Are you the kind of web designer who just fell into building websites for people without really having a business plan?
It’s way more common than you might think! So if that sounds like you… then this episode with Josh Hall of the Web Design Business Podcast is a must-listen. In the past 10 years, Josh has built a seven-figure web design business organically, after “fumbling into it” as he said, without a plan and without any business experience at all (just like me)… and today we’re unpacking his best lessons from the last decade to help you do the same!
“It’s the golden rule of messaging, your vibe attracts your tribe. However you put yourself out there, that’s what you’re gonna get.” -Josh Hall
3 key takeaways from my convo with Josh that all web designers need to hear:
- Become more business-minded by charging sustainably – that means avoiding trade-offs, aka “opportunity” work!
- Growing organic relationships is the best kind of sales.
- How you position yourself and your services is so important, you have to start seeing yourself as the expert you are!
“When it comes to sales and strategy, […] business is people. If you’re likable and you do good work, that is what’s going to make you successful at whatever level you want it to be.” -Josh Hall
We also chat about how Josh:
- Started his business by being curious and following his interests.
- Grew his business to 7-figures after working on money mindset issues and developing his business-mindset
- Is proof that organic growth is powerful – a big part of his success comes from understanding business and sales is about people and relationships.
Connect with Josh Hall:
- Website: https://joshhall.co/
- Podcast: https://joshhall.co/podcast/
- Check out my episode with Josh on his Podcast here: https://youtu.be/rpscFFq7o_E
- Check out Josh’s Website Maintenance Plan Course: https://joshhall.co/product/building-a-recurring-income-website-maintenance-plan/
Shannon Mattern: Welcome to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast, where we're all about helping extraordinary web designers like you to stop under charging, over delivering and overworking, and finally create the profitable, sustainable, and scalable web design business you've been dreaming of. I'm your host Shannon Mattern, founder of the Web Designer Academy where we teach the business side of running a web design business. So if you wanna make a consistent full-time income as a web designer but you're struggling with things like pricing and boundaries and mindset and marketing and you're just tired of going it alone well, my friend, you're in the right place.
Shannon Mattern: Hey everyone, welcome to this week's episode of the Profitable Web Designer Podcast. And I am so excited for today's show because we get to talk to Josh Hall, a web design business coach host of the amazing Josh Hall Web Design Business Podcast lives in the same town as me, my brother from another mother. We are becoming fast friends and we have such good conversations and I am so excited for this today. Josh, thank you so much for being on the show. Can you share a little bit more with our listeners about you and what you do?
Josh Hall: Hi. I feel like you nailed it right there Shannon. I'm so excited to be on. You said it, I'm like, I can't believe, first of all, we haven't met before just a few months ago because we have such parallel stories, we're both coaches now sharing our experience. You live like 40 minutes from me. I'm like, how the hell have we not met
Shannon Mattern: I love it and I know I've used your tutorials in the past, like in my early days of trying to figure things out, I am a thousand percent sure I was like watching your YouTube trainings to figure out how to do things. So it's so cool to see this come full circle and I know both of us didn't just wake up one day and say, Hey, I wanna be a web design business coach. So take me back to the early days of you just coming into the web design space. What did your life look like? What was the catalyst for you to start doing web design?
Josh Hall: Yeah, it really all stems back from when I was a cabinet maker for a tour bus customizing shop here in Columbus, Ohio. I was doing this day job, I was also a drummer in a rock band and we were playing all over. So I was a cabinet maker by day, drummer by night, weekend warrior. And then I got laid off from that cabinet making job in 2009 and I had always had an interest in art and design. I had played around with Photoshop a little bit. So I remember the day after I got laid off I was like, I'm just gonna dive into Photoshop. I've got some extra time on my hands, I'm interested in it because I was in my band, we didn't really have too many resources for people doing ongoing artwork for us. So I started doing our t-shirt designs and eventually our CD artwork and merchandise.
Josh Hall: And I got really into, first off the, the graphic design world. And then the big light bulb moment for me was when we were playing a festival and this guy, I'll never forget it, asked me, Who does your artwork? And I said, Well I do. And he was like, Wow, how much would you charge to do our artwork? And it was like, ding, there is an opportunity to make money at something I actually enjoy and my cabinet making job. It wasn't a terrible job. I've heard your story Shannon, about how you just absolutely dreaded that corporate job. I was never in the corporate world, so I, I didn't quite feel that, but I did feel trapped in that job. I was making $11 an hour. I just felt like I, it's not the worst work ever, but I did hate Mondays. Oh I actually hated Sunday nights more than Mondays cuz it's always like the day before that's worse before you have to go do something you don't wanna do. Right? But that experience and when that guy asked me how much I would charge, it just lit this like fire in me that wow I could do creative work that I enjoy doing and charge for it. Wow. And that's how I just fumbled in first to the world of graphic design. Then eventually I started getting into web design.
Shannon Mattern: So was the getting into web design a similar thing where you started like doing it and people started asking you to do it for them? Like how, how, what was the evolution of that?
Josh Hall: Yeah, it's funny having taught web designers for five years, almost exactly five years now, I have learned that so many web designers have a similar story to where you don't necessarily sit there and think I'm gonna build websites one day. It's usually a case of you getting asked to do it and then you just figure it out. And that my friends is one of the most important keys to success in web design is just figure something out. So that was totally the case for me. I was doing graphic design and I was actually involved at a local church here for a while and they were like, Hey, we don't have anyone doing our website, would you be interested in doing that? We heard you're doing design and stuff. And I was like, Yeah, I'd be happy to give that a go. I was like, I don't know anything about web design.
Josh Hall: This was 2010 and I started learning Dream Weaver and they actually sent me to a a night class for web design learning the basics of HTML and dream Weaver and that's how I got my foot in the door and web design. And then I ended up really liking what I learned in website design before WordPress and page builders really took off. And then I started offering that to clients because inevitably I would build, you know, business card designs, brochures and do that stuff And then once they find out I was doing websites, they were like, oh my gosh, that's perfect. Yeah, let's do the the printed stuff and let's do a website eventually as well. So those two services married really well for me when I was dipping my toe into the web design world.
Shannon Mattern: It's just fascinating that all we have to do is kind of like let people know that we're interested in that, that we're willing to try and that like customers kind of magically appear from like just letting people know what we're doing. That was my experience too, where it was like, oh who built your website? Oh I did. Well then can you do ours too? And then word kind of spread. So kind of planting the seeds to get those early clients seems like it happened very organically free. But what were some of your early challenges in your business?
Josh Hall: Well I think my biggest challenges initially stemmed from the fact that number one I fumbled into this. So I did not have like a business plan. I was not business minded at all. I think, cuz I had you recently on my podcast and we talked about money, mindset and pricing and I forget if I shared this with you Shannon, but my money mindset was so bad that I thought at that time if you made the amount of annual income as your age that it would be awesome. So for example, if I'm 18, if I made $18,000, awesome. If I was 19, $19,000, awesome when I'm 25, 25 k, awesome when I'm 50, 50,000. Awesome. That was literally in my mindset. And then I realize, oh there's this thing called inflation and $75,000 is okay, but when you're 75 that's not enough for retirement. Like there are all these mindset struggles that really affected me early on, particularly when it came to pricing.
Josh Hall: So my first couple blunders were, for one I put cheap web design services and the first ad I ever did that I put out to Craigslist and I put it in my local newspaper. And when you put cheap in your messaging, guess what type of clients you get cheap clients. So it's just like, it's the golden rule of messaging. You've, your vibe attracts your tribe. Like however you put yourself out there, that's what you're gonna get. So yeah, I positioned myself with no mind on business with pricing and, and no thought about copy and messaging to attract really cheap people. I was also coming from the band world where $50 for a t-shirt design was like ooh man, $50. But I started getting like real referrals to like real established businesses and then my prices were so low. Like I remember vividly meeting with one of my first clients that I actually got through a Craigslist ad.
Josh Hall: So I used Craigslist nine times outta 10 and it was spam. But I actually did get a couple solid leads for people who were like startup businesses. It was this construction company and I met with this guy at Bob Evans and great guy, one of my favorite clients still for all my clients I've ever had. And we did a suite of brochures and he asked how much I would charge, I charged $150 for like seven brochure designs in this folder and he gave me a look and back then I thought like ooh that's probably too much. Now I know that look was like are you kidding me? Only 150, Like I was expecting 150 per sheet. So I probably 100% could've charged a hundred and or made like a $1,500 I probably could've charged for that. So those were my first few challenges, charging way too low, positioning myself terribly. But eventually as I started getting more clients, I started feeling a little more confident raising my rates, which is I'm sure something we could dive into. And then I just had to become more like business minded, which took me a lot longer because I didn't go through any formal training, I wasn't in a community. I did everything on my own, which is a terrible idea unless you just wanna, you know, take forever and kill yourself in the process. So those were my few first initial struggles.
Shannon Mattern: Oh I wish you guys could see my face as I'm just nodding along with Josh because everything he is describing is exactly what I went through and yes, I'm very curious if you can recall why you were advertising cheap web design. Did you have a thought that like it wasn't worth that much or that's how you would get clients? Or can you put your finger on like what your rationale was behind cheap web design?
Josh Hall: All of the above. Everything you just said. Also I thought that I would be able to get more clients and grow my business and separate myself from everybody else because they're charging thousands of dollars. I'm only charging like a few hundred dollars. My first website I sold for $300 and get this, we made it $350 cuz I threw in logo design. So
Josh Hall: Yeah. When I thought about charging for my clients, it never dawned on me that this was going to be something that would help them grow their business and make them money. I felt like I was taking money from my clients. I I pulled that from something you said recently. That's a hundred percent how I felt. So I think that's what led to me starting with cheap and then eventually I upgraded from cheap to affordable website design but still brought me affordable minded people. And then eventually once I got pretty good with design and was getting more confident and raising my rates, then I learned about the power of weeding people out from the very Get-Go and just positioning yourself as a little more of an expert. But I mean that comes with time too, unless you go through courses and trainings is if, if you fortunately do it like I did with trusty Google and just doing everything yourself, it just takes a lot longer to where to you get confident to charging those premium rates and and eventually I got there but I think it was probably a good three, four years before I got to that point where I was charging enough to like make it sustainable.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah and I think what I see happen, and I'm sure what you see happen too is that people give up way before they get there because it is so hard to manage a big workload of cheap clients and we get stretched thin and burnt out and it's not sustainable and we're not charging enough. And I was at this point, and I don't know if you, I'm curious to know if you were ever at this point where it's just like this, I, I thought this was gonna be different than what it is and it's just not worth it.
Josh Hall: Well I feel fortunate because at the end of my 10 year journey working with clients before I started teaching full time, I still really enjoyed it. I was never burned out. I never got to a place where I almost closed shop fortunately. But I do feel like I'm a rare breed as with you and I think a few other entrepreneurs to where we could probably do the creative stuff and the business stuff together and and not fry out. Yeah, that was definitely, fortunately I feel like I was able, once I started being business minded, I was able to to manage both pretty well. But it really all went back to, this was something my business coach James Ramco told me a while back and actually I had him on my podcast back in episode 101 of my podcast, which is a very worthwhile episode listening to for folks, folks about mindset.
Josh Hall: And he even told me like, your business was literally not set up to stay sustainable. Like it's, it is set up to fail. So I have a feeling a lot of people, like both of us, Shannon early on, are literally setting our businesses up to fail. For example, even when I went from $300 a website to a thousand, I felt like that was amazing. But a few years into it I started making about $30,000 and eventually around the 60 range and I was like, well the next step is a hundred thousand. I could make six figures, but here's the problem. If I'm charging a thousand dollars per website and that's my only service in order to hit a hundred thousand dollars on the books I need to get 100 clients this year. That is not sustainable or fun unless you have a team where you can scale, but even at that you're gonna have more costs and it's gonna be a nightmare.
Josh Hall: So I literally had to like look at my pricing and re- I,- it just dawned on me that I can't do like I can't make anymore unless I work 80, 90, a hundred hours a week if I wanna stick to under 40 hours a week at that point I literally have to like just keep on working to make more. That's when I really realized the value of raising my rates. And there wasn't like one resource or one, there were a series of mentors I had at some point who helped me with that. But it also, I, I'll be honest, it just came down to me trying it out. I remember one proposal for this trucking company locally. Typically I would charge about a thousand to 1500. And I was like, you know what? I know this is a legit business, it's gonna be a lot of work.
Josh Hall: I was already really factoring my hourly rate at this point and I was like, I'm just gonna go for it. I'm just gonna charge. I think I charged 3,500, which for me it was almost a, it was well over double like 2x what I normally charge. And they went for it and I was like, wow, I could have been doing this three years ago. And then I just started doing that over and over and then suddenly none of my projects would start under 2,500 for the basics. And that was the model that got me to six figures consistently for several years and then eventually being able to scale it.
Shannon Mattern: I love that you said that
Josh Hall: Yeah, I, well, and I think at that point, so I should say I had raised my rates a little bit before that in what I like to call the same price bucket. So if I was gonna do a thousand, I would, I would bump it up to like 1500. So it would be an increase, but it wouldn't be like a huge increase. This was one where I just remember the client was a legit company that also had multiple businesses under it. That eventually became like multi clients for me. And I just remember thinking, this is gonna be so much work, I feel like this is gonna be so, you know, definitely worth, I did feel like it would be worth that much just because I realized how over or undercharging I was and overdelivering. So I had, I did a mix of both raising incrementally but then also just going for it with a few projects.
Josh Hall: And then once I went a few like high, I mean I didn't close at a hundred percent, but once I realized that I'm getting like consistent projects at 3,500-4,000, that's it. We're here, I'm at this level, there's no looking back. So there's definitely nothing worse than doing a project for like 5,000 and then going back to underbidding, it feels like once you cross that line, there's no going back. And that's good for everyone, even your clients because you're gonna provide a better product and you're gonna get better clients. And I'm sure a lot of my clients were like, Wow, I can't believe Josh is only charging a thousand. I hope this turns out good
Shannon Mattern: Oh my gosh, I love this so much. So you've said that like you weren't business minded and then over the years you have developed like this business minded approach to all of this. What was that evolution like? Like did you have a moment where you're like, I need a business coach like
Josh Hall: Painstakingly long, same decade process. I mean I still, even with, with what I do now, I'm sure happy to talk about like I'm about ready to to close in on offering more higher ticket programs. Yeah. Compared to what is pretty low cost or at least very like lower on the end of courses compared to a lot of competitors. So I still, I still deal with a little bit of that now, but even like with the web design services, there was not a like black and white moment for me, but it was just like incremental. Everything is incremental. I just, I started realizing I need to raise my rates. I also met my, now my wife at the time and we got engaged. I started to realize like, wow, I got more bills, my expenses are going up. I was also getting better at design and, and web design.
Josh Hall: So I, I've started to realize I'm more valuable. And then I started doing a little, I say I did market research, but I basically just started meeting other people in the web design world and I, I found out how much they were charging. Like I remember one of my first mentors who was actually at the, the church that helped me get plugged into doing web design. He owned a high end web design shop that did like a lot of custom stuff. And I remember he said they start at $10,000 and that blew my mind. I was like, who would ever pay $10,000 for a website? That's ridiculous. Well years later I look back and I'm like, Yep, that makes sense. That 100% makes sense. Especially cuz he had payroll and you know, overhead and stuff. But yeah, it was a mix of like just maturing and, and having more expenses and, and then realizing my value.
Josh Hall: I also, my mindset I think struggled from the money perspective because I come from a just modest like middle class family. Everyone in my family are corporate workers. So I'm a black sheep, thank God I didn't do what everyone wanted me to do and just go to a corporate job. And my parents have been really supportive. My family's awesome. But they were also like when I, cuz I remember when I got laid off from my cabinet making job, they came back and said I could have the job back when I had started making money as a freelancer. And it was a big moment for me because I said, I'm, I'm not going back. I'm starting to make money doing freelance and I really wanna pursue this. So there was, I guess I say all that to say I had to find new sources for this money mindset change.
Josh Hall: Nobody in my family was gonna help me out with this and they may try, but most of my family, again our corporate workers, a lot of it is like fester famine type mindset or scarcity mindset I should say. Instead of, you know, there's, there's so much opportunity here. So I had to find those from outside sources. I did that through people I just networked with and met. And then I had joined a networking group and I had met a business coach in this business coaching program and they became a client of mine and then eventually I joined their program and I offered to do a trade off like be in their program for six months and design their website. But I remember she said, Josh, we actually don't recommend that and here's why. Cuz we want you to value this just like we value your services.
Josh Hall: And then I felt terrible about asking about that and then that changed my mind about trade off work. But anyway, long story short, I joined that program. It was a six month business coaching program and that really helped shift kinda shifted my mind to being a business owner instead of just doing reactionary work flying by the seat of my pants doing things alone. And then eventually now I'm like, if there's a course, if there's a coach, if there's somebody who can help me fast track, I'm doing it because time is the most important asset as a business owner. You realize
Josh Hall: That. Yeah. And I think it's really important just to remember that where you are with your money mindset is not where everyone else is
Josh Hall: And I do think there's value in doing a lot of different things at the start, but I always tell my students very quickly, get to the point where you are solid in your services and you have a backbone where you will not budge on your pricing and you are not gonna land every person who comes through the door. But you also eventually I learn to set up like some nice weed out processes that kind of weed people up before they even talk to you. Cause I don't wanna talk to everybody who needs a website. I wanna talk to the people who are a good fit for me. That's eventually what I got to. But yeah, I mean it was several years I we're covering this quickly but it was several years of like one little thing helping me here, somebody helping me here. When I became a a business owner minded person, I actually started doing this really cool thing called reading
Shannon Mattern: Well honestly I think that's what makes us both good coaches because we have been through it, we've experienced it, we understand what our students are going through. We know how to like we empathize with where they're at and we can also like show them that it's possible to get through this cuz like I'm here. Yeah. So I think that, you know, those of us who have kind of taken that long road where we stepped in every
Josh Hall: Trade service is a trap for web design. It really is the sure, the only time I'm cool with my students doing it is if they are just getting started and they absolutely need to have a couple projects in their portfolio and with a couple, well quite a few things in place. Here's my trade service thoughts. Yes you need to 100% have it in a contract that is like here's a thousand dollars website, we're marking it down to zero, here are deliverables, here's the timetable, here's what's expected. Just like a project. And if they get weird about you sending a a zero down invoice, then don't work with them. Also need to make sure on a requirement for doing a trade service is that you get a testimonial from them. So like you all the things that will help you use this to grow your business.
Josh Hall: That is key because the trade work that I did, I had a couple that actually went pretty well. I did one for an automotive client that went really well. I did I did a handful, I had a couple that went well. Most of 'em went bad. And I think the reason is because like I did one for a photographer, it was pretty clear I went into the studio, they did the shots, they edited and then here they are. Those were deliverables. Well the website work I did for them, they don't see the code and they don't see all the other aspects that I did necessarily. And I don't wanna devalue their service. But it was like this $1,500 trade off for me was probably worth like $4,000 at the end of it. That's the danger of the web design. Most people are not gonna actually see the majority of planning strategy, code design work, all the other things that go into that.
Josh Hall: Whereas like the automotive thing, they changed my brakes, they did more oil, they replaced the filters, like that was, it was clear that's what they did. The car was there for a day and there we go. So it's very, very dangerous with trade off work for sure. I only recommend it to build your portfolio if you need to and then have a lot of very limiting constraints. And I would only do it with somebody who you feel like is gonna be a a, a good potential referral generator moving forward. But apart from that, yeah be aware of that. Plus it's not a tax write off.
Shannon Mattern: That's a great point. I never even thought about that. I am very much like unless you really want to do it, do the trade for a reason that is like beneficial to you but not for the promise of maybe future something. Right? I see this all the time where it's like, oh I need this website for my business and I'm gonna grow this big business and then when I do then I'll be able to send my clients to you for this. So will you do it for, for me for free for promise of future gains? And
Josh Hall: I'm like yeah, it's the classic opportunity trap. Yeah,
Shannon Mattern: Do not do that.
Josh Hall: That's a great reminder. Especially for people early on you will get that a lot. Mm-Hmm
Josh Hall: That way it makes it super easy and you don't even need to think about it. And if you offend somebody, that's their problem. This is your business setup, this, you have the power to do it. So set those lines very clear, that way you don't even get into that trap or have to think about it. And then eventually as you start to weed out clients, those kind of things became way less prevalent once I started charging premium rates. Cuz even at that they were like, ooh, $5,000 or you know, $7,500, I don't know what I'm gonna do to trade that off. So yeah, if your prices are higher you'll avoid trade off work immediately. I never thought about it like that but that's 100% what would happen
Josh Hall: Yeah.
Shannon Mattern: Or when it's, I'm going to give you exposure for this work that you, you do for me. There's this assumption that like you need them to like help your business or something. And if you're thinking like that about your web design business, like we need to fix how you're thinking about your web design business. Yeah. Because you are the one helping them create an opportunity to get what they want. They are not the one helping you create an opportunity to get what you want. So you gotta that right. Your position in this relationship with your client in your pocket.
Josh Hall: Yeah. Yeah. There's not too many situations where that's gonna go. Well it's, it's kinda like one of those things where it's just set up to either fail or more often than not be really costly for the web designer.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. You're just basically working for free.
Josh Hall: Yeah, you're working for free. I didn't really think about it till now, but if you are doing what of course every new business owner does and you're tracking your, your time and your website and your output, if you look at that, there's gonna be like this, this free and visible work on there that's not gonna translate to your numbers. So yeah, maybe I designed 24 sites, two a month last year, but I did trade off work for three people. So that messes up the amount of time that I'm gonna assume how, how much goes into each website. I may not have tracked that time. Well it's not gonna show up in the numbers, you know what I mean? It's like oh I actually designed 27 sites but I only charge for 24. So now that messes with your, with your time when you're figuring out how much you should charge and everything. So yeah, don't do trade off work simple as that.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. So the last thing I wanna say about trade offs or even under charging, it's as if you opened up your own wallet or bank account or pulled out your credit card and was like, sure, I'll pay for that for you. Like I'll pay $5,000 for your website. Like you're taking it out of your own pocket when you're not charging your client. And I never thought of it like that at all. Like in the early days I was just like, oh I can't charge for that. Or you know, that won't take me too much time or whatever. And then you look at all the work you did unpaid and you might as well have been like, okay well let me just write a check and give it to the client and I built their website for them also
Shannon Mattern: Like of course people love you, they wanna work with you, right? You're totally paying for their stuff for them.
Josh Hall: I think it's actually a great thing to think about your business on paper or on spreadsheet and that's gonna eliminate a lot of these issues of opportunity work or trade off work. And this is really prevalent in the beginning because yeah it's, you cannot build a sustainable business and you will not be in business long if you're doing free work or god forbid, favor work for family and friends. That is brutal for creatives because they're like, oh you could probably just whip up a website. You can do that in a couple hours. Right? That is another huge, huge trap. And you gotta be stern. You have to tell people, like if I knew a plumber in my family, I wouldn't be like, Hey Joe, would you mind just coming over and working on our plumbing for like eight hours? That would be great. Thanks man.
Josh Hall: I'll, here's a six pack. There you go. No, of course I would never do that. But for whatever reason the web design even today is viewed and maybe it's because of how it's promoted on a lot of these platforms that are like dollar websites do it yourself or you can do that, they're gonna be junk. But I think the value is just really hard for people to understand with something digital and something that's time-based. And also that's like years of experience. Like if you do it quick, that's because you spent 10 years learning this craft. So yeah. Another, another trap to avoid, we might as well just call this episode traps to avoid
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. My answer to anybody asking for favor work is always like, yeah let me send you a link to book a consultation. We'll have a a conversation and I'll get you a price. I just assume that if you're gonna ask me about it, I'm going to assume that you want to go through the proper channels and pay me. Like I'm just gonna act as if and when you just act like it's normal and then they're like, oh and then they never fill out the form and they never, you know, do it because they were not expecting to pay. But I'm gonna draw that like boundary in that whenever that comes up I'm just gonna be like, sure, I'll get you a quote.
Josh Hall: Yep.
Josh Hall: Way
Shannon Mattern: To go. I'd be happy to give you
Josh Hall: A quote. Definitely wish I would've done that too. Absolutely.
Shannon Mattern: I never did that before. So you ran your freelance web design business, you started becoming more business-minded, this developed over years. You got engaged, you had a family. When did teaching people how to do this and then you know, evolving into like coaching come into play for you?
Josh Hall: I was about six years or so into my journey when I actually got an opportunity to teach some local high school students in a media program. There was this program that basically like about twice a year I would go into this local high school and I would meet with kids who were typically usually interested in like game design, but occasionally there were some students who were interested in graphic design and websites. And I would literally sit down with two or three of them for like a full day and just kind of share with them what I'm doing in design. And a lot of them were like, wait, you work from home and you make like over a hundred thousand dollars. They were like, well cuz I was six years into it when I broke six figures and they were like whoa. And I really enjoyed seeing them light up when they could see the opportunity even if they just wanted to work in that industry that it was really cool.
Josh Hall: So that actually I think initially planted my teaching seed. Although backing up, I actually used to teach drum lessons to students when I was in the band world. So I, I already enjoyed teaching in in some area, but when it really came to the forefront for me is when I had started a free Facebook group for Divi web designers. It's still the Divi web designers Facebook group today and the owners of Elegant themes. Eventually that group became really popular. They ended up being admins to that group and promoting it. And then their content manager who ran the elegant themes blog, the creators of Divi, he posted something in there. And this was back in the day, I think this was 2016 when it would say the location of where they posted from. And I was like, holy crap, he's in Columbus. Everyone's in Columbus. So I just asked him out for coffee.
Josh Hall: Sounds familiar, right Shannon? That's how we met. Yeah,
Josh Hall: And I was like, oh heck yeah, no pressure. Also because there's 1.5 million readers and no big deal. Now that doesn't mean that a one and a half million people are gonna be looking at my exact blog posts, but it's a huge, the readership. But that's how it really started getting me known in the divvy community. And then I really enjoyed blogging for elegant themes, sharing what I knew. Then I decided, you know what, I had scaled my business to that point to where I had a couple subcontractors, things were really moving on the business side of things to where I was at one point only doing really the, the onboarding of clients sales. And then Jonathan, my lead designer at that time was doing the actual designs. So it freed me up to do more like teaching and stuff. And that's why I was like, I'm gonna start this little side hustle.
Josh Hall: I had no idea what to call it. So I called it https://joshhall.co personal brand, we'll see where it goes. I started posting Divi tutorials on YouTube and between that and my elegant themes, blog author notoriety, that's what really started building up an online presence. And then what's interesting is because I didn't know where I wanted that to go, my initial thought, I don't know if we talked about this to this point Shannon, but my initial thought was to be a plugin creator or like a child theme creator. Yeah. That was my whole thought was also plugins and tools and maybe it'll be a nice like side hustle, you know, recurring revenue stream for me. But I had this itch of teaching and I found out that I was really, I felt really pretty good at tutorials and my subscribership started getting into the, now I'm at 27,000 subscribers.
Josh Hall: Like this showed me that there was some legitimate interests and people were getting results. And then eventually I was like, you know what, I'm just gonna try a course. One of the biggest things that helped me get to six figures consistently was my maintenance plan and my first course, my maintenance plan course, which is still available today. The revised version is up, is literally my entire setup for my maintenance plan. Like that's what I used to eventually I was taking an almost $5,000 a month in recurring income just with, with maintenance and hosting and I was like, I'm gonna teach on this. I'll just share everything I know, see how it goes. And then that first course went really well. I had like 80, I think it was 82 students if I remember right. Joined and I made over $10,000 on the launch. And I was like, Okay, here we go. We're doing this again. And that's what really started the course, the course spiral for me.
Shannon Mattern: We will definitely link up that maintenance course in the show notes cuz I know a lot of our listeners will want to go check that out. And what I'm hearing through all of this, like up until this point in our conversation, is that you have put yourself out there and built relationships and created your own opportunities without necessarily a really strict agenda of like, here's how this is gonna go.
Josh Hall: Yeah, that's a great way to phrase it. Yeah. I, I generally, first of all, the one common denominator between my entire career as an all an entrepreneur, which is 13 years now. I've sold services, I've sold courses, I've sold products, I've sold coaching, I've sold a lot of different things. The common denominator is people and relationships and just getting to, to meet people, networking. Now I am extroverted by nature, which really helps, but I also, I'm not, I hope I don't come across as like the entrepreneur who's next to a beach who like that guy just looks terrible to go out to dinner leav
Shannon Mattern: On your Ferrari,
Josh Hall: Right? Like
Josh Hall: You never know what might happen. And actually this just happened recently, shocker, somebody who lives in Columbus, Ohio, Matt Gartland, who is the CEO of Smart Passive Income, the brand of of Pat Flynn's online brand. I found out he lives in Columbus. So I did the same thing with him. I literally just reached out to him and invited him to coffee. We met for an hour and I just recently got invited to this kind of like private circle of this like quarterly mastermind that he's putting together with some amazing creators that are all based in central Ohio. Like top tier people. Actually one of them's James Clear the the author of Atomic Habits. Mm-Hmm.
Josh Hall: And it all stemmed by me just taking 'em out to coffee and talking shop. I wasn't like, so is there like a, you know, high level people you can connect me with? It wasn't anything like that. It's just like, here's what I'm doing. I'd love to hear from, you know, what you're doing because I have a podcast. More often than not, I invite somebody onto the show at some point if I feel like they're a good fit. But it's all relationship driven and business is people. It's that simple when it comes to sales and strategy and blah blah blah blah, all this stuff. Business is people, if you're likable and you do good work, that is what's going to make you successful at whatever level you want it to be.
Shannon Mattern: So good. And I feel like, you know, if you are introverted like a like me, I mean people are surprised to hear that. But I am not an extroverted person. I'm not super outgoing, but I love to help people and I love to, you know, reach out and just like you, I'm curious, I like to ask questions. I like to see like what opportunities I can see to help someone else and you know, that might come to fruition where there's something that comes back to me years later. Mm-Hmm.
Josh Hall: Yes, the introverted versus extroverted issue is really important. Mm-Hmm.
Josh Hall: So for you Shannon, you're probably more extroverted in the right setting, but I don't know, if you went to my networking group of 30 people a few years ago and I had you stand up, maybe you would've been a different version of Shannon. Maybe you would've been super nervous and like, I don't like talking in front of a group. I definitely still don't love talking in front of big groups unless I'm really comfortable with who's there. So I get that. But I was very self-aware about realizing that I really enjoyed meeting people same as you. And I was good in like small groups. I was good with like meeting with a couple people at Panera talking about stuff. So that's how I built my business. I didn't present to huge groups or anything, but what I meant to say with, with my guest who was extroverted or it looked like she was extroverted.
Josh Hall: She just told me for her she liked teaching and she actually weirdly liked speaking but she knew it was going to drain her emo like her energy and stuff. Like it was gonna just wipe her out. So I've learned in that case for her and for anyone who has different, you know, levels of like introversion versus extroversion, figure out where you're comfortable, what you enjoy doing, and if you are going to do something that wears you out, it doesn't mean that you can't do it. It just means that you need to plan around that. So I actually get fired up talking with people. So my networking group met on Friday mornings and as I got more comfortable in that group, I started enjoying everybody. Some of them became my clients, they became my biggest sales force. That was my favorite part of my week.
Josh Hall: First thing in the morning, Friday mornings. Friday was always like my most productive day cuz I was fired up after that. Now if you're somebody who does that because you feel like it's helping your business and maybe you enjoy it, but it drains you, then maybe for that person you would end your week Friday morning after you get back because you gotta plan around what works for you. So I say that to say, my recommendation is not to box yourself in as an introvert because you are limiting yourself. Just know that you're maybe introverted in some ways, but that does not mean that you can't sell. And secret key to selling is just to share what you know and just to educate and share ideas. That's what selling is. So I just think that's so important because so many people give up, quit or hold themselves back because they're hearing about this imposter syndrome extrovert and they're or introvert and they're just letting them not like dictate them. You know? No. Like yeah, maybe you're introvert and you don't like speaking in groups, so don't go speak in front of groups. Figure out other ways to, to make relationships and meet people. And you can do that with whatever works for your personality.
Shannon Mattern: I could not agree more with everything that you just said. And I feel like if you go into a networking group or a coffee conversation or something without an agenda, right? Like without the agenda to sell or without the agenda to get the clients or whatever it is, that takes so much pressure off of you, you know? And so if you don't have this idea of here's who I should be or here's who I need to show up or, or I need to be professional or I need to do this, and you just get to show up as you and your real self and connect with people, find out more about them, learn about some of their challenges, what opportunities are there for them, and start thinking like, oh, how could I help them get what they want instead of I'm coming to this networking event and I gotta have my elevators speech ready.
Shannon Mattern: Right? I hate the whole elevator speech thing. I know so many people say that you have to have it ready, but I'm like so awkward. I'm like, how about I just like ask you what you do first and then this conversation will happen. Yeah. Like
Josh Hall: I have a whole new business idea we can team up on now, which is the no agenda sales framework.
Shannon Mattern: Oh my gosh. Let's do it.
Josh Hall: There we go. We're gonna add to both of our to-do list that we're not gonna have time to do for a couple years. But yeah, that's, it's just, And here's another thing that's really important that I've found that has, So when I think about my students who have come in to my courses and my membership right now and they're like, they're struggling with this with imposter syndrome, all of them feel like they're just not an expert. So they don't feel like they could sell. But what I always tell them is something I'll, I'll tell everyone listening right now, you know way more than your clients. So you may be like three months in the web design and you know about domains, you may know about WordPress, you may know about, you know, page structure and basic design stuff. You may feel like you don't know anything compared to like, you know, Shannon, you've been in the game for a long time.
Josh Hall: I've been in the game for a long time. You see us and you may say like, gosh, I, I, you know, I'm not even near their level, but your client doesn't even know what a domain name is and they don't know anything about websites. So to them you are their expert and you can be that expert at your level. That's what's so cool. And even at a lower level, you may be worth $2,500 for a website for somebody who doesn't know anything. There was a guest on my podcast, his name is Troy Dean who runs Agency Mavericks, which is like this popular online agency coaching service. And he said something I'll never forget, it was the perfect way to frame this. He said, Man, I want to give him credit cuz I was gonna take the quote and rip it off, but I gotta give credit where credit is due.
Shannon Mattern: Ah, that is so good. That's isn't five people that are like that you're their go-to and then they tell everybody else about you. Like that's one of the other things that like I think is so important about just letting people know what you're doing and staying top of mind. Even if those people are not going to be your clients, maybe they already have an awesome website, maybe they just don't need what you do, but if they like you and you know they vibe with your mission and all of that stuff, the next time someone says to them, Oh hey I'm looking for someone to do a website, they're gonna think of you even if they're not gonna be your customer. And those relationships are just as valuable if not more valuable than the client relationship. And then I always tell people too, like you're getting paid to figure out how to do this right?
Shannon Mattern: I don't mean that you should just like say you can build a website when you've like never done it before. Obviously you need to have some skills. But when you have that imposter syndrome coming up, it's like you're getting paid to be the one to figure out how to do this. You're not being paid to already know how to do everything that might possibly come up. You know, in any trade or job or anything where there's some kind of creation involved, you're gonna hit a roadblock, something's not gonna go as planned. You're gonna have a plan and then you're going to realize like, Oh, I can't do it that way because of X, Y, and Z. And you're the one that knows how to ask Google the right questions and interpret the information. You're the one that knows how to go into Josh's divvy group and ask the questions. You're the one taking the lead on that. And that's valuable. So you don't have to already know how, you just have to know how to figure it out. Yep. And there's so much value in that people discount, especially me in the days. I'm like, I just Google everything. Like I don't understand why people would pay me for this. I'm just Googling it. But what we don't realize is that other people wouldn't A know what to Google and B, be able to even figure out what to do with what came back
Shannon Mattern: It. There's value in
Josh Hall: That. When I hired Jonathan, who became nearly a full-time designer for me when I scaled my agency and I, and I scaled it at a very small level, small team and it basically, I essentially just freed myself up to teach. But the first thing I had him do was to figure something out that I was having trouble with. It was a little icon and a footer. I will never forget. I did the site, I did a website and they had like this custom icon, I just could not figure out how to get it right. And he had reached out and said, you know, I, I'm familiar with you and I love what you're up to. I'd love to see if you had any mentorship opportunities. I'm interested in being a web designer. And I said, Yeah man. I was like, I tell you what, I'm working on something right now.
Josh Hall: Is this something you feel would feel comfortable taking a crack at and and figuring out? And I, I'm trying to forget if he did it for free or if I paid him, I may have paid him something. He actually may have done that one for free, but he figured it out like the next day I said, okay, what about this and this and this? And I said, Do you have an hourly rate? It's like 20 bucks an hour. At that point he was just starting out. I was like, sure, let me, let's just do like a handful of hours and do these things. That led to one thing to another and then he became a much better designer than I was. So, and then I was like, that's your superpower man. You take on that and I'll focus on getting clients and running the projects.
Josh Hall: But yeah, there's, I get it. I dealt with imposter syndrome big time, but like, just going back to that quote, you don't need to be the best period. And quite frankly web design, there's so many parts that move and change constantly. I don't know if there's anyone who is a quote unquote expert. There's people who are really good at certain things than others, but let's be honest, a lot of developers who will trash you in a Facebook group because your code isn't great, are terrible designers. And a lot of people who are great designers can't, you know, they look at code and it just looks like the matrix. It's like, I, what is this? So yeah, if you find your superpower, find what you're into. My recommendation in Ensure is to figure out what you like to do, what you're good at and what your clients need help with.
Josh Hall: Focus on those areas and then you can fill in the gaps with partnering with people off. Like you can completely refer out, like if you don't wanna do any seo, refer that out. There's plenty of people who will partner with you for you to do the design and the framework and the content and everything on the website and they'll do the SEO aspect. You can 100% do that. And I ended up doing a lot of that. And as you know Shannon, I'm a big proponent of co competition. Just, you know, the people who you think are direct competition that you need to just smother and get rid of those people can actually be incredible referral sources for you. Like I, I ended up partnering with several like design agencies and SEO people when I was scaling my agency to do this stuff that I didn't wanna do or I was like, I could do it, I could bring somebody on but it's more expensive.
Josh Hall: I'd rather just hire it out and then in turn they would be sending me people who they weren't a good fit for or that they were just doing SEO for. So all those tips just combine are what really help you grow in an incredible network. Kind of going back to not having to sell. And you don't have to be on social media every day if you want to. You don't even have to be in a networking group. I, I recommend networking, but especially in the early days. But you'll, you'll naturally build this network of people and then before you know it, you're, you know, you've got a huge network that you can rely on for sales and you can offer new products and services and then you can enjoy it. You know, I don't know if people still like yachts, but you know, whatever you wanna get to, you could do
Shannon Mattern: I could talk to you for a whole nother hour, but we're already at an hour and we are definitely, you're gonna be a regular guest on the show, just fyi. So
Josh Hall: Same, same back to you.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. I have a couple more questions that I wanna ask you. I have so many that we didn't get to today.
Josh Hall: Sorry about that. No, it's not, you know, me saying like, who knows, who knows where that's gonna go.
Shannon Mattern: I know. That's why I'm like, oh, I have so many more questions. There's like three or four more episodes coming with you in the future. But one of the questions that I've been asking everybody that comes on the show is, what is one thing that you wish you would've known or believed about yourself in those early days of your business? If you could go back and tell 13 year ago Josh something, what would you tell him?
Josh Hall: I think I would've told him, You are worth way more than you think you are. Probably a common answer. But when I think about mainly what we've talked about, it was a struggle of self worth and it was a struggle of realizing that like what I'm doing is so worthwhile. And actually it's funny, even with right now you and I actually after this we're gonna have just a, a kind of a private conversation about some of my new offers. Yeah. And a lot of that stemmed from a colleague of mine who when talking about more higher ticket offers, I was still a little bit reserved on that, you know, with a lot of people I serve right now. And he was like, Josh, this is an interesting way to, to frame anyone's service. He's like, How much money have you made since you started in business?
Josh Hall: I was like, Ooh. I was like, and I'm happy to share it here. I was like, about a million and a half in about, in about a 13 year journey. And he's like, you've sold pretty much everything. I've sold every sin of that. I've never had a sales person. And he was like, So your knowledge, your experience, your expertise is worth 1.5 million. He's like, Are you telling me you can't do something that's several thousand dollars or worthwhile for, you know, $5,000 or more? And I was like, Oh my gosh, I didn't even think about it like that. So I, I would say that, you know, for everyone listening, it's probably the same for you. Even if you're earlier on in the journey, you may have like tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of knowledge and experience in previous projects that are gonna make you so much worthwhile. Or better yet, the reason you and I coach Shannon is we share our knowledge, which in turn passes right down to people so they can fast track their journey and then they suddenly are, you know, filled with one and a half million dollars of experience and strategies in my case and probably even way more on your end. So like that's awesome. So that's the biggest thing that I could go back. I would just say like, you're charging $500, you are worth, you know, 10 x that at least.
Shannon Mattern: Wow. I've never thought of it in the way that you just shared about like here's what you've been able to create for yourself and your advice is worth something. It's worth so much. And the other thing I think, you know, that I've shared with you too is that a higher price actually benefits your client. And one of the ways that it benefits your client is it creates the discomfort required for them to actually go all in on their transformation and when it's too, not within reach or attainable or whatever, but when it's too comfortable for them, you know, when it's not like a, a little bit of a stretch, like a little bit of a, I know this is gonna pull me outta my comfort zone but I'm all in cuz I'm coming back for this money. Like they commit more and they get the results and I wanna put a price on something that like makes them want to recoup that and then 10 exit because I care about the result.
Shannon Mattern: Yes, I need to make money to run my business and live life and you know, all of that. And so does everybody else when you're dealing with your client. But like, don't you want your client to like commit so much to their website project that like they get everything out of it that they want. And so that's one of the things that I think about too when you know you found a fantastic way to like value like what you've learned, but then let's also look at how that also benefits your client to ask for that much.
Josh Hall: Great. Yeah, exactly. You could base that off of like client results too. If you helped a client grow their business by 10% or something, if you're comfortable talking about that with your client mm-hmm
Shannon Mattern: Oh my gosh, I love that. Hungry but not stressed out. That is exactly the line. That is the line. You don't wanna push them over into stressed out, like that's not good for anybody. But so good. Okay, I'm excited for our chat after this conversation, but sorry everyone, you're gonna miss out on that
Josh Hall: Yeah, well you can go to https://joshhall.co that will take you wherever you want to go. Social media wise, I'm on Instagram and, and Facebook right now, but you can go to https://joshhall.co that's got links to my courses and a bunch of my resources and all, all the goods there since we're talking on the podcast. I would definitely recommend everyone come on over and check out my show, which is the Web Design Business podcast. Your episode if no one has heard it to this point was episode 201. I highly recommend everyone going to that. In fact, you are quickly, Shannon becoming one of my most popular episodes. I think it is the most popular interview on YouTube with well over 4,000 views and then I have to look at the downloads. But yeah, that episode is, man what a chat. I mean we covered some of the things we covered here with Money Mindset, but that wasn't even more deep dive into pricing in particular.
Josh Hall: But yeah, I, I love my podcast as a mix of some solo episodes, which are sometimes a little more in depth and a little casual depending on what the topic is. But then I'm, I'm always interviewing incredible entrepreneurs in and even outside of, of entrepreneurial stuff, I've been fortunate to have like Amy Porterfield and Pat Flynn on the show, some really incredible minds along with some of my students who are have, like, they're just open about sharing what they did in their first year. I mean, gosh, like everyone who's been on my show has just been amazing. So full credit to to the podcasting world cuz it just, you get to unlock people's experience. So anyway, very long answer https://JoshHall.co or the Web Design Business podcast.
Shannon Mattern: I will link all of that up in the show notes and you have to go subscribe to Josh's podcast right now if you're not already a listener because it is so good. There is so much good stuff there. Subscribe to him on YouTube, get on his email list, go check out his courses. It is just been such a pleasure to get to know you and really just, I know how passionate you are about helping web designers run like profitable, thriving businesses and I'm just, yeah, thank you so much for being here.
Josh Hall: Well, publicly Shannon, thank you. You are, but just my favorite new person to talk to about business and all this stuff and you have been a huge, huge help for me crafting some of my new services. I am happy to just give a teaser if you want. Yeah, the new program that I'm working on right now and that you're helping me craft is called Web Design Business Mastery. And it's gonna be an in-depth program, which, which is course related, that has a lot of my curriculum on maintenance plans and the business side of things and pricing all the things. But it's also gonna be a mix of like group coaching and community. What I've done to this point with my courses and my membership and everything has been amazing, but I've realized I still have so many students who are buying courses, but I never hear from them again.
Josh Hall: I've no idea how it's impacted them unless they just happen to send me a note. So I'm, I'm kind of at a place in my career where I'm ready to take like a deeper dive with a lot of my students and really add more like high touch value that I can. The other problem that I've realized is I have so much content now from five years, like it's now I need my job is to like categorize everything and help people find what they need to find without it being overwhelming. Cause sometimes you get to a resource or a library and you're like, I don't even know where to start. So Right. Those are some of the things I'm up to. And ah, I i, as you can tell and as you know, I just motivational minute, there is just no limit to what you could do in web design. The sky's the limit. The cool thing is you don't even need to focus on stuff you don't like to do. You can find out what you like, what you're good at and focus on those things, partner higher out the rest you can scale at small or large size, whatever you want to do, and you can really build an incredible freedom based life around your skill set and, and it can be awesome. So yeah, that's what I'm loving teaching on.
Shannon Mattern: So good. And we will definitely have you back on the show when Web Design Business Mastery is ready because I feel like what you have done is like, you have put so much value out there into the world and helped so many people reach a level of success that they never believed possible. And you know that there's more out there for them too and you're gonna like take them there with mastery. So it's so amazing. I'm very excited for it and I can't wait for you to come back on the show when it's time and we get to dig even deeper into that whole side of your business,
Josh Hall: So, Oh, I'd love to. Yeah, that sounds great, Shannon, thank you so much. I really enjoyed again spending some more time with you here and I hope this helped.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah, thank you so much for being here, that that's it for this week's episode and we've linked up all of the resources we talked about today in the show notes. So you can go to https://webdesigneracademy.com/podcast to get your hands on those. And we'll be back next week with another episode designed to help you uplevel the business side of your web design business. So be sure to subscribe to the show wherever you're listening. And if you like today's episode, we will be so grateful if you would share it with all your web designer friends. And if you're feeling extra generous, we'd love for you to leave us a writing in review so we can get in front of even more web designers and help them transform their businesses and their lives. So simply scroll up on this episode in your podcast player and tap that, leave a review link or go to https://webdesigneracademy.com/review and it'll take you to the right spot. Thank you so much for listening and I'll see you right here next week. Bye.
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