In this interview, Dominic de Souza of TheDiviAwards.com talks to us about the most important lessons learned with creating a passion based business/project as well as some incredibly useful marketing strategies that you can apply to your website content and copy to help increase engagement in your brand.
If you have a side passion project or are thinking about starting one, this episode will give you some great insight on how to properly set it up for success!
In This Episode
00:00 – Introduction
04:07 – Greeting to Dominic
06:42 – What is Dream Again Marketing
07:43 – Encouraging peer review passion project
13:15 – Some con’s of growing too fast
19:17 – Strategy to growing a community
22:55 – Rethinking the process
28:37 – To monetize or not monetize
34:58 – Have a plan with a passion project
39:00 – Know yourself
40:49 – Some of the pro’s out of the project
49:49 – What is a Passion Business
51:42 – Going after a psychographic of people
58:36 – The idea to change the world
1:01:10 – When you share your story clearly
1:09:40 – Do it anyway
This episode is presented by my Web Design Process Course.
Connect with Dominic:
Links mentioned in the episode:
Dominics question recommendations for great questions to ask with new clients, projects, hiring, etc (mentioned in the episode):
- What’s your background?
- What’s important to you?
- What do you stand for?
- What do you stand against?
- What do you believe about how business should be done?
- How will you never do business?
- What does success mean to you?
- What would failure look like?
- What motivates you to do things?
- Do you have memories or experiences that drive you to be active?
- How did you get to where you are?
- What lessons did you learn along the way?
Episode #005 Full Transcription
Hey, everybody, its Josh here. Welcome to Episode Five. This is an interview with a fairly recent and newer contact and colleague of mine, Dominic de Soza, who, right off the gate, that name is just fun to say, right? I mean, I feel like it needs to be said, and an eye Italian accent something like Dominic de Soza. But Dominic started a passion business or a passion project called the Divi awards in the summer of 2019. And that’s how I found out about him, he reached out to me, the Divi awards essentially, showcases a bunch of people in the community and their websites, and you can vote on them. And he had me on as a judge, and was really good to get to know Dominic and what this passion project was all about.
And long and short of it is it kind of became too much for him to handle a few months in, and what this episode is talking about a passion business or passion project and a lot of the pros and cons with starting one and how to effectively manage one for the long haul. So we had a fascinating conversation. Dominic started the Divi awards.com and then he also has a business called dreaming and marketing where he is really passionate about working with people who have an important message and want to share it to the world and want to really think about their marketing and their content and branding and learn how to tell their story effectively. And this was a really cool episode, because we start by talking about some of the pros and cons of doing a passion project or a side project. If you guys have something you’re thinking about, or you’ve dabbled around with starting, you’ll hear some things to think about. And some lessons learned before you actually start to do it. Because you want to make sure In short, if you start a passion project that you can maintain it and you’ve built it for the long haul.
So we talk a lot about that. And Dominic is very transparent about some of I will call failures, but some of the struggles and challenges that he had with the Divi awards because they just, it just blew up so quick. And then I will say the last half of the conversation, we get into some really, really good, really good topics about passion and business and even some things on how to tweak your content on your site to get your message across and talk about some really important things in regards to storytelling and marketing copy and some stuff that I know you’re going to be able to apply to your business. And interestingly enough, you’ll be able to apply this to a lot of your client sites as well.
So can’t wait for you to hear this episode. Dom Dominic is a great guy. This is a really fun episode, before we dive in this podcast, and this episode is brought to you by my web design process course, if you find yourself building websites, and everything’s just a chaotic mess, and you feel like you need like a roadmap from start to finish, and maybe you get done with a site, you don’t know what to do with it, you don’t know how submitted to Google Webmaster or search console, or you’ve got things that just it seems like you know, halfway through a project, it’s just an unorganized mess.
I put together a course for the basically outlines of my process. It’s a 50 point checklist. And the course walks you through every point. And we go in detail into how to build and launch your website successfully from start to finish. So it’s something I’ve been very passionate about. It’s really a fun course to get through. So the link is below in the show notes. If you’re interested and having a good process for your website designs, whether you’re a freelancer, or maybe you’re an agency, and you have a lot of web designers who you need like a unified process, check out my web design process course, I’ll guide you through what works for us, and can’t wait to help you build better websites like that. So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, enjoy my interview with Dominic de Soza. Dominic, thanks for taking some time to chat with us. Welcome to the show, man.
Hey, Josh, thanks for having me, this is gonna be awesome.
So you have a pretty awesome site at dream again, marketing where the way I understand that you help brands and businesses get their message across so they can grow and essentially change the world, change the world or change their industry. We’ll talk some about that. But we’re also going to talk about a little passion project that you launched, that really picked up some steam very quickly. So quickly. In fact, it seemed like with that within a couple months, you just couldn’t keep up with it. And that’s called the Divi awards. That’s how you reached out to me and I found you. First of all, I love the site. I love what you had going on. I’m excited to hear what your plans are for moving forward. But this episode is essentially going to talk about you know, we’re talking about passion projects. The pros and cons, I’d love to hear from you to just kind of start to what you do with your business stream again, marketing, and then what’s behind, you know, thinking of the Divi awards and doing a passion project.
Gotcha. Well, first off, let me just repeat something you said they were just kind of fun, you said I went took off, and William was doing really, really well and stuff. And it’s funny when you’re on the inside of a project. And maybe you’re not talking to people as much you don’t have a metric or know how it’s doing. So it’s really cool to know that, like, from the outside, other people are thinking, you know, all this effort and everything that we’re seeing this looking incredible in me on the inside, I’m like, it’s just crickets every day in here, you know. So it’s just funny how the impact of how it’s perceived and how you’re on the inside, you know, sometimes it can be better than what you anticipate. So talk to people. Anyhow, for, for dream, again. Been a passion project as well. For the last two years, I’ve been building websites and stuff for a lot of Home Services, and began to realize that I loved branding, I loved messaging. And then one day woke up and realized, I love all that, because I love storytelling. And I love Novel Writing, you know, writing novels, that kind of thing.
So dream, again, was born as a chance to help clients who were uniquely passionate about what they’re doing, not just in their space, because there’s a market need, you know, and then they’re gonna change it in five years, because there’s another market need. There’s some kinds of people who absolutely cannot be doing anything else. Because it’s, it’s a passion for them to begin this space for this service, or whatever. And I want to help work with those kinds of people, because they usually have a very cool story, or a cool life moment or whatever. So this, there’s a lot of, you know, they’re wildly passionate businesses.
So storytelling, you know, great design, you know, and websites to sort of tie all that together. So that’s what dream again, marketing isn’t right at the same time that I’ve launched that. I’ve been wanting to also launch the Divi awards. It’s something that I’ve been wanting for for two years, as well. Because I’d seen all of these cool sites go up like Divi Theme examples, and Randy Browns list of the Top 10 of the month, and I thought it would be so cool to have some kind of competition, I would love to have gotten an award right to, for me to be able to tell a client Yeah, I’m an award winning designer, you know, because I never went to school, or university or college or anything like that everything was school of hard knocks last 15 years and just learning and doing a ton of reading. And you’re always, you’re always wondering, am I a good enough designer?
You know, how do I stack up to others. And you’re, if you’re following some of the heavyweights, in the Divi community, they put out amazing work, you know, and it’s cool to get them to validate you and tell you hear you’re pretty good. You know, I like seeing your work. And I thought, it’s not just me, there’s got to be a bunch of other people who would love to have some kind of peer review peer endorsement, you know, for the community to validate you and say you’ve got it, you’re a good designer, and you’re able to actually help clients with beautiful functional design, stuff like that. So that was the germ of an idea. I actually reached out to Divi award.com two years ago, the guy who’d bought it, he lives in South Africa reserved, it never did anything with it.
And he said, try and buy it when it times out because I didn’t have any more, you know, didn’t want to think about it. And I tried, it wouldn’t work. So let’s forget it. I just went and started my own. And, and that was that and let it you know, just chipped away at it for the past three or four months or so trying to build up that community of people who like the same idea that was something to get really clear about is if you’re doing a passion project for yourself, you can kind of have fun, and it can evolve and change and whatever. But if soon as you start involving other people, you no longer have that complete control that complete say, it’s now a community, it’s getting really clear about what it’s doing is something that I only figured out in month three, like you say, right, is it you know, was really taking off?
Well, it’s interesting, I wanted to hit on one thing you said there because I completely backup your statement and saying that you are not an academic. You’re a school of hard knocks guy and that’s myself as well. My extent of education is two years of community college, which wasn’t even for web design. So yeah, I couldn’t agree more. And I found that most if not all of the people in the Divi community, and pretty much in web design in general generally come from a different path. I don’t know anybody who went to four year school and then started their web design business and is killing it. Most of it is I was in the band, I started doing design or you know, you’re just doing something on the side and it morphs into something else. So it’s interesting that you said that reason I want to mention that first because I think a lot of people have that inferiority complex or a sense of imposter syndrome if they don’t have a full education of web design. But you don’t need that your perfect example like your designs are splendid to say the least. And yeah, you’re not educated, you know, formally or anything, so to say on that, first of all, so you launch the Divi awards.com And let’s just talk about this. So you kind of talked about how and why you did that. You launched that. What was it July 2019?
I think that’s about right. Yeah.
So summer because I think I, you, you’ve reached out to me and I hadn’t heard you before. But you reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in being a judge for one of the sites. And I get reached out quite a bit for stuff. And I don’t always accept, but in this case, I, first of all, I thought the site looked really well designed. So it looked professional and legitimate. You also came across very professional as well. It wasn’t like, you know, you didn’t just say, hey, and then leave it like a lot. I get messages from people that just say, Hi, Josh, or Hey, and I never respond to those. But you were like, hey, Josh, I’m Dominic, I have this going on. I wonder if you’d be interested. And yeah, it caught my eye. So I was happy to come on there and view some of the websites. I love the website. I love what you had going on, it seemed very professional. It was similar to what Randy Brown does every month with the Elegant Themes blog, for those of you don’t know, Elegant Themes does a showcase every month, and Randy puts those together.
But this was on a whole nother level because it was there was voting people could you know, you really like you talked about you get a sense of that vibe, and get a sense of that community. And honestly, I mean, from the get go, it looked like it blew up. I mean, I think we had 20 some sites that I looked over and then I chose the top three that I liked, which were incredible designs. Like if you guys want to go back and look at some really awesome designs, go to the Divi awards, check out the submissions, I think it was for August or something. And I mean, some of those designs, like I’m a professional designer, I’m pretty good at design. I don’t think I’m great. But they made me feel inadequate and insecure just because I was like, Oh my gosh, how are people doing this stuff with Divi? So I was really amazed by and it picked up traction very, very quick, even from the outside. I mean, you got a lot of submissions. How many people submitted sites the first couple months.
So it was about, we had about 100 entries the first month and then about 60 the next month. And I don’t remember anymore. But the first command was really quite impressive.
I mean, a couple you know, let’s say two or three months, a couple 100 sites that’s very impressive for people, you know, a community that I mean, that’s brand new, it’s not like you had a big name in the Divi community and you started something you started that from scratch, basically. And it looked like it blew up really quick. What I guess my first question, because I know we’re going to talk about some pros and cons, I think it might be worth talking about some of the cons first.
Just because I can I’m sure we can all imagine the rewarding aspect of it of uniting people, you know, getting to see some awesome designs getting inspiration, building community. But what happened, let’s just dive right into it. Man, what happened a couple months in where it was like, holy crap, I, because I remember we talked I was on your podcast a couple months ago. And I remember asking you like, do you have the people and the manpower in place to handle this because the site was very robust, you know that there’s a lot that goes into communicating with people with, you know, submissions, and doing all that did you just get to a point pretty quickly where it was like, I don’t know, like, I can’t keep up with this, what what happened there.
So breaking it down, there isn’t a metric ton of actual stuff that has to happen. It was just for me, it was at a point where I was trying to juggle that, and then also literally figure out a pipeline and an income stream for, for my family. Right. And I had started both at the same time, because I just been laid off and needed to, you know, figure out something new for myself. And I was at a point where I needed to either get a job somewhere else, which just wasn’t possible, or try and start my own business. And I just figured throw everything into the fire, I need to see what sticks what works.
And I didn’t want to do this for a while I figured there’s got to be something cool has to come from pulling a community of passionate designers together. So I’m gonna give it a try. So I started that I started dream again, I started a podcast. I started just going crazy on LinkedIn, like, you know, creating content, networking, meeting with people, and so on. So my days just stacked up with stuff to be done. After about three months, the business slowly started getting underway. And I really needed to focus more time on that. So I let go of all the meetings, toned down everything that needed to be done with a podcast. And then the awards was the last thing where, again, it wasn’t a ton of work. But there was the forethought that needed to go into it. And I was beginning to dread the end of my months, which is really when it was supposed to be a whole lot of fun.
So, you know, posting on social and sending out the emails and keeping people on top of it. I recognize that there’s I wasn’t doing it with enough forethought. It was happening like too quickly towards the end, because I kept putting it off to focus on the higher ticket, you know, higher priority items just because that’s where my time needed to go. And the other sort of con that I realized, you know, afterwards was, I wasn’t using the Divi groups enough, I had the wrong attitude going into them from the beginning. Because I’d been out of them for so long, I was afraid. But groups that face Yeah, there’s like 60 different ones, whatever.
But I was afraid of, I hate seeing cross posting, you know, when people do it for inane requests, or whatever it’s like, put it in the one group and just wait, you know. And I didn’t want to be that guy who’s like posting the status, like hijacking the groups for my brand. And so I was trying to be, you know, find a way of being very respectful. And, you know, like, every couple of days in a different group, and so on. Mostly, what I was trying to do was build up my own email list so that it was where I was contacting people. The other con that I mistake I made was, I didn’t set up a Facebook page. Early on, I only set that up, like, right at the end. So the opportunity to maybe build fans basically creating the ability to communicate with the community. That is where I made a mistake. And it like really got underway towards the end. Should have, you know, done that early on, but hey, I was running.
Yeah, well, and it’s interesting you said to you, because I’m thinking about that with my podcast, I’ve thought about that with all of my posts with tutorials and stuff is I don’t want to be that guy, either, who’s cross posting in a bunch of groups. So I only post from my Josh Hall.co Facebook. And then in my facebook group, there’s a web designers group, which sounds like you were kind of, you know, you kind of realize that’s what you wanted to do as well, as far as you don’t want to hijack all the groups and do like Elegant Themes has a scope co scheduling app where they have access to all the main groups, and they have access to our group. So it just, you know, when Nathan, the Content Manager posts, something, it goes out to all the groups, I think that’s very valid and very reasonable not to want to do that. Do your point, though, you could stagger it, I’m actually thinking about doing that like jumping in some of the groups for some episodes, maybe once a week on a different group or something like that. Once I kind of get a marketing a content marketing strategy in place, I think that’s probably good for a lot of people to think about even just with Divi, when they’re posting stuff to have that kind of method.
I’ll tell you who does it really well actually is maaseiah, jack stead from v3 meeting multimedia. And he’ll cross post across some of the bigger groups, whenever almost every time he has a new post, but he’s brilliant. He’ll, he’ll share a graphic in one group, he’ll share the post in another group. And then he’ll make like a GIF animation of some cool thing that he’s now sharing and put that in another group. So that every time you see something like from him, it’s like a different element. You know, obviously, that takes a little more effort to be creating different versions of content. But that was very, very smart. The way that he does it.
Often reach out to him and have him on talking about that, how it maybe it get some content, strategy, marketing or marketing strategies in place, because I think it’s a great idea. And it was interesting. But despite that, though, you gained a lot of traction, like for launching a passion project, how did you gain? I guess, for people who are thinking about launching a side project or something they’re passionate about that they want to do? Would you say that you kind of targeted a tribe that was already in place and just kind of started? You know, getting them together? Is that kind of how it blew up? so quick? You think?
Yeah, definitely. I definitely targeted an existing tribe. It was meant to be exclusively for like Divi, Divi designers. But the, what’s it called not the complication. But the, the restriction was, I didn’t want to do any paid advertising just didn’t have the budget for it. So wanted to get this thing going without buying the followers or doing ads. So the only thing that I could think of then was one posting in the groups, which I did do a bunch of that early on. And then it gave myself a monthly time before the first award to give people plenty of time to sort of start getting familiar rants you know, ask questions, stuff like that. The other thing I did was go after the influencers. So I created as part of how the judging worked was to involve influencers so I reached out to three of my buddies people I’d become, you know, great friends with in the Divi community, who I regard them as influencers, that people who have, you know, they’ve done the legwork, they’ve put in fantastic time and they’ve created amazing resources, they’re there, they’re forefront with beautiful projects and so on. kinds of people I wanted to associate my passion project, you know, with so I reached out to them and invited them and I tried to be very clear with them.
Here’s what it is. I’m asking you to, you know, to be a judge. sort of the the benefits to you is, you know, you’re getting a little you know, yes it’s there’s no money trading hands here, it’s all about exposure and just friendship and having fun out the gate, I wanted that to be very clear. And they were happy to jump on board. So they helped to vote for the first couple of rounds. And then the next month, then I looked for other influencers. And with each one of them might be each influencer was invited, but not you know, coerced into inviting their community, you know, reaching out to their email list or their Facebook groups. And so in that way, I was growing a community, you know, from the cross pollinating of all of their communities, right?
Yeah, I was just gonna say that’s what you did with me, I think I was a second round. And it was interesting, because a couple of the people featured were followers of mine. So it was kind of like a chance for them to get some notoriety with my following with my tribe. And I think that’s a really good lesson. For people who are interested in starting a side passion project or something is, yeah, particularly if you don’t have a niche that’s already in place, or have a tribe that maybe is not like the Divi community, that’s pretty tight knit already or, you know, very community oriented, find some influencers, find some people who have a tribe or have some say in some things. And then I think your point was great, you invited them to be a judge. And it was kind of a win win win for everybody or involved, it was a win for you. To get Divi awards, exposure was a win for the people who submitted their site to get exposure. And then it was a win for the judge. Like for myself, I enjoyed doing that. And it also kind of elevated me even more as an expert, even though I don’t even consider myself an expert. But as a judge, like, you automatically look like you know, you’re an expert, or you’re in a position of authority.
I’m already running around conferring status on people.
Yeah, cuz you don’t want just random people saying, Oh, I like that. I don’t like that. You know, I think that’s a really good way to go for any sort of passion project. With the Divi awards, like I said, I, it was just designed so well. And it was it looks so legitimate. It did pick up traction, and like you said, you kind of realized it sounds like the amount of work, you know, there’s a decent amount of work because you’re doing featured images, and all these other different sorts of things. But would you say, if you if you could go back three months and do it again? Would you? Would you kind of make sure that your schedule could allow for the consistency to do it before you started that, because I feel like it sounds like it almost grew its legs, and it was almost like too much for you to handle with your other stuff. Maybe Maybe if it was monetized would be a different story, which I imagine you wanted to work towards that and we’ll work towards that. Because Divi awards is not dead, it’s not done, right. You’re just taking a break and kind of figuring out what to do next. That’s probably a better question. Right now, as you’re kind of have learned from everything, are you just kind of planning everything out so that you can do it in a more sustainable fashion? moving forward?
Yeah, exactly. What I’m doing right now is I’m trying to find ways to automate some of the heavy lifting, so where a lot of the time goes, is into just dropping the modules into the layouts, pulling in the new sections, and so on, and just reusing stuff. And that’s just where a lot of time goes. So, you know, instead of of manually, you know, going with each email and reviewing it and importing it one by one onto the page, being smarter and using some kind of maybe even a membership plugin that allows people to submit content as like a draft post. And then all I got to do is just preview that thing. I was looking at the Art station challenges, what are the art station comm or something anyway, huge concept art, you know, universe, and the way that they’ve laid out their, their challenges, their their competitions are gorgeous. And I like the extra time and effort that goes into everything. And I’m thinking that might be a really good way to go. Because what I don’t want this to be is just a site for like cool art.
I also really want to highlight the community and the individual people in the artists. And that was something that I invited people to do is if you gotten invited into round one, submit, you know, a short bio and something fun about you in a photo and I’ll put that on the blog. We had one, one person who showed up Yanis i think is from Bulgaria. And we’ve got another video that’s was made just for this project that was super, super cool. But it’s one agency that’s not the one that’s going out.
So I want people to get to know who’s behind, you know, the cool designs core, obviously, all of that is now more work. So it’s like finding a smart way of doing that. I think the way to then do that is to find a team to build an Ocean’s 11 and then parcel out different aspects of the work to them, you know, who are willing to do that and the the challenge that comes with that is I like it. You said earlier, make it a win win win. That’s always my goal, especially if I can’t pay anybody and everybody knows there’s no money involved. How do you make it a win win win for everybody?
Well, one thing is social status, you know, we’re creating something that elevates others, which automatically sort of grants you a nice status, nice position, you know, in the community benevolent position. But then finding other ways to monetize, because I don’t, I don’t want to have to charge people to submit their content. So going with like, the sponsored route, or allowing the judges and first place winners to turn around and give back, you know, with some, you know, paid time to help other designers improve by giving them feedback, you know, kind of like a mini Academy or something. There’s a lot of, you know, a lot that can be done. But I can’t do it by myself. And that’s where I realized I need to bring in or start looking for other people who are willing to, you know, volunteer time as well.
Yeah, well, and that’s a, it’s an interesting thing that you hit, you hit on right there, because when you were talking about, it didn’t sound like it would be that much work. But then once you get into it, it’s like, oh, this popped up, and this popped up. And this popped up. And it’s one reason it took me almost a year to finally launched this podcast, because I knew I wanted to start it in the early part of the year. Although I did not know my wife and I were going to be pregnant with our second baby, it happened so quick this time around.
It took us two years the first time, so we thought for sure it was going to take a while to happen a lot quicker this time. So needless to say, I had to put some things on the back burner. And then I just knew that when I started my podcast, I know I’m going to love it. I know it’s gonna be awesome, but I knew it was going to be a shit ton of work. So I kind of planned because it sounds like it’s simple. You know, it sounds like oh, you just, you know, do an interview and record somebody and then you post it? Well, there’s a lot more that goes into it. I guess, you know, you could do it on a lower level. But I knew I wanted to post videos on my YouTube channel with it with the interviews like we’re doing now.
I knew it’s going to require featured images gonna be created, there’s going to be show notes, there’s going to be hosting for the podcast, there’s going to be everything that is intermixed with all that there’s going to be posts, you know, production with editing on both the audio and video. And as I’m going through it now, it’s funny because I don’t feel overwhelmed or overloaded, because I kind of prepared for this.
But it’s probably because I’ve been doing websites for almost a decade. So I know, a website sounds super simple. Oh, yeah, five page website, no big deal. Well, a couple weeks later, you find out it’s gonna be a really big deal of everything’s not planned out correctly. So I just, you know, I totally, I totally understand that. And I think the next time you go around with it, depending I don’t know what your plan is, or I know, we’re, you know, we’re recording this in October 2019. Hopefully, you know, by the New Year, maybe New York time, it’s, it’s shaped up to where you can really relaunch it. And maybe this interview will get some people interested in collaborative because it is an incredible endeavor.
To your point, though, like, I think it’s just good rule of thumb for everybody to realize is every single project will be a ton of everything’s gonna be more work than it sounds like with with that, though, like, do you think you’ll monetize, do you think you’ll try to monetize it either with sponsors or not as necessarily, but, you know, because I understand most people are understanding of that, like, if you’re gonna pay for domain hosting, and all your time involved to do all this, you’ve got to be compensated, unless you’re living off a trust fund, you’ve got to make sure you can pay your bills and eat and everything else, you know, I mean, is that I imagine if you relaunch it, that’s probably going to be a bigger focus, right?
Yeah. Well, from month two, sponsors started becoming a thing. And I started trying to trying to pitch that then by by month three, what I started doing was, I wanted to take myself a little more out of the limelight, and I’m going somewhere with this, I didn’t want to be the one. You know, making a lot of the final decisions and moving so many big pieces through the, you know, through the puzzle, I wanted the community to be doing more of that.
So that’s why sponsorship stopped being such a passive sort of thing. Like, you know, this show brought to you by Divi, whatever. And I wanted them to actually mean something, you know, so certain levels of involvement or activity, you know, depending on how much you donate, became a thing. You know, if you’re a sponsor, you had a specific voting capability to define the top three, right, which had never been you know, done before. Monterey Premier, I forget the name of the designer now. Gino Gino. Yeah, he was very kind. He was awesome. And he jumped on for round four month three of the awards as a sponsor. And so he helped to define, you know, the top three candidates, you know, for the voting.
So moving forward, absolutely. Want to keep that going, because it’s not only sort of financially good for the project. But it also brings a certain level of, you know, additional activity. So I’m trying to be smart like that and actually find ways for the community to be involved. And that’s why creating a new section called the the auditors. These are people that you can and the pages up on the site if you want to poke around, but let’s say you’re the majority of the designers who are always asking for questions, and always hoping, you know, am I is my design good? Is it looking great, and so on. If you could get 15 minutes of a prose time to sit over, you know, to sit with you to look at your website and make recommendations, like you could do this with the brand, let’s do this with your typography, you know, maybe even pull up the Chrome Dev inspector tool and actually start making some changes right on the fly, you know, if you could pay for 15 minutes of professionals time, to sort of help you upgrade or level up your website before you send it off to your client.
You know, I see that as a pretty valuable little service, you know, to be offering. And given that we have a variety of different design skills, and also niche specialties among the round ones and the judges and, you know, anybody who might be on the Divi awards team, you then can pick and choose between a variety of different styles like for me, I’m terrible with girl boss, you know, or what does it Boss Lady design, she’s not good at it. I’m far more modern mentalist, that kind of thing. So I’d love to have a couple of those on because there are a bunch of those in the Divi community, and you probably trust that style a lot more. So that’d be like 50 bucks there, you get a bunch of lessons that you can then start applying everywhere. And instantly, you can, you know, become a better designer. So that’s one way to also, you know, do a little monetizing. And then that, of course, kicks back and helps everybody who’s who’s involved.
Well, I’ll tell you this, I love that you are like you’re from the get go, you’ve had the right mindset with the why you’re doing it all. I mean, this isn’t a passion project just to make extra money on the side, it’s very clear, you started this with the intention of bringing people together help people do better designs, essentially, you know, move forward with their dreams in a way I mean, your whole other brand of of the, you know, the idea of like having a dream and making it come true. I mean, the Divi awards can definitely help with that with designers who want to get better at design feature, their designs, get a lot more expertise very quickly, because I know when I got started, for the first several years, I didn’t really have too many colleagues in web design. And until I got in the Divi community, I didn’t really work with other people and look at their designs and get really good feedback and try to better my game. I just kind of looked at random websites and stuff like that.
So this is like a nice targeted idea that I really do, Dominic, I think it’s gonna hate to say pay off, but I could see it really doing well, in the long run. I know, it blew up too quick for you to handle it right this moment. But I love that it’s not dead. And I love that you’re just kind of recalibrating right now, because you picked up so much steam. And yeah, I think if it’s at a point where you get the people involved who are willing to help out, and then you can find some monetization towards it just to help cover you know, your costs with keeping it going. And as long as you’re still enjoying it. I think that’s really important too, with any sort of not only business, but if you’re adding some sort of passion project, like you said, if you get to the end of the month, and you’re just dreading it. That is not a good sign. Yeah, I know. I didn’t really think about this. And until we started talking about this, but essentially my site Josh Hall Co. It is a passion project, it still is I got to the point with my web design business where I felt like I was ready to start giving back and I wanted, I was already an Elegant Themes blog author. So I wanted a place to put all my blog posts that were easily found.
And that’s kind of why I started Josh Hall.CO and that’s that’s where I started doing tutorials and everything. And I didn’t monetize it for a while. I started doing very small Divi layouts, which is still available, but they’re, you know, they’re not going to pay any bills. They’re nine bucks a piece or whatever. So, you know, I kind of started that. And it wasn’t until I got serious about doing courses is when it really took the next step. Although I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. Originally, I was going to do child themes, and I decided to get into teaching courses just because I as you know, I love it so much. But yeah, I went essentially a year without really month Well, I started monetizing, and a few months in but it was a year before it really started to pay off. And I think that’s probably a reasonable thing to think about when you’re starting a passion project is like okay, how long can I go for I need this thing to start paying off.
Yeah, I think that’s the thing is if you’re in whatever kind of passion project, you’re starting So if you have a boot some clear strategy going into it like, Well, how do I say it’s like, if half the time if you’re starting a passion project, because you want to test stuff out, you want to kick the walls, you want to kick the tires, you want to see if it’s gonna hold up, you’re not sure where it’s going to go, you’re not sure how people are going to respond. Because if you did have all those answers, it wouldn’t be a passion project, it would be a new business.
So it’s interesting, that’s interesting.
So that is, for me, that’s exactly what it was, was like, I don’t know, if I’m gonna get a response. I know, I’d love to do this. And it’d be fun. And I’m pretty sure a lot of other people are going to be interested. So let’s just try it out.
So it does sound like there’s a big difference between starting a new business and starting a passion project to where I mean, would you say you almost have to have a business mindset, though, for a passion project to work for long?
Again, the answer comes down to what you want to get out of it. If you just want to have fun with it. Like I had this one project, I created a couple of years back called the best framework where I wanted to hack how BMI works, and then use it for LinkedIn as a way to create business communities on LinkedIn digital networking group. Yeah, exactly. And so I call it best business engagement in small teams, and I was going to be the best founder ever. So I created a website to sort of think through my ideas for it. And I’m still paying for the domain, because it’s a cool site, but it’s not doing anything, you know, I didn’t expect anything to come from it, I wasn’t going to invest a lot of time into it, I just wanted to pull it up and see what happens.
So to my mind, that’s kind of a passion project, you can get passionate about your business, you can do business, you know about things that you’re passionate about. But I think a passion project, the big question is, you know, to be fair to yourself and your time, what do you expect to realistically, you know, get out of it, if you’re involving a lot of other people, then expect to get feedback, and push back and, and questions and it’s going to evolve, you know, if it’s going to be just you and you’re starting, you know, out the gate, building up a fresh community, or just doing something fun on your own. Don’t expect it to save your life, you know, because you don’t yet know if it’s gonna fly.
That’s a good point. And it’s interesting, before we went live, you were saying you’ve almost started or had a passion project every year for a while. What do you think behind that? What do you think’s behind that? Do you I’m just like, do you feel like you just get amped up about ideas and just start going? Or do you ever have ideas that you just let go by the wayside? Or do you feel like, you know, you often engage to present projects?
All the time, although I’m on the Myers Briggs spectrum, I’m an intp, which means I’m always really good at ideas. And if I’m really honest, I’m never very good at finishing them. So I’m learning that constantly wanting to test stuff. And like, a couple years back, I started a magazine because I saw all of these super cool Photoshop, add ons that could do very cool stuff with typography. And I just wanted an excuse to design cool stuff, and make cool wallpapers. So I started this magazine. And basically, I didn’t really care if people were going to see it, I just wanted somewhere, it was like a creative outlet. It’s continued to actually just had some products running last couple of years. And it’s just kept ranking and right. And I still haven’t done anything with it. I don’t know if I’ll go back even though I love it.
But it’s just funny, it’ll, sometimes you can just let this stuff seed and come back to it a couple years later, I had other projects where I was trying to make money with them, and so on, and they just didn’t work. And it’s like, you know, every month I’ll have a fresh idea and think about it. I need to kick the plugin around, see if it’ll do what I want it to do, how I understand it. And if it doesn’t work and let it go. But sometimes you end up and that’s kind of the I guess the hubris of designers like, how it looks so dang cool. I don’t want to ever let it go. Right now you’ve got this mounting list of domains you’re paying for. And you’re like, I need to.
You’re hitting on a very valuable subject in a topic, which is to know yourself, and to be very intentional about self evaluation. You are no doubt just by talking to you, I can tell you’re the idea guy. You’re the visionary. You have a lot of entrepreneurial ideas, but I like that you kind of admitted that you’re working on the follow through because that’s the problem, right? How many people will do something for three or six months and they just either one lose steam or just want to move on or they get too jittery and move on. or number two, they just can’t keep up with it, which is more like the Divi awards. That’s kind of what it sounds like. Because it doesn’t sound like you ran out of the passion for it. I can tell by the way you’re talking that you’re still very passionate about designers and helping with the Divi community. I imagine that something that would stay fresh for a long time. I mean, I’ve I’ve experienced lols in my passion for people, other designers in the Divi community, but it’s still stayed very strong. I would not. I mean, I’m starting this podcast three years after I started my web designers Facebook group, which I’ve had times where I just didn’t feel like engaging in the group at all, or I do. Luckily, I have some admins and some moderators. So it really does. It’s not too time intensive for me.
But, you know, it’s interesting because you kind of when you’re doing a passion project, just like business, some days, and some weeks and months are going to be great. And then some days and weeks and months, you’re just not going to feel it. But staying consistent. And staying disciplined through those times I think are really what helps keep it going. I’d like to transition and ask you what we’re because we’ve talked a lot about the cons and the lessons learned and stuff like that. But what are some of the things that you really enjoyed about the Divi awards? Like, did you get inspiration? Did you enjoy? You know, getting people together? What did you really enjoy about seeing a passion project come to life even just for a few months?
Yeah, so hands down. I love the response I got from people. One of the the fields that people were invited to fill in when they sent in their request, their their entries, was, why would winning an award be cool for you? Oh, that’s cool. And I really wanted to know what you know what people thought and I was blown away by the amount of thinking, the time people would put into these responses, and I captured like, all of the best ones, click and put them all.
And if you go to each of the different awards, you’ll see these answers and you can visit the first one, it has a this bank of I won’t call them testimonials, but the love for Divi, that’s in there. And that is what I think is very, very cool. I so so one I loved that I was being able to connect with people who kind of see working with Divi, and building their own lifestyles the same way that I do. I love seeing the design inspiration, I got a lot of inspiration from some of the amazing work that came through. But I think for me, the most valuable thing was the new the connections and the friendships that I’ve now built purely because I started something for a little bit of fun, just to see where it would go.
So each of the different influencers that I invited on to become a judge, I’ve now had a whole lot more conversations with them. They’ve invited me on podcasts to just to get to know each other, you know, and it’s not even for, you know, let’s put business can we do together, it’s more like Who are we as people getting a chance to talk a little more deeply about that. And so that’s been awesome. And then one positive thing that did come from it was a work project that did come through from someone who saw the work loved the caliber of you know, the quality and, and then just wanted to hire me to get something done. So that sort of paid back for some of the time, you know. So that was that was really valuable.
Mostly, I think it just goes back to what I loved the most was creating, or is creating a space for people who love the same things to come together and celebrate something that that we all love together. And it’s a big thank you for me. And that’s why I’ve got this fun little thing. I don’t know if it’ll ever work. But I’d love to keep sort of chipping away at it. It’s a What is it called the Nick Roach gift basket award thing. And if I can get a certain, what I’d love to be able to do is on behalf of the awards is gift Nick Roach, a gift basket, because he’s created this tool that has changed lives, it’s changed my life, it’s given me an ability to do stuff that I wouldn’t have been able to do, at least the way that I am now.
You know, it’s he’s created a community that didn’t exist, you know, the way that it does 510 years ago, right? So he’s bringing specific kinds of people together. So it’s just cool to be able to get like minded people together. And then that’s why I’ve seen some of those personal benefits those friendships, maybe those work opportunities, I would love to see what can be done by helping everybody else who is participating in these awards and who just wants to be a part of the community to get more of that exposure between them. Because who knows what else will happen there?
That is awesome, man. Yeah, first of all, I love the idea of doing something for Nick. I think that sounds great. Let’s definitely not drop that idea because I think that’s a it’s on the website. If you want to just head over to the about and it’s Oh, okay, so it’s only about page on Divi awards.com all right. Yep, we’ll do that. I could also talk to Nathan, the content manager and we could talk about what he’s into Nicolas Cage movies, stuff like that. We don’t really know I’m just kidding. Just because he looks like Nicolas Cage right now. There’s long hair and his beard, honey. So you know, I think that’s so valuable though. Like, on the outside the Divi awards you it could look like it failed in a sense and I’m using air quotes when I say fail, just because As we did a few months and you just kind of had to stop, however, look at all those benefits you just talked about just from the inspiration and more importantly, the the key, the camaraderie that you experienced with the Divi community, you’ve kind of elevated yourself and started making a name for yourself.
You have, you know, we’re talking more now you’ve talked with Gino, you’re getting plugged into the community, like it’s amazing what a passion project can do, even if there’s no monetary gain. But the gains of I’ll say status or just the doors that will open. It’s amazing what can be done like that. So I would encourage anyone who has an idea for a passion project to think about all this, as you know, I guess to your point, like be very intentional about what success would look like with it. Because maybe it’s not like if if you want a passion project to be a full time business. That’s a whole different ballgame, you’re starting a business, you know, that’s kind of what I realized that my stuff, I went from a passion project to Holy crap, if I’m going to do this, I need to like get serious about making this almost a separate business, which it is now. It’s still a passion project. But it’s a passion business like that. It’s a passion business.
But I think that’s really valuable. And it’s interesting, because I experienced a similar situation. With this. See, it was December of 2017, I was getting really serious about scaling my business. And just kind of similar to yourself. I’m a hard knocks, you know, on the streets got well, metaphorically, not on the streets in the suburb outside of Columbus. But I was very serious about scaling my business. I was like, You know what, I’m gonna do a series. And I’m going to talk to Divi web designers who all have successful businesses in one way or another. I’m going to find out what they did to grow their teams.
And that’s what I did, I launched a series called scaling your Divi website business still on my website. And I’m I put that as a series on the Elegant Themes blog. And I did how many episodes did I do, I think I needed nine episodes. And then like four or five posts, each one with different things on the ways you can scale your business. And I didn’t technically make any money from that other than we’d get paid for contributing to the Elegant Themes blog. But it was the fact that I created something as a passion side project that became the very framework that I have used to scale my business like I literally listened to people I formulated and kind of wrote an outline of all the most important steps to take made it a blog post gave it away to a lot of people for free. And I’m using that myself still to this day.
And the other thing I found that is because I recorded those interviews, it was almost like a little pre podcast before it actually started my podcast. And a lot of people watch those interviews. And it brought me to have my made subcontractors. So my lead designer now with my business in transit studios came because he saw one of those interviews and just reached out and he was like, Hey, you know, really enjoying the series. And I’d love to talk with you about potentially teaming up with you or any way I could help out but really interested in about the business and kind of gave him some jobs. And then it kind of led to one thing or another. And now I haven’t designed a site in a year and a half because he’s my lead designer now. And a couple other subcontractors came through like that, too. So I say that to say sometimes a passion business can open up doors you never thought would open up and like for you, I’m still very excited for you. Because who knows where it’s gonna lead, like you could, you know, if you can reinvigorate Divi awards with some help and some people to assist, well, that could really take it to another level, I think, for you, it sounds like as the idea guy, you probably need more of like an operations manager or somebody who’s on the opposite spectrum of you to keep it going.
If I’m honest with myself, that’s that’s what it takes, especially again, when you’re committing to timelines, and you’re bringing other people in, you know, that’s why you have creative teams, you know, different kinds of people. And I knew this was kind of, you know, I knew that this would be a thing, but.
Yeah, I was just, I was gonna say, you could always give yourself a timeline to you could do because that’s what I do. When I started my tutorials I did, Okay, I’m gonna commit to doing 12 tutorials one a week, that way, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. And I feel like you could probably do the same thing. You could say like, divvy awards for, you know, January through March three months of the Divi awards, it would probably really help you get stuff lined up. And that way when April comes, you can take a breath, you can see how you’re feeling and kind of go from there. It’s just an idea. Yeah, that is a good one. But I found light at the end of the tunnel to be very, very helpful instead of committing to something once a week, whatever, you know, and then it’s like, oh, gosh, there’s no end to it, you know? But yeah, yeah, that’s really cool, man. So well, we you know, we talked about some really good stuff here pros and cons and short of a passion project. Passion business. I’ve never really heard that term or thought about that. But I’ve just realized it’s talking to you. It’s kind of what I have going.
Well, yeah there’s a I’ve been wanting to work with these guys. I have clients since forever and trying to figure out a way to describe them and have been unable to since forever, till I was watching a documentary about dog food. And halfway through the ladies saying, you know, somebody, whatever she’s saying, and then she’s like these businesses, these are wildly passionate businesses who are doing business and I thought that is perfect. They are wildly passionate businesses. It’s a fantastic way to describe somebody who gets into doing either a service or a product or whatever, but their heart is in it, all of them in it, they love it, they’re willing to invest all kinds of extra time, whatever, because they believe in doing business a specific way. And they can’t imagine doing it any other way. And they can’t imagine ever selling it, you know, and doing something else. Because it’s not just something that they do. It’s, it’s who they are. Right? So yeah, a heart centered businesses, I think they’re called or, you know, passionate, you know, businesses. They’re really the kind of brands that are exciting to follow. Because there’s real people in them.
What’s your ideal client with dream? Again, marketing, or maybe not ideal client? Do you work with people from different industries? And just all over the map? Like, yeah, that passion? Do you look for that? Like that passion is like, you got to you got to get that first before you work with them.
Exactly. Initially, I was trying to niche down and find a very specific, you know, demographic, but then after three months of doing that, I realized I’m actually going after a psychographic of people, people who think a certain way. So they are very passionate. Now, I, I obviously cannot still serve everybody within that psychographic. But things like consultants and small businesses and, you know, speakers, maybe schools, nonprofits, you know, still very broad, but I now have a specific kind of person within all of those, you know, that I think I, I can serve best because I understand them, I relate to them. It’s where I’m coming from my background is, you know.
Yeah, interesting. And it goes back to the quote, your vibe attracts your tribe. And I think, you know, it sounds like you’re attracting clients who are like you and I found that with my courses, I’ve attracted a lot of students who are similar to me in mindset. It’s I have never heard that term or thought about that. But psychographic instead of demographic. I’m just thinking like how much that rings true with with my courses and stuff, because I just had a student shout out to Christian and my, my web designers or my web design business course. And he told me that he looked at a variety of courses, because he’s ready to go full time, and he was looking for the best course to help him take that next step, which is definitely the mindset you got to have if you’re going to be doing it, you know, legit. And he said, he went with me, because I wasn’t just focused on numbers. I mean, I am I want designers to build a six figure business, or at least enough to where they can live comfortably and support their family and have freedom and a lifestyle they love, which is what this show is all about.
But he was like, whereas a lot of other people seemed like they were focused on just more and more and more success, success, money, money, money, he was like you were more focused on balance, and sustainable pace. And those are the things that I value. So much more like I would rather make 100,000 bucks, and have a very balanced lifestyle working less than 30 or 35 hours a week, then making a quarter million and working 80 or 90 hours a week and killing myself, you know. And it’s interesting that you say that, because I didn’t really think about that. But I think I might be more intentional about my marketing, when I’m doing posts and things like that, to reach that psychographic. Instead of a demographic, per se. I really like that. Because Yeah, I’m, I’m not necessarily looking for people in certain areas of the world, or certain price ranges or cost of a customer. I’m looking for people who are serious about having a lifestyle they love with web design. So that’s really interesting. And I love that point. I don’t know if you’ve really thought about that with any of your passion projects. But I think it’s a great way to go.
Well, that’s usually when like when I’m kicking off a passion project, especially where I want or hope for other people to be involved. Then I’ll put thinking into that dream, again, was very much about really trying to dig into that. And the funny thing with when you do go after psychographics is you have to turn around and go back into who you are. So if you’ve ever read like Simon sign x book, why he makes us really cool. Start with why. Yeah, start with why Thank you. He makes us really cool metaphor of when if you’re going to shoot an arrow. The first thing you do before you send it that way is you send it you pull it back this way. So before you start doing something, you have to go inside and identify why does it matter to you? What kind of person are you? How are you interpreting this thing that you’re doing? Because somebody else could do this exact same thing, but they’re gonna To do it differently, because of their attitude, their personality, their environment, their culture.
So understand, get clear and get conscious about how you’re doing it. Because that’s going to flavor and impact the experience that you bring in your client. And that is ultimately what you’re selling. Because they can get that service anywhere, but they can get the experience of working with you. Only with you. So when you’re clear about who you are, and it’s literally just typing out a list of who am I, what do I think like, what do I love? What am I afraid of? You know, what do I want to get out of life? What does success mean? For me? those answers will probably be the answers for your target clients, because they’re gonna want the same things out of life with you can attract those kinds of clients, like you say your vibe attracts your tribe. If you’re attacked, attracting those kinds of clients out the gate, you’re going to be talking the same language, which means a far faster pipeline, faster conversations, better projects, the right kind of client, everything’s better.
That’s awesome. Do you have that in the list that I could share on the show notes? Do you have like, or is that in your dream, a good marketing your process? Or something?
I haven’t put that in the list. But I can, I can work on putting that down.
That would be awesome. Because I would be curious to fill it out myself. And I think a lot of people listening this, because that’s great marketing. You list out who you are, what you’re about why? All that good stuff. And that can be content for your website, whether it’s your about page or your marketing on your homepage, or just how you come across with clients. I know that’s one thing that I’ve found successful to help us be successful. My business is Yeah, we’re not just like, we’ll build you the best website. We’re like, we’re gonna give you an amazing experience. You’re gonna have fun, and you’re gonna love this, and we’re gonna work to grow your business, not just build your website. So that’s gold, man. That’s really, really good. There is another metaphor, I think it was in that same book. I think it was start with why by Simon Sinek where he talks about three bricklayers.
And yeah, okay, so they’re all building a wall, and he goes up to the first brick layer, and he’s all like grumpy face and mad and depressed and mad at the world. He’s like, Hey, what are you doing? And he’s like, Oh, I’m laying brick, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And he goes to the second guy who was a little a little bit a little better spirits. And they were all doing the same work. Mind you, all these guys doing the same work. The second bricklayer is like, I’m building a wall. I’m building a wall today. He’s like, okay, that’s cool. What’s better than just saying I’m laying brick. He’s actually he’s laying brick, but he’s building a wall.
And the third guy who was like, really engaged with his work, really passionate was loving life, obviously. He was like, Well, what are you doing? Well, yes, he was laying bricks, yes, he was building a wall. He said, I’m building a church. And it was like a whole different experience for him than these other guys. And I find that parallels in every industry, but particularly web design, because a lot of people you get to a point where it’s like, oh, I’m just doing CSS, I’m coding or I’m troubleshooting this blah, blah, blah, it can be real, it can be a little bummer. You know, it can get in a bad mindset. Some people are like, Oh, I’m just building websites to try to make money, blah, blah, blah. But then there are those people like yourself, like myself and others who love what they do. And they say, Well, I’m actually like building something for my client, we’re helping them grow their business, we’re helping their families. And that’s, you know, it’s like we’re doing the same work. But the way you approach it the way you look at it.
The super cool thing for me? And you’re absolutely right, is I it’s funny, I hadn’t realized until you said that your vibe attracts your tribe, but I just made a list of the clients that I’ve loved working with. And we’re actually still my clients. The other day, and each one of those clients, I love them as people, they are phenomenal people, and the work that they’re doing is amazing. And what’s so cool, it was to realize, dream, again, marketing was built around the idea of you have a dream to change the world, well, let’s help you do that. And let’s not get bogged down by whatever’s holding you back, because you’re supposed to be dreaming about the future, right. And what was so cool was to go to each one of these clients that I’m working with and realize each one of them in their own way. They’re doing something that they believe will change the world or change their world or somebody’s world. And it is so cool to be collaborating or partnering with those kinds of people to be making some kind of amazing good happen.
But being able to sort of attract them and is it takes that sort of, like you say the vulnerability maybe of putting yourself out there of identifying your why. And then being open to actually sharing that and personalizing your brand and not just making it. We do these cool services in this cool way. But I am this person and I believe in delivering the service in this way. I was meeting with his one client in the cafe in in Greenville. And I walked in and driving up. I was thinking over the website because she had browse the website says I’d love to meet with you. Let’s talk I have some business maybe for you. And as I was driving and I was thinking, you know what my about page sucks. I’ve got this whole meet Dominic page, and I decided to instead of listing out all of my accomplishments, and then you know, here’s what Why I’m worthy of your business and stuff.
Instead, I wrote, you want all that stuff, go to my LinkedIn profile, it’s where it is. Instead, I’m going to write down here, all the stuff that I think is interesting about me and what I love about life in the world, and whatever. And then I went just listed everywhere I’ve been in the world, the stuff I love about the world, and so on. And so driving up, I thought, that’s, that’s rubbish, it needs to go on a different website, I need to talk more about who I am in light of my business. And then whenever I got on there, I was talking with the lady and she’s like, I want to work with you, you know, we have to work together. And that’s why, you know, I always want to know if I can, why me, it’s so important to get that to understand that, you know, to know the tone of your relationship with your client, why me and not somebody else, she says, I basically, she loved the personality, the human connection, getting to know who I am and where I stand. And where I’ve been. Turns out, she’s somebody who’s a globetrotter herself. And therefore, felt comfortable knowing that I have the same sort of global experience, that means you’re also going to understand where I’m coming from, you know, so owning your own story. And that’s the cool thing that goes back to like, we’re just talking about psychographics.
Understanding your why helps you understand your audiences, why your clients why, but the cool thing is if you understand your story, and if you’re able to share that, clearly, then you’re going to attract people with a similar kind of story. And storytelling is now becoming a bigger thing in business. And as we start telling more and more of our client stories, we’re always trying to or should be anyway, always trying to be ladder up to the right kind of story for our business, right? You may have a billion testimonials. And they may have let’s say, they’re all amazing, they are absolutely in love with you. But you can only pick 10, what are you going to pick?
Well, the top 10 that really communicate the uniqueness of your business, you know, the attitude that maybe you bring, that is different to everybody else in the marketplace, right? So being able to identify your story, and then doing things like you know, what’s your archetype? What kind of story? Are you telling? What sort of myth is your story? Like, right? Because there are different kinds of stories that aren’t all the same, right? There’s a reason why your Netflix channel is different for everybody who logs in, right? Mm hmm. So identifying which story you’re telling, you’re going to then attract the kinds of people who understand and are living the same kind of, you know, story.
And that’s just a great tip for conversion for any of you out there who have your own website, and you want to know how to get more clients and get better clients. I talked about this in my web design business course, one of the most practical things you can do is put information about yourself on the site that is real and genuine, just like he talked about, you don’t want to get to the point where you sound like the hero, you want your client to be here to be the hero.
But to make your site more genuine and more real, that will automatically separate you from all these other websites that have like we are, you know, blah, blah, blah, marketing agency, totally faceless. Yeah, yeah, faceless, faceless design it like it’s 2019 is going to be 2020. Soon, faceless design has got to go. Even if you’re like myself, who has a team now, what I’m doing and what we’re actually just getting ready to revamp the site. But what I’ve essentially done is put myself as the creative director and head honcho as I have in my email signature, but I have my team there as well. And I just basically make it very clear that we are not like I’m not a one man shop anymore. We’re not a freelancer, which is fine. Most people are that’s But well, you know, we’re not that so we can take on bigger projects. And we can do more. And I basically say that I’m, you know, the creative director, but then I have a small team with me. But we’re not an agency where you’re going to feel like a number. And I have a graphic on my homepage that articulates that.
And I’ve had numerous clients and leads talk about that graphic. And it really made a big impact. And it was just a matter of Yeah, doing what you basically said, list out who I am, why where we are putting some personality to it. And I put my dog on our homepage as client relations and people love that. And if you Google in transit studios, you’ll see my dog show up for anybody else. So yeah, that’s fascinating man, I think that’s totally true. That’s that may be worth this episode is for people to to put a face in the personality with your business. Even if you have a team, you got to make it personal. People want to know who they’re working with. And like I do all the time. I have people who say, you know, like, check out my website or whatever. And like, it looks like a robot design this because it’s all the typical verbiage of web designer stuff and digital marketing. Most clients have no idea what they’re talking about. There’s no text and content that’s real and engaging. And yeah, even talking about your interests and things like that can make a big difference.
I even we we have a client from Philadelphia, who it’s a barber shop client. They saw one of our barber shops here locally in Columbus, Ohio. They were just googling barber shops. found us. And then on my team, or on my about page, I said that I’m a big hockey fan. I love the Columbus blue jackets. And he is a big flyers fan. And so he kind of automatically like, we started talking about hockey right away. And then as our, our client relationship grew, like, we still kind of joke about hockey stuff. And I usually tell him like, Alright, we’ll see you this weekend after we beat you, you know, stuff like that. So it’s just one thing that can take that next step towards to make clients for life, you know. So Wow, Dominic, this was great, man, we, this is a great conversation. I know, we kind of got derailed from passion projects, but at the same time, a lot of what we just talked about.
Honestly, I mean, we talked about projects, and then we talked about passion and right, you know, you can’t divorce passion from the person who’s passionate about it. So to start something that you’re nuts about and did not include you is, well, I mean, that’s setting yourself up for failure. So it’s like, like you said, You’re not the hero of your own story. And I’ll challenge that, I’ll say, Yeah, that’s true for all the pages in your website, except your Meet Me page, there, You are the hero of your story. Good point. Now, maybe the second half of your about page absolutely is about you, you know, and your brand, because what you bring to your brand is irreplaceable. And that is the unique selling proposition. Especially if somebody who’s running their own business, it’s you, you know, your attitude, your experience, your environment, your background, what you’re passionate about how you see the future, that kind of thing. So you do have a story to tell, and you’re still telling it and you are the hero of that story. Now, when you get back to the homepage, absolutely. Your client is the hero and you’re there to help them. You know, see success.
That’s a good way to think about it. Have you read story brand? By? Absolutely. Okay. Okay. By the broadcast listener? Yeah. Okay, cool. Yeah, I actually just went through that this summer. And I’m starting to get into the podcasts and stuff now as well. Yeah, that’s a book, I recommend that my business course, from the get go because I feel like that’s almost a must read for website designers in particular, because they actually talk about website stuff in there. And I’ve even applied a lot of the principles of getting my clients content and their marketing material and just morphing that into more of a story brand approach. That way, it’s not like, Hey, this is our steel company. And we were started in 1950. And my grandfather started this, like, nobody cares about that. They care about why you do what you do, how you’re different, what’s going to benefit the other, you know, their customers. So that’s a great way to look at a yes story brand by Donald Miller. I’ll link these in the show notes too. And then start with why by Simon Sinek. To must reads for business.
It’s interesting, too, because I think most web designers are more passion oriented. Not I mean, cuz you’re not going to be like, I guess I’ll just and I hate to poke fun at like insurance agents or accountants or those kind of industries. But like, I just feel like a lot of people go to that as a plan B or whatever. Like, I mean, if somebody is passionate about accounting, that’s awesome. You You’re probably more rare than most, but you know what I mean? Like, I don’t, I don’t see too many insurance agents were like, I am just like up and I just want to sell life insurance. Yes. You know, like, Yeah, but people do feel like that with web design, and we know the stuff we’re doing. So I feel like I say that to say most web designers are going to be the more passion oriented people anyway. You know, they’re not going to be like, I just can’t wait to get into this PHP and, you know, try to fix this code here. Like that’s kind of seems like it’s more of a byproduct, you know, to the to web design as opposed to just loving it.
You can like CSS and PHP and I do but I prefer this kind of thing towards towards that stuff. So good stuff, man. Great stuff. Well, yeah, a lot of gold nuggets in here. I’ll make sure I link a lot of this stuff in the show notes. Dominic, where would you like people to connect with you at would you want I mean, Divi the Divi awards calm is a big one. You can see what’s up there. I’m hoping if people are interested in joining Dominic, with that, do can they reach out to you on that site? Just the con?
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
So maybe see if that works. And indeed would you prefer people to go to dream again? marketing.com or where would you like people to connect with you?
Oh, the Divi awards.com is fine. They can poke around see the past couple of awards and stuff on that’d be great. And yeah, if they do want to see the brand and see more of me and my story and some of the stuff that I’m up to Yeah, dream again, marketing.com
It’s very cool site. It’s it’s pretty inspiring, too. I can tell I’m looking at your testimonials right now. It seems like it’s very clear the psychographics is are there with you know, those types of people who are working with it. Wrapping up here, Dominic, do you have a final thought for anybody who’s considering a passion project?
Do it. Hmm. More often than not, we all learn by doing something than just by dreaming. So if you if you are thinking about something and you’d like to actually do it, give yourself a little bit of time to strategize for it and then just give it a go. Go, you know, what you will learn is just as valuable as you know, actually making the thing happen. My past is a graveyard of failed projects. But that’s what anybody who’s ever successful will tell you is that that one fantastic project was free. What’s the word? It comes at the end of a long line of failures. But every one of those failures was a gold, you know, mark that helped you get to where you were, because you needed to learn all that stuff.
So absolutely, my band was, I was in a band for five to six years. And technically, it was a failure. Because we didn’t make it we didn’t make enough to make a living. But what I learned from that experience translated right into my business, which is I have an upcoming podcast I’m gonna do on how my band experience helped me with my business. But yeah, you’re totally right. And you find that on a lower level, as a web designer with projects that don’t go so great. You best believe you’re going to be learning some really invaluable lessons on each one of those projects that will help in the long run. Mm hmm. Yeah. Well, said, man. Well, Dominic, thanks so much for your time, great chatting with you. And I’ll make sure I link all this in the show notes. Thanks, everybody, for tuning in. And we’ll catch up soon, man.
Thanks for having me.
Thanks for having me on, Josh! You’re an awesome host, and really kept things moving along. Definitely a fun topic, talking about the pros and cons of a side project, especially a passion project.
This is my 5th episode to listen to. I’ve loved all of them! This one really gave me clarity though. I’ve been torn about picking a demographic. With this episode, I learned that it’s not a demographic I serve, but a psychographic. Thank you so much! All of my clients are dreamers who are passionate about changing the world (in their own way). I’m a builder. Every dreamer needs a builder to help them bring their dream into reality. That’s what I do.
I had to rewind parts 4 times while I was driving. Finally, had to pull over into a parking lot and take notes. 🙂