It’s a challenge when you’re short of or low on clients and new projects. But you know another challenge that not too many people talk about? When you have so many projects going on that you can’t seem to manage them all or get them done on time.
Most people ask about how to get new clients but what I think is equally important (or maybe even more important) is how to manage those projects effectively and get them done ON TIME. That will lead to happier clients, more referrals and a more happy, balanced you.
In this podcast episode, founder of Branding and Design Agency ZFactor.com and Host of “The Angry Designer” Podcast, Massimo Zefferino, shares his top tips and lessons learned on how to get projects done on time. Especially when managing a lot of projects.
What an awesome dude who is loaded with tons of experience on this topic and who was a real treat to spend an hour with. I think you’ll enjoy this convo as much as I did!
Here’s to getting more projects done, ON TIME!
In this episode:
00:00 – Introduction
03:45 – Greeting to Massimo
06:35 – Connecting tech to humans
09:16 – Building on strengths
12:38 – Showing expertise with presence
17:36 – Passion can go well into 70’s
19:02 – Overwork the key projects
23:30 – Your 75/80% is their 100%
26:20 – Fight pride to ask clarification
29:27 – Tips for time efficiency
35:22 – Is it burnout or something else
40:32 – Focus on delivering, not perfection
50:17 – Communication to keep client at ease
54:05 – Scale your company or your rates
1:01:17 – Have what you need before starting
1:07:17 – Advice to younger self
Connect with Massimo:
Featured links mentioned:
Episode #149 Full Transcription
Welcome into the podcast. This is episode 149. And this episode, I think is a real treat for two main reasons number one, because of the topic and the subject that we’re going to tackle today, which is a short how to get a lot of projects done on time. And that’s tricky no matter where you are in your journey, if it’s just you as a solopreneur, or particularly when you have a team. But especially when you have a lot of projects going on at the same time, it can be very, very tricky to get all those done on time efficiently. So we’re gonna dive into that topic. I’ve learned a lot about this and my journey. And my guests in this episode, which is the other aspect of why I’m excited about this for you is somebody who’s awesome.
This is Massimo Zeferino, who has such a fun name to say, but is also the founder and creative director of Z factor calm, which is a branding and strategy and design company. He’s also the host of the angry designer podcast, which is a really cool podcast for graphic designers. And he’s just an awesome dude, I think you’re gonna see right from the get go that Moscow is somebody who has learned a lot about scaling in the creative arts. And more importantly, he’s learned a lot about getting stuff done. And I think that’s really, really crucial to dive into, because it’s something that a lot of people tend to kind of overlook, especially when they get in the business, a lot of people want to just get new clients and find new clients. But there’s much less of a push to actually do a really good job for your client and just take it one patch project at a time. And I’ve actually found those lessons to be more important than anything, because what’s the use of getting a bunch of new clients if you can’t get their projects done on time, or if it turns into a bad experience.
So in this episode, you’re going to hear all sorts of insight about how to get projects done on time, especially when you’re managing a lot of projects, which I know is going to help you out. Again, Massimo is awesome, I think you’re gonna really enjoy this combo, he kind of felt like a brother from another mother for me, because he was just a really cool dude to talk with and was really transparent and open about all the lessons he’s learned. So I know you’re going to pull so much from this episode. And you’re going to be able to apply this stuff right now to your business, which I’m super excited about for you.
Now, before we dive in, I cover managing a lot of projects and how they meet deadlines and get all of your projects done on time throughout the entire process with your clients in my web design business course. So if you need help with this after this episode, if you’re ready to go to the next level with me, and you would like me to guide you through every aspect from start to finish for your projects, I’d love to do that in my web design business course. It covers everything for you. And I’ll give you a little free tip that I do talk about in this episode, I believe a little later on. And that is to space and stagger, especially if it’s just you as a solopreneur.
If It’s just you you’ve got to be able to space and stagger your projects, a ton of different ways I can show you how to do that in an in my web design business course I’ll guide you in depth through every step of the way that you that way, you’ll be more profitable. And you’ll just wake up and enjoy your day and enjoy what you do more and more because there’s nothing worse than being overwhelmed. And that can happen when you’re managing a lot of projects. So join my web design business course today if you’d like me to come alongside you and help guide you and all that and for right now here’s my conversation with Massimo we’re going to talk about how to get a lot of projects done on time and buckle up because we have a fun ride this one. enjoy.
Massimo welcome to the podcast my man
Thank you so maybe should try to pull up an accent throughout this whole thing with that kind of intro.
Well you just blew it but I totally wish you would have been amazing. We were joking because right before we went live I called you Massimo and that was just the Redneck and me saying it completely wrong but come to find out you are of I’m guessing it’s an Italian descent Style Me Yeah,
Absolutely are Yes yes yes. Yes. I was the first one in my family that was born here the rest immigrated over I want to say on a boat because it sounds sexier but no they flew they flew okay you know technology.
I got I got to beat man my great grandfather did come over on the boat from Italy yeah and it to New York and change they the original I’m just gonna completely derail us right from the beginning.
The original name was Ambrogio and then he changed it to ambrosia to sound a little more American which brings us right into the a thing so right
Right right it’s all a you know if you get an Italian name and it ends with a vowel so we’re good.
Yeah. Well, that’s awesome. And listen, we we have some some kinship and that already but also with what we do with helping designers I know you help graphic designers isn’t a lot of other folks, you have an interesting take on, quite frankly, just getting shit done and how to manage a lot of projects at the same time. That’s what I’m super excited to, to pick your brain about in this conversation. So to kick us off, man, do you want to let everybody know first off where you’re based out of? And if you can summarize what you do, what do you what do you tell people?
So our agency is based out of Waterloo. So we’re about an hour outside of Toronto, Waterloo is kind of like one of the the big tech capitals. In Canada, we’ve got Google here that employs like 2000 people, we’ve got accelerators. We’ve got squirt, we’ve got so many fantastic, you know, tech companies here, which kind of works well, for us. Our agency is, well, we’re a brand strategy and creative agency that focuses on b2b technology companies. So you know, we took, you know, design, of course, and we love technology, and we put those two worlds together and, and we help technology companies be more human and look more global, because this is kind of where they all seem to struggle. They all there, they all just just by nature become too technical, they talk too technical, they act as technical. And they assume that everybody, you know, who wants their product is technical. But the reality is, people are scared of technology, they’re intimidated by it. So we put a human spin on it, we bring design into it, and we help rebrand a lot of these companies and help take their, you know, help take their, their their tech into the future. So it’s actually kind of cool.
So you’re really putting personality into the brand and into the company’s face, right?
Yes. And we try to humanize them so much. And I hate that word. That’s such an overused buzzword. But the reality is, um, you know, technology companies are often, you know, led by technology enthusiasts, right? They’re often engineers are people who just love technology. And, and they’re generally very smart. And they suffer from what we refer to as the curse of knowledge, which means they just assume everybody has that same understanding of tech and that passion for tech. But the reality is, people don’t really care about the technology the same, they care about what that technology does for them. Right. And, you know, the best example, of course, this is, you know, even though they’re, they’re overused in virtually every branding, and design and marketing courses, is Apple has done a great job of doing this, right?
You know, Steve Jobs, love them or hate them, you know, early on, he didn’t necessarily create innovative products. He just took things that already existed and re market them, he made him better. He changed the user experience. He took back then what was an mp3 player, and he turned it into an iPod, you know, he let people know that, you know, you can carry 1000 songs in your pocket. That means a lot more to somebody than saying, Hey, we’ve got four gigabytes of storage capacity that you can put your media file, people don’t know what that means. Three point. So yeah, that was one thing he did very well, he he, he dumbed down technology to the point where it just it kind of it made that connection with people. And I think that’s the big, that’s the biggest thing. We thrive on trying to make meaningful connections between, you know, our customers, technology, and the people, their customers that they serve. So
There we go. There’s Lesson number one for everybody, simplify your services, so that it makes sense to your customer, make sure they understand what the heck you’re talking about. And as web designers, I think, as you know, with my audience of web designers, it’s this is really tricky. Because as we get to know the tech and the tools, you’ll end up just unknowingly talk a lot about the tech side of things. And I learned early on, I don’t even need to usually say WordPress, or Divi or any of the tools that I’m using to clients, unless I feel like they want to manage the website because they don’t need to know all they need to know is what’s the website? How’s it going to help me grow my business? That’s it. So great, great lesson right off the bat, man. And I meant to ask you, so are you guy. Two questions, I want to ask about your services right now. Because I think that’ll really give us a good framework of how you manage a lot of projects. And then I do want to hear more about you know, your YouTube channel and your teaching. So your services though, what do you guys do? Primarily? Do you just focus on branding, and logo and identity? Or are you guys doing web related services? What is your suite of services look like?
So we do break down. So this has been refining and refining over 20 plus years of being in business, right? Because everybody always starts off as being a generalist and offering everything to everybody and, and I really did find that the you know, the value came and not only niching down and becoming a specialist, but then also having a hard realization of what you’re good at what what what you can return to every day, and you know, enjoy thoroughly. So what we did is we realized that, you know, our strengths hands down, obviously has been brand strategy and creative content, right?
Creating content, being creative designing all day long. You know, our weaknesses were things like analytics and you know, like funneling campaigns and such because this took a different kind of brain power that you know, We were not up, we are a bunch of creatives here, we’ve got a creative agency. So what we did is we brought down our offerings and broke it down into two buckets, obviously, brand strategies is a passion of all of ours here, you know, coming up seeing that vision and helping companies go in the future. And then to help achieve that vision, we’re also a full creative agency.
So we do creative content, right, and, you know, broken down into digital, which is web UX, wireframes, prototyping, and then, you know, content creation, which is everything from graphic design, to, you know, infographics, the collateral material, but then also copywriting. Right? And then, you know, with that comes a few other offerings, like people will always ask, well, once you launch a website, you know, will you do SEO? Well, we’ll do on page SEO, we’ll do SEO content, but we don’t do any outbound campaigns, because again, there are people better suited for that, just like SEM, although that fits in the realm of websites and such, it’s a completely different business.
And you know, there was a time when you wanted to offer it all. But then, you know, the reality kicks in is it’s, you know, if I’m crunching and cringing, every time somebody is asking me to, you know, let’s go through their analytics and details and figure out, you know, the best keywords to focus on for their pay per click campaign. Well, I just froze that I and that wasn’t where the passion was. So we are, if it’s content development, creation, be it you know, videos, blogs, social media accounts, or you know, the vision and the strategy for those. That’s what we bring in house.
Gotcha, gotcha. Yeah, another great lesson, because when you get that psi factor in, you get an opportunity where it’s like, wow, I could make a lot of money doing this, but oh, do I really want to do it, what a valuable lesson to learn early on and to be self aware about because sometimes there’s a lot of good opportunities that it just you’re not suited for, or you just don’t like, like, I know, Michelle, my SEO gal, my who I’ve had on the show a couple times, she loves keyword research and spreadsheets and domain authority, data and stuff. I hate that stuff. I like for her to do it, and then figure out what we need to do and then go from there. But she loves it. So we all have our, our lane. So that’s pretty cool. And I’m sure this idea of how to manage all these projects is extra crucial. When you have a lot of services, even just one main service, it’s hard to figure out how to manage all your projects. So I can only imagine with a suite of services, you know how important this is.
When it gets a little tricky?
Yeah, so But before we dive into that, I did want to ask you, so you have the angry designer, you also have designed for tech, is that something like a sec, is that a secondary passion project or
So interestingly enough, so, you know, when you start developing your own branch, you know, be it as a freelancer, be it it’s an agency, you know, even as an influencer, right? You have your clients, but then you have kind of, you know, so design for tech came very much as a way to promote said factor, you know, TOS at FACTOR clients, right, we wanted to let everybody know that, you know, our skill set, of course, is understanding technology and how to actually market technology. And so what we would do is we came up with a YouTube channel for design for tech, to offer technology companies, whether they’re early stage, mid stage, late stage, with just tips and advice on you know, how to take their brand how to approach, you know, problems that, you know, we would otherwise, you know, offer up, you know, as an offering with a company.
The Angry Designer podcast, actually, that I would call our passion project. So, that stemmed out, that stemmed out. So first of all, that’s not necessarily to our clients per se, that’s more reaching out to other designers, right now, granted, any sort of, you know, any sort of publicity is good publicity. Right? And, and I mean, in all reality, even though design for tech, you know, does well, people like that, you know, they follow us and, you know, they cheer and they comment on it. The reality is, I’m not sure if customers are watching every one of those videos and being like, Yep, you’re the man. Or if they’re just like, Wow, these guys have got a whole bunch of channels and a whole bunch of followers and viewers. Good enough, right?
It’s Authority building, it’s definitely even I this is something I preach big time. And I just had a Adam Priser of WP crafter, who has a massive YouTube channel millions and millions of views for WordPress, he even said the same thing. He told me, even if you’re a web designer, and you just have some videos that are out there, even if you feel like you know, 33 views isn’t that much 33 people have watched that and that’s building your authority. It’s showing your expertise show. So whether it’s Yeah, whether it’s in your brand, or whether it’s something alongside you, and it just shows your expertise to clients makes you valuable,
Credibility is something that everybody seeks when they come because they don’t, they’re not always looking for the most creative person. – Massimo
Makes you credible, right? credible. Credibility is something that everybody seeks when they come because they don’t, they’re not always looking for the most creative person. They’re not always looking for the most technical agency. They’re looking for the safest choice, a company a person that they can rely on and know that that person will deliver. Right? Yeah, so I think that lends to the credibility. The angry designer podcast again, little things So during COVID, you know, everybody’s locked down. And being creatives, we all need to vent in certain ways. And we knew there was a lot of other people suffering the exact same way that we did in our space.
So we decided to do a podcast that would actually help designers. And what I mean by that is, you know, generally people get into design, because they’re passionate about it, whether it’s web design, whether it’s graphic design, whether it’s just even logo design, it’s a passion. And for me, you know, passion has taken me my whole life. But the sad reality is, you know, after the age of 40, the numbers dropped down in age for design. I mean, you know, less than a quarter of all designers, you know, are between the ages of 40 and 50. And after 50, it drops down to even 5%. So, that’s really sad. You know, at first wondering, where are these people going? These aren’t people that are moving up, these are people that are leaving their career.
You know, I did some research on Reddit, I went into Quora, I went online. The reality is, it is an intense industry that we’re in and I’m sure web is exactly the same way, we easily get burnt out, you know, we, you know, keeping up with technology’s insane. And we suffer from ageism, you know, I’m designers, I’m sure. And I know technologies, same way programmers, engineers suffer from ageism, as well. So what we wanted to do is we wanted to help designers reach this 25 30 40 year milestone, and we wanted to come up with a kind of a no bow podcast, just calling out, you know, all the parts that, you know, we’re all frustrated with, but everybody’s scared to say anything about because they don’t want people to go against them.
And, you know, we’re in a place we’ve been doing this so long that I don’t care if anybody gets angry at me for saying what we’re gonna say. But the reality is, people are cheering. I mean, they’re constantly cheering they’re, they’re, you know, dropping us note saying thank you, you know, this is, you know, long needed to be said, and it’s silly things from just, you know, the industry’s approach towards logos, you know, how sometimes there’s just overinflated, you know, strategies, you know, where execution should be, you know, more important, just things like that, or just even the ridiculous personalities that we all have to deal with, you know, but then also other problems, like ageism, you know, and dealing with that head on, you know, not feeling like how to get around ageism, and not feeling like you’re old when you’re, you know, amongst a team of, you know, 20 Somethings and such. So we actually
You are giving, you’re giving me a topic idea for the podcast on ageism, and how to approach because I do have a lot of folks who are over 50, who are building web design businesses, I’ve found a lot of folks are actually gearing up for retirement and they want to do something on the side. And I love that I think that’s like, it’s amazing. One of my newest is 771. That’s crazy. Like, it’s so cool. So well.
And the cool thing is neuro neural plasticity lasts well into your 70s. And that’s basically just the ability to keep learning your brain to just keep absorbing and learning. I mean, well into your 70s. And could be even later if you actually keep up with it. So absolutely there, there really is no age limit to you know, when you do something, especially on a passion, you know, because people genuinely they kind of get interested. It’s just there’s a lot of, you know, biases are people just make a lot of assumptions. Oh, they’re old, they’re crotchety, they’re dated, they’re not going to keep up with it. That’s what ageism is right.
Yeah, well, you, you talked about some other problems. And one problem in any arena, when it comes to creative work is the projects, managing these projects. So let’s dive into it a little late to getting right into it. But hey, that’s how we roll on this podcast. This has been some good points already leading up to this, though. And I think already we can tell that you have a passion for sharing and giving back on what you have learned in your experience. A couple decades in the industry. It sounds like I guess the first question I have for you, as far as managing a lot of projects is, I want to hear your take on this. If you are slammed with projects, is that a good problem to have? Would you consider it a challenge? What are your thoughts when there is a designer, in my case, web designers who have a lot of different projects and are pumped about that, because they’re slammed. And while I agree, it’s kind of a good problem to have, it is nonetheless a problem and a challenge. What are your thoughts on that?
It is a problem? So, you know, I used to struggle with this and try to figure out the best way to go about this. And, you know, my I remember once talking to my father, and he mentioned to me, I told him, I said, You know what, you know, this has been the dream project ever had, you know, I’ve I’ve always wanted and it’s in my lap right now. But I’ve got five other projects, I still have to get done. You know, I’m feeling overwhelmed. What should I do? Should I do this? And then my father is like, well, you know, let me ask you, honestly, is this a dream project that you can do and you have the skill set for you? Or do you have to learn something? I said, No, this is absolutely this I can do. And the other projects said, Absolutely, I can do them.
So he says the only thing that you’re facing is time, unfortunately, I was like absolute. He says, Well, if time is the only thing that stopped me from getting all these projects done, and just work more hours for now. So initially, it was a matter of you know, it’s not that I couldn’t do them. It’s just that was Running out of time to do it. So the first thing I did is I started realizing that I could work a little more to get these extra additional projects done. But then after working and burning yourself out and working 12 hour days and 12 hours back to back to back, regardless how old I was, or how young I was, I started realizing there had to be a better way to do this.
I would stop trying to overwork every single project, and only overwork the key projects that were going to make a lot of difference. – Massimo
And this is when I started managing my time better, I started realizing, you know, what it actually took to get certain projects done. And I would stop trying to overwork every single project, and only overwork the key projects that were going to make a lot of difference. And what I mean by that is, you know, we give every project we give every customer 100%. You know, but you can’t deny the fact that certain projects are just more enticing to work on certain projects a little more, a little more fun, right. And the reality is, this is still a business. So we have to pick and choose, you know, which strides are going to take our career further are going to take our abilities further. So that’s where we started realizing, you know, which projects, you know, needed to get done now versus which projects, you know, could take us further in the future. Right, and and then it became started, it became a matter of putting the right amount of effort into projects.
Yeah, interesting, interesting take on that. And I haven’t really had anyone on the show so far, who’s talked about, I guess, in short, giving a little more oomph to certain projects that may be worth more or maybe more valuable. In the long run, I certainly did that unintentionally. They were projects where whether it was the budget they had, or whether they were a really good referral type client, I just gave a little more oomph to the project, I would still work a little harder, maybe add a little more time maybe go the extra. I mean, I typically always tried to go the extra mile. But if it was a $1,500, mom, Pa, quick type of site versus a $5,000 business that was established, and they had a lot of great leads, I’m gonna give them a little more, you know, a little more, not passion, but just again, go the extra mile on that. And absolutely, I totally did that unintentionally. But I it’s, it’s true, you do have to kind of look at your projects and figure okay, you know, ideally, you don’t want to spend too much time over the budget, but I guess sometimes it’s worth it. Right? If it’s, if it’s going to be something it’s going to be more fruitful in the long run?
Well, it is to be fruitful. But the key takeaway here is, of course, you know, definitely take those projects and observe on them. But you know, what, what that whole exercise made us realize is that, you know, when we started putting, you know, we had all the same amount of passion for the $1,500 project and the 5000, as you did, absolutely. But the reality is, that little extra was for us, not for the customer. And what I mean by that is, that customer will not know the difference between, you know, you giving, you know, your 80% to get that project done, versus you spending extra time trying to crank things out for yourself afterwards, right?
Customers are paying you to get something done, they’re paying you for a service that they can’t do. And as long as you deliver that service in the quality that you promised a customer is going to be happy, they won’t see that extra oomph the way you will. And that was I think, the big aha moment, right? They This really sucks to say, but it’s like, it’s like good enough, actually is good enough. So we just did this podcast two weeks ago, on perfection, and how perfection absolutely doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist in programming. This we know, web design. I mean, you’ve always got, you know, vulnerabilities and flaws, and wrong screen sizes, devices, you know, designed, it’s just you can keep going and going and going.
But the reality is, you know, trying to strive for perfection, it’s unattainable. The reality is, you know, you are 80% were professionals, you know, you’re an expert in your field, I’m an expert in my field, all of your listeners are experts at what they do, which is why their customers have come to them to deliver, right? So the reality is, if you can deliver what the customer needs, that you if you can meet their expectations, they’re happy, and they will keep coming back and the back and back. That’s the difference. A lot of times what happens is people try to give that over effort every single time. They tried to give that extra oomph. And then what happens is it hurts them, right, they miss deadlines, they can’t deliver, they go back to the cleanse, say, you know, I really wanted to create this amazing thing for you. But you know, I only got it to this level. Well, on the setting, you’re apologizing for giving the customer something that’s half assed even though in your mind, you’re trying to overdo it, deliver what they want, you know, at the quality they want, because your 75 80% is already there 100%
Yeah, that’s a great point. That’s a great point. Yeah, yeah, really is I always, like tried to get it to about 90% But that’s probably well beyond what most customers need. I agree but it is interesting. I was thinking I was just thinking about sometimes when I was slammed with projects, and a big factor of the reason I didn’t have those out the door was my own fault in tinkering too much or going too far down a little rabbit hole but something again, if it’s on like one project That’s really big or a really great client, I think it’s fine. But if you’re doing that with five little tiny websites that don’t You don’t need to do that, then don’t do it. What a great lesson and, and you’re right clients, most clients don’t even know or they don’t even care.
Like, I had clients where I went really ham on like this CSS trick or this custom graphic that I created. And there was nothing more deflating than me finally getting out the door, then they’re like, Oh, cool. So anyway, I want to work on this. I’m like, seriously, like, I just killed myself for that, for that reaction. It’s not what I wanted, or God forbid, they want to change it completely, which is super frustrating, which all problems we all have as web designers and creatives, but nonetheless a great point, particularly when it comes to a lot of projects, because I do feel like, and I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this here. When you have a lot of projects, is it fair to say, you’ve just got to do what you need to do just to get them done? Or out the door? Is that kind of mindset?
Well, yes, absolutely. Um, you know, again, do what needs to get done, of course, right, which is hitting that 75 80%, right. But what you don’t want to do is, there is ways to prolong things. If there’s, if you know that there’s a project sitting and there, you know, you need feedback on the customer, instead of trying to figure it out yourself, get that feedback earlier. And that buys you a little bit more time on that project. While you’re working on another one thing that I find that people are so scared to do, whether it’s whether it’s my awesome team, or whether it’s freelancers or either other agency owners, people have got this pride, and they’re scared to go ask the customer for clarification for something to be, you know, did I misunderstand whatever, we’re not expected to have all the answers?
In fact, if we open up that, that channel communication with our customer and ask them good questions, what it does is it brings them along for that journey. And that gets them more engaged to the project more engaged with the personalities in the working relationship. And in fact, it actually increases this this long term relationship that we all try to strive for our customers, right? We have some customers, you know, believe it or not, that have been with us from the beginning, like 23 plus years, we’ve got a handful. And and again, it’s very much a collaborative effort. I’m never I personally am not of the mindset that I’m supposed to have every answer for them. Many times I tell the customer, same thing. I don’t know for sure. But give me a couple days and I will 100%.
Same thing, man. That’s right.
Hallelujah on this one and this, they appreciate that because you’re being honest. And they know that our skill set our knowledge, you know, will help us get to that answer 100 times faster than it would for them, right. And again, and it’s not done any no way does, it kind of makes you are deflates, you as being any less the expert than you were prior to that, in fact, it’s more because then all of a sudden, they’re realizing you’re also human. So it really opens up that. So I find that that’s another way to kind of help out the process along if you’ve got a big, you know, realities, we have to get all these done, of course, but if of all these projects, there’s some questions that you know, we need to do here, we can pull those out and get those quick, those quick, small tasks over. And then it kind of puts that project in a pending state waiting for the customer to feedback, which allows you then to focus on other parts, right? I mean, again, I love I get charged up when I’m working on four or five, six different projects at the same time, but I can’t work on them equally. So it’s just a matter of managing, getting this one step forward managing getting this one step forward.
That kind of brings me to time blocking. And so I read a book called Deep Work, which is something I recommend to a lot of my students, which really helped change my mind. From a basically a customer support person to a service provider. I was notorious for leaving my phone on my email up and the typical, you know, notifications, all that stuff. Once I realized that in order to be more profitable, in order to work less, make more and also save my sanity, I had to protect my creative time. And I had to have these priorities of tasks that I was going to get done either weekly or daily. And you know, whatever happens, I’m going to get these done. Time blocking was it for me meaning phones off emails off notifications. Let me get this done. What are your thoughts on time blocking? Do you have any tips, tricks, things that you’ve learned with how to just like do you? Do you do certain segments of the day? Do you take a day a week to get like what does that look like for you as far as time blocks.
So a little bit of both? So first off, self awareness is massive. It’s and what I mean by this is make sure you realize what your strengths are. But even more important, the way I approach this is what time of day are you most productive? So for me
Great point great point
Right for me, I am I am early I get up every day at six love it or hate it, you know, um, you know, some some days I wish I could stay later. I can’t I don’t know. But I check my emails quickly. You know, first thing I do, and then I block off four hours five hours in the morning to Just get the task items that I did, I figured out first thing, right? Sometimes I plan them the night before, which helps. But at the same time, sometimes you’re greeted with surprises in the morning that I just want to have other people take care of first thing.
So I know I’m most efficient in the mornings, so then I will work for a solid four or five hours in the morning, which I will probably do a day a day and a half worth of work in that time, right. And then up until lunch, you know, that’s when I crank it all out. And then I check back on my emails, and then it’s a little bit more of a service afternoon where I’m just doing everything I’m supposed to take care of. But when it comes to the stuff that I’m responsible for, I use AI, because I’m strongest in the morning. I used to also do you know, once every two weeks as well to just focus on business administrative stuff. As a business owner, I find that hard to give away. The reality is we have some account managers, you know, there’s often communication I hours from them, or, or some receipts or jobs. So, you know, I tried to give myself once every two weeks for that as well. But you’re absolutely right about the creativity. I mean, again, you know,
Gotta protect that.
Yeah, right. But you know, it’s fun, even on the weekends, I like to recharge your creativity by watching. I just watched this amazing documentary this past weekend on Banksy and urban art, and it was just amazing on you know, just the rise of graffiti and graffiti artists and, and how it’s taken from the streets to now you know, basically tarred calories, I was just, and they just just charged me up, I want to go get a spray can and sort of vandalizing everything, and then I kind of got to my senses and realize that wasn’t smart. But um, but I mean, again, it was just a great way to recharge and just kind of look forward to that next morning. So yeah,
Yeah, I had a similar kind of daily and weekly routine or block to where I tried not going into my email first thing, but I just realized, I like getting going and looking at the email just to see, what do I need? Is there any emergencies, I need to hit real quick, I did tend to go that route. But the trick was, as a web designer, when emergencies do arise, or emails are not emergencies, they’re just things that need to be taken care of pretty quickly, I always had what I call my reactionary work block, which was in the afternoon, which was at least an hour.
So that way, if a client emails me at six in the morning, and says there’s a widget down the sidebar, I know that can wait till later today, and I’ve got my block later that I’ll get emails off phones off, I’m not a customer support person, I’m getting this work done on this website, email through lunch, and then I kind of followed the same thing, I would tend to have typically a bit of a not completely reactionary, but a little more of an in and out type of approach in the afternoons. Because, particularly when it came to scaling a team, and as you as you know, not only when you start scaling, are you talking with clients, but you’re talking with your team members, so you you kind of do have to block out certain time for certain tasks, right, and different lines of communication?
Yeah, absolutely. Again, it’s, you know, I don’t know if it’s secrets or tricks on hunting to get a large volume of, of tasks done, we’ve, our brand has, you know, evolved over the past few years. And, you know, just like any brand, you know, you can think you you stand for this, you can think your brand is this, but the reality is, it’s, you know, it’s kind of what everybody what everybody else is experienced with your company. And, you know, they they came to the point where people realize that we were that get shit done kind of company, you know, they knew that if they would come to us, you know, gave us a task, we would get that task done. And that was really big difference between us.
And I guess a lot of our competitors at the time, because, you know, a lot of a lot of companies pride themselves on analysis, paralysis, they, they will sit there and analyze every single ask every single job to the point where, you know, we had we had a company proudly tell us, you know, when we went in, they needed us to help them get their website over, over the finish line. And, you know, we said, Well, have you you know, have you gotten down your information architecture? Are you wireframing yet, you know, do you have, you know, user journeys in place, and they’re proudly, oh, we’ve been working on user journeys for eight months. We think we have it now.
Oh, my gosh,
I don’t know. It’s just like, Who are you helping? In this case?
Looking at creatives both in web design, web design, I don’t think is as bad as graphic design. I’ll be awesome. I feel like I can say that because I was a graphic designer. I can. Graphic designers are notoriously terrible with deadlines. Or yeah, overanalyzing overthinking doing stuff that doesn’t even need to be done near the project taking way too long. And again, it does bleed into web designers as well because of this creativity factor and, and look, I’m empathetic towards that because creativity is not something that can be easily manufactured or or done like a different task might be. I think you do it is kind of a muscle I found that you can train and you have your own different ways to go about it. But at the end of the day, it is kind of tricky. Sometimes you’re just Just like I don’t sites that just came together like that. And then I have sites where I’m just like, Man, I have just I got nothing on this. I guess I was gonna ask this later. Let’s, let’s talk about that right now you got a lot of projects, but you’re just stuck. What are some things that you found in your experience Masimo that you have used to help get out of that rut of just feeling maybe creatively stuck.
So, burnout is a real thing. And you want to make sure that you understand what kind of burnout it is that you know what you’re in, and if it’s just something small and temporary, just because you need creative idea, or if it’s a bigger problem. So if it’s something small, you know, where it’s just, I’m stuck on a specific project problem, I have the benefit where I do have a team now, right, I’ve got a team of amazing creatives, you know, that work with me beside me, not under me. And and I can always get outside support, always, you know, what do you think of this? What do you think of that? So first off, I go to them.
If the team isn’t around, or if the problem is even over their head? Again, I’m never scared to bring that. That insight that question, that little bit of confusion I have to the customer. Right? And you’d be surprised. You’d be surprised, again, what you hear back from them, because often it’s a problem that they they’ve gotten their industry, it’s sometimes it’s just their reaction to something, right. So again, that’s, that’s a big thing that you know, we obviously bring bring forth quite a bit is, you know, we bring things forward. And sometimes we bring things forward at an earlier stage to gauge reaction, right.
So sometimes you don’t need the project to be done. And it is okay to show an intern thing, and then see what the reaction is and focus on reaction, right, and it’s that initial reaction you want to focus on, you don’t want to have them look at it, analyze it, you want to see what that reaction is within three to five seconds to whether it’s, you know, a piece of art an idea or a tagline that you want to run by them. Because that initial reaction is what 90% Of the people who are going to view your work, that’s all they’re gonna give you. Right? Then they’re gonna look at your logo, they’re gonna be cool, okay, and then they’re gonna move on, they’re gonna look at that website. Or they’ll be like, I don’t get it, but they’ll move on, right? Nobody will give you the satisfaction, you know, of analyzing what how you think that they’re going to do same with a website, right? They’ll land on their page, they’re gonna love it and get it or they’re gonna, oh, I don’t like it, and they’re gonna bounce. Right. But again, if we focus in on that, that reaction, I think it’s just it’s also telling of, you know, the bigger picture.
That’s good, great idea of talking with the client. And in some way, obviously, you may not want to say like, I’m completely stuck on your project. I don’t know what to do. But I’m sorry, yeah, there’s a tactful way to maybe. And I did, there were times where I was just like, I know, we had our strategy call, but I, I just I did the same thing, I would reach out and say, I’m just thinking through like this section, and I just want to clarify this or this or wanted to get some feedback on this. And then it would like spark the idea. And obviously, yeah, having a team is is really good in this regard. Because you can get some trusted feedback. The other thing is for folks who don’t have a team and are a solopreneur.
This is why we have online communities and Facebook groups in this loop. This is one reason I started my I have a private web design club, and everyone in there we are like that we’re like the safe space to go and just ask and that one of our most popular threads is getting feedback on your work. Because that’s what it’s there for. Like, if you’re stuck, you get feedback. And I know, every week in there, I do a q&a, which is usually like a website review. And one of my favorite things about doing this every week is when I’m reviewing a website, all just it’s so valuable to have another set of eyes on something, and then all have ideas. And then they’re like, oh my gosh, I don’t even think about that. Yeah, and I do the same thing.
So just a little while ago, I posted something I was working on. And I got feedback from my tribe, my club, because I trust them. And even if you’re brand new into design, they may see something that I don’t and that’s actually sometimes extremely valuable. Because, you know, I’m sure most of us as designers, we get so far into our own heads and our business can completely lose sight of a project, which is detrimental when you’re managing a lot of projects. So all to say this is a great, yeah, great point to just get some other eyes on something to help get out of that rut. I love that.
People don’t value, you know, outside perspective enough, right. And I mean, that’s what makes external agencies more powerful than internal, you know, creative departments. That’s what helps situations like this when you know you’re a solopreneur and just working on your craft versus getting an outside perspective because it’s that fresh perspective when you’re looking at something the same way you know, when the only tool you have is a hammer every problem seems to look like a nail, you know, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing per se because it makes you a very good hammer, but you can hammer will fix every problem, right? And there’s always another way to look at things and that’s the value of outside perspective. I think great for your for your group is amazing. For those who have that absolutely.
Yeah. Well, everyone can join it Josh Hall co slash web design club. If you’re just listening to this, or send me a note, I’ll be happy to answer any questions. If anyone’s curious. You said in the beginning, something that separated you guys was just that get shit done kind of factor? What are some of the keys to that? Is it deadlines? Is it realistic? goals and deadlines is? How? Yeah, what’s behind that man? If you could, I’m sure, you know, we could go on that. But what, what are some of the core ingredients of that success.
A customer more than anything else values a job in hand, versus an idea that never materializes. – Massimo
So it is a model that we, you know, that we live by, it’s a tenant here at the agency that, you know, look, whether it was intentional or not, this has kind of become part of our brand, and people will come to us for get shit done. And it is very much of the idea that, you know, a customer more than anything else values a job in hand, versus an idea that never materializes. Right. So depending on what the task is, the reality is, you know, customers need to get something in their hands. So if it’s projects, like, you know, social media posts, that’s fine. Again, going back to our idea of, you know, hitting things that 80%, right, we know what the customer needs, because something like social media, images, a campaign or such, it’s a short term item, right? It’s a short term campaign, it’s going to be here today, it’s going to be, you know, gone in a week, because there’s going to be three more posts after right.
So we make sure we put in the right amount of effort for the right job. So again, something like a social post, make it look kick ass, right. But we have a process that we follow, and it makes life easy. So it’s not always back at the drawing board, right? In this case. Now, when the customer has something, something a little larger, something a little larger, something that’s going to have a little bit more longevity, whether it’s, you know, collateral for a trade show, because I mean, they’re coming back or you know, something that is going to have a little bit of interaction, then what we do is we make sure we do our time blocking as a group, right. And we make sure we identify what those deliverables are, and what the realistic expectation is for them. It’s, it’s in a designer’s nature to sit and just work and work and work away. And at the end, keep tweaking, tweaking, tweaking. But again, that idea that perfection doesn’t exist, is something that we all need to learn and we need to focus on delivering not perfection, because the reality is, yeah, go ahead,
I was just gonna say you as far as like delivering something in a certain amount of time, whether that’s a full project, or whether that’s one little piece of the project. In one of the videos you guys have on your YouTube channel, I forget what the principle of the law is called, where if you give yourself like three weeks to do something,
Nomina it’s absolutely true. And that’s why this is where self awareness kicks in. Right, you realize that, you know how much time it’s, it’s, it never ceases to amaze me that often, the best work comes out of the shortest timelines, right? Um, you know, there’s, you know, an amazing story about waterfall, right? The the house, it’s just past that, let’s not even go there. But he had this to say, that’s gonna take me down a rabbit hole for another hour and talk about architecture cuts, we don’t need to do that. But the reality is, it’s when you have a short timeline, right? You know, what you’re capable of, and you know that that customer needs something in four hours, not in four days, you’re going to deliver the maximum amount of value in the shortest amount of time. And that’s the way you need to think about everything.
Because this is still a business for everybody, right? customers happy at that time, you’re able to crank out everything, because now all of a sudden, this timeline of four days has turned into four hours, not because of your fault. And so the reality is, you will you will bring up your efforts, your skills, your ability, and actually focus on just the critical items, the critical elements. And I think that’s key that analysis paralysis kills timeline. So just don’t even go there. Go with your instinct, because your instinct is trained instinct in this scenario in this in these environments. And, and again, that’s where you have to stop the analysis paralysis, handover the project, and then bring on the next one. And another thing, unfortunately, is the software that’s available out there right now, I must say project management software is on a hole. It’s pretty inflated, it’s pretty bloated, it’s very slow and and it’s intimidating. And I have found more times than not that people put down their project management software and they will just pick up a pen and they will just start making lists checklists of everything. So if anything
See got mine right here, still you’re still on paper baby as far as my main my main goals and I was a big base camp and I use that for my agency and that was great for communication, but I agree sometimes you can almost like overdo it with with processes and that can almost be you know, you can find yourself like diving too far and such as getting something done.
So if we have, you know, to two very different you know, scouts or sorry roads when we take care of project management internally right for our get shit done projects. We’ve actually developed our own project management tool, which is largely a very trimmed back but you know, Amplified version of Excel. It’s basically lists. Okay, we assign who’s on it. There’s just some comments within the lists. But you know, we refer to that as a Project Tracker. Because again, if a job is only for six hours with work, you don’t need to enter it right? Complete project, right? Of course, our web design projects, you know, when we’re looking at 150 200 hours, completely different process, right. However, we would never try to crank out a web project in four hours. But we wouldn’t also try, you know, let it go. When you pass three, four months. We’re
Like realistic deadlines come into play, right. And I know this is tricky for folks just starting out, because you might wonder, well, I don’t know how long this is going to take it. And that’s okay, you’re going to figure things out, I learned to tell clients, we have an average window of websites that was about 45 days, we’d have on the shorter end, for a typical 510 page website build would be more like 30, if it’s going to be more advanced site, it might be 45, to 60, yep, God forbid, 90 or if it’s a huge ecommerce site with a lot of functions or something. But that always helped because it gave us a realistic timeline. And I could kind of what I like to call space and stagger this project with other projects, and then give a little bit of details here and then work on another one, and, and all those methods that you’ve kind of glanced over so far.
I do think one thing this is kind of all pointing to when it comes to having a deadline of amount of hours or you know, a certain day, next week or whatever, is that helps figure out what the priority is right? Like, if you’ve got four hours to do something, you’re only going to work on what is most important. And I think that’s extremely valuable. I kind of I like force myself to do that now. Because as a course creator, and a podcaster. And YouTuber, I could spend all day just tinkering around with all sorts of different stuff. I have to be extremely self motivated and disciplined to say, I’m going to do this, and I’m going to get it even though I hate giving myself deadlines, I have to give myself deadlines. Otherwise, it’s going to take forever, it’s not going to get done. So at least for me that helped with figuring out the priority. Any other tips? Or is that maybe the best tip?
No, there is there. And I think the other tip that we we swear by and and I think you might agree with this one is we feel it’s much more beneficial to get something in the clients hands sooner and iterate than trying to hold back wait. And you know, analyze, analyze, rethink, rethink, reject, reject, you know, and that has been a big key part of big success for us has been, you know, we have a high volume of projects, we’re getting small steps to the customer to make sure that they’re, you know, guiding us in the right direction, right, we’re getting them social media concepts, very rough concepts. First, they’re like, I love it. I love it, I hate it. Good. Now we’ve just taken three and just trimmed it down to two awesome concepts. And we’re off, right?
It’s kind of tricky as a creative because you don’t want to show something that’s really not even close to done. But in the website realm, what I did, and what I learned was extremely valuable, is mainly just the homepage, even if it’s just most of the homepage, because yes, I the mistake I made early on was building the entire site, and then getting feedback. Heads up everybody, if you really want to destroy yourself and just, you know, not be profitable and lose your sanity, build the whole website, then get feedback, no, front page first, maybe a service page or something if it’s needed. But more often than not generally the front page elements, header, main content elements, that kind of stuff, style guy kind of stuff. That’s the key because yeah, then you get feedback on that, then that buys you a couple more weeks to work on exactly about pay,
And it sets the stage, right, you’ve taken that first little initial step, you’ve gotten their approval, their blessing. And now it’s like, you’re right, it buys you more time, and you’re working on stuff that’s actually, you know, valuable, it’s gonna matter. It’s, it’s on target, as opposed to, and this is why I keep saying communication is massive, people can’t be scared to go back to their customer, you know, and get those little checkpoints, get those little bits of approval, because it just makes for the project to travel in the same direction, you know, more, more accurately. So you’re constantly making all these little adjustments and getting it in their hands sooner. This way they know that they’re getting their thing on time, you know, and they can rely on you because you’re showing them you know that you’re actually providing that they’re seeing the progress and that’s that’s all customers want.
Really all bringing them into the journey with you. Right? Like absolutely certain you don’t want to like pull the entire curtain back but at least bring them along the ride so they know what’s going on where you’re at. And listen, I’m sure you would agree and saying just a casual update weekly, or whatever it is, even if you’re not working on it yet. is key for clients because the the problem, one of the biggest problems that I had with a lot of different projects was I knew okay, this is a priority. This one over here can wait maybe even a few weeks, but I don’t want to not talk to my client for three weeks. So what I learned to do was just a non notification update, just saying, Hey, we’re working on it. This is on slate for, you know, a couple weeks out, we’re doing this right now. And then I’ll give you an update on the next update, that ended up being crucial to me, did you find that as well, when you had you just quit work?
Absolutely. So one of the key features of our little, you know, we set up the pm software that we use internally that we created, is it does exactly that, we make sure that we just do updates on their weekly updates automatically, if not, you know, every other day, so customers see the status of their project, right. And it just, it kind of brings down their whole tension factor, because, you know, let’s face it, they’re looking, you know, they’re trusting us to deliver. And if it’s quiet, if it’s just quietness, crickets, and they can’t hear anything, then their anxiety goes through the roof, you know, because they’ve got their own stuff to deal with. They’re relying on us to deliver.
And heaven forbid, if you build that whole website, like you just described, you deliver it, and they’re like, Wow, this looks like our competitor from two years ago, you’re just delivering an outdated website, maybe it’s not intentional, maybe you think it’s cool. Maybe it’s a new style of something, some new stuff that that gained inspiration somewhere else, you know, you brought it to a point where it’s now to make an adjustment, make a change on it, it’s going to be a huge fee, where like you recommended if you showed him the homepage initially, but like, hey, we you know, we were going down this road or children the two concepts, then they would they would adjust for you they would give recommendations, and they’re part of that process. So absolutely.
And there’s so much value in a quickie email back when somebody asks you for something that says on it. Yes, there are so many times I even work with folks now where like, if I send a revision out for something, and I just don’t hear back, I’m like, hopefully they got that hopefully my God. Yeah, like if I need to, like remember this in three days, like, just give me a got it on it. Yeah, it takes 2 seconds.
One of our tenants, one of our last most important tenant that we had I make everybody a buy to it here is closing the loop.
Is that what you mean? What do you mean by that?
It’s that we live and breathe here. Our tenants are our you know, yeah. And it’s close the loop. And it’s always close the loop, right? Whether it’s letting the customer know, you understood, you got that feedback, instead of it going into CyberLink. But it’s also it goes even further, um, you send the delivery out via FedEx, right? Just because it’s left your building doesn’t mean your job’s done. Your job is not done until you track that bad boy arriving to their front door, that’s closing the loop that’s making sure that you can let the customer know, hey, I tracked that package. It’s on route to get to your place, you know, within four hours, let me know when it gets there. Right. This is making sure that it’s you can actually wipe your hands with and be done with it.
Right look, UPS, FedEx, Amazon, all these companies are really good to look at from this communication perspective, because you’re notified when you ordered something you notify when it’s on its way, and you’re notified when they drop it off. There it is. There’s the game plan for a buddy dude, exactly. They don’t don’t keep customers wondering what’s going on. That’s yeah, that’s close a loop. I love that that’s a that’s a great core core thing to abide by. I do want to ask him curious, because I got to a point in February 2018, I had started scaling my business a little bit. And I never had a full blown agency, I was just a solopreneur that had a small team of remote contractors. But I did get to a point where I remember I had 23 projects, just me and I was like, I literally cannot do this. Even if I work 90 hours a week. I can’t do this. And that’s what really forced me to scale pretty quickly. When somebody gets to that point, what do you advise us, especially if they are a solopreneur if they get to the point where they are completely overwhelmed to where spacing and staggering and realistic deadlines and everything we’ve talked about it, you know it at the end of the day, it’s just not possible? What do you advise somebody in that situation.
So, you know, said that as long as long as they aren’t the cause of that list of 23 because, you know, they decided to hang out for coffee have longer than they should have one day, or they took a couple days off here that as long as they’re not the reason for that. I mean, it’s a good problem to have. However, the easy way out of it. sad reality, in my opinion and what’s helped us if you’re not willing to scale your company, then you need to scale your rates and you have to bring down that list of 23 projects down to you know 18 15 12 And then you can start charging a little more which will bring down your you know, your your inevitably it will bring down that list of projects.
You know, but at the same time there’s a reason for the reward is that now you’re you’re actually there’s a reason why you have pointed through projects and your plight either it’s you are a hot commodity and people want you you know to deliver which in which case you can scale up, find another Freelancer find a partner and get stuff out in the short term, but the long term, you know, your profits are just going out the window. So, you know, what we did early on, of course, is we did up our rates considerably, we realized what we were getting, you know what, we’re stronger. And we started downsizing the type of work that we were doing, but charging more for it. And then we kind of solved that problem in that sense. Now, right now, we’re a very different type of company, because we seem to either have, you know, larger branding projects, or we’re high volume creative, and the high volume creative, right? So you know, having 23 projects, that’s a good problem to have. I wish we only had 23 projects at a time. Yeah, like, it’s an insane kind of stuff that were cranking out here on a weekly basis. And the quality is all awesome, right? So you know, different business model in that side, right? And there’s no way
Yeah and that we could, you’re so far down the line to I know, you’ve learned a lot about how to manage all this without how to make it efficient.
Absolutely. Yeah. But I mean, for an entrepreneur, though, for solopreneurs, in all fairness, I think you know, key is if you’re not willing to, you know, grow your team, like you did find extra, you know, help out there, you know, and share those profits, be prepared to share those profits, which hurts, it can hurt, you know, on the flip side, get that initial list done, and then start raising your rates and realizing, like, don’t forget, the one key thing is, as you get better at what you do, it’s gonna, it’s gonna take you less and less time to get it done. Right. But that doesn’t mean that your rates now should go down more and more as you’re getting better at your skill. If something when you started was,
You’re speaking my language. For endpoint,
You know, you shouldn’t be punished for getting better at what you do. The reality is, there’s a there’s a value to the customer. And if the value to the customer, you know, for they come to you with a web problem, we need to get a form up on our website, and this is the value and they valued at $500. Well, don’t feel guilty that it only takes you an hour to add that form to the page and make it work, right. Because when you started this project, it might have taken 567 hours, you’ve now figured out how to problem solve, you figured out how to do it efficiently, you figured out you know, which, you know, maybe plugins to use or, or which you know which code you might be able to reuse, you’ve just become more efficient, this is still a business, there’s the value is still to them, they’re no happier, they’re not gonna be any less happier if you return to them and say, Hey, I did it for half the price. That doesn’t help them.
And look, I struggled with that big time because as I did get quicker, if something did take me like 15 minutes, when I got out of charging hourly and it was fixed. I did almost feel bad. I was like, Well, I made like 300 I had some projects, I made 300 bucks an hour on, which was amazing course I had ones where I made 15 cents, but it was it did kind of bounce out. And as I got further along, yeah, you do realize, just want to back you up on that point. Because it’s so important. Just because it does take you 15 minutes, it’s the you know, 15 years of expertise that’s behind that. Yeah, I know. This is a popular like meme, you’ll see on any, you know, social media for designers, where it’s like, you know, why are you going to charge this if it only took 15 minutes, it’s it’s again, it’s the years of experience that I’ve worked my ass off on that have helped me only make it 15 minutes.
So that’s where the value is. I wanted to say something real quick to in regards to getting out of the rut of projects, because I agree, I think raising your wait rates is a biggie scaling. The other thing I did and I think you mentioned this was I just scaled back my offerings at that point. When I had 23 projects, a lot of those were still graphic design and print design. And I had already started scaling those back. And that was like, that was the the event that told me okay, I have got to focus on because I think at that point, I had maybe eight or nine actual website projects, the rest of them were what graphic design and stuff. And then I realized most of my money is in my website projects. That’s what I need to focus on. So yeah, I guess I kind of implemented all three of those. So that would be encouragement, either do one out of three, or maybe all three if you can.
So now website projects, though. Okay, so putting this back on you they’re bigger projects than then, you know, a print manual logo brochure or something. How did you manage, you know, 3 4 5 bigger projects at the same time,
For me personally, and I have a business course where I basically pull the whole curtain back on this because it is difficult. It’s tricky, but it was really kind of encapsulating everything we’ve talked about so far, Massimo, which was realistic deadlines, spacing, and I call again, spacing and staggering, like getting a lot done. In the initial window. I found the first two to three weeks for a project crucial, particularly once we got the content once we got all the content we needed. It was all hands on deck, even if it was just me getting that first page design that initial design done. And as long as I got that out, got the client all fired up. That would buy me a couple weeks.
And I had a couple of weeks they could get caught the rest of the content to me. Then I moved on to another project. Same deal, got that up or finished, you know, wrapped up a project that was going on. And then once I started seeing nailing it was a lot easier to manage those actual projects and then doing more sales and marketing and stuff like that. So yeah, I’d say, ensure it was it was for me. Definitely realistic deadlines. Really good con communication. And the time blocking again, that was that was key. Yeah, that’s key. I killed myself early on, because I was taking calls at all time. And I kind of trained my clients that, you know, Josh will answer your call whenever you when you call. And then as I became a little more honestly, quite frankly, harder to get ahold of, suddenly, that’s when I was getting more projects done.
So I just felt like all I mean, it took me like seven or eight years to get to that point. But yes, man, once I got to it, it was awesome. And I was still as a solopreneur. Like I, I still worked a really balanced life hitting six figures in my web design business, just delegating a little bit. And just focusing on the bigger projects and spacing and staggering, I would typically always have between three and four to seven or eight website projects at a time, depending and I did have some white label work to where they would send me like three projects at a time, those were a little more like template tile style sites that I could bust out pretty quickly. So it was more like maybe two to three big projects at a time and then a handful of smaller ones. Yeah,
You know, you said something key there that brought up a really important point for us is another another thing that we employ to get shit done is we don’t start a project until the customer has delivered all the elements needed. The copy is right, make sure if there’s other logos, if there’s images, don’t be waiting. I mean, I laugh when people are like, Oh, can you start the brochure? We don’t have the copy to give you for that brochure yet. But can you just start with the layout? How can you create a layout without knowing how much copy is supposed to be in there? What what you know, what key points you want to pull out, you know what you want to throw in the cover, it’s it just blows me away.
So we have a strict rule that, you know, we make sure that when a designer sits down and starts a project, they have all the items, they can’t take it as far as they can, as far as they need to they don’t take it to 50%, then we wait for the customer to provide us more details than another 10% 10%. Like we know you, you need to be able to get your hands on everything, you know, to be decreed something that you know it’s affected.
Yeah, yeah. And then I’ve talked quite a bit about Content Collection on the podcast, one of the best things I think you can do for clients who don’t know what to give you is just give them some resources or some examples, or just give them some constraints, like, you know, give me 10 images, give me you know, some about page information that is this long or looks like this, give me some front page information, like give me three paragraphs on this or whatever it is. and extrapolate that or or here’s a little hidden trick for everybody when it comes to getting content, record a strategy call. And then transcription because I actually had a web designer do that recently, she was on a call with a client and asked to record it. And then the client later on, so they didn’t know what to write. And they were like, the call is You already gave me a bunch of stuff on here. We can just take the transcription. So all sorts of methods. That’s fine. Yeah. I mean, it doesn’t work every time. And obviously you don’t want to like read a book and try to pull information out. But there may be some points there where it’s like, oh, they said something that’s really good here. Let’s use that. Because there’s nothing worse than having a really good meeting with a client or a strategy session. And then later on being like crap, what did they say about this? And then they write content. And then again, going back to the human element, it’s like a robot typed it out. So yeah, all really important when it comes to project management, for sure.
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve found that out. If there’s one reason why projects, any reason why websites don’t launch, it’s because the customers underestimate how hard it is to create copy for the site.
Yeah, it’s it’s a big,
Everybody always thinks, oh, it’s easy. I could write paragraphs about my company. And they start doing that. And it’s always more of a challenge.
Excuse me. Yeah, it’s that. And then of course, it’s like, yeah, you could write some paragraphs, but what’s that going to do your bounce rate? It’s right. And this This is something where as I developed as a web designer, I learned kind of later on the absolute importance of really good copy particularly on the main pages, the front page, like if you really want to go into the weeds on something cool making a blog post, but don’t do that on your homepage. So yeah, it’s a great point. It really is a separate service that should be accounted for or partnered up with somebody or are built out separately as a line item because it’s definitely it’s yeah, definitely something something separate but again, it all goes back to you know, project management and getting all this done.
So man, Massimo, this has been great. I feel like we’ve covered really a lot of good stuff as far as spacing and staggering deadlines realist. I think being self aware is a biggie. I really liked that point that you talked about with like, when do you feel productive? How do you want to schedule your day? You know, really take taking time to work on the business but working in we we talked about client communication and the importance of that, which is absolutely key keeping clients, you know, alongside you in the journey without letting them go too far inside the kitchen. But, you know, it’s an open kitchen concept. I guess if we can put analogy to this, right? They can see a little bit, but they don’t need to see this
Do your job, right? They may not want to come into the kitchen, but having a look inside is always cool, right?
Yeah, right, right. Yeah. So uh, man, yeah, this has been great. Man. I’ve really enjoyed this talk. I know you guys, you know, you have a lot of experience with even though the projects aren’t exactly the same. anything creative is difficult when you’re balancing creativity, budget, timeline, different personalities. So it all kind of works in there together. I have one final question for you as we wrap this up, but I do want to want to know, I know you’ve got you know, a few different resources YouTube channel podcast, where would you like my audience to go to find out more about you? Or is there one certain resource you’d like them to go check out?
You know what I think right? Now the thing that that best kind of, if I had to have anybody go anywhere, come visit us on our podcast, have a good laugh, have a good chuckle, I have a feeling that a lot of the topics that we cover, you know, web designers can can relate to just as much as graphic designers. You know, you can reach out to us on there, we’ve got, you know, so it’s, you know, the angry designer.com. But at the same time, we’ve also got our Instagram that you can come and actually get some of our little bits of advice, as opposed to listening to our podcast, as well. And that’s, you know, where the angry designer podcast on Instagram. So I think let’s keep those two objectives, easiest place to find us for sure, I think and get a good laugh or two.
Awesome. Yeah. And of course, we’ll have those linked in the show notes. I’m excited to, to check it out a little more myself. All right. So final question when it comes to, I guess, when really what I’d like to know from you, is if you could go back, when you were earlier in the game, let’s say like 20 years? Yeah, hold on, let’s bring Yeah, let’s bring it back to 2000. So, you know, we’re live biscuits in the CD player in your, you know, you’re ready to, you’re ready to tell your early self, you’re, you know, early, younger Moscow is slammed doesn’t know what to do, what would you tell yourself 20 years ago, to give you some advice with just balancing all this. And particularly when it comes to managing a lot of projects,
You don’t want, we grow a lot, obviously, and you can, you know, get good at virtually anything. But the reality is, in the end, it always comes back to trying to do what you love. So if I had to give myself any advice, you know, for, you know, 20 years from 20 years ago, it would be focused on the parts of the business you love most. Because if you do something you love every day, you’re it’s never gonna feel like work, you’re not going to work a day in your life. And early on, I took on everything thinking I had to, you know, be everything, where the reality is, I only had to be good at a couple few things to make me happy. And to create a successful business. So if I had to, you know, like, focus down on the parts that make you happy, because those are the parts that you’ll spend naturally the most amount of time in, you’ll want to dedicate more time to, and you’ll enjoy doing so. And you know what, it’s such an awesome world right now. You know, with the internet, you can become famous, you know, doing virtually anything. So focus on those parts is the advice I would give.
That’s great. I love that. And I was even thinking, with any business, even if you love it, there’s still stuff that you just don’t want to do that you just got to push through. I mean, I get to do what I absolutely love now, there’s still things that I just I don’t feel like doing this, I got to just do it. But it does make it better. It’s like it, it. It gives you a little more jump to just get it done. Instead of you know, dreading doing something because if you just get something done, then you can focus on the majority of what you what you really want to do. So yeah, that man Well, Moscow. Thanks for coming on, dude. I really enjoyed his talk, man. Yeah. Thanks for honor. Yeah, thanks for sharing your time and your expertise. And I don’t think this will be the last time and
I hope not I hope you hear back and I’m going to go check out your I’m going to check out your design club, your web design club, I want to get on there and get some advice because, man, I could use help from experts to or even from outside of.
Yeah, it’s it’s awesome. Hit me up. I’d love to invite you in, man.
All right, cool. Awesome. Thanks.
All right, take care.
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