Do you ever think you can’t charge “that much” for your web design services because you’re not a web developer?
In this episode I’m talking with Emma Kate, the go-to WordPress educator, mentor, co-host of The Designer Boss Podcast and master of helping web designers like us create beautiful websites without development all about why you don’t need to be a web developer to charge premium prices.
“Building wordpress websites with Divi or Elementor is just as easy. Once you know that tool, you don’t need to know how to code.” -Emma Kate
3 powerful takeaways from my conversation with Emma Kate that are gonna change your web design business forever:
- You don’t need code to build on WordPress, a page builder is all you need.
- Removing the middleman means you can charge more for your services (and keep more).
- You’re better able to empower your clients when you’re also acting as the web developer.
“I think we should be charging more for doing elemental websites than we should be for hard coded or harder to edit websites.” -Emma Kate
We also chat about how Emma Kate:
- Used page builders like Divi and Elementor as her secret weapon
- Cut out the middleman to 3X her income and provide a better experience for her clients
- Simplified the web design process to support her clients without overwhelm
Follow Emma Kate:
- Designer Boss Website
- Emma’s Website
- Designer Boss Summit
- Get Your First Design Clients Training
To work with us to transform your web design business into a profitable, sustainable money-maker, get started by joining the waitlist.
We will be sending a weekly email to you with teachings from the current Web Designer Academy, Profitable Web Designer podcast episodes to start applying our concepts now, and advice from our new five-figure month earners on how to make at least $10k every single month as a web designer.
Shannon Mattern: Welcome to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast, where we're all about helping extraordinary web designers like you to stop undercharging 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 Madden, 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 while my friend, you're in the right place.
Shannon Mattern: But before we dive into this week's episode, I wanna let you know about an exclusive live training we're hosting very soon that'll break down our proprietary premium pricing framework and walk you through how we help our clients package price, position, and sell premium web design projects to their dream clients. Plus, you'll have an opportunity to ask me anything about your web design business in a live q and a session at the end of the training. It is all happening on Saturday, October 8th at 1:00 PM Eastern, and it's a free training, but it's not open to just anyone. So all you gotta do to get your invitation to attend the live training is go to https://webdesigneracademy.com, click on that big apply to work with us button, fill out our zero obligation application and tell us a little bit about where you're at in your business today, what your goals are, and our team will review your application. And if we think our strategies are a good fit for you and your goals, we'll send you an invitation in all the details to attend that live private training. So there are a limited number of spots available for this exclusive light training because we wanna make sure we can answer everyone's questions during that q and a session. So be sure to get your application in as soon as possible at https://webdesigneracademy.com. So go do that now and then meet me back here for this week's episode.
Shannon Mattern: Hey everyone, welcome to this week's episode of the Profitable Web Designer podcast. I am so excited for today's episode because we are gonna be talking to Emma Kate of https://emmakate.co, Cohost of the Designer Boss Summit and Designer Boss podcast. Emma Kate is your go-to WordPress educator and geeky girl next door for designers who are ready to evolve into successful web developers. Emma Kate, thank you so much for being on the show today. Can you tell our listeners a little bit more about you and what you do?
Emma Kate: Yeah. Awesome. Well thank you firstly, thank you so much for having me. It's awesome to finally chat to you in person, I guess, as in person as we can get. So yeah, I'm so happy to be on the show, thank you. About Me Apart from that introduction. So yeah, I'm a graphic designer turned web designer. I have been building websites for over 10 years now. And it got to a point where I was designing a lot of, and building a lot of websites for other designers cuz they didn't know how to build WordPress websites themselves. And I had this light bulb moment from a designer friend who was like, You should teach people sort of how to do this. Like, you know, surely designers can do it themselves cuz I'm doing it myself. So that's where the idea of mentoring other designers and my e-courses and everything was sort of born. And so yeah, now I, I mentor and teach designers how to build WordPress websites themselves without developers and I yeah also have the Designer Boss Summit that I'm really happy that you are going to be a part of. And it's all about educating designers to work smarter and not harder in their design businesses.
Shannon Mattern: I love that you are a graphic designer who is like, Hey, I can cut out the middleman of a developer and do all of this myself and teach other people how to do it. What was the turning point for you where you decided to learn development for yourself?
Emma Kate: So at uni I studied graphic design and we did one sort of one, maybe two subjects in web design development, but back then it was Dream Weaver and HTML and CSS
Emma Kate: And then I got introduced to WordPress and I started creating WordPress sites, but I realized they were just too hard for me to build myself. Like I couldn't do it. So I would outsource that to a developer. I would design the website, potentially choose a theme or something and then the developer had sort of put it all together and everything for me. And I did that for many, many years until I discovered Divi and Divi came along. Yeah. And so a lot of designers use page builder WordPress page builders like Divi or Elementor or something mm-hmm
Emma Kate: And so using a page builder like DIO Elementor meant that I could build pretty much the whole website myself. I didn't have to use a developer for a while there I was maybe using them for about 10% of the job. There might be a few things that I just couldn't figure out on my own. But apart from that I was doing it all myself. So that was kind of like the, that was the moment in time where I was like, well I can, I can do all this and I could take on more jobs and I could feel confident that I could do it and I'm not having to rely on often very unreliable web developers who were pushing project deadlines out and yeah, that awkward middleman or middle woman between you and the like client and like it just got really stressful. So yeah, being able to use a page builder meant that I could sort of do it all myself and be confident in that.
Emma Kate: And so that's the process that I now teach to designers is how to use a page builder like give your elemental so you can build a WordPress website because there is this big stigma or you know, myth really in the web design industry that WordPress is really hard and you need to know how to code in order to use WordPress and so you really should be using like square space or show it or something cuz it's so much easier. And yeah, those tools are easy, but actually building WordPress websites with Divi or Elementor is just as easy. Like once you know that tool, you don't need to know how to code, you don't need to know all this techy stuff. So yeah, that's kind of the myth I try to bust for designers and show them how they can do it themselves.
Shannon Mattern: I am so in alignment with this myth and what I'm an elementary girl myself and awesome, you know, I I same as you, I started with Dream Weaver back in the day and then fell in love with WordPress just because I'm not a designer and I didn't even consider myself a developer because I never learned to code in a traditional way, right? Like I learned how to solve business problems like by reverse engineering things and ended up writing some PHP and writing some CSS but never like really coded anything from scratch. So for me I always was like, well I'm not a real developer, I'm not a real designer and page builders, you know, for the longest time felt like cheating. And then I had a moment where I'm like, I would get clients coming to me saying like, I hired a designer to design this, it's beautiful.
Shannon Mattern: We hired a developer to code it and it's nonfunctional. I can't change a thing, I can't do anything with it. Like I need help. And so I would rebuild like hard coded websites in page builders for people so that they were able to actually like use them. And I did that for a long time. So we'd do a redesign where we'd keep the entire design but we would like change out the back end. And that's when I realized like, oh it's almost a disservice to hard code a website for a company and then they can't make changes and be nimble and move at the, the speed that online business moves. And so that's kind of when I had that realization of like, you know, Coding from Scratch has its place but for a lot of business owners it actually like harms their business and makes it harder for them.
Shannon Mattern: So I love what you're doing where you're taking, you're teaching designers how to then, you know, use page builders to bring their designs to life in a really functional way for their clients and it's just like a win-win for everybody. And developers absolutely have their place like not to like cut at like, cut on any developers or say that they're not worthwhile, but you're really empowering like your clients and their clients and I absolutely, I I just love that. Absolutely. So I have the question for you about pricing then. Cause I had a whole lot of pricing mindset stuff where it's like, it's so easy, it's so easy to just like take this design and build it in elementary, build it in der a page builder over your choice. What is your thought process around pricing with designing in page builders?
Emma Kate: So I, for years I struggle with a lot of sort of mindset, money mindset kind of blocks and thought, oh I can only charge this much, you know, and this is only how much my clients are gonna pay for and all that. And I've realized over the years that you charge more, you get better clients who respect your work and are actually like respect you as an expert and kind of, they're just better, they're better to work with. When you charge low, you get those sort of lower budget clients that are really controlling and nit picky and just turning to worse. Like the more I charge, the more someone pays me, the better the client they end up being. So I, I'm a big advocate for charging your worth. And one awesome thing about using WordPress and page builders like Divi and Elementor in particular like you said, is that they're super easy for clients to take and edit themselves and manage their website.
Emma Kate: You know, a lot of the updates and things like that themselves, which is a huge value to the client. So that was one of the reasons I actually sort of went to WordPress in the first place, even back before I had Divi or Elementor or anything was that it it had that cms, the content management system for the client so that they could, you know, update a team member update their phone number at a blog post, you know, at a new event or you know, whatever it might be to their website. And they didn't have to pay me, you know, a hundred bucks an hour or whatever. I wasn't charging that much back then, but you know, whatever it is, they don't have to pay a developer to make these changes to a hard coded website for them. They could do it themselves. And so that meant that I could charge more for these websites cause they're gonna save the client money and time and everything down the track. So I think we should be charging more for Dian elemental websites than we should be for hard coded or harder to edit websites or
Shannon Mattern: Guys can see us, I wish you could see the video of us cuz I'm just like nodding like yes,
Emma Kate: Yes.
Emma Kate: But also recording one or two or three personalized videos showing the client their dashboard where they'd have to go to edit things. Part of the brief that I get from a client is actually asking them, okay, what are the things you're gonna need to update on a regular basis? Because every client's a bit different. Some of them might wanna blog, some of them might not, some of them might get a lot of new team members all the time, like they might be different things. And so finding that out and recording some personalized videos specifically for that and I just use Loom, it's super easy and then the client can go do all that themselves. You'll still get clients that don't want to, that are just like, no you just do it for me. Which is great, but a lot of clients, it's a great thing to give to them and they feel really empowered and just blown away when they realize how easy it is to use.
Shannon Mattern: I just love how you said that we should be charging more for using page builders than hard coding because of how much you're saving the client off the back end. Like that is just a whole mindset shift that you just gave every single person listening to this who thinks that it's not good enough or it's cheating because I'm using a page builder and I didn't like write the PHP myself and then
Emma Kate: Yeah, well it's, it's just something that comes so naturally and easily when you discover these page builders and like I just, all I'm doing is taking it an awesome tool and using it for what you know, it a great purpose like it's great for us is designers to be able to pretty much bring anything to life that we so choose, which is great. We don't limited by those other themes that are quite, you know, hard to sort of make things right without coding. And then on the flip side of that, it's super easy for clients as well. So they're just awesome tools.
Shannon Mattern: So you shared a little bit about the pivot from, you know, doing it your like doing client work to then starting to teach other designers. Like what did that look like for you when you were like, okay, I've got this thing figured out as working really well for me. Other people need to know this. Like what was that journey like for you?
Emma Kate: So it kind of started, I, hmm, I'm trying to, I was thinking about this the other day actually. I think the pivotal thing that happened was I was just a solo, you know, just me working from home by myself and I booked a seven week overseas holiday to go to the States and South America and I was like, you know, I needed my business to run without me. So I hired a business coach and he helped me systemize everything and like map out my processes and what I do so I could have a another designer run it while I was away. And that was a real eyeopener of like, there's actually like a process that I can document and I can teach someone else how to do this. And this designer was a friend of mine and she was just getting her business off the ground.
Emma Kate: She just started her own sort of freelancing gig and she was saying how much it really helped her, you know, like now she had all these processes that she could use in her business. And then I started doing that with a couple of other designer friends and one of them in particular said, you know, you really good at this. You should be teaching people how to do this. You could teach people. And I hadn't even thought that that was like I could earn money from that, you know, like I just didn't even consider that but I thought it just gave me so much joy. Like I, I loved doing it, I loved teaching other designers how to do that and it's just, you know, stream systemizing and all that is just something that comes quite naturally to me. So yeah, that's where the sort of idea sparked and then, yeah, I started taking on those, like I said earlier about taking on website projects for other designers and realizing like, hey, they could, why are they paying me? They could do this. Like, you know, I, someone should teach them, I should teach them. And so that's where the, I do for my first eCourse be the boss of WordPress came from was teaching designers that process of building a website for a client. And so it just sort of, yeah it just came from there. It was over a few, like probably about two years of like brewing and stuff. But yeah, that's, that's where it all sort of started.
Shannon Mattern: I love that. And I think one of the things that was kind of coming up for me as you were saying that is we think of ourselves as like very skilled service providers, right? Like we're, we're working with a client and we're taking, you know, everything they tell us about their needs and their business and their brand and we're turning it into this functional design. But what we don't ever think about is like all of the intellectual property that we create in the back end of our business or even like for a client, like our systems, our strategies, our processes and how valuable that in and of itself is outside of like serving a client and how we can like package that up in so many different ways, whether that's a course or whether that's like a marketing strategy that we use to talk about like a signature system that we would walk a client through.
Shannon Mattern: So there's like this kind of third layer of value that we have in our business. You know, besides like oh the skills that we can bring to the table and the, you know, deliverable of the website or you know, some of the intangible value there but like we have so much intellectual property that we create that is valuable and I love how you are leveraging that to create some more time freedom in your business. Like so you have your be the boss of WordPress program and then you have some other courses. What other courses did you create out of that experience?
Emma Kate: Yeah, so I, that was my first one and when I'd finished that I did a couple of rounds of that course and a lot of my graduates were like asking questions about how do I price this for a client? How do I quote on this project? Like so a lot of students come do my first course and it's pretty much just a process of building a website and most students do that to build their own design business website. Some of them that's all they wanna do, they just wanna have a website, they know how to edit and control and that's it are the ones are like us and they want to actually have a web design business and build websites for clients. And so they're kind of about 50 50 the types of designers that do it. So those ones that wanted to start building websites for clients, obviously once they learnt that they started getting requests for jobs and they're just like, I don't know how to quote on this.
Emma Kate: How do I set up a staging site? What is the staging site? How do I migrate a website? You know, what about website care plans? Like all, all those kind of questions were coming in. And so my next course where business boss was actually pretty much just based on all those questions, all these questions that students were asking me, I was like I need to build you guys another course
Shannon Mattern: So your heart lies with like the business side of the web design business like and definitely me too. It feels like once you've kind of like cracked the code on that, like you can't help but to like help all the other people that were struggling the way we were struggling in the beginning. So you said that people, you know, they learn how to build the website and design and build and then, and then they start getting requests. And so tell me a little bit more about, I think one of the biggest sticking points I see with like beginner, not beginners, but new people who are like, okay, I have this skill and now I want to actually like make money from it and get clients and be a freelance web designer. And they're like, But how do I get clients? Like what do you tell your students? And you know, people like when they're at that place where they're like, Yes I wanna do this, but how do I get clients?
Emma Kate: Mm-Hmm
Emma Kate: You kind of need to work with a few like good clients and bad clients to work out who you do and don't wanna work with and you kind kind of take on everything you can get at the beginning. We all do. So it can be a bit hard to find a niche but if you do have some particular industry or type of client that you're passionate about, then just go all out and try to target that client and you'll stand out amongst the sea of so many web designers out there who are just being generalists. So I think that is a great thing to do if you can, you can also niche down by style. So if you have this like really funky playful style, then go for it. You know, like so many people wanna see something that really resonates with them. So like I have some one student that's like really punk rock and that's her style and that's the kind of stuff she does, which is like awesome.
Emma Kate: And then like one is like really cutesy and kind of playful and kid and does a lot of like, you know, kid targeted brands and you know, but it's so her, so her style, like everyone's a little bit different. I'm a very sort of girly feminine kind of style and that's the kind of websites that I wanna do. But yeah, so finding a, finding a niche is a great one. But then also just doing a bunch of things like just being helpful on social media is one that can really land you some clients when you're first starting out. Just finding even some Facebook groups if you're into Facebook where potentially clients would be hanging out and just trying to be helpful in answering any of their kind of like marketing questions or design questions or tech questions, whatever you're sort of like focusing around. I find that's a really good way to feel like you're not being sleazy and salesy and just being genuinely helpful and getting a bit of a reputation.
Emma Kate: I actually have a free little mini training on that in my Facebook group, How to get your first website clients with a bunch of tips in there. So I can give you the link for the podcast notes or something cuz it's, yeah it's in there if anyone wants to watch it. But yeah, there's a whole bunch of sort of things you can do and it really depends on how much effort you wanna put into actually marketing yourself or whether you just wanna like test the waters and see if you can get a client or two and see if you like it.
Shannon Mattern: I love that. And we will definitely link up that resource in the show notes, everything you said. And I think it just comes down to like telling people what you're doing, you know, it's like, oh I'm starting a web design business, like I'm totally into this, like this type of client, this is who I love to work with. And like you would be surprised just by having conversations with people in your life that you know you like that care about you that will be like, oh, someone at my gym was talking about needing a what? Like you'll get connections that way. And like you said, you, you have to, you may have to kiss a few frogs before you find
Shannon Mattern: Like I can't call myself a web designer, I didn't go to school for it, I didn't learn to code, you know, I can't say I'm a web designer. It's like, okay, if it feels weird for you to say you are a web designer and it feels like you're a fraud and you're sweating cuz you feel like you're lying by saying it, just let people know like, hey, I'm starting to build some websites for people and just, you know, wade into it that way and just talk about what you're doing and how you can help people and you know, you don't have to call yourself anything to say I'm building websites for this type of business and I'm so excited about it and just kind of opening up the conversation that way. Like marketing doesn't have to be this whole
Emma Kate: Absolutely.
Shannon Mattern: So I have just a couple more questions for you before we wrap up this episode. What is one thing you wish you would have known or believed in the early days of your web design business?
Emma Kate: Ah, so hands down, I think I, when I first started my business I had an older family member very into marketing and all that, very good at what he did, but very old school, you know, a lot older and, but he gave me a lot of advice, which I really wish I didn't take, which was, you need to answer the phone, you know, nine to five, you need to be working nine to five, you need to be looking bigger than what you are. And you know, like you need to look like a bigger brand. All this kind of stuff you don't wanna look like just little cuz I was 25 I think when I started my business so pretty young and you know, no one wants to hire a 25 year old kind of thing. You wanna look more experienced, all that kind of thing.
Emma Kate: And for years I had, I was hiding behind this brand that just wasn't me and I felt really like a fraud. I felt like an imposter. Like I felt like I had to keep up this front that I had a big team and like, you know, all this stuff, it was really uncomfortable and you know, I wanted to travel the world and take time off and all this stuff and it was a real kind of conflict of me, my 25 year old self and this fancy kind of big brand that I had created. And so when I stripped all that away and just went back to Emma Patterson graphic design, you know, and that's what I was, it was just such a breath of fresh air. I could just be myself. I didn't have to put on a front, I could be a little bit girly, I didn't have to be all corporate.
Emma Kate: And then I was attracting these smaller business like clients that I wanted to work with rather than these big companies in Sydney that I didn't really wanna, you know, they weren't my target market. So that is like a huge thing that I, I love being able to empower. Like it gives me goosebumps cuz it changed how much I enjoyed my business and made it so much more worthwhile. So I really encouraged designers to, to just be yourself. Like there's so many designers out there, you wanna be unique and what makes you unique is you so, you know, embrace your quirkiness and your like style and you know what you do and don't wanna do in your business because if you feel like you have to work nine to five and you can't be yourself, then just go work for the man. Why have your own business? Like so you do you and you'll get better clients and you'll, you'll enjoy your business more.
Shannon Mattern: Wow, that is so powerful. I was getting chills as you were saying that too cuz that was my early experience. I was like, I thought I had to be this corporate sanitized version of myself mm-hmm
Shannon Mattern: I love that you are advocating, be yourself, create the kind of business that works around your lifestyle and don't try to recreate a corporate job that you probably hated
Emma Kate: So the best place to find me would be https://emmakate.co, Just on my website. If you go there, you can find out more about the courses, but also there's a whole bunch of freebies and stuff on there, like a roadmap of my process. The process I go through might be the boss course that's free. So you can go just click on the, the free stuff tab or I don't know what I've called it there. But yeah, just go find the goodies and you can download stuff for free there. And then the pod the summit coming up, which are going be a awesome speaker and sponsor for, which is amazing. So that's coming up in October. So yeah, go to https://DesignerBoss.co And you can get on our wait list. So we'll let you know when the ticket's open. It's a free summit, a hundred percent free and there'll be, I think we've got over 25, maybe 26 speakers this time from all around the world, specifically talking to designers to work smarter and not harder in their businesses. So there'll be a lot of a big broad range of topics there. And then there's my Facebook group, designers learning web dev if you wanna come hang out there and learn a little bit more about what I do and hang out with a whole bunch of other designers who are learning how to build WordPress websites too.
Shannon Mattern: Awesome. Well we will link up all of those incredible resources in the show notes so you can get all of them there. Emma Kate, thank you so much for being here. It was a pleasure talking to you and getting to know you. We'll send everybody to the Designer Boss Summit so they can connect with you there. And yeah, thank you so much.
Emma Kate: Thank you so much for having me. It's been awesome.
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://webdesigner academy.com/podcast to get your hands on those and we'll be back next week with another episode designed to help you up level 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 would 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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