If you can design a nice looking website, great. If you can design a nice site that converts, even better. If you can design a nice converting site with intentional web strategy that helps a business grow…that’s the best! And that’s the power of implementing web and digital strategy.
In this episode, we take a deep dive into website strategy, what it is and how to implement it in our businesses with former web design freelancer, now full time Digital/Web Strategist, Adela Mei.
Note: This interview is chalk full of tips, tricks and strategic methods that you can add to your business and web design services without having to become a “full time strategist” so no matter where you are in your web design journey, this is a value-packed episode! But if strategy isn’t your thing, no worries, you can connect with Adela at Jackdaw Digital.com!
In this episode:
01:26 – Talking strategy
04:47 – Greeting to Adela
07:10 – Digital strategy
09:14 – The Purpose
12:20 – Listening to clients
14:45 – Helping get clarity
18:13 – What will lack
21:56 – Choice to change
25:36 – Do best for you
27:10 – Don’t compare
29:50 – Deeper relationships
32:21 – Filtering clients
36:16 – Simple statement
38:10 – Mindset not numbers
41:32 – Adjusting in 2020
46:24 – Rebrand not necessary
51:08 – Connect with Adela
53:35 – Networking organically
This Episode sponsored by Josh’s Process Course.
Connect with Adela:
- Jackdaw Digital.com
- Adela’s Instagram
- Adela’s previous Episode #020 – Tips for Starting a Freelance Web Design Business
Featured links mentioned:
Episode #119 Full Transcription
Hey, friends, welcome into the podcast. This is Episode 119. And in this episode, we’re going to take a deep dive into website strategy. We’re going to talk about what it is, and how you can practically add it to your business, whether it’s something you just kind of do for clients without it being an actual service, or you’re going to find out that you can actually make a secondary service. Or you can make this kind of its own type of service in your business, which is super, super powerful. Because I’ll tell you one thing right now. And I’ve seen this more and more with a lot of my students. If you build awesome websites, great. If you build awesome websites that actually help a business grow their own business, that is amazing. And that’s where the the cheddar is to put it, frankly. So my guest in this episode, Adela Mei, who is a repeat guest on the podcast, she was on early early on the podcast, she was Episode 20, where we talked about starting a freelance web design business.
Well, Adela was doing that and really enjoyed her time as a website designer, but there were some areas that she liked more than others. And can you guess what area in her business she liked the most? Strategy, it was the strategy part of her business that she felt like she was really good at, she felt like she loved it. And in this interview, you’re going to hear a little bit about that transition and what made her want to take a you know, that era in the business full time. But in this episode, we get to unlock what website strategy is, and how Adela learned to become a full bonafide website strategist. So she does websites still. But that’s just a part of what she does, which is really interesting. And I just, I love this in web design. Because web design is an industry where you can pick and choose what you like to do. And you can focus on that. And you can make a great six figure income by focusing on what you love to do, which is it’s just awesome.
So I’m really excited about this, if you don’t have any interest in becoming a web strategist, that’s fine, too. This isn’t what this episode is about, you will be able to take a lot of the tips that we go over and implement them into your website designs, because whether you like it or not, and whether you know it or not, every website design is either doing it in a good way or a bad way using strategy. So if you just build a website, and don’t think about the user experience and everything, you’re going to have a bad strategy in place. But if you think about that, and you think about your clients, customers, and how their journey should be on the website, that’s where you really make a big impact. And it’s all to do with website strategy, which is what we’re going to dive in here. So super excited about this.
Now, when you are starting your business and you want to implement something like this, but you’re still doing websites, one of the best things you can do is to firm up and speed up your actual web site designs. That way you can focus on more strategy without getting bogged down in the actual process. If you feel like your web design process is just a scattered cluttered mess. That’s extremely time consuming. I want to help you out with that. I have my web design process course that is open right now and ready for you. It’s a fairly quick course you can finish it very quickly. And you’re going to see the results that you will get immediately from the course will help you and not only plan but build and launch your site so you can focus on the strategy, whether the planning phase, or as you’ll find on this episode, you can actually offer strategy moving forward on different phases. So super, super excited about this one. Here’s Adela, we’re going to talk about website strategy and how you can get to know what it is and more importantly, how you can implement into your business. Let’s have some fun.
Adela, welcome back onto the podcast. Great to have you again. My dear.
Great to be here again, Josh. Thank you.
So it’s interesting. You were an early guest on the podcast, I think I think your episode was 21 of I remember and we talked about freelance because you did a great job at really building your freelance web design business. But this is a different type of episode because you have pivoted, you have a business name change you pivoted you know what you do exactly. And I’m gonna ask you about that. Because you are a digital strategist now. And I’m excited to dive into that what it means and the ins and outs of that. And first, first and foremost, it’s one reason I love web design. And I know you and I’ve talked about this, because you can kind of pick your lane, you can choose what you’re good at and what you really enjoy and really run with that. So I’m excited to dive into that today. Do you want to let everybody know before we dive in where you’re based out of and I would like to know Adela since digital strategy. Just it’s almost confusing to me still. If somebody asked you what you do, what do you tell them?
Right? Well, that’s the million dollar question. So I mean, I’m in the UK. I’m in the southwest. And what is a digital strategist is a similar question to what is a brand strategist? What is it business as a consultant, it really depends. And there are so many different answers because it all depends on your own skills, your own background, you know where you’ve come from. But the the easiest thing I found so far to describe it is digital strategy supports business strategy. So how business reaches its goal, so some financial strategy in that in there. It also supports brand strategy, which is you know, how you’re presenting your business your brand to your customers, and then it supports your marketing strategy. And then you can kind of just drill down until you get into your tactics of, you know, email marketing, social media marketing. So the digital strategies more overarching, imagine you’re at the top of the rain forest canopy. And you’ve got everything going on below. And you’re taking this outsider’s view into someone else’s business, into their brand into their customer base into that audience. And you’re kind of mirroring for them. Because we can get people have described it before, as you’re kind of looking at the label on the bottle and the client is in the bottle. Or you can’t see the wood for the trees, because you’re kind of you know, you lost in your own jungle. So that’s really, the gift of it is to be able to be an outsider and offer this different perspective. So then in a nutshell, as much as possible, that’s digital strategy today.
That’s a great, it’s a great explanation. I mean, it makes sense. And I can see how valuable that is. Because in every business, as a business owner, or even just as a freelancer, you just get ingrained in your day to day and it can be so easy to lose sight of the big picture and to see what’s working and what’s not. And I think I think also the big benefit with this Adela is it’s very easy to get disconnected from your customers and your clients if you’re just busy with how you’re used to doing things. So I definitely see the value of that. And the question of when when somebody asks you what you do, do you just kind of frame it differently? Depending on the room that you’re in? Do you if it’s a web designer? Do you frame it differently than somebody who’s in social media? Or if it doesn’t know web, the word or the web world at all?
Sure. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s just so different for everybody. So initially, when people find me just open that conversation is I ask them to tell me about their business. And really, we go from there. Listening to you know, why they think they wanted to speak to me why they think they need digital strategy. And then just really listening to that maybe they’ve got problems or hurdles in the business problem that they want to solve. And then any news really go from there taking the lead from, you know, from what the client is telling you. Because often they kind of know, themselves, it’s just again, they can’t quite see it, they can’t quite grasp it, they need to sort of turn around and look at themselves and go, Oh, that’s what’s going on. It’s so it’s, it’s similar, but different for everybody.
It is something where I’m sure you could do it on a macro level, like you said, like all the pieces of a business. But you could also i’m sure do it on a micro level, like we were just talking before we went live. What we’re doing right now is a bit of digital strategy. Because this episode is coming out just about a week before you’re going to do a live presentation in my web design club that was crafted very carefully, like we wanted to kind of, you know, you’re gonna dive into much more detail visually in the club for that printing presentation. But we can at least scratch the surface here on the podcast and get a lot of good details out to everybody. So I love that I think it’s really cool watch. It’s a practical example of digital strategy. I was trying to think of another one as well. I think even for me personally, one strategy, I realized that didn’t come from my mind, but came from my students was people were asking, when I had my whole suite of courses done, if they could buy all of them together in a bundle. And it was like thing light bulb went off. I was like, why haven’t I thought about, you know, putting a bundle together with a discount for all my courses, which I do have. So I think that’s another practical example of digital strategy. I think we’ve kind of scratched the surface on on why but I do want to ask that question directly to you, Adela. Why is this important? Like, why is it worth investing in for a business?
Well, for me, strategy comes before everything else. Like without strategy. We’re kind of just floundering around like a fish out of water. And you know, I can even remember being at school, you know, being told you kind of have to know what you want to do when you grow up and thinking, I’ll just, I’ll just wing it. But actually, probably when I hit about 30 I was thinking, hang on a minute. I think I’m winging it. I’m don’t know if I’m going anywhere I literally was was focusing my attention on different businesses, different things I wanted to do and I actually wasn’t getting anywhere and so and financially Actually, I wasn’t getting anywhere because everything was scattered. I had no strategy whatsoever. So you can apply strategy You know, to the to the first thing you do in the morning for me wake up, get that cup of coffee, that strategy has a purpose. So you can actually see your whole life, you know, as, as, as a strategic corporation that applies to business, the real importance of strategies and knowing, like, why you’re doing what you’re doing. So for your audiences, mainly web designers will, you know, why are you doing what you’re doing when you’re working with a client? Okay, you’re building them a website is what you’re doing, you know, why are you doing it? Why does the client need the website? And then you start really drilling down into the deeper understanding of what you’re doing the purpose, not just of the website, the purpose of the business? Yeah, so that’s when you can start seeing web design, actually. And I think most web designers do incorporate elements of digital strategy and brand strategy, without really realizing it’s actually kind of an additional, separate thing that for my experience, most web designers aren’t actually charging for.
That’s the key. That’s I was just gonna say, unintentionally, most web designers are doing so much free strategy work for clients, because inevitably, they’re going to ask, can you set up MailChimp or ConvertKit? or something? Or can you help me set up my facebook or my Instagram and do some social media or whatever it is, you end up putting your marketing and copywriting hat and copywriting words on a website is 100% strategy like that’s, would you say? That’s probably one of the clearest looks at the points of a strategy because words are everything with with directing a journey.
Absolutely. And that’s why I say my main service right now is digital strategy. But there is still so sub services, if you like, I will still offer after we’ve done our initial work together. And messaging copywriting is, is one of them, because it’s so important. Your brand voice how, how you’re heard how you’re how you’re seen. So yeah, it’s it’s definitely all part of the overall strategy, if you like.
Yeah. How do you go about it? When when those first couple meetings with leads or those interests when they come through? How do you start the conversation to digital strategy?
Sure. So it’s always tell me about the business? And then and then wait, and then listen. And the trick is really to pause and let and let them really start thinking because I think most people aren’t expecting that we’re used to people talking at us, and pitching to us and trying to sell something to them. But as soon as you kind of take that other approach, you will tell me what’s on your mind. Tell me what’s going on in your business, you kind of opens up this space for them to think and go, Oh, someone’s gonna actually listen to me.
There’s the best sales tip advice ever right there. Just listen, listen and let your client voice their problems. – Josh
There’s, there’s the best sales tip advice ever. Right there. Just listen, listen and let your client voice their problems. And then that also provides all the solutions that you can start thinking up as well. I’m sure that’s where you come in, right, you can decide whether to take, you know, one approach on a macro level, like doing website, email, social and everything, or just one like, that was another question. I was curious about. How do you know, do you just determine what the biggest problems are as far as whether you want to hone in on a certain thing, or do it all at once, that kind of how that works?
Yeah, it’s a very, but to give you it, like a common conversation, if you like his people, you know, when we’re given so much information on social media, how to do things, what you should do, what you shouldn’t do growing a list, building a funnel, all of these things. Most people, when we start talking are just completely confused. They think they have to do targeted advertising. If they want to achieve x, y, z, they think they have to build an Instagram following. And really, it’s navigating through all the things that kind of aren’t true for them, and finding the things that are true for them. And really, they they the art of it is just deciding what not to do. People want to do everything because they think they have to do everything. It becomes overwhelming. They get very um people get very heady and stuck in the mind. You can tell that like but what about this and I want to do that and I want my I want to find my avatar and I want to and it’s like, you got to calm down because you don’t know what you’re talking about anymore. You got like so completely confused because of all this conflicting information.
So really, a lot of what I’m helping is people get clarity and just navigate through Okay, let’s just put that on the shelf for now. Put this on the shelf. Look at your situation, where are you with your business, you know, what are you trying to achieve? So People tend to want to jump into something so detailed, like, How many times should I post on Instagram? You know, in a week, I had someone send me this huge list of questions. And what about how many videos? How many seconds should the video be? And the word of the day, and I was like, you have to just stop for a minute. Really take a step back. And this is where the strategy you really comes in is. Who are you? What, what is your business? Why are you here? What service Are you being? Who are your customers, and it’s kind of like reel it back in, sit back down on the couch, and really get those foundational things which which is connected in with brand strategy, get those things, then from that place? You think, okay, now, where are your customers likely to play? Where are they hanging out, because if they’re not on Instagram, don’t start putting energy into building an Instagram following for that reason, maybe for another reason, but no for that one.
That is so valuable Adela. And it is interesting in the case of social media and the different platforms, because one thing that I found is, I always felt like my audience wasn’t on Instagram. And then I realized more recently, and this was based off an interview that I think will be released before this with a with a social media guy. But he even said, he called me out on that and said, Everyone is still on Instagram, but their behavior might be different. So somebody on Facebook, their behavior is way different than it is on Instagram and on LinkedIn are the different platforms. So that strategy can come into play, I’m sure with how you craft your your content. And it is really, really important, I want to back you up on that no matter what the business is, you do have to think about the whole business and your customers and their journey as a whole. Because I do find that people tend to just dive into the little things, particularly when it comes to marketing and social media, and you just hit the nail on the head, they might not need to at all like they might be wasting money or it’s it might not just be worthwhile, like, as far as digital strategy for me, another practical example, I realized my two most powerful channels were my YouTube channel and my podcasts. And they serve quite different audiences. I mean, some of the audience is the same. But podcasting is what I’m devoting most of my time to as far as marketing, because it’s suits me well. It’s brought the most amazing people and incredible students into my courses.
YouTube is something I’m going to continue to kind of reinvigorate and I will do more tutorials and stuff like that. But it just I built such a catalogue of videos, it kind of served its purpose for a while and they’re still, you know, bringing a lot of traffic in. But I haven’t been able to really do both. And I do occasionally get on Facebook, but I’m not on Instagram. I’m not on LinkedIn, I’m not on tik tok, or anything else. And I do sometimes get the urge and the temptation to be like, should I be on everything, but then I realized, you know what, I as you know, you very well know I’m very life balance oriented, I have a young family, I am not going to work 80 or 90 hours a week. So 30, 35 is my deal. So if I do if I get if I really devote a lot of time to Instagram and some of these other channels, what else is going to lack? Because I’m devoting more time to that? Would you say that something that’s worthwhile thinking about to like, should you have 100% of your time and your energy, you just have to choose? Like, what are the most important things to focus on?
You can’t be everything for everyone, everywhere, all the time. – Adela
Right? Sure. I mean, I’m a big believer that like, you can’t be everything for everyone everywhere, all the time. I mean, you just can’t and trying to do that is literally going to lead to you know, burnout overwhelm failure. So the big biggest thing for me about strategy is decision making. So taking everything into account, maybe looking at a client’s you know, their website, their social media, if they have any social media, and just deciding depending on lots of different circumstances. So it could be their budget, their time, the size of their business, it can be all different kinds of things. And really just narrowing it down and being very clear, very decisive. What do you want to achieve? Where are we going to do it? How are we going to do it? Let everything else go. And that’s the real difficult thing.
So what happened last year after actually we did the first podcast, my web design business had grown and I was in this situation of, okay, growing it hiring other people getting bigger, forming an agency and everything in me said not to do that. Oh, okay. Well, where am I gonna go with this? And I actually saw I mean, she didn’t call herself a digital strategist, a business coach, very similar thing. And sat down and looked at what did I really want to do? What did I really enjoy? What kind of person you know, am I What do I really have to offer other people, what am I the best at? What do I enjoy what really gets me fired up and it was all the brand strategy and digital strategy. And at the end of that meeting, it was only a two hour meeting with her, I’d made a decision drop every single other service, apart from the digital strategy. And I know you’ve seen my process in the community. That was really, really tough, because that was the biggest income, the biggest, you know, the biggest projects, the biggest clients, but making that decision clearly, and I haven’t gone back on it. That’s that was the decision. And everything I’m doing, you know, leads to working with clients on strategy, period, you know.
And I love that, yeah, it’s been really cool Adela, to see your journey and to see how you made this pivot, because it’s not like you, you know, failed and quit your old business and just dove into a new industry, you’re still that’s, that’s the beauty about web design, you’re still in a part of the the web design digital world, it’s just what you enjoyed. And that is so valuable. That’s where having a mentor, and hopefully this conversation prompts people to think about what they enjoy doing. Because I will say, if you just hate doing something, and it’s sucking the life out of you stop doing, hire, hire that shit out. Because somebody can do that, and probably likes doing it. Like our friend Amr, he loves email and DNS, and the stuff that just completely wears me down. So I hire him for everything in regards to that. And I did in my business, and it was awesome. I had him work with clients, and there are people you can partner with to take on the stuff that you don’t like. So for you, when you went through that, you felt like you know, the web design. And I imagine the idea of growing a big agency, do you felt like that was just outside pressure and just what quote unquote society made you feel like you needed to do is that kind of how you felt?
Yeah, I think it’s, it’s the standard route. And that’s that that is a very valid route for some people, you grow your growing agency, and that’s your kind of entrepreneur side of you. But for me, I’m a very one on one person. And you know, I’m very much into a very healthy life work balance. So I’m not in my 20s, I’ve always I probably would have gone the agency route and go on to take over the you know, you take over the world with web design. But so where I’m at in my life, and what was really important to me meant that that that just wasn’t going to be a route for me. But the beauty of strategy is when you when you kind of drop away all the other things and focus on that one thing, which for me is strategy, you can then work much more deeply with people. And for me, that’s tremendously satisfying to go deep in someone’s business and say, Hey, dude, I don’t think you need a website. Let’s just have a chat. Why are you doing what you’re doing. And it might be right at the beginning of a process, you realize together through talking, that they were actually just about to go off on a completely random trajectory, which wasn’t going to get them where they wanted to get away actually wanting to do something else. You’ve unraveled it together. And you’ve set a new course. And that can be done in a couple of hours conversation. Yeah, changes somebody’s life. Now to me that’s worth getting out of bed for even if I’m feeling crappy. Well, it is really satisfying work.
That’s That’s the key. That’s such an important point. Because I do feel like so many younger web designers and business owners, agency owners, maybe there’s no one directly pressuring them, but you just get this feeling like I should have a big agency. And I really I’ve talked about that a lot on the podcast, I really dealt with that I I had a couple colleagues who did that. And I always felt inferior because I felt like man should I have an agency downtown and have a dozen employees and stuff. And I really kind of that’s that’s what I envisioned when I got into web design, once I decided I was gonna have my own thing.
So I had to kind of break through my mental barriers and come up with my own strategy based off of what I like to do, which is exactly what I’m doing today, which is teaching, connecting people and doing this podcast and stuff like that. And I was even thinking more recently, I had another kind of breakthrough with this as far as lifestyle strategy and digital strategy, because I have colleagues like Darrell Wilson and Adam Presure, and some guys who have really big YouTube channels and are making a very good income just with their YouTube channels. And I debated like, should I go that route Should I do things at a much bigger scale, but then I realized like the our web design Club, which you’ve been a founding member on, you’re one of my first members, I value that so much more even though at the time of recording this I think we only have 85 or 86 members that still like I’ve devoted my so much time as you will know into that to make it as best as it could possibly be, even though it’s still very small in the in the scheme of you know, I Could have hundreds of 1000s of subscribers if I wanted to on YouTube. I don’t have the personal connection with those subscribers, but I do with you and other members in the club. And that, for me has been so much more gratifying even if it’s not as technically worthwhile on the books like it’s it’s profitable, the membership is great. It’s been a great addition to my business, but it’s not as big as a YouTube channel could be.
But I get out of bed and I do I can’t wait to log into the club and I can’t wait. Yeah, I just you know, I don’t know, I just wanted to say that because you do have to at the end of the day, you have to do what is best for you. You can’t let anyone else decide the path for you. And this is true in life and definitely in business because it is easy to look at all these entrepreneurs and say, Oh, I want to be like him or I want to be like her. But the truth is, their path might not be suited for you. And I’ve had a lot of people say I want to do what you do. I’m like, I wouldn’t be so quick to say that. Because if you really saw what I did, I I’m I think I’m rare. In some cases where I really love talking with people, I love connecting. I also work really hard in the time that I work. And I think some people will probably see what I do. And I will tell you this being a web designer and doing that is way easier than what I’m doing now what I’m doing now. It’s very difficult stuff for the most part.
So but I don’t know, I don’t want to I don’t mean to sound like boastful now. But I’m just saying, When somebody says I want to do it you Josh, I’m always like, do what you do. I’m like I do your own thing. Like if there are some things that I do that I can help you with that you want to integrate awesome. But is that a part of digital strategy as well? Like you did kind of hit? Yeah, you you probably have to see like, what do you you know, what do you take in you do have to be careful what you take in and to decide what to roll with? Depending on the client, right? I’m sure. Is there like a personality aspect to this to where you see, is this person going to be good on a bunch of social media channels? Or are they going to be suited for one? Is that part of this?
Oh, lots of questions there. Josh there Oh, great. I think just just touching on something, because it was so important is this idea of not comparing yourself to others. And not because just before we got on the call, I said you I’d hit a block yesterday because I’m I’m really interested in what other brand strategists are doing. And there are people that really inspire me, and then it completely floored me like what we were going to talk about because I forgot who I was. And I was like, Well, I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore. Because I’ve been you know, really watching videos and podcasts because you know, I just really really love it. I love seeing what other people do. So one of my you know my tips is always do things your way, it’s really great to research what other people are doing, of course for inspiration to see what’s going on in the marketplace. Absolutely.
But it’s about what you really want to do what you want to bring forward what my business model is very different to other people’s, your business model is quite unique as well, you know, the membership, podcasts, etc, you also have your buffet of what you do, it’s very unique to you. And that’s that’s so, so important to remember that because we need to enjoy what we’re doing, we also need to be good at what we’re doing. And I think there’s there is a connection, you know, you enjoy what you’re good at, and you’re good at what you enjoy. And it helps center and offer, you know, the services they offer, the services you offer, comparing to others can just really be quite debilitating, especially when the people I kind of really inspire me, they’ve been around a long time, you know, they’re 20 or 30 years ahead of me, don’t compare. There’s no catching up.
Is it really, you know, something that is worthwhile getting out of bed and loving what they do every day? – Josh
It is the danger of entrepreneurship when it comes to numbers, because you and I are very similar to where we would rather work with 10 people and have a really deep relationship with those 10 people, I think I can say that, you know, I see you’re nodding your head. And we would much rather that rather than have 100,000 subscribers that we have no personal connection with. I mean, that’s cool on some level, but I especially now and in life, I’ve kind of realized to look past the surfacy numbers and the quote unquote, like college entrepreneurs I see that are all gung ho about growing a huge brand, like we talked about with the agencies, but then I kind of wonder I’m be curious to track some of those journeys to see once they get into their 30s and 40s. Like, how are they you know, even if they did really well monetarily? Is it satisfying? Like is it really, you know, something that is, is worthwhile getting out of bed and loving what they do every day.
And I think that’s where I’m going again, some people are wired like that, and that’s great. But for those of us who like more of the personal deep relationships, there is such value in that it is it goes back to digital strategy, like how what are you going to focus on how do you want to build your channels What do you want to do with all that? I do want to kind of re ask the question about the personality type thing, because some personality types, some people gravitate towards certain mediums, different types of content, some people like to just put their head down and work. Some people are also are also really risk adverse. Or they’re like my wife, for example, she’s a checklist gal, give her a checklist. And that’s like, her favorite thing in the world. That’s not my style. So do you look at personality types as well, when you determine strategy?
Sure, no, absolutely. But even before that is, is when I’m choosing if I want to work with someone or not, it’s all based on personality. Skills yes, of course, like, I’m not saying I’m a brain surgeon, but i’ve you know, never held a scalpel in my hand before. But it’s, um, it’s all based on personality, because it’s to do with connection. It’s all to do with connection, human connection, communication. And then as you’re engaging with people, that’s when the insights and the ideas and the strategy actually actually come. So I’m not sitting in isolation, just writing some strategy document that I’m going to send over. It’s done through, you know, in an interactive way, because as, as I’m sure you’ve seen this movie, you know, your coaching style, when you’re asking people questions, they can start to give you information that maybe they didn’t know was there. And then between me, you start opening things are, and I’ve seen this on your podcast, the conversations here, and then it goes over here. And it turns into something that you had no idea that was going to come out.
It’s been tricky, because I’ve had to rename some podcast episodes, we didn’t even end up talking about the title.
Right? And that’s just flowing. For me that’s kind of allowing that more intuitive, insightful flow that I think, you know, words have a need to express themselves and it comes out, mainly when you’re walking on your own talking to yourself, maybe, but generally, when you’re talking with another person, things come out, and you’re like, Ah, there’s that activity that sparked so.
Do you How’d it like in the very first touch where somebody is either filling out a contact form or whatever? Can you get a feel for their personality via email? Or do you do an onboarding call? When do you decide whether and how quickly can you tell whether this is somebody you want to get, you could have an hour and a half consultation with somebody and then if you knew right away that you didn’t want to work with them, you don’t want to waste an hour, an hour and a half, I’m sure.
So I mean, I’m very, I’m very transparent. With my work. So I’m, I’m very good at discerning energies, personalities, and people. So generally speaking, from initial email, I know straight away, if it’s gonna go anywhere or not, to me, and it’s just being confident to just say, this isn’t gonna be a good fit, I’m not gonna explore it. And that sort of experience of, you know, beginning, I was just listening to something earlier, like reminding myself not everything is a hot lead. When you kind of start, you think, Oh, it’s an email, it’s at all when it’s when you put all your energy and maybe an hour on a call, and it goes nowhere. So time and experiences, I know, I know what that I know what that is. But I can refer them on or I can just say that I’m full, I’m not taking clients on, be rude or self justify.
But then, when I know that there’s, there’s a connection, personality wise, or even industry wise, then I will get on just a meet call with, you know, with a potential client. And I know a lot people will say, you know, keep it to 15 minutes or half an hour, you know, time is money. But for me, I will often be on a call for an hour and a half, two hours. And I consider that an investment in myself. Because if I want to really work with someone deeply, they are going to be part of my life. For me, it might just be a few weeks while we do our initial work, but they’re going to be part of my life. Yeah. And you know, it’s an investment in myself, am I going to be bringing in a headache, stress potential problems, or I can actually avoid that and just saying, You know what, I honestly don’t think this is a good fit, because I don’t think I can serve you I can’t, I don’t think I can give you what you want to achieve. So I’m going to I’m not just going to say yes, and try and fudge it. It’s just going to bring me anxiety and not really very good reputation if I can’t deliver.
It doesn’t take too long for anyone’s journey to start weeding out people who are not a good fit. I actually because I’m such a people pleaser. This was a big problem early on for me is I took on everybody I took on every project and I really killed myself in those first few years working with people who quite frankly just took advantage of me because I was so nice. And you want to be nice, but at the end of the day, you do have to stick up for Your own health both mentally, physically, emotionally, everything. Because there’s nothing worse than getting a call or an email from somebody and being like, oh god, I don’t want to talk to them or deal with them. That’s that’s just the worst.
And I’ll never forget, I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about this on the podcast, there was something that happened early on I when I was early in the business, as you know, I was coming from the music world, I was working with a lot of different artists and stuff. And there was a guy who was like, a disgruntled musician, he like, had some some success in the 80s. And then the 90s came around, he was just like that grumpy, older guy who he just could not please. And somehow, I think the people who printed our CD artwork, found out that I was doing websites, and they paired me up with him. And then he was just, he was almost like venting all his frustrations on me. And he kind of viewed me as the typical web designer who would just flake out because he had so many problems with web designer. So it was really toxic right from the start. But I kept on answering his calls and working with him, because I did have you to tell me, you need to just drop this person you work with. But my old pot, my old music producer at the time knew him. And I just asked him, I was like, do you know too much about this dude. And immediately he will he like, gave me the look. And he told me, Josh, you don’t have to work with him.
And that simple statement, completely changed the trajectory of my business and my strategy, because I realized, I don’t have to work with people if I don’t want to work with them, like, especially once you get to a point where you don’t need to take on every project. And there are ways to funnel and we’ll talk more about that in the podcast coming up here with funneling and weaseling out, but are weeding out. But that was such a lightbulb moment for me. I don’t have to work with them. And it was interesting when it comes to sales and personality, I’m sure you can pick up on this pretty quick. I remember, I got a call from a guy. This is again, early on, I didn’t really get a feel for the fact that some people are very numbers oriented. And that’s it. And then some people are like me, I want to like hear more about the heart and soul of the project numbers aren’t as important to me. Like if somebody charges me 1000. But maybe somebody else charges me 2000. But I really like working with them. And I think there’s going to be about more value. I’ll go the 2000 route. I’m not going to be the nickel and dimer.
But I have one guy call me. He said hey, Josh. He was a blue collar, dude, he’s like, I saw your video on the Chamber of Commerce. How much is a logo? Like, there was no like, that’s so anti me. Like I didn’t even know me, I didn’t do anything because business in it really paralyzed me. I was like, between 500 and 1000, depending? And he was like, all right, can you do it for 750? And I was like, sure. And then so completely took me off guard? Because I didn’t I didn’t know his personality type was completely numbers. It was it like budget numbers. That was it. Were in an odd way to end up being Alright, in the long run. But I don’t know, I just wanted to point that out. Because this is a big deal for a strategy because you if you work with somebody who’s not a good fit, or you don’t like I’m sure that can derail what you’re doing when it comes to strategy, right? Or maybe you just don’t.
I mean, it’s never about numbers, either. And that’s the big shift that I mean, I was I was lucky back in 2014, I discovered a core some was running called Digital strategies school. And it just piqued my interest back then. And what that kind of took you through in steps of as a web designer, look at your existing processes. Where are you? Where are you offering strategy? Where are you adding extra value that maybe you didn’t see it before? So over time, I was able to just start fleshing those things out and then building them up. And then initially, there’d be a bigger discovery session where I knew what I was doing was strategy wasn’t just Oh, I think I just did strategy.
It was like, actually, I know what I’m doing. And, and then building building out that experience over the last few years, I now know how valuable that is. So it wasn’t it wasn’t a case of I’m going to be a strategist because I feel like earning more or something like that is really building up that confidence going right I see the value. Now I see what happens when I have these calls with people. I see how it shifts the trajectory in their business. I see how that has changed their business and their life. And so it then doesn’t become about money anymore. And I’m very clear in myself, what I do is valuable. I have like an entry level fee if you like for people to start working with me. And it isn’t negotiable. And I’m really comfortable with that because I know how much value I bring to the table. But it comes from experience. It comes from confidence. And then explaining that to when you’re kind of onboarding or meeting clients is it’s quite tricky because you can’t kind of visualize or demonstrate. Well, this is how I saved your business. from going under, right, you know, with blah, blah, blah, or this is how we, you know, avoided making like a big mistake on, you know, some, you know, something that was not quite right, we, you know, we rectified it.
So it’s really understanding when you’re dealing with strategy, it’s a much higher level overview, before you even start diving down into the details of how much does this cost? And can you do this, and it’s like, leave all of that, you know, step back, and just understand that what is going to happen after a strategy session is going to change the trajectory of your business in your life. That’s what you need to know. So if you’re not in a mindset of how important brand is, then you’re probably going to be the will I’ve got $2,000 to do a thing. I’d say we’ll go run some ads, that’s fine. I can recommend you someone who specializes in that that’s, you know, what I’m going to be able to help with?
Well, perfect segue, Adela because I did want to ask you about some practical examples of how you’ve helped businesses through this, you told me about one that was really timely because of COVID. And that was so interesting. And I think that’s probably where digital strategy now is more important than ever, because we’re still figuring out how to do things differently no matter what industry it is. So can you explain that while you tell you we talked a little while ago, but do you want to bring that up on how you help that business kind of pivot during COVID, which I found to be fascinating.
So this was probably beginning of last year. So we had a session to try of work before a few years. And we had to really just kind of get serious with some options because they work in the travel industry. 100% of their income came from running eco tours. So you’ve seen like the people who go abroad to help with sea turtle conservation or something like that. So quite high end, conservation tour holidays. So we looked, you know, very, kind of coldly are all the options. It was right as the business closed as the business bankrupt. Do we look for funding? Do we get a bank loan? Do I know I’ve got their permission to talk about this, by the way? I did check with them. And do we look for? Do we sell shares? Do we look for patronage do we fundraise I mean, we looked at all of these things. And as we as we’re going through it was like No, doesn’t feel right now it doesn’t feel right, keep going, keep going.
And then something just came in and I said, Well hold on a minute, the trips are impacted by travel restrictions. But the travel restrictions only apply to holidays. There must be other areas because the world has to continue functioning the world can’t just come to a halt what are the areas where travel will still be allowed and it was in the research and education sector. I said right what happens if you you know slightly change your SEO services so they’re not holidays that research expeditions? We’re not looking for holiday makers we’re looking for students post growth students who have to collect field work for their dissertations travel with allowed and then it was just this that’s it. And literally in that moment decision made all the messaging on the website social media at the show during the whole cascade I’m sure you can hear us like Doom Doom Doom, Doom, Doom, Doom, right? This is what we’re going for me doing it 100% with gusto not negotiable. That’s what we’re doing.
And afterwards, I was like, Whoa, what? How did that happen? So literally, within a couple of hours, it looked like what are we going to, you know, you want to bankrupt the business? Oh, look, you know, what’s really interesting is they’d actually right at the beginning got a brand, brand identity designer on board. And she crafted the brand identity, visual identity. So even though we’ve pivoted the business and the strategy, the brand stayed exactly the same. Okay. And that, that for me now in my work, I’m always mindful of that is the brand doesn’t change your business trajectory, might your services and products might, your brand will never change.
Yeah. So that’s a great point.
Yeah. So it wasn’t a massive rebrand. It didn’t cost anything. It was literally we’re shifting, we’re shifting our target audience. We actually tripled the price of the trips because it was a bit of a bigger thing. And then suddenly, like the path was really clear what we needed to do and they are actually so far doing the best they’ve done since they sent They set up, which was five or six years ago. Yeah, that kind of it almost like kicked something into motion to go. This isn’t working for whatever reason. Let’s make it work. So yeah. So today, I mean that that was just amazing for everyone and people like, how did you do that? Because we have other friends in the travel industry who pause all their trips, they’ve just paused and gone to do something else. And they’re like, and you’re still like going, right? Yeah, they’re still going.
Proactive versus reactive that and it really does come all back to strategy, because and oh, that’s such a great success story. In a case study, Adela. I love that I can’t wait to see that fleshed out on your website, because I think that is potentially that is potentially the best look at how digital strategy works. When it comes to pivoting at least I mean, obviously, like we said digital strategy could be planning things out from for a new business or keeping in or your demographic or deciding what channels you want to roll with. But in that case, How valuable is that? Because Yeah, there are competitors, I’m sure a lot of them either went on a business or their their income is frozen, or whatever it is, but you help them pivot saw an opportunity. And it really all comes down to strategy. And it hats off to them for being open to that and for talking with you. And thank goodness they had you in their corner like that is so valuable. I just love that. I think that’s so cool.
I think another valuable point there too, that I’m sure a lot of businesses are feel fearful of, is the idea of having to rebrand if they change their direction, but you said it, you don’t have to. And I would say unless it’s an established brand that does a certain thing. You can absolutely, if it’s a typical small business, who cares, you can just do something else. Or maybe you still have that service available. But your primary focus is on something else that like that’s, that’s genius, I think about I brought him up on the podcast a couple times recently. But our friend john, who’s also in the web design club with graphic kitchen, he, his business got hit really hard, because he was doing all print design and graphic design during COVID. And that’s when he started learning web design. And he still does print design and graphic design. But that’s just one area of service. His main service now is web design. And he didn’t change his business name, he kept it Graphic Kitchen. And another little side note and approach to that is he’s now ranking on some of the top terms on the set first and second page of Google right now. Because for web design, because his domain authority was already in place, because his business even though it was unrelated, his website still had some domain authority. So there’s also SEO benefits and other strategy and application if you have a brand that’s already established. So
Absolutely. I mean, it’s more I realized, with my one l for my initial digital strategy package, the work we do, actually, I mean, it could be called brand strategy. And to be completely honest, I don’t know why I didn’t call myself a brand strategist. And when I think because I get a lot more involved in the business side of things.
Yeah, I think particularly since you have such a experience and path in web design, you have a lot more value in the on the digital side than somebody who may be just as logo design and branding and content like I do. Because most I think most people who focused on brand design, uh, probably not versed with social media and email integration and marketing. And some of the other things I mean, some arms are, but I do feel like those are different. Like when you come up with a style guide, and an identity and your mission and value and, and your colors and all the things that are really, really important for a brand that is different than Okay, let’s look at our customers. How are we going to reach them? How what kind of content are we going to do is those do seem separate to me at least?
Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, I mean, the Digital’s I mean, again, I’m sure every digital strategist would encompass different, you know, different elements. But But for me, I mean, recently this year, I’ve been working with a lot of web designers. I mean, that’s obvious. Because it’s a field I’ve been in, it’s a field I’m still in. So for me to help with, with strategy for those types of businesses as economy, it’s a no brainer, it’s natural. So those clients, they’re gonna get even more value working with me. Do you know the industry?
Is the website aspects still a part of what you offer? Is that just one thing that you do? And are you quicker to hire that kind of stuff out now? Adela as far as actually the web design portion?
The deeper that you work with people the better work they can do. – Adela
It hasn’t happened yet, to be honest, I would still look at I mean, I still would improve sites and work on sites where I would take on a whole new build or not would have to depend on the client. I think, if I mean, I don’t have any clients in the UK, we’ve never had a local client, I might be inclined to take it on because I can then physically work with them in in a very different way. If it was something I really was passionate about, I would do that. Otherwise I would, I would probably pass that on to a web design agency or web designer that I know most likely someone from From the club, because there’s a lot of great designers and so it’s no I haven’t ruled it out 100%. But I, I am setting my intention to focus more on the strategy because that’s where I can add more value. That’s, you know, with my experience my intuition of what I know what I’ve seen, I’ve achieved for other people. If I have a certain amount of hours in a week to work, that’s why I should be putting my time I’m real big believer like the deeper that you work with people the better work they can do. And I’m, I’m all up for positive planetary changes wildlife conservation, or you’re doing something good in the world, you you’re doing something to be of service, the more I get out people like that, and the more they can help people like that. So I can have much more impact by being strategic with who I’m working with.
Right. Well, speaking of you, I have one question, the more of a detailed question I want to end off on but I do want to find out speaking of you Where Where would you like people to go to check you out? And but to truly connect with you because you’re a great partner for a lot of folks in the club and a lot of my other colleagues Yeah, where would you like people to go to to check you out here, Adela.
Mainly my website, which is Jackdaw Digital.com. And I am also on Instagram at Jackdaw digital. As soon as a point I’d like to make Where do I laugh at myself? I’ve I’ve managed people social media for years, literally 1000s of posts that I could I do still do content marketing. And I just went on Instagram last month as it’s a very authentic experiment, because I’ve worked on referrals. Like we talked about this last year since the beginning, I’ve worked on referrals. So it’s my experiment to see Can I grow an Instagram following absolutely, authentically, genuinely, my brand. So I have 29 followers, I would love people to follow me on Instagram boost my following
There you go.
So no, I am I am on Instagram, I’m actually embracing it as a platform by see how effective it is. I really enjoy being on it. And using it. Josh, I would love to see you on there.
Just have my purse, I just do personal stuff. I’m considering it I’m definitely considering especially now that I’m more into, you know, being a course creator now and authority and a community builder. There’s a little more leverage, like my clients if I was on Instagram, and I was like, you know, working on a website with my you know, peace sign up in the air. I don’t think clients would have cared about that as much. But you know, now there’s actually more opportunity for for showing off for work life balance and stuff like that. So I consider it.
And you have a different brand presence now, like, yes, that you’re doing. So you are becoming more of an influencer?
I have recognized that it’s it’s kind of weird. But yeah, that’s that’s a good point. I it leads me to the final question I was really curious about and we will link your website and Instagram, of course in the show notes. And we’ll get you some more followers. I’m following you. So I’m one of the 29.
I am joking about the following. That is where you can find me I do check it.
Well, I’m curious how your strategy for getting clients has changed from being when and web design to digital strategy? because like you said, you don’t have too many local clients. What is? How is your strategy changed? Are you working with the network that you had already built up? Are there other forums and channels that you’re into? Is it the professional network through the organizations you’ve been in? where are some of these digital strategy clients coming from?
I mean, so my, my personal strategy, if you like the top of the list is is networking. And that’s not networking in terms of like kind of trying to hit new clients. And by you know, annoyingly posting on their LinkedIn wall or some you know, something like that. It’s more like peer to peer networking. So I do go on LinkedIn, and I am in closed forums, including your your club, owners, being observers connecting with peers, excuse me, because generally speaking, it’s not those people that are necessarily gonna want to hire me. But they may have clients who may need my services. So for me, it’s a really genuine, authentic way of just connecting with people. I’m not trying to hook them, I’m not trying to sell them. I’m not trying to pitch them. I’m literally just connecting, being interested genuinely in what they’re doing. Otherwise, I don’t do it. There’s just too disingenuous for me.
And then just building a network like that, and then it will come to mind. And if this happens from my side, when people contact me, and they need something I don’t offer, I will know someone in my network that I will feel comfortable referring them too. So I guess, you know, so that referral network is is super important, especially when you’re talking about business strategy, higher level strategy. You’re really talking to other business owners, not so much the sort of real startup freelancers or the people that I would have worked with a few years ago. It’s not really those kinds of people anymore. It’s people, we’ve established businesses who may or may not have a brand strategy. They know something needs working, then they know someone needs to come in and help. So they’re looking for someone like me to do that.
Yeah, well, and I’m excited to see how the strategy will kind of grow and evolve for you as now that you’re really experienced in this arena, I’m sure you’re going to continue to grow your Instagram and some other channels to be more of an authority as a digital strategist. So I’m excited to, to see how this, you know continues to evolve for you to Adela so I’m so excited for you, thank you so much for opening up about what you’ve learned and digital strategy. I think this was super valuable. Even just on a practical level, I think one thing I got from this is just to think, just to look at your business, and maybe maybe step outside of your routine, and just think about the business and look at it from a different set of eyes or just talk with somebody, obviously you are somebody I’m going to recommend that somebody reach out to to do even, I don’t know, if you’re open for consultations, or whatever that looks like. I mean, there’s so much value in getting another brain and another set of eyes looking at your business, because it really can shed some light in that example, that you helped that business pivot and stayed more profitable than ever while all their competitors are sitting there at that is just that’s so amazing. What a great example of strategy and, and the importance of it. So I’m so pumped for you, Adela, I can tell that you’re just full of life and you love what you do. So that’s been really, really cool to see. Hopefully, you’re not tinkering around with CSS as much as you used to. You’re just you’re working on the stuff you love to do.
Like I went out and my strengths were not in CSS.
Yep, stay in your lane. Yeah, well, thanks so much for coming on, Adela. I’m sure this won’t be the last time.
Thank you, Josh. Take care.
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