How do you handle privacy policies and terms + conditions for your web design clients?
Are you just copying + pasting them, crossing your fingers and moving on to the next? If so, this episode is for you! I’m talking with Hans Skillrud, the Co-Founder of Termageddon, a former web designer and agency owner who now educates web designers and agencies about website policies, like privacy policies, cookie policies, and all the policies you might be avoiding or haven’t given much thought to.
In this episode, Hans and I are discussing why privacy policies are important to your web design business and how they can help you expand the value of the service you provide to your clients.
“You have to have a strategy to keep up to date with the ever changing privacy law landscape over time.” – Hans Skillrud
3 big takeaways from my conversation with Hans that will elevate how you serve your clients:
- Providing your clients with education and options for website policies protects your agency and puts the responsibility on your client.
- Solving a seemingly minor problem with major impact to your client adds major value to your designer-client relationship.
- Embracing the website policy conversation with your client builds trust and potentially increases your business revenue.
“If you know you can help someone with their business, you’re gonna have a very thankful person ultimately.” -Hans Skillrud
How to get two free Termageddon Licenses for your web design business:
To get two free licenses to use in your web design business, simply click here* and then click on Agency Partners – and mention “Shannon” in the “How did you hear about us?” When your application is approved, Hans will give you two free licenses! What a great guy!
*This is an affiliate link and I will receive a commission if you choose to make a purchase in the future!
We also chat about Hans’ early web design business days and how he:
- Approached website design by solving valuable problems for clients when he hadn’t yet grown that particular skill
- Developed ways to be transparent with clients and get paid to learn those new skills
- Created Termageddon as a toolkit for clients’ unforeseen needs and create an additional recurring revenue stream for your business
Connect with Hans Skillrud:
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. Hey everyone, welcome to this week's episode of the Profitable Web Designer Podcast. I'm so excited for today's episode because we are gonna be talking to Hans Skillrud one of the founders of Termageddon, who loves to spend 100% of his time educating web designers and agencies about website policies. So Hans, thank you so much for being on the show. Can you tell us a little bit more about you and what you and your company do?
Hans Skillrud: Yeah, I'd be happy to. Shannon, thanks for having me on. My name's Hans. I'm one of the co-founders of Termageddon. We are a website policy solution. So everyone listening, prepare yourselves for one of the most boring conversations ever. We're gonna talk about privacy policies, cookie policies, all the things you want, you try not to talk about ever. And I'm gonna show you how you can actually embrace that conversation help protect your clients and make a little more recurring revenue. And a little bit of my background, I ran a 12 person web design agency in downtown Chicago for seven years, hence the hair loss
Shannon Mattern: We were connected by one of my Web Designer Academy students who said, I heard this guy speak at an event and it was amazing and you need to connect with him. And so you and I had a chat and I was like, this is, this is a topic I get asked about a lot. And I'm always like, this is kind of outside of the scope of what I, of what my knowledge is. And so when I was introduced to you, I'm like, We have to have a podcast episode about this. Plus you're just like a really cool guy to talk to. So it might not be that boring of a conversation for you guys.
Hans Skillrud: Well, that's awesome. Yeah. You know, I used to copy and paste privacy policies for my clients whenever they would ask me to. And it started to feel a little awkward when GDPR came around and then all these new laws started hitting the US and that's when I was just like, Okay, someone needs to embrace this on behalf of all other agency partners. So I always say I, I married a privacy attorney, so no one else had to, to figure this stuff out, out. So
Shannon Mattern: Yeah, I think it's, it's one of those things where it's like, you probably had the thought in the back of your mind like I did, and probably a lot of our listeners who are like, Am I exposing myself to any kind of liability by not providing more direction to my clients on this? Where, where do I completely opt out? How do I direct them? So tell me a little bit about, aside from marrying, marrying the co-founder
Hans Skillrud: There were privacy policies based on the actual laws that apply to someone. And, and there's a gap there because I think a lot of agencies are like, Well, my clients are too small to need this. My clients are so small they won't ever get in trouble. And like, that's just not a good long term strategy to have as an agency owner. And like, I get it cuz I live that life. But now some of the assets we offer, and for the record, they're free. Like you can use them even if you don't wanna recommend Termageddon, you can use them. I recommend them whether or not you use Termageddon, there's some simple documentation you can get in place that educates your clients that say things like, Hey, look, I built a contact form for you. I installed analytics for you. You know, that means you may be collecting regulated data like names, emails, and IP addresses.
Hans Skillrud: I just want you to know it's your responsibility, not mine to have website policies. And if you'd like, you can hire an attorney, you can use Termageddon or you can choose to do nothing. But either way, you're the cl- you're the decision maker on this, it's not me. And you need to sign this document acknowledging I told you. And like, that's really it. You capture the documentation and boom, you've protected your own agency. You've put the responsibility into the right hands, which are the client's hands. And I kind of went on a tangent there. You asked me just how did it start? But
Shannon Mattern: Yeah, I mean, I think one of the things that's coming up for me is you're sharing that is like knowing where the responsibility lies. When you can be a partner with your client and say, Hey, I'm not responsible for everything, but I have educated myself to be able to explain to you what's your responsibility and what's mine. I add so much more value to the relationship of designer and client than just someone who's just like, ah, I don't know, figure it out yourself or not really guiding you through that. And when you do that, it just elevates you in the eyes of the people you're working with, which drives more business referrals. Like you become a trusted partner, not just the service provider.
Hans Skillrud: I, I couldn't agree more with that outlook. That's exactly how I feel, which is that website policies are just one small component that makes up an ecosystem of what it takes to launch a website in this day and age. And if you're sitting there blank minded on even how to have the conversa, like even not knowing the difference between a policy, like that's just one less thing that the client's not gonna trust you on. Whereas if you took the time, and again, we have free resources, I'm happy to share at the end of this call, you don't have to join Termageddon to get 'em. But there's just so many simple things you could just quickly memorize, like three lines you can memorize and you're gonna take that trust and ramp it up big time with these clients because if they were to ask you about policies, you'll have a straightforward answer for 'em rather than wishy-washy. I don't know, it's not that big of a deal where you start to, it starts to look real questionable when you're making those decisions on behalf of the of those clients. By embracing the conversation about website policies, you further build that trust. And that's just one of multiple examples that go into why clients want to stay with someone and keep paying those maintenance fees and do more projects with them and things like that. So yeah, I think it's a wonderful opportunity to embrace it rather than avoid it.
Shannon Mattern: I love that. And there are so many times that I see people like holding themselves back from charging more or holding themselves back from marketing because they do have these gaps that they're like, Well, what if someone asks me about this and I don't know how to answer it, therefore I'm just gonna like hide and hope that someone finds me and that we don't have to talk about it. And I'm like, Yep, you have the perfect solution for that. So can you share with me a little bit more about how Termageddon works and then I'm gonna ask you some really nosy questions about your agency days.
Hans Skillrud: What they care about is protecting their people's data. So where you are collecting data from is what matters. And that's what our tool helps you figure out what laws you need to make disclosures for. And only from there do we ask the questions necessary to make those disclosures. So our questionnaire is comprehensive, maybe that's probably the easiest way to put it. But after you generate your question your, you answer the questionnaires, of course I'm getting the hiccups
Hans Skillrud: That is absolutely wild to me. Like, and, and granted, I love the fact that people are getting a right to their privacy. That's not what I'm debating. What I'm frustrated about is I'm a small business owner, I have a website that I wanna welcome business in, and now I have to comply with an ever growing number of ever complex privacy law requirements. And, and that's what I have the problem with. And that's why we create Termageddon, to solve that problem. So anyways, long story short, we automatically update policies when the laws change
Shannon Mattern: I am just sitting, my brain is spinning. I'm like a, this is genius. Be I wanted like, I'm like, what questions do I wanna ask you next? Because I'm like, how did you develop this? Who is, so, is your wife just keeping the pulse on all of these priv? Like she must have a never ending job to be looking at like what legislation is coming through and what's being passed and how to write these contracts and do these disclosures. I mean, do you guys sleep at night ever
Hans Skillrud: Is, she is the hardest working person I've ever met in my life. And also the most efficient. So yeah, you know, as the chair of the American Bar Association, there's about 350 members privacy attorneys that are part of that organization that report to her. That's actually kind of our second layer though. Our first layer is we use a bunch of software to constantly monitor changes in both bills and laws. And then our second layer layer is obviously multiple networks, not just at the American bar, but the International Association of Privacy Professionals where we're constantly communicating with thought leaders in the privacy space about where things are going. And I'd like to think that Donata is a thought leader in our space as much as she says she wouldn't be, but she absolutely is. So yeah, that is her full-time job and it really goes to show, like, you know, one of our biggest client bases are law firms, and that's because law firms, you know, they test out our product.
Hans Skillrud: They're like, Oh, wow, this is way more comprehensive than I thought was possible. Great, I'm gonna use you. Because even law firms don't have the time to keep up to date with these ever changing privacy laws. It's an emerging and very niche specific set of skills that impacts a wide arrange. I mean, it's basically any website with a contact form. I mean, let's be real. That's, that's the majority of websites in this day and age. And it's not bad collecting this data. It's, it's a great thing. It just simply needs to be disclosed. And that's really it.
Shannon Mattern: I agree with that. It's like you absolutely need to tell people what you're collecting and what you're doing, but yeah, it is, it's just, it's at the same time it's just like, yeah, I'm a small business owner and I don't know what's going on in California or New York or Europe or whatever. And you guys are solving a huge problem that people kind of just want to like put their head in the sand and ignore
Hans Skillrud: So, I mean, we called the company Termageddon and we'd didn't expect it to hit off the way that it did. We, you know, we just kind of created as a fun project and it was, Yeah. You know, I I was running my agency, I was like, All right, we'll launch this thing called term again. We'll see what happens. But yeah, then GDPR happened, then CCPA happened mm-hmm.
Shannon Mattern: That's so generous of you. We really appreciate that. And we'll put that link to everything in the show notes because Cool. We all need to go take advantage of that and especially for your clients. I wanna go back to your second, Go ahead. Go ahead
Hans Skillrud: Thing if you don't mind, Shannon. The second thing, my good husband vibes are going off. Please note if I haven't said this already Termageddon, is not a legal service writer. I'm not providing legal services today. I'm just helping you understand how Termageddon works. So yeah, my life's a giant disclaimer at this point. So
Hans Skillrud: I would love to talk about that. I was I think like employee 100 at term- at Termageddon,
Hans Skillrud: And that was kind of like my, that was the thing that got to me, like the reason why I spent those countless nights, you know, working on building my own business and building online presences for so many businesses. So I started off with social media is a service. And I, when I say I started off, I meant, I started getting on the phone and calling a few businesses who I felt like could benefit with the service. And I think that the third phone call an individual was like, Well, I don't need social media, but can you redo my website? And I'm like sitting there on the, the phone like with my shoulder holding up and I'm like, Google searching. How do you build a website? I'm like, Of course I can build a website for you. You know, go actively Google searching. How do you build a website?
Hans Skillrud: And, and I built that guy a website. I am positive, I charged way too little for way too many pages and it took way too long. I, I'd imagine there's other people listening that I've been through that, but I enjoyed it. And that was the thing. I absolutely enjoyed building websites and as time went on, our social media company was growing, but like, we were always keeping afloat because of the web projects we were doing, you know, a thousand bucks here, 2000 bucks there and all of a sudden got to 2,500, $3,000. And like we got to the point where we just had to accept like, hey, the people we're talking to, they want websites. They don't want social media. Let's focus in on just social media. So the first couple years we were spending, you know, burning the midnight oil, figuring out how to run a business, let alone specific to online marketing and web design.
Hans Skillrud: And then came a pivoting point where we decided, rather than us trying to do all these services, let's just focus on the one thing we like, which is web design and support. So that's what we did. We, we said no to all of our digital marketing. And this might not be for everyone, This was just for us. We said no to digital marketing or anything like that. We were just the web people. And because we were able to focus in on that one offering, we were able to just start ramping up. And it was, it became very fruitful for us too, ultimately.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. A couple things that jumped out at me as you were sharing that is a, you went out and like got your clients. You didn't sit back and say, How can I attract the right clients? Or how can I attract clients? Or how can I get noticed or how can I get c And you literally like picked up the phone and called people and reached out to people. And people always ask me like, How do you get clients? How do I get clients? How do I get found? I'm like, You go find them. You go let people know what you're doing. You let people know how you, what you can do can help them. And you're willing for people to tell you, No, I don't need you, or No, go away. You're bothering me. Or you're willing to quote unquote be rejected, but you don't make it mean anything about you.
Shannon Mattern: And you just keep knocking on doors. And eventually you build a network and you build relationships and trust and expertise and thought leadership to where people are being referred to you. And you don't have to dance on TikTok and you don't have to do all of this stuff to, to get clients. And that's what I love about what you just shared, is you're like, well, we, we just went out and made this happen. And I learned as I went, like someone told me what they wanted, I thought, hey, I can, I can figure that out. And I figured it out and I charged for it. I dunno how many people tell me that. They're like, Well I can't charge for that cuz I don't know how to do it yet. And I'm like, charge for it. Figure it out. They're getting the same outcome. Like they're not paying, paying for, if you know it
Hans Skillrud: Yes, yes, I agree. So, and I'll share I, I'm just not recalling, I haven't thought about this in years, but I believe there was a group, I'm, I'm from Chicago and there's a group called Food Industry News, which basically just kind of shared what are the new restaurants, Oh, being up in Chicago, what are the new XYZ opening up in Chicago? So I'd look at each one of them who has a website who doesn't, and I call them and offer them Hey, I noticed your brand new business. Congrats, I live, you know, X miles away or whatever it may be. I know she didn't have a website. If you need help with anything, let me know. I'd be more than happy to build website for you. So, you know, being local, I'd use that to my advantage and like let them know because now I'm much more, I would imagine I have a sales pitch against someone who's just calling from a different part of the world trying to sell them on a cheap website.
Hans Skillrud: So that was an angle that I took initially was I would find new, new businesses cuz they typically need a new websites. And yeah, I will say one of the things that I think I do naturally have is I'm not afraid to get on a phone call. You know, sometimes I get like lazy and stuff, but that's one thing I've been, I've been fortunate enough like I like helping people and like I think anyone who runs an agency fundamentally wants to help people. Mm-Hmm.
Hans Skillrud: Yep. And, and then what's really, what's excellent is when you pick up that skill set where you start to see the things you don't know. Yeah. And you itemize those be like, Hey, just so you know, I don't know what, how to do this. And it's okay to tell people that, in fact that builds a lot of trust. If you have the courage to be like, when it comes to this one component, I don't know exactly how we're gonna get it. I'm thinking about utilizing X to accomplish this. I asked a friend and they said that they would quote typically about this much. So that's what I'm gonna quote. And I'm gonna burn them in outta making sure that gets done for you. You know, and you gotta be careful. Like if someone's asking you to implement biometric fingerprint IDs on a, you know, I don't even know how to apply that into an app or something like yeah. You know, take it in good stride. Like, and I like, you know, especially if you can like see a project where you know you can get x done, you've done it before. You feel good about that, you know that one part and then there's this one tiny piece that you want to, you really wanna get in front of it and let them know that you don't know about it, but this is how you think you're gonna go solve
Shannon Mattern: It. Yeah. I, I agree. It's like, don't, like I would never be like, sure I'll build you an app. Like I've literally never done that. I wouldn't even know where to start. And I'm not going to say that I can do that, but I would, I totally agree with you that I wholeheartedly suggest that you let people know, like, oh, that's something I haven't had the opportunity to do before. I'd love to research that and put together some options and get back to you. And I also, I also love to ask, tell me a little bit more about why you need that. Because sometimes people ask for like crazy bells and whistles that literally are not gonna help them achieve their business goals, but they think it's cool. And so I'm always like, I totally have no problem taking the role of like consultant here and telling someone like, yeah, I, I feel like that's something that's not gonna lead you to the result that you want. So we can absolutely do that and I'd be happy to research it and put together a quote for you. But you have everything you need here to achieve those goals as well without the biometric fingerprint on your
Hans Skillrud: I I completely agree. I I, you know, let's all be real. Clients sometimes have expectations that don't really align with what their underlying goal is. I can't say how many times I've had people come to me wanting the prettiest website in the world that it rivals Apple, you know, and it rival, you know, rivals the top-notch projects that people probably spend millions of dollars on building those sides out. But then their budgets like 500 bucks. You know, so clients very often need to kind of be, you know, nicely straightened out, is probably the best way to word it. They get, they have to realize that they have conflicting thoughts in their own head that they gotta straighten out, then come to you with answers. And man, I, as much as I would love, I hope I get to at least catalyze and get other agency owners to that ultimate destination. Cause I do believe it is experience based. I think you have to like get burned a couple times and assume you survive those burnings, then you will start thriving. But getting through that is, it's a lot it is a lot.
Shannon Mattern: I love that you said that because I still have to touch the stove even now, even though I know better, even though when I hire mentorship and coaches to help me, sometimes I just really need to experience it to be like, Yep, what they said was what I should have done, but I have to go my own way and find out on my own. And, and I'm just, I'm just kind of stubborn like that. But my persistence makes me a really great business owner at the same time,
Hans Skillrud: So, Absolutely. I mean, therein lies the, the pro and the con of the entrepreneur and business person. You know, like we are a little stubborn in the sense that we are, we wanna go figure it out. Like we're i, I I just naturally have that in me. I love doing that. I love figuring out answers to problems, you know, but that can Yeah. Touching the stove. I like that, that that is a great analogy for what happens one too many times. So
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. Well it sounds like you have solved an incredible business problem with Termageddon. I'm so excited to share it with everybody that's listening to this show. Before we wrap up, I have a question for you that I ask everybody who comes on the show. And I would love to know, what's one belief about yourself that you had to change to get where you are today?
Hans Skillrud: That I'm the smartest person in the room. Without a doubt.
Hans Skillrud: I, not that I, I don't think I was ever cocky, but I think just like Nat, it was actually in, in lieu of what we just said, which is that I always wanna find the answer to things. And that's a control issue ultimately. Especially as you start to staff up. I always say the best thing I did with my agency was when I gave up and I said, I'm not doing it. You figure it out. I, after so many night, countless nights trying to figure things out and having staff just constantly waiting on me to get them things, I was just like, I give up, figure it out. That was the best. The moment I stopped trying was the moment the company started really doing a lot better. I guess the takeaway is when you start to, when when you get to that phase, you know, if you're a one person shop and you wanna stay a one person shop, I get it and respect it. There is a lot of pros to not having staff. I went the staff route and for me, that learning lesson I got was that I needed to remove myself to, for the company to be profitable. And it shockingly started working great. So that was a, you know, I had to suck it up a little bit. I had to accept like, okay, I, I put smart people in place, why can't I accept that? And like the, when I did life got much better.
Shannon Mattern: Oh my gosh, I can so resonate with that. When you said that, I'm like, that's exactly why I touched the stove. Because I'm like, Oh, I think I know better. Like, I think I, I think I know better than what you, you just told me I think what I'm gonna do is gonna work and then it doesn't. Or same thing with I have a team. They're incredible. They're amazing and yet I have a hard time like letting them do certain things. And it's not cuz I think I'm smarter than them, but it's just like I'm this alone wolf control freak. Like, let's just get it done and like get it out of the way. And it's like I get to let other smart people help me cause it's way more fun. It's easier, we're all smarter together than just one person, like running out in front of everybody else. So that's what I'm like in the midst of like shifting into now is like, let these incredible people like thrive and do their jobs really well and I get to like do my thing.
Hans Skillrud: No, I love it. You know, it reminds me like I I think like it might have been consciously maybe subconsciously, but I, I felt like I had just, I wanted my staff to always have the best experience ever working with me and like always go above and beyond to ensure that they're happy and like yeah, basically being coddled, like spoon feeding them. And so it comes naturally cuz you just wanna help people. It comes naturally with people that want to help people or you wanna help your employees too, but it's like you gotta, you gotta give up because that is, when they take ownership in what they do, that's when they love what they do and like, you're actually gonna make them happier by, you know, it's the statement from Fight Club to make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs. Like yes, you gotta put a, you gotta let them sacrifice a little bit and they're gonna start taking ownership in things and then it's just amazing how much life easier your life gets and how much more better financials look like and everything. It's just, it's, it's just absolutely wild.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. What's coming up for me is like, we disempower people when we try to find all the answers for them, you know, or like make them wait on us or all of this stuff. It's just like, I wouldn't wanna work for someone that constantly like was in my way and disempowered me to do my job. And so I have to be really careful of that with how I run my business. But we can even do it with our clients sometimes too. And that's a whole nother conversation
Hans Skillrud: Yeah. Well let's, yeah, when clients ask you to manage your their emails, I've gotten that all the time. Like, can you manage my emails? And I'm like, you know, at the beginning I used to say yes, you do those little one-off things for your first clients and then all of a sudden you have 50 clients that all have these little one-off things making your business far less scalable. Yep. And, and, and that's a challenge, you know, so you gotta say no, you gotta learn how to say no. That was another thing. Learning how to say no changed my life too.
Shannon Mattern: Oh my. We teach our students, like you set boundaries from moment one of your interaction with a client, with a client, like your whole setup is signaling and setting boundaries all the way through. And when someone asks you for something outside the boundary, you just keep resetting and resetting and resetting because when you let the biggest leak of money in your business is letting your boundaries erode, that will, that will prevent future revenue. It will leak what you have going on. Ugh. That's one of our biggest things we work with our clients on is, is boundaries. That's
Hans Skillrud: Great to hear. That's that's
Shannon Mattern: Great to hear whole another podcast episode as well.
Shannon Mattern: Well Hans, I so appreciate you coming on to talk about Termageddon and what you guys do and this huge problem that you're solving in such a powerful, powerful way that's like, it sounds like you literally don't have to do much of anything after you install it on your site and it just stays up to date which dream life, right?
Hans Skillrud: Well what's great too is you can share those licenses with your clients. Like if you're reselling, So we have affiliate and reseller programs, both will generate recurring revenue, but you can actually share access with your client to ensure that they get access to not only the policy questionnaires, but also all future updates. And that way if a new law goes into effect or the Attorney general makes a last minute change California that you could, that won't just notify the client like, okay, action required. You have to answer a new question before we can push the next update. So yeah, it's, it's, it's a real, I I appreciate the kind words and yeah, it's a, it's, it's, it's a really good strategy to keep up to date with changes, that's for sure.
Shannon Mattern: Amazing. So can you let everyone know where they can go to learn more about term getin more about, more about you, the company, all the things?
Hans Skillrud: Yeah, absolutely. So https://termageddon.com, so it's like term-a- ged-double D for D-on https://termageddon.com and then click the agency partners link in the top nav. And then at the very bottom of the agency partners page is an application form. So that is the form you wanna fill out to apply to be a partner. Mention Shannon and how did you hear about us? And when we review your application, we'll give you two free licenses and then you'll receive the welcome email and the welcome emails. Pretty fun. It's like this space themed, it's the end of the world. You gotta save yourself and your clients kinda experience. And basically that will be where we give you all the free assets, all the, the free licenses, the ability to resell or refer the product so you can protect your clients to make a new recurring revenue stream.
Shannon Mattern: Awesome. Well, we will link up all of that information in the show notes and thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
Hans Skillrud: Thanks for having me, Shannon. It was an honor.
Shannon Mattern: 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 and 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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