Kady Sandel, founder of Aventive Academy and host of the Profitable Graphic Designer Podcast is back on the show sharing some incredible insight on how to get past the 100k annual revenue mark with your web design business.

If 6-figs is the goal, honestly don’t miss this one.

We cover:

  • What hurdles keep most designers at below 100K in revenue
  • How to structure your pricing and offers to effectively reach 100k per year
  • How to grow to 6-figures without burning yourself out
  • Combating 6-figure imposter syndrome if you’re not there yet
  • What Kady learned in growing too quickly and more

Even if your goal isn’t 100k in revenue, these lessons can be applied to ANY revenue goal so I hope this convo helps!

In this episode:

00:00 – Achieving Six Figures in Web Design
04:22 – Navigating Six Figure Income Expectations
09:25 – Raising Rates and Business Growth
13:57 – Building a Six-Figure Web Design Business
26:19 – Effective Pricing Strategies for Web Designers
38:14 – Growing a Design Business
50:27 – Scaling and Success in Entrepreneurship
57:37 – Show Growth and Gratitude Message

Get Kady’s Wealthy Client Blueprint for FREE with code JOSHHALL


Connect with Kady:

Episode #232 Full Transcription
Kady: 

I was always comparing myself to these successful six-figure designers and not realizing that prior to that they were five or 10 years employed for a marketing company, so they knew exactly what they need to do and maybe they had bigger income in the past. That doesn’t mean that their family gave them the money, you know, but still, maybe they had like more money to start with and maybe they had like $50,000 to invest in ads and it was just rolling from there and, of course, they grew faster than me or some other designers. So I just wanted to add that, because I think it’s very important and we are comparing ourselves with others, like with other designers who are maybe charging $15,000, $20,000, $50,000 per client. We have to really think about where it all started from.

Josh: 

Welcome to the Web Design Business Podcast, with your host, josh Hall, helping you build a web design business that gives you freedom and a lifestyle you love. Hey, friends, so good to have you here for another episode of the Web Design Business Podcast. We’re going to have some fun in this one because we’re going to take a deep, practical dive and realistic and honest dive into what it takes to get to six figures with your web design business $100,000 or more in revenue per year. My guest in this one is Katie Sandell, who is an alumni of the podcast. She’s a close colleague of mine. She runs Eventive Academy, which is a online teaching and course platform for graphic designers and web designers who want to build true businesses and true agencies, so she’s really passionate about helping people get to a small agency level. But what’s interesting about Katie is she has a very realistic expectation and experience with this because she scaled her business pretty quickly, as you’ll find out. But she’s also learned, just like I have, that you end up sacrificing a lot if you build your business super fast to a point of six or multi six figures and for those who do that pretty quickly, I know it’s really easy to feel imposter syndrome If you feel like why is it taking me so long to hit six figures? If that’s the goal, why are others seeming to do it faster? Well, katie, just like you heard in the intro, has rightly identified that a lot of people have different backgrounds before they get to a quick six figures in their business. So we’re going to talk about all those things and more in this one.

Josh: 

I’m really, really excited about this because we, just in the previous episode I just covered the survey results off of the admin bars 1100 plus web designer survey, and a shocking number of web designers are are not at the six figure level, when I feel they should be. Even if it’s not your goal, you’re way more valuable than you think you are. So we’re going to really unpack how to do it in a way that works for you, though that’s what I’m extra excited about. So Katie’s awesome. Go check her out at eventive academycom. Of course, it’ll be linked at the show notes for this one, which is going to be at joshhallco, slash 323.

Josh: 

And be sure to check out her podcast. She also hosts the Profitable Graphic Designer Podcast. It’s also for web designers too, so make sure to go over there and check her out over at the Profitable Graphic Designer Podcast as well. All right, here’s Katie. Let’s talk six figures. Katie back on the podcast, so good to see you again. I just we just chatted the other week on your podcast, so I’m thrilled to have you back online. Good to see you again.

Kady: 

Yeah, I love it. Thank you so much for having me again.

Josh: 

I’m thrilled to have you back online. Good to see you again. Yeah, I love it. Thank you so much for having me again. You have a passion for high paying clients, six figure designers, both in the graphic side of things, the graphic design side of things, in web design. So I’m very, very excited to pick your brain about specifically six figures, and I’m sure high paying clients are going to come into the picture, because if you get six figures, you’re going to need some high paying clients. I want to start right out of the gate with your take on, is it? Do you think it’s harder to get to your first $50,000 a year or harder to your first $100,000 a year?

Kady: 

50,000. I feel like once you figure out how to get to 20,000, 50,000, like once you figure out how to get to 20,000, 50,000, it just rolls from there. It’s becoming easier and easier to make more money. You know how they say, like when you have a million dollars, it’s easier to get to five than to get to your first million. I think it’s very similar to that and it’s because you know when you’re first starting there’s so many things to figure out how to write proposals, how to get any clients with social media platforms to use, and things like that. But once you hit a certain number, then you already know what’s working and what’s not working and then you just like double down on what is working.

Josh: 

Yeah, that’s a good point. I would agree as well. The getting started is I think that it depends on where your background is, to where you’re coming from, especially if you’re not confident with sales and things like that. But you’re right, I hope that’s confidence for anyone who’s in the beginning. Just know that it does tend to get easier once you get past some of the major hurdles.

Kady: 

Yeah, definitely.

Josh: 

Okay, good.

Kady: 

No, I just wanted to say that, um, you know, when we see on social media like people are growing like drastically, and they are not just in terms of followers, but their business is growing, we have to really think about what’s their background. I love that you mentioned that, because I was always comparing myself to these successful six figure designers and not realizing that prior to that, they were five or 10 years employed for a marketing company, so they knew exactly what they need to do and maybe they had bigger income in the past. That doesn’t mean that their family gave them the money, you know, but still, maybe they had like more money to start with and maybe they had like $50,000 to invest in ads and it was just rolling from there and, of course, they grew faster than me or some other designers. So I just wanted to add that, because I think it’s very important and we are comparing ourselves with others, like with other designers who are maybe charging $15,000, $20,000, $50,000 per client we have to really think about where it all started from.

Josh: 

I couldn’t agree more. I’m so glad you mentioned that. When it comes to imposter syndrome in comparison like that’s it, you just nailed it we all have our own journey. We all have our own starting points too. We also have our own talents and skill sets and challenges and struggles. With money mindset and I’m actually kind of curious is six figures like? I still feel like six figures, $100,000 is a really good, sustainable place to get to for most everybody. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to support a family of five or something with six figures if you’re right at 100 with taxes and everything else that come out of it, but I still feel like that’s a very good foundation that you can build off of to make a sustainable income. Like foundation that you can build off of to make a sustainable income, do you feel like do you do you share that as well at like low six figures, like a hundred thousand, or are you cause I’ve seen a lot of people say like the quarter million is the new six figures?

Kady: 

What’s your take on that? I love that question because when I was I don’t, I don’t even know like a few years ago, I was always thinking like, oh, six figures, that’s so much money, like I really need that. But I feel like and I feel like how a lot of people are going to hate me now for this but sometimes even $100,000 is not enough. It depends on where you live, the lifestyle you have or want to have, and I’m going to just mention that I’m from Serbia, but I live in Austin, texas, and so all my family’s back in Serbia, and now, when I have two kids and family, we want to see and be able to see my, my family, my parents and my grandparents, and like to travel to Serbia once or maybe two times a year, and just a ticket for one person is $1,700. I was just working on that today and so, and then also, the more money you have, the better life you want to have, and then it’s it’s kind of like you just want it to roll right. So now we live in a bigger house, we also have a condo, we also bought a new car, so I feel like you know it’s, it sounds like awful, but it’s just like you always want more, which nothing wrong with that either. But and what you mentioned, like the, you know, half a million or 250,000 is new six figures.

Kady: 

I don’t think it’s just because of the lifestyle that we want to have, but also everything is becoming so much more expensive, like I’m just looking into, like car insurance, like it’s way more it doubled in the past few years, and I don’t think that prices that all designers doubled their pricing from, like maybe they were charging 5,000. Are they all charging $10,000 per client now? I don’t think so, you know. So it’s like very important to know that, like groceries, like everything went up Austin, texas, oh my God, property tax is so, so expensive. So I think that it really depends on the location. And if we are talking about, I don’t know, like Las Vegas, I feel like Las Vegas is still, it’s growing, all the cities are growing, but it’s not as like Austin, where Tesla is moving in, facebook, google, all that stuff. So I think that for someone who lives like in Nevada and now people are from Vegas will be like no, it’s not cheap here either, but it really depends on the location, I would say.

Josh: 

You also mentioned inflation there.

Josh: 

Actually, this is very timely.

Josh: 

I was just having a conversation yesterday with one of my members of Web Designer Pro because she’s at a really good place in her business, closing in on 11 years, very established, but she’s very hesitant to start raising rates towards current clients, and I get that.

Josh: 

I would try to grandfather previous clients and current clients in if you can, as long as it’s profitable. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be raising your rates because everything else is getting expensive too. Like that’s a big thing that I think service providers as a whole don’t really factor in is like yes, the world is getting more expensive and so should your web design prices and for new clients they don’t know what your rates were previously and I think it’s honestly just an aspect of life. Like if your prices are the same 10 years ago that they are today for your web design packages, that’s a problem. Like in 2000, were you going to pay or were you going to charge what you would charge for something in 1990? No, there’s like a 10 year difference. So I think I’ve gone through this myself and I see a lot of web designers who need a mindset shift for inflation to keep up with inflation.

Kady: 

Yes, yeah, I also feel like a lot of web designers now specifically think that they spend way less time designing a website these days than five, 10 years ago, when we had maybe WordPress only and some plugins here and there. But now we have Webflow, we have a show it, we have all of these, like also AI, it’s way easier even to code and add custom coding and all of that, and it really takes me way less time to design a website like these days than it used to take me in the past. So I think that a lot of designers also struggle with that, like well, why should I charge more when now it’s taking me like so you know, it’s so quick.

Josh: 

And that’s the answer, though that’s the answer right there, because you can do it quick, like clients will pay more for something done fast. We’ve all had that Like anyone who’s had work done on your house or bought anything. If you can get it done fast, you’ll. You’ll pay a little more for it, especially if it’s good.

Kady: 

Yes, and I remember when I was working on the brand strategy in the past, because in my branding and design agency we offer everything from brand strategy, visual identity, packaging, design and websites, and so in the past it took me it would take me about like 40 hours for a brand strategy and I used to charge like two to $4,000. Now my brand strategies are at $15,000. It takes me five hours, but that’s because I have a process, I have templates, AI that I use and utilize, and so it’s just like. That doesn’t mean that the quality of work is lower. No, it’s even better, because I’ve done it so many times and I’m able to charge more while working less. And I think that a lot of designers that want to get to that six-figure mark, they have to figure out their systems and processes and the way of getting less clients while charging them more.

Josh: 

I was just going to ask what are some of the common hurdles that you see with folks getting to six figures, because I do see a lot of web designers get to like 50, 60, 70. 50, 60, 70. And while I do agree it’s easier once you get past the 50 annual range, there does seem to be a second hurdle right in that range and I wonder what that is. What do you think that is? What are the common challenges that keep people in the like 60, 70, 80 range?

Kady: 

I think it’s pricing. It has to go down to pricing and the quality of leads they’re getting, because if they’re still charging, let’s say, even just $5,000, $5,000, $7,000 per website, that’s many websites in a year to get to six figures. But if they’re charging $20,000 for a website, that’s a different quantity of clients and different quality of clients. So I think it goes down to figuring out like the pricing and then also lead generation. Many designers are still stuck on posting on Instagram, then reposting on Pinterest or YouTube, tiktok, and just like being all over the place, versus figuring out one main platform, and it doesn’t even have to be social media platform. I know that me and you talked about it, but going to in-person networking events is very valuable. Linkedin is almost like I treat it like a in-person, but online networking, yeah, and so I think that you know just figuring out what platforms are going to bring the best leads and then increasing pricing and like really focusing on those numbers and also having that plan like a business plan.

Kady: 

I I’ve met so many designers that don’t have a business plan. They have I call I call it like a wish. You know how they say like um, something like a goal without a plan is just a wish, and I think I always had those wishes. I always wanted to get like to six figures or half a million or whatever, and I just never had like a real plan that I can stick to. Or my plan was too unrealistic, like posting three times on Instagram. I mean it’s just like not possible.

Josh: 

Go ahead and by a plan. What do you envision as a good plan? Is that like a, a goal for, like a revenue goal that would be broken down by service, by like a goal for amount of calls and clients are going to get what? Yeah, what is a plan consistent? Like a six-figure plan? What’s that look like?

Kady: 

yeah. So my plan is always super simple. It’s like one to two pages maximum. So it’s not where I’m going to have like my mission and vision and core values, and that is all important to know and have your whys and all of that. And you know, every time when I struggle in my business and I’m like, oh, I’m not sure if I should do this or that, okay, let me go back to my why. What is the purpose of this business? Like, what is that that I want to do and why I want to do it and then I’m like, okay, I’m going to post this. You know, this is what I need to do.

Kady: 

But when it comes to like building a six figure business, I think we have to start from the number. And then, when you have like six figures, to have a hundred thousand dollars, and then you’re like, how many clients can I have that are going to fit my lifestyle? I always talk about lifestyle and I know you can relate to this as well because I don’t want to work full time. I don’t want to work Monday through Friday, nine to five. I also want to, you know, spend time with my family and friends, and I have kids and all of that, and so I think it’s very important knowing how many clients you can take on, like how many people can you work with, and then going just basically from there.

Kady: 

So you have 100,000, let’s say you want to charge 10,000. That means 10 clients. How many leads you have to? So it’s like going down and down and down how many leads you need to have, what’s the percentage of your closing rates? So that means, okay, I need I don’t know and now I’m like really bad at numbers, like on spot, unless I’m writing it down so let’s say you need like 30 leads or 40 leads. Where are they going to come from? Are they going to come from Instagram? Okay, how many posts then I need to create to have time for it? No, okay, let’s go back to this, you know, and then figuring out, and just going like in circle until you figure out what’s going to work, and then figuring out and just going in circle until you figure out what’s going to work.

Josh: 

And I do want to say I totally agree that having an actual plan and printing it out that’s what I used to do. I printed my goals out for the year and I posted it on my little pegboard and I had that in my vision. That really helped. I also did not have a robust plan even less than that for me and I still got to a quarter million dollars with my web design business, so like it can work. But I do think it. It will help fast track everyone’s journey If you do have an actual plan. And to what you said, if you don’t have a plan, it is just a wish, you’re just kind of winging it, you’re just kind of going for it and very rarely are you going to get to any sort of goal if you’re not very tactile about that, and you even said it’s like when it comes to a plan or anything, yes, you want to have a roadmap, that’s like broken down, but you also don’t want to make it this overwhelming thing.

Josh: 

And that’s the other problem that I see with business plans. I remember when I first started my business, I thought I should have a business plan and I met with this gal who was like a corporate or she went to school for business planning and stuff and I remember feeling so overwhelmed I was like, oh God, I just I just want to build websites and start there. So it’s kind of a fine line to balance, it, isn’t it?

Kady: 

Yeah, and also I, we need to think about adjusting that plan as we go. Sometimes, you know, we create these plans like in December, it’s the last day in December. Oh my God, I have to create this. You know, new year’s resolution and all that. And then it comes to March and you’re like, okay, I am not on track to hit six figures. What do I do now? Let’s revisit, make changes, start all over. Treat March or April as January. Okay, how can we fix this? What is that that I need to improve?

Kady: 

Maybe your website needs improvement, even though you’re a web designer. Maybe you’re not converting as many leads as you possibly could. Maybe you need to work on your SEO. Maybe you need to connect with five to 10 people on LinkedIn every single day in order to start getting that traction, and so on. And so I think it’s important for people to know that they don’t have to stick to that plan if it’s not working. And then it’s like July oh, this plan is not working, I didn’t do it well. And then you keep losing the motivation and inspiration to build that six figure business, and you know. So I just like adjust and make changes quickly.

Josh: 

What was when you got to six figures, when you hit the $100,000 mark? And then I want to ask this for for a quarter million to when you got to six figures, 100,000, what were your suite of services and like how much did you charge for an average package?

Kady: 

And like how much did you charge for an average package? Yes, so, oh my God, I, my prices were so low. I was working nonstop. I got the six figures, but I was so unhappy Half dead. It was, oh my God, I still remember that one January when I hit 10K month and it was like 9,700. I call it 10K.

Josh: 

Close enough. Close enough? Yeah, exactly, I know. If you use Mac, I almost made $300,000. It was like $226,000. I was like that’s $300,000. And there were some payments I was waiting on.

Kady: 

Yeah, exactly, and so it was 10K and I was working like nonstop at that time. Luckily I didn’t have kids yet and it was. I still remember living in this one apartment complex and people are going for work and I’m still sitting Like I spent the whole night working. I was charging about $480 for a logo design, and so you can only imagine how many clients I had to have and I was posting crazy. I was getting clients through Craigslist. I know I mentioned this last time, but for everyone who’s listening to this, I was getting clients through Craigslist. I know I mentioned this last time, but for everyone who’s listening to this, I was getting clients through Craigslist and I was posting 21 times every single day.

Josh: 

Wow To Craigslist.

Kady: 

Yes, wow, it was free and that was the maximum you could do. I think it’s like it was three posts maximum per day per an account. But everything in my business was quantity. Nothing was quality, even looking at those logos and whatnot. So my focus was mostly on brand identity. So visual identity is like logo design, color response, but you can only imagine the quality and even now, when I’m looking at those businesses that are still using my logos, I’m like, oh my God, that’s so bad yeah.

Kady: 

So uh, so yes, I, I would not recommend anything like that and I think that that’s another reason why I’m so passionate about helping designers charge those higher prices because clients are there and it you know you will be able to get, especially with websites. You can get a website client for 10,000, 25,000. I still remember working with this one meal replacement shake and I designed their logo and colors font, so I did like visual identity and then when I offered my website design services, they already said they told me that they already hired someone for it and I was like, okay, you know, not a problem. And then somehow during our conversation they mentioned that they are paying $25,000 for a one page website design and I was about to ask them for 3000.

Josh: 

Oh, wow, okay.

Kady: 

So I was like, oh my God, so that opened like my eyes, like so much that, from from then, I was like, oh my god, so that opened like my eyes, like so much that, from from then I was like you know what? My minimum is now 10 000 for a website design. And that was it. You know, I just knew that I have to make drastic changes. And also, as soon as I started thinking about and I know I’m now going like in all the directions, but as soon soon as I started thinking like how to hit six figures or how to hit quarter million or whatever, you start thinking differently than when you’re like how do I get to 70,000 or 80,000? Or you know, your actions match.

Kady: 

Because as soon as I figured out, okay, I want to make more, I have to make more. That means Craigslist has to drop. Like it’s not, I will not find those clients on Craigslist by posting 21 times a day. I have to figure out different revenue stream, different not revenue stream, but like different source of leads. And that’s when I was like, okay, let me go to this one networking event. And that’s when I become a, became a member of bni and referral groups that we talked about and um, and you know, it’s just like it started growing from there. But yes, as you mentioned, like it has, your mindset has to change yeah, the quote what gets you here won’t get you there.

Josh: 

It comes back to me probably weekly pricing, offers, marketing, sales strategies, everything. It always goes back to that and that’s a tricky thing to break. When you’re used to being in a price point, you’re used to selling your certain services, you’re just used to it. You will get stagnant, like I. I hovered. I grew up into the right every year, but it was very predictable until I don’t know if this is going to rub you the wrong way, but until I lowered my graphic design services and I focused all in on web design. That’s what really made me go zip up and to the right, as I focused on web design as my main thing, but I didn’t need to do the $300 business cards anymore.

Kady: 

Yeah, and I love that. I mean, I used to have like a list of services, almost like a menu when you go to a restaurant and they’re like 30 different services, different pricing, and then people would come pick and choose and that just wasn’t profitable for me. And so when I figured out, okay, I want to make $100,000. How do I do that? I will not be able to have this offer suite. There is no way I will not be able to have this offer suite. There is no way.

Kady: 

Now, um, I have to make changes to that. I have to charge more, I have to figure out where my clients are. Basically, it’s almost like a starting from the beginning, but knowing what not to do. So I think that that was, you know, it was very important knowing what not to do. I still didn’t know what exactly I need to do, but I was experimenting and I think that all designers have their own way of getting there, and I love that. You mentioned that you had to focus on one thing and that was specializing. For me, like working with health and wellness businesses, because that’s my. My passion was in that I didn’t know if it’s going to work or not, but I always knew that I can always go back to where I am or where I was at that moment.

Josh: 

And I don’t have anything to lose. Yeah, you could definitely do it by niching down in the industry if you know it well and it’s a good industry. I do think a lot of people tend to niche down in industries that are typically not good clients or very, very low budgets. Heads up everyone. If you want to do author websites, watch out. Authors generally don’t make too much money unless they’re a business owner, an entrepreneur, who also write a book. So even that simple thing like targeting more entrepreneurial folks who have a book or something like that is a different way to do that. But one thing I was going to say when it comes to the price points and stuff like that, it’s like if you are going to hover anywhere between the $3,000 to $4,000 to $5,000 range which I did for a lot of my projects you have to be very productized, as much as you can systematized. I have a good friend, jason, who has I think he just recently crossed $2 million over the past five years building $4,000 websites. He was on the podcast recently, but his process is absolutely.

Josh: 

It’s like a well-oiled machine that does not deviate. So clear packages. And when you were saying you had like this menu list of services. One thing I help. A lot of my pro members is doing the same thing. I look at their list of like 39 services and I’m like how can we package this up into like three packages that make sense to where your clients are and then help them get up to the next package? Like this may be a $5,000 package. With these, like these types of things, this may be a $10,000 package. This may be a 20.

Kady: 

Uh, that’s what I’ve seen work for a lot of my students is even if they’re not ready to drop services yet, just package them up.

Josh: 

Reframe how you’re offering all these. Instead of like 200 bucks here, 500 bucks here, because side note when you got six figures you said you were burned out. $500 projects. What would you say? Just out of thin air? What would your average project cost be back then?

Kady: 

Maybe $1,500, but that was with a website included. Okay, and I wasn’t even the one doing the website. I had to pay a web developer, because I never knew how to code, and that’s just not my specialty. I’m a designer, and so, even though I would get $1,500, I still had to pay. Not that great of a developer, as you can imagine, yeah, you know, because they’re not charging enough either. So it was all this, just it was, oh my God, one way to burn out.

Josh: 

Yeah, I mean even a hundred. So $100,000, let’s say it was $1,000 on average for a product, let’s say it was $1,000 on average for a product. That means that you would need to get a hundred clients at $1,000 for for that year. So a hundred clients hold on a hundred clients divided by 12. What is that? That means you’re dealing with at least eight to nine clients a month, like landing. That means two a week. That’s a. That’s too much.

Kady: 

I think I was more in my inbox than actually working on clients’ projects.

Kady: 

Sure, I’m sure at that point, and that’s just how many clients I was able to get, but how many inquiries I was getting because I was so low and, honestly, this is like 99designs, fiverr, upwork. I don’t have anything against those platforms, but I do think that it’s quantity over quality and I was not set to build a business where I can you know. There are many like Skillshare, for example. Their courses are what? $20, $40 or whatever, and they’re a volume-based business. I was definitely not positioned to do volume-based business or anything like that, and I never wanted that. I wanted to work class and make more and all of that, and so I think I really was way more in my inbox than in my design tools. It was awful, to be honest, but the only good thing about that is that now, when I’m talking to clients, I can say I worked with over 300 design clients.

Josh: 

That’s a good. That’s a good uh spice to put on that for sure. Yeah.

Kady: 

I actually just my last client. They were $29,000 and I was able to use that on them Cause they were like so and they they asked me that kind of question them because they were like so and they they asked me that kind of question like so, how many clients did you work with?

Josh: 

and I was like oh, over 300.

Josh: 

You know, and I mean I’m not even lying, it’s true, it’s probably even over 500 at this point and on that I love how you’re taking your mistakes and failures and putting a positive light on them. But it does just go to show you and you know, for anyone who’s earlier in the journey you’re not alone. This is just a natural progression, everyone’s. Definitely, even if you’re going through our programs and everything we offer, you’re still dealing with some money mindset stuff and inevitably you’re going to dip down and charge way too little and then when you make like two cents a project, then you’ll realize oh, josh and Katie were right, this is way more valuable and this is way more valuable and the reason we did that live math there is.

Josh: 

I just wanted to prove your point with planning and goal setting, because if you don’t write out your pricing and your packages, that’s what happens. You’re just flying by the seat of your pants and the next thing you know you’re needing to get eight clients a month to hit six figures with charging $1,000 to $1,500. And that’s the ones you land. Like you said, if you’re at I don’t know, let’s say you get 50% conversion rates, that means you still need to have 16 discovery calls every month. And, yeah, you can build recurring income and do more, which I recommend ASAP, but it takes some time to make recurring income get to the point where that’s stable as well. So all that sheds some light as to why it’s hard to get to 50.

Kady: 

Yeah, I also want to mention that, um I I wish I had my numbers now in front of me, but I think in 2020 I had four clients and that was multiple six figure business.

Josh: 

Wow.

Kady: 

So you know, compare that to what did we say? Like 80 something.

Josh: 

How long did it take you to get to that point? How long were you in business when you really focused on quality?

Kady: 

I think in 2009,. So 2019 was my shift year. I was like, okay, I was on three to $5,000 every month for the past two years and it was just. I was just so frustrated. I was like at that point, like, do I just go and find a job? Or what do I do? Like how, how do I make changes? I know I’m doing everything, right. I already feel comfortable in my designs not so much in my process, but I feel really comfortable in everything that I’m doing for my clients.

Kady: 

I just can’t get there and every time and I would try to increase my pricing I get no. But that’s now a conversation on its own, like because I was on wrong platforms, right. So every time and I would say, oh website is 10,000 or 5,000, I get no, and then I’m losing clients. And so I hired this marketing agency. Um, I think they charged me like three or 5,000, something I knew that it was like how much money I made that month. It all went to them and just by having that conversation with another person helped me, which I’m sure your community members can relate to, and that’s why it’s so amazing that you have the community of web designers where they can connect to each other and talk to each other. So I don’t think that this marketing agency really helped me get clients, but helped me with clarity of what is that that I want to do. How can I hit six figures? How can I increase my pricing without losing clients? How can I get better leads?

Josh: 

And maybe even less leads but more quality. Almost more of a coaching than a marketing thing.

Kady: 

But it wasn’t meant to be coaching. What I mean by that is they were just asking me questions who is your ideal client? And I was like, well, anyone who needs a website? Like what do you mean you know? Like anyone who would hire me? And then they were like, well, I’m not sure we can help you, like you have to we, we have to know that. And then we worked on figuring out the ideal client, the ideal packaging, the ideal pricing and what you mentioned like productizing services. That’s when I narrowed down to okay, I really want to offer brand strategy, and there is no like I’m going to help you with mission or core values or this and that from the brand strategy. No, it’s a brand strategy and the price is 5,000. Visual identity there is no, you need just a logo or just colors or just brand boards. No, you get the whole thing and it’s whatever. It was like, let’s say, 8,000. Okay, there’s no business card stationery or whatever. No, you have to go through brand strategy, visual identity, in order to get this.

Kady: 

If that’s not the right fit, go and find someone else, and then I’ll have more time to focus on figuring out where I’m going to find quality leads. And so it was. It really, even now is all productized. I have four services that I offer, but I never offer like service number two or three without service number one. So it’s a process.

Josh: 

Gotcha. So you have your core services in a process that are productized, systematized, and only then could you get into probably some more of the add-ons and flexible exactly so that’s how it goes.

Kady: 

It’s like service one, two, three, four.

Josh: 

Nobody can get like three or four without going through one or two, but they can stop it too side note, this is why I love teaching web design, because everybody who wants to do marketing and SEO and ads and everything else, where does it all go? Your website. So that’s the same thing I teach to my students Start with the website. That is the hub for everything else and all roads lead to the website.

Kady: 

So that’s the core, it’s the core service, and then you can explain it Exactly and then they can add on yes, and I also want to add that, because we are heavily focused on branding. So my add-on is a website design and I know it sounds very weird, but I mean it’s add-on, but very high paying add-on.

Josh: 

That makes sense for branding Exactly.

Kady: 

It’s add-on. That’s maybe even more than branding in terms of how much you charge for it, because it’s not our core service. But when we do websites for our clients, then I have to pay my web designer and the web developer because I don’t do it personally and so it’s different. But for web designers, I love that. You mentioned adding SEO, adding like even copywriting or whatever other services they can add. That’s all add on. That’s how we sometimes even work on social media posts, not as a social media managers, but we design posts. But that is all add on.

Josh: 

Yeah, and I had a partner who did branding, like full branding packages, because that wasn’t my strong suit Personally. I could do a lot of graphic design, but it was the same sense. For me, branding was only in the picture, if need be, especially for new businesses, or they were rebranding completely. So it’s like perfect, yeah, we’ll do the website and then our guy’s going to. You know, I have a partner who does the branding, so he’ll do that first and then in the meantime we’ll do the strategy and stuff that we don’t need to talk design yet, but we’ll talk user experience, call to action, stuff like that, and then, when the branding is ready, then we’ll do the website design.

Kady: 

So those two really work hand in hand, and I was just about to say. Those two really work well together and maybe a lot of web designers that listen to this and they’re trying to grow their network should connect with brand designers, graphic designers, because they’re exchanging their clients. It’s like referral partners 100%.

Josh: 

Yep, absolutely, especially if you don’t want to do it. If you’re in a rare position where you know both worlds well, awesome, you’re very apt to do both, but they are perfect referral people for each other. Absolutely. You mentioned you’re at this $5,000 package and suddenly you want to get up to the 10 K clients but a lot of them are saying no. How did you start getting them to say yes?

Kady: 

I didn’t have time for lower clients anymore in 2020. I um, so I had a baby COVID hit, you know, everything just happened. And so I realized that I don’t have time Now. I have only a few hours to work on my business and if I want to make, it wasn’t even. I mean, I already had six figures in 2017.

Kady: 

But this year, 2020, was a year when I was like, okay, how can I get to 250? How can I get even, maybe, to half a million? It was just like how can I think about this bigger goal that’s going to push me to make bigger changes in my business? And I also didn’t have time. So I knew that I have to charge more, but I also knew that they’re not going to come through social media just by me randomly posting another website design or a logo design. It’s not about visuals, it’s about creating meaningful connections with people and finding those referral partners. So that is when I’ve really connected with a lot of people on LinkedIn, but also prior to that, I was going to a lot of in-person networking events just because I am extroverted. So I need that human connection and so I always seek, you know, going to networking events, sometimes even just for fun, when I’m not even looking for clients anymore, and so I think it was just figuring out where more like quality leads are going to come from.

Kady: 

So that’s when I focused on, as mentioned, linkedin and connecting with people. I think that was my like turning point did you go?

Josh: 

did you go niche then too?

Kady: 

like did you really go into the the beauty side of things by that point too, or were you still yes, yeah, yeah yeah, so that was like 2019 when I decided to go, but I was like so afraid of it so I was like going like very slowly, like, oh, I work with health and wellness and service and product business, so it was like very broad. And then at that point I was able to land like, um, almost like a hospital with like a lot of clinics, and that was a big project. It was like $250,000 project that me and, um, some other people were leading, but so it’s not that I made all of it by myself, but it was a big project and big realization for me. That that’s not what I want. It was very boring.

Josh: 

I’m so glad you mentioned that too, because, yeah, you get a huge project. It could be like, oh, a six figure project, but you’re basically like a part-time employee for six months.

Kady: 

Exactly, and also it’s very boring because it’s in the health industry. So I already knew that everything has to be like a blue, green, maybe red and white and very, not creative, to be honest, you know, and I knew that that’s not it. So I was just like narrowing and niching down and more and figuring out who I really would love to work with. And, as you mentioned, beauty, we now have a lot of skincare products because I feel like it’s so creative and I just love it. Every single website looks differently, every single packaging is different and you know, people who are listening to this may think like, oh, but that’s just like too narrow, it’s boring. No, it’s not. I feel like we didn’t even like narrow it enough. Now I can even go with like organic ingredients. You know it can go even more narrow, but but yeah.

Josh: 

So you get to that six figure mark. So you got to six figures, but it was an absolute mess, or not a mess, but it was super stressful, not sustainable. The next run to six figures was much more productized. Found your niche, knew your ideal clients, raise your prices. Tell me about getting to a quarter million, I imagine if you’re getting close to $10,000 projects, realistically a quarter million is only 25 clients. Yes, okay, for everyone. Again, $10,000 package. How many clients do you need? A quarter million? 25. Like that is very doable. That’s two a month on average.

Kady: 

Yes, but also yeah, but also I increased my pricing drastically. So even now most of my clients fall into between like 20 and 30,000. Like we just now have someone for 15,000 and I’m already like, oh well, that’s a low client, a low budget client, and just thinking how in 2015 or 16, I was charging $65 for a logo design. It’s crazy. But now it’s like what’s 15,000? I don’t have time for it. So I think that you know I had to increase my pricing.

Kady: 

I also realized that I want to build a small design agency. I didn’t feel like I want to be the one and nothing against people who want to be the one man show or one woman show, and that’s perfect if you love that. But I didn’t feel like I want to talk to clients anymore. I didn’t feel like I want to design everything by myself. I didn’t feel like I want to, you know, do all the communication and revisions and everything. So I literally sat down and wrote not even wrote, like it’s funny Like I literally drew a table with like seats and who I would love to have in my design agency and what is the role that I want to have. And I realized that, after working with so many design clients and being in this industry since I was 15,. I’m 33 now. I’m like I have to think about it. I’m 33 now and I started when I was 15.

Kady: 

So the whole of my life I’ve been designing and I’ve seen everything and anything, and I realized that I wanted to kind of like level up. I wanted to be a creative director, versus actually opening an illustrator or Photoshop or Figma or whatever you know software and like really being a designer. So I realized I have to increase my pricing, get better clients so that I can bring on a team. And that’s exactly what was happening starting in 2019 or maybe 2018, when I first brought on like a manager, someone who can help with like all the leads and writing blog posts, because I was getting I’m still getting a lot of clients through SEO, through my own website Awesome, yeah. And so I needed someone who’s going to focus on that part so that I can design more.

Kady: 

And then, when I was getting like more leads and more clients and better clients, then I was able to bring on a brand designer. Then I was able to really add, add on, which is the website design, and hire a website designer to work for me and website developer. And I also want to mention now for everyone who’s listening to this by building a design agency, that doesn’t mean that you have to have six or 10 full-time employees. All these people can be contractors and you can have a floating design agency, or you can have part-time employees, or some are full-time employees and then part-time and then contractors, as needed. It’s very important for designers to know that there’s no, you know, one way of having a design agency, and so, yeah, I. Two main things to get to higher numbers, like quarter million, is just knowing what exactly you want to do in your business, if you’re going to bring on more people, or how much you’re going to charge, and how much you’re going to charge the way.

Josh: 

I view it is if you get to anywhere under a quarter million is a good like job, like a good freelancer, solopreneur job you could do. In most cases, you could do most everything under a quarter million yourself or with a few contractors at most, and you can automate a lot of things now too, so you can really delegate or automate After or above quarter million. You’re creating business. That’s really kind of how I view it and this was said to me recently on the podcast and it has stuck with me ever since. And that is, you have to ask yourself do you want to create a job or do you want to create a business? And naturally, most every freelancer, designer, solo, printer you create a nice job, but then, as you found out and I found out this thing if I don’t work, I don’t make money and that’s that’s the problem. So then it becomes a business.

Josh: 

And that’s where I think quarter million to half a million to seven figures comes into play and, like you said, yeah, your price points maybe 20, 30, 40, whatever it is, and you may be half million up to seven figures. But you also have a lot more team costs too. So it’s not like you’re personally taking that in, but there’s the trade off there. It’s like, yeah, you could, you can maybe make around the same, but are you doing less? Are you working less? That’s the big thing.

Kady: 

Yeah, and also I have this pool of freelancers that now I can always go to. So, for example, I have an amazing brand designer and it’s on her how much she’s going to charge me. I tell her what the project is about and she gives me her pricing and I am able to. You know, that’s very profitable to me. She comes and I help her because she doesn’t have clients, so she’s getting clients through me as I’m outsourcing. Also, she’s an amazing designer, like I can honestly say she’s way better than I would ever be, and that’s you know. And so I love being this like small business, small design agency where I can provide like really quality service in all aspects, cause I would never be able to be amazing in packaging design, in website design, in visual identity design and I know we are talking now mostly to web designers, but they will never be great in copywriting, in SEO, in blogging, in like whatever, like all of it. I feel like it’s important to know that you can build a team and it doesn’t have to be huge.

Josh: 

Yeah, absolutely. Oh, I couldn’t agree more. I mean, I just came out with my scaling course and it’s called Scale your Way, because I literally said that to one of my students who I helped scaled and because she said that she was like I don’t want a big team, I’m really nervous, like I don’t want to be, I don’t want to be stressed out, I want to be you can totally scale your way. I was like, ooh, I love that name, trademark that, before Katie gets on it, uh, but it is my course name. So, yeah, like there’s so many ways you can do it. And I think another important thing I want to rehash is the idea of you called it like your, your, your seat chart, but I mean it’s like an org chart basically.

Josh: 

And what I say in that course and what I’ve found is that every web designer, even if you’re just a solopreneur, you’re doing like 10 jobs in one. You’re the CEO, you’re the creative director, you’re sales and marketing, you’re project manager, you’re the designer developer, you’re support, you are your copywriter, you are the SEO person, you’re administrative, you’re like I could keep going. There’s about 10 roles on average. I’ve found Like I could keep going. There’s about 10 roles on average, I’ve found. So yeah, if you literally put your little picture of your head on all those and you look at that and say, what roles do I love doing, what am I good at, what do I want to keep doing for a while Even if it’s not forever, just for a while Keep those and then take your head off on the others and say, there we go, that’s, these are the roles I need to fill.

Kady: 

I don’t want to do admin, I don’t want to do graphic design, I don’t want to do project management, and that’s where you can kind of chip away at it. Yeah, and I think that freelancers who are not at that level yet, where they have employees or contractors, they can just start with a virtual assistant. I found that like very, very helpful. Even now I’m looking for a virtual assistant who’s going to help with captions. So I mostly write my social media posts, but it just takes time, and so if I can outsource that to someone else and that’s going to bring in more leads, why not do it? So it’s very important just knowing what is that that you want to do in your business.

Kady: 

And I also realized that I’m really good in managing and I know that many designers don’t want to do that, but I’m very good at managing and organizing everything and being really the creative director. So I talk to the clients and I talk to my team, and so I’m like almost like a middleman, but I but I overview like every single project and I love that. I think that I don’t want to give up on that role. That’s the creative part in me, uh, but I also don’t want to give up on that role. That’s the creative part in me, but I also don’t want to like design on my own.

Josh: 

Well, it probably helps to if you’re getting out of the deliverables. That’s the, that’s the time suck Like, that’s why you’re probably working, you know, 90 hour weeks and having to talk to 16 clients a month at least, or potential clients, because, yeah, you’re doing all the work and the leads and everything else, and there’s nothing wrong with doing that in the beginning, for sure, as you start to chip away, but, yeah, very quickly it’s like there’s really a designer gets to a point where they either burn out or they hear a conversation like this and it’s like, oh my gosh, yeah, I’m like, I’m here, I’m ready, even if I’m not as profitable as I want to be.

Kady: 

I can’t keep going like this. I’ve got to scale my way. I’ve got to do something to break the mold here, because it’s just yeah, and I wasn’t like too focused, I was building a coworking space next to you know all of this, and so I think that it doesn’t have to mean that you’re going to scale your way in the nine years or so, like how long it took me. Maybe you’re going to do it in two or three years, but it’s not going to happen overnight and I feel like you will go through some mistakes and you will undercharge and you will get to the point where you’re not sure what you’re doing. But I feel like we all have to as entrepreneurs, we all have to go through that.

Josh: 

What is your plan and vision? Look like now. I don’t know where your number of revenue are. Exactly revenue are exactly, but like, if you get to the point where you’re half a million, up to seven figures is, I guess, yeah, like, do you have seven figure, multi, seven figure aspirations or do you feel like that might take your business to a realm that you don’t want to go in? What do you think?

Kady: 

Yeah, I feel like I don’t want to go there, and it’s because I feel like I would work with larger clients and that means many decision makers in the company, and I’ve done that, as as I mentioned, and it’s just like a product, you know. The project is then taking up to like three months, six months, sometimes even a year and, yes, it’s multi, six figures and I just don’t enjoy that. So I want to stay small. I want to have up to six employees Um, I, maybe not even that like. I feel like I want to even like get smaller in terms of like how many people I would have in my agency.

Kady: 

But also, since starting Eventive Academy, which is an online educational platform for designers to help them grow their business, I just found like passion in that, where I’m building online courses, which, of course, helps with income, and so I don’t have this desire to grow more. I feel like I want to maintain where I am at the moment but also focus a little bit more on like video editing on my own. I was almost like having a hobby which is went to academy. I just love doing it, like having all these coaching programs and online courses and things like that. So, yeah, I just don’t feel like having all these coaching programs and online courses and things like that. So, yeah, I just don’t feel like I want to grow from here.

Josh: 

Good for you. I think that’s such a worthwhile point because you get to a point where you do have to look at. If I go to the next level, it’s you have to ask yourself at what cost, like what what’s the cost going to be?

Kady: 

Uh?

Josh: 

yeah, like, if you’re in a $50,000 level, then it’s. You know, 106 figures is that’s the next reasonable level and the changes are going to be good. All around quarter million, those changes are good too, but I feel like, yeah, once you get to like half a million to seven figures, that’s where the big questions come into play, Like, yeah, what do I want to? What do I want this to look like? What a lifestyle goal I can mention.

Kady: 

Yeah, and I feel like I am constantly growing. You know, I just mentioned like I don’t want to grow. I am constantly growing, but in different aspects. Now I even have an idea of starting a skincare line and that’s, and I can do that only because I was able to build this business that is now successful, sustainable, profitable, small, just the way I love it, and now I can, you know, maybe make money off of hobbies. You know, working with so many skincare brands. Now I feel like I cracked the code of how I can start my own business. I literally even have the domain, which just renewed this year, so I’m like katieskindellco.

Josh: 

That sounds a little too risque. That may not be the right branding.

Kady: 

So I’m not the branding guy here, so you know, I already have the domain. I have social media handles. I have no idea what kind of ingredients I would have, Like I know the main ingredient. But what I want to say is that now I’m growing like in different, almost like hobby-like directions, with building paid PDFs, helping other designers get clients get to those six figures, charging more, building my skincare line. Who knows what’s going to happen next. You know, now I feel like I’m totally like an entrepreneur. So, um, it’s like building businesses and scaling in, like maybe not vertically, but horizontally.

Josh: 

That’s the biggest thing with scaling. That I found, too, is like it’s not necessarily that you’re just gonna make more, but you’re going to free your time up and you actually may make less in the business if you, if you scale, depending on how you want to scale. But yeah, what are you going to do with time and freedom, cause you can make a lot more with a passion project you’ve been interested in or something you’ve been wanting to do, whatever it is, that’s a big time by-product. I mean.

Josh: 

I, of course mean, of course it didn’t dawn on me until I made this recent course. I was like the only reason I’m here, the only reason this podcast exists, is because I scaled. I would have never had time to do this if I wasn’t scaling.

Kady: 

I was just about to say. I’m not making money off of my podcast. It’s like my hobby and I love doing it. You know it’s just what brings me joy and I love when people make money off of podcasts and I will probably work on figuring out how to monetize it at some point, but it’s just like love doing it. And I work now only 15 hours a week because I have two young kids, have a baby. You know it’s just not possible for me to work more, but I’m making way more than when I was in that apartment, hitting 10K a month but totally burned out. So you know it just success looks differently for everyone and it’s important for everyone to figure out what their success looks like and then go from there.

Josh: 

Well, I mean, you’re a podcast pro, like there could not have been a better conclusion. Capping thought on this one. Thank you, katie, where should everyone go to check you out? And I think you have a free something for everyone, right.

Kady: 

Yes, so you can find me on Instagram at Aventiva Academy, and you can find our business courses and programs that are for mostly for brand and graphic, but some for web designers as well. It’s a business course. And then you can also get the wealthy client blueprint for free. It’s usually paid, but using a coupon code, josh Hall, just like one word at checkout, you will get it for free. And the wealthy client blueprint is my four-step process for getting high paying clients, the clients we talked about today.

Josh: 

Katie, thank you so much. I’m already excited for the next round.

Kady: 

Yeah, thank you so much for having me the next round.

Josh: 

Yeah, Thank you so much for having me there. We are friends. I hope you enjoyed that one. Again, Katie’s perspective on this, I think, is really really valuable. Uh, I just really appreciate her insight on what it takes to get to six figures practically, even when you’re ready to do that, but how to do it in a way that works for you. So really appreciate Katie for spending some time with us here in this one. I hope you did as well. Again, you can go check her out at eventiveacademycom. Her podcast is another good one. I recommend checking out the Profitable Graphic Designer Podcast, also for web designers. So go check that out. Thank you for joining.

Josh: 

Make sure you’re subscribed to the show and I have a personal ask for you. If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably a committed listener. I don’t think I have any podcast reviews on Apple for the entire year of 2024. So if you listen on the Apple podcast and or if you’re a Spotify listener or elsewhere and you’re willing to do this for me, please leave a review. Go to podcast, Apple podcast leave a review. It means so much to me. I do get those, I read those and it really helps grow the show. So I need to do a to do a better job at recommending that. So if you would, I would really really appreciate it. And uh, yes, I thank you so much for supporting the show.

Josh: 

I hope you enjoyed this one, and I meant to say this in the intro, but I’m going to be coming out with a guide very soon as in like it might be out by the time this comes out or very quickly after on how to get to grow your business to six figures and beyond. It’s going to be free, so keep an eye out for that. I will mention once that’s live. It’ll be a perfect addition to this episode as well. All right, friends, Thanks for joining. Make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, if you would.

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