Does this scenario sound familiar? You start designing websites, you start getting web design clients, you realize you have a legitimate business but then at some point you realize…you had no game plan for this, your systems and processes are a mess and you’ve created a “Frankenstein business” that’s running you, not the other way around.
If so, you’re not alone. This is the exact thing that I went through as I became a professional web designer and business owner because I didn’t prepare or plan for it. The good news is that you can avoid this or break free from it by mapping out a successful plan for your business.
In this episode, web design and marketing agency owner, business coach and partner at BreakIntoWeb, Kelly Diekmann, shares her proven strategy for mapping out a successful business plan after working with many web designers who are serious about building a successful web design business.
P.S. Even if you’re already further along in your journey, it’s not too late to get things cleaned up, put a plan in place or even pivot your business to help make it profitable and sustainable!
In this episode:
04:30 – Greeting to Kelly
08:52 – #1 Make a plan
09:15 – Business plan evolution
10:36 – Doing it wrong
13:59 – Never too late
15:28 – Take it seriously
16:33 – Reverse engineer
19:22 – Digestible chunks
21:04 – What is the why
23:01 – Lifestyle goal
24:28 – Safe decisions
26:40 – #2 YOUR business
31:26 – Giving back
32:28 – Customer care
34:12 – Workflow automation
36:28 – #3 Financial Strategy
37:00 – Pay attention
38:37 – What is top selling
40:39 – Don’t sell yourself short
47:29 – Being a “connector”
48:33 – #4 Avoiding cold call
52:17 – Let people know
53:31 – Tell your secrets
54:53 – Try what works
55:00 – Cold call thoughts
59:58 – #5 Develop a process
1:05:43 – It’s mine
1:06:42 – Outline of plan
1:08:50 – Kelly’s five year plan
You can also view the full transcription of this episode below.
Connect with Kelly:
Featured links mentioned:
Episode presented by:
My proven 50-step guide to successfully planning, building and launching a website!
• Put an end to costly, scattered, unorganized web projects
• Learn the ins and outs of how to build & launch successful websites
• Save serious time on every website you build with my proven process
"This course is so practical … In each step of the course you learn some new treasure or how to improve something you are not doing well. I have practiced everything learned in the Web Design Process course, and I really feel more confident than before, my workflow is much better and I’m saving lot of time."
"This course is worth the investment. It does not matter if you are new to web design or have been doing it for sometime. There is something to learn. I have been building websites, and the problem I had was it took forever. I was always having to remember if I forgot something, or going back to make correction.This course provides detailed step by step directions, and flow process. The old saying is time is money. Which for me, means more potential revenue."
Hey, friends, welcome into the podcast. This is Episode 110. And I’d like to pose a scenario for you. See if this sounds familiar. Let’s say you start designing websites and you really enjoy it, you get good at design, and you get to know your tools. And before you know it, you end up designing sites for family and friends. And then you start getting some paying clients and then more and more web design clients. And then you realize that you have Holy crap, a legitimate business on your hand. And generally at the start, it’s really exciting and it goes well. And then all of a sudden, you’ll likely get to a point where you realize things are getting out of control, you had no game plan for this, your systems and your processes are a mess. And you’ve essentially created what I like to call a Frankenstein business that’s running you not the other way around. If that sounds familiar, and that is you, it’s okay, you are not alone. This is the exact same thing that I went through. Because when I became a professional web designer and a business owner, I didn’t plan for as many of you know, I did not prepare for it, I didn’t set out and say I’m gonna create a business plan and start a business, it just kind of happened. I just started doing it on the side, I had full intentions of being a web designer for an agency. And then I just ended up making enough doing freelance to take a full time.
So if that’s you, I do have good news for you. Because you can, you can do two things depending on where you are in your journey. If you are early on, you can avoid all this. And you can create a great plan to follow and a proven path to follow. But if you’re already a little further along in your journey, and things are spiraling out of control, you can always stop you can you can pivot and you can make the necessary adjustments you need to your business to have successful plan moving forward. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about in this episode.
In this one I’m bringing in Kelly Diekmann, who is a web design and marketing agency owner. She’s a business coach. And she’s also a partner in a online course case in business called Break Into Web with my good buddy, John Wooten. And she in this episode shares her proven path for mapping out a successful business plan. And she has a lot of experience in this being a coach and working with web designers all over the world who are serious about taking their freelance web design business to something serious. And I’m really excited to share this episode with you because I completely backup everything she talks about when it comes to having vision, mapping out your plan, really working on your systems and your processes and all the business aspects that are going to keep your business profitable and sustainable.
So I can’t wait for you to hear this. And it is interesting, because Kelly is a direct competitor me with with the Break Into Web and John, they essentially have a course that you know, echoes and mirrors a lot of what I teach. But I think it’s great to promote other folks who are doing what I’m doing. As you know, I’m all about competition or coopetition. And I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, there’s so much value in learning from what I’ve learned in this example with my business, but then also learning from somebody else with what they’ve learned in their business with web design. Because the way I do proposals and contracts is different than the way Kelly and John do would break into web. So I saw a sale that say I do encourage you to check out break into web after this. And to see if it’s a good fit for you as well if you’re ready to level up your web design journey, so I’m really excited for you again, even if you’re further along in your journey, it’s not too late, you can always map out your business moving forward.
And I do want to say before we dive in one of the key pieces to having a successful web design business that we talked about in this episode is your processes and your systems and web design in particular, if you feel like all of your website builds are just a complete mess. I want to help you with that. I have my web design process course that’s open right now that you can join. It’s my five phase 50 step checklist process from planning, building and launching a website successfully. So that would be a great resource that you could follow up with after this episode if you like it. So without further ado, here’s Kelly, we’re going to talk about mapping out a successful web design business plan. And again, whether you’re just starting out, thank goodness you hear this before you get too far along. And if you are farther along, it’s not too late. You can always implement this stuff. Let’s dive in.
Kelly, welcome on to the podcast. It’s great to have you on.
Thanks for having me, Josh. It’s a it’s exciting.
I feel like it’s been a long time coming because one of your business partners, my good buddy, my brother from another mother, John Wooten. You and him have a course together well, it’s it’s almost like a little mini university with Break Into Web. It’s funny because you guys are direct competition with me but I am a big proponent of this lovely word called Co Op petition. And just like The web design community, as you’ve experienced, were direct competition with each other, but we love helping each other out. And that’s so valuable because there’s such a need for web designers. And one thing that I love with fellow course creators is, there’s always a different style for everybody. So you can just go with the instructors who you resonate with. So I know you guys have been up to some really cool stuff with Break Into Web. Do you mind letting my audience know, first of all, where you’re based out of Kelly, and then what you do with break into web and with your own business?
Yeah, and I totally agree with you on the I haven’t heard that word before. But I like that. Say it again, co op petition, co op petition. And I love that. And we you know, we kind of teach it in the course too, because so many people are like, oh, there’s already so many web designers. It’s like, it doesn’t matter, we can all work together. And everyone has different audiences and whatever. So and like you said, there’s, there’s there’s a good match for anyone. And okay, I am in Colorado, by way of Nebraska. I’ve been out here for five years. And let’s see, yeah, john and i have have the course breaking the web. JOHN wooden is a amazingly talented web designer, way better than me. And he handles like, the technical side of the course. And then my piece is more of the business side and business planning and processes and project management, that kind of thing. And, and yeah, it’s it’s very specifically for aspiring freelancers, who are looking to get into web design, like like beginning stages. So we have kind of a specific target. And people, most people who find us end up going down like this giant rabbit hole of web design, overwhelm, and then they land on us. And, and yeah, I thought I should probably get that domain web design rabbit hole.com, because it seems like everyone goes down that path before they they find a mentor that they that they
That’s true. I’ve seen that over and over again. They’re like, I’m just so I just want somebody who makes it feel less daunting is what they’re looking for.
Yes, yes. Because there’s 1,000,001 ways to do every piece of it. And then I’ve had a freelance web design gig for almost 20 years that I’ve done out of my house while raising three daughters, and, and two dogs who are snoring in this room with me right now. And then I also have a business with my husband, because you know, that entrepreneur gig, the entrepreneur bug bites hard. And so we have a real estate business as well. So it’s, it’s a whole new fun, interesting opportunity there.
Well, anyone who has multiple businesses is generally pretty business savvy, and is entrepreneurial. And I love that. And that’s what we’re going to talk about in this one. I figured, like you mentioned, John is the expert designer, the trendy D like he’s he’s the design, technical guru, but you have a lot of strength in this area with finances and business planning and strategies. And I think that’s so worthwhile diving into, we really haven’t done too much of that on the podcast so far as far as, like planning and strategy. And that’s one reason I wanted to have you on a list to focus on that and see what’s worked for you. Because just like we talked about, there’s numerous ways to do something. So there’s no right or wrong way to write up a web design business plan and set your strategy. So I figured what we’ll do is you laid out some great talking points for us, that I figured we could go into, and we can help everybody see what works for them with where they are in their business, even if they’ve already got started. Because here’s the best news like in an ideal world, yeah, you would plan out your business before you get started. But I have found it’s more important just to do it. And then you can always plan and pivot and strategize once you get things going. Because there are people and I guess the first question for you, Kelly, have you seen people be paralyzed in the planning stage when they’re just like, they’re planning too much? And they don’t act?
Success Tip #1 – Developing a business plan
Oh, absolutely. And I think I’ve been there too. I think it’s part of the process. Right. But, but yeah, you know, there’s this this concept of, of progress over perfection. And, and yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s like having, you know, being a web designer and having a website, like, I’m always disappointed with my own website, you know, it’s, it’s something that’s just never done. You’re always working on it. And a business plan should honestly be the same way, especially for, you know, freelancers, where the business is, essentially, you, your business plan shouldn’t look like anyone else’s. You know, that the agency types, you know, there, there might be more of a kind of a template or a guide for business plan for that kind of business. But for freelancers, it’s truly like you know, they’re they’re all completely custom to your situation to your target to the industry. And there’s so many pieces and moving parts and it’ll be lifestyle,
Even lifestyle, right, like, do you want to take on certain things or do you not like, that’s one reason I love the freelance realm of web design, because you can really do whatever the heck you want. Like if you want to do SEO, awesome. If you don’t want to touch SEO, there’s plenty of people you can partner with. And there’s all these different areas of web design where you can hone in on your zone of genius and what you’re really good at. That’s what I like that what you’ve done with John is like, John has his areas. I mean, he can, you know, he’s obviously super savvy with business and stuff, too. But that’s like your thing. And that’s his thing. So it’s really, really cool. And it’s interesting, I didn’t realize you had your business for that long, when you started, just out of curiosity, when you started 20 years ago, or so, did you have a business plan? Or did you…
Oh God No.
Know how organized you were just to make it feel better
Major events in my life that have kind of forced me to figure out the business side. – Kelly
PS, I’ve done everything wrong, which is, which is what kind of initiated the course. And there’s been a few, like, major events in my life that have kind of, you know, that have made me be forced me to figure out the business side, which is why I kind of took that on as my area of expertise. But yeah, you know, one thing was, was, again, doing a business with kids from home, which is, I mean, it sounds easy. It’s really hard
It’s super hard.
But to getting I like got to a point where I was just drowning in work and drowning in babies. And I, you know, I call it my hobby gone out of control. I never, you know, you ask if I ever had a business plan? No. I never planned on doing this as a career. You know, I thought I’d be some like fancy exec somewhere, were in a power suit, which is just like my worst nightmare now, but that was kind of what I had in mind when I was like in college and stuff. And then it was just, you know, started as this like, side wasn’t even I did one project and an sts one on one class that was creating a website.
Was that like Dreamweaver?
Oh, God not even know, it was hard coded from scratch in tables. I’m a web design-asaur is what is what I like to say, cuz I’ve been through all of it. You know, it’s a it’s a pretty young industry in the grand scheme of things. But, but yeah, that’s, I mean, that’s how I got started. It was just kind of this hobby. It reminded me of scrapbooking. I used to, like make like physical scrapbooks. You know, before social media, we like printed them out and put them on, put them on paper.
But anyway, I just kind of latched on to this creative aspect of it. And but it was fun, just became this hobby. You know, people you know, people just hear Oh, you do that? Oh, well, here do this. And then it just very, very, very slow snowball effect of, you know, just word of mouth referrals. never took it seriously, honestly, until my husband and I decided to start a family and kind of this light bulb went off like, oh, oh, I should, yeah, I could do this one design thing, while raising kids, and that’ll, that’ll just be so easy. And and it’s not. But um, but yeah, there are a few points where, yeah, where I was drowning in work and drowning and babies. And I was like, I had to finally take that step back and be like, Okay, if I’m going to do this, I got to make some significant changes and stop winging everything, yeah. To actually, you know, make this a business that I can sustain. And so that was a significant moment. And then we moved out to Colorado five years ago, and my business had grown on word of mouth alone, which was great. I didn’t lose any of my Nebraska clients. But the referrals kind of slowed down a lot, because the new, you know, referrals wanted to work with someone local, which is understandable. And so that really slowed down. And for the first time, I had to, like, try to get business which I had never had to do before. And so those two, those two pieces, those two events, really led me down, you know, figuring out the business side. And again, I did all of it wrong. And you know, I never had a business plan until like five years ago.
That’s what’s so great is, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to plan things out. And to tweak, revamp and pivot your business. One of the points you have coming up is going to be about outreach, which I’m really excited to dive into, particularly since you did change your state. That’s very intimidating. I have some students right now who are just moved, and they’re like in a different location. They’re like, Wow, that’s a whole different ballgame now. So that’s all great. I think what you’re hitting on is kind of the first point which you had for us, which is having a business plan. And you do get to a point at some point where you’ve got to plan something, you have to at least have a vision and something to shape your business around. Otherwise it does just become this Frankenstein of a business that just runs you. And that is that is not uncommon. If it makes you feel any better. I’m sure you’ve seen this.
All we all do this, like I don’t know any successful web designer who went through a typical college type of path. It’s all just fumbling into it. So what is Yeah, like, so you kind of had this it’s similar to me. It was just kind of On the side, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. I didn’t really, this I didn’t come up with a business plan as much. I did a little bit I envision kind of what I wanted to do and where my price weren’t price points were. But there was a big mental shift with having something that was almost like a side hustle to making a full time and serious, what are your thoughts on that? Like how, what what some of your advice for somebody who is doing it part time or side hustle, but wants to take it serious and wants to, you know, make a plan to do it?
Right? Well, I mean, Break Into Web is a great option for you, but but, you know, to just again, making that mental shift, and just being aware of, of, Hey, this is a business, you know, treat it like a business, a lot of times the with with freelance web design, especially the freelance chunk starts out as a side gig and you know, it’s just this, you don’t really treat it like a business when it’s the side hustle, because you’ve got a billion other things going on. So if you want to switch into that focus, yeah, just sitting down, literally, and figuring out that, you know, call it a business plan. But I mean, it can mean anything, just putting down some like simple goals, or even your big ass goal, whatever, whatever that thing is that you want. So say it’s going full time freelance great. But that’s not something that you can, you know, put on your planner for tomorrow, go full time freelance. So from there, you have to kind of break it down into smaller goals. And keep doing that kind of reverse engineer style until you have like, action steps. I mean, that’s, that’s how I approach goal setting. I mean, I’ve I was an athlete all growing up. And you know, is the same way with that. It’s like, yeah, I want to be a national champion. Can’t do that tomorrow. You know, it’s just like, what are the steps we got to do?
That’s a good point. Yeah, in 2012, I ran a half marathon, which is the most running that I’ll be doing. And I remember, it was the same thing. It wasn’t like, Alright, I’m gonna go run 13 miles tomorrow, I was like, Okay, I can do two, and I’m about to die. So I should probably like curry Ito, like, get the plan in action. And we get to follow through. That’s the big thing as well. But yeah, yeah, follow that follow through. But it’s a very, it’s a very valuable point being that you do have to actually put Sit down. And it you don’t have to create like this advanced spreadsheet, I just told you, before we went live one of my web design members, she showed the whole group her in my web design club, the spreadsheet that she she listed out, which was very detailed and awesome. The beauty about that is that if you know your services, and you can calculate how much that’s gonna be and all that, that is the actual tactile thing that is going to help you know what to charge because that’s the big thing. Like, if you want to so if somebody like you just said wants to go full time freelance Well, all right. Yeah, exactly. What does that mean? Like, is that 50,000? a year is that 100,000? year? What? What do you what do you advise with that? I mean, I know there’s a ton of different ways this conversation could go, but do you find like a spreadsheet or just listing out, you know, what your project, your average project would be? And then how many of those you would need to get to your goal.
Right. I mean, a spreadsheet isn’t necessary. I mean, I love a spreadsheet as much as the next guy. But, you know, that’s not even necessary. It’s just, it’s again, it’s just kind of deconstructing it to something, like doable, because because let’s say the example is I want to I want to be $100,000 web designer a year. Great. And that might sound crazy. So it’s, it’s like, how do we break that up? So that would be like, what, 8500 a month? Okay, that might still sound crazy. So how do we break that up? You know, what, what’s a professional website starting price, especially, you know, like, our students are just starting out, you know, we say 2500 minimum for a professional website, you know, so if you’re in that 2500 to $3,000 range, and you’re trying to get 8500 a month, that turns into three websites a month, it’s suddenly it suddenly becomes more doable. And then that’s only including, you know, just new projects. And then you know, of course, there’s the recurring revenue, there’s multiple revenue, revenue streams and partnerships, and there’s just there’s so many other ways to get there. But yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s breaking it down into a digestible chunk. That’s a doable goal. So then the goal becomes, okay, I want to get to three websites a month. Let’s start with one, let’s start with getting one website a month done, and then work up to two and then work up to three. And you know, it’s just those bite size action steps. And instead of looking at this big, intimidating goal, it’s like, you know, just find the first nugget that you can do today.
That’s good. And for a plan. Do you plan out annually and then break off those different chunks? How because I’ve seen so many different versions of a quote unquote, business plan, right. A friend years ago who was just a corporate dude and he was like, so do you have your five year plan set out. And it took me off guard because I realized somebody in the academic corporate world has no idea how, particularly the web design freelance world works. There is no sense in writing out a five year plan in web design, we don’t even know what things are going to look like in five years. So yeah, what what are some of the best tactics that you’ve seen work when it comes to planning? Because I’m sure there’s a point where you can plan too far. But then also, you don’t want to be short sighted. Right?
Right. No, totally. For planning, you know, a lot of, you know, goal setting out there, like talks about like a 10 year plan, which I think is insane. I do like the five year plan a little bit better. But again, it’s not like specifics, as far as, you know, web design industry specific. It’s just like, Where do you want to be in five years, because it’s not necessarily, you know, you’re not going to be at the same level, and doing the exact same things you are doing now in five years, but it’s, where do you want to be, typically is something around, you know, family, or someone you love, or like something like, it’s that big is that why is what I’m getting at is, you got to have that purpose. And so that kind of becomes the 10 year goal. It’s not necessarily web design related, but it’s, it’s purpose driven. And it’s what pushes you forward when, you know, things fall apart, because they will. But then, as far as you know, I like I like quarterly to adjust goals, you know, again, broken down, so you take that big one, and they break it apart into like, annual, and then you break those apart. And it always evolves. Like, I don’t know, if I’ve ever had like, a year long goal that hasn’t evolved in some way, you know, what I mean? So it’s, it’s good to take a look, either monthly, or, or at least quarterly at what the what your current, you know, short and long term goals are and just adjust because it’s, it’s going to evolve. Like you said, web design is gonna look totally different in five years. So So it’s this ever evolving. industry. And and again, with the business plans, especially in freelance, it’s just you have to accept and roll with the evolution and the change, because it’s, it’s inevitable.
And you know, it’s interesting, my wife and I were just talking about this the other day, five years ago, I did not start this personal brand, I had no interest or I guess I had a desire, but I didn’t even think that I would be teaching in any sort of way. So five years ago, I was strictly a web designer who was about start scaling a business. And that’s how quick things can turn. Like last year, I sold my web design agency, and now I’m a full time course creator and community builder. Like, I am in a completely different place than I was five years ago, had I set out a five year plan. And not that I wouldn’t be doing this, but it may have felt like I turned on myself. Or maybe I had all these grandiose plans that maybe would have taken me like maybe I wouldn’t have started doing this, the tutorials and podcasts and stuff that I do, had I had this set out plan. So yeah, I think there’s a there’s definitely I think it was a wise point that you said to have maybe the lifestyle type of goal, like what do I want my days to look like, right? Or family? versus, you know, here’s exactly what I want to do or how much I want to break because that can change.
What I like to say is, you know, the focus on the why, and not the how, because and I know it’s so hard because people want to how do you do this? How do you get clients? How do you price? and it’s, you know, that stuff will all fill in once once you have that really strong why and that you know what you’re driving toward it, you know, and obviously you need to know your who you know, who you’re serving what you’re offering. I think for freelancers, the the when and the where it is really important to address in a business plan as well because those are it’s kind of a double edged sword I can work whenever and wherever I want.
But you need structure. But but focusing on that why and the business plan is is honestly the most important piece and and that’s usually the you know, like I said that that 510 year goal whatever I mean, you don’t have to call it a business goal necessarily but yes that lifestyle that where you see yours or not where you see yourself even but where you want to see yourself what you’re striving for that that and then the you know the how kind of is filled in along the way.
That kind of sparks a question that I had for you because you just said it there’s where like you think you’ll be and where you want to be which are very different things.
Do you find that people limit themselves when planning?
My gosh, yes, all the time. Especially you know, working with with students just starting out any other they’re obviously a lot a lot younger than you know, they’re me 15 20 years ago. Oh, yeah I don’t know. But anyway, it’s it’s it’s Yes, that there is kind of a I don’t know, I guess I guess web design is just it’s it’s hard to start into because of all of the unknowns and a lot of these people are coming from full time jobs and safe situations. I grew up in, in a house of entrepreneurs. And so I don’t think that way, you know, I’ve never thought, Oh, this isn’t a safe decision, I just kind of go for it. And like, I’ll figure it out later. And I realize, you know, especially after starting this course, I realized how opposite my mindset is from students.
So yes, that that’s very rare. To have a entrepreneur, like I had nobody in my family that still they have no idea what I do. Like I have had people say, That’s, wow, that’s risky or that’s crazy. I just like, I mean, I’ve kind of at this point in my career, it’s kind of wild, because now people are like, Oh, my gosh, what do you do? How do you do that? But it was just five or six years ago, where people were like, are you sure you don’t want to go to college and get a full time job? Like you’re about to get married? Are you sure? Like, it was a very different mindset shift? Yeah, a lot of people.
Yeah, yeah, totally. It’s, but yeah, I see that a lot. People, you know, that have have something in their mind of where they think they’ll end up. But it’s like, but what do you want? You know, and it’s just, it’s just kind of peeling away layers of figuring out, because it’s more, you know, it’s more than just web design. I mean, John and I are in the business of changing lives, you know, we’re not trying to just help you build a little business. We’re trying to help you, like, get the lifestyle that, that you’re dreaming about, that you didn’t just that you had, or that you had a chance of getting or that you even deserve. You know, there’s there’s a lot of mindset struggles out there. And, and yeah, it’s it’s hard to, you know, that’s hard to crack.
Success Tip #2 – Make time to work on your OWN business
Well, but the good thing is, yeah, and having a plan is the first step because absolutely, you have all these grandiose dreams and the mindset shifts. But if you don’t actually write it out and have a good idea of what you’re going to do to get to that, that that’s the key. And I struggle with that for years, I went way too many years, just kind of doing stuff. And then thinking like, why aren’t I getting ahead? Why aren’t I making more? Well, I didn’t wasn’t charging enough. I didn’t like, right, there was no way I could make what I wanted to make charging what I was. So that’s definitely the first step. And yeah, you get to that point where, like, you guys are perfect example, you’re, you’re a mom, you’re a mompreneur, and I’m a dadpreneuer, and John, John just texted me cuz we have a call coming up here pretty soon. He just let me know that he’s touring for two weeks, and he couldn’t do our original call. So like, you absolutely can build the lifestyle you want in and around web design. But it does start with a plan. So that’s great. There’s some great stuff in there with mentally, you know, having that mindset shift. What do you want? Not necessarily, where do you think you’ll be? We talked about the length of planning and how to plan maybe annually versus quarterly, more of a lifestyle approach. Let’s talk about the business itself, because this is the other really important thing that I had a lot of struggles with, and a lot of other web designers struggle with. And that is they’re constantly working in the business, like doing the projects, and they’re leaving their own business on the table. How it’s easier said than done, particularly in the early days, because you’re getting clients are doing the work. And I think that’s fine, I think it’s fine to, to work much less on your business in the early days just to build clients and to get more confident with your work and your pricing. But you do have to be intentional about this. What are some of your what some of your advice for working on the business versus just in the business?
Yeah. And, you know, like I talked about, you know, drowning in work at one point, and the last thing you want to do when you’re, you know, overworked is, oh, I’m gonna spend today working on you know, my website portfolio, it’s just, it’s, it’s, it’s hard, especially when once that work starts coming in, um, but yeah, what, what I like to suggest and what I like to do is setting aside, you know, one, one day a week, I’m sorry, I’m just getting used to these things.
I always end up adjusting them as well.
That can even mean you know, taking a look at that business plan again and resetting the goals. It can mean working on ways to differentiate yourself. – Kelly
I like to set aside one day a week, that’s for your own business. So instead of, you know, answering client emails, or working on client projects, that one day, usually Fridays for me, and it’s usually half a day. I just I work on my own business, whatever that may mean, um, you know, it doesn’t have to mean just updating my own portfolio obviously, don’t do that. I suck at social. I don’t even try to do that. Everyone’s different guys. If you are awesome at social Keep it up. But, but yeah, that can even mean that can even mean you know, taking a look at that business plan again and resetting the goals. It can mean working, working on ways, one of my favorite things to do. We’ll get to that in a sec, but working on ways to differentiate yourself. There are so many crappy web designers out there, that standing apart is you know, just a little bit of effort is gonna go a really long way. You know, what of my big secrets to success of a 20 year freelance career is customer service. And I’m not even talking about like, over the top customer service. I’m talking about calling people back, you know,
Yeah, for updates.
I mean, it’s crazy, like the I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve called someone back a prospect. And they’re like, You are the only one who called me back. So just simple things like getting back to people in a timely manner. Being being polite, writing a thank you note goes 100 miles, it’s crazy. Um, or one year for my vendors. I sent out like, just custom, like gift baskets for, for for like Christmas, and one of them reached out to me, he’s like, this is the greatest Christmas gift we’ve ever gotten. He’s like, No, wait, this is the only Christmas gift we ever got. Like Yeah, I spent like 40 bucks on like, a bucket of beer or something like it was no big deal. And and it was it just sent him over the moon. So just like little things. So you know, how can you make yourself stand out? How can you treat your favorite customers? Like, how can you give them that extra special special touch? You know, because ultimately, the goal is is cloning those awesome clients. And so how can you, you know, just stay engaged with them and take that one step further. Another thing I do on when I’m working on my own business is I like to give back. To me, that’s what it’s all about, like, the whole point of all of this is, you know, how can we help other people. And so I have a program on my site that’s websites for good cause where nonprofits, or I don’t even care if it’s nonprofit or not, but just a struggling organization that can, you know, that doesn’t have funds for a website, they can apply. And I’ve made the like, my favorite projects to work on are those. And so so I do spend some time working on those kinds of projects on my Fridays, because that’s, that’s, that’s what I want to do.
That’s your day. Yeah, well, some valuable points in that. I think one of the words that is sticking out to me so far is intentional. You have to intentional be intentional about planning your business in the early days, and you have to be intentional about working on your business. Because you can get to the point where if you don’t set some constraints and some boundaries, you will literally just do project work all day. And what you just said about customer service and customer care. It’s interesting. A lot of web designers I’ve talked to who have been doing this for years emphasize that. And what’s really interesting is a lot of professional and seasoned entrepreneurs and business owners emphasize customer care more than they do getting clients. And it’s funny how the narrative changes. The narrative in the beginning is how do I get clients? How do I get clients? How do I get clients? And look, I could do a podcast episode on how to get clients and I have and those are my top ranking, like most listened to episodes, and I do an episode on customer care, it’ll get half the listens, or maybe a third of the listens. But that’s more important like it is, it’s so much more important to do really good customer service. And like you said, get back to a lead, or send them a quick video or do something that differentiation. So yes, the simple stuff that goes such a long way and is being intentional to work on the business. I think that’s a great kind of plan to work towards the full day, you know, on the business day, I think it’s probably hard for a lot of folks just starting out. So I would even say, even if it’s just a few hours, or maybe just two hours a week, like it’s amazing what you can do if you just turn your email thing aside, yeah, yeah. And just think about because what you just said, with sending your clients cards or a gift or doing something special, you’re never gonna think of those ideas. If you’re just go go go keeping up with projects. So it is so important to do this. I love that.
And then on the on the other token, you can work on your business in these segments, too. I know. For a long time, I spent way too long on my proposals. And I did them all manually. I sent the contract separately, I sent the proposal, I sent the email, so everything was separate. It was taking way too long. When I finally nailed down my process, and I use 17 hats and I created this workflow where I set up the email templates, I would always customize certain aspects of it. But then suddenly, I would send off the proposal. They would accept it, they could sign the contract, and then they could pay and it was an automated system. My life changed overnight. I was like that six hours of setting all that up has just saved me hours a week, every week for the rest of my life. Like it is so worth it to do those things.
Yeah, yep. Like you said, that’s, that’s a great, a great thing to work on on in your own business time is setting up those processes and just finding what can i automate? What can I make more efficient? I have these little email templates that I set up in Gmail. I mean, it’s just like Just little, the littlest things like you said can go can just save you hours in the long run. And it’s just yeah, it’s so worth it. And you like keep putting it off and putting it off. And once you finally do it, it’s like, oh, my God, that only took an hour and my life is so much easier.
Success Tip #3 – Have a financial strategy
Yes, that’s, I was just gonna say, That’s exactly what I did, I literally put that off for months, I was like, I know, I need to do this, what’s gonna take a lot of time I’ll get to it, eventually, I’m just comfortable with how I’m doing. And comfort is an enemy in freelance. Because if you’re comfortable doing something, it’s likely that it’s not optimized, it’s likely that you’re taking way too long doing something, it was just like any little task that builds up over time, it wasn’t near as complicated as I thought it was going to be. And again, in about six hours, I think it was, you know, overnight. So that is really important. I love that I want to transition to another topic that’s maybe like a 2.0, or maybe a different phase of the business plan, which is financial strategy, which sounds like a scary corporate term. But it is really, really important that we think, look, to be honest, if I can break this idea down, from what I’ve experienced, it’s what services Am I offering? And how do people pay me? It’s as simple as that, like, how am I actually getting paid? Because sometimes we make it really difficult for clients to pay us. And depending on what services we have in place, sometimes they don’t even they don’t even know that we offer services. So yeah, financial strategy, what does that look like in the world of a freelancer?
Yeah, um, again, again, it’s just one of those things, like just have one. Just just write it down, like, you know, not only what your financial goals are, but, but kind of figuring out this would be a good spreadsheet thing, figuring out, you know, what kind of services you offer, and how much you know, I’d do this every year, and how much each one of those is making, and is there one that’s like a time suck that isn’t making much money at all, and, you know, boot that, and then focus more energy and resources into into the one that is making the most and is the most efficient? You know, just again, just just having a financial strategy and just paying attention to those kinds of things. It’s so easy, like, I remember having having the six figure goal for myself, which I think I finally hit, like, I don’t know, 2011, or whatever. But I didn’t even realize I hit it, because I wasn’t paying attention to my financials. And so it wasn’t until it was like tax time. And I’m looking at my reports, I’m like, Oh, my God I did it! So So yeah, just just being aware of your finances and where your money is coming from and in, you know, and being able to forecast like, Am I going to be able to hit, you know, this financial goal that I have? And can I can I bump up my recurring revenue to this amount so that I can hit this goal? You know, just again, just being aware and having it written down and tracking. Reports are your are your best friend? But yeah, I mean, I just mentioned recurring revenue. You know, if that’s, if that’s something that that anyone listening isn’t doing then hurry up and get on that.
Everybody is. Much every other episode, we’re talking about a maintenance plan or host night?
Yeah, I was. I was bingeing Josh Hall podcast this week. And and yes, I’ve definitely heard it
Um, but yeah, it’s, you know, it’s, and there’s so many ways to set it up and to, you know, we could we could have a whole episode on just pricing strategies.
But sure. I think one really valuable thing you said there was, again, going back back to intentional content, looking at your numbers, what is the top selling product? focus on that? Like, yeah, I just did this recently, with my stuff. I never really did that before. I’ll be honest. So well, I take that back. I did it in my web design business, because I realized I was making way more money with my websites. And I was still doing print work in graphic design and branding. And while those opened a lot of doors for me in the early days, I got to a point where they just were not worth it. I was spending hours on a business card while I had $1,000 websites or 1000s of dollars sitting there. Just no one was working on it. So I realized very quickly, then, okay, I’ve got to cut this loose. It’s been great. Thanks for getting me here. But what got me there is what got me here is not going to get me there. So I realized I had to nix that. And that’s when my numbers really changed. And then same thing for my business.
Now, I just looked at this recently, and I was like, Okay, I know some of the things I’m doing just are not worth my time. For me. It was like web design layouts, and Divi layouts, which lay somebody like John is really familiar with doing child themes. For me, I never did that much of it. I didn’t really market it. It just wasn’t worth the minor support that I was doing for it. So I basically kind of hid those on my site. And my focus is on my courses. And in fact what’s really interesting I did not know this until I looked at the numbers like you just said, I have a bundle which is all my courses combined. Probably basically what like what you guys have a break into web which is like all of it. That is by far like, over 50% of my income comes from that either people going for that directly or they upgrade to that. So it dawned on me, that’s what I need to start promoting, I really need to get that out there and make sure it’s known. So again, just goes back to the financial strategy, this can be applied to anyone’s business, just look at what is coming in and make sure you offer it to I’m astounded, and maybe this could segue us to, you know, how we promote ourselves and outreach. There, you’ve got to put it out there. And actually, maybe before we do that, I would love to hear your thoughts on upsells and down cells, because this is really, really important for web design.
Yeah, I mean, it’s one of those things that, you know, especially when, when web designers are just starting out, they’re like, here’s the website for 2500. And people like, Oh, that’s where they want to spend, it’s like, Okay, bye. No, there are, you know, have have something in your back pocket ready to go. And don’t ever sell yourself short, there’s, there’s like a fine line between discounting into until you’re dead or, or to just have have that down sell. Like, in my case, my down sell is a is like a one page website. And so if someone’s like, oh, and I love one page website, so like my favorite, they’re super fun, I can get them done in a day. It’s, it’s I like those. And so, you know, when someone doesn’t have a budget for, you know, a custom 10 page site, you know, I pull out the, the one page site, and it’s like, Hey, this is great, because it’s, it’s cheaper, and hey, we can add on to it whenever you’re ready to hit that higher price point. And a lot of people go for it. What I’m not doing is like, okay, you can’t you can’t spend $4,000. How about 3000? Like, don’t don’t discount yourself short? That’s a great point. Yeah. And a lot of people will will, you know, don’t get desperate. Yeah, you’re not doing anyone favors there.
It’s so interesting, because one of the most common conversations I’m having more and more right now, is the idea of like template based sites. And that was one thing I just had an episode more recently about the episode 103 talking about, should that be something you offer, my biggest push on that would be to have that as a down sale, where if somebody wants to really work with you, but they just don’t have that four or five grand, you don’t have to reduce your cost. But you could say we do have this other option, right? We don’t promote it, but I really want to work with you, at least we could do are your hosting and recurring stuff. And then once you get to a point where you can invest in the customer, we could do that. And that’s where having a template style solution is huge. I love that idea. What about upsells? Though, what about for those people who maybe, you know, maybe you don’t want to tell them about a $3,000 option, when you know, they have a really healthy budget their company? Because that’s what I experience. I yeah, when I I went into a company locally, when I at the time, I think the most I’d ever charged was like 3500. And this company I knew was legit. So it was a complicated website. I just I went for I did 7500 I thought, Oh, I made me nervous, which is good. I learned. Yeah, if you send something that makes you nervous, that’s actually a really good thing. And I remember sending it thinking they’re gonna be like, no way. And right away. They’re like, Oh, yeah, sounds cool. So yeah, what about that, but that, but that’s tricky, because a lot of people are going to be afraid to go for this shoot for the stars kind of thing. Do you have any ideas on, you know, the those projects that actually could be 2 3 4 times more than you normally would charge?
Right? And, and typically, you’ll have a pretty good idea if you’re dealing with a client who does have a healthy budget. And I will say, you know, sometimes it’s hard to justify, well, why should I charge them more when I’m providing the same thing? lots of reasons. There’s, there’s something called value based pricing, that that’s a whole nother ballgame. But, but you know, when you’re dealing with a company that does have a good budget, they’re selling stuff for a lot more, and you know, they have a lot more income, and so it’s worth more to them. Yeah, again, we could totally go into that. But anyway, if if the budget is available, and and a lot of times those clients are, you know, they’ll have like a bigger team or something or it just takes longer when there’s more people involved. Um, but yeah, it’s funny I have I have a similar story to what you were just saying, we had a student who we told her, you got to you got to double your prices, you just got to and so she said that she her finger hovered over the send button for like five minutes when she was reaching out to an existing client with a what they wanted to redesign and it was she was basically saying, okay, it’s gonna be twice as much. And she finally sent it, it was the same thing. It was it was okay, cool. When can you start? And so it’s, and
It’s, it’s amazing that we’re all our own worst enemies. in so many areas of business.
It’s so true. And there there was a time and John and i have had this discussion where, like, we got so busy that we like legit doubled our prices overnight, and people still went And it’s like, what do we do? What planet is this boy hits you?
Because I know for me, I was like, Oh my gosh, like, that’s awesome. But then I was like, I could have made I know, I know, double the amount that I have the past few years had I just done this, and I just listened to this podcast episode two years ago. So we’re doing everyone a favor, hopefully.
It’s so true. I mean, there’s kind of a balance there between your comfort level, you know, your skill set, and you know, the types of clients you’re taking on. And you have to be mindful of all that. But yeah, you know, I have no, I have no problem charging a bunch. And if you if you do send that, you know, if you do have that fear factor of, oh, man, they’re never gonna go for this. Try it anyway. And then have that downsell in your back pocket ready to go, Okay, well, let’s do a five page site for this amount. Or another downside like is, like a payment plan. Okay, you can’t pay 3500 bucks today, how about, you know, 500 over the next five months or so it’ll I don’t know, I can’t do simple math in my head. But, um, you know, something like that, that’s another good downsell. But for upsells, what, what I really like is, um, I mean, again, I typically work with the same types of clients. And so I’m not getting this giant clan out of nowhere that I’m charging five times as much for so I don’t have a lot of experience with with that, but, but how I like to upsell my clients is, is with with partnership type of stuff. And so my base product is this, you know, custom WordPress website. And then it’s, you know, once we have that going on, you know, do you need SEO Services, I got this guy over here, who’s amazing. And he sends me, you know, a kickback. But yeah, that only works if you have really, really, really, really awesome vendors that you super know, love and trust. Right, but because if you send them to bad people who are paying you, it’s gonna be a train wreck. But but that those kinds of things, or selling upsells, as far as you know, the product like, Hey, here’s an online bill pay system that we can set up for you. It’s, it’s this amount, and it’ll it’ll create efficiencies on your side. You know, just just add ons as far as the actual website itself, or partnership type things or digital ads? I mean, I have I have like con contractors that are all other freelancers that I have kind of partnered up and teamed up with? So So yeah, we, you know, if whatever comes up, I’m gonna have someone to send them to send them.
Yeah, that was awesome.
That’s very powerful to be a connector with them. Even if you’re not necessarily you know, profiting from that, even if you just refer them, there’s a lot of weight that that there’s a lot of, I was gonna say power and that definitely power. But it’s there’s just something that makes you look different in the eyes of a client, if you’re a connector, and you have really good people in your corner, because it does lead to upsells. Because people will likely come back three months later and be like, Hey, didn’t you know a guy who does something or I know a girl who does copywriting? And then what a perfect segue to get the conversation conversation started and get back to having, you know, having them engage. And then it’s a great time to upsell stuff. So yeah, I love that. I think that’s great. I think additionally to a financial strategy, just as important as like, I guess we’d call it a marketing strategy or outreach strategy. I think that’s worth diving into here as well. Because like you mentioned, you went into a different state, a little bit different ballgame when you’re kind of starting fresh there. So this obviously could be several episodes. Again, clients, which we’ve talked a little bit about…
How long we got?
Success Tip #4 – Avoiding the anxiety of cold outreach
Yeah so we did talk a lot of the podcast, but I do want to touch this because this is a part of the planning aspect. Like you have to know, where am I going to look for clients? Where Yeah, you got to figure out that so I think you’ve talked about something before that I’m really big on is starting with an existing network. How do you I guess the question is, how do you advise people to think about where to get clients? Because this is a tricky one. And it’s one of the first questions anyone has it. Absolutely.
And it’s interesting, because again, I I never had to try to get clients, it was all word of mouth based until I moved. And so this is something that’s new for me in the last five years. And it was kind of a fun experiment because I went kind of crazy. And I researched and I tried. I did all the things, all of the things and as I’m, I’m I’m you know, scouring you know, Craigslist and Upwork boards and, you know, reaching out to agencies for overflow work and, you know, reaching out to people on LinkedIn and you guys I’ve done it all and and still, you know, as I was doing all those things, my first local client came from the one person I knew here. I literally knew one person moving here, and her friend was looking for a web designer and and that’s still where it came from. It still came from my one person network that I had here in Colorado. And so and so it’s just, it’s just interesting to me. Because there, I mean, some of those some of those other things do work. And there are ways, you know, and there’s strategies and ways to, to do outreach. But a lot of times, it’s still going to come back to your existing network, and how you can, you know, make that work for you. And I don’t mean that in like a selfish way. It’s always a partnership, it’s always reciprocal.
You know, it’s how you serve them? Like what I think that’s totally one of the biggest concepts I’ve really thought about recently is the idea of serving over selling. And if you are in a networking group, or you’re looking at these forums, or job boards, or whatever, you really, instead of looking for a client, you should really ask yourself, how can you serve somebody better than anyone else? And I think that’s something that most particularly early on entrepreneurs and web designers just don’t think about. It’s, it’s because again, it’s not as sexy is the idea of landing a client, how do I get a client? But how do I serve? How do I get
Kind of goes back to what we talked about with the you know, just customer service? Just treat treating people? Great. And, again, it’s just a simple calling them back. But yeah, absolutely. And? And yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s funny, because a lot of people especially, you know, the the new you know, newbies in in freelance web design are horrified to put themselves out there to their existing network. And it’s like, these are people who know you, and trust you, and like you, like, here are as 100 ambassadors for you. And they have no idea what you’re doing, you know, and I realized that sometimes you have a, you know, a full time job, and you can’t promote on Facebook that, hey, I’m now taking website client, whatever, right? I mean, there are certain instances where it doesn’t make sense, but there are still ways to reach out to that network, let them know what you’re doing. And, you know, just finding those those connections and partnerships. I mean, what was that game? The the seven degrees to Kevin Bacon or whatever, like, we’re all connected within seven handshakes of the entire planet, like people, you know, know, people who need websites?
It’s the people, you know, don’t need them themselves. You know, it’s no,
I absolutely, I mean, I feel a kinship with you, because that’s exactly how I started it was 100% organic referral base, started with the people I knew who were in my circle, I, I tried cold calling, I want to ask you about cold calling here. I have my own thoughts against it. I tried it never worked, hated it. And I’m good with people. And even back then I’m much more confident now. And well spoken now. But it was I was paying it was painful to do anything, any sort of cold outreach. So the idea of starting with what you have in place is absolutely huge. And I think you just hit the nail on the head there, Kelly, you have to let people know what you’re doing. Because the reality is there are so many clients who probably need services from web designers Listen to this. And the only reason they’re not paying you is because you have not offered it to them, you have got to offer it. Some of my students now are doing some really creative things with how they’re promoting their sites on social media and stuff. I know you were talking about you’re not a social media expert, and that’s alright. I set out to say whatever works for you, like if you can find that nice to let people know without sounding super salesy, or, or annoying, because you can come across a little bit annoying. If you’re just non stop, here’s what I’m doing purchases purchases, but if you share how you help the client, or you shared a new website, and you said,
Educate, yes, educate is obviously I’m a big
Don’t be afraid to like, tell your secrets. – Kelly
It’s what you need to do don’t, you know, don’t even make the offer until you tell them how to do it. And then it’s like, Oh, great. Can you just do that for me? You know, like, it’s, it’s all about just educate, you know, don’t be afraid to like, tell your secrets. It’s
Yes, it’s, I couldn’t agree more. And honestly, it’s exactly what I’m doing. I still get comp like comments on this podcast, people were like, how are you do it? Like, why are you doing this for free? Like this? Literally, when people ask me, like, what’s the secret to how you built your business? I’m like, let’s listen to podcast. Every episode is just, you know, one piece of how I did it. So that’s so important. It really is. And I hope people will listen to this realizing, when it comes to outreach, starting with where you’re comfortable. And what you have in place is huge. There’s so many people right now who have not purchased from you because you haven’t offered it. So don’t be shy about that. But then there is some strategy involved with this as far as I think probably what works you can always track that if you join a networking group and it’s a bust then try a chamber of commerce with different networking groups.
Again, because depending on your personality, your situation, you know what people you’re going after, what industries are going, you know, different things are gonna work for different people. And so you almost have to try it all and see what works for you.
Throw it all at the wall and see what sticks.
I mean truly.
Your thoughts on cold outreach?
Oh, I mean, I don’t enjoy it. I am not a good salesperson. Um, you know, in that regard, but, uh, I will say that that is something I did attempt again, when I moved to call, I tried it all. And I don’t think I’ve ever cold, cold called anyone, but I did what where I did have a little bit of success was, um, social media messaging that seemed to be a couple steps up from email, you know, emails Get lost. But social media messaging, you know, I would point out something like, hey, you’re, you know, your website, I just noticed it isn’t on a secure site. Let me know if you need help with that, you know, something like that.
Are these like company websites where you could message company Facebook profiles, where you could message?
Yes, yes, these were company Facebook profiles of local businesses. And I would say, I would always start with like, Hey, I’m a huge fan, which I was I wasn’t lying. You know, I was specifically hunting down, you know, websites that I wanted to work on that of companies that I would like to work with. And, and then yeah, I would, I would either point out, you know, your site isn’t mobile friendly at all, I’d love to help or, or, yeah, it’s, it’s not secure, you’re getting, you know, Google’s mad at you, you know, just silly things like that. And, and I would always get a response. I wouldn’t always, you know, get the get the project, I think I think I got like one website project out of all of those. So horrible success rate, but still still something again, I tried it all. So I’m not a huge fan of the cold outreach. And again, it’s, it’s so much, it’s such a waste of resources, when when you could be putting that energy and time into your existing network and just reaching out to people you already know and saying, Hey, here’s what I’m doing, Hey, I know, you know, this person in this company, can you introduce me or.
I totally agree and like so much better. Nowadays, I think people are a little more wise to that to where cold, like more than ever, people want to work with somebody they know, in the in the realm of their existing network. So that’s where the idea of the people you know, aren’t necessarily your clients they could be it’s who they know and who they’re connected with. So sometimes when you do like a Facebook post, or a social media post about what you’re up to, and what you’re offering, it doesn’t mean that your aunt is going to buy your website, you probably don’t want your aunt’s family. They may know somebody and they were like, Well, actually, yeah, I know somebody or even have a friend or a professional network big that is that is such a better way to go. When I first started. I took it one step further and actually, like walked down my main street just walked into businesses when it was you know, I thought it was pretty cool. But I got the literally the door like slammed a couple of people who were like, no soliciting, I didn’t help it. I wore a tie. I probably looked like a like a, like a straight up insurance salesman or missionary. Like they I got the I was like, No, I just went out with your website if you need help. So definitely would not advise that however, that experience, I actually did peep businesses who already had connections with they actually saw what I was up to. And they were like, okay, that actually did leave me a few jobs. But it was with people who already knew me.
Like there’s no exact way for everyone to get clients when it really depends on your personality, what kind of network you have in place. – Josh
So again, going back to that the outreach. So either way, this is still a really important piece to this puzzle of planning, you need to think about what strategy is going to work for you. Like you said, Kelly, it does, it really depends on your market. Like there’s no exact way for everyone to get clients when it really depends on your personality, what kind of network you have in place. We even like where you are in the world sounds like I’m in Columbus, Ohio, there’s a lot of business opportunities here with groups and meetups and all all types of different Chamber of Commerce is out in the middle of nowhere, it’s a little harder to do things locally to where there’s a whole different strategy you can take for online groups and getting your name out that way. So either way, I think being intentional about that is huge.
So we’ve covered some great stuff, planning, you know, business plan, everything that we’ve covered there, working on the business being intentional about clearing some time every week to work on the business, which will help as we’ve talked about so many ways, having some sort of actual financial strategy. So you know, your products, you know, your services, you that’s going to help you, you know, shape your plan, outreach, having a strategy for that. And then the last thing I want to talk about real quick was processes, more specifically, like you and I both did early on, we just kind of winged it. Is that the right word? Long? winded we want it. There’s a new word Well, I usually always make up a word or two on every podcast. One day is the word for this one. But when it came down to that when you’re just winging, you know, your services, like you said, sometimes you just don’t, there’s no intentional strategy to it. How important is it to set those process? I’m asking this and like a devil’s advocate, kind of like, write your thoughts on those processes?
Success Tip #5 – Develop an actual process (no “winging it” or forgetting!)
Yeah, no, it is. It’s I mean, it’s critical. This is, um, you know, when I reached I reached a breaking point, again, I’ve mentioned previously with, I mean, there was a point where I literally had I had my newborn in my arm and my toddler hanging on my leg and a preschooler jumping on the couch, I think at least three of us were crying, and it just kind of, and that was, that was also the there I had, my third kid was the year that my business grew by, like 70%, something crazy. And so again, that was that I’m drowning in work, I’m drowning in kids, I cannot keep doing this. And that was the moment where I was like, Okay, that’s it, I’m taking a step back. And we’re figuring this out, because I can’t keep doing this for another five years. So. So that’s when I got into the processes I Well, I read the E myth, which is highly recommended to for the whole process, you know, to wrap your head around what we’re talking about here. And the basically, the point is, I mean, it’s to create efficiencies, it’s, it’s for your own sanity, it’s so that you’re not duplicating the same work over and over again. So that you have a process so that you’re not like, so every time you sit down, you’re not like what am I working on? Whereas what’s today, you know, literally, I would take the first 20 minutes of me sitting down to work trying to figure out what I should be working on. And so to just to just, you know, have some sort of project management, I have the simplest setup on the planet I’ve tried. I actually tried 17 hats for a while, but I’m such a freshbooks super fan that I couldn’t do it like.
And that’s fine.
I saw it being a great thing, if you did at all. But I was like, Oh, I can’t do this and that. I wanted to use all of it or none of it. So anyway, I’ve tried it so many. And so I’m literally I use Trello and Google Drive.
I’m not telling this to you. Exactly. Exactly. Kelly, I’m telling you, everyone, the tools do not matter matter as much as
What works for you.
Yes, the processes, whether you put that in a Google spreadsheet, or whether you put that in Google Docs, or whether you put that in 17 hats or fresh books, right? Basecamp, whatever, that doesn’t matter, it’s more important that you at least have the process out. And I think that’s where seeing what you have in place, how you can refine it is really important, like you just talked about because otherwise automation. Yeah, the automation. That’s simplicity. As an entrepreneur, I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is anything I do twice, I make it replicable somehow, whether I do it or my VA can does it now or right, like or even a lot of times, I just create templates, so I can just, yep, drag and drop templates.
And that’s a great point. You mentioned the VA, and it’s like, you know, once you get to that point where you’re like, yeah, I could really use some extra help. Well, guess what, you’re gonna have to write out a process for them to follow anyway. So it’s, I mean, it’s just, it’s something that you have it, yes, it has to be done. At some point, the sooner the better. And again, you don’t have to, it’s not going to be perfect the first time you set it up. And it will continue to evolve. Absolutely, especially if you bring on team or whatever. But but you cannot scale in any capacity, unless you have some set processes or the world will implode.
I feel like even if you don’t want to even you’re not ready to build this big agency, or you don’t want to take yet, for your sanity, yes, if you don’t have in the case of websites, a web design process, it’s gonna be a mess. This is why then it’s costly. It’s so costly, it leads to burnout, at least all the problems, there’s such power in a process. And I’m sure you Kelly who can back me up and saying it is so worth the time to make sure you put all your processes in place, because it’s going to help you it’s going to help your clients, it’s going to help you be more profitable, we’d be more balanced and saying, like this really is kind of the glue to planning and running a business. Right.
Right. Well, and and, you know, we we’ve touched on several, you know, different parts of business today. And, and yeah, the the, I have a process for prospects and sales, I have a process for the actual, you know, project a web design and everything. And then I have a process for like, the ongoing relationship with with my existing clients, because we’ve talked about that, too. It’s, it’s more important to keep your existing clients than it is to find new ones. Because guess what, they’re going to need new website and like three or four years and you want them to come back to you. So yeah, those are the processes that I kind of have set up. And and yeah, I would, you know, gosh, life life was was was just straight chaos before the processes came into my world.
It’s true. Yeah, I mean, it’s just key particularly when you do have like we’re both parentpreneurs. That’s really difficult if you’re winging stuff is if you’re if your life no matter what we have to There’s it’s just chaos like, I know right now I’m gonna step outside my office after this call and my little girls, I love him to death, but it’s gonna be destroyed outside my wife, she’s no way she could keep up with those two, they just they’re like little tornadoes. So that does all factor into your business as well, if you don’t, you know, like, I want people to go into their business in their office and like this is like, this is what I have control over, I can control you know, this kind of stuff. That’s, that’s what I want for everybody Listen to this.
So it’s, it’s funny, because as a parent, you’ll, you’ll appreciate this. Something I said a lot, you know, again, my kids are in school now. But as they were in that toddler phase you’re talking about was, I would say a lot like, I hate half fasting, like I love I love having my own business, because it’s mine. It’s the only thing in my world, that’s mine, they have taken over my car, they took over my house, they took over my body. And so it’s like, the only thing that was mine. So like you said, like walking into my office, it’s like my happy place. And I love you know, being there for my kids and working from home and being able to do that. But I hated half fasting, both I felt like that was that constant struggle. But But again, the the putting the processes in place made all of that so much, so much smoother.
Yeah, it really is so worth the time for anyone who’s you know, if you feel like you’re drowning in work or tasks, it’s likely that you just haven’t sat down. And we’re intentional about the process and setting all that out and creating some sort of standard operating procedure, even if it’s just again, in a Google doc or text, whatever, whatever. Write it out, if you have a pad, whatever, keep it you know, whatever your process is to just get that down, it really will make such a big difference. So well, this has been great. Kelly, I have one more question for you. Just outline real quick, we talked about the importance of having that plan, working on your business, financial strategy with your services, that’s going to help you build confidence, a strategy for outreach, and where you’re going to find clients, how you’re going to engage with them. And then those processes because I will say, I think it’s worthwhile having the process at the tail end of all this because you really aren’t going to feel out your process until you get going like I have a web design process course I know you guys have processed stuff and breaking the web. But at the end of the day, you’re going to find out what works for you. And I always recommend my students even who come to that course, use this and make your own. Like, yeah, like if you do copywriting, which I don’t do, then you can work that in here. You know, there’s there’s ways you can tweak that. So I love all that. That’s great. Before I ask my final question, Where would you like people to go to to find out more about you. I know you have your website and break into web. But yeah, where would you like everyone to go after this?
Yeah, if you head over to Break Into Web.com/Josh Hall, you’ll You can find out more information about our course. Again, it’s it’s targeted to people like to newbies just getting into web design and aspiring freelancers. If you’re an agency, please don’t go because you don’t want our course. And we also have have a special discount over there for the followers of the Josh Hall podcast. So
Again, your direct competition, but I like I like that because there’s also a lot of value. I’m having someone else on the podcast here. One of my students is in my web design club is also under her that my other guests her coaching. So it’s very worthwhile having two different programs to go through or to different coaches or mentors, because everyone else do stuff. Yeah, we all do it slightly different. So I love that. And then I’ll make sure to link to your website as well for people to check out Kelly, my last question, if I’m going to pretend like I was my friend five years ago, somebody doesn’t know you exactly what you do. But they say so Kelly, what’s your five year plan? With your web design business? What What would you tell them?
Five years ago or right now?
Right now right now they’re what you know, they’re they see you successful? And they want to know, what’s the next five years look like? How would you handle that?
Oh, gosh, okay, well, I mean, I have a five year plan. But, but that’s more for again, my overall lifestyle. And and the goal right now is to retire my husband from from health care. Because it’s a great industry, but he’s kind of over it. And so that’s our big goal right now is to is to get him out of healthcare. And is my web design a part of that? Absolutely. Will I still be doing what I’m doing now in five years? I doubt it. I hope break into web is a much bigger part of what I do. And and I would love to you know, instead of doing websites myself, I’d love to be sending those sites to our students and and to help build their businesses so there’s there’s always a goal there’s always like 20 goals. But yeah, I in five years I would say I would love to see you know, breaking the web growing and helping those people continue to you know, live reach those those freedom goals and the freelance lifestyle and just impact as many lives as possible. And you know, keep doing my my pro On our sites as well, that’ll never go away, even if I hit the lottery tomorrow. So hopefully my husband is is out of his healthcare job.
Yeah. Well, that’s a perfect example of how you frame up goals that are much more than just I want to make
That’s my why. Yeah.
Yeah. I love that. Well, once you guys start your podcast, which I’ve talked to you about, and I’m really encouraging John to do as well do the podcast break into web podcasts. Like that just sounds like an awesome podcast. So I’m really excited for you guys to do that. So, Kelly, thanks so much for dishing out some really cool strategies in this one, I had a blast chatting with you. And I’m looking for I’m sure we could make each one of these little sub points their own episodes. We’ll do that on breaking away. Maybe. I mean, look, what we just talked about gave you about three or four months of content for the break in the podcast. So yeah, yeah, there you go. Well, Kelly, thanks so much for taking some time out of your day and for coming on. I know you’re a busy mom, entrepreneur. So thanks for your time. And I’m looking forward to doing this again sometime.
Yeah. Thank you. Appreciate it.