly.

Chaitra (05:04.639)

Yeah.

Chaitra (05:11.656)

Exactly.

Shannon Mattern (05:21.579)

more of what you've been doing or remain consistent and persistent.

Chaitra (05:27.598)

Absolutely. I think mindset plays a huge part in not like the wishy-washy way like, oh, if you believe the projects will come, not like that, but in the sense that when you believe certain things, the actions that you take also is going to shift. Like for example, if you truly believe that there's nobody out there paying 10K for a website, then you automatically roll back. You start quoting less, you start asking for less. And when you do that, automatically the result of it is yes, you're not going to book those high-end projects because you

you don't get what you don't ask for, right? So I guess that is how mindset truly affects what happens. It's not like in, oh, if I don't believe it, it doesn't happen kind of a thing. But if I don't believe in something, then it affects the actions that I take as a result of which truly then, yeah, the things that you actually believe start to show up and start to happen because you don't take the actions in the other direction.

Shannon Mattern (06:21.983)

I love that you just said you don't get what you don't ask for. I just wrote that down. I'm like, that's the quote. That's the quote for this episode. And that is so good. And the other thing that I think happens when, you know, if you believe that no one's buying, you know, or people aren't spending money right now or whatever the thing is that you want to, that you, that you believe, or that you choose to think.

Chaitra (06:25.323)

Yeah.

Chaitra (06:31.491)

Yeah.

Chaitra (06:39.563)

Yeah.

Chaitra (06:50.031)

Mm-hmm.

Shannon Mattern (06:50.703)

The other thing, if you do hold the line on your pricing, the way that the pendulum swings the other way is that you start being like, oh, I got to justify this. I got to sell really hard or I have to convince them or I have to do all of these things that isn't showing them the ROI or the value that they're getting. It's like, oh, I got to prove myself. I got to prove that it's worth it versus.

Chaitra (07:03.97)

Yeah.

Chaitra (07:11.617)

Yeah.

Chaitra (07:16.951)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (07:18.571)

I'm just going to continue to show them how this is going to benefit them over the long term.

Chaitra (07:24.062)

Yeah, yeah. I mean, like when you shift the focus towards yourself about like you wanting to book the project or like how do I prove that I'm worth getting this project then the whole point of it kind of just goes. Instead of if we can shift that entire thing to how can I help serve, how can I serve the client? How can I help them solve their problems? I think you communicate value in a totally different level and that's what helps the client see why this investment is totally worth it. Why it is, you know.

important for their business to invest this money in the website, right? And that's what makes the whole difference. Like I think when we put pressure on ourselves to show up on the sales call and be like, oh, this is why the investment is worth it. And this is like, when we start to put the focus on ourselves and we start explaining our values, put, get into that convincing energy of like, why I, why you should invest, like it doesn't really work like that. Instead, if you truly can shift the focus towards the client.

truly uncover their problems, see what's going on under the hood of their business. And if you can propose a solution to solve those business problems with the solution that you have through your website, I think that just positions your whole solution and the whole investment at a totally different level and in a totally different way to the client, where they can truly see you're invested in their business and that you're the partner in their business, not like somebody on the other side who they're transacting with, but more so like a partner who's sitting with them.

you know, getting down to deep business and like, you know, figuring out the problems. And I think they really trust you when you get into that role. And that's what makes them see the value of the investment and truly be able to invest those iron prices working with you. Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (09:07.311)

Well, we say that they're high-end prices, but it's not that. Like, it's not like, I don't know. Like, we talk about it like it's, you say, hi, I think your program is high-end web designer, right? Is that, your program's high-end web designer. I talk about like premium pricing. But I also wanna normalize that like, it's not like 10,000 for a website is not like some crazy.

Chaitra (09:21.479)

Yes, yeah, yeah.

Chaitra (09:26.964)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (09:36.283)

number that is like so ultra premium and high end. Imagine if that's your online storefront. That's your gateway to the world. You want somebody, you want to be working with somebody that's going to take advantage of every single opportunity there is to put your best foot forward. And I just said, I don't know why we as web designers, and I still do this

Chaitra (09:36.595)

Yes.

Chaitra (09:47.586)

Mmm. Yeah.

Chaitra (09:59.713)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (10:05.451)

or why web designers think $10,000 is so much money for someone's business.

Chaitra (10:10.058)

Mm-hmm. I love this conversation. I think it goes back to how like in the past few years, like Shannon, I'm sure you started around the same time or maybe even earlier than me. I came into the industry around 2015. And that time it was mostly like, you know, blogger templates and WordPress templates and things like that. And I think that's where like we carry that, oh, $10,000 is like a lot of money compared to like...

Yeah, if you can just pay 500 bucks and get a template, right? And that's where I think the comparison goes from, oh my god, $500 and now you're charging $10,000. That's just like a huge gap. But there's a huge difference between these two services. That is a template which is designed for like hundreds and thousands of companies, which anybody can download and install. But then this is a website that is truly...

designed to solve a specific business's problems and you as a designer are invested in implementing a strategy for that business and solving those problems through our website. So it's totally different but to answer your question I think that's where it comes from. I totally agree. I love this conversation about you know like why do we even think 10k is a lot of money? Why do we have to convince ourselves like it's okay to charge? Why is it not normal? Because if you look at interior designers or if you look at I don't know any other designers they don't

I hope they don't think too much before charging that. I feel like that amount is normal for industry, like a wedding industry or like interior decoration or so many other industries, right? Like even for like, for a one time thing, we like interior decoration and everything. And like for me, and I think I know why this, I'm going all over in circles, but I'll tell you what I mean. Basically what I mean is when it comes to,

what we do, I think we think it's basic. So when it comes to web designers, we are web designers ourselves, we know how to build websites. And that's why we think, oh, my job is basic. Building a website is so basic. Why would anybody pay $10,000 for a website? But the same thing to me, if you, like we bought a new house and when it comes to decorating that house, it is so overwhelming for me. It's so intimidating to me.

Chaitra (12:31.55)

And I want it done in a certain way. And that's when I was getting in, I referred to the interior designer specifically because I was getting quotes from them. And all the quotes, like the minimum I got was 15 to 20K. And I didn't blink an eyelid. I was like, yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense that they are charging that much. I'm OK with spending that money for an interior designer.

because I think I have a problem that only they are able to help solve. And I truly believe that they can help solve the problem that I have and I don't think I can solve it myself. But when it comes to web design, I already am a web designer myself and I think, oh, nobody would pay 10k for a website because I wouldn't pay 10k for a website. But the only reason I wouldn't pay 10k for a website is because I'm an expert at it. Why would I pay? Although that should also change. I'm starting to think I need a web designer for my own.

business, right? Sometimes you need that outside perspective. But I think whenever we think something is so easy, we often tend to think, why would anybody pay 10K for a website? But we should not forget that we think it's so basic only because we're experts at it, right? I'm sure the interior designer similarly thinks the same about themselves, right? I'm like, ah, why would I pay 10K or 15K for somebody to decorate my house? I'm good at it myself, right? So, but I think you need to think about the customers per-

perspective, your client's perspective, what they're needing you for, how you can help them solve problems. And I think that's going to help make the shift. But I so agree with you. We need to shift that narrative about why should 10k be this big thing? Why? It's almost like it's fair. It's normal. It's we should normalize charging 10k. Right? Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (14:21.567)

Yes, I love that so much. And I think that it is like it's, it's us as an industry that gets to say collectively that like, this is a normal price for this. You know, yes, you can buy a template online for whatever, or you could, you know, buy a DIY course to do your interior design, but it's not going to come out anyway.

Chaitra (14:44.412)

Yep.

Chaitra (14:50.694)

Exactly, exactly. Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (14:52.071)

anywhere near what hiring someone to do, but there's so much knowledge that we have that goes into it. There's opportunities we see that our clients don't see. There's things we know that they don't know. It should be fast for us. It should be easy for us. It should be quick because we've been doing it for so long. Yes, I would love to see like 10K.

Chaitra (15:05.473)

Yeah.

Chaitra (15:09.479)

Mm-hmm.

Shannon Mattern (15:14.859)

not be considered a high end or a premium price. That should just be like, that is so normal and so fair. I love that you and I are on the same page in terms of helping to spread that message.

Chaitra (15:18.674)

Yeah. Mm hmm.

Chaitra (15:25.107)

doable, like, yeah.

Chaitra (15:33.376)

Absolutely. I love that. Yeah. Also, one more thing. I think when it comes to in the web design industry, I feel like there are a lot of rules about pricing. And these are not rules that somebody has set or anything like that, but often these are rules that we have set upon ourselves. And I think that also holds us back.

from raising our prices because I was having a conversation with one of the designers inside the Hind Web Designer program the other day and she was like, oh, I'm charging 4,000 right now and I think I can raise my prices by about $1,000. I'm like, why only 1,000? And there are also so many other beliefs that you need to, you can raise your prices only by a certain amount. And also only after you've landed a certain number of projects at that.

particular price points or to just give an example, if you're charging 4k now, many designers believe that they can raise their prices by just $1,000 at a time. And once they raise it, they need to at least land three to five projects at that new price point before they can raise it again. And also there's so many belief systems that, oh, you need to have had certain amount of experience on a certain number of years of experience before you start charging 10k.

All of these, so many rules that we have set upon ourselves. And I have believed these rules myself in the early years of my business. So I know this is normal, but that said, it doesn't have to be. Nobody set these rules. These are all arbitrary rules that we set upon ourselves. So I don't know. I've gone down that route of setting all these rules for myself. It's not fun.

Shannon Mattern (17:17.923)

When I was listening to you say that, I'm like, my thought was like, you can charge as much as your mindset allows you to charge. You know, and yeah, I totally agree with you. Like we set these arbitrary rules. We're like, but like, I think what's behind, I'm curious what was behind it for your student and how you coached her through that. But like,

Chaitra (17:25.625)

Mmm, yeah.

Chaitra (17:40.223)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (17:40.483)

I was like, oh, I wonder if what's behind that is like, oh, if I sell this three to five times, then I will feel like I have proven myself. And then once I've proven myself or proven it to myself, then I can go farther. But we're basically like saying, well, I have to wait for outside circumstances to happen to validate me before I can move forward.

Chaitra (17:50.78)

Mmm, yeah.

Chaitra (17:59.086)

So, thank you.

Shannon Mattern (18:10.651)

decide and work on my belief and, you know, work on my, work on how I talk about it and start changing to speaking about the value and all the things. So I'm curious, like, what was your, what was your response to that?

Chaitra (18:14.471)

Yeah.

Chaitra (18:26.974)

You're so right about seeking validation. I think we all do it. And I think it's very, very common, especially when it comes to raising prices. The reason why we want to raise prices and then land a few projects at that price range before we again raise is because we want to prove to ourselves that, okay, now at this level, I'm able to deliver. Now at this level, I'm able to, you know, provide value or whatever. But I think the validation in any case needs to first come from within.

You cannot wait for external validation to tell you that your offer is worth the price that you're charging and that you will be able to deliver the value. Not only when the client testimonial comes in saying, Hey, I was so, I'm so happy with the website. That's not when you know that you can charge this much for a website. I think all this validation work needs to happen from within even before you sell your offer. And I think that's what helps you sell your offer to add that higher price range.

Once you truly believe in your offer, once you truly believe in the value that you provide to your clients, that is when you will be able to go quote those higher prices. And when you do that, then you communicate the value, the clients see the ROI, the clients see the value, and then they say yes to investing with you. And when they invest with the mindset of like, oh my God, this designer knows their stuff, they'll help me elevate my business to the next level. Then even the, I've so observed this,

project goes so smooth. There's no nitpicking. There's no like crazy revisions. There's no micromanaging and they really trust you to do the work that you've got to do and you get to do that. And when you do that, they actually see results in their business. Right? So you see there's like a flywheel happening here, but this entire fly and when, when they see results, then what happens is they talk about it and we get to share those results on our portfolio.

As a result, more and more of these clients come to us because they now see the results that we can produce for their business. So you see the flywheel happening here, but the flywheel starts from you validating your offer, you validating the value that you bring to your client's business within yourself first. It needs to start within yourself. If you're waiting for somebody to tell you, oh, yes, your offer is worth paying 10K for.

Chaitra (20:48.062)

That's going to take a while. And I don't even know if that's going to last long, because you can land one 10k project with that external validation. But again, the next time you hear a no, you're back to square one, second guessing whether your services are worth charging that much. But instead of the validation can come from within you, I think that makes a whole lot of difference. So even when you get those nos, you just know it's not the right fit, but you don't go back to square one, restructuring your offer or guessing your offer and doubting.

your offer anymore. So I think the validation totally needs to come from within. And that's the first step.

Shannon Mattern (21:24.155)

Oh, that is so good. And when you do get to that point where the validation comes from within and you hear a no, you are like, ah, I'm super bummed for them because they're missing out. They're missing out on all of this instead of I did something wrong, I need to change it, I should have offered more, I needed this, I need to that. You realize like, oh, it's too bad for them that they're not gonna get

Chaitra (21:32.718)

Yeah.

Chaitra (21:36.494)

Yes.

Chaitra (21:51.534)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (21:54.047)

all of this that they could have gotten from working with me. I want to circle back to results because I think that this is a big sticking point for our students. I'm curious if it is for yours when they're like, but I can't control, like, how can I guarantee results? How can I say I can deliver these results when I can't control what my client does after I deliver?

Chaitra (22:04.206)

Mm-hmm.

Chaitra (22:13.742)

Mmm.

Shannon Mattern (22:24.204)

on this project. What do you say to that?

Chaitra (22:24.558)

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Oh my God. I love this question. I get it often all the time. My question to that, do you really have to control? Are you really responsible for the results that your client gets? Why are we taking so much responsibility as a web designer for the entire results of the client? Now, I think this is where what you do...

when it comes to value-based conversations, nobody's guaranteeing results. I think I wanna be very clear about that. I think this whole perception or this belief that when you do value-based pricing, you're guaranteeing results. I think that is the thing that's leading to all these questions, but I don't know. We are not guaranteeing any results. Honestly, Shannon, we have been in the online industry for so long. Can anyone guarantee any results?

Nobody, and I would even say, like, if anybody is guaranteeing you any results, you should run in the opposite direction, right? Like, you can be in coaching programs, you can be a web designer, you can provide any amount of services, any different kinds of services, but nobody can promise a certain result of, or the, of like profits and revenue for your business. Now, the result I can promise as a web designer is like, we'll build you a website.

that is optimized to convert your browsers to buyers. Or we'll make sure we optimize as many things on the website so that the buyer can reach the cart in an easier way. Or a buyer goes through a buyer journey that truly helps them understand the value of the product or the service. All of these things are things that I can put as a part of my outcome of the product.

a website, but that's what I can never really guarantee. Oh, you will see a 50x result on your increase in sales or revenue by six months. That not even somebody with a crystal ball can guarantee. So yeah, I think this whole misconception that we are guaranteeing results when it comes to value-based pricing or when it comes to

Chaitra (24:46.286)

delivering results or whatever. I think that whole misconception is the thing that puts so much pressure on designers that they now think if I talked about results or if I talked about value, that means I better provide that value and make sure that they are getting those results. Providing value is one thing, but you cannot guarantee results for anybody because website is one portion of their entire business structure. Now that said,

the website is an important part of that structure. So what we are saying is right now, let's just say 100 people are coming to their website and right now maybe one person is purchasing. By optimizing the website, we can probably optimize the buyer journey and everything and get that to maybe two to 3%, which means for every 100 people coming in, maybe two or three people are now gonna buy.

But that said, this whole thing is dependent on a number of factors. First of all, it depends on the traffic. Who is coming to the website? How many people are coming to the website? And the quality of that traffic. Like, are the people, are the 100 people coming to their website truly qualified people or truly the right audience? Because the website is now optimized to convert the right audience. So if 100 wrong people come to the website, I don't know if.

it will convert at the same level, or it should convert at the same level. Maybe it shouldn't, because the website is now optimized to convert a certain kind of buyer's persona. And the second thing is you also need to consider the quality of the product or the service itself. Is the product good? Is the service good? Are the testimonials good? Is the social proof good? All of these things. And then there's supply chain, management,

customer service, and there's just so many things in the wheel to make sure that actually the results that they want to see or the goals that they want to hit are going to happen. And their marketing efforts, where are they putting their marketing efforts in? If they have a goal to hit 100K or 500K every single year, are they putting the marketing efforts that are needed to reach those goals? So I think there are so many pieces when it comes to actually hitting that outcome. But when we are...

Chaitra (27:03.534)

selling a website or when we are talking about value, we are not guaranteeing results. And I wanna be very transparent about that. I don't think we ever should or could guarantee results. And so I think this misconception that value-based pricing equals guaranteeing results is where a lot of this confusion comes from.

Shannon Mattern (27:24.711)

Oh, that, I just loved that explanation. And I feel like, you know, there are, there's like things that are within my control as the designer. And then there are things that are within the client's control as a client. And then there's like this third party out here, which is the customer. And each one is a hundred percent responsible for what they bring to the outcome. And as the designer,

Chaitra (27:36.686)

Yes.

Chaitra (27:43.054)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (27:51.943)

I can guarantee that I will deliver on my 100% of things that are within my control, which is completing the project, listening to you, developing a solution that with all of the information that you give to me as the designer, listening to you, testing, making sure everything works, like following the best practices of whatever the thing that I am selling are, you know, continually like solving problems.

Chaitra (27:57.422)

Exactly.

Chaitra (28:18.638)

Yes.

Shannon Mattern (28:21.939)

Those things are 100% within my control to deliver the thing. The client is responsible for having an offer people want, doing their marketing, giving you the information that you need to build the website in a way that's going to serve their business. They're responsible for so much and at the end of the day, we can't control whether the client's going to get their credit card out or not. That's on them. We can do our best on both sides

Chaitra (28:27.534)

Yeah.

Chaitra (28:33.262)

Yeah.

Chaitra (28:38.286)

Yeah. Yeah.

Chaitra (28:46.414)

Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (28:52.815)

to lead the client to that place where they have a decision to make. And ultimately, that's them. But wouldn't you want to work with someone who is considering all of those things and trying to create the best possible outcome for everybody? But like you said, you cannot guarantee, no one can guarantee.

Chaitra (28:56.59)

Yeah.

Chaitra (29:07.886)

Yeah, exactly.

Outcome. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah.

Chaitra (29:17.934)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (29:17.955)

Like we don't have that much control. I'm sorry, everyone listening, you don't have that much control. Right.

Chaitra (29:20.27)

Exactly.

We're not gods. We cannot control the exact outcome. I think I want to also take this opportunity to just clarify, when we do go on sales calls, then how does this actually play out? Because a lot of people think when we say communicating value, they think it's promising results. It's not. I just wanted to illustrate that with an example, maybe.

Communicating value is not about promising a certain result to the client, it's about showing the possibility of what their business could look like by solving this particular problem that they have. And by doing this, it's important to show that there are different factors that play into this and talk specifically about how working with you can potentially solve the problem. And it's all about just being honest and realistic. And I think that's what, I think the more honest and realistic you are in the conversation that makes the client truly see

how you approach the problem. So here's what I would say the difference between promising a result versus communicating value would look like. So for example, example of a promise would be working with me on your new website will increase conversion rate from 2% to 20%. That is more like an example of a promise. First of all, this seems like it's all the possible 2% to 20%. It feels like a very unrealistic result.

Typically, website conversion rates are only between 1% to 5%. So 20% sounds like astonishingly high. And also guaranteeing the results like this, which technically speaking, is not in your control as a web designer. So instead, what we could do on the sales call, and what I typically advocate for, is you could say example of communicating value instead would be something like, hey, after talking to you so far on this call, I understand your problem is low conversion rate on your website.

Chaitra (31:17.71)

And a new website we build, the new website that we build can totally help with this. Typically, conversion rates for websites are between 1% to 5%. Since your conversion rates are on the lower end of the spectrum, we can definitely work on increasing it. Just to show you what is possible, by even increasing your conversion rate by 1%, it would mean an additional x amount of revenue for your business. And you can calculate that x amount and show them what that x means.

But we also need to keep in mind that to see an increase in this conversion rate, you need to ensure to keep a steady stream of high quality traffic to your website. Do you agree? And just put the ball back in their court. Ask them if they truly understand this. And also explain other factors like, hey, the product needs to be good. There is your customer service. There are just so many different factors here at Play. Do you agree? I think asking that and making sure that they agree and they understand.

that website is just one portion of this. See how these two ways of explaining or communicating value is so different. Saying that I can promise 5% increase in conversion rate versus, hey, here's what increasing conversion rate can increase your revenue by, but listen, here are all the other factors that need to be also in place that need to have, do you understand or do you agree? When you say this, you're showing what's possible for their business.

by investing in a new website, but you're also setting very realistic expectations on what is required to make any of this possible. None of this sounds like you're making a dubious promise or a false promise. You're having an honest, straight-up conversation on how you can help their business. You're showing the importance of investing in a website, and what's the possibility if they do?

that can happen, if you're not assuring or promising any results by doing things. These are two very different things, right? What do you think, Shannon?

Shannon Mattern (33:09.755)

Yeah, it just, it's the difference between like, you're just educating them. You're like, here is what like, it's educational to say in your scenario, here's what's currently happening. Here's what could be happening. Here's my plan for helping create this. And here are all of the things that need to happen in order to create this result.

Chaitra (33:18.158)

I'm sorry.

Chaitra (33:23.31)

Yeah. Yeah.

Chaitra (33:32.814)

Yeah, exactly.

Chaitra (33:40.046)

exactly a hundred percent.

Shannon Mattern (33:41.627)

And I think that is so empowering for a client because I can't imagine being on the other side of this and being a client and not knowing what I don't know and going with someone who's making promises. And I'm sure we have all experienced like having a consultation with someone who.

Chaitra (34:01.294)

Mm-hmm.

Shannon Mattern (34:07.283)

was made a promise by someone else, that didn't work out. Now they're coming to us and they're like, well, what's different about you? Because this person promised this and they didn't deliver, so why should I trust you? It's like, no, you shouldn't have trusted them. It's not about that. If someone's guaranteeing results, they can't do that. On the flip side,

Chaitra (34:11.15)

Yeah. Yeah.

Chaitra (34:23.982)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (34:36.559)

think about myself as a business owner, and I'm so curious what you think about this, I never expect anybody to create results for me. Like in any business coaching program that I've joined, in any service provider relationship that I've had where I am working on, I'm working with someone on conversion rate optimization within our business right now.

I don't expect this result on this certain time. It's like, I just, I don't expect it, but maybe I'm naive to think that other people wouldn't. I'm curious what your thoughts are on that.

Chaitra (35:11.79)

Yeah.

Chaitra (35:23.79)

Same here. I think we've been in coaching programs together, Shannon. And I've been in several other coaching containers or one-on-one coaching. And I've had service providers be a part of my business. When it comes to results, I've always relied on my ability to take that coaching and implement it in my business and then see what comes out of it. Then being like, OK, I enrolled in this coaching program.

Shannon Mattern (35:28.079)

Yeah.

Chaitra (35:49.774)

Now, I implemented what they had and now I have to see the results like everybody else is getting in the program or something like that. I feel like it's our responsibility to implement, but at the same time, even after you implement, there could be so many things. And this is because it's an online business and business is business. There are ups, there are downs, and it's all about figuring it out. So yeah, I'm exactly the same as you. I invest in coaching programs or invest in services.

because I need help in a certain area of my business, but I definitely don't make the program responsible for my results. I still think I'm responsible for creating those results in my business, and that's just still one portion of it. There might be still other things that I need to work on, which we are all continually working on, whether it's improvising our services, whether it's...

making our processes better, maybe attracting better clients, or maybe attracting the right type of clients according to our positioning, honing in on our own positioning. There's just so many things, right? So if I'm, let's say I took a coaching program on sales, or like I took a program that helped me become a better person when it comes to marketing and sales. Yes, I might use all those strategies and I might get better in marketing and sales. I might see an increase, but that said, there are all these other areas that I still...

always have opportunity to continually improve. So yeah, I mean, it all is up to you at the end of the day when it comes to actually creating results. And I'm of that same belief that you are responsible when it comes to your... And sometimes, you know what? We can do everything. And sometimes it's just the timing of it. It might take a little time for you to see results. And maybe it's nothing to do with you or the program or what you have done. Sometimes it just takes time. That's it.

Yeah, so totally on the same page with you on that.

Shannon Mattern (37:44.143)

Absolutely. I just released my 2023 Year in Review podcast episode yesterday. Sometimes you can do all the things that you've been doing and that doesn't mean you're always going to get the results that you were getting. It's just a matter of getting back to why are you doing this in the first place.

Chaitra (37:50.03)

Mm-hmm.

Chaitra (38:09.326)

Oh my God, I love that. Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (38:12.867)

and what's the purpose of it and deciding, is this worth persisting through? And for me, it's obviously a yes, it's so worth it. But I was thinking when you were saying that, we were talking about these pricing rules that we tell ourselves that we make up and just decide or law for some reason.

Chaitra (38:18.286)

Yeah. Yeah.

Chaitra (38:22.862)

Absolutely worth it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Chaitra (38:34.446)

Yeah.

Chaitra (38:39.118)

Yes, yeah.

Shannon Mattern (38:41.351)

the, we make up rules about what we're responsible for also. I think it kind of falls into that same thing where we're like, oh, and I'm responsible for making sure that this person's business is successful. And like all of these things that we put on ourselves when they don't hire a web designer expecting their web designer to run their business.

Chaitra (38:49.326)

Same.

Chaitra (38:55.918)

Yeah.

Chaitra (39:04.334)

this at all? Yeah, totally. I know we put all this pressure, but I even wonder like, are they even expecting this? Right? Are our clients really expecting this? Or are we truly putting all this pressure? And one of the activities like when I was working with my one on one coach, one thing she truly and I have had to work through this, guess how I know all this, because I've had to work through it myself. Right? And one thing she asked me to do, which I think is very helpful, and I now ask all of my clients to do is

Shannon Mattern (39:12.816)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (39:23.875)

Me too, me too.

Chaitra (39:33.55)

Take a piece of paper, draw a line in between, and on one side put my responsibility, on one more side put my client's responsibility. Now write down everything you think is your responsibility, and on the other side you write down all the things that you think the client needs to do in order to see results, and on one side what you need to do in order to support the client, right? So you do all of these things, and then you have that, because every time you now feel like, oh my God, like because...

Whenever you're providing any kind of service, there are results that your clients experience. And often it's very normal for you to put pressure on yourself, as if you are controlling those results. And I think having this sheet and this difference of what is my responsibility, what's the client's responsibility, and allowing those to play out as per what we have said it.

It is very empowering, not for just you, but more so even for the client themselves, right? Even taking the web design example, for example, if you're working with somebody to help increase their sales or revenue or whatever it is through the new website that you're building, whenever they run into a problem, you might be like, oh my God, their conversion rate is dipping. What can I do? What can I do? And you might want to shift some things in the website and things like that. But guess what? The website might not even be a problem.

Maybe it's to do with their traffic. And by actually going into the website and changing things, we might actually be doing a disservice to their business. Because who knows? The website might be working perfectly. And we need to give it at least 90 to 120 days in order to see even if the website is working. But if we take responsibility for things that are not in our control, we might in a rush change things that are actually working as a result of which we might actually create more problems for the business. So it's very important to really.

draw that line between your responsibility, the client's responsibility, other responsibilities that are not in your control, so that you truly operate in your role 100%. And when you do that, you actually see the results when you give the time and you give the other responsibilities. And also by doing all this, where are we depriving our clients of taking responsibility for their own business? Because whatever said and done, we do the project and that was our role.

Chaitra (41:53.646)

but the business owner's role is a lot more than that. They need to truly take responsibility for a number of things happening in their business. And I asked stepping into responsibilities that are not truly something we should be taking, how are we depriving them of truly getting empowered and staying in that role and doing the things and growing as business owners, right? So I think that perspective truly helped me see.

why I should not be stepping in and kind of trying to control things. Because one, it's not in my control. And second, how might I be actually hurting or depriving my clients of their growth as a business owner by taking responsibilities that they could be taking.

Shannon Mattern (42:40.063)

Oh, that is so good. And it also made me think like when we're talking about results and responsibility and you know, what our clients expectations are, it's like, we could just ask them, we could just say, what are your expectations for this project? And if they say something that is like, Oh, well, let me educate you on actually how that works and help you adjust your expectations, help, you know,

Chaitra (42:56.238)

for me.

Chaitra (43:00.878)

I love that.

Shannon Mattern (43:08.619)

you know, fill in those gaps because they may think certain things that aren't accurate and aren't true. And then you're not going in like with all these manufactured expectations and rules that you created and then trying to fulfill something that they don't even expect from you and putting all this pressure on yourself and over delivering, um, to justify your premium pricing, which shouldn't, which should just be normal pricing and all the things that we do.

Chaitra (43:18.574)

Mm-hmm.

Chaitra (43:35.694)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, love that. Love that. Yes, totally.

Shannon Mattern (43:44.057)

Oh my goodness. So gosh, we've been talking for like 45 minutes. I could talk to you forever. Tell me about your coaching and mentorship program for web designers.

Chaitra (43:56.43)

Yeah. So it's called the High End Web Designer. It's a six-month group coaching program. I launched it almost three years ago, which is, wow, like three years ago. And a lot of it had to come from my experience as becoming a new mother and my maternity break. That played a huge role in just a whole turning point in my business. So I've had my business for almost about eight to nine years now. And for the first five years, I've

Shannon Mattern (44:05.583)

Yeah.

Chaitra (44:25.358)

I was building it and I was struggling and you know, there's always new levels of struggle and I'm not saying I'm a free of all struggles or anything like that. But those first five years, I just felt like I was shooting in the dark. I just didn't know what I was doing and I was doing all the things which meant that I was burnt out. I was exhausted. I was working with a truckload of clients to, you know, make

Shannon Mattern (44:36.709)

Ha ha ha.

Chaitra (44:54.766)

any amount of money. And even after all of that, after all the taxes and everything, it just felt like I was running an expensive hobby. And I've felt that. And I'm actually a software engineer who quit my career to start my business. So there was always this thing about like, oh my God, like, when will this like I'm putting my everything into the into my business. Will I see will this work? You know, will I start seeing something?

you know, because at the end of the day, we all do this because we are totally invested in why we do this, our mission and all that. But at the same time, you also want it to be profitable, right? Because we have bills to pay, we have families, we have people to provide for. We have ourselves for ourselves too. Yeah. For ourselves too. So, um, I think my maternity break came in like a true, like, uh,

Shannon Mattern (45:39.864)

We're allowed to make money.

Chaitra (45:52.302)

wake up call almost. So I took an 18 month maternity break after the first four years of my business. This was back in 2018, 2019. So two years almost, my business went down to zero. Because I was truly overwhelmed. I couldn't keep up that level of clients or anything during my maternity break. And so I just totally went in the opposite direction. I'm very...

I used to be very all in on, all out kind of a person. So I think, and also when you become a mother, you just have like so many other things to focus on. So I think I just went all into that more. And I, you know, I put my business on hold and during that, my business went all down to zero, like inquiries, income revenue, everything went down to zero. So when I came back, it was between like, will I go back to corporate or will I make this business work? And I gave myself a year.

And I took all the lessons that I learned in the past, like in those five years before. And I was like, listen, we have to make this profitable. It's no more an option. So we'll give ourselves one year. So 2020 was the year that I gave myself. You make this work, or else we will go back to corporate or whatever is required. Because it's important for it to be profitable. That's just a non-negotiable. And guess what?

Shannon, I'm very passionate about this. My mission, my heart, everything is into this, but at the same time I need to see, it needs to be profitable on one side because we're all in business for all sorts of profits and everything else. So that year I was like, okay, I have limited time. I have four hours to work per day. I need to make this work. So that is when this 10K...

per project came into my mind because I realized that I could deliver one project in four to six weeks and I wanted to make 100k that year and I had four hours to work per day. This was like literally my puzzle and I had to solve it and I was like the only way I like with some math you'll know that if you want to hit that number with you know working four hours per day and you can take on eight to ten projects per year it's very simple math hundred divided by eight or hundred divided by ten.

Chaitra (48:01.998)

you have to be charging 10K per project, right? And at that point, I had the max I had charged for a project was about 4,500. So charging 10K seemed like, oh, like a distant dream. Like it's not even possible kind of a thing. And I hadn't even heard a lot of people charging that. It wasn't even very common when I came back from a maternity break. So I realized that if...

I'm gonna give it my all. I learned a lot that year about sales, marketing, and I also decided to go all in on one thing instead of shooting in the dark and trying out a hundred different marketing strategies. I'm like, focus, focus, pick one and just focus. And I learned a lot of things in that one year. And I realized, and I decided that if I make this thing work by the end of 2020, I'll make sure to somehow spread this or teach this or somehow spread this.

that we can charge more. We can land high-end websites, like you said, normal end websites. We should make that. So we should be able to charge fair for our projects and things like that. So that year I did raise my prices. I started landing consistent 10k plus projects, was able to make that my first six-week career after five years of trying.

Shannon Mattern (48:59.381)

Hahaha

Chaitra (49:19.214)

So that year felt like, and the best part was I was able to do all of this while working four hours per day. So that truly was like, okay, I'm like, I found something here. And so I then packed all of this into the program that I have now. It's called the High End Web Designer. And it's a six month coaching program. And I help web designers raise their prices to 10k plus for their projects. And it's not an overnight journey. And I want to say this, like I said, I hit

my first six-figure year after five years of trying. So I'm anything but, my journey is anything but an overnight journey. I'll be the first one to say that. And also raising your prices to 10K is not something like that happens overnight. There's like a certain process to it. You need to have things in place for it. So I'm not about promising overnight results or anything like that. But that said, the program has a set framework that helps you do that.

And our clients see amazing results, which honestly, at the end of the day, is the most satisfying part about being in business is to be able to help other people and other designers make what they're working towards happen. And I get to be a small part of that journey. So it's incredibly satisfying. So anyway, the program is for web designers. We help you raise your rates and we do it in a very...

stair-stepping kind of way. And sometimes designers join the program and they're like, I'm ready to go. And they raise their prices to 10K within a couple of weeks or a couple of months. But sometimes it takes a little bit longer after implementing different pieces of the framework and things like that. So yeah, the program is called the High-End Web Designer. And you can find it at the high And yeah, it's been one of the best parts of my business, honestly.

Shannon Mattern (51:10.839)

I've heard you tell that story so many times and every time I just am like in I just like tell me more, tell me more because it's so it's the journey that we've seen so many people go on and I think that the part I love about that story so much is when you're like here are my constraints and this is happening like I want to, my family is important to me being a mom is important to me.

Chaitra (51:33.326)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (51:39.259)

This is the amount of time I have. That's a non-negotiable. I am allowed to make money doing this. We would never, ever tell our clients that they shouldn't make a profit. We bend over backwards to ensure that they make a profit at our own expense. Let's stop doing that. And you're like, let's stop doing that. I'm allowed to make money in exchange for this. It gets to be a win-win for both of us, me and my client.

Chaitra (51:43.086)

Yeah.

Chaitra (51:51.694)

Oh my god, yes.

Chaitra (51:56.846)

Yeah. Yeah.

Chaitra (52:04.142)

Mm-hmm.

Shannon Mattern (52:08.091)

and you just like, you just did it. It's like, you're just, I don't know, it sounds like, and you can tell me if I'm wrong, you just kind of got tired of the old way and you're like, no more, that's it, I'm done. And I know this is worth it. And I know how to talk to, I know how to say to my clients, this is why it's worth it. And we're just gonna go and...

Chaitra (52:20.654)

Yeah.

Chaitra (52:29.614)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly, I think I was just, I had hit rock bottom. So then there was no other direction. Yeah, nothing to lose, nothing to lose, right? I was already like, my business had to hit $0 in revenue for a straight two years. So, I mean, I didn't have any other option. I had no other option but to go for what I really wanted.

Shannon Mattern (52:40.375)

Nothing to lose.

Chaitra (52:54.478)

And I think when it comes to value, mindset is huge when it comes to charging 10K and quoting those high end prices. But at the same time, you also wanna back it up with value. And that value comes from website strategy. And I talk a lot about website strategy and how to actually solve problems through website. Because it's one thing to say, yeah, I believe I can deliver results. But at the same time, you wanna back it up with an actual process. And for me, that was one more thing that I felt like there's not much.

knowledge about because there's a lot of knowledge about brand strategy, a lot of talk about brand strategy, but nobody talks about website strategy and how we can solve problems through a website. And so I think that was one more part, which I was like, I need, people need to know about this. People need to learn about this because once they know, they'll truly see the value and the transformation they can provide to their clients through website strategy. And that time charging 10 K will become a no brainer. It will become like the basic, like it'll become normal.

And I think that was one more reason why, like the website strategy part is a huge part of our framework inside the high end web designer. So that makes the whole difference too, yeah.

Shannon Mattern (54:06.043)

So good. I mean, yeah, you're right. There are people teaching the skill of design. They're teaching brand strategy. They're teaching web design, but there is strategy behind all of this that has to come into play. You can try to figure that out on your own and come up with your own strategy, or you can go with something that's tried and true that someone else has developed and take it

implement it and make it your own. And I mean, talk about like the confidence to know that you are able to deliver for your clients when you're like, oh, I'm implementing something that someone has developed that actually does create results. You don't have to trial and error your way through figuring it out and like, oh, let me try this. Did that create the best results for my clients? Let me tweak this. Like you absolutely can do that, but why not shortcut it with

Chaitra (54:52.142)

Results, exactly.

Chaitra (54:59.406)

Uh... yeah. Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (55:05.743)

with a system that is already complete.

Chaitra (55:05.934)

Yes, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And when you have a process that truly gives you that confidence and backs your the value up.

Then even going on sales calls, communicating value, nothing feels like pulling teeth anymore. Even your marketing doesn't feel like pulling teeth anymore. Everything is very smooth because you know the value you provide. You have a set process to provide that value. So then there's no more second guessing. So when you go on sales call, like, this is why my process is unique. This is what distinguishes me as a web designer. This is how I can bring value to your business. And this is why it costs this much. It's pretty much straightforward. And when you work with that clarity,

I think more than confidence, I think we need clarity. Because confidence is something that comes with action and comes over time, but clarity is something that you can bring right away. And I think clarity of having a process that creates results that can give you the confidence to go on sales calls and communicate value and court prizes. And even when they say no, then, then you know.

You're not going to go back and nitpick on the proposal that you sent and be like, oh, did this go wrong? Did I not talk well on the sales call? And you'll not start breaking apart everything and looking at what went wrong. Why did they not accept? But instead, it would be a calm confidence that, hey, it was not the good fit. It was not a great fit. There are better clients out there waiting for me. And I now get to go serve them and let go. And

the right clients will come to me. I always keep repeating this. The right clients will always come to you. They'll always work with you because they see and you want those types of clients who wants to convince somebody like, oh, you have to work with me. And that never ends well. We all know how that ends. That never ends well. So, yeah.

Shannon Mattern (56:54.827)

Chaitra, this has been such a good conversation. I know we have so much to talk about. We'll definitely have to have you back on the show in the future. I just feel like we both are like, we have such the mission to just like, let's normalize that web designers are allowed to make as much money as they choose to make in their business. And there's nothing wrong with that. And I love that we're on the same page.

Chaitra (57:01.614)

Oh yeah.

Chaitra (57:16.302)

Yeah.

Chaitra (57:20.558)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (57:24.699)

just really helping people do that. So thank you so much for being here. This was so awesome to catch up with you.

Chaitra (57:28.494)

Same here, same here, absolutely same here. Thanks for having me, Shannon.

Shannon Mattern (57:34.851)

All right, I'll link up everything that we talked about in the show notes so you guys can go check it out. And yeah, thanks for listening, everyone.

Summary

In this episode, Shannon Mattern and Chaitra Radhakrishna discuss changes and trends in the web design industry, the importance of mindset and pricing, and the need to communicate value without promising specific results. They emphasize the importance of setting realistic expectations and taking responsibility for one's own business.

They also discuss the need to normalize higher prices in the web design industry and the difference between promising results and communicating value. Overall, the conversation highlights the importance of mindset, communication, and managing expectations in the web design business. In this conversation, Shannon Mattern and Chaitra discuss the importance of setting client expectations and adjusting them if necessary.

Chaitra also talks about her struggles in the early years of her business and how her maternity break became a turning point. She shares her journey of making her business profitable and the process of charging higher prices. The conversation emphasizes the value of website strategy and the importance of clarity and confidence in web design.

Takeaways

  • Set realistic expectations and communicate value without promising specific results.
  • Normalize higher prices in the web design industry and understand the value of your services.
  • Take responsibility for your own business and understand the responsibilities of your clients.
  • Focus on mindset, communication, and managing expectations to build a successful web design business. It is important to set clear client expectations and adjust them if necessary.
  • Coaching and mentorship programs can help web designers raise their prices and improve their business.
  • Taking breaks and reflecting on business strategies can lead to turning points and increased profitability.
  • Website strategy is crucial in delivering value to clients and justifying higher prices.
  • Clarity and confidence in communicating value are essential for success in web design.

Chapters

  • 00:00 Introduction and Background
  • 02:02 Changes and Trends in the Web Design Industry
  • 04:02 Mindset and Pricing
  • 06:21 Communicating Value and Setting Realistic Expectations
  • 09:07 Normalizing Higher Prices
  • 14:21 The Importance of Results and Managing Expectations
  • 21:24 Taking Responsibility and Setting Realistic Expectations
  • 27:24 The Difference Between Promising Results and Communicating Value
  • 33:09 Understanding Responsibility and Expectations
  • 42:40 Setting Client Expectations
  • 43:44 Coaching and Mentorship Program for Web Designers
  • 44:25 Struggles and Turning Point in Business
  • 45:23 Maternity Break and Business Transformation
  • 47:10 Raising Prices and Making Business Profitable
  • 48:01 The High-End Web Designer Program
  • 49:19 Journey to Charging 10K per Project
  • 50:44 Website Strategy and Solving Problems
  • 51:10 Confidence and Value in Web Design
  • 52:08 Finding Clarity and Communicating Value
  • 56:54 Normalizing High Earnings for Web Designers
A smiling person with a tooth showing on their chin is looking indoors.

Shannon Mattern
Web Designer Academy

ABOUT YOUR HOST, SHANNON MATTERN

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

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