Do you ever feel like an imposter in the web design realm because your background or previous job was in a different field? You’re not alone. When I started into web and graphic design, I was a drummer and a cabinet maker so I suffered from serious imposter syndrome because I didn’t have any formal design education. But over time, I realized that I learned a lot in my experience unrelated to web design that helped me start, run and grow my business; and I’m not alone.
In this episode, Marketing Strategist of StoryWebCreative.com and host of the Public Safety Innovators Podcast, Adam Wills, shares how he leveraged his background in law enforcement with his new endeavor as a web design entrepreneur to grow his web design agency through marketing and SEO and eventually turned what he knew in public safety in a super-niche and booming podcast.
This just goes to show you, even if your background isn’t in design or code, don’t worry! You’re not alone and the reality is, almost all the web designers and web entrepreneurs I’ve had on this podcast came from an industry outside of a typical design path. What’s even better to know is that whether your previous experience is a few years or decades of another industry, those years are not wasted as so many things can translate to web design nowadays.
In this episode:
00:03 – Imposter syndrome
05:07 – Greeting to Adam
07:43 – Rebranding story
10:46 – Law enforcement
14:05 – Pivoting to design
16:52 – Feeling awkward
18:27 – When it “clicks”
20:12 – Going niche
22:18 – Utilizing Story Brand
25:21 – Thinking outside the box
26:59 – Test the waters
27:40 – Starting a podcast
31:05 – Ideal clients – guests
33:41 – Another audience
37:39 – Being premium
40:07 – Don’t be irrelevant
42:15 – Scaling struggles
45:43 – Building a community
50:22 – New intentions
55:30 – Solving a problem
58:04 – Where to find Adam
Connect with Adam:
Featured links mentioned:
Episode #115 Full Transcription
Hey, everybody, welcome to the show. This is Episode 115. And I want to start this one off by asking you a question. Have you ever felt or are you currently feeling like an imposter in web design? Do you feel like for whatever reason, whether it’s because you’re new to the industry? Or maybe you just come from a completely different industry and your background is way different than design? Do you feel like an imposter or have you? Are you currently dealing with imposter syndrome?
If you are, that is okay, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. And I’m really excited to bring you this podcast episode because we’re going to talk about how you can actually in practically leverage your background to help you build and run your own web design business. And I feel this topic deep in my soul, because when I got started in graphic design, and then subsequently web design, I had a big problem with feeling imposter syndrome. And it really set me back in my journey journey early on. And that was because as many of you know, I was a drummer in a rock band, I was a cabinet maker. And ironically, in high school, I remember I was terrible with computers, I got a D and typing.
At one point in art class, I remember we did like this few weeks segment with Photoshop. And I could barely figure out how to turn it on, I couldn’t figure out how to navigate it. It was super intimidating to me. So I’m also a shining example, to say that just because you come from a background that you wouldn’t think lends itself to web design, often and actually can. And for this episode, I wanted to bring somebody in who is a shining example of this.
My guest in this episode, Adam Wills, who you may recognize that name, he was actually a guest. He’s a good colleague of mine, he was on the podcast early on, he was Episode 28, where we talked about story brand and how to market your services through a story. Well, he is a shining example of this because Adam actually comes from a law enforcement and public safety background. So when he got into web design, talk about feeling like a black sheep and feeling that imposter syndrome, he came from a background that was completely different.
But what he’s learned over the last few years is he’s utilized his background and leveraged it to appeal to a whole new niche market of people that he closely relates to. So in the time that I’ve known Adam, he came through my business course initially, and he started his web design journey and started his own web design business. He has now expanded his services and his offerings to where he is a officially a marketing strategist at his website, which is now rebranded to story web creative.com. And he also recently started a podcast, that’s called the public safety innovators podcast that is strictly for again, his old network and his old colleagues and a very niche market.
Because as he got familiar with story brand and web design, he realized there was such a need for these people from an industry that he used to be a part of, that he can help with his marketing knowledge and web design knowledge. So you’re going to hear in this episode, how he broke past those mental hurdles, and use his newfound knowledge to help again his existing network in this this untapped market, which is fascinating, because you can do the same again, Adams a great example of how to leverage your background, I’m a good example. And there’s tons of others prep, actually, pretty much everybody I know in the web design game are great example of how to use your background, even if it’s unrelated to web design to do some awesome stuff.
So if that’s you, no worries, I can’t wait to hear how this one helps you out. Now, if you’re interested in doing something like Adam is doing, where you refer back to your old industry, one of the best things you can do is to offer your expertise and what you’re learning in web design for just like Adam is doing people in those old industries that are the you’re the old industry that you’re a part of. And if you’re interested in doing that, I would love to invite you to join my new LearnDash course, which is called creating and selling an online course. That way you can package up your information with what you know, with marketing and web design and everything that you’re learning right now, and help your old industry or help people you know, that’s in an unrelated industry, which is exactly what Adam is doing.
So if that sounds interesting to you, and you’d like to make some passive income by creating your own course, and utilizing your new knowledge to help with your background experience, I would love to welcome you into my learn das course it’s available for you right now. There’ll be a link in the show notes at Josh hall.co slash 115. Without further ado, here’s my man Adam Wills and we’re going to hear how he specifically used his background for good and is applying his web design knowledge. So that you can do the same and get over that terrible feeling of feeling like an imposter. So without further ado, let’s have some fun.
Adam, welcome back on to the podcast, man. Great to have you on again.
Hey, Josh, thanks for having me on. It’s a it’s quite an honor to be invited back on to the show and be here twice now. So thank you.
I think it was Episode 28. Right. When you’re on the first time if I recall, right.
Yeah, it seems seems like it’s been a while ago. But man, those, those episodes of sure stacked up awfully fast for you.
Well, it helped that I did. I did to a week for a while at the end of 2020 to 21. So that helped get me up to 100+ but yeah, I’m really excited to have you back on man, your early podcast guests, and I have seen your business just thrive over the past, you know, year or so, you’ve been a student of mine, you came to my business course. And and you know, I’ve been able to see you do some amazing stuff. And what’s interesting about you, just like most all other web designers is you don’t have a typical path into web design. Which is very, very common. And I figured we can just dive into that that idea of leveraging you know, your past or what it is and how that can help your web design business. And obviously, as you know, I’m super passionate about this, because my past of being a musician helped me in so many ways more so than had I gone to college with being a web designer. So really excited to dive into that. Do you want to let everybody know? Because I do know you’ve had some changes in your business recently. Do you want to let everybody know? First of all, where you’re based out of and then tell us about your your new your new rebrand. And what you do with your website at story web creative?
Yeah, absolutely. So I am in Colorado, outside Denver, a couple hours, kind of out in the middle of nowhere, which is just how I like it my nearest neighbors a mile a mile away. But you do get okay Wi Fi right? Yeah, yeah. Do you get Do you get pretty good internet here? In fact, I can get fiber if I want it, but I haven’t hooked it up. So yep. So I’m out out in the boonies in Colorado. And yeah, we, we rebranded. Gosh, it was right at the end of last year, as Story Web Creative. And that’s just part of a greater shift in really just focus on what exactly my niche area is and who my ideal client is. And so, with story, web creative, primarily, I’m focused on working with companies in the public safety and private security industries, coaching them on their marketing messaging, helping them create a clear brand narrative and applying that to their website and sales funnel.
That’s great. And I love the new brand. Man, it really when you told me you were branding, I kind of forgot about it. So we jumped on today. I was like, Oh, that’s right, you did rebrand, because your previous website was Sursum Creative, which for number one, number one, I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. It was also it was also tricky to spell. So with Story Web Creative, it’s very like that it’s clear to me, and I think this is an important lesson right out of the gate here for people choosing a brand name. If you have something that’s very clear, that’s easy to remember, and is very clear about what you do and what you offer that just goes such a long way. So So applause to you, man. For the change. I think that’s great. And our first episode back on 28 was about story brand and how to use that framework to be able to craft your messaging on your website. So it makes a lot of sense that you would go the story web route. I do want to hear more about how you’ve kind of niched down your services. But I think it would be good to get some context because with you dealing primarily with a certain market of people and the law enforcement realm and stuff like that, it really stems from your background. So can you just give us the kind of the summary of how you got into web design and what you were doing before you made your way into this this industry?
Yeah, absolutely. I gotta tell you, thanks for the kudos. As far as the name change to i, that wasn’t an easy thing to do. Like the decision was easy. But the actual execution of it was really challenging. Because I mean, we had to, we had to refile with the Secretary of State and the IRS. And we had to go through I mean, of course, you got to change everything on your websites. And it was, it was a, it took a lot of commitment to do that. But you’re right, it was the right decision. That clarity is key. And like you mentioned, story brand. And so the book is right there behind me, right up there. And that book really is what transformed my business and changed everything for me because that brand that I had before Sursum, it wasn’t about my customer it was about me.
You know, I had put that together because Semper Sursum is a family motto that dates back to the 17th century Scotland, and it means always aim high. And I thought it was cool, but nobody else understood what it meant. Nobody knew how to say it. Nobody knew how to spell it. And it was a disaster. And so anyway, yeah.
It was another great, another great lesson right out of the gate here with the idea of a name change or a name you know, and not not making it very clear as for other people, just not understand what it is, it might be cool to you. But if it’s not cool to anyone else that don’t understand it, that could definitely be a hindrance. And in your right, whenever you do a brand name change, there’s a lot of complexities that go along with that. So that’s definitely something to consider. You have to do all the legal stuff that comes with it. I had to do that. I said Josh Hall Co up as an LLC, initially, and then I talked with my CPA and we found out for our situation, it was actually better to be an S Corp. So several months after I was an LLC, I changed it to an S Corp. But I had to do the same thing. I still had to get like a whole new set of of legalities along with it. So anyway, I don’t want to take us on a tangent right away. But those are
Yeah, that was kind of my fault. But yeah, when when you confuse you lose, right. So anyway. Yeah. So as far as my background goes, actually, I spent it wasn’t. It was still predicated on web design. I started building websites in the late 90s. In my grad in my grandpa’s office on his computer when I was a kid, and so but anyway, my my career was actually in law enforcement. And so I spent about 15 years in law enforcement. My last five, five and a half years, I was under Sheriff which is second in command of sheriff’s office. And that’s actually a lot of people don’t know this. It’s actually an appointed position because the sheriff is elected, and the sheriff appoints his undersheriff.
So it’s not, it’s not like being hired to be a patrol deputy. Where you have those protections and things of being an employee. As the undersheriff, your, your your pure, they’re at the the will of the sheriff because he’s appointed you. And so anyway, long story short, my Sheriff ran for reelection, and didn’t anticipate being contested in the primary. And we really didn’t think that the primary contestant was viable. And and this is a long story I won’t get into the weeds on but ultimately, voter turnout was was the lowest that had ever been for that primary election. And the contestant eked out a win by like 120 votes.
And so I had six months to figure out what my next plan was, and, you know, had to make a decision because, you know, as the appointed undersheriff, I knew I was out, right, the the new sheriff is going to appoint a new undersheriff and so had six months to make a decision, I have had a lot of options. I had job offers from all sorts of different law enforcement agencies, and including US Marshals because I was on a task force with US Marshals offices, as a deputized US Marshal for four years. And that was kind of my dream job. But I had this crisis of conscience, because we, we live where we do on purpose, you know, we really like living in this rural area.
But more importantly, this is where my wife grew up, and we’re close to her family. And we’re raising kids. And it was really important to us that our kids were with their family, you know, with got to grow up with their grandparents and their cousins and stuff like that. And so I had to really spend a lot of time in personal reflection, in prayer about it. And ultimately, I came to the conclusion that my career was less important to me, then my family and raising my kids. Where where we wanted to raise them and having those opportunities for those relationships. And so the next path was a decision about, okay, well, so what do I do? Because if I, if I stay here, I know I can’t work for the sheriff’s office. So. So web design, like I said, was always something I fell back on. And in fact, the last several years that I was in law enforcement, I was freelancing on the side, I was doing some web design work for various clients here and there.
I was curious if you if you kind of eased into it, or if you just straight up, you know, did a hard cut and then pivot.
Yeah, no, I mean, it was there. And then once I made that decision, probably, you know, with about four months left in my employment, I knew that that was what I was going to do full time. And so I started really pushing that direction. And so I was I was really blessed to have that buffer period of time to be able to do that, and start my business and get it off on the right foot.
And what year was that? When did you officially go straight into web design full time?
Uh, so that would have been so full time would have been January of 2019.
Okay. Yeah, I know. It wasn’t that long ago, because I think that’s about when you came into my business course. Right?
Yeah. It wasn’t long after that. Yeah.
Yeah. How cool man. That’s awesome. Yeah, and it’s it. What’s interesting is what I found in web design is most not all, but a lot of web designers come from some sort of creative field, whether it’s being in a band or you all different kinds of Yeah, yeah, I know you’re a musician as well. So that’s there. But what was really interesting is law enforcement is a very different type of industry. So I’m curious, when you started your web design business, did you know that you were going to try to utilize and leverage your past connections and stuff? Or did you? Were you very open ended with all the types of clients you took on initially?
Yeah. even further beyond that last part of the spectrum, where I was open ended. I mean, it was, it was to the extreme. And I, you know, I have to be honest, I really struggled with it. Because you’re right, it is. It’s a very different career change. And I really struggled with how to make that transition and figure out how to make a name for myself and what that looked like. I think it was like only a month or two, after I left and was doing this full time, I attended the Denver Digital Summit. And so that was kind of like my first first big event that I attended, attended with a crowd of these sort of a new crowd of people that I was, Oh, yeah, trying to relate with and it I felt really awkward. If I’m being honest. Like, I was there. And here I am. I’m wearing my Danner tactical boots and my five elevens. And, right. And,
You’re not the typical hipster designer looking guy.
Exactly, exactly. I got a beard and a bald head. Anyway. So
Now the beard and bald head is super in right now. That’s cool. That’s the way to go. Yeah, yeah, there you go.
But yeah, no, it was it was, it was interesting. And I’ve always been gifted with the ability to talk to people, regardless of, you know, background and stuff. And so, you know, I, I had some great conversations there. But it felt awkward to me. And my initial reaction was, I’m not sure this is my tribe like, these, these aren’t my people, I just didn’t feel like I fit in. And so because of that, it really affected and impacted how I ran my business. And in hindsight, it was such a big mistake. And and I’m so glad that my eyes are open to it now. And and I’m hoping that my sharing that with with your audience, regardless of what field they might be coming out of in going and going into web design themselves, that some of these changes are similar.
So was the mistake you feeling that imposter syndrome? Is that what you mean? Was the mistake.
Big time. And so what I actually did was, rather than leveraging my background, I actually tried to hide it. And so I didn’t talk about it, I didn’t share it. It felt awkward to me to be to tell people that I was career cop for 15 years, because then the questions come Well, how did you end up doing web design? And so the questions come up. And and of course, you got to think of the state of things here the last couple years, unfortunately, in our country, and, you know, it’s a lot of cops are much more hesitant to share with people that that’s what they do. And so it was, I felt like it was an identity that I no longer possess the right to to possess. And so yeah, I kind of just I didn’t tell anybody I didn’t share in.
And so I started, like you said, I was just working with anybody and everybody. And it didn’t click for me until I ended up with a client that was in the public safety space. That was specifically was trying to market their product, to law enforcement administrators, which is what I was, yeah. And I was like, Oh, I know that message. I know how to communicate that I know exactly what that person is thinking, I know the problem they’re facing and the solution they’re looking for. And it came so easy and natural to me. And it was more fun. Like, I had a blast working with that client because it felt like this connection to who I was and who I had been for a long time. And that was really when it clicked for me that Wait a second my background is in a liability here in my business. It’s really an asset and I need to I need to take command have that and actually leverage it and use it to my advantage.
Wow, I love that man. How cool is that? That what a great practical story about what you went through with feeling that imposter syndrome, which I’m sure is really common. Like I felt a little bit about that for sure. When I got started. I remember just feeling like I was not welcomed with all these designers and developers who were so far beyond where I was I you know, I wasn’t I wasn’t a computer guy. I was terrified of Photoshop in high school. Like it’s amazing that I do what I do now, because I was not like this. I did really work hard at it. But I felt the same way. But I can only imagine you being more having a more established career and then transitioning to that how that must have felt. So that’s incredible to hear. Just you’re you know, it took that one opportunity it sounded like that helped you realize there’s actually a lot power in this, and there is a lot of power in going niche and utilizing and leveraging what you know be and I don’t know if you heard Jason Grazia who came on the podcast again, for Episode 94, he talked about going niche. And one thing that he said is once he went niche, he was able to close at such a higher rate because he knows the industry. He knows their pain points. And it was interesting to me to hear that I’m sure you found that as well. Because I didn’t go that route. I worked with anybody and everybody, which I liked. I enjoyed that, to be honest. However, I do see the benefit and knowing an industry, and I’m sure for them, like when you were talking to these people, did you? Did you find yourself closing at a higher rate and getting clients faster and getting more like minded type of clients and projects, once you realize or once they realized that you knew their problems and their challenges?
Yeah, yeah, much, much more, much quicker decisions. As far as accepting proposals and a lot less trying, I felt like I was having to sell less like trying to, I didn’t have to convince as much it was more of this, hey, here’s, here’s just a short what my background is. So I understand who you’re trying to communicate with. And I can I can, I can do that even some of these bigger companies that I’m working with now, they, you know, they have their they have these full scale marketing teams that are doing everything. I mean, they’re even doing their websites, I’m not even doing their websites, they’re just hiring me for coaching on their brand messaging. And, you know, we’re talking people that have Harvard degrees in marketing. And they’re coming to me and consulting with me for that marketing message. Because they have the curse of knowledge they know about their product, and their offer. And and what it is, and they know the technical aspects of it and that side of it, but communicating to the law enforcement administrator, what the advantages and how you’re going to solve their problem. And you know, all of those things, they kind of there’s a disconnect there that they struggle with. And I’m able to make that connection for him.
And you know what I learned this from a good buddy of mine now, Wes McDowell, who is a web strategist. And he’s he came on the podcast A while back and he said, explain your services like you would do a 10 year old. And I think I think Donald Miller even talks about that and storebrand like, how can you simplify the message to where anyone can understand that, that there’s a lot of power in that. Now, how did that work for you, though? Because you understand public safety and law enforcement? Did you struggle with that? Because you know, the industry? Or do you feel like you because you are a story brand certified guide? Did you feel like that helped you? Because you had let’s be honest, you had I’m sure you had the gift of or the the curse of knowledge as well. Because while you can relate to these industries in these companies, you still knew a lot about law enforcement, public safety. So did you feel like story brand helped you clarify the message to be able to present that to your clients?
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s been a huge help. Um, you know, there’s certainly a little bit of the curse of knowledge that exists there too. But it’s not a it’s it’s outweighed by the advantage of understanding the challenges that that that particular individual who’s sitting in that seat, making those decisions evaluating these different service providers and, and things for their agency, that has certainly been beneficial. And I can, I can kind of give you a practical example of that. I, you know, I had a company come to me as a client that they specifically are in the training space. So they go around the country training law enforcement officers on some very specific skills. They put on in person classes, and that sort of thing for for law enforcement officers around the country. And I was working with them on a sales funnel.
So we were putting together their lead generator and their email sequence and everything. And I came up with this idea that to the client seemed like it was this big profile and like, Holy Grail, Golden Nugget, and but to me, it was obvious because I said to him, like, Listen, the lead generator that we put together was for the students. So we’re talking the average cop that is looking to attend to this training, okay, so they’re the ones that are going to the website, they’re the ones that are looking at the material on the website, they’re the ones that are downloading the guide, the lead generator, to look at and understand a bit more about, you know, the the course or the particular topic.
And I said, The problem is, though, their supervisors, the one that has to make the decision to let them go and attend this course and pay for it, unless they’re going to pay for it themselves out of pocket. And so the idea I came up with, I said, here’s what we’re going to do. The very last page of the lead generator is going to be specifically the wording on it, the copy is going to be focused towards that person supervisor. So we just want one page that they can They could print off this entire lead generator. And that last page, they could just give it to their supervisor. And they can say, I want to attend this course. And that is that copy on there specifically focused to the supervisor to say, this is why you want your officer to go to this course, this is the advantage you are going to get as an agency by, by having your officer attend this course. And we were like, he was like, That’s brilliant. Nobody else has ever thought of anything like that before. And that was just purely because of my understanding of being a law enforcement administrator and how that process works when an officer wants to attend training.
What a great example. That’s awesome, Adam. Yeah, I mean, I can see the power with knowing an industry in depth like that, and how it relates to the strategy aspect of web design, which is that’s, that’s what a lot of web designers lack. When you do work with a lot of different industries. is the strategy behind knowing their customer and knowing the type of sale journey. Yeah, the journey. Yeah, the journey. Now, I’m curious, how did you get your so you were a little bit not ashamed of your background, but you were hesitant to put that out there. Because of everything going on? I totally understand that. When you felt more comfortable, and you started getting back into the, these conversations with people in that industry, and you started, you know, doing that? Did you just talk about your background? And let that be known on a kind of an ad needed as needed basis when these conversations would come up? Or did you start to market yourself and be very open about your background after a little while?
Yeah, I mean, I would say it was a little bit of both, depending upon the audience, or the person, but I sure didn’t shy away from it anymore, you know. But, oddly, here, the funny thing is, my plan is to redesign my own website and focus on my niche, and I still haven’t done that. And, and I’ve been blessed, because what I did was I said, Alright, I’m gonna test the waters here with this this niche. And I want to see, you know, is there really a market out there? And can I command the attention? And so
I remember I remember you asked me about that before you did that, too.
Yeah. Yeah. And so I was like, Alright, what’s the best way to do this? How do I get out there? this information? Because as I’m thinking about it, how many people are former former cops who are also who own and run a web design agency? And our is a story brand certified guide that can coach people on on that. And I’m like, if there’s anybody else, no, but yeah, you know, I mean, yeah. So how do I get that out there? Well, you and I are on the podcast right now. And I thought, well, podcasting is really the most effective outlet there is in reaching a niche audience. And so I said, you know what I’m going to, I’m going to start a podcast. And I’m going to, I’m going to try that out. And I’m going to see if I can if I can actually communicate with this audience and what that ends up doing for me. And it’s, it’s that has been huge, absolutely huge for me.
So you started this podcast, and it’s called the Public Safety Innovators podcast. I do. I remember, Adam, when you started this, and you asked me some questions about podcasting. And I gave you, you know, my two cents. And I definitely thought it would be a good idea because I know, with podcasting, in particular, this goes for YouTube or any other content marketing as well. If you can be in a niche market, where there’s not much competition, you can be the top dog fairly quickly. And it’s amazing how many niche podcasts are popping up, do what’s so funny about this? What what insane timing, before this call, I heard from one of my old clients from years ago, that is in the land and equipment, auctioneer space. And he wants to put because my agency, he still works with us. And he talked to Eric, my CEO of my agency about our content marketing plan. And then he said we’re considering a podcast. So Eric leads me in knowing you know that I’ve learned a lot with podcasting. And Brandon, my client is asking about like, do you think it’d be worthwhile doing a podcast in this space? And I said, Dude, absolutely.
Because I guarantee no other auctioneers. If there are it’s going to be just like you found out maybe one or two are doing consistent podcasting with land and equipment auctions for foreign equipment stuff. Like I am sure that is an untapped market. And there’s a surprising amount of people who do listen to podcasts with industries or industries interested in. So I’m sure for you it was like how many people are going to be interested in you know, the topics that you’re going to be talking about, but it sounds like that niche that needs podcast is working out? Like what kind I’m curious what kind of topics Do you guys cover? But and this relates to leveraging your background because this is stuff you know, and you can get you have, you know, a personal network and professional network of these people. So yeah, like what do you cover in this podcast and how has that helped your brand in your business?
Yeah, it’s it’s a it’s actually changed a bit, if I’m honest. And we’re, I think I think I’m up to Episode 28. Now, so it’s still relatively new. But I’m actually going to, I’m going to end season one here soon and start season two. And I’m going to do kind of a little bit of a retouch on on things, because the concept has changed a little bit. It’s evolved over the period of time. And so initially, my my, my focus was just on, I wanted to bring people on the show, to talk about innovative ideas in public safety, law enforcement, private security, you know, that sort of thing. So unorthodox ideas, technology, training concepts, you know, those sort of things, because that was, that was something I was passionate about when I was administrator, I was never, I was always kind of against the grain as far as the good old boys club and the way we’ve always done it attitude. I always wanted to do things better and look at new ways of accomplishing things and look at new technology. And so that’s something that I get excited about.
And so my thought was with, let’s focus on that. And my intention was, my podcast guests, were my ideal customers. Not the audience, but my guests. Okay, so I went out and started to kind of curate these guests that I wanted to work with. And in that time that I got to spend with them, interviewing them, and before the interview, and after the interview, allowed me to explain to them who I am, what I do, what my background is, and how I can help them in a very soft way, not not a salesy way, but just, hey, here’s what I do. And here’s how it translates because I apply the story brand framework to my podcast, the way I my podcast flow, uses the story brand framework. And so I get to use that I get to introduce that idea to them before we start the interview. And so that was how things started. And it worked out awesome. I think I’ve converted, I think I converted like 20% of my guests to paid clients.
Wow. And did they go into story web, do they go to story web creative? Or is this to more like the coaching and ancillary services that you’re doing?
Yeah, so coaching, web design. Yeah, I mean, I would consider that all under the house of story web creative.
Okay. But that’s what’s interesting is you’ve you’ve utilized and leveraged what you had in place, but you This podcast is like a whole different brand, whole different website, different branding, different look, the Public Safety Innovators. So do you use that? I mean, it definitely sounds like that’s a, you know, a great way to attract leads and quality people to work with them. Under a story brand or story web creative. Excuse me. But yeah, what else? Have you found out what that like, when you say you’re transitioning? Are you gonna transition? You know, the type of conversations you’re having? Or the demographic? Or what do you think with that?
Yeah, it’s kind of slowly evolved a little bit over time. And so once I got, I don’t know, probably somewhere between five to 10 episodes in, I started getting a bunch of emails at my podcast email address, from what I’ve started calling copper newars. So cops that are starting their own businesses that, you know, are trying to take their side hustle, full hustle. And they’re emailing me and asking me questions, because naturally, we would talk about marketing stuff with my guests, you know, come up naturally in conversation. And I would talk about, you know, what I do as a coach a little bit and so that people started emailing me and asking me questions, what do you think of this idea? What’s my next step? What do I need to do? Does this, what does my website look like? Give me some feedback on my website.
And so as I started getting more of those, I thought, Wait a second. There’s another audience here that I didn’t recognize. And I need to I need to nurture this, this audience a little bit. And so I started doing a mid roll break that I call the marketing minute. And during that mid roll break, it’s like a minute or two, where I would just share a tidbit of a marketing concept about your your messaging, your your marketing, strategy, web design, whatever. And start putting that out as a mid roll. And the audience that audience just flourished, and all of a sudden, I was getting flooded with connections on LinkedIn, and all these people asking questions and wanting help. And so now we talk about the copper newaral journey quite a bit on the podcast about transitioning out of law enforcement starting your own business. And I’ve actually since then, started my own private community based upon that, that I call LEO2CEO so LEO is an acronym for law enforcement officer so
LEOCEO.com and have a private community set up there for copper newars that are looking to start regrow their own business.
You’ve got to keep an eye and a pulse on what’s working and how. – Josh
Wow, how cool Yeah, I’m looking at your The website right now for the podcast. So the marketing minute has like its own. It’s almost like its own little mini show within Yeah, within the show. That’s really cool. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome, man. So, I mean, this is a good lesson too. For anyone who is doing any type of services. You’ve got to keep an eye and a pulse on what’s working and how, because, let’s be honest, all businesses start, but you never know where it’s gonna go. Do you think you might have an idea of where things are going to head over the next year or two, but the reality is, your clients and the type of people you attract in your business are going to help you determine what services you want to focus on what direction you want to go, I found this to be 100% true for what I do. Because when I started Josh Hall, co I did web design tutorials.
I had no idea I would ever be doing courses. podcast wasn’t even in the radar. I never thought I would do a podcast. I thought I was going to do tutorials for like technical stuff and do child themes and potentially plugins. That was my initial path, which is holy cow. I don’t know if I ever told you that Adam, have you ever knew that? That was the initial direction. And then as soon as I found out that you know what I’m actually I enjoy the interviews. And I’m pretty good at connecting people. And I love the community aspect of all this, I started to focus in on that. And then I realized I’ve actually learned a lot from the business end of things. And once I started putting that out, then I realized there was an opportunity for courses. And then after getting courses going, I realized podcasts would be such a such a great addition to all this because I can talk about stuff in detail. And I don’t have to limit my conversation to 10 minutes on it on a YouTube video where I can talk about something for an hour if I want to.
So that’s just another practical example of both of our cases we’ve we kind of listened to our audiences, as the businesses grew and figured out where our zone of genius was, I think that’s a big, a really important thing to capitalize on and to be cognizant of is realize what you’re good at what you enjoy doing. And what’s different about you than others for you, Adam, I’m just gonna ask you what’s different about you than others in the space of public safety? I mean, we know it’s not a competitive market. But is that your approach? Is that your background? Is it the story brand type of lessons that you’ve learned that have helped separate you and help these businesses? What are what are some of the common or popular or not popular? But what are some of the big things that separate you from others in the space?
Yeah, I mean, I think the big part, it’s, it’s, it’s a number of things, it’s not any one thing, really. But I would say my approach is probably a big part of it. You know, I start right out of the gate, when I have consultation calls with people, I tell them in my email, my email funnel by my sales sequence, says the same thing. Most marketing is a waste of money. And I tell them that right up front, I think most marketing is a waste of money. And so I’m I’m priming them to understand that. Therefore what I present to you is not a waste of money. What I am there for what I’m presenting to you is what in this proposal is something you need to invest in and my services aren’t cheap, I charge a premium for what I do, you know, like you mentioned earlier, niching down allows you to to increase your rates, and I did that I’m about to do it again, I will have probably more than doubled my rates in the last year on things just just from that. And part of that is because I’m full my pipeline is full. I mean, so my time comes into more of a premium but but certainly this I mean, this if I could pick one thing he had to ask me Okay, what is the one thing that really makes you stand out and is different? It is story brand. I mean, I and I know there’s there’s I think approximately 350 other guides right now worldwide. But truthfully, because story brand, and then combine that with my niche background of being in law enforcement, and more specifically being a law enforcement administrator. Couple those things together, and I become very unique. You know, I’m one one of none. So Well,
Let me let me put let me put my coaching shoes on for a minute and tell you I would love to see that on your homepage. Because that’s a great little section right there. What is different about you why you and be in that year name is Story Web Creative. Now, what a perfect segue to the fact that we don’t just create websites. It’s It’s the story approach. It’s getting your story and your journey across and how that increases conversion. So there you go. There’s, there’s my my next little project for you, Adam, is to put a nice section on your homepage about that, because what you just said there was beautiful that was exactly. That’s the best way to sum it up and you did it in less than a minute there. So that’s awesome.
The reality is, you need to be a part of the story that they’re already living. And if you’re not being a part of their story, then you never will become a part of their story. – Adam
Yeah, thanks for emphasizing that for me, but it’s just a different approach than what most people are taking in marketing, you know, and being able to step in and look at something and say here The problem, you’re, you’re talking way too much about yourself, you’re asking your customer to enter into your story. And the reality is, you need to be a part of the story that they’re already living. And if you’re not being a part of their story, then you never will become a part of their story. You’re, you’re irrelevant. And so it’s just a different approach. And I think people are refreshed by that because I take a no nonsense, no BS attitude about it. And I just say, you know, this is, this is what we need to work on, here’s what you’re doing that’s wrong and needs to be corrected. And, and they’re refreshed by that because they don’t feel like I’m just trying to hose them to increase the my lifetime value out of them.
Yeah, well, and there’s a lot of power right there when it comes to leveraging your background, with knowing an industry and it because you know the story, you often know those challenges and how you can make a story and a journey for customers out of that. Like I was just thinking about two members in my web design club, shout out Jacob and Ryan, who listen to the podcast, and once in a while they both come from landscaping. So I told them both like there is a huge market for landscapers who need help online, like what a great way to get in the door. Because you know, you know that you don’t have to wouldn’t necessarily need to build your whole business around landscape websites, but you can at least have a division of it or emphasize that service. Because you know, the industry.
There’s a lot of power in that because it’s not only knowing the challenges and everything, but you know, the story that their customers are going to go on. That’s honestly one of the big hindrances for for web design in general is because not only are you learning web design, and all the ins and outs of it, and you’re trying to get clients, but you don’t necessarily know their customers journey or what their problems and solutions are. So I’ve learned that in my experience, I figured out how to get at least the basics down as far as when I got a client, find out who their customer is, what they’re going to be doing on the website, what their challenges are, and that will help you craft a website. But when you when you can leverage your background and something that you already know, man, there’s so much power in that. So what a great example, actually, I was curious, are you still working with anybody at this point? Or did you get to a point where you just cut, you know, your services off to the average, you know, a chiropractor or something, and you just work with folks and public safety? Are you still taking on some random and generalized industries,
I still take some on here and there. But I I’m a lot more focused on making sure that it’s a good fit. Whereas early on in my business, and I think others can relate to this, that, you know, there’s a point where you’re just like, Hey, I just need projects, right. And so you kind of take you take on clients that maybe aren’t the best fit. Just because you need the work, you need the projects you need to add to your portfolio. And and I’ve kind of reached a point now where I will take on stuff outside of that niche, if I think they’re a really good fit. And I know that they are we’re interested in working on story brand messaging, like if they come to me, and all they want is a website and that’s outside that niche. I’m I’m much less interested. But, um, but yeah, I mean, keeping, keeping my pipeline manageable has been a challenge if I’m honest. And it’s been a big struggle for me in this last year, because I love web design. And I will always love web design. And I always want to have some part in that. But like you, I have found that my passion is really a lot more tied up in the podcasting, the networking, coaching, putting on mini courses and lessons and doing webinars and things like that.
You’re not a web designer. You’re not a web designer Adam. Yeah, that’s the that’s the stuff you need to hire out and have somebody else do or partner with somebody at this point. Right.
And that’s been a struggle for me. I’ve had a really hard time finding the right people. I’ve I’ve been really disappointed with some of the people that I have tried, although, although somebody on your show that listens to your show all the time, I need to give a shout out to and that’s Shannon Morris. She’s one of your students.
With her. She’s been great. And in fact, I threw a few projects at her that were probably the worst projects that I had. Not probably they they are. They’ve been they’ve been a headache. And she has been awesome in working with on those. So she is the exception. I’m not talking about her. But I’ve had some challenges in this last year, I’ve hired people that didn’t work out and trying to find people that are the right fit has been a challenge for me, in order for me to be able to step away from the web design work some more.
Yeah. Yeah, well, obviously I have, you know, the most robust network now with my club and students now so I can you know, definitely maybe after the call, give you some because I know Shannon Shannon’s doing a great job for you. But there’s other needs in and around web design, too. With you know, all the aspects of it when it comes to SEO or content or all these other things that are in there involved with it. So yeah, you know, you’re it’s growing pains. It’s definitely everyone who scales, particularly in the beginning has that to where, you know, they’re finding the right fit, who’s good for you and for your brand, but it also can do the work and can fit those roles. You know, that’s that’s definitely that the average challenge that everyone struggles with when when scaling. So I’m excited to to help you on that moving forward, for sure. But I’m curious like, being that you recognized the you know, where your zone of genius is, you know, where you’re like spending your time you know, where the need is for your clients? What’s that going to look like moving forward? How are you going to leverage that and leveraging your background? Decide what you’re going to focus on moving forward? Are you you talked about rebranding again, at some point, are you gonna think you’ll go 100% niche at some point, or what do you what do you think that will look like moving forward here for you?
Yeah, that’s my, that’s my intention. I started, I started LEOCEO, out of that unexpected audience that came out of my podcast, but that is really quickly flourishing into something that I’m like, Okay, this is the thing I need to be focusing on right now. In that that community, you know, it started with a private community,
Where is that community? What platform to do that?
Circle of course.
Okay, perfect. Awesome. did you how did you come about that? Did you use? Did you new? Did you know I was using Circle or did you randomly?
Yeah. Okay. So I knew you were using it. And then I follow Pat Flynn, too. And so Pat Flynn, talks about it quite a bit. In fact, I think he’s on their advisory board or something. Yeah,
it’s one reason I went with circle because it’s such a new company. And there were there was a little bit there, not bugs, but there was a little is a handful of things that they’re still kind of working out. But man, they’ve come such a long way. And yeah, being that Pat was an advisor. And I just love for anyone who’s building an online community Circle was definitely you can actually go to Josh Hall co slash circle, which will take you there, man, they have just some awesome stuff, I’m actually this conversation will probably be live by the time this comes out. But I’m talking with one of their owners next week, at the time of recording this with you. And so they just like, it’s a great community around Circle as well, which is super cool. So that’s obviously what I built my web design club off of, and my student center, I just launched a student center office. So I’m glad you’re using it too. It’s a great platform to get it off social media, get out, particularly oh my gosh, man, for your demographic, I’m sure a lot of law enforcement folks do not want to be surrounded by the polarization and social media.
They don’t want to be on Facebook. In fact, most of this last year, most law enforcement agencies started telling all of their officers to get off of social media and not be on social media. And so you know, there, there’s, most of them don’t want to be on Facebook. So I mean, even if I put together the coolest Facebook community ever, you know, they wouldn’t want to be a part of it, because it’s Facebook. And so it was important, you know, and the way I started that, I started talking about the idea of this private community and got some people to express interest. And then I jumped on calls with them. And I just asked them questions about what’s important to you. What do you want to get out of this community? What would keep you around and keep you engaged, you know, those sorts of questions. And one of the things that they said it was important, they didn’t want it to be on on any social media platform, they wanted it to be off that and so that was why I put it together. Plus, I put it together as a paid community. It’s not. It’s not a free community. So okay, they have to apply, they have to fill out an application. And then if if I accept their application, like they have to already have a business and be making at least $10,000 a year in order to join the community. And so yeah, so it’s, it’s a very,
Interesting side note, what are you using for payment processing for that? Because then a circle doesn’t take payments directly right now. I’m using WooCommerce subscriptions, are you what do you use for payments?
I’m using member stack so they have SSO integration with member stack
I almost used it I actually play out played around with I almost implemented member stack with it but I decided to go with Woo subscription simply because I already have my WooCommerce store set up or everything in place so it ended up be it’s it’s been worked out fine for me but yeah, that’s that’s a good solution. So that’s great man. It’s another great example of how leveraging your past you knew that there was a need for this there’s a need for this separate brand and also this community. Now the trick is for you and again stepping into my coaching shoes now you’ve got three businesses now you’ve Well, the podcast isn’t necessarily its own business at this point it’s more so you know it’s it’s a tentacle in your octopus of businesses. You know, that leads back to story web creative but yeah, now I imagine the the next phase for you will be to decide. Do you go full time, LEO To CEO and what do you do with story web created? Because that’s a great name. To be honest, you can probably sell that name. It’s a really cool brand. I know you’re not gonna make a decision on this podcast interview, but yeah, where what other, you know, is there anything else that knowing your past and knowing your journey so far with this? Is there anything else that have you’re in the weeds on? Right now you’re thinking about as you move forward?
Yeah, I mean, I think like you said, most of it is just kind of that it’s sort of tidying things up a bit. Right. You know, as we, these sorts of things happen. Unexpected, of course, like, some of this occurred with me, you know, it, there’s, there’s this period that you go through of just trying things out, right, you’re kind of like, okay, you know, this is what I’m seeing. Let me let me respond to that. Right. So I was seeing this, this community that presented itself. And so I’m like, Alright, let me let me see what happens if I start to try and do stuff directly for them. And once it works, like you said, Now I’ve kind of got like a balancing these different these different sub brands almost. And so you’re right, at some point here, I’ve got to coalesce around things, and I’ve got to tight,
You can only do so much. If you’re managing multiple things he can only because if you’re if you’re doing four different businesses, you can give 25% to each one. And that’s it unless you have a team backing you up with all the other things. Yeah.
Yeah. So I mean, even if even if the the website story, web creative goes away, at some point, Story Web Creative LLC is still the company. And so you know, we’ll we’ll see where things go. I do suspect that by the end of the year, it’s going to be a lot more clear to me what the next move is and and I would I would be pretty confident right now and saying that it’s likely that LEO CEO calm becomes my my main focus.
Yeah, what what else services? Are you doing under Story Web Creative, too, because I was just thinking you could potentially make that a very premium web design marketing service and just limit what you do to focus to allocate more time to LEO to CEO.
Yeah, I mean, essentially, you know, my, my coaching and web design has been kind of under that story web creative house. And as you know, because I was on your your SEO, I do a lot of things, Josh
Focus and refine.
Yeah, I in partnership with with somebody else on Breacher Seo.com. And so Breacher SEO is a SEO service that him and I have partnered on that we provide. But that honestly, it takes very little work. It’s almost nothing but but yeah, so I’ve got some tentacles.
Yeah, yeah, I just do my SEO course you already know, Adam, because he did a webinar in there. And we talked about keyword research and stuff you’ve done with SEO. So
I’m a big on that stuff.
But you know, it’s cool, like to be honest. And truthfully, all those different areas of service that you’re interested in, and all these different avenues are going to help you in the long run with all these different services, you can you can offer to this this niche that you’re you’re creating. So, you know, it’s good to have an understanding of SEO and web design and, and all this other stuff that can help those folks. And then even if you don’t take it on yourself, you can give the basics out to these folks. And then now you’re building an incredible referral network. And obviously, you know, you’re a student, you know, of mine. So you’re automatically included in my pool of students and awesome web designer. So there’s a lot of different avenues for that. So I’m excited for you, man, it definitely sounds like a great way to go. And I think there’s another valuable lesson that I want to make sure we don’t gloss over and that is listening to your customers, and then potentially creating services and products around that. Case in point. I actually just last night looked up the numbers, there is one product of mine, that currently adds been accounts for over 50% of my income. Can you guess what that is? Adam?
Coaching or your courses? Sorry?
Well, okay, so I actually just even even in regards to the courses, there’s one particular product called courses are the most but there’s one option out of all the courses that is still the number one, can you guess what that is?
Your web design business course.
It’s actually it’s my bundle. It’s the Okay, so the reason I’m saying that is that accounts for 50% of my business, I looked at that. And so I looked at the numbers. WooCommerce has this nice feature now with analytics, where you can look at stuff in detail by like products and everything. And when I was looking at that, it made me think about the fact that when I started courses, I had no idea I was gonna do any sort of bundle. It wasn’t on my radar. But what I noticed was all of my students, a large majority of them, were asking, Hey, is there an option of I just get like all the courses if I can have a discount for all of them. And as I got that question multiple times it made me think Hmm, I should maybe now that I have like my suite, of course. is done have a bundle option that has been the biggest seller, like literally 50% of my income for 2020 was the bundle sell. I say all that to say it was a practical example of looking at what customers are asking for, and then making that available for them, because it can really go a long way. And I love that that’s what you’re doing as well. And I think this all stems back to leveraging your background, because you’re going to know what they’re they’re going to have needs for and challenges for. So I love that man. I’ll go ahead, sir.
Sorry. No, I’m sorry. I was you still let me piggyback off of that just a little bit? Because you’re absolutely right. And I coach my clients on this all the time, I tell them, ask your customers, what are the problems that they’re facing? Right? And your your sole purpose in business? Because let’s not, let’s not try to put rosy colors on this thing, right? It’s, it’s a business transaction. When you ask somebody to pay you to build a website, it’s a business transaction. And so your sole purpose and being in business is to solve problems. If you’re not solving a problem for somebody, you’re not going to make any money.
That’s how you actually solve problems and build your client base. – Josh
Right right there. That is the groundbreaking revelation that is worth the price of admission for this podcast, which is free anyway. But it is. That’s what I learned at the core, all businesses and particularly as a web designer, helping people with their websites, the only thing you are essentially doing is solving a problem. So how do you articulate what that problem is? How do you solve that problem. And then once you can decide, decipher what problems exactly and challenges people are having. That’s what you put on your website. That’s how you get clients. And that’s how you actually solve problems and build your client base. And that’s it.
And more importantly, you may be solving an external problem with your services. But as far as what you put on your website, if you’re not talking about the internal problem, and the philosophical problem, you’re not gonna, you’re not gonna get anybody’s attention because people don’t, people aren’t motivated to pull dollars out of their pocket to solve an external problem. They they want the external problem is I need a plumber to fix my plumbing. Right? They’re motivated, because I’m stressed out that I can’t use my kitchen sink. My wife thinks I ought to be able to fix this. But I don’t know how. Right so like, it’s that internal axed, that’s what motivates people to pull dollars out of their pocket and actually make a purchase. And the philosophical that it just shouldn’t have to be that hard to find a good plumber in Cleveland, Ohio, you know that that’s the philosophical part of it. And if you can talk about the, the internal and philosophical, that’s where you get people’s attention.
And there’s the perfect segue to remind everybody to go back and listen to Episode 28 of the podcast here where Adam was on previously to talk about story brand and talk about that in more detail. So so that’s great, man, I got one final question for you. But before we go, before we do that, where can people go to find out more about you? Do you want them to check out your website and the podcast potentially, as well? They’re just curious about what you do there.
Yeah, we talked about a lot of different channels today, right. As far as social media goes, I I am most active on LinkedIn. So you can just find me under my name Adam Wills on LinkedIn. That’s where I’m most active. I don’t do a whole lot on any other social media, which is probably
We can send them we can send them to your I know you got links on your website at story web creative, calm. So yeah, yeah, I see that on there.
Yep. And, yeah, so I mean, people can reach out to me that way. Go to the website, Story Web Creative.com, for sure. And if you want to check out the podcast, it’s just psi dot chat.
Pretty awesome. Yeah. I love the website. By the way for the podcast, too. It’s very cool. I’m actually kind of inspired to do something similar from I thought about making Josh Hall Web Design Show its own domain and really building that out. But for right now, I’ve just got it on my website as podcasts. So initially,
My thought was, is that it wasn’t relevant to my entire client.
For you it’s very different. Yeah. Since mine was personal branded. Yeah. But you could, it could be Yeah. LEO CEO could be. Yeah, I mean, shoot, you might rename the podcast. I do a new podcast, Leo to CEO sounds pretty loud about that. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Well, I want to know, in an ideal world, where where would Adam be a year from now? And this is just a little bit of an exercise for you as you think about leveraging everything we’ve talked about moving forward. In an ideal world if you could, you know, in about less than a minute or so. Could you explain where you would love to be? Would it be you know, full time LEO to CEO, podcast what what, what would you be doing a year from now?
Yeah, that’s actually a really easy question. I would like to be doing LEO to CEO full time. I would like that to be my focus podcasting, online courses, webinars, you know, doing coaching, one on one coaching, group coaching, if I can do just that, I would be perfectly happy and so to be coupled or paired with that is finding a means of web design fulfillment and finding the right people to partner with on that to to resolve that that part of my, my pipeline.
Yeah. Beautiful. Well, there you go. There’s your vision. You just laid out your vision there. And then we’ll chat afterwards here.
I’ll probably get a bunch of messages now.
Yeah, by the time this comes out, you may have already had it all filled up. So yeah,
We’ll make it work for you, man. Awesome, man. Thanks for coming on again. Dude. Thanks for sharing and being real transparent, particularly about your past man, with what you’ve been through. I have the utmost respect for everybody in law enforcement with what a lot of folks have gone through. So, man, it’s awesome having you I love seeing what you’ve done with your background and how you’ve leveraged that. And I love seeing what you’re up to your inspiration, man. So keep at it.
Yeah, thank you. It’s great to be on the show again, and hey, maybe we can do number three some time. I don’t know what we’ll talk about. But we’ll come up with something right.
Oh, I’m sure we’ll have some some content for number three, for sure. It’ll probably be something with how you took a side hustle full time with your with your LEO to CEO stuff. So that’ll be exciting. Looking forward to that.
Awesome, man. Thanks for coming on.
Yeah, thanks for having me.
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