Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to get clients without having to “sell” or pursue paid marketing strategies with ads or other interruptive sales strategies?

Well, the good news is, you can!!

There are a plethora of more organic strategies and tactics now particularly by utilizing your EXISTING clients for referrals.

This is how I built my web design business without ever running ads or traditional paid marketing.

However, referrals are like rain…sometimes you never know when it’s going to rain. It will…but it won’t be every week and it can be unpredictable.

So to help us build a more intentional organic referral system, I’ve brought on the host of The Fiercely Visible CEO podcast and entrepreneurial coach Steph Warton who shares her proven tactics for getting referrals and new clients organically without feeling pressured to pursue ads or paid marketing.

This interview is loaded with actionable insights and a whole bunch of energy and fun to help you grow your business through referrals!

P.S. Keep an eye out for my favorite part of the chat about Launch Packages for clients!

Gosh…it’s so good!

In this episode:

00:00 – Introduction
04:04 – Greeting & apology
06:31 – Super Multi Passion
10:08 – Others advocating for you
12:23 – It changes the dynamic
14:52 – Funneling ideas
18:09 – The hardest thing to do
21:47 – Should you do kickbacks
27:13 – What’s getting missed
29:26 – Launch pack pieces
32:43 – Marketing to true desires
35:50 – Use a sequence
39:29 – Tailored referrals
48:50 – Partnership affiliates
51:56 – It’s the way you ask
55:41 – Final tip

Fiercely Visible CEO Workshop | Steph Warton

A 4-week workshop that helps you leverage strategic partnerships, get in front of the right audiences, and start to attract folks who are obsessed with your vibe and ready to invest in your offers.

Connect with Steph:

Featured links mentioned:

This episode sponsored by Josh’s Web Design Business Course

Episode #179 Full Transcription

Josh 0:00
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Josh 1:02
Hello, Friends welcome into Episode 179. I am stoked. And I mean seriously stoked to bring you this episode, because we’re gonna dive in to a topic that is actually the main marketing strategy that I use to grow my web design business. And that strategy is not ads, it is not hard selling it is not in your face buy buy now kind of salesmanship. It is actually referrals. My web design business was 100% referral based, I never ran ads. And I learned a lot about referrals. And I used to think that it was odd because a lot of people looked at me cross eyed when I said that I just get new business by referrals.

Josh 1:46
But come to find out. There’s a whole lot of other people that have learned about this method to and it’s a great way to add additional marketing to your business without going the typical sales and ads route. Now, there’s obviously nothing wrong with having referrals as a part of your sales strategy. I definitely recommend you consider other sales as well. But I did want to in this episode, just dive into referrals and more specifically organic referral. So it feels natural. I wanted to dive into this in more detail.

Josh 2:13
So my guest in this episode, Steph Wharton is a leadership and visibility coach. And she has some incredible insight on how to get referrals, and also how to be intentional about it. And that’s the big thing, because as you’ll hear in this episode, referrals will come to you. Sometimes in waves, sometimes it takes a little while. So if you are going to make referrals, a step like a stable income stream of new clients for you, you have to be intentional. And this episode is going to load you up with all sorts of tactics, strategies, tips and tricks to help you boost your referrals organically, so you don’t have to feel like you’re selling.

Josh 2:54
So I’m just stoked for you, Steph is awesome. I really, really enjoyed chatting with her. We have a fun one in this one. So I know you’re going to love it as well. Now, before we dive in, I want to make sure you knew referrals, again, are my main strategy for getting web design clients. But there are a lot of different strategies. And either way, if you’re going to get referrals, you want to do a good job for your clients to make sure to have an amazing experience so that they, you guessed it, refer you.

Josh 3:19
And if you need help building your business, in all the ins and outs of running your business and growing it I am here to help you with that my business course is where we talk about all that in so much more. I pull the curtain back on my entire business setup that’s available for you right now. If you’re interested, you can go to Josh hall.co/business. And you can sign up for my business course we do talk about referrals in there, but this will be the perfect in depth look at organic referrals to help you grow your web design business. So without further ado, here is my awesome, awesome colleagues step we’re going to talk about how to get organic referrals and do it in a non sleazy salesy way. You’re ready. Can we have some fun in this one? Enjoy.

Josh 4:04
Steph, welcome back on to the show. Thank you so much for taking some time to chat again here.

Steph 4:09
Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Josh 4:12
I say that because while you are a first time guest This is our second time recording because I want to publicly apologize. I did a first in my podcaster and he had taken almost 200 episodes, but I freaking deleted our interview and I’m so mad at myself and sure I had some sketch I had our episodes kind of scheduled and I revamped where they were and I thought that I already sent your files to my editor and then I did some deletion to clear my computer. Then I realized shoot, I freakin deleted your episode. So I’m so sorry. But the good news is we had such a good chat that I feel like deep down maybe it was intentional because I just wanted to talk with you again because you’re you’re so you have such an awesome mind and you were so fun to chat with. So we’re gonna do it again.

Steph 4:56
I love that so smooth, but I feel like that’s a lesson for anybody else like you’re gonna Don’t mess up. And that’s okay. You autocorrect or you keep moving forward and you forget about it because it’s clearly bound to happen. Even 200 episodes in, it’s just the lay of the land, how it works.

Josh 5:11
I appreciate your your, your feeling on that. I really do. And I loved your email back because you weren’t upset. You just said a shit happens. And I was like, thank you so much for that. But you’re a podcaster, too. You host the the fiercely visible SEO podcast. So I don’t know. Have you ever done that? Or have you not? Hopefully you won’t know,

Steph 5:30
I haven’t known the most I’ve done honestly, my system is super, super simple. Like I record and I publish on the spot. So I don’t edit, okay, essentially eliminates that possibility to be sending not sending things and then deleting them. So yeah, luckily, not yet.

Josh 5:47
Gotcha. That’s a great way to go. Some people go ham on editing, I’m kind of right in the middle. I have like a fairly simple editing process. But yeah, there’s still a couple steps there. Well, anyway, I appreciate that. We’re gonna dive into this idea of organic referrals, because this is how I built my business. A lot of people tend to focus on ads and marketing. But I love your approach you we actually met through a recent summit that we were a part of together the Thrive Summit, and I heard some of your talk in there. And I was like, I just love your style. Love your approach. So yeah, we’re gonna focus on organic referrals and tips and tricks. Before we dive into that those steps you want to let everybody know first off where you’re based out of? And is there a way to summarize what you do? I know you do a lot. But yeah, what do you do?

Steph 6:30
I think we all do a lot, at least Super Multi passionate is one of those things where you always have the next cool idea that you’re super excited about. So that’s definitely my thing, my shtick if anything, but yes, I am stuff. For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a leadership and visibility coach. And I did start my journey as a designer. So I feel like that evolved slowly through time, from design to brand strategy, brand coaching, and now visibility, which has a bit to do with branding as well.

Steph 7:01
But in any case, I’m in Kelowna, that’s British Columbia. That’s Canada, for those of you that have no idea what Canada looks like on the map. And yeah, I used to live in Toronto, big city. And now Kelowna is like a small town with over 200 vineyards, it’s surrounded by mountains. And it’s honestly, I feel like it goes in line with like my journey, going from being hustle, hustle, hustle to now the freedom that living in nature surrounded by wine can bring. But essentially, what I do is I help my community and my clients to break the rules. Let go of all the pressure of all the things that you have to do or that you feel the pressure to have to do in order to succeed and scale your business.

Steph 7:46
And usually that looks like yes, breaking the rules are starting to become more visible through collaborations to leverage your personal brand and do things in a way that allows you to let go of being glued to your phone, because I love social media, like I’m not gonna lie, but having to or not having to but feeling called to always open Instagram, and check for new notifications and get stuck scrolling for a couple hours. That’s not how I want to live my life. And I know it’s not how a lot of you want to live your life. So we try and stray away from that. So it’s not this hustle 24/7 mentality, but your business can actually sustain itself without you having to show up 24/7

Josh 8:28
Well, and that’s one reason I wanted to have you on just your approach in business in life in general. And I do see on your website, you have a lot of pictures with some delicious looking wine. So I assumed you live somewhere that had some good wine around. So that’s awesome. Definitely seems to fit well with business too. And like you said, I think this topic is so interesting because the idea of referrals is not a sexy idea, like getting new clients and sales and marketing in hustle that seems to attract more people. Whereas with somebody like let’s focus on referrals, people were like boring, but that’s how I built my business. And I personally found it took away like I didn’t have to go for that hustle, sell, sell sell mentality when I was able to focus on referrals. Now, there’s pros and cons to referrals, just like anything. But I would love to hear from you, Steph, particularly with clients you work with, like, Why? Why do people not focus on referrals? Why do you think that is?

Steph 9:25
I think the main reason is that it can feel very hard to measure or to predict, because you have to rely on other people to essentially market your own services and your own business on your behalf. So unless you have a very loyal following where people are just naturally doing not it’s like how do I get into that? Like how do I quote unquote first my clients past, present and hopefully even future just like people in your community to talk about me so it feels almost unreliable unless you have the proof to back it up. That is a very powerful tool. to bring in those organic leads. And the cool thing is that not only are they just organic, because you’re not paying for that traffic, it’s just coming naturally from people advocating.

Steph 10:08
But that advocating in itself is what’s so powerful because now, it’s not just people that didn’t know about you that perhaps are finding out about your offers, and they’re realizing that it’s something that they need. And maybe they’re looking through your social proof and your portfolio, not stuff. But they’re actually having somebody whom they trust, say, they’re amazing, like, I loved working with them, because x y Zed, not just the deliverables, not just the work, but even just them as a person as a human being. And that’s so much more powerful. Like, I know, I would almost blindly trust my friends if they told me that somebody was worth investing in. So that really does go a long way. And that’s why I love it personally.

Josh 10:49
And so that’s a good point as to why people may not focus on that or not think about as big as it is. It is hard to measure sometimes. And it is also something that you don’t necessarily control, I think 10 People tend to dive into things they can can try to control. Although marketing itself can be tricky to control when you’re playing with Facebook ads or any other things that are in different systems. But I’ve heard it said like this, which I thought was so genius, and that is that referrals are like rain, it’s going to rain, obviously, it rains a lot where you’re at in British Columbia, obviously, I’m not as much here in Columbus, Ohio, where I am, but it is going to rain at some point. The problem is you’re not quite sure when.

Josh 11:30
So I love that analogy in regards to referrals, because that’s how it was in my business. I had some windows and some periods of my business that had a lot of referrals. And I could barely keep up. And then I had some months where I’m like, I didn’t get any referrals. I’m really hoping. And we are going to I should say, I know we’re going to talk about some tips and tricks to generate referrals because you can be proactive about this. But you still put the power in somebody else’s hand, like you said, but what I will say is you nailed it stuff, there is a massive difference between a cold reach out or a cold lead and a hot lead. Because when somebody like you said, your friend sends somebody to you and they’re like, oh my gosh, Steph is awesome. You’re gonna love her. She helped me in my business so much that person is like almost already there. All you need to do is close the deal is that kind of how you has that kind how you feel about the organic referral, like the real true benefit of it?

Steph 12:24
Definitely, it’s so it almost like makes you feel like yeah, like butterflies and like your tummy when you get the kind of whether it’s inquiries, DMS applications, because the way that they reach out a so different, like I’ve had people who reach out and they go, I was talking to so and so I have to work with you. So it changes the dynamic, you’re no longer if you’re doing sales calls, let’s say you’re no longer hopping onto that sales code, trying to woo them and trying to position yourself as an expert and talk about how amazing your offers are. You’re literally just having that sales call to make sure that you vibe as people that you can communicate that you respect each other that you can have fun throughout the entire process, because you’re probably going to be working together for a month or a couple months.

I was like no way, like, how is this possible? So that was the very start of my business. – Steph

Steph 13:12
So yeah, the dynamic changes entirely. I remember my first referral that I received, it was from a client, a design client at the time, and I had designed their logo, it was one of my very first clients. And I went from that one, which I actually believe it was either a trade or I did it for free being my first client, and then the referral within a couple weeks that I bought was an $800 project. So it went from like zero to what felt like 100 times somebody who required no sales call no nothing. They just signed a contract. And I was like no way. Like, how is this possible, so that the very start of my business, I was like referrals, that’s where it’s at?

Josh 13:53
Well, and that’s a big thing that I tell all of my students early on when they’re just getting started is even if you do a trade off, or freebie, you don’t want to do free work for long. But if you build your portfolio, and if it’s intentional, and you ask for referrals from that, you just said it, Steph, that’s the prime example of how that works out is you do a job for free, they refer you and then boom, that other person didn’t know they worked for free, you know, you didn’t work for free, and then you get 100 bucks or 1000 bucks or whatever it’s gonna be for that first project. So there’s so much power in it.

Josh 14:24
And I would like to know, I think one area worth focusing on is like, how to funnel referrals because then it gets tricky. Like you mentioned, there’s DMS, there’s emails, there’s random calls, there’s other sorts of messaging, there’s texting, like, what are your some tips on how we funnel these different referrals, especially if we’re on different social media platforms? Because then then it becomes really tricky, right? Once whether it’s one or two referrals or 10 or 15. How do we funnel and manage all these?

Steph 14:52
Yeah, that’s a very good question. Um, there’s a couple things that you can do when it comes to this system. Like if you want to have a specific application for referrals, let’s say, um, or a specific specific like intake form, depending on what systems you’re using or what CRM you’re using account. I was gonna say Acuity calendar booking system. But essentially, regardless of this system, I think what works really well is to have the intentional process already mapped out kind of like a standard operating procedure.

Steph 15:22
So the way that I like to implement that SOP is by actually adding or inviting my past and current clients to become almost like referral partners. So now they become a part of the brands are almost like brand ambassadors, right. So if they’ve had a good experience, and they want to spread the word, now they can do so and they’ve got this specific system, whether that means Hey, if you’re going to be referring people my way, appreciate it love it, this is amazing, here are the steps that you can share for them to take.

Steph 15:59
So that’s where you put the specific form that you want them to take, or whatever those steps are. So now all the people regardless of where they’re coming from, they’re all coming in the way that you would like them to, which is very intentional organized, if you want to call it. And I want to add like a little thing on the side. The good thing about having these systems is not only so that you’re organized, but this actually makes it really freakin easy for now your past clients, current clients, your brand ambassadors to go ahead and spread the word, because it’s not just hey, if you have any, if you know anybody send them my way.

Steph 16:33
No, no. Now you can give them Hey, you don’t know what to say, here’s a script you can use, feel free to tweak it, make it your own, you don’t know where to send them to. Here’s the link. And now you can repeatedly let’s say once a quarter or twice a year, how often feels good, you can reach out to your brand ambassadors and do a bit of a push whenever you know that you’re going to have some spots open. So it comes like an entire marketing system. But through ambassadors through referral partners,

Josh 17:01
And current or previous clients, which of course are always the best salespeople, because they’ve already hopefully had a really good experience with you. And we’ll talk about something we mentioned last time that I’ll I want to bring up here in a little bit. But that’s such a good point. And Enel, what I found was, I didn’t have a great process like that, per se laid out. But what I did have was, regardless of where the referral came from, they went to a certain contact form, or I figured out whether they were a qualified or questionable lead.

Josh 17:30
So I’ve talked about this in my business course I kind of funnel them if they’re qualified, like, I think it’s gonna be good, then go right to my contact form, or we can book a call, and then we’ll go into the proposal process. If it’s questionable, they go to my potential client page, or people call it a good fit page. And there’s some information that they can go through price ranges, and then they move forward. But either way, whether it’s an Instagram DM, a tag on Facebook, a message on LinkedIn, an email phone call, they all go there, that’s what helped me is, is that maybe if there’s obviously you talk about a really fairly robust type of system, if we’re not there yet, would that be what you advise just just have someplace that they’ll you know, funnel to?

Steph 18:09
100%? I think one of the it’s not that it’s the hardest thing, but it becomes hard, because I know all of us slip into this is that when we receive inquiries or people that are slightly interested or curious and have questions from different mediums, like you mentioned, we almost forget about our process. So we have that landing page or that application, which is like, oh, but they didn’t apply. So let me address their questions here. It’s like, no, no, you get to choose to stick to your own process. So yes, redirect them to that one link that you have. And then once they’ve been vetted, you get to decide, okay, what’s the next step from there? Unless you want it to be always automated the same way? We need to remind ourselves.

Josh 18:52
Yes, that is so well said. And it is it’s tricky, isn’t it? Like I remember specifically, when you mentioned that stuff, I vividly remember getting tagged on Facebook, which happened a lot for my business, somebody would say, anybody know, web designer, and then they’d say, hit my friend up, Josh, they would tag me, of course, they would always tag my personal profile. And I’m like, at least tag my business. So then they’re messaging me personally. But what happened was just that, like, they would just want to chat via Facebook, and they want to talk about their project. And then I had to remind myself, just like you said, stick to my process. If we continue, they have to go to my contact form to start.

Josh 19:30
And then there were some times where I said, I’m happy to talk about this. Let’s start right here, because I have a system in place to make sure I help you as quickly as possible. This is how we do it. And if they didn’t do it, then that’s too bad. I mean, if you’re at a place in your business, where you’re just starting out, and maybe you can manage multiple conversations and DMS, I guess, but as soon as you are too overloaded, which is gonna be pretty soon you got to keep people in your funnel in your process. I couldn’t agree with you more on that.

Steph 19:58
Yeah, it’s funny when you said to It’s true, I know it can feel hard to kind of let go of those leads that are in perfect fit. But who wants to work with somebody who can’t take the time of day to fully submit the application, the form the whatnot, you want people that are there that are going to show up and are going to do their part because this is a collaborative effort, regardless of what you’re doing, you need your client to do their part of the puzzle of the thing. So yeah, yeah, if that’s the mini red flag, you want to yes into that.

Josh 20:28
The mini red flag and heads up, if somebody is going to be difficult before they even get a quote, you best believe they’re going to be difficult during the entire process. So they don’t respect you from the first step. That’s the That’s the red flag right there. Well said. So this idea of like a brand ambassador, I like that term. And of course, current clients, you know, they if you had a really good experience with them, they’re gonna want to refer you. But I’ve often found that if they don’t refer you, it’s not personal, they just they forgot, or they’re busy, which you already hit some valuable points in that, which was just remind them and keep in an intentional type of approach with that, and give them some guidance, like, let them know, here’s how I can help people. If you hear somebody say, I need a new website, send them to me, or send them here.

Josh 21:13
Now, what about the idea though, of kickbacks and referral percentages back to them, because this is something that I have a lot of mixed feelings on. And I had some clients that were really, really interested in this and really pushed me they were like, Hey, let’s team up and, you know, like, 20%, every referral I give you. And inevitably, those seem to just never really work out as well. I tended to get the best referrals from my awesome clients who were like, don’t worry about it, I just I’ll send you somebody they need you. What are your thoughts on that? Is it worthwhile? Is it something we consider? Is it too much to worry about? At some point? What do you think?

Steph 21:47
Yeah, no, that’s totally fair. I feel like you kind of have to feel it out and see if it feels good. Like, if you were to land a client, would you feel good giving a kickback? Would you feel like you are still getting paid what you quote unquote, need or want to be paid in order to get the project done to sustain your lifestyle, lifestyle of business, etc. But something that I’d love to do in order to kind of gauge whether might be a good fit or not, or a good idea to do some sort of like referral program incentive is essentially to look at the package itself.

Steph 22:22
So the place that I love to do those kickbacks are with passive offers, because they do not affect the bottom line. And it makes it really easy to have that organic traffic coming through and continues affiliate sales coming through. So if you have a course template, stuff like that, those are great, because it can be easily plugged in everywhere you do a podcast interview, it can be shared through that you do a blog post, it can be shared through that you have all these opportunities to now have affiliate partners that are going to be sharing your content.

Steph 22:56
So that’s a great opportunity to use something like that. And then when it comes to done for you services, or anywhere where you’re trading time for money, that’s where potentially can get a little bit tricky. But you can choose to do is if you want to, there’s two things that I love to consider if you’re feeling called to essentially reward slash, thank your brand ambassadors, your clients, etc, is to realize that there could be different ways to do the kickback. So there’s one where you can do a cash incentive. So that can be Yes, cash, a gift card, a gift of sorts, where the client wins something that they didn’t previously have, and you’re providing that for them. And then alternatively, you can actually give them a credit to a future service. So especially if it’s a past client that let’s say you did their brand and their website, and now they’re referred somebody and you’re like, Okay, well, you can either take $100 cash right now, or you can take a $300 credit towards my web maintenance services.

Josh 24:01
Genius. And then it’s an upsell. So you just turn a referral, kickback to an upsell, gosh, I love that. I completely forgot about that. You mentioned that last time. So that again, that’s so great. It’s genius.

Steph 24:14
It’s really, really awesome, because it truly is a win win situation. And if there are people that are continuously referring new clients to you, or just leads in general, wherever whether they end up converting or not. They obviously loved working with you. And they could benefit from working with you again. So they’re definitely benefiting, you get a recurrent client. So yeah, it’s a great way to go about it.

Steph 24:36
The last thing I’ll add is, like you said, sometimes it doesn’t feel good or you just don’t want to do it or it’s complicated or whatever reason. Something I’ve done before is if let’s say you keep receiving new referrals from the same person, and you don’t have a process where you give them an incentive, some sort of like thank you gift, you can just randomly decide to do so. Like now as a coach, I did a one of my clients and I was like, You know what I’m feeling called to do you want to do a one on one call? You currently don’t have access to that. But you are freaking amazing. You keep referring people to me. So I want to thank you. Here you go call. And that was beyond appreciated. It went above and beyond it was something they were not expecting. So you get to decide as somebody who’s in charge, who’s the CEO of your own business, what you want to do.

Josh 25:25
That is great Gossett Steen is so many gold points in their stuff, especially well, for that for sure. Having some freedom to choose, depending on personality fit. And of course, if they are referring, it’s like, Absolutely, if you’re getting a lot of referrals, take take the lead on that and let them know, Hey, wait, let’s work something out together. But then that idea of either a kickback or a credit is genius, because I guarantee so many people would be interested in a credit for something else, which is, again, so good.

Josh 25:54
Now, we talked about some tips on the really, those are all tips on generating referrals. Here’s here’s one tricky part of the the entire process that I’ve found in my journey. And that was after the end of the project. The very like the end of the project when it’s launched, like in our case, a website is launched, and you’re done. Often, you’re like just done with the project, and you just want to send your client on your way. Of course, I talk a lot about recurring income with hosting and maintenance plans. Yeah, you want to be done with it. But is this not the most important time to reignite that relationship? And give them some resources to empower them to give you referrals is and but would you agree with me and saying that?

Steph 26:38
Yeah, 100% I feel like the client experience overall can be so powerful, just to make sure that they have that amazing experience with you so that they go ahead and shout your name from the rooftops and refer everybody to you. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that the client experience doesn’t have to just end when the project ends. It’s not just about the onboarding, and what happens throughout the, the length of the project with let’s say, concept deliveries and all that stuff. There’s actually the off boarding part of it, which sure you can do the referral programs, you can ask for a testimonial, like there’s so many things you can do at that touch point.

Steph 27:13
But what gets missed so many times, and you kind of like alluded to that is the fact that we just move on. But this is a time to celebrate, this is a time to be like look at what I just created, let’s share this with the world, let’s like really use this moment to leverage and build up momentum around our services, our our style of work, etc. And what I love to do in order to kind of like have a bit of like a celebratory moment is to include a launch pack, which is essentially something that you can give hand over to your clients so that they can now share the website, the brand, everything that you’ve built for them in a way that is actually on brand. Because you’re good, right? Like usually you hand stuff off. And then some clients aren’t really they don’t have the eye for design. So they just kind of go, oh, new website. That’s it. And you’re like No, but like what I designed was amazing. And it like it deserves its moment. So a launch pack, I feel like does that for them.

Josh 28:15
Gosh, the launch pack is just it’s one of the my favorite concepts I’ve heard of the year. So far, the launch pack is we talked about this before, like I do have a process in place where I’ve always had a moving forward page, which was kind of a mini version of that it just empowered them with like what to do with their website. But it wasn’t necessarily branded. And it wasn’t as empowering as a an official launch pack would be. So I love that idea. I can’t recommend that everybody do that.

Josh 28:42
Again, you kind of have to remind yourself like even though you’re done with the project, you’re excited to be done. Take this opportunity to make the most out of your hard work because this is it like all the work you’ve been doing over weeks or months have led to this moment. When boom, the new project, the new website is out there. So yeah, make the most of it and heads up. If you tell your clients go promote this, guess what they’re gonna do? new website, check it out, boom, no one wants to look at it. So give them some tips and some stuff to help them Now let’s dive into that stuff. What is in a launch pack? What like, Are there graphics? Are there like tips on where to post? How to Post? What have you seen working this launch pack idea?

Steph 29:26
Yeah, for me, it’s actually a very simple concept. And that’s why I love it so much. Because we don’t necessarily like as designers or as entrepreneurs to add more to our plate. But this is the cool part is you’re already creating a lot of graphics for yourself for your portfolio. You’re putting them in like beautiful mock ups. You’re doing all the legwork already. So now what you’re doing is you’re basically packaging that all up together for your client. So they have the material to share to let’s say their social media, especially if they’re an Instagram they can share it to their store. They can tag you, you can share it to your content and then tag them. So now you got reposting happening back and forth.

Steph 30:08
You can create graphics for, let’s say, I was gonna say like their email, if that’s a thing, but I think social media is one of the best ways because it’s just one of those things where people are just constantly, it’s very visual. So you’re constantly looking, sharing, commenting, it’s a very, it’s a platform where people are very engaged. But in any case, you’re creating all those graphics. Now you’re provided them to them. So let’s say if we’re looking at Instagram, as an example, their feed is now going to be perfectly curated, but not just to promote their business to promote the launch. And that’s something that they can utilize your clients can utilize to now ramp up their own business, because they’re showcasing their new website, their potential new or enhanced offers any lead magnets that they have, and you are prepping them up for a successful launch.

Steph 30:58
So now cool thing, because they’re promoting that not only are they promoting your work for a set amount of time, but because it looks amazing, and it’s well structured. And it’s almost like this marketing strategy in itself, its launch. Now they’re gonna start seeing more momentum, more traffic to their website, more enquiries more sales. So now the ROI of the investment that they just made on you as their designer is going to be 10 times more than it could have been, if they just went new website, go check it out.

Josh 31:27
Great point, like it’s up sale city, because you if you help clients grow their business, and you utilize this launch period, which is really what this is, it’s the it’s this should be the most exciting time of the project, like you should not feel burned out, your client should not feel burned out, you guys should be excited. And I understand you’re done with the project. So maybe the burnout will happen a week after but by golly, utilize this time to launch that sucker with all these principles. It’s genius.

Of course, when they’re all fired up, and then when people see this company’s new website, they’re gonna say, Wow, who did that? – Josh

Josh 31:53
And it really does, it would work, it works. And it’s it’s really a win win, win win all around, because it grows your clients business, they get a big boost of energy, and they’re finally excited to send people to their website in this example, it can help you get more work from them, because they’re like, Look, you are awesome. Let’s keep on going. Let’s add more services. And of course, when they’re all fired up, and then inevitably, when people see this company’s new website, they’re gonna say, Wow, who did that? It’s like Steph and her team or Josh and his team. That is where it’s at, like, and

Josh 32:24
So I would say if we could condense this thought I would say, utilize the launch period, as a marketing piece of your business is that fair to say, like use this time to get new clients, it’s indirect. But it is a great way to get new clients if you empower your, your, your new client.

Steph 32:43
Yeah. And that’s like one of the biggest sells, or one of the easiest ways to promote web design, let’s say, because the purpose is to bring people in is like a storefront, you want the traffic, you want the conversion. So if you’re able to do that, for your clients, through this marketing, this launch effort, that becomes a selling piece for you. Like I know, it’s so hard for designers to come up with a messaging around their offers and how to attract the right people, because it’s like, oh, I can design a beautiful website. And I’m like, Yeah, of course you do. But is that what people want? Do they want a beautiful website, that’s probably part of it. But the main thing, the main drivers probably going to be completely unrelated to having a beautiful website is probably going to be more sales more time off more freedom, like more, whatever their true desires are. So this marketing exercise, this strategy is exactly what’s going to be allow you to better promote your own offers to Yes, I agree with what you said,

Josh 33:41
The value pack is so great. It actually just reminds me just today at the time of recording this I sent out to my email list, and I’m going to do some social media stuff about a workshop I’m hosting with circle, which is the company that has a platform that I use for my coaching community and students center. And we’re kind of CO hosting this webinar. And they gave me everything. It was like a pack with graphics that they did or personalized with me on it. And they gave me email templates that I could choose, it reminds me of that value pack that it’s like or launch pack, excuse me, although it is a valuable launch pack.

Josh 34:15
It reminds me of that, like you just package up some stuff, you could use templates and my gosh, it just it goes such a long way. And I do the same thing for emails, like when this episode goes live here, which will be very soon at the time recording this it will be next week actually, I’m going to send you some graphics that you can use to promote so very similar like I want to obviously you’re a podcaster I probably don’t need to give you too many ideas, but I’m gonna share some resources for you. So I take that to heart and my business now too.

Josh 34:42
So gosh, so many genius ideas and I really just want to re articulate the fact that this is a marketing strategy, like asking for referrals and empowering clients is a marketing strategy and honestly, it can be way less expensive and way more Less salesy, because it’s with your current clients, they do the selling, you just empower them to shout it out to the world and share an awesome way, and it will bring you clients. Now, one thing I’m curious to get your thoughts on is the fact like when you’re done with a project, again, we talked about both parties are usually like ready to be done. So we want to reignite the fire.

Josh 35:22
But here comes a tricky point. For referrals. It’s like you don’t want to overwhelm the client, you don’t want to give them a launch pack, and then ask for referrals, then tell them how and then ask for a testimonial, then it’s like, well, it’s too much. So my question would be, when do we intentionally ask for referrals? Or when do we intentionally invite people to be a brand ambassador? Is that like a week after a project? Is it a couple weeks? So we just do it ongoing? Occasionally? What are your thoughts on that?

Steph 35:50
Yeah, that’s really, really cool. So there’s two different things you can probably consider. Essentially, one of them is probably your straight go to. And then the second one is like a little enhancement, you can do if you want. But what I love doing is the same way that you might have like an onboarding sequence, or for anybody else who doesn’t have a very solid client experience. Think about it as like a lead magnet, right? somebody signs up to something, now you have a sequence. So you can use a sequence like that when you offered your client. So what you can do is the day you offered them, I would probably focus on the main thing you want. So you worked with them? What’s the takeaway?

Steph 36:30
So based after this, listening to this podcast episode, you’re playing well, the launch pack, that’s what I want them to go ahead and promote. So alright, let’s go ahead and do that. Let’s do the launch pack and a testimonial, let’s say. So you’re asking for two very clear things, you’re not overwhelming. And then after that, that’s when they have entered the onboarding sequence. So yes, you can wait about a week, and now check in with them and be like, Hey, how’s everything going? Are you having any trouble with a graphics? Do you need any support? And you can start considering next step?

Steph 37:01
So do you want it to be a referral program? Do you want to upsell, what’s your next top most priority? So this is gonna vary depending on where you’re at in your business and what your priorities are, right? So if you want upsells, you focus on that, and then you push the referral program back. But if you want referrals, and you’re not as concerned with recurring clients and bringing them back, then that’s what you prioritize, you get to essentially customize that experience based on what you’re looking for next inside of your business. So that’s the funnel. Essentially, if you want to call it a funnel, I see that that’s on.

Josh 37:37
Yeah, I could see that visually, that makes a whole lot of sense. Yeah, cuz you definitely don’t want to overwhelm a client I struggled with that early on, I like gave them a bunch of resources, ask for a testimonial asked about new services, it was just too much. So one step at a time, ideally, one, maybe two things at a time to, to give them some room to breathe. And of course, it’s honestly sometimes best to wait to ask about referrals after they’ve had the site live. Because if they get results, they’re going to be 100 times more apt to give you referrals, because they’re going to be like I’ve already getting like new leads, and my business is growing already within a month.

Josh 38:11
So that definitely is a great way to go. And this is kind of an empowering point. For us. I feel like as creatives because we get to decide, again, do we want to pursue this client as a referral person? Or is it not that big of a deal, or even if they’re an industry that we don’t really want to work with, like nothing against lawyers, but I had some quite a few issues working with lawyers. And when I did a lawyer website, I was kind of like, I don’t really want them to refer their friends. So but this other company that had was in a really cool market, I want them. So that’s who I’m going to focus on.

Josh 38:44
And it also kind of dovetails on the idea you said earlier where there’s a big difference with like custom big projects versus package style stuff or courses or products, when it comes to referrals, because like for me right now, with my course is super easy to be an affiliate, like I have an affiliate program that people can sign up for. It’s easy for me, because it’s all set up with WooCommerce. I’m not custom quoting things. It’s an easy program. But with custom type packages and processes, that definitely gets more tricky, but we’ve already covered that with either a kickback or credit. But I’m just saying it’s a really cool position for us. I feel like to be empowered to do what we want to do with these clients, which which is awesome. So

Steph 39:29
Absolutely. Something there too. When it comes to deciding, hey, maybe you don’t want this person to become a referral partner, because that’s just not the type of clients you want to call in. Well, that reflects on the power of just organic lead generation through referrals. Because yes, you get to literally choose what kind of people you’re calling in. So instead of relying so heavily on your traditional marketing, where you’re showing up all the time and doing the marketing yourself and hoping that your message is so strong specific and tweak tailored in let’s say, that is calling in the right people, you’re already ensuring that the people that are referring your past clients, they’re probably going to be having their own community of like minded people who have probably similar values who are maybe in the same industry.

Steph 40:18
So the chances of your referral partners bringing in the right kind of clients that you want to work with, are has already increased in itself. So you’re attracting the people that you want to work with, which is really freakin amazing in itself.

Josh 40:30
Yeah. Now it makes total sense. And again, I just, I love this. I love the idea of organic referrals. And I feel I feel this deeply in my soul because my business ran 100% on this and I did honestly a bad job. In the beginning. I just learned more about this. But I realized that what was awesome is that I didn’t have to mark it. Like I had so many people that were like, what you don’t run ads, like you’re not doing any ads, I’m like, nope, all referrals. And again, good months, bad months, but they all tend the evened out. And I did not have to be that hustling salesman.

Josh 41:01
But again, there is a nice, there’s a balance here where if you do it intentionally, this is a different marketing strategy. And it could be your only marketing strategy like it was for me. And I would love to just get some practical ideas on tips for asking referrals because this this is where it can be tricky. When you have a client, you want to get a brand ambassador, you want to ask them to refer people but you feel weird, you might feel a little slimy, even if it was a great project. I know what I learned in when I was in a networking group. One thing that helped me so much, because it was a referral group, we were just completely open. We’re all here to grow each other’s businesses.

Josh 41:38
What I learned was, the more specific you can get with referrals to ask a referral, the better. Like if I say anybody that needs a website, it’s kind of hard for my clients to keep an ear out. Because yeah, they may hear that and get up. But if I say like a chiropractor who has a bad website, and and they go to a private chiropractor, and then like your website’s terrible, they’re going to be much more of a mindset to send me that referral. So any tips on like, more detailed tips or tricks for like, getting, you know, asking for referrals and getting more targeted referrals?

Steph 42:12
Yeah, absolutely. I have a two different train of thoughts that are coming through right now.

Josh 42:16
I saw it, I saw, where do I go?

Steph 42:21
So the first thing is just quickly to address you mentioned like, oh, maybe it feels like feels like achy even though it was an amazing project. And that comes like it can sometimes feel ichy even to sell. And it comes with the comfort the repetition. And once you find your groove all of a sudden, you don’t even think about it, you’re just like, No, of course, I would ask them to do this. But to start, I think it’s really one of the easiest ways is to not overcomplicate what the referral structure and what you’re going to ask them to do what that looks like. And instead just flat out ask your clients if they would like to become a referral partner. And if so that you’ll provide them with all the information that they need. So now doesn’t become this.

Josh 43:04
So give them some, give them some. So I guess some control or willingness, instead of just being like, Hey, let me know if anyone needs a website just like we did for you. But just give them the option to do that.

Steph 43:17
Exactly. It’s almost I would apply an exhausting thing for sales. If you’re going to pitch somebody asked for the permission first. And once somebody has said, Yes, I’m interested or I’m curious, or I’d love to be a referral partner, or I’d like to hear what your offers. Now you go okay, now I can pitch you my entire spiel. And this is where if you want you can provide them an entire referral partner, let’s say packet.

Steph 43:41
So essentially, just like a one word document, I do it super simple on Google Docs, and you’re like, Alright, these, this is a deal. This is the link that I want you to direct them to. These are the kinds of people I’m trying to call in. These are the packages, if you have any questions, here’s a little blurb that you can use, you can feel free to do whatever you want, but here is a guide, if you need it. So you didn’t overwhelm them with that, but it’s definitely available to make the entire process easy. So that was my one train of thought.

Josh 44:09
Hit me with the other. I’m excited about the other now.

Steph 44:11
Alright, so the other we’re talking about specifically calling in a type of person. And I think that’s so damn powerful. And we get to be as intentional as we want to, because I noticed it when I was a designer too, that at first I was working a lot with wedding photographers and Loved it I was designing their brands or websites, and they kept coming. And then I was like, You know what, let me switch gears and I started working with let me think bloggers, and then the bloggers kept coming through and I was like, Okay, I’m gonna test this again, and I did with coaches and then the coaches started coming through.

Steph 44:46
So when we refine our portfolio, our messaging, everything that we’re doing to cater to a specific person, a specific audience, that does actually work. So why can’t we apply that to our referral partners and get Hey, these are the types of people we want to call in. So in that case, what I would probably at least start with, is look at two things you can call people in based on their industry. So like you said, you don’t want to do lawyers. So what do you want to do? Do you want to work with coaches? Do you want to work with restaurants, what type of industries and come up with a little bit of like a description, a little bit of a portfolio for them, so that way, you can quickly instantly call them out, yeah, or have your referral partners know exactly who they should refer you to.

Steph 45:35
But then the other side, which maybe is not as visibly obvious, but I believe is so much more powerful, and I’m in love with is to call people in based on their values. I think that’s just, you get to work with people that you believe in the same things that you care so deeply about, whether it’s social issues, or the type of lifestyle that you want to live. And now all of a sudden, you’re so damn passionate to design for them, because it matters, and you really want to help them achieve or spread the word about something and

Josh 46:10
To be excited to get referrals from them to write because, you know, it’s like somebody in a similar mindset, likely,

Steph 46:16
Exactly. So I don’t know, like just values, it’s, I feel like it goes so much deeper than what people are or what they do. It’s like a core thing that you can have in common. It’s much deeper, much more meaningful of a relationship that you end up forming with these people.

Josh 46:34
Gosh, that’s awesome. Oh, it was so much good stuff already stuff. Like we really I think we’ve already blown away our first chat. So I’m almost glad we had to re record this because this has been so good. I want to start to wrap this up with I’m going to ask you why have you as almost like a coach for me with this idea of referrals. I intently this year want to do a better job at empowering my referral partners, my affiliates. And it is actually stemmed off a coaching call I had yesterday with a close colleague who was one of my top affiliates. And I realized like I need to do a better job at giving them resources and maybe making it like a part of my marketing plan.

Josh 47:13
So my question is, in my case, I’ve it’s obviously it’s a little bit different with courses and products versus one time services. But we’ve already we’ve already talked about that. What are some tips for empowering our affiliates, or our referral people? It would it be? I guess a lot of things we’ve talked about what like, you know, some sort of referral pack in this case? Or launch packs or resources, graphics, tips and tricks? Is it something I should maybe try to do like every quarter, like revisit that do email to all my affiliates, letting them know what’s going on? What are some tips for me personally? on empowering my affiliates?

Steph 47:51
Yeah, do you have a specific cycle in which you open courses or that you like to do a big push or anything like that?

Josh 48:01
I could, when I they are always open. And that’s a really interesting point. With affiliates. It’s actually the reason I keep my courses open all the time is because I’m affiliate, I’m an affiliate to some course creators, and I can’t refer to their courses if they’re closed. So that was a big problem. I was like, I’m not, I had to drop being an affiliate for some people, because I’m like, your course is freakin close. I can’t refer people all the time. And a lot of my content is evergreen. So that’s one reason I have my courses open all the times. But it’s a great point that maybe I could if I’m gonna do like a webinar, or launch or something, or revise course, maybe I could empower my affiliates and just let them know, Hey, I’m doing version two of this course I’m doing a free webinar, have people sign up? And then you could get an affiliate kickback? That’s a great idea. Does that answer your question?

Steph 48:50
Yes, it did. So what I’m gonna say is almost like spin it so it doesn’t have to be open close, that was just gonna, like help me guide I guess like my feedback on it or whatever. You can still structure your pushes as if it’s an open closed cart thing, even if they’re evergreen. So perhaps you can have a special bonus. So something that I love doing, being like a visibility expert partnerships and collaborations are like my freaking jam. Um, so play around with a couple ideas. One, you mentioned webinars. So whether it’s a webinar or a masterclass or anything where you’re doing something joint with somebody else, I feel like that is in tasteful in itself, because now they’re a part of it.

They’re not just promoting your offers your courses, they’re part of the event that’s going to provide some sort of free value or paid to both of your community. – Steph

Steph 49:32
They’re not just promoting your offers your courses, they’re part of the event that’s going to provide some sort of free value or paid to both of your community so you’re bringing everybody together and you’re promoting that one course through that. But something you can do is if you have a really good partnership slash relationship with somebody who has a product that is a good match. So now there are next reading something that just your students would really benefit from, that can be that open, closed cart thing where for a limited time, if you join for the next month or the next two days, you now get access not only to Josh’s course, but Steph’s mini course, that goes hand in hand with that topic.

Josh 50:19
Yeah, that’s genius. I love that idea of focusing on the partnership aspect of that, and I’ve been on the receiving end of that quite a bit recently. So I’m, I’m not surprised that it didn’t dawn on myself that, Hey, maybe I should do that for my courses, which is genius. But sometimes it takes this just to hear it, and to have some intentional advice to set in. So thank you for that. That’s awesome, I’m totally gonna consider that, particularly with my colleagues who are, you know, in a similar vein, and maybe we even have comparative courses, but they have like a different program that’s outside of what I do.

Josh 50:51
That is insane for me, like same for my courses that’s outside of what they do. It’s, it’s such a great way to partner up and actually going back to my coaching call with my colleague yesterday. Sometimes it just took us talking about something before we realize, we need to freakin partner up on some of this stuff, why not? Like we should totally be doing this. So that makes a lot of sense partnerships, I do have an automated. As far as like, when somebody joins a course, I have an automation that says By the way, I have an affiliate program, you can join, anyone can join. I do vet, you know, we vet them out and stuff.

Josh 51:23
But I that tends to get missed a lot. So I think some more intentional kind of things to begin now what about this? And I was gonna ask this for people who have a lot of past clients, who they’re like, I haven’t talked to them in like three years, but they’re a really good client. Should I revisit them? Like, should I mention that we have this affiliate program? What are your thoughts on that? Because Same for me, I’ve got students who maybe went through a course two years ago, if they’re a really good student, and they’re in networking groups, or they’re in networks with web designers, they might be a good affiliate partner, should I reach out to them? What are your thoughts on that?

Steph 51:56
I think you absolutely can. What I would consider in that instance, is assuming, of course, they’re part of your email list because they’ve joined this program. And they’ve continued to have communication with you via through your email list. And you can do a regular announcement where you just do a blast, and you’re like, hey, if you’ve ever participated in this course, loved it has some cool takeaways, let’s connect, would you like to be an affiliate partner, blah, blah, because at that point, it doesn’t feel necessarily like a targeted ask.

Steph 52:27
And the reason why point that differentiation is if you haven’t kept up a personal connection with that person, doing a personal one on one, individual outreach, let’s say through the DMS, at least for me, wouldn’t feel as good. Because at that point, it feels like you’re asking for something. But if it’s a regular broadcast with people, you haven’t kept in touch in two years, they’re still they could still love you. Like they could still have gotten so much value. So why not? 100%? It’s just the way in which you ask. That’s it.

Josh 52:59
Gotcha. I love that. It’s a great reminder. And it’s also subsequently made me think about just getting the awareness out that I do have an affiliate program because I’m a little baffled about how many people on like live Q and A’s and stuff that I do that ask if I have an affiliate program? I’m like, totally, I totally do. First off, it’s at the bottom, my website. So definitely heads up. If you want to be an affiliate for anybody’s programs, mine included, generally you go to the footer of the website, you’ll see it down there if they have one. So pro tip for any new web designers out there.

Josh 53:29
But it does, it does make me kind of really want to relook at this and think about making this a priority because I love the idea of organic referrals now in my business just like I did as a web designer, and I’m, this is such a timely talk because it’s it’s it’s a good reminder for me, like I’m messing around with some Facebook ads and some different strategies. But I’m reminded that I can 100% utilize the affiliate and referral route with my business as well, just like everyone else can. So this has been really good.

Josh 54:03
Yeah, Steph, man, this has been awesome. I have one final question for you. I do want to just say thank you again, for your patience and for spending another segment here with me. I like I said before, I actually think this one was better. I feel like we were more condensed and we really hit some awesome stuff. So thank you, you’ve reminded me of some things you said last time that are just gold, you’re really filled with great information on this. So yeah, thank you for that. And thank you for your transparency. One final question. Before we hit that, where would you like people to go? I know you have a podcast you want to send people there where? Where would you like everyone to connect with you?

Steph 54:38
Yeah, absolutely. The two places that I usually hang out on the most are Instagram. So at Steph Borton underscore, or the fiercely visible SEO podcast, I release episodes every week, sometimes twice a week because as you know already I break the rules. I don’t have a strict schedule. I literally just go with the flow with what’s happening. But those are the main two pieces where you’ll see me creating content Feel free to reach out. Like, I’m weird and quirky. I don’t give a shit about anything. So reach out if anything resonated. You want to chitchat Instagrams where you’ll go?

Josh 55:11
Awesome. That actually your personality type makes me so grateful that you were the one whose episode I deleted because I knew you’re gonna be offended. Like, thank goodness, he said was somebody who was going to be cool about it? Yeah, no, that’s great. And of course, we’ll have everything linked in the show notes. My last quick question for you is somebody who has never done this, somebody who has never asked for a referral, we’ve loaded them up with so many ideas, what would be the one strategy would recommend just to make it easy for somebody to to feel confident with just asking for a referral?

Steph 55:41
Yeah, okay. Um, you know, when you ask for a testimonial, that what I like to do is actually create a forum for them. So I guide the questions a little bit, because people don’t really know what to say sometimes there’s like, oh, it was amazing. That’s it. So when you have a forum, you can actually have a little the last question where they can just check off a radio button. So do you want to be a referral partner? Yes, no, maybe I have questions. That’s it. So you don’t even technically have to ask, it’s just part of your process. And that can at least get the wheels turning. So it’s not as daunting, it’s just like a side note. And then once you realize that people actually start checking it off. Yes, every single time that can release some of them hesitation, the fear around that. So you can start flat on asking if you want to do that instead.

Josh 56:24
There it is. Every point you get me fired up stuff. This is awesome. Thank you so much for your time again, I really really enjoyed round two and we’ll definitely do another one in the future because I just love what you’re up to. So thanks so much for your transparency and your thoughts and for for sharing all this awesome stuff. With everyone listening watching.

Steph 56:41
Thank you so much, Josh. It’s been a lot of fun. I know. I think I said this last time. We’re like my cheeks were hurting. They’re hurting again. hurting again. Yes,

Josh 56:49
Yes. See, that’s what I want you to know. Like, if you’re gonna come on prepare, you better do some stretches because you’re gonna have a good time.

Steph 56:56
Yep. Cheek stretches after this.

Josh 56:59
There you go. Yeah, we’ll see how that goes. Awesome.

Steph 57:02
So weird. Love being here. Thank you so much again.

Josh 57:05
Alright, Steph, thanks.


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"Josh’s Web Design Business Course has been such a blessing as I transition from graphic design to web design. This info would have taken me YEARS to gather on my own. It has also given me the most important thing I need to get started working with clients – confidence. Josh is a natural at teaching – he explains everything in an easy to understand way, and makes learning enjoyable. I’m so glad I decided to take this course, it truly is the best investment I could have made as I start my web design business.”

Patty S.

“The course is exactly what I have come to expect from Josh – and more. Great content, patient and thorough approach – and no stone is left unturned. Josh will instruct you on everything you’d want to know and also will go over topics you never even thought of. He’s been there and made the mistakes (now you don’t have to) and had the successes (and now you can, too). This course is a MUST for anyone who wants to get serious about making web design into an actual business. Highly recommended!”

Mike H.

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