What’s better than hearing a story about how a web designer grew her business from building websites for friends while her child was napping to making it a full fledged, legit design business?

I’ll tell ya what’s better – hearing exactly what she did to get clients, raise her rates, refine her packages and what she’s doing today to get higher converting proposals.

That’s exactly what we’ll dive into in this podcast episode as I’m so excited to bring on one of my Business Course alum students and current member of Web Designer Pro Leigh Ann Dillon.

She has taken her business to a whole other level over the past year and in this conversation, we unpack exactly what she’s done every step of the way to achieve the lifestyle and freedom she was looking for when she left a corporate marketing gig for full time web designer stay-at-home Mom.

I’m so thrilled to be a part of her journey and for what we cover to help you in your journey as well.

Enjoy!

In this episode:

00:00 – Success in Web Design Business
03:37 – Webdesigner Pro Shares Marketing Strategies
14:04 – Networking for Business Growth
18:33 – Website Design and Elementor Pro Benefits
29:02 – Effective Proposal Strategies and Time Management
41:22 – Pricing and Scope of Website Design
45:57 – Website Design and Client Variety Discussion
50:29 – Evolution of Website Design and Marketing
1:00:40 – Success and Coaching Offer for Joshallco

For a Special Offer on Josh’s New Business Course go to joshhall.co/biz


Connect with Leigh Ann:

Episode #275 Full Transcription

Leigh Ann: 

I had this process for quotes before and I would send this, you know, 12 page, 15 page thing and it brought them along this path and had all these great graphics and pictures and you know I really got fancy with the PowerPoints on those. But I tried it out. I was skeptical about, you know, the process for kind of making it simple using 17 hats. You know I loved the idea of how it’s all connected with the proposal and the contract and invoice. And when I put that process in place I was amazed at I got an email in my inbox, a contract was signed, an invoice was paid and I’m like this is amazing.

Josh: 

Hello friend, great to have you here for this episode of the Web Design Business Podcast, where I don’t even think there’s a word to explain how excited I am to let you in on this conversation. My guest in this interview is Leanne Dillon, who is a student of mine and a member in my coaching community, web Designer Pro, and it was there where I’ve got to know her and her business and I’ve got to see what has worked for her so well over around the past six months with taking her business to a whole other level. In this entire conversation she pulls the curtain back Her entire process, everything she did on how she accidentally got started into Web Design as a mom with kids snapping at home, how she started getting clients through networking, how she raised her rates and refined her services, all the way up to finally realizing that you can build recurring income with a maintenance plan. And then we dive even further into what’s working for her right now with getting higher converting proposals. So cannot wait for you to hear this conversation. I’m not going to waste any more time. I do want to recommend that you check her out after this interview. Her website is hilltopwebsolutionscom We’ll, of course, have that linked over at the show notes at episode JoshHallco 275 and her business is called Hilltop Marketing, but the URL is HilltopWebsolutions. She is a great example of an established solopener business who has her sites set on the next level. I feel so privileged to be a part of that. As you’ll hear, she’s been in my business course and a part of pro, so I’m excited to hear how her story and what she’s doing right now works for you as well. Speaking of working for you, before we go live here, we talk about this, but this week version 2.0 of my business course, which Leigh Ann went through, is live and I am so, so freaking excited. We’re actually just at the time of releasing this, just wrapping up adding the new lessons. So for you, I have a special offer for you to get access to my new business course, which is also inside of Webdesigner Pro, so you can either get the course on its own or you can join us in Webdesigner Pro and get the course along with all of my other courses and community, like Leigh Ann, and get coaching with myself. Go to JoshHallcobiz B-I-Z For a special offer I have for everyone listening to this JoshHallcobiz. There’s going to be a special offer for you to dive into my new, revised business course and I can’t wait to hear how it helps you, just like it’s helped Leigh Ann. So, without further ado, here is Leigh Ann to hear about how she’s grown her business and how she’s got high converting proposals. Leigh Ann, welcome officially onto the podcast. We just had some buffering internet issues there, but I think we’re good to go, so thanks so much for taking some time to chat today.

Leigh Ann: 

Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Josh: 

We were just talking, so you’ve been. How long have you been a member of Webdesigner Pro now?

Leigh Ann: 

I think that I joined in December and so I started going through all of the tutorials in December, and January is when I was really digging into it.

Josh: 

Okay, yeah, so six, seven months now and I asked that because I feel like I’ve seen your business evolve like crazy, especially the last few months, so I was so excited that you were down to come on and just kind of share what’s working for you right now. These are some of my favorite conversations because I love talking strategy and high level tips and industry experts, but there’s also something about hearing from somebody who’s doing things right now and I just love that. So, yeah, I’m really excited to get into the nitty gritty of what’s working for you. Yeah, I guess let’s start out with when somebody asks you what you do. What’s your role? Do you call yourself a Webdesigner? Are you a creative director? What do you call yourself?

Leigh Ann: 

I call myself a Webdesigner or a website strategist, so I would lean more towards strategists now, since I have added SEO boost and the whole SEO program to my service offerings, so I’m kind of more in the strategist category now.

Josh: 

Okay, very, very cool. Yeah, I remember when we had a conversation about that it was like you have such insight on the marketing side of things, apart from just Webdesign, which most Webdesigners do. We’re usually just not charging for it. We’re basically doing strategy for free. So I love that you have refined your site at hilltopwebsolutionscom to have website marketing in there. What are your suite of services right now?

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, that’s a good question, and since I started on with Webdesigner Pro and getting everything kind of aligned and tuned, before I came into the program, I started with all of the services in marketing graphic design. You have your story about your business card that had all of these different categories and I was exactly the same. So now I’ve tuned that and kind of refined that. So right now it’s website design, website maintenance and right now online marketing, but I’m going to be adding SEO in the near future.

Josh: 

Now on your site it says website marketing. Do you phrase it as website marketing or online marketing, or does it depend on you know what client you’re talking to?

Leigh Ann: 

Right now I’m online marketing.

Josh: 

Okay.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah. Because I people need all kinds of different things, and so you know, sometimes it’s, you know, not related to their website, it’s Google my business setup or something like that, so anything that has to do with online marketing.

Josh: 

Okay, that makes sense. I know the danger of that is if it brings you into, like, social media management and stuff like that. That’s not what you want to do. But you’re right, most clients are going to understand online marketing as a whole and inevitably it’s going to feed into the website, so I guess that’s. A great lesson, though, is how to like make sure you constrain what you do. How did you do that, leigh Ann? Like, how did you so? You got website designs maintenance plan, but then this third service or I remember you and I had a conversation about this it’s it’s tough, because you can do anything you want Like that for web designers, whatever your skill set, whatever your interest is. That’s what you can do in that third category. At least, that’s what I recommend. So how did you solidify what you do with online marketing for websites?

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, for that shift. I feel like I’m still going through it because you know, in one of your courses you talk about ABC and D clients, and so you went. I went through the process where I’m categorizing everyone and when you start out, you saying yes to this and yes to that, you, you’re doing all these things. Well, I have these clients that are in the A category that you know I want to get out of. You know some social media and things, but I’m I don’t want to say no to them yet, or I’m not ready to say no to them and I don’t have the, the staff in place yet. We’re I’m still working on that to kind of accommodate that. So I’m still kind of in transition, but publicly on my website it’s the three categories.

Josh: 

Okay, gotcha, and that’s a great way to go is to just hide it like continue to do it, but just do it for those really good clients. Because that’s what I did with graphic design services. I was still doing brochure work and business card work for really good clients, but it was not mentioned on my site. It was a hidden service only for those really good clients until I was able to scale up and get it off my plate completely. But I would say I mean that sounds like that’s the goal, that’s the next step. But if it’s working right now, then by golly keep at it. Like, unless it’s so point where you’re just so burned out managing it all, then I think you’re doing the right thing by just doing it for those A clients. But what a great point, a great reminder to make sure to categorize your clients. It’s in the business course. I teach that because that’s what I learned to do. I just realized I’ve got clients who are the best and it goes back to the 80 20 principle where, like, 20% of your clients are paying 80% of your income and I was like, oh, it’s so true, it’s not a cliche, it’s absolutely true. So I got to categorize these clients and give priority and focus to those. So how? Let’s just jump right into getting those clients. How have you gotten those A clients?

Leigh Ann: 

I think that it goes back to when I started out, for let me just back up and tell you that I never imagined that I would ever be a business owner or be like in business myself. It was never on my radar but it just kind of happened. You had another guest that was talking about. Her story was very similar to mine. This was a long time ago. She was, you know, a stay at home mom and, just like me, my kids were sleeping in the afternoon for like three hours and I thought I’m going to make a website for a friend. So I did that, I loved it. I felt, you know, it was so fulfilling and I just really enjoyed the work. And so I started to do some marketing, consulting and websites and it kind of grew from there a little by little, like couple hours day, couple hours day, and then it started to become a real business. And so when I got serious and it flipped the switch to a real business, I started networking and I think that that has made the biggest impact over online marketing, over, you know, ads, you know in papers or in the community or whatever. Going to those networking events really helped me to establish relationship with other business owners and other people in the community and getting to know them. They would ask me questions, they would ask me for a proposal, the relationships kind of you know, you know one person, they know five people and the referrals started coming in. So I think that most of my clients have been through networking.

Josh: 

Oh, that’s so beautifully said. I didn’t even need to ask your your origin story. So are you telling me Leanne that yellow pages. I should not put yellow pages as a new strategy in the new business course.

Leigh Ann: 

Yellow pages is kind of dead In fact. But you know what you can scoop up those websites that you know. Some people that have been in business for like 15 years. They have a website that kind of got scooped up by yellow pages and it looks terrible and you can take that off their hands.

Josh: 

You know, if anyone is watching or listening to this and they’re killing it with yellow pages, let me know. Email me ASAP, because I would love to talk to the three people who that’s working for us. So, now you’re in a cool area Utica right Utica New.

Leigh Ann: 

York.

Josh: 

So is that like is there a lot of good clientele nearby? I mean, that’s one thing. I’ve always felt fortunate to be in Columbus, ohio, where business is booming. So similar to you is that area where you decided to network.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, so the networking groups are, you know, you know, and probably like big 20 mile radius or 30 mile radius of Utica, but I have gotten clients from all over the US, some people that I’ve known that have moved away. But one client that I got found me on LinkedIn and he was from Colorado. So you never know where you know you’re going to get you know your leads from. But the networking leads have been in this area and it’s been really good. You know the a lot when you go to networking events, a lot of times it’s other businesses that you know they’re interested in connecting with other businesses and growing their business and growing their services and refining what they have for their marketing. So they’re ready to make improvements. You know you meet a lot of business owners that have they do things on paper and you know they just kind of need to upgrade and kind of get some modern technology and websites is all part of that, and so the networking groups are where you’re going to meet people that are really interested in progress for their business and getting things modern. Oh, absolutely.

Josh: 

Oh, absolutely. I mean, you’re preaching the choir with the power of networking. That is amazing. I’m so glad it’s worked for you too, because I I know a lot of web designers are introverted to. I don’t know what side of the spectrum you fall on, whether you’re extroverted or introverted, but the reality is, if you’re going to build your business and be the one who’s doing the sales, networking is just the quickest ROI I’ve found Because, just like you said, you meet one person maybe they’re a client, but they’re going to know somebody who knows somebody else and it just spreads like wildfire in the best ways. Yeah, where are you on that spectrum? Introverted and extroverted Pretty introverted, I would say.

Leigh Ann: 

I think my heart was pounding at the first few networking events that I went to and you know if anyone’s listening and they’re in the same boat, it gets easier, you know, after you go once a month for six months or something it really honestly does get easier and then you can rattle off. You know your what you do without that nervousness. Plus you get to know all the people that you’re. You know you get to look forward and you actually will probably know somebody in the room to the more you go. But just getting over that and pushing yourself to do it for that six months or you know whatever it takes to kind of get used to it is really helpful. Did you happen to be on the Q?

Josh: 

and I forget if you were on the Q and A with Jeremy recently in pro where he talked about his networking story. Did you happen to see that I missed that one? So Jeremy was the same way.

Leigh Ann: 

Super in the Q and A.

Josh: 

So Jeremy was the same way, super introverted, was terrified to go to networking work group. Finally did it. Went to a B and I group and his first day he’s sitting there nervously and then this girl comes in, she’s also really nervous and happens to sit by him and she’s like, hi, I’m so nervous, this is my first time, what should I do? And he was like actually, I’m really nervous, this is my first time too. And then she ended up hiring him for, like, a huge e-commerce project because they made that connection and there were both newbies who were nervous about being at that networking group and that project ended up leading to, like I think it was six, over $1,600 of projects just from that one interaction. So that really is the power. I mean, it doesn’t always go like that. The first time, Jeremy, really, you know it was a, it was a magical moment, but it does. Those things do happen. Sometimes it’s meeting one, sometimes it’s meeting five or 10, but you’re right, leigh Ann, it does get easier. I was petrified the first time I went to the group that I ended up joining and then, a few years later, I was the president of it and it really does. It’s amazing what it can do for trust and authority, so that’s really cool. Was your group a like a B&I like business referral group, or was it more of just a networking business connection style group?

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, there were. There’s a B&I in Utica. I’m not part of that. There was a women’s business networking group and that’s where I made quite a lot of connections. And then I’ve been part of a couple of chambers too where I would go to on chamber events and you kind of see the same. Sometimes it’s the same people in multiple groups, so you kind of get to know the people in the community.

Josh: 

And is that when your business really started becoming a true business, when you started networking? Or do you feel like it was getting pretty legit and then you networked to take it to the next level?

Leigh Ann: 

And that’s where the growth came from, absolutely. I think that it just kind of when I got serious about it and started doing it, I think I think that, you know, I had made a decision that if I want this business to survive and I want to actually do it, then I have to go to these events and I have to, you know, get over it and put myself out there and meet the people and, you know, say the speech and whatever it is. So when I made that commitment, that’s where the growth came from, for sure. It wasn’t anything else, really Gotcha.

Josh: 

Did you have a pretty good handle on your services in, or were you just, like I do, websites and kind of go from there? No, I don’t think so.

Leigh Ann: 

I was still doing everything under the sun. Anyone you know that needed an ad or you know a press release or you know all kinds of different things. I think that some somebody found me. It wasn’t through networking, but at that time somebody reached out to me that needed to list their house and needed help scanning like their pictures and things like that. And he found me on, like Google, my business, and I’m like, okay, you know. But I think once I started rolling and realizing you know, okay, this is steady work here, let’s try to organize this to make sure that I’m not taking on these. You know random things and had enough work to stay busy so that I could start to steer it and, you know, get that path on just those services.

Josh: 

I feel like some of the best web designers are the ones who fall into it. It’s like an accidental. Like you said, I didn’t set out with a business plan and plan to be a CEO of my business or strategist, whatever just kind of happens. I feel like there’s a level of appreciation there, maybe because there’s not expectation. I don’t know if you ever thought about that, but do you kind of feel like that? Like I feel like the time I’ve known you, I feel like you seem to be very grateful and excited that this is happening for you. Like it’s so, so cool. I don’t know if you ever thought about that, but I do. I see some web designers who have these expectations if they come from a different business, whereas the designers just kind of fall into it. It’s like this is amazing and it just kind of rolled the punches a little easier.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, I think that my background is in marketing and I would do all of these different marketing things. It was very broad. But then when I kind of narrowed in on website design and when I was looking at my services and your business course helped me to, you know, think about your services and think about what you are most happy doing too. I love when I just, you know, get started in this in that first week of making a website, all the beginning stages of it, and you know it starts to come to life and everything versus graphic design to be such a drag sometimes, or writing is like sometimes you know the words just aren’t there, you know, but I always loved web design and so that’s where you know I’m steering the rudder and it’s a, it’s wonderful and I’m very excited too because you know of the flexibility and the lifestyle of it. You know you’re don’t have to punch the clock, you know you’re able to. I have children that are seven and eight and you know I have that flexibility if they get sick or they need to be picked up or there’s a holiday or something. Website design has offered me a lifestyle that has been just so flexible and accommodating to my family and everything that’s important to me, so I’m so appreciative to be here and to learn how to do it well, so that I can be even more successful.

Josh: 

Well, I think we can end the podcast there, because nothing’s going to top that Leigh-Anne.

Leigh Ann: 

that is awesome.

Josh: 

Literally. I’ve got chills because I do what I do to hear that and I’m so privileged to be a part of your journey, especially with where you’re at now, because how old is your business?

Leigh Ann: 

now Six years, but it was really hard time. I didn’t go full time until like three years ago.

Josh: 

Okay, yes, you came into pro as an established business ready to go to the next level. I actually would like to dive into that because you told me recently about your proposals and how they’re converting much higher. So where actually let’s just talk about the elephant in the room you are an Elementor user. Now, the really cool thing about pro that I’ve got to appreciate more and more is the different theme. Like, if anyone doesn’t know pro, the membership community we are a theme agnostic. So, yes, I use Divi. We have a lot of Divi users in there. Some of my courses are Divi-centric. Well, one is only fully Divi-centric, but we have a lot of other builders out there because I try to keep my courses as agnostic as possible to whatever themes and builders there are. What brought you to pro? I just want to selfishly ask this while we’re here, and then I want to hear about your proposals. Like, what was it about pro that made it seem like a good fit to help you kind of take your business to the next level, which is sound like what the goal was I’m so happy to have fallen on it.

Leigh Ann: 

So I applied for a couple of grants last year and I was one of them. I used the grant, for I knew that I needed some kind of training to take my business to the next level, and so there was this grant and so I applied to it, and so I was looking around for a solution and I stumbled on one of your courses and I think it for the. At the time that I found it, it was a free course and so it was. I took it and it led me into the business course, and then I found out about pro, and so when I was in, I just can I back up.

Josh: 

So You’re fine. I know sometimes it’s hazy, right when you think about wait, how did I hear about that? I think about that often. If somebody asked me, how’d you hear about my course, I’m like I don’t remember. Give me a think about that.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah. So I started, so I stumbled on. I was looking for solutions and I found a one solution and I was looking for more information on that. And then, when I asked a question about it, the company. They wanted to sell me on some really, you know, very expensive solution. That was like almost $10,000. I’m like, oh, that’s not for me. I’m not sure if that’s what I’m looking for, but I stumbled on your course and in taking it I was so excited because it was everything that I was looking for. I didn’t know anyone around here to ask questions to and I was Googling everything and I was YouTubing everything and just kind of teaching myself how to do. I didn’t go to school for website design, so I am in the course and I’m like, oh, these are all the questions that I have wanted answered all along, and so I’m rolling along. And then I had to put the brakes on in the middle of the business course because I’m like there’s a maintenance plan, I’m leaving money on the table.

Josh: 

I had a sky right now. You didn’t have any care plan or anything up to that point.

Leigh Ann: 

I did, but it wasn’t as good as what I was. It didn’t have the. I think that your courses offer structure that I didn’t have. It was just kind of oh, I think I’ll charge this and I’ll call it updates and maintenance or whatever it is maintenance and hosting. I didn’t even know about managed WP and so everything kind of. I learned all about that and so I kind of got rolling on that. I went through the business course. I realized I need all the courses, so I got into all the courses and voraciously I’m walking on my treadmill and I’m walking miles off going through the courses, ticking them off day by day, and I haven’t gone through them all. But there’s hours and hours and hours. But it’s so valuable to learn because it was all of I’m getting answers to questions that I’ve had all along. So, that’s how I stumbled into it, but I’m so glad that I did, because it’s helped me to establish processes, that it gave me a guide to get processes down and kind of dot my eyes and make sure that I’m not leaving anything out, having just kind of been fumbling along figuring things out for myself.

Josh: 

Oh, that’s so greatly. And it is funny with the maintenance thing because it’s like I’m always torn as to whether somebody should do that first and then go through the business course. Or go through the business course and then, like you do? You get halfway and you’re like, oh my gosh, I got to get my maintenance plan going. The maintenance plan course is about half the time to get through. So I generally recommend, whenever you have that itch to be like, okay, I’ve got to get this going, stuck Because, yes, I’m leaving money on the table it’s so worthwhile doing, and then you could finish the business course from there. Did you reach out to your previous clients and offer that and get like a flood of recurring income? Like, how did that work when you started?

Leigh Ann: 

this plan. Well, so right now I got the business course, I think in December, and then I joined pro in like February, I think, and now I have six people on my maintenance plan and I’ve got 15 that I’m trying to transition, or we can call them that they’re on the fallback plan.

Josh: 

Okay, nice.

Leigh Ann: 

And then so I’m kind of tracking, you know, the new services here six on the maintenance plan, 15 on the fallback. And then I got one that I just added for SEO boost, which I never even imagined that I would ever offer SEO, but I was getting a lot of questions about it and there was the course. So I already have a client for SEO.

Josh: 

So yes, Look you might as well, I tell everyone, if you’re going to be a web designer, you might as well do basic SEO, because it really is basic. Anyone can do it. It’s not something that’s terribly difficult and it’s you’re going to have to make sure your site is foundational anyway, so might as well offer yeah, like a boost or whether it’s one time or ongoing. So, oh, it’s so greatly and I love what you’re up to. By the way, for anyone who’s not watching, you came prepared. I just saw you looking at your numbers on your notes. So another reason why I was so excited to talk to you I knew you were going to come ready to fire and you got the numbers and the stats with you.

Leigh Ann: 

Hey, it tells the story, though. I mean, this is real data, this is real impact that it’s not just some kind of course that you found from. It’s really impacted my business in a big way for processes and for services and for growth. Yeah, and you were talking about quotes too. So I had this process for quotes before and I would send this 12 page, 15 page thing and it brought them along this path and had all these great graphics and pictures and I really got fancy with the PowerPoints on those. But I tried it out. I was skeptical about the process for kind of making it simple using 17 hats. I loved the idea of how it’s all connected with the proposal and the contract and invoice, and when I put that process in place, I was amazed at I got an email in my inbox. A contract was signed, an invoice was paid and I’m like this is amazing and I didn’t need it.

Josh: 

It’s the best, isn’t it? Isn’t that the best?

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, and I didn’t need all that fancy 15 pages about telling the client about them, because that kind of stuff is covered in the discovery call and I thought that I was providing something that would help them to make their decision, but really all that was. I think this was a better way for them to make their decision because I think when they see it and they see those buttons, they’re more likely to take action right away, as opposed to they received that. PDF. It sits in their inbox. They’ll think about it two weeks later. You follow up, so it’s been a great process for me to put it in place.

Josh: 

I’m so glad to hear it’s working for you, just like so many others, because it was something that I was really kind of self-conscious about. I felt like an imposter with it because I had seen just like you did and what most web designers see these robust, 18 page, beautifully designed PDF proposals and I was like number one. I don’t feel like doing that all the time. And then the clients that I was working with, by the time we got to the proposal, the estimate, like you just said, they already knew and trusted me, hopefully to that point. They already saw my website, they already saw the work. I didn’t need to give them a website on a PDF. I was just able to say, ok, here’s the deliverables, here’s the goals, here’s the cost and that’s it. And so when that worked for me, I just kind of thought I was a unicorn. I didn’t think that’s the way the industry did it as a whole. But to hear that it’s working so well for you and others and pro and specifically gosh, it’s awesome. It really does show you that if something works for one person, it can work for two, and if it can work for two, it can work for five and for 10, for 100, et cetera. So, oh, that’s so cool. How has that helped you with the time you’re putting into your proposals? Because we all know how much time goes into estimating, especially if you’re doing a big old custom PDF kind of thing. Have you found it saved you a lot of time In the actual estimating process?

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, I would use the same idea of a template to start with those great big proposals, but it definitely has cut out the time. I think that probably have gone from a couple hours to more, like 15, 20 minutes or a half an hour on something that is a special situation. So it’s been a time saver for sure.

Josh: 

Oh, that’s great and I think it’ll be the episode after this one. I talked to a fellow established web designer because we were talking about proposals that one specifically about estimates and project estimating and we kind of came to a good realization that those big 18-page PDF documents are good for RFPs, request for proposals. If a company is sending out a request for a proposal and they get 10 agencies, they may not have that meeting where they already got to know you and saw your website. So the brochure or the PDF is kind of a website brochure. But in most web designer cases, yeah, I just feel like you just don’t need all that. My motto too was, if I was ever working with a marketing director and they hand it off to the person who’s going to pay or sign off, they’re not going to want to look at a 20-page document. They just want to know goals, deliverables, timeline, cost and that’s generally how the people who have the credit card operate. That I found.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, for sure, and I find that it’s easier for them to hand off to whoever’s paying the bills, accounts payable. Or I had sent out so many proposals in the fall because there were so many people that were also applying for a couple of local grants and so I realized at that time what I had sent them wasn’t as friendly as the nice concise format that is a template that is provided from the business course. So next grant cycle everyone’s going to get a nice, cleaner version. It’ll be everything on one page and it will be a lot easier for everyone.

Josh: 

So cool. I do feel like in a world where there’s just so much stuff and clutter and digital clutter, I think there’s a lot of room for the power of brevity and keeping things as concise as possible. I’m really that’s kind of. My big motto this year is to try to just make things simple and as brief as possible. Get to the point Especially. I mean, it’s so worthwhile diving into this because you have to think about the client when they’re about ready to move forward. There’s already a lot of work that’s been done up to this point, so you really don’t want to put more work on them if they don’t need to. If you can just get it to again the goals, the deliverables and costs, it’s just great. I love to hear that that’s working out for you Now. You had told me a while back it was like I don’t know if you have an exact number on this, but I think you had told me it was like six out of seven, like you had a real hot streak. Is that continuing? Is it like do you have an idea of percentages on how those are converting for you?

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve got. I sent out these proposals one after another. They have been accepted, and then in the last month I’ve sent a few more out and I’m waiting to hear back on those. But absolutely great success rates for everything that I’ve been sending out.

Josh: 

Oh, that’s beautiful. Do you have a time limit on those? Or like a oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? Like a valid until like a 30 day kind of valid date.

Leigh Ann: 

I hit. That one’s a really this is a great question and that one’s really hard for me because there are there’s one client I think it was like January I sent out a proposal and they keep asking me more questions and kind of stringing me along outside of the ones that I’ve done and and I kind of put like I put it out for a couple of months or like longer if someone needs more, if I think that they need more time. But I have a difficult time honoring that. You know, if things change. For example, last year, before things kind of amped up as much as they have been, I was at one price point and I’m trying to, you know, get to a different price point. But I’ve got all of these outstanding, you know, quotes that were sent out last fall. They’re coming back and I really don’t want to say you know, that’s not valid anymore. What do you think about that?

Josh: 

Yeah, I think you have to to protect yourself. I learned that as well. I mean, I generally recommend 30 days to for cash flow purposes and to keep it going. I mean, generally, if a client is really interested, they’re gonna move within 30 days. So I usually have a valid until 30 days. Now if they come to me on 30 day 31 and are like actually I think we are ready to move forward, of course we’ll do it. I think you do up to 45 too, but I think anything after a month and a half or two months, then if they’re not already moving forward, it’s probably, you know, if they do come back, it’s probably gonna be some time. At least that was my experience. But yeah, you’re right, do you get to the point where you’re six months a year out, maybe your rates and your services may be completely different. So I would definitely stand your ground on that and just in a nice way, of course, but just say like, yeah, this was valid for you know, maybe you say 90 days or something. Our rates have changed a little bit, our packages have changed, but we’re also adding more value and we’re doing a lot more. Now we have SEO boost. That’s all included in the new rate. So I’d be happy to just give you the revised version of this, and if it’s not in writing, I mean I would just say it. I don’t know if anyone’s gonna take you to court over that. I guess it would depend on if you think the project is still a really good one, if it’s a client and even if it’s not as much as you’re charging today, you think it’d be worth it. I’d say you could probably go ahead, but if you don’t need it, then I would stick to, yeah, having a version two of that proposal. I mean clients have to understand that too. It’s as a service provider. Hopefully everyone understands your rates are gonna go up and your projects, your packages are gonna change and evolve.

Leigh Ann: 

So yeah, that’s my take on that yeah, there’s always exceptions too. This client, potential client, might be a nonprofit. This might be an opportunity for great exposure as a nonprofit or like some kind of chamber connection situation. So it’s something that I haven’t been really disciplined about, like keeping people on that term, but I think that going into the next year I’ll get firmer on that for sure.

Josh: 

That’s great. Yeah, just an expiration date really on those. I mean you could make it six months if you wanted to try that. That way you at least protect yourself from big rate increases, like if you decide to double your prices cause you start scaling and you’re offering so much more value. Yeah, you don’t wanna be tied into that proposal that was 2,500 and now you start a 5,000 kind of thing. Yeah, so that’d be my recommendation. I would just say it I’m always leery of the exposure kind of thing, just because you can’t take exposure to the bank, even if it’s a great project. So I would probably only do that if you still think it’ll be a profitable project. But if you’re gonna have a hundred hours and a $2,500 project, that’s where I’m like, oh, don’t do it, it’s not worth it, especially now with very ads. So yeah, yeah yeah, that’s what my coaching shoes on. That’s what I would advise.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, a couple of years ago when you kind of need those clicks and that backwards exposure and everything. But things are growing, so you don’t need to rely on that as much going forward.

Josh: 

Yes, and that’s a wonderful place to be. If you’re in a dry season or a season where it’s like, yeah, I could use an extra project right now, that’s fine. But yeah, in most cases I think standing your ground on that is huge and it just speaks to the power of having some sort of specified expiration date. On those, again, everyone does it differently. I think 30 and 45 days that’s a tighter window. I mean, some people do like 14 days. I know some sales techniques are like for like consultation calls while you’re on the phone. They give you the offer and you have to say yes on the phone if you’re gonna get it. And I’m like I’ve never been cool with that approach.

Leigh Ann: 

It’s a little dirty. Yeah, I don’t like it.

Josh: 

It’s a little dirty right, I feel like it.

Leigh Ann: 

Feels a little icky yeah.

Josh: 

I’ve heard about web design coaches doing that too. I’m like, yeah, I just I wouldn’t feel right about that, especially because clients are looking at a few different web designers typically. So if you’re the one who gives them enough window without pressuring them but they know you are, this is legit you do stay on your ground. I think that adds a lot of professionalism and likeability. Honestly, because they’re like, yeah, leigh Ann’s legit, she’s got a business to run here. So, ear away, I love, love, love here in the proposal system is working out for you, cause I came up with that in, I think, 2016,. 17 is when I started doing it that way. So to hear that it’s still working in 2023 and beyond, that’s amazing. It speaks to the power of bullet lists and simplicity.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, absolutely, and in taking action. I mean it just is a prompt, it’s a nice green button. Someone just wants to press that, see what’s next and get it submitted and get it paid and the whole system. I think there’s so many tools that have put in place, you know, and 17 hats is one of them not just proposals but the invoices. Now I’m using it for regular invoice. At first I was just using it okay. I’ll kind of dip my feet into this and see what it’s like. Use the template process for quote. Well, now I’m exploring the other pieces of it and maybe do all my invoices through there instead of you know the other ways. So it’s been really helpful. I like it.

Josh: 

That’s great. Yeah, there are so many options for client manager systems and billable systems. Yeah, the reason I love 17 hats in particular is that workflow. That’s the thing that really sold me on that. And I got that first email. I remember it like it was yesterday, just like you said earlier, like you articulated, you get the email that the contract has been signed, the invoice has been paid, and then the first questionnaire comes in and then you’re like, oh my gosh, this is amazing and it was just a clockwork. You didn’t send the contract, you didn’t, it was just all in that workflow. So so, so cool that that’s working out for you. And yeah, I mean there’s other systems that do something similar. But I do loves, because if anyone hasn’t seen that or been through my business course, I show you like it literally shows contract proposal or it goes proposal, contract invoice. That’s the workflow and it shows it there. So people know the path. It’s not like thanks for the proposal, what do I do next? So I like call you or do I email you and then are you gonna mail a contract and I have to mail it back and then are you gonna like invoice me separately. It’s so nice that it’s tied in there and, like you said, there’s those buttons. So it’s like accept proposal, accept contract, pay the invoice or Roland. So yeah, just beauty and simplicity. I think that’s the. I don’t know if I’m gonna title this episode that, but that is definitely the name of the game when it comes to higher proposal conversions.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, it frames everything up beautifully, for sure.

Josh: 

And how about your rates? Now we don’t have to talk specific numbers unless you want to, but I mean have your rates. Are they significantly more than what you were charging even a few years ago? How have you adjusted your rates with your business as it grows?

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah. So, Dave, I didn’t know where to begin when I started out. Of course I would Google things and kind of hear what other people are charging locally. And then I kind of settled in when I was first starting out at like the $1,800 mark there for like a regular website, six pages or whatever. But I’ve increased it from that just because I’ve gotten better at building. So I’m making nicer websites, knowing what is needed to get that ground foundation of SEO and to build it properly and have good systems in place for everything that’s needed. So my prices have gone up, but I still think that they’re comparable for what other website designers are charging. It’s absolutely a fair price and I think that one of the tips that people will say in sales is, if all of your proposals are getting accepted and you have a ton of work, maybe it’s time to up your price just a little bit. So you know, I was on kind of like the cusp of that this year so I knew it was time to increase it a little, so I bumped it up and so I’m really comfortable with the rate right now and so we’ll see where it goes in the future as I add on more services and more.

Josh: 

Yeah, I mean that last. How timely. We just looked at one of your recent web designs in a weekly call on pro and I’m like this thing is a $5,000 website for sure Starting. No doubt that sucker was professional. Like, yeah, I definitely think you’re worth way more than you’re charging now. But to your point, like you’re probably at a nice sweet spot with a lot of your clientele, but I’m sure probably 90% of them would pay a thousand or 2,000 more depending on the range. I mean it’s interesting because projects are so different. Are you finding a lot of your projects are the same roughly in scope? Have you hit kind of a sweet spot? Or I mean my price has started at 2,500 and then we would go up to 10,000 and 15,000 more. So I was pretty all over. I think my average price was probably in between five and 7,500 when I was scaling. So do you have averages like that? I mean, are you like so, if you’re dipping down around the 2,000 range, like how high do you go potentially on some of those?

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, so I think that I’m right now. I know what it takes to put together like an e-commerce, and so that’s like you know, starting at around five and going up from there. But some of these sites are, you know, you start to get into it and you know there’s a lot more to it. The range on what someone needs is so different. Some you can click right through and you can zoom through it and it looks fabulous and in a week it’s done. It’s like your basic business. You know it’s just what they need no, nothing fancy, no bells and whistles, no calendars, and you know special functions. But the other ones, you know they add quite a lot of work. You know when you start adding those features and so we go up from there for sure.

Josh: 

Gotcha, yeah, scope creep. Scope creeps a big deal and, as you know, you have clients who will get you content right away and in that project goes seamless. And then you have one where it’s like all right, it’s been two months I haven’t heard a thing and they’re asking how the site is and I’m like it’s blank. You haven’t sent me anything. So that’s always a big part of that. I do the revised version of the business course. I share a lot of new strategies on that and how to make that even more refined. But you’re right, every project is different. But I know what helped me and it sounds like it’s what’s helped you is to have almost like categories or tiers of web projects to have like small sites, medium and large sites. So small sites we’re going to be under the 25, 3000 range. Mediums are going to be three to you know, usually 7500. And then the large sites, like e-commerce, are going to be 75, 10k plus, and I love that. I think that range is great because it gives you the option to go up when needed, but have a nice middle and at least have a floor that you’re going to start at. And then I would think for you if I were to coach you. I feel like the next step would be to get your floor to be like the three, four or 5,000 range, something in there that has a starting point as you start to scale and focus on more profitability, especially as you’re adding more value now. I mean, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again If you look at what a website brings in as far as your clients, customers, if their customer is worth $500 a year on average, in that case it would only take six customers to pay off a $3,000 website and then they’re off from there. So, yeah, it’s interesting framing website as an investment, what it does for your clients and I don’t know how far you go into lingo like that, but it definitely for clients who are like I was thinking more. Like 2,500, five seems a lot. It’s like, well, yeah, how much are your clients paying you? And what if the website converted just five of them? It would pay for it and then it’s all from there. So yeah, a lot of different thoughts on that.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, and also talking to them about people are all over the map as far as like how much they use websites. You have people that are a little older and they’ve always done things like paper way and they’re not so sure about this website thing, but everyone’s telling them that they need to get a website, and so those conversations are a little bit different than somebody else that’s using Google every day for everything, looking up websites and knowing how they feel when they visit a website that is fabulous, that delivers the information quickly and easily, versus one that’s so clunky, so hard to navigate. They’re like this website is terrible and everybody knows that they need to improve it. So it’s a balance to try to have that conversation, to let someone know you could be here, everything could be easier for everyone that you communicate with and you can wow your visitors. So it’s important to communicate that well to be able to get them on a better online presence.

Josh: 

Yeah, I love that approach. Some clients do just need to hear it because they don’t think about it, or I mean, it’s funny how many clients don’t appreciate their website until they have a good one finally, and they’re getting leads and they’re getting good responses and it’s like, oh my gosh, kind of like the maintenance plan thing. It’s like why didn’t I do this sooner? I’ve been leaving money on the table. So that’s another little tip for urgency as well is just let you in a nice way. Of course, telling potential clients like your website right now is probably not getting you any business. What if we had to change that ASAP? So, yeah, so many cool things. I just love your approach, especially your clientele. The website that we reviewed recently was like a blue collar style website. How are you? Did those come from referral groups as well? I know you said you had like a women’s referral group, but was it? Were those referrals from there, or was that something separate?

Leigh Ann: 

That’s a separate referral from someone another contact I had made a website for. That’s in the construction industry. So yeah, I loved the variety. One day it’s a counselor and you kind of have that tone and you’re thinking about writing in that way, and the next day it’s a church or something like that, and then the next day it’s a construction company. So I love that variety of doing something different every day and being in the mindset of those different industries. It just makes things exciting and fun to know what’s gonna be next.

Josh: 

I love that you like being a generalist, because there’s so much pressure and it’s such a hot topic right now to just niche down into one industry. But I didn’t do that and I know there’s a lot of value to that, but I just the idea of having a templated site for the same type of company over and over and over again just didn’t interest me. So I love hearing that you’re excited about working with a church, a nonprofit, a construction company, a business like a local business. That’s awesome that you’re enjoying the generalist route because, yeah, there’s no reason niche unless you absolutely feel led to. I feel like or feel drawn to doing that.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, I don’t think so either. I love the variety and I love like from a design perspective too, like I did a website that was very it was for a network of attorneys and it was like dark and had Sarah Fond and everything like that, and that was like one type of design and another type is the colors of the rainbow and had a really fun vibe, and I just love bouncing back and forth because it’s like walking into the door of their marketplace, but digitally. And so it’s fun to be able to take that design theme, choose the different designs for the different industries and bounce back and forth and all around. So I really enjoy it.

Josh: 

That’s great. Yeah, that reminds me I think I was working on a few sites at the same time and each one of them were so polar opposite. One was a steel company, so it was very grungy, and they were like I went in and did pictures of their crew and they were like, yeah, we want like a you know a steel background, all dark gruff, you know like American flag steel stuff, just yeah, like down home kind of guys. And then one was for a kid’s balloon artist, like a party, and it was the same thing. It was like completely opposite rainbows style, color, every color you can imagine, very fun, completely different font selection, I think. One other one was for a non-profit, so it was a little more kind of safe in a way, a little more corporate feeling. So you know, it’s kind of fun because you access different parts of your creative brain. I feel like when you’re doing different types of projects every time. So there’s something to be said for that. I really do feel like being a generalist keeps you, it keeps it interesting and it keeps you more fresh, rather than building a dentist site two times a month. That’d probably get pretty old pretty quick. I don’t know anyone who wakes up and is like God. I just love doing template sites. It’s just my favorite.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, you’re right on and saying that about the creative brain because, like I said, my background was in marketing and you know you market for like a business, whatever it is, but in website design you get to. I didn’t realize how much I missed it and how much I was creative and I find that I love it, I’m passionate about it. I think that’s why I get excited when I first start putting like the design elements together on a new site like that. First, you know, couple days is always my favorite because it all starts coming together. That vibe, that color, that design and that creativity kind of gets activated. And I didn’t realize how much I am creative until I started doing website design all the time.

Josh: 

Well, I love that you have kind of found your superpower and you found what lights you up and gives you energy. I know we’re going to try to keep this call around an hour, so I’m curious about what’s next as we get ready to wrap this up for you. Leigh Ann, where do you see what do you what’s? Because I was actually going to message you in pro and ask about this. But what do you feel like the next vision for you is? What’s the next phase? Do you foresee yourself getting out of roles that don’t light you up? To get some help with that? Do you feel like maybe just refining and raising your rates is a good place to go in this next phase? What’s the next yeah, little season look like for you, you think?

Leigh Ann: 

Well, I have thought a lot about it and I think that I want to continue on the journey of website design. But my the name of my business and how I started out is Hilltop Marketing, and so I have this marketing background and a lot of my clients, you know, they know me as a marketer and so I really do want to add to my staff and be able to accommodate those other, those other requests, and so I think that I have held on to that name instead of changing it to Hilltop websites, because I kind of I do want to accommodate that my business going forward, but I want to grow slowly and carefully the way that I have been, get the right people, you know, to help me with that and bring on a team. But the work that I will do is I’ll be doing the website, you know, design and the business development, but getting help with those other social media, other marketing pieces.

Josh: 

Gotcha, yeah, cause I know your the name is Hilltop Marketing. Your URL is web solutions, which is kind of cool because it kind of hits both. It’s like it’s marketing web solutions, so I think you’re in a good spot. The really cool thing about that is, I would foresee, if you’re able, over the next six months to a year, refine the website services, raise your rates, just really complete the entire package of type of projects you’re doing Once you and continue to build that recurring revenue with care plans, then you could really be at a stable place to add in more marketing and then scale that up as much as you want, cause the reality is digital marketing relies on a website. Like it all leads to the website. People can do as many Facebook ads and PPC, like paper click and whatever they want to do, but where is that all going to go? It should funnel to the website unless somebody has a brand that’s specifically online. But we’re not, you know, managing somebody’s social media generally as web designers, so there’s so much power to be able to do that. And, of course, marketing is ever evolving, but I think for a very, very, very long time, websites are still going to be where everything goes to, because it’s the only place that you can truly control. Instagram can turn off at any point. There’s been plenty of stories about people being whether it’s turned off or whether it’s demonetized for channels. Whatever the problem could be, any of these channels are risky when you don’t control it, so you don’t you don’t even want to put your home on like rented ground, which is why it’s so wonderful having a web design as the core, so I think you’re a really cool place to be able to do whatever you want to do marketing and start with website design.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, yeah, and I definitely I love the web design and I don’t foresee that. You know your clients, you know you make a website. They stay on as clients because you’re taking care of their website, you’re doing the maintenance and everything. But I think that I’m surprised at noticing in the last couple of years how soon a website needs to be refreshed and redesigned. I feel like you know you had kind of like a longer shelf life, you know 10 years ago, and now you really got to kind of brush it up. You know, every three years or five years and people are interested in you know, oh, my competitor has this and the tool, the looks are always changing. You know things are getting fancier and now, like you know, there’s there’s the minimalist design that some people want, or like much larger funds that have been, that are like hot right now. That weren’t, you know a thing five years ago. So there’s definitely always room for redesigns. So I know that you know there’s lots of room for growth, even just staying with just websites.

Josh: 

That’s a beautiful thought. Repeat work, recurring work, I mean. That’s why I really stress when you start a relationship with a web design client, it’s the start, and I wish somebody would have told me that when I started. When you launch a project, don’t say okay, goodbye, see you later, nice working with you. That is the start. That is the start of the next phase of the journey and then being a lifetime client and you’re a great example of doing that, even more so now with your care plans and what you’re offering moving forward. So, yeah, the extra cool part about where you’re at is I’m sure you’re going to have a lot of repeat clients now over the next probably six to 12 months, who you did sites for six years ago. And, yeah, it’s time for a refresh. So you’re calling me out because that’s on my to-do list Once the business force, the new person, goes live here. So that’s the next big thing for me. I’ve got a lot of revamping to do on my site. So, you’re right, it’s a good, good motivator. It’s time to keep it updated and fresh, for sure.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, we’re just like our clients were like oh, I, I have you’re clicking around. You’re like, oh, I got to fix this, I got, I got to redesign that and brush this up. And it’s always ongoing. We’ll feel like that a month from now and six months from now it’s. It’s ever evolving and we see it from the perspective of exactly what needs to be tuned, you know, since we live it. So I know that I’ll always feel like that, for sure.

Josh: 

Yeah, exactly Well, leigh Ann, this has been great. Thank you so much for pulling the curtain back and sharing what’s working for you and what’s working for your business your story, do you? What would you encourage, as a kind of a final thought, if you could go back? I don’t know if there was a time in your business where you were struggling or you were dry with clients, but if you can remember back to those early days, what, what’s, something you would tell yourself, you know, six or seven years ago, when you just maybe just weren’t sure if this was, if web design wasn’t going to be, you know, what is this today for you?

Leigh Ann: 

I think, to just stick with it. I think when I first started out, you know, I would try to do just like one thing every day. Even if I only had like a couple hours, I would do one thing to help it grow, and so to just kind of stay focused and stay motivated and to stick with it and don’t give up and definitely to dive into the networking, sooner rather than later. That’s, I think I avoided that for a while and when I finally did it, that’s when things kind of really boosted for me. So to dive right into that and get over it, get into it and and get networking.

Josh: 

Love it. That’s so great. Well, we could keep on going for three hours here. I have so many more questions. We might do around two. Maybe we can follow up when we see where the next phase of your journey takes you for the business. But, leanne, you’re such a great example. Love what you’re up to, so excited that you’re in pro. When I got to know you and your business better and you know to see the progress you’ve made over the last six months, it’s been amazing. So all I can say is keep at it. I can’t wait to see what you do over the next. You know, three to six months. I think you’re going to be at a whole another level in 2024. So super exciting.

Leigh Ann: 

Yeah, thank you so much for having me.

Josh: 

Aren’t real life case study style stories the best? I love having students on who share what’s working for them right now. So I just want to publicly thank Leanne for being transparent, open about sharing what’s working for her and again, I hope everything that we cover here applies to you and your business and helps you out as well, no matter where you are in your journey. I want to help you even even further by joining my business course, which Leanne has pulled a lot of what she’s doing now into her business. It’s helped her and I would love to help you as well. So I do have a special offer for you. Like I mentioned in the beginning, the business course is going live this week, so I have a special offer for you. Go to joshallco slash biz b I z, joshallco slash b I z. There’ll be a little offer there for you, as a listener of the show, to be able to get access to the course or join us in web designer pro, where you can join myself, leanne and 114 other web designers from around the world and have the community and support you need. And the business course is already in there, ready to go. So let’s do it, friend. I want to help you get the kind of success that Leanne has had. It’s been an honor being a part of her journey and I am ready to be a part of yours if you’re ready to take that next step. So, joshallco, slash biz for your special offer and, whether it’s now or whenever you’re ready, I hope to see you in pro to where I can coach you as well. So for now, I hope you enjoyed this episode. Go make those proposals more simpler and watch how they convert for you. There you go, all right, see you on the next episode.

Web Design Business

The Web Design Business Podcast is available anywhere you listen:

Enjoying the show? Leave a podcast review 🙏