In this episode, my very special guest Melissa Love (who is one of the original Child Theme creators in the Divi Community) shares with us some super impactful information from a recent webinar she published on Self Employed Survival Strategies. It couldn’t have come across my feed at a more relevant time so I had to get her on to share this information with you as well.
Links to the webinar and all the resources we mention here are below but in short, she dished out the “4 Big R’s” that will help self employed business owners in ANY industry through this time. Those are:
- Retain booked business with great communication
- Reorganize your personal and business cashflow
- Replace existing income with creative offers
- Refresh, reach and re-skill
In this episode, we go into each point in more detail so you can stay “proactive vs reactive” during this time. One really important point myself and Melissa want to encourage you with is that you can take this information and MAKE IT YOUR OWN. Share it with your clients, help them and make yourself look like an expert during this time. Even if it doesn’t lead to direct sales right now, staying in the front of people’s minds and producing good, quality content and advice through this period will build trust in you and your brand.
Connect with Melissa:
Episode #026 Full Transcription
What’s up everybody? Welcome to Episode 26. I’ve got a very special episode for you in this one along with a very special guest. For those of you who have been in the Divi community for a while you are probably familiar with her work and have seen her name Melissa love she is a web designer based in the UK and she is actually one of the original creators of child themes in the Divi community. And as you’ll find out in this interview, she is actually the first person who ever sold a Divi based product, which was her first child theme. And she’s gone on to do remarkable things over the past few years. She owns a couple different businesses. She owns the design space CO which is where she has some courses and a store with Divi child themes. And some other website related stuffs. He also has a membership under the marketingfix.CO which you’ll hear about where she helps business owners from all sorts of industries with building websites. But on top of that marketing, and lead magnets, and Facebook ads and all kinds of stuff. And she brings a lot of experts in there.
But the reason I wanted to have her on today was actually I wanted to get her on the podcast for a while to talk about a number of different things. But she just released a webinar that was spot on and super timely. And it’s about a self employed survival strategy, which is super crucial right now as we’re right in the middle of this Coronavirus crisis. And the cool thing about this is one of my most recent podcast was about five things you can do as a web designer during this time. But this talk is geared towards any business in any industry. So the cool thing about what you’re going to hear in this is this survival strategy, this guide are things that you can absolutely apply to your business. But what I want to encourage you with is that you can take this information, and you can make it your own. And you can also dish it out to your clients. So you can really become a leader through this time and look like an expert through this. The webinar that she put on that we’re going to reference a lot is available in the show notes for this episode. And we’re going to link to all the resources that we cover in this episode as well. So really excited to hear how this helps you out.
Melissa is just a true professional. And she you as you’ll hear through this episode, she’s very, very serious about helping people and being a leader through this time, being a giver, not a taker, which is a huge, huge aspect. So really excited to hear how this one helps you out. Before we dive into this episode since I mentioned that Melissa is a great designer wanted to mention that I do have a brand new website design course it’s focused on the design aspect of web design. Everything from learning how to develop an eye for design, how to make conversion based design, we’re going to cover everything to help you actually make beautiful designs when you’re building websites. So if you struggle with the design aspect of things, check out my design course the link will be below I’d love to help you get a beautiful eye for design for your business and your website’s moving forward. Alright guys, without further ado, enjoy my very timely and super impactful talks with Melissa love on self employed survival strategies. Enjoy. Melissa, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for coming on, on short notice to really appreciate you coming on.
Thank you for having me.
Yeah, I just yesterday, I was on Facebook like everyone else is. And you had a really incredible webinar that came across my feed about how self employed businesses is kind of like a self employed business survival strategy guide. And I just loved it. And I reached out to you and I wanted to get you on. And like I mentioned before we went live, I’ve been wanting to get you on the podcast for a little while to talk about photography websites, which maybe we can do around to hear soon for that. But I really loved your webinar, you laid out kind of an action plan for four things that I figured we could go into. Before we do though, for those of you my for my audience who don’t know you yet, why don’t you just tell us who you are, where you are and what you do?
Yeah, sure. So I’m Melissa and my business is the design space which is probably coming up to seven years old now which seems crazy, but we primarily sell child themes for Divi and a couple of other platforms which are for summer photography specific. And actually my fun fact is I was the first person to ever sell a Divi product.
That is an awesome fun fact and I wondered because I know you were one of the originals you, Gino and a few others were like doing it before I was even in the Divi community. I did not know that you were the first though now was that like a child theme or a layout? Or…?
I was it and I had been selling templates support with a better word for other platforms. So I already had my my store set up I had, I had a ticket system and documentation, I kind of was set up for that. And one day I thought I package things up in Child Themes all the time to install on client sites. Why don’t I can I can make this work. So I kind of remember the day I posted about it in the group, the big Divi theme you just get and it was like letting go. It’s like dropping a bomb. He was like, what this is awesome. Like, that’s the best thing I’ve ever seen other people like what who would buy that? That’s a terrible idea what you would pay that much money. And it was just like, the everybody kind of exploded now the huge kind of was talking about it. Oh my god.
When was that? Um, it must be three or four years ago. Okay. Yeah, I figured it’s probably like 15, early 16. Maybe something like that.
Yeah, it was up now. We’ve got no, we’ve got 15 Divi themes. But that was the first one that everyone was like, what?
Wow, that’s awesome. How cool. I did not know that you were the first that’s super cool. And let me and what a it’s a whole industry in itself now. So how cool is that, that you’re on the ground floor
Tip for anyone who sells child themes or wants to try and explain it to people. So I often say that child themes like IKEA, the IKEA of web design. So you know, I could get some wood and make a table. And you could call it a table. But it really wouldn’t be very functional or look very good. Or I could hire a cabinet maker, cabinet maker of furniture, you know, designer to design a building this stunning table, but I’ve actually couldn’t afford that. So kind of tell him to the IKEA of, you know, of the web design world. And it gives you affordable design and saves you a ton of time. So you know, if you’re looking for sales pitch, there it is you can still mine.
That’s great. Yeah. And even just for people who don’t have a design, I Yeah, it’s a great way to you know, make sure your site’s gonna look good, because it’s a proven design. I love that analogy, the IKEA of web design. That’s great.
I don’t use it as a strap line. But if you understand what on earth it is, yeah,
well, we’re gonna have to do another episode, then we’re gonna have to have you on a couple more times, I’d love to talk about child themes to Yeah, that’s something I’m going to get into next after my next couple courses are out. So
Well, I’ve got kick keywords in this space, because I’ve got a fantastic new product, which is going to revolutionize making distributing child themes for everybody in the Divi space.
Okay, and you’re doing that through your website at the designspace.CO is that right?
It’s a whole new product. Next week or so.
All right. Awesome. Do I look forward to I can definitely keep an eye out for that. We’ll make sure we link that in the show notes when it goes live. Sweet. Well, awesome. Melissa, well, hey, let’s just get right into it. You laid out again this amazing webinar that you did I believe you did it live, right? Because I think you had some questions come in. And what I’ll do is I know you have it set to be able to be embedded and you mentioned you have it on your post as well. So I’ll make sure it’s in the show notes below for anyone who wants to you know, watch it and a little more in depth. But you laid out four points for self employed people to have kind of a survival guide. Those are real. I liked what you did you did for ours you did retain, which retained book business with great communication.
Number two was reorganize, reorganize your personal and business cash flow. Three was replace replace existing income with creative creative offers. And four was to refresh and reach and reskill. So I’d love to just dive in each one of those because one thing that was really interesting about this is that this doesn’t just apply to web designers. A few days ago, I released a post and a video on five things that web designers can do during this crisis. But I love that this that this is very open ended every industry, every business and I think that these are things that we as web designers can also kind of repurpose and recommend to our clients, which is really huge. So yeah, let’s let’s talk about that. And actually, before we talk about the first one, how did this come about? Did you have I mean, it was a very thorough presentation. Did you just kind of go for it and organize this all on a couple days? Or what was the genesis of all this?
Well, cuz i i coach, a lot of people I have a membership for creative businesses called the marketing fix, which is where any creative, I’ve got lots of web designers, lots of photographers, it’s a monthly membership, and you come and a lot of that training I kind of had because I walked people through their business blueprint, which is disaster planning, you know, what if you get sick? What’s the worst thing that could happen in your business? So I already had quite a lot of thoughts on what’s the worst thing that can happen because I do that for my own business. You know, a business which can’t easily diversify relies entirely on one stream of income, doesn’t have a disaster contingency plan in place is a really insecure business.
So I’m really passionate about encouraging people to future proof their business I teach them how to do a 12 month business plan, rolling a 12 month marketing plan with proper solid forecasting and figures how to set goals and Do you know when those goals will fall away and in a puff of smoke, like some people are finding it in the current climate, you need to know what you’re going to do next. You don’t want to be scrambling around thinking. I’ve no idea and just feeling panic takeover.
That’s great. So it sounds like you were able to basically take everything you’ve thought about for a long time and just compile it into this, you know, compact webinar then, right?
Yeah, well, and I did it myself as an exercise. Four days ago, I sat down the next day after kind of things started to feel very, very real and very serious. And I started making notes. I was like, right, existing clients that reach out to them. Okay, I need to make sure I secure them any costs, what are the steps I’m going to take to do that? And then I thought, right, let’s look up my business cash flow. Let’s look at my personal cash flow. Let’s get our outgoings. So let’s see what resources we have to pull in from different kind of agencies and governments. So I just, it just evolved really from I did the exercise for my own business.
Gotcha. Gotcha. Awesome. So number one, retain, what does that look like? What would you suggest businesses do not only a spell a web designers, but also things that we can pass on to our clients? What should they do right now as far as retaining their current business?
Okay, so the most important thing is to be completely proactive about this. And I was seeing lots of people in my coaching group saying things like, Well, I don’t really want to contact my clients about cancellations, I don’t want to give them ideas. You know, but believe me, they’re already thinking about canceling, prized by you mentioning this. So in a situation where this, the future is very uncertain, it’s important for you to be the leader, because leaders, you know, breed confidence, they want you to be the expert, and they’re looking to you as a client for leadership. And they want to be led. And also you have to remember, you know, our worst case scenario as a freelancer is that all our business evaporates overnight, they might not be in a profession, which is affected by current circumstances, and they might be actively looking for ways to support small business as well. So there’s lots of reasons to be in control of the narrative.
And, and also, things might get worse before they get better, because I’m always about the worst case scenario. So I would prefer to reach out now to my clients, and lay out what might happen. Now I went over in the webinar, I go over this in some detail, because a lot of my audience are photographers, and they actively having to postpone events, and, and come up with scenarios. Like if I can’t shoot your wedding, if I get sick, if you get sick, you know, we’re thinking about all of these, they’re laying out the likely timeline of events. And that’s, that’s what I would encourage you to do to lay out the likely timeline of events, wherever you are in the world and say, what well, what’s the first thing that might happen?
They can’t work, they so you’re going to have to tackle this in two ways. You’re going to if you’ve got things which are dependent on dates and lunches that people are putting off, you need to be proactive about saying, Hey, I, it’s on my radar that this is happening. Do you think you’re going to need a postponement, here’s what’s going to happen if you did. And you’re always looking to mitigate what the fallout might be. So it might be that what you don’t want to do is, is get hit with cancellations. So you can reach out to people and say, hey, you know, I appreciate you, thank you. If someone comes to you and says, I think I need to shelve this product, you can say I appreciate you now might not be the right time, but why don’t we look at scaling it down, and maybe investing a little bit of money over the coming months, so that it’s not a big lump sum payment, and that we can continue working together so that we’re ready to come back.
And you know, that is your message that things are going to return to normal. And that, you know, this this situation, the situation isn’t going to go on forever. And then people are going to need the web designers and the graphic designers and the wedding photographers of this world. And it’s better if they can get stuck in during what’s you know, a quiet period, which might be very productive for a lot of people to come back, always ready to kind of to resume normal service.
So the idea is instead of doing like full cancellations on projects, try to just work out you know, smaller payments, or maybe postpone plans of action, things like that. Because I know we have we’re wrapping up a big ecommerce project right now. And my client was gonna do a big event this weekend. Well, obviously that ain’t happening here in the States everything is on lockdown so especially here in Ohio right now. So we’re essentially you know, we’re just about done with everything so that might be an approach we take to because she may not make revenue for the next however a little while although it is an online shop so she could probably lot still do a lot of online things but as far as like going to trade shows and those kinds of things that we’re playing Yeah, we might work out kind of a postpone agreement, which is a great idea instead of just saying hey, I need to cancel this project or cancel my maintenance plan or something like that.
Exactly. Exactly. So be proactive about about reaching out and you know, it’s it’s not like we can all not think and not talk about what’s going on at all times. You know, it’s kind of so at the front of people’s minds that it seems kind of crazy that you wouldn’t reach out and I’m not talking about those people those ridiculous emails you get were like i Who did I have the our GoDaddy like told me that all about their kids. Coronavirus containment planning office I was like, whatever, cares? What Thanks, guys. But it was more about, it’s more about how you know what’s going on might affect your personal relationship with them.
I like that idea too. And I think you mentioned this a little bit ago with being the first to reach out be the leader. And I know there is some fear and apprehension because it’s like, well, like we have over 70 people on our maintenance plan. And it’s like, well, if I reached out to everyone, you know, like, part of me is like, do you want to be that first one that initiates fear? And they’re like, Oh, crap, do I even need my maintenance plan through this period? But I think your point is so valid and saying that, you know, what, if you’re the first one to say, hey, you know, here’s what we can do for you. Do you guys need help? Do we need to put notices up? Is there anything we could do on your site to help during this period.
That will Bode so much well for you, and I encourage every website designer who has a maintenance plan, or is managing a lot of client sites? To do that, be proactive? Even if I wouldn’t be too worried about planting that seed of doubt. I don’t know how you feel about that. But it’s better to be the one who reaches out than to just not say anything. And then I feel like that’s probably more of a situation where that can lead to a cancellation.
I don’t think I can give you two concrete examples of this in action. So my amazing cleaning, the cleaning firm who comes and cleans our house, the owner, Claire said to me, I’m seeing a lot of cancellations. Melissa, how do you feel about us carrying on coming to your house to do the cleaning? And I said, I can’t feel 100% Great about it, if you want us to be out of the house when you do that. And she said, Well, you know, if if money gets tight, obviously, let us know which I thought was so kind. So when I sat down with my husband yesterday, we went through our kind of cash flow, because he’s he owns restaurants, which obviously are closed, and it’s a concern to us. I sit here we both said, Look, we have to prioritize Claire, she’s another small business. So she’s heard that expense days. And that’s because she was so proactive. Instead of me just texting her and saying, Oh, don’t come in next week, I thought I must make sure. Claire stays as you know.
And then so the other thing, I then went to my membership, and I’ve got 350 members, and if lots and lots of them start canceling it could be, yeah, it could be disaster, really, because you know, I’ve got less client inquiries coming in. And I said to them, Listen, guys, I’m going to do my best I’m gonna give you, I’m going to focus all my attention on creating great content to help you at this difficult time. But I’m going to make sure that every one of those 29 pounds every month delivers, you know, 10 times that in value. And I really appreciate it that’s from one school business to another. But also, don’t be afraid to reach out if you’re struggling, and we’ll see what we can do. And I was inundated with messages of saying thank you, we’re going to stick with you, we’ve decided it’s an expense, it’s really important to keep on so we can, in this quiet time, we can keep marketing and it was really, really touching. So just honesty and genuine. Tackling the situation in a really honest manner from one human to another is the best approach
that is so great. And what you just said that you hit the nail on the head right there being genuine and honest and helpful during this period. Because it’s not like you’re trying to squeeze out a quick sale by offering you know, a discount on products just to make more money, you know, or, you know, kind of seize the opportunity. Because I hate to say there’s an opportunity during this time. But the fact is there is in a lot of digital markets, more people are online than ever right now. So not necessarily from a selling a product or a service per se, but you can just get in front of more people and really build your brand and build trust and transparency right now, which is huge. And I think you’re a prime example of utilizing this opportunity for good not for selfish gain. I mean, yeah, you have bills to pay in, you have a family, but you’re also helping a lot of people, which I think is huge. I’m very inspired by that.
You know, you have to give generously a time like this. But um, oh, there was something else was gonna say that you remember in a second? Yeah. So it’s really important. Oh, I know. It was. Yeah. So look, we’re all small businesses, well, mostly solopreneurs I’ve got a small team of freelancers who helped me but you know, essentially, it’s just me driving the company forward. And it’s okay, because this is a these are extraordinary times. So normally you wouldn’t go Oh, please don’t cancel this project because I need the money. But there’s a way of saying listen, I understand fully understand you’re needing to scale back but I hope you understand I’m a small business and you know, I’m self employed so there isn’t a lot of support from coming from the government. How would you feel about scaling this back and break it down into kind of a much smaller monthly payment? It’s okay to talk about this stuff right now because this is literally all we’re talking about and thinking about so the normal rules of looking at desperate you know, do not apply it’s just be honest.
And what’s amazing about this is it’s so soon like I like I said we were talking before we went live I think here in Ohio we’re probably about a week ahead of where you guys are at sounds like with the amount of containment and thing like things like that. But it’s still so brand new to us this time last week was like last Friday, we’re recording this on a Friday. Last Friday was when it just started getting a little more real and then it was like overnight things were just shut down and and everyone’s in a panic. People are, you know, mass buying stuff and just crazy stuff.
From the business world, though I feel like, you know, most people seem to have a level head, at least people on my my business networking group and you know, some businesses are more effective than others. But it seems like most everyone has a level head. But the idea of being proactive, and in this first point, retaining good communication, that is just it’s so key, it’s so key through these times to stay calm, your family needs you to become your business needs you to become your clients needs you to become be that leader, right? It sounds like you’re really about, you know, being the one who is staying in lead and grounded through this time.
And I also said, particularly to my photographers, who were saying with all these postponements, you could say just the same with any business without with projects. So people are postponing projects, and they would do to pay deposit. So I wouldn’t normally ask this, but given the circumstances and the fact that I’m self employed, I would love it if we could, if I could take your original deposit when it’s when it was first originally due. So you know, people are amenable, they might be in a in a in a profession, which is not at all effective. They’ll say, you know, I’d love to do that to help you. So it’s okay to just be a bit more honest than we normally would in a business negotiate.
Thats a great point. And that point right there. I mean, a lot of businesses are doing just fine. It’s very easy to think because as freelancers like you said, we’re all we’re in a little bit of a vulnerable position, we’re not as vulnerable as your husband with restaurants, because there’s no choice, they’re closed. Now they can do carry out and delivery. And I actually know there was a restaurant locally, I said, we supported here a couple days ago, they typically they’re like a just a small little sandwich type place. They were super busy, because they were doing nonstop delivery orders and carry outs. And then I actually just had a meeting with my networking group virtually this morning. And we have a construction contractor. And they are super busy right now with a lot of the things going on here locally still.
So yeah, there are businesses that are not hurting some industries are but some aren’t. So there’s no reason not to continue that kind of work with businesses that are flourishing through this time. And you shouldn’t feel bad about that either. I feel like that’s something where like, you can almost feel bad when we have some businesses that are struggling, and some are doing well. But I would say if you’re in that position where you’re doing well utilize this time to make a difference. Give more figure out where you know, where you’re being called, to help out and like you said, think about the businesses and services you utilize. And if it’s a small business who you think might need that help. Don’t be so quick to maybe cancel a service if you’re doing all right. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So retain service, retain that good client communication. I think that’s key. That’s awesome. So that’s point number one.
Don’t be shy of renegotiating financial arrangements.
Great. Great Call. Yeah. Now, number two, reorganize personal business cash flow. I’m really curious about this one, because this is a great topic. It’s like, you know, for those new in the business, the term of cash flow can sound a little bit corporate or foreign. But you know, the idea of like, what’s coming in what’s going out both business and personal. This is huge. Yeah. What does that look like to you? What would you recommend people do? As far as cash flow goes?
Well, I simply so you can sit down with your business bank account and your personal bank account and go down and look at your kind of biggest expenses and see if there’s anything that you’re not using. So I identified four or five subscriptions, which I don’t use. So you know, that was fine for me yet. There was time. Time for those to go. One of them I’d completely forgotten about, which is more embarrassing. And the things that things like I have, I’m transitioning from Dropbox to Google Drive, I went into my Dropbox account had a five license pack, which I need one, so that kind of took away three quarters that cost, it’s not a ton of money every month, it’s maybe $50 a month, but I needed, you know, why wouldn’t I do it? So it for me, it was a good catalyst to go and clean house and get rid of anything.
So that’s the first one, I then went to two of my biggest suppliers. One of them was my hosting company. And the other one is my backup company. And I asked if they had any discounts they could pass on right now. And I would in turn pass those on to my audience. And they both responded really well to that, and I got some savings there. Um, many of you might know about the Adobe two month pause, if you go through cancel process, I feel bad for sharing that one. But there’s a few things floating around there.
For real quick for those who don’t know, so like Adobe Creative Cloud with Photoshop and Illustrator and everything. Yeah, there. So do you have to cancel it to get a couple months free? Or what does that how does that work?
I don’t know whether this is related to what’s going on at the moment, but you go through the council process, and it says, and it says there’ll be an early cancellation fee, which isn’t true. And then you go through about three more screens, you have to hold your nerve. And well they say finally finally you finally definitely sure they they then they say How about two months free and you go Thank you.
Okay, well, I really hope nobody from Creative Cloud hears this. I don’t think they Well, so we should be good if the show is not that popular yet, so, but a lot of web designers might be able to take advantage of that, if they’re in crunch time, particularly those who are just starting out. Now, do you know, do they have an entry? Like? Do they have a free entry, an extended free entry period? Or like a longer free trial? Or something? I don’t know, they might well do is curious. I would imagine they were they’re gonna offer that I imagine they want to try to get people locked in. So So that’s great. Yeah, yeah. But I didn’t mean to cut you off there, though. Feel free to talk about cash flow stuff, because that’s very.
Eliminate anything you’re not using. The second part was renegotiate existing larger expenses, because you know, it’s kind of chopping down a couple of bigger ones, even a slight reduction, your biggest costs can make quite a difference. And then this is more on the I don’t, it’s things are different, depending on where you’re on the world. But in the UK, for example, it’s just been announced that anybody with a business premises is going to pay no business rates, like premises taxes for the next year. So which led me to thinking actually, each day, there’s a new announcement about different packages, and I can see what’s happening to US. And it’s, we’re waiting for our chancellor to come and talk to us at 5pm.
But there’s new things being like you can defer your tax payments. So I’ve deferred my corporation tax, my business tax pain, which is due at the end of this month, I’ve deferred that for three months, I’m not going to spend the money, but if I need it, at least I know it’s sitting there in my business bank account. So we’ve got a buffer to draw on. So anything, any government related expense, they’re not gonna chase you right now. So you could you can say that for your so I know, I know, in the UK, mortgage companies and banks have organized have said, you can take payment holidays for your mortgage.
So it’s really just connecting with your biggest personal and business expenses and seeing what they’re letting you get away with. So I haven’t done it yet. But we’ve earmarked when we sat down and went through our banking yesterday at home, we’ve earmarked things that we might stop being a direct standing order payment, like it would be our council tax, which is like our local tax we pay to our local county, for rubbish collection, all that kind of stuff, they’re not going to chase you either. They’re too busy trying to organize any government. So big government expenses, government payments, big company payments, you know, the next tier down would be is going to be utilities. I know one of my one a couple of people had phoned up their mobile phone company and said, This is too expensive, I’m going to leave there, that’s fine have 20% off. So big companies are happy to they just want to hang on to you. So don’t be afraid to ask for discounts or breaks in payment at this time.
That’s great. And that’s all personal but business too, right? I mean, you could have that same whether it’s business or personal. That’s all intermingle, particularly those of us who work from home, business and personal was very merged together in a lot of different ways. Whether it’s cable or phone, internet, stuff like that.
I just literally went through both bank accounts, I looked at my what I’ve been spending on for the last two months, I’ve told the children to stop ordering movies on Amazon. we’ve knocked nasty Amazon habit right on the head. But I also same as some business expenses as well. Things that I subscriptions I was I just haven’t been using.
Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. That’s great. So big, big picture stuff. First, anything government related can definitely, like I said, depending on where you are, a lot of a lot of states and counties are issuing like the the grace period, if you’re going to delay paying mortgage or things like that, that’s huge. And then the second tier, the utilities asked for those discounts. Like you just said, just see what can be done. It doesn’t hurt, particularly at this point, I would imagine, like you said, companies do want to hang on to you,
Oh, don’t be afraid to ask your landlord. So we have a small apartment in a different town. And our base rate was slashed to naught point one I know the US it’s now not. So we passed on the full saving of that mortgage reduction straight to the tenant. And we practically wrote to them and said, This is what we’re going to do for you. So they didn’t have to ask us but you know, if you’re a renter, definitely, definitely ask because they get because owners are seeing, you know, Tracker mortgages rates falling. So, yeah, pass that on. And I know in the UK, there’s they’ve made it, that it’s coming into law that it’s going to be illegal to evict anyone during this emergency period.
I’d heard that too. I think I just heard that recently.
Another one, he might just say I’m gonna have to take a three month break.
It’s interesting in this time, you actually see a lot of goodnesses of humanity come out, right? Isn’t it fascinating how, you know, times of crisis, I’ve seen actually probably more good things and bad things like aside from people stocking up on toilet paper and a ridiculous amount or there’s there’s stories of people out there like selling TV or hand sanitizer for you know, ridiculous amount, which is just appalling. Like, more often than not, there’s a lot more good things that I’m seeing, which is pretty amazing. Facebook has actually been the most pleasant type of social media experience I’ve ever seen here recently.
I wonder if I’m sure there’s some listeners in a similar position I’ve just quickly thrown together at using a standard one of the included Divi layouts to do a community website, which we’re using to coordinate looking after people in isolation so great to have skills, you can share it.
Yeah, and certain industries are going to be more apt to do that kind of thing. It’s one thing I’m telling my clients is if you have any sort of social media presence or videos or anything blog posts or anything on your website, produce your content. If you have extra time, right now produce content, maybe it doesn’t lead to sales, right? This you know, right away. But like I mentioned earlier, it builds that trust, it builds that continuity, and you keep in front of people’s mind, which is huge. And once we come out of this thing, that’s when things are really gonna blow up.
Yeah, that’s exactly why and it’s..
Okay, so great. Number one retain, that was awesome. We just covered reorganize things personal and business for cash flow. Let’s dive into number three, I’m really excited to hear more about this one, which is to replace existing income with creative offers. So what ideas you have for that from Melissa, cuz that sounds like a really great plan for every industry right now?
Well, when I spoke about this on the webinar the other day, it was it was very much aimed at photographers. But I then sat down and had a really good thing about our industry, mostly because I’ve had an lots of inquiries from people saying, Hey, I’ve decided to take my business online. Now is the time I’m going to launch this course, can you help me build a course website. So obviously, you know, there isn’t. If you have the skills, there is an opportunity in this industry.
But it’s a really, so I’m going to talk about new offers that you could put out there. And this is what I’m going to do, because just because I’ve been approached by a lot of people, but I don’t want to charge very much money. So people are coming to me and saying, I’ve got a little bit of money. And I think I have to kind of invest in this now. Because what if the mostly the photography market doesn’t recover for a long time, this could go on this not, you know, social distancing, we’ve gone for a very long time periodically.
So there are some photographers quite rightly thinking through their worst case scenario. So I’m scrambling to put together a kind of a mini theme, with all ready for them to buy and just do a small subscription amount to do to get them up and running. And I’m doing a free webinar on it next week. And I’m just going to bundle it with a load of free training. So they feel like they’re giving me something that I’m asking for very much. But it’s relationship building. And it’s been, it’s been being as helpful as I can at this time.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, be creative. It’s taking something new. It’s interesting. I mentioned my networking group earlier, we met digitally. And one of the members is a fellow photographer, and she was talking about the same thing, the uncertainty, and it’s like all the shoots he had planned are not going to do. And she was talking about some photographers are doing like hazmat suit shoots. So they’re doing like family photos, and like, they bring hazmat suits and stuff. So that may be a little extreme. But there is I mean, there’s a lot of opportunity, though, you’re totally right. People are getting their stuff online more than ever.
Yeah. So you might reach out to your client base, for example, my my husband’s restaurants, the three managers found up yesterday and went quickly, we need voucher sales on the website, because they’re getting people can’t get for dinner. So they’re buying each other vouchers, there’s a promise that they’re going to go out for dinner when, when they’re allowed to again. So you might put together a package of services like that, which you have to market that carefully, because you don’t want it to be opportunistic.
But what I would do is probably do a mail out to my list saying something like, Well, I’m going to do it next week anyway, saying, say, you know, offering to go back that they might, most people are having a kind of time of now looking at their marketing and thinking Well, now’s the time, I can really sharpen things up. So you might like to offer some services around that around, you know, email funnel integration, kind of backend marketing tools, you might be mentioning, if you have got kind of client facing customer facing businesses, you feel clients, you’ve got restaurants or stores, they might be wanting vouchers. So there’s a way of phrasing that without, you know, without looking predatory.
Yeah, and it can it can come across really slimy if you’re trying to sell something right now. But again, there is an opportunity where there’s more eyes on the majority of industries online right now. And to your point, like, same thing for me, I had a huge influx last week of people asking about my courses, because I have a suite of growing web design courses now. So as a course creator, I’m actually busier than ever right now, which is amazing. But for me, though, yeah. And same for you like what I realized, though, and I think where we kind of share a kinship and this is, there was an opportunity there.
But I didn’t want to seize it in a way that is, again, just slimy or like selfish. What I decided to do was the fact that I had all these people reaching out, I was very well aware that a lot of these people probably either can’t work right now, or their work has changed dramatically, or they’re in an industry where they realize it’s vulnerable, and they want to do something online. So what I decided to do was to cut my courses off by 25%. So I’m offering a 25% offer, but I didn’t want to just stop there because I felt like if I just said my courses are 25% off, then it’s gonna seem like I’m just trying to, you know, get as many sales as possible during this crisis. But what I decided to do is right now through the month of March 2020 Is I’m offering a discount for people who want to invest in their, their their courses, my courses right now, but I’m giving an additional 25% to a local nonprofit who is helping families in need here in Columbus. that way, because I really felt like for me to be able to be in a position where things are actually booming, like that is amazing. And that that, like, I’m humbled to be in that position.
But I want to steward that well, and I don’t want to, like I have a family to provide for us, I’m going to make sure you know, we’re we’re provided for but, you know, in an opportunity like this, I want to use it wisely. So that that was kind of what I’ve done to, to try to, you know, give a discount to people who are interested, but then also to be able to give back especially to the community here in Columbus, which a lot of people just like everywhere else in the world. A lot of people are rock right now. And they need some help. So just an idea. I mean, a lot of businesses can apply that to like, maybe there’s a ton of different ways you if there’s a nonprofit or an organization you’re passionate about, maybe if you’re doing well, yeah, give a portion to them through this time period or something.
Yeah, exactly. And what I’ve given my membership, which is normally which is normally 29 pounds a month, I’m just giving free for this month, first month free people can get in if they need to learn how to build a website, they can go through the build your own website course and just, you know, quickly get up a site at very low cost to help them move on to the next stage of their business. And I have also done is make sure I email them say your renewal is coming up and make it easy for them to cancel.
That’s great. That’s great. Now what about like the average web designer? Who’s doing maintenance plans and stuff like that? What would you suggest? Like would you suggest maybe, maybe not necessarily discounted rates? But do you think there’s any opportunity for web designers to continue to create new offers for existing clients? Whether it’s additions or you know, things like that?
Very much, so. But I think you have to read the room, and you have to know your audience really, really well. So I’m a big advocate of I would at 100%, do some informal research. So I’ve just emailed existing clients, two or three really good ones and say, Listen, I just wanted to drop your quick line, or can I get on the phone with you and ask, see how your business is holding up. And at this time, what’s on your priority? What’s here, because they’re going to be reassessed to everyone, no matter what their businesses are going to be assessing? You know, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. So now is the time to get a couple of people you’ve got a great relationship with and say, Can I pick your brain for a few minutes? I want to make sure I’m supporting my client community as best I can. What do you need right now? You know, where are you at with your business? What could help you get a bit more time on your hands? What could what would help you get? You know, watch what tools you need? What thing do you need? And just do the research?
Yeah, that’s great. That’s a really good idea. And that’s what’s tricky in this situation is, it can be a cause fear can paralyze you. And when you’re uncertain, sometimes you can just find yourself to sit in the corner. But again, going back to the idea of being proactive, and not not You’re not seizing the opportunity in a selfish way, but and a win win win type of way. Like can you you know, win in this situation, can your clients win? But then what about the people around you who are struggling? Can you help them in some way? I think that’s just crucial.
Well, I, I did a poll in mind, I’ve got a big Facebook group, it’s got about seven or 8000 people in it. So it’s always a good temperature taker for me. So I did a poll saying what do you need right now. And it was things and I put the first couple of suggestions, launch an online course do this, I had about four things, then people start adding things, but the clear winner was take my business online. So I’m doing a free training next week. And you know, and I’m going to then have this course website, very, very simple child theme in a box, one, click install, you know, it’s free to get going with it. And I’m going to do it for very low cost, just a low cost subscription.
That’s awesome. That’s great.
And you know, obviously, for the low cost, I’m going to do that for people I’m, it’s really just to cover my time answering, they’ll, they’ll inevitably lots of questions. You have to have some level of income in your business at this time, but it’s going to allow me to road test new product, and then in the future, when things come down, I’ll be able to sell it for what it’s really worth. But
and that’s a good point too, just for all industries, you could you could put yourself in a position right now that is actually really vulnerable in the long run if you like, if you do too many things for free, or you get too many subscripts and type stuff that you know, could potentially put you in a dangerous position later, once things level out. So that’s a good point. Like, you know, basically, I would say what give as much as you can and offer as much help as you can, as long as you’re meeting the you know, the the lower the lower type stuff that you need to meet as far as income and things like that for your family and for your business for the long run for longevity standpoint.
Yeah, exactly. So give away as much as you can afford to do and charge as little as you can. If it’s an opportunistic often but it’s relationship building.
That is a much more eloquent way to say what I just tried to say so that’s what Matt thanks for making that sound.
They are gonna use this time to spend but literally just ask them.
Yeah, awesome. Okay. So retain reorganize replace existing income offers. Let’s talk about the last one, which is what has led to you and I being so busy, right Now, which is people refreshing? reteaching and re skilling, it’s bigger than ever online courses. And I’m so glad that up to this point, I’m in the position I am to give back to people, you know, from what I’ve learned. Yeah, what does that look like for you? I mean, what you could work on your business now that you’re not working in your business as much what a better time to work on your business. Right?
Yeah, unless you have a load of co workers who are under the age of 10. It’s not quite so easy. But I do in under reach out, I meant to say at the beginning with retain, before we talk about upscaling and all that fun stuff. It’s vital. And I know I don’t want to scare anyone, but I always find us as a web designer, sometimes you’re the keeper of a lot of knowledge that just they can’t get anywhere else. You know, when people call you, oh, my website’s down, what do I do, and you’re the only person who can fix it. Because you’re the only one who knew how it was built you you know what you’re doing even knows the password to your hosting details to how to operate your FTP system.
So I would buddy up with someone and swap all those details so that if some if something, God forbid, happens to you, and you’re just out of action for a week, but you know, I built our school’s website, and today, I don’t host it and the hosting company is, is down. So I’ve been able to go in, take a backup copy, deploy it onto my own server and make it right again. But that’s the kind of situation where no one else can really help. So if you think your clients might be vulnerable, if you were ill, then make sure your someone’s got all your passwords, someone knows how to log into your cPanel. And your hosting and can can help. So just buddy up with someone.
Yeah, that’s great. I actually, after we talked about this point, I wanted to kind of end off with talking about disaster planning for not only this crisis, but future. Yeah, so let’s, let’s definitely come back to that. Because that’s super, super important. But yeah, like as far as just refreshing and, and reteaching. Or retraining, like what what other things would you suggest businesses do at this point? I mean, you could work on processes. What a great actually my photographer who I mentioned earlier, my group, she was saying that this time actually, like has forced her to sit down and work on her business. He was like, in a weird way. It’s kind of freeing because I can’t do my shoots, I can actually work on my business. I can put all my invoicing stuff together and all the things I’ve been delaying I can actually do now.
Yeah, a lot of businesses if they’re smart could come out of this in a really strong position. Yeah, we in terms of reaching out, though, if if cashflow is a problem for you, don’t forget, you’ve got a very valuable skill. So maybe reach out look at skill swapping a website design with a photographer for personal branding, shoot that kind of stuff. Or if you’ve dreamed of starting a podcast, reach out, Tony knows how to do that, and do web designs and podcast is great skill swap, you know, you can build a site for a podcaster and a podcast who can teach you how they do what they do. So if there’s something that you’ve been dreaming of, but you need someone else to facilitate it, you might find you’ve got a willing and a skill swap partner at this time.
And you know, what I was just thinking with a lot of the people who are reaching out in my courses now saying they’re just wanting to get their business started during this period, what a great time to be able to build your portfolio by offering either free or very cheap kind of sites, like you could build your portfolio to three or five sites, through this period. Or even even if you just got three done. As long as it you know, you make sure you don’t do too much work for free, but you could at least build your portfolio and have made some really good relationships that could spawn into all sorts of business once we come out of this thing.
And there’s a way of like, obviously, I’m going to be putting out a little child theme for people who need to build a course quickly. And but, you know, effectively, I’m going to give it away for very little, but that’s going to help me troubleshoot it, you know, workouts to support videos, right? So swapping skills and giving away in creating products and doing things for free at this time, like all bets are off, it’s totally unknown times, you know, it’s so they’re not the normal rules where you worry about how things look or exactly what you say, perhaps don’t apply, and it’s quite freeing.
And I was gonna say, for us, we’re really we’re in the opposite position that a lot of other people are we’re busier than ever right now. So I was gonna ask you what you’re doing, but it sounds like you’ve just laid out what you’re doing. You’ve got plenty, you got a ton of things that you’re lining up and working on during this period. Probably sounds like you don’t have too much time extra right now maybe aside from being home in the evenings or something. Although you mentioned I think before we went live that you are doing a little social with some of your girlfriends, right? You’re doing like a virtual hangout and stuff like that. Yeah, we’ve
I’ve worked out a couple of things. I’ve worked out that we can invite people to meet us in the field next to where we love to play badminton. Because that’s like, so we try to come up with stuff that we can do as a family.
I feel like that’s so British too.
Yeah, and we can we’re gonna go for a socially distance picnic with some friends at the weekend.
Oh, that’s great. That’s good. Yeah, I was joking. I was joking with my wife because she is she is that she is an extroverted introvert. So she likes people and she’s very friendly and great conversationalist and stuff, but people wear her out. Like but when we get done with a party I’m pumped up but He’s like, I’m done, I need to do nothing tomorrow. So when all this stuff came to fruition, I was like, actually, they this is like your dream. This is like an introverts dream to have all their plans cancelled for a couple of weeks. So, but some people are very opposite. And we need, you know, the online connection and things like what you’re doing, which is crucial.
Yeah. And obviously, there’s loads of, it’s a great time to refresh. If you’ve always thought I need to learn Ajax or I’m going to learn how to really write CSS, there’s so people are giving away so much free online training at the moment. So, you know, I’m gonna get I’m gonna learn the ukulele. Awesome, just signed up for a free ukulele course.
Oh, that’s great. Yeah, but no, you’re right, that final point right there, refresh, you know, reach and rescale. That’s huge. So just to recap, before we wrap this up, retain your services, good communication upfront, be a leader with your clients, and I’m just kind of paraphrasing, I’m gonna link to your webinar, reorganize personal and business cash flow, look at what’s you know, the biggest things are coming in that you can potentially get discounts on or top off both business and personal. But also, you know, think about your local businesses, who can you keep going, you know, in your case, like your housekeeper and stuff, that’s huge. And I think a lot of web designers clients are going to be open to that if they know they’re supporting our families, they’re going to be open to keeping us and they’re doing well.
Number three was to replace existing income with different creative offers. Not you know, not, I’m gonna say I’m gonna call it slimy offers, but you know, just things that you can do to help your clients but help potentially your community as well. And then refresh rates and reskill? That’s huge. Before we wrap this up, Melissa, I did want to ask you just really quickly about like a disaster plan, because you’ve talked about that briefly. And it sounds like you had that in place before all this? What would you recommend for web designers? At least? What would be a disaster type plan? Would it be like multiple streams of income? Would it be a certain amount of savings that you’d have for what maybe this could be kind of like a final? I guess? Yeah, that’s that’s kind of the final thought I want to ask you is what would be a good disaster type plan for web designers?
Well, I’m always a bit of a worrier. So I’m, I’m very here’s a couple of things. This applies in a lot of circumstances I’m, I’m incredibly well insured with professional indemnity insurance, it’s very easy to, to make with the click of a mouse or literally click of a mouse to delete to delete something, delete someone site to, you know, delete all their SEO settings to add, you know, I’ve had a couple of close calls when I was starting out like 10 years ago, I think, Gosh, I really didn’t know what I was doing. And I wasn’t insured. When I first started out my first couple years now, I’m obviously a really responsible and very experienced web designer, so I’m not scared of making mistakes anymore. But I do like to know I’m fully insured, because so that’s one thing.
You know, in a situation like this a kind of force majeure type situation, it doesn’t really help you insurance companies don’t pay out for loss of earnings when when it’s this kind of act of God type scenario. So that’s more one foot. That’s good practice anyway. But yeah, diversifying. You know, I have I have had a long road of going from one to one done few client work, moving over the last seven years to not doing any client work, really, I finished my last client work, and started to say no, about six months ago, in hindsight, maybe not in plan. But I’ve, you know, I’ve really been moving that way. For a long time I seen sales.
You couldn’t do what you’re doing right now, though, if you had a bunch of client work to do right now. And I Same for me, like, luckily, I’ve scaled to this point where my lead designer is taking care of all the ongoing stuff with our clients. I’m still kind of the Creative Director and Head Honcho people still contacting me, but I pass it on pretty quickly. So I can focus on my courses. Yeah.
Yeah, me too. So I’m really thankful for that. But, you know, I would say that it’s important and you might think now is a great opportunity for me to pivot and start really focusing on because everybody I know every webinar says I’m gonna have a course or a theme sales or some kind of passive income, it does actually take a while to set it up, like the documentation, the ticket system, the just the sheer grind of keeping things updated. You know, you have to be committed to that. So it’s not something you can necessarily pull together super quickly. So if you’re thinking about diversifying, I’ll tell you the first time I went to a mastermind in Nashville that some very good friends of mine were running, and I had this course all laid out, I’ve met nearly recorded half it was my what isn’t now my build your website course.
And we were doing this kind of Shark Tank thing. And they were like, so tell me about all the validation you’ve done of your course was like the word that like, Have you tested it? How do you know what people want? What is your beta group say? I’m like, there was none. I haven’t asked anyone and they were like, Oh, really? What you just decided to still needed to have this thing from you, did you? I was like, Oh, no. I went home and did all the research. And inevitably, people wanted different things than I had planned. So don’t go into what I did first time and had to completely rebuild the course. I learned a really hard time So, but now is the time to reach out and ask people what they want. Because there’s a lot of
Yeah. This is so timely. You mentioned that because I want to I had an inquiry from a student who’s thinking about my bundle, which has all my courses. And she said, I looked at all your courses. And she’s like, every course is like exactly what I need it and she asked, Are you a mind reader? Like, how did you develop that? And I was like, honestly, I never did it. I didn’t do any sort of poll. All I did was think back to Josh seven or eight years ago, and I thought, What did I need? Like, what did I need when I really wanted to I needed a I needed, you know, Divi beginner’s course I needed a CSS course, I need an SEO course a design course, like I just kind of I’m building courses that I needed back then.
But to that point, like those are two good strategies, because you don’t want to just Yeah, you don’t want to just freestyle it and just try to put content together. It’s got to be intentional, you know, answering questions or problems or challenges or pain points that you had, but then also do some market research, see what is needed. And I have done that I have done. I put some questions out as far as like, what courses are people interested in? So yeah, that’s a great point. For anyone who’s want to diversify to device, diversify, excuse me, and make some other products or child themes. That’s a great point.
Well, now is the time to test a minimum viable product. So I’ve got a client who I was just recording a podcast with before I came on to yours, which was to she’s been wanting to do this, how to use your fancy DSLR camera as a parent for ages. So I said, No, no, no, we start now on Monday, you’re staying up pop up Facebook Challenge Group, you’re going to email your whole list and you’re going to do family photography challenge with your iPhone, you’re going to do five mini videos, you’re going to put them out every Monday for the next five weeks, because people got kids at home. And that will be your teaser videos for your first funnel to sell your course. And she was like, Oh my God, yes.
So this is a time I’m putting out a very, very bare bones child theme to just check everything works with if people want to have a course then it’s not going to be perfect, but it’s going to be a minimum viable product, but I can test it a low cost or for free with some people. So it’s a great, great, this is an opportunity to stop talking about something and do put that minimum viable product out. So it doesn’t have to be so as far as people, perfect if it serves their needs. Now on a time of crisis, they will be very happy to give you feedback on your
Yeah, yeah. So even as kind of a disaster relief or disaster planning, it’s almost like being proactive is better than, you know, just some of the other measures, we might take.
A free community website, package it up into a child theme and get it out to your local community and network. And then people can give you feedback on how easy it was to use. And you can use that as an opportunity to make some documentation which works for you know, in all scenarios, and you know, you might find that you this could take you by giving back and creating just a minimum, for your low cost product, you can actually do a lot of the hard work that normally you put off and you procrastinate because it seems boring.
Yeah. Or he’s don’t have the time for when you’re busy working in the business. Whereas now you got some time. So awesome, Melissa. Great. This is great, great, great talk. So just to recap, I’ll make sure I link to the webinar, a link to the resources you send over so everyone can check that out. But retain, reorganize, replace, refresh, love those four R’s. Melissa, thanks so much for coming on. I know your time is very valuable right now you got a lot going on. So thanks so much for taking some time to chat with me and my audience. And I know this is gonna help out a lot of web designers. And again, I just want to encourage everyone to take this information, and you can repackage it yourself, like, make this your own and then give it to your clients, you can really come out looking like an expert, you can still land projects and make money good money during this period, too. So there’s no harm in doing that. And then once things turn around, you’re gonna you know, we’ll just wait to the flood comes in. I feel like if you’re the proactive one during this period.
Yeah, um, there’s a link to when Josh sends you the links, there’s a link to an updated resources document with things like email swipe files, like how do you reach out to your client? What should you say like outlining the scenarios? And there’s a whole there’s in the blog post has a whole kind of transcript as well. So you can swipe anything I’ve said, swipe any of my copy, just go for it.
Awesome. Thanks so much, Melissa. Well, like I said, Well, I’ll have you and again, once we’re past this crisis, period, and we’ll talk maybe photography and child themes, but until then, thanks so much for coming on today.
Pleasure. Good luck, everyone. Take care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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