In this week’s episode I reveal 4 shifts we’re currently seeing in the web design industry and how you can leverage them:
- Just because a business already has a website doesn’t mean they don’t need your services. Every few years they need to keep up with the shifting marketing landscape and make updates.
- We can only control our own thoughts and actions in any economic environment. We can’t control outcomes, not even the outcomes of our actions, but we can control our effort and persistence.
- There’s no such thing as a “better time” to go all in on your business. The best time is always now.
I also talk about:
- Why businesses need websites now more than ever despite a growing number of social media and product sales platforms.
- How to calculate value and why value is always more important than price.
- Why things that used to work are no longer working and how that change is your best friend as a web designer.
Shannon Mattern: Welcome to the Profitable Web Designer, a podcast for web designers who want to work less and make more money. I'm your host Shannon Mattern, founder of the Web Designer Academy, where we've helped hundreds of web designers stop under charging, overworking and create profitable, sustainable web design businesses.
Shannon Mattern: Welcome to episode 32, and this week I have a very special episode for you. It is an encore presentation of the keynote that I just recently did at the 2023 Simply Profitable Designer Summit, all about the state of the web design industry. And I thought what we shared in that presentation was really important for podcast listeners to hear too, because we've seen four significant shifts in the web design space over the past several months in our position as running the Web Designer Academy, hearing from you and our colleagues on the Profitable Web Designer Podcast and just getting to meet other people in the web design business coaching space. And we wanted to share with you what we're seeing so that you can prepare for the future over the next 12 months and account for these shifts to really stay on the cutting edge of the web design space.
Shannon Mattern: So let's go ahead and dive into my keynote from the 2023 Simply Profitable Designer Summit, all about the state of the web design industry. Hello everyone and welcome to our 2023 state of the Web Design industry keynote presentation. I am Shannon Madden, your host, and I'm just really honored again to be hosting the seventh annual Simply Profitable Designer Summit. It is one of the best online educational events for designers and I say one of the best because we have a few speakers here who host their own summits for designers and they are absolutely fantastic as well. We have Anin Lak who hosts a Page Builder Summit. We have Emma Kate who hosts a summit for designers. We have Matt Kaner who hosts one. So there are so many great speakers here who offer so many different opportunities for you to connect and learn. So definitely connect with all of those people.
Shannon Mattern: And I know that there are other speakers here too that are constantly adding to the educational opportunities in this space. So definitely, definitely connect with those. But today I wanted to share with you what we're seeing from where we sit at the Web Designer Academy where we have helped hundreds of web designers really make that shift from undercharging overworking over-delivering pixel pushing to really becoming like a collaborative expert leader in, in their space and really creating profitable, sustainable web design businesses. So that is what I'm here to talk about today. I'm also the host of the Profitable Web Designer podcast, which we just launched back in September. And I'm just so passionate about helping web designers truly get sold on the value that they bring to their clients so that they can confidently raise prices, book dream clients, and really create that business where they have the freedom, flexibility, and financial independence to do what they love and work for their clients.
Shannon Mattern: So we are broadcasting this both on Crowdcast and in Facebook. So I see comments coming through both places, so I'm guessing that you can see and hear me. So I'm actually gonna turn off my camera and just focus on the slides so we can, I think, I don't know if you can, I don't know my, if I'm a floating head above
Shannon Mattern: So what we have seen over the past several months are four significant shifts that we cannot ignore if we want to our one, our businesses to remain relevant going forward, but also to just be able to leverage what's changing in the online space. So I wanna talk to you about those and then you can pop your questions in the chat as they come up. And I will scroll back through after we get to the end to answer any questions that you guys have about this session. But the first shift that we cannot ignore as web designers is a shift in the market for web design. And I'm sure you all have noticed this too. This is not anything new. This has been happening for years. There is just an endless array of sophisticated website building platforms, tools, trainings, tutorials, templates, YouTube videos, SaaS products, and now even AI that continue to level the playing field between designers and DIYers.
Shannon Mattern: And the barrier to entry to not just getting a website but a pretty great looking, pretty sophisticated website online is lower than ever before. So if you're in the US and you watch the Super Bowl, you saw commercials for Squarespace and Shopify
Shannon Mattern: It gave him the whole entire outline for the entire website of what sections each page should have, where the call should action to be like where all that stuff should be and like what the content should be, right? So I was reading this and I was like kind of going through the whole thing and I was like, this is fascinating. And so it is easier and faster than ever before for businesses and startups to get online without our help and to be online without our help. And because of this, we see that web designers, especially newer ones coming onto the scene, having a really hard time not only feeling like they can charge for what they do, but like justifying really profitable sustainable prices to themselves. Because it's so easy nowadays for anyone to just go build a website and make graphics in Canva and have G P T write some content for you, right?
Shannon Mattern: So if you're marketing based on trying to convince someone why they need a website or why they need to be on this platform versus that platform, or you're marketing all of your skills or your portfolio or your certifications, you're missing a really big opportunity to position yourself as a valued consultant rather than just someone who can take a technical task or a design task or a creative task off someone else's plate. So the shift that you get to make is to really like focus on, focus on working with clients who have survived that startup stage and who are ready to invest in more customized solutions with deep support, even though they can do it themselves if they wanted to or outsource parts of it and they don't want to, right? And to really position yourself as a solution and position what you create for people as a revenue generating asset instead of like, oh, you didn't have a website before, now you have one.
Shannon Mattern: So we'll talk a little bit more about that in a second. But it does not require
Shannon Mattern: It simply requires you to look at what you're doing in a completely different way than how you've been looking at it. So in order to leverage this shift in the market and stay relevant, instead of seeing yourself as someone who designs and build websites, look at yourself as someone who solves valuable problems for your clients and spots opportunities for them, guides them and creates a powerful experience for them so that they can go on to leverage what you built for them and generate a return on their investment. So the second shift that we are seeing right now, it's happening in a couple of different ways. It's a shift in your client's business strategy. So we noticed this has started talking about it at the end of last year, that businesses who have been around for a while are noticing that what was working to market and sell and convert their products, programs and services just isn't working like it used to.
Shannon Mattern: Like they're having to build bigger and bigger audiences. Their conversions are less and less. Less people are seeing their emails, less people are seeing their content, less people are seeing their social posts, less people are seeing their paid social posts, right? And so that they are having to get creative and pivot and try new things and evolve. So what was working and what all the quote unquote marketing gurus were teaching isn't working as effectively as it used to. And so not only are businesses trying new things to market and get clients and sell, they're shifting their businesses internally to be more profitable. They're simplifying, they're wanting to work less and just be online less. I mean for the past, you know, gosh, it's March of 2023 and we are just past three years of like the global shutdown from the pandemic, right? People are wanting to work less and be online less, but also still have a really big impact.
Shannon Mattern: And to do that, their systems need to evolve with them. They need things to be simpler, more effective, higher converting, more accessible, easier to manage. And so there's just an opportunity for everyone here as leaders in the space, people who care, like every single person who signed up for this summit obviously cares about learning and learning more about helping their clients and connection and the industry and really making it the opportunity for you is now more than ever to help these business owners as they navigate what's next for them to figure out what's going to work in their business and their industry. And so while a, a lot of businesses are in the process of like reinventing themselves, right? Rebranding, repositioning, offering new services, shedding old products and services that are no longer profitable, trying new marketing strategies they need to pivot to stay relevant.
Shannon Mattern: And that is such great news for web designers because every couple of years or when there's just a massive shift in the world like there was in the past three years, when a business outgrows itself or goes through a reinvention, it means that if they want to stay relevant, they are continually investing in the right kind of support to help them strategically navigate that, to take advantage of new design trends, to stay relevant, to set up the best tech stacks to help them implement these new strategies. Just because a business already has a website does not mean that they don't need to hire you, right? So many businesses need your smart, creative, technical process oriented design visionary brains now more than ever. So don't think that it's just about helping people that don't already have a website get online, or businesses that aren't already doing amazing get online.
Shannon Mattern: There's so much opportunity to help people evolve and pivot with what you do. So the third shift that we're starting to see in the industry, and I like to think that we're part of this here at the Simply Profitable Designer Summit and at the Web Designer Academy is in a shift in the perception of the value of a website itself where business owners are no longer seeing their website as like this thing that they have to have to be seen as professional. They're no longer seeing it as a commodity to be had at the lowest price or a business expense that just takes money out of their bank account. They're seeing it as a revenue generating asset over which they have full control that's worth investing in. So we as web designers, we've been saying it for years,
Shannon Mattern: I don't know if you guys have been paying attention to the news lately, but like last week, this bank in Silicon Valley like failed, right? And there were all these stories about Etsy store owners being notified by Etsy that, Hey, because your payouts were in this bank that failed, we don't know when we're going to be able to pay you the money that we owe you. And so all these Etsy shop owners who have built lucrative Etsy businesses who were owed a lot of money from Etsy, had like this freak out because they weren't sure that they were ever gonna get their money. They didn't know when they were gonna get it. They weren't sure if they were ever gonna get it. Now that situation got resolved with a government intervention. I'm not gonna get to the details of that. And these store owners got paid.
Shannon Mattern: But the thing is, is that when you put your business in the hands of other companies and people are like, who needs the e-commerce website? I can just use Etsy or this marketplace or Facebook marketplace or whatever, and they start to think that like, oh, websites are irrelevant, I don't need one. Even web designers start to think, well how can I compete with all of these other platforms? It's like, listen, websites are a long way from being irreplaceable and irrelevant, and the current landscape is going to highlight
Shannon Mattern: And I know that you guys know this
Shannon Mattern: So the fourth shift that we're seeing, it's a shift in the economy
Shannon Mattern: Necessity is the mother of invention as the old saying goes. And we cannot predict or time or control the future. We can only control our own thoughts and our own actions in any economic environment. We can't even control the outcomes of our actions, right? We cannot control what's going to happen when we market our business. We cannot control us inviting someone to a consultation with us. We can't control their answer, right? We can't control any of that. So I can either be the type of business owner who needs everything outside of me to be going right and well and for me to know what's gonna happen and for me to know that if I do A then B will happen to get started or to B successful
Shannon Mattern: Or you can believe that no matter what happens, I'll figure it out. I'll be persistent. I will try a lot of things and see what happens. I will gather data and evidence. So if you don't get to to control the timing of what's happening in the world around you, then there is no such thing as a better time to go all in on your business, right? The best time is now. And when I say go all in on your business, I don't mean like quit your day job and like anything like that, I just mean like put the effort into it and be persistent and be patient and gather data, see what's working, see what doesn't pivot as needed and do all of that. You do that now, you do that in any economic situation. So navigating uncertainty really has nothing to do with controlling circumstances outside of us and as a hundred percent to do with managing our minds
Shannon Mattern: And so not only is it so important to understand like what your own thinking is and how that creates your feelings and actions and results in your business, it's super important to understand how your current and future clients are thinking so that you can speak directly to them and speak in a way that resonates with them. So when we talk about a shift in the economy selling profitable web design projects in any economy as part mindset, part strategy, part action, and part understanding consumer psychology. So I go a lot deeper into this whole concept in the bonus that I added to this year's designer power pack. So if you want the full rundown of this concept that I'm about to touch on and how to apply it to your business, definitely get your hands on the power pack. But I wanna share with you that the study that the Harvard Business Review did back in 2008, right in the midst of the 2008 recession where they talk about how to market in a downturn, it's a study done by John Welch and Katherine e, I don't know how to say that last name, Jacques.
Shannon Mattern: And they did this study on consumer behavior in a downturn and they identified four types of consumers slam on the brakes pain, but patient comfortably well off and live for today. And this literally has nothing to do with how much money someone has in their bank account because we all know people with a lot of money who never spend and people without a lot of money who spend all the time, right? So this has nothing to do with actual like how much money someone has and it just has to do with how they think about money and how they behave when the economy changes. So the slam on the brakes segment, and you can see we have going vertically on the left, you have the different segments and then across the top right you have their behavior in a downturn. And so the first column is essentials.
Shannon Mattern: The next column to the right is treats. The column next to that is postpones and then expendables, right? And they talk about like what do people do with essentials, treats, postpones and expendables in different types of economics environments. And so the slam on the brakes segment, even in a stable market are bargain shoppers.
Shannon Mattern: They are the slam on the brakes. People, no matter what market is happening, they are into saving money and getting bargains and getting deals and asking for discount on everything that they do, right? So the pain, but patient consumers tend to be resilient and optimistic about the long term, but they don't spend money as freely when as they might when there's not a downturn. So they have to have a really good reason or clearer r like there has to be a really clear roi and they are confident and optimistic, but there's also a little bit of that anxiety and risk mitigation driving their behavior. And then your comfortably well off segment feels secure about their ability to write out current and future economic bumps. And while they might be a little more selective, they're still spending, especially if they see how buying today benefits them in the future and then the live for today segment, those people are just gonna do what they're gonna do regardless of the economy.
Shannon Mattern: They're like free spirits. They typically don't really think about like money gone today or coming back in the future. They live in the moment they operate from the mindset that there's always enough. So why not? And these are your bold risk takers, your mavericks. They are the ones that are just super confident, they bet on themselves and they just don't have like a whole lot of money stuff going on. So the point to take away from this is that in any economic situation, at any point in time there are people buying and there are people buying at the price that you want to charge. Okay? So one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a web designer, as a freelance web designer, as someone who owns your own business in any economic environment is to make assumptions about how much money people do and don't have and try to make decisions for them about what they can and can't afford.
Shannon Mattern: Okay? You must stay out of people's wallets and bank accounts. It's none of your business. You don't have to try to make things affordable for people at your own expense. Okay? The biggest, like the mistake I see most often our Web Designer Academy is application only, right? And so when people fill out their application, they give us a a link to their website and their sales page. And the biggest mistake I see web designers making is that their whole website and their whole marketing is designed for the pain but patient segment of people, all of their copy, all of their positioning, it's all to market to pain. But patient people
Shannon Mattern: And I will show you exactly what I'm talking about if you have that and give you some strategies for how to tweak that to really speak to people who are still spending in any economic environment. Okay? So like I said, what we want you to do is reposition your marketing, your packages and services to target the comfortably well off and live for today. Clients who continue to take action in any environment, right? So in any economic environment, selling your services is part your mindset part, your client's mindset part, your messaging part, your strategy, and consistent persistent action like you still have to take action. So we're gonna talk more about this in the masterclass. I'm doing exclusively for web designers on Friday. So you can go to https://webdesigneracademy.com/masterclass to register for that because I'm really just scratching the surface of what is going on in the online space.
Shannon Mattern: But the beautiful thing about being a web designer in any time
Shannon Mattern: It is saturated. So doing what the competition is doing and listing out like, oh, here's all my skills, or this is how much a web, a 10 page website costs, and this is how much a logo with three revisions and a social media headers cost and just making it so that all people can do is compare on price. It's not gonna work. You can't just sell a website and expect to not have people price shop if you're positioning things as a commodity so that people can price shop. When you do it this way, you're positioning it as an expense and not an investment. So value, if value is more important than price, especially now value does not mean the number of pages and how hard the project is and how long it takes you to build it. Value is emotional outcomes plus personal outcomes plus business outcomes minus the price.
Shannon Mattern: So the value of the website to me as the consumer, it needs to make me more money and give me more emotional, personal and business outcomes. Whether that's time and money and energy and freedom and all of those intangibles, the value needs to be more than the price. And when you really shift from, I'm spending this much amount of time to create this many pages and this is the like level of effort to this is what this customer, this client is going to be able to do as a result of having this tool that I built for them, you've completely shifted the conversation to value instead of price. So value is more important than price, especially now because if people are going to invest anything at all in this economic climate, they want to make sure that they're going to actually get something that's going to empower them to reach their goals and not a stepping stone or a bandaid.
Shannon Mattern: So it's not that people can't afford it, it's that they can't afford to spend money on something that's not going to get them where they want to go. So you might have noticed this yourself that the things that used to work to market your business aren't working like they used to, right? It's harder to get in front of people online organically, even with paid traffic. People wanna know, okay, well tell me exactly what to do to market my business to this type of client. Where do I need to be? What type of content do I need to be creating? Do I need to be on TikTok or reels? It's literally harder than ever before to get eyeballs on your website. So the stakes are higher than ever before for your clients to make strategic investments and how they spend their time and money. And that is why you must position yourself to not only believe in the value yourself, but to be able to communicate that value to your clients.
Shannon Mattern: So the shift that you get to make to stay relevant and leverage these opportunities to position yourself as a strategic valuable investment rather than an expense, is to really stop thinking of yourself as someone who builds websites and sells websites. And this is how much this costs and really go all in on the value to your clients. So we're gonna talk more about that at the masterclass on Friday, so definitely sign up for that. But I wanted to share with you all that are here. I was having this conversation with a life coach for lawyers just back in January, just less than two months ago. And she is like, yeah, I'm at $500,000 a year right now and I'm planning for the next phase of my business because I wanna hit 5 million and I know that I'm gonna need to invest about 50 grand overall in my website, right?
Shannon Mattern: Like she knows that and she is preparing for it and she's planning for it and she's planning for it now, right? Because she understands that this is a revenue generating asset for her business, right? And she understands like, here's the value of me working with someone to pull all of this together strategically for me. And I just want you to understand that like there are people out there like her, there are plenty of people like her to go around, but you have to become the person who is ready for that, who believes that you are capable of serving clients at that high level right now, as you are, your messaging must speak to clients who are ready to work with you at that level and that sustainable profitable prices for you. And maybe you, not everybody wants to like have a $50,000 website package, right?
Shannon Mattern: But like if that's out there, then you can have a $10,000 package.
Shannon Mattern: So pay attention to what the scope creep is.
Shannon Mattern: So we're gonna be asking you questions about your business and all of the things, and compiling a report that we wanna share with, with all of our summit attendees so that you can kind of see where you fall in the grand landscape of web designers. So we hope that you learn a ton at the summit this year. We wanna make sure that you have the opportunity to come to the masterclass that we at the Web Designer Academy are sponsoring. It's on Friday, March 24th at 1:00 PM Eastern. You can sign up for that https://webdesigneracademy.com slash masterclass. And with that, I will open it up to your questions. Let me put myself back here. There we go. All right. I'm starting to get a little bit of a cold of course, like as the summit kicks off, but yes. So does anybody have any questions about that? Harlene asked if I could go back one slide please.
Shannon Mattern: What slide would you like to see? Harlene, I'd be happy to scroll back through that. So does anybody have any questions about what we talked about today in terms of the state of the web design industry and what we're seeing here at the summit and from our clients in the Web Designer Academy? From colleagues I've talked to on the podcast and at other, other summits, I think my Facebook live stream just failed. So Facebook people might have to, I might have to reconnect there, but Harlene wanted to see the, the value equation, so I just popped that back on. So yeah, that's the value equation and it's really important to know that like component of price isn't pages and pages in time and all of those things. So Morgan posted a comment in the Crowdcast q and a, thank you Morgan. She said, do you or Morgan, I should say assume she, Morgan asked, do you recommend value-based pricing or set deliverable pricing?
Shannon Mattern: And should your pricing be on your website? I get asked this question all the time, no matter what presentation I do, I get asked this question all the time. So I absolutely recommend value-based pricing. So for those of you that don't know, value-based pricing is basically this equation right here. This slide right here on the screen. It is, I there, another way to think about it is like, what is the long-term value of what your client can create as a result of working with you? We talk about something called the rule of 10 in the Web Designer Academy, which I learned, gosh, I'm going to miss quote her. I will have to tell you, I have this in another presentation. I tell you exactly where I learned the rule of 10. Cuz I don't wanna act like I made it up on my own.
Shannon Mattern: I absolutely didn't. But the rule of 10 is asking yourself for what I'm charging, can my client recoup their investment within 12 months of paying this price? And then can they go on to make 10 times more over the next one to two years? So when you're looking at your pricing, that's one measure of how to figure out the value-based pricing, but also the, you should also price sustainably based on what you need to make as a designer and how many clients you can reasonably take on and how much time you have to take on clients. So figure out your numbers first and then figure out that sweet spot between the value for the client. And then should your pricing be on your website. So Morgan, I have a whole podcast episode about this, so if you go to https://webdesigneracademy.com/ I'll find the episode number for you.
Shannon Mattern: I just did a whole podcast episode about should you put your pricing on your website and it truly has to do with what your reasoning for putting your pricing on your website would be. And like how to do this analysis for yourself as to whether or not to put your pricing on your website and like what our definitive answer inside of the Web Designer Academy is to answer that question. So I'm trying to find the episode number here, I think, and then I'll pop that into the chat here for you as well. And then we can continue this conversation absolutely at the live strategy call today, pricing is always a huge, huge topic for us. So it's episode 27, so if you go to https://webdesignercademy.com/027, you can listen to that. And I also just popped, nope, I put that in. There we go.
Shannon Mattern: Thanks Ally. Ally found it, Ally's on our team. I put a link there for that. So unfortunately the stream failed on Facebook Live, so we get to look into the tech for that. But thank you all so much for being here to listen to this presentation for the state of the web design industry, and we will see you in just a couple of hours. Hey, so if you're ready to stop undercharging and overworking, if you wanna take back control of your time, work only with the dreamiest of clients and make more money as a web designer than you ever thought possible, get started now by going to https://webdesigneracademy.com and joining our wait list. We'll send you exclusive teachings from the current Web Designer Academy so you can start applying our concepts now. And you'll be first to know when enrollment opens up again, so that you can work with us to completely transform your web design business.
Speaker 2: This podcast is part of the sound advice FM network. Sound advice FM Women's Voices amplified.