I’ve met a lot of 6 and 7-figure agency owners over the years and there’s always often a recurring theme…many are completely burned out, disgruntled OR they’ve sold or left the agency altogether.

It’s probably the main reason I personally prefer the “small shop or studio” route as a solopreneur web designer with a lean and mean contractor team but at the same time, there’s value in truly creating a “business” in the form of an agency.

But…are ALL agency owners burned out? No – despite meeting many owners who fit that profile, there are the exceptions.

One is Greg Merriless of Studio1Design.com who’s been running his 7-figure agency for over a decade and most impressively is one of the few who is NOT burned out! Maybe it’s his chill, Aussie presence or maybe it’s how intentional he was about building an agency that is profitable, sustainable, and geared around the work he WANTS to do in-house.

We cover a lot in this one including:

  • How his 7-figure agency began getting high-profile clients
  • How to focus on your core services (and hire out the rest)
  • How to build partnerships with agencies who you can collaborate with
  • How to find and hire a team
  • Staying profitable (even as a team of 20+ employees)

And more.

Honestly, how amazing is it that through this podcast, you and I can learn from multi-7 figure agency owners who literally share exactly how they’ve built and scaled their business?!?!? It’s just too cool. I hope you enjoy this chat as much as I did.

Leave us a comment with your thoughts and be sure to check out Greg’s free resource that he has for ya.

Grab this free resource:  How to Convert hot leads on your website

 In this episode:

0:00 – Building Successful Web Design Business
4:40 – Building a Successful Web Design Agency
13:34 – Building a Web Design Team
18:33 – Web Design Client Onboarding Process
28:07 – Building Relationships for Web Design Success
37:51 – Niche vs. Generalist Web Designing
42:46 – Design and Development Studio Offerings
46:55 – Business Transformation and Growth Strategy
50:41 – Value and Growth in Business
54:17 – Web Design Business Growth


Connect with GUEST:

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #330 Full Transcription
Greg Merrilees: 

thinking about where your clients hang out, but also potential partners. So, yeah, we do have everything you just mentioned, plus copywriters and photographers and everything in an ecosystem of what a business will need to get a website live, whether it’s downstream of the website or upstream, like after they do the website. They might need SEO or whatever. And so what we’ve done, what I did, was I did a lot of joint webinars for these experts, for their clients or their communities, and so it’s a private webinar, so I would just build a relationship with them and, a either get on their podcast where they interview me or, b yeah, just build a relationship and we may have already designed their website or some of their clients’ websites, and then we jump on a private webinar just for their community where I review their websites, basically, and give them feedback. So that’s how I built those relationships.

Josh Hall: 

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. Great to have you here, my friend, for this one and I say this a lot, but I really I always mean it. But I really really mean it on this one, because we are about to hear from a multi seven figure web design agency owner who’s not burned out, and that is amazing, because I’ve met a lot of agency owners over the years, particularly those who are running legitimate, like six and seven figure agencies who maybe have a team of 20 plus people, and I can tell you most of them are completely burnt out or they’re just kind of grumpy or, more commonly, they’ve sold their agency altogether. But there are some amazing agency owners who have done it right, and one of those is with us today. This is Greg Merrilees, who I am so excited to have on the show. I’ve actually been looking forward to this for like years, like two or three years. Greg and I have a similar business coach in drain, james Schramko, excuse me, so that’s how I got introduced to Greg, which you’ll hear about here in this episode, and as I got to know him. He actually does the design work for James, actually does the design work for James, and as I just, you know, was kind of creeping on his website, I realized they have it going on and they’re doing a lot of things right. The name may sound familiar. His agency is called studio one designcom. I actually feature it in a couple of my courses as a really good example for conversion-based design really strong messaging and copy.

Josh Hall: 

And what’s really cool about this is we get to hear from a seven-figure agency owner who isn’t burned out on exactly how he runs his business. We’re going to get into how he started, how he started getting clients, how he built core partners and relationships with other service providers, because he doesn’t do everything. He’s not a full-blown digital marketing agency, but he doesn’t do everything. He’s not a full-blown digital marketing agency, but he has a lot of key partnerships. You’ll learn how to do that for yourself. You’ll learn how to focus on the core services you want to do. That’s most profitable. You’ll learn a little bit how to find and hire team members, which he’s done exceptionally well, and, maybe most importantly, how to stay profitable and how to keep a team together of 20 plus employees, even if you don’t want to be a full-blown agency owner. If you’re like me and you like the solopreneur route with a small, lean and mean team, everything you’ll learn here from Greg will filter down to whatever size business you want.

Josh Hall: 

So I’m so excited to have Greg here. He has a free resource for you. After this one, make sure to go to studio one designcom slash Josh. There’s a free quiz that him and his team put together for you that’s going to show you how to convert more of your website visitors into hot leads. And I’ll just say this If you’re going to sign up for a freebie from somebody, why not do it from somebody who is legitimately a seven figure agency owner?

Josh Hall: 

You can learn for free from him. Like that’s the beautiful, one of the many beautiful things about this podcast. So so I’m pumped. I hope you’re pumped. Here’s Greg. Let’s learn from somebody who is making multi seven figures but not earned out. Earn out, greg. It’s so good to finally have you on the podcast. I mean, I told you before we hit record I have been admiring your work, admiring your agency, ever since I joined James Tramko’s membership and I was like, who is the web designer who did his site? And then I have almost looked up to you as a mentor in a lot of ways, whether you do it or not, so, so excited to have you on the show, man.

Greg Merrilees: 

Likewise man. Yeah, I love your podcast. I really think you’re perfect for going from web designer to teaching people. That’s obviously your passion and it shows through your content. So, yeah, I enjoy your podcast. I think it’s great.

Josh Hall: 

You have a very established agency. I mentioned it, I think, in two or three of my courses as like a really good example in the way of content structure, best UX and design practices, but also messaging and copywriting, very. It looks like a very sustainable agency. From what I’ve seen over the years, it’s not like I’ve seen you go up and dip down and, uh, I’ve really seen you stay the course. I’m on your email list, I see what you do and all your ends of marketing, but it didn’t. You know, I know it didn’t start like this. Take us back, if you would. I’d love to hear where this started for you. Did you? Were you a freelancer? Did you have the idea to have a big agency or even a small agency one day? Take us back, if you would, just briefly to the beginning of this.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah no problem. We actually it hasn’t been smooth sailing at all, like I actually started this business in the year 2000,. But we were t-shirt designers and we did a lot of point of sale and just general graphics for consumer products, right, using a lot of licensed characters and, you know, movie characters and things like that. And so then, basically because we dealt mainly with the wholesale industry for clothing in I don’t know, probably 2012 or thereabouts, the retailers in like around the world in fashion, pretty much went vertical, meaning they squeezed out the wholesalers, right. So and they just went to China direct and did all their design and manufacturing and just sold it directly into their own stores. So all of a sudden the wholesalers were dropping like flies and they were our clients.

Greg Merrilees: 

So I really at the time I had a young family, we just bought a new house, had a mortgage and all that sort of stuff. We had, you know, an office. We had like six full-time designers at the time and we were going down big time. So it was very difficult. And so at that point I went to the retailers direct, but they wanted to pay in 90 days and take 5% off if they do pay within 90 days. So cashflow was just going to be wrecked if we did that model.

Greg Merrilees: 

And I just found podcasts online and started listening to you know various podcasts and one in particular the two podcast hosts said that their logo sucked, and I thought, oh wow, there’s an opportunity to say thanks for this awesome content, so design them a logo. And when we design logos, we kind of think will it look cool on a t-shirt, because that was my background, right? And so yeah they, we send them the logo. And one of of the guys, ezra Firestone, is New York based. He has like a $65 million e-commerce business and he teaches people how to do e-commerce these days.

Josh Hall: 

Oh, I love Ezra. I am such an Ezra fan.

Greg Merrilees: 

He’s amazing, yeah. So back then it was quite small and he just sent this awesome message oh dang, it makes us look like a fancy softball team. And then we just started building the relationship, jumped on a call with him and, you know, we started designing for him and he had an agency where he white labeled our design team to offer websites to his clients and he started building a community that way. And it was a long time ago. But now, yeah, he’s got a massive community and he has, you know, also probably 100 people on his staff at the moment. But, yeah, so that was one thing and the other.

Greg Merrilees: 

The other podcast host was James Schramko, as you mentioned. That’s how we met Right. And so he he’s a business coach and I thought, well, I’m going to hire him as a business coach. He came to my office and he pretty much said, like, why do you have this office? I said, well, you know, we’ve got all these designers out there we’re just sitting in the boardroom, and then we’ve got all these local clients that are just Melbourne-based, which is the city where I’m from, and he said, well, what if I could show you a better way? At the time he had, like, I think, 70 people that worked remotely and he surfs twice a day, right, and he’s got a pretty cool business and he wrote the book Work Less, make More and that’s the way he lives his life.

Greg Merrilees: 

So I hired him as my business coach and from there he just taught me everything about how to grow a business and he coaches all sorts of businesses and it was really just how to build a team, how to market yourself, and at the time I was really scared to get out of my comfort zone to get on stage to speak on podcasts, all that stuff.

Greg Merrilees: 

It was terrible, right, and you look back you go, wow, I’ve sort of come a long way, but yeah, so he had me speak at his stage and then Ezra had me speak at his stage at his e-commerce event in San Diego and our name just kind of spread, you know, and I just think if it wasn’t for and I guess this is a you know something for the listener that the web designer out there, if you have something that’s unique to your skill set, that you can send to somebody that has your clients, like business owners or whoever, whatever niche you’re in, and send them something that’s unique, right, not just a pdf download that everybody can get everywhere, but what’s unique to you that they’re going to find valuable, and build a relationship with those people that have your clients essentially, and that’s pretty much what we did to now. I think we designed over 2,000 websites and we’ve got 27 people on the team and, yeah, it’s kind of from that as a starting point which led to where we are now.

Josh Hall: 

And what year was that time frame when you met ezra and then subsequently james?

Greg Merrilees: 

yeah, it was 2013. Yeah, okay, I’ve got just over a decade you’ve had.

Josh Hall: 

Wow, so really. So studio one is it’s just over a decade, essentially well the yeah.

Greg Merrilees: 

well, 2000 was when we started, but we just designed t-shirts, but it was the same brand name, right, right, yeah, yeah. So we pivoted to website design. Yeah, in 2013. We still do brand, we’ve always done branding, but it was website design was the big pivot.

Greg Merrilees: 

And, by the way, back then we never offered coding. I, you know, I’m not a coder at all and I know you say to your students it’s good to understand coding at a very basic level. I have no knowledge, I just say no. And so, and I didn’t want to start a coding business at all either. And that’s because, you know, I’m a designer by heart and I love design, passionate about design, but the technical side of it’s just a headache for me. And so we just held off hiring a developer or developers we’ve got 10 of them now but, uh, for years, because we just wanted to do the design piece and you can do that and you can partner with other agencies to white label that side of the business if you don’t want to do that.

Greg Merrilees: 

But we didn’t do that at the time. We just said here’s the design, go find your own coders. We hadn’t built partnerships with other web dev agencies or anything at that point. So we just offered design. So yeah, that’s kind of how we started. And then gradually, after James Schrenko gave me some advice, just hire one developer, see how it goes. And then we just gradually built that team into 10 developers today.

Josh Hall: 

I’m so glad you mentioned that, greg, because, yeah, it’s an important message to hear, especially for folks who aren’t developers by nature or or at heart, if they do have an interest in design, copywriting, messaging, other aspects of web design. You are the shining example that you can have a very successful agency and not know a lick of code. I’m curious, though, to to pivot to websites. Was it just you like? How did you get by essentially without knowing code, or did you immediately start to hire and partner up with folks as quickly as possible for development and coding?

Greg Merrilees: 

Well, I mean, the way we got business was being very results-focused right, and we still do that today. And the other thing we offer is unlimited design revisions. We’ve always done that right. So they’re two things that a lot of designers don’t offer. They’re not conversion-focused or or results focused, like you say, and they don’t offer unlimited. They might do three rounds of revisions, and so that’s a starting point, right.

Greg Merrilees: 

So we got a lot of business just from that and getting our reputation out there amongst these business coach communities. And then so James said just hire one developer. We hired one developer from the Philippines and that went really well. And then we hired like the second and third and fourth within probably a year, a year and a half, and it was generally through that developer who had a community of developers that he knew and, by the way, we’ve always used WordPress for building websites. Back then it was using Genesis, the Genesis framework, um, which was all we knew and that’s what my business coach said to use. So I don’t think there was divi or, you know, element or any of those other builders back then.

Josh Hall: 

But um, yeah, it was probably. You were probably in it, like right before page builders start to sort of take off exactly, exactly, yeah, uh, and so really it was just hiring people one at a time.

Greg Merrilees: 

Just it was kind of slow growth, you know, and it was still hard for me because I have no idea about coding.

Greg Merrilees: 

But realistically, you get feedback from clients, you figure out if they’re happy and then you just iterate based on feedback, and that’s pretty much how we kept improving our process and, you know, building the team and putting on a dev team manager and a customer support person for each of our divisions design and dev and then somebody that does QA, and it’s just constantly feeding all of this client feedback into our process. We partner with a lot of SEO agencies as well, which we get a lot of referrals from, but we also send work to them. It works both ways, and so they taught us a lot as well about the back end, how things should be set up technically so that the websites rank. Obviously, we’re conversion focused, but if the website’s not ranking, then it makes no difference. We want them to get traffic and conversions. That’s why we partner with SEO. But, yeah, just bit by bit over time, we just gradually improved our process, and I still have no idea how to code, but I don’t need to. Basically.

Josh Hall: 

So your superpower since day one is design and conversion. Is that right? Is that fair to say?

Greg Merrilees: 

Exactly, yeah. So initially, when I found podcasts, I also discovered audio books and things like that. So I just focused a lot on understanding how people think Robert Cialdini’s influence has been a massive influence in my life. And various other books Spin Selling by Neil Rackham, building a Story Brand, donald Miller those three books are really what set us off to focus on conversion-focused design and that really guided us and we implement all these things Now. You mentioned copywriting before. We don’t actually offer copywriting. We have professional copywriting on our websites and all of our clients’ websites, but we partner with professional copywriters to do that.

Josh Hall: 

Gotcha.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, because we just want to be best in field and we’re passionate about design, and so that’s all we want to be known for. Even today, we give clients the option to get their website built elsewhere. You know, I mean, we offer e-commerce as well, so obviously most of them are built on Shopify and we don’t offer Shopify.

Josh Hall: 

Yeah, I was kind of curious how much of your projects are all in-house, like people and partners working under you, like you’re billing out for the work, versus how much is done by you but then referred out to others.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, I don’t know if you have an exact percentage.

Josh Hall: 

But I’m kind of curious about that.

Greg Merrilees: 

Most of what we do is in-house. We do have a Shopify development partner that we white label, so it’s under our umbrella brand. But yeah, that’s probably. E-commerce is probably I don’t know 20 of what we do. So you know, 20 would be shopify. Sorry, even within e-commerce, maybe out of the e-commerce clients, 80 would be shopify, 20 would be woocommerce. Basically, and if we build a woocommerce website which is really just a checkout on WordPress, then yeah, our developers will do that in-house. So, yeah, all of the design work we’ll completely have our in-house team do that and all of the WordPress we do in-house. But we do give the client the option to get it built elsewhere If they’ve got their own developers some of them do or if they just want to find their own developers, for whatever reason.

Greg Merrilees: 

Basically, but yeah, that’s probably 20% of our projects would get coded elsewhere.

Josh Hall: 

Gotcha, I want to dig into how you’ve developed these partner relationships, because this sounds key to what you’ve built over the past decade, plus for the web design side of things. I don’t want to overlook, though, this unlimited revisions thing. In the words of our friend James Schramko. That scares the hell out of me. Unlimited revisions how do you manage that? I know the scope of web design projects. I mean that’s a killer for a lot of people. How do you do that? How do you get by it practically and profitably?

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, I mean I’ll come back to the partner question, but yeah, so, with, uh, unlimited design revisions, you need a really good process to start with, because you want to minimize the amount of time it’s going to get you, uh sorry, to design something that the client will like, right?

Greg Merrilees: 

So, um, there’s a few few things we do before we get to the design phase, and one is, I mean, for a start, we want to make sure they’re a good fit and and that.

Greg Merrilees: 

So we offer, like, a 15 minute call it’s not with me, it’s with somebody else on my team and then that’s just to figure out if we’re a good fit. We also offer, like, just send in an estimate, just a ballpark. It might be a range, you know, whatever that is, might be a 30% difference between the low and the high, but at least it gives them an idea of what to expect, and at that point they can decide, oh, they’re way out of my price range, or you know, that’s fair enough and that’s within my budget. So we do that first, then, after we send them the ballpark and or, if they do the 15-minute call, then, and if they’re committed to that and they want the next step, then we send them our design questionnaire. Now this is a 40 question design questionnaire that’s super detailed and takes most clients like two to three hours. It’s a real pain in the ass to fill out.

Josh Hall: 

Is this before or after they’ve paid you?

Greg Merrilees: 

Before yeah, before yeah, good point, by the way we do offer like a paid strategy session as well, if you know. If they just really want some advice on how they like to pick our brains essentially Right which I don’t like that term but um, but yeah for that. If I just want to do that, then they can do a paid strategy session with me. We value that at a thousand dollars, but I often give them the discount. It might be half that.

Josh Hall: 

right, that’s a huge, by the way, just to double click on that real quick. That is a huge thing that’s going on right now. That’s working really well from a lot of my students, and something that, man, I wish I would have done is to have some sort of I think the most popular term for that is paid discovery or paid strategy, paid consulting and then, yeah, you could just use that as a credit to the project, but what I mean sounds like it’s working for you.

Greg Merrilees: 

It sounds like a great way to make sure somebody’s serious, exactly, and it could be either one of those ways you know, like, if you really just get the sense that they just want to get ideas from you, then we offer the paid strategy. Yeah so, but if they’re just ready to, if they’re not scared off by the price, they understand we may have had a chat with them already, we understand that we’re probably a good fit for each other. Then we’ll do the 40 question questionnaire without charging anything at this point. It depends how they found us as well. Obviously, you know there’s various ways we get business, but we can talk about that later. And so then if I think they’re a good fit and it’s worth investing an hour of my time, then I will jump on that call. And that call is like I’ll probably do an hour of research before the call, based on the way they answered the questionnaire and when I come prepared for that call in a way that you know it just blows their mind. Like I watch their videos, their YouTube, whatever they’ve got on their website, I’ll listen to their podcast, I’ll do everything I need to to get to know them on a more personal level, right? And then obviously, I review everything about their website just from a conversion perspective and have a look at, say, built with how it’s built Obviously there’s usually a lot of plug-ins and just see what platform they’re on. We also just run it through like an XML sitemap tool to see which pages they have. And then obviously there’s a lot of questions on the questionnaire as well, which may be to do with marketing. There might be a whole bunch of pages that we can’t see on their website, that are obviously hidden from Google, et cetera. So there’s a lot that we need to know, and so what I do is prepare for that in a way that just blows them away.

Greg Merrilees: 

And when we jump on that call, it’s all about them, it’s not about me at all. They only care about what’s in it for them, obviously. So you know that whole call is just offering strategies and suggestions and showing them examples, especially because we’ve designed so many websites, of other websites that we’ve designed that are similar, you know similar niche, et cetera. So by the end of the call, they’re really clear on the. You know the way that we’re going to design their website. They’re really clear on the way that we’re going to design their website and by that point, we send them the final proposal which we use, better proposals for that, which is really cool software.

Greg Merrilees: 

We customize that proposal. We had a lot of social proof into that proposal, video into that proposal, and it’s really clear on what they get what’s out of scope, our terms and the payment and all that sort of stuff. And they just need to sign that if they want to go ahead. And you know the payment and all that sort of stuff right, and they just need to sign that if they want to go ahead. But just doing that little piece as well, rather than just saying whip out your credit card and pay us, like it’s just the whole process. It takes out the ickiness of asking for money. It’s just, you know, they know what to expect roughly from the ballpark and after the call we send them a supporting email with a proposal that really outlines what’s in the proposal.

Greg Merrilees: 

But we might add extra things. Like we’ll give them video structure. You know, like all the videos that we mentioned. We’ll give them the strategies that we mentioned for the funnels for various things, from warming up cold leads to you know the various steps in between to a sale essentially. But yeah, there’s a lot we offer and so it’s really building trust on that call and then most of the time, like our percentage rate from doing that call to a sale is super high, like 80 plus percent yeah.

Josh Hall: 

Yeah, cause you’ve already weeded out a lot of the tire kickers and folks who are just not a good fit by that point, right.

Greg Merrilees: 

Exactly so. It’s worth my time to yeah, to do those calls and just put in as much effort as possible.

Josh Hall: 

So that makes sense. A better process, expectation, deliverables, all those things are in place before revisions get you know, you get back into feedback and revisions. I guess in a way I technically did unlimited revisions too. I mine was just kind of a hybrid to where I would say we can do as many revisions as you want In the deadline, like in the scope of the deadline, do you do? That as well, as far as like an end date for the project or a go live date.

Greg Merrilees: 

No, we don’t. So basically they just have to approve the proposal within a month and then, once we get started, then from that point it can take. I think we do have something in our terms that says six months, but honestly we don’t mind if it takes longer, like we, just as soon as they send us revisions, we just, you know, work on the revisions in the next couple of days and send it back, but yeah. But another thing actually just to mention, um part of our process to reduce the amount of revisions, and we really don’t mind, because we have a design team in the philippines.

Greg Merrilees: 

It’s obviously, you know, a lot cheaper than having a western design team, right, so we can afford to have designers spend more time. But we also know roughly how many hours we spend on each website project in the design phase and the dev phase. So our pricing kind of matches that being profitable, you know, overall, because we do so many projects. You may break even on the occasional project where the clients milk the revisions, right and and, but overall it’s still profitable, yeah. But so one thing we do as well to reduce the revisions is we have our brand director create a mood board first and this will be everything, it’s a world-class mood board like.

Josh Hall: 

It’s really a very it’s at that any even the most basic mood board or type of designs you like that is so instrumental in reducing feedback and revisions.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, absolutely Absolutely, and it’s an extra cost as well. But we just give them an option in the proposal to choose that. But we’ll explain and show them on the call exactly what they can expect out of the mood board. But it’s super detailed what they can expect out of the mood board. But it’s super detailed, like it’s a 10-page PDF that has a page for each section, like from just the overall mood that we’re trying to create the color palette, the color breakdown, percentages and obviously, contrast, call to action and things like that.

Greg Merrilees: 

To the font use, to the way where it might be font pairing, to the way we’re going to integrate the fonts with, you know, the graphics that call to actions, things like that. To custom illustrations, to photography direction If it’s e-commerce, there’s product photography direction as well as photography direction for, you know, the business owner if it’s a service business, et cetera. Into page layouts, into social media graphic direction and just general graphic elements that we’re going to inject into the design to give it brand personality, because we really do offer custom design. I know you’ve interviewed other people that have very systemized, productized offers, but we don’t do that at all. However, I might add that in the back end we do have templated inner pages never, uh, home page, but inner pages. And then when we get to the dev we’ve all we’re also starting with the previous websites inner pages. So it does save a bit of time, but the clients don’t see that right oh, that’s so glad you said that.

Josh Hall: 

Yeah, because it I mean it can work always. Just, custom obviously has the the the kind of issues that you might expect with a custom website, mainly with revisions and content collection and feedback and back and forth. But it sounds like, like you said you, if you nail the process and everything leading up to actually doing the design and knowing what’s expected, that can help that. And to your point I agree, it’s I’ve said it in a lot of my courses to customize the homepage and then, yeah, like a services page or or an about page or a contact page, you can customize parts of it if you wanted to, but that can be fairly productized or templatized.

Greg Merrilees: 

Exactly, unless they’re requesting it.

Josh Hall: 

Yeah, like they look at the homepage. All clients look at the homepage.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, and the argument as well for the designer is for the internal pages, like the reason we design them in this way is because it works, it gets results. So, as long as the branding and all the elements and the social proof and whatever’s relevant is just customized to that client, but the overall structure stays the same because that’s what works and so that’s really the selling point. So it’s nothing to hide, it’s just a way of you making more profit at the end of the day, really.

Josh Hall: 

Yeah, we did a website for a barbershop one time and I remember the owner was a little tricky to understand what he was wanting in the first place. And then we sent him the first version of the design and he was like I just I’m not feeling it. And he’s like I just I hate to be a pain, but he’s like I really just want to try something different. And what I essentially got out of him was that it was a white background and he wanted dark mode. That’s essentially what he wanted.

Josh Hall: 

So I talked about Jonathan, my designer, who’s also an Aussie, and I was like you know what? Let’s just inverse everything, let’s background black, with obviously the inverse fonts, and then maybe tweak a couple of the headings and but the structure and the layout I was like I think is solid, so let’s send that over. We sent it the next day and he was like oh my gosh, it’s amazing, this is so much better. He’s like you get the work you did on this is amazing. I don’t know how you did it so fast and it was literally just mostly just inverse. So sometimes for clients I think it’s those simple changes that to them look so different, but it’s just a contrast and hierarchy and design aesthetic that an average Joe who doesn’t know design wouldn’t think anything of.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, totally Absolutely. And if you think as well I’ve heard you with your students they have different price points and I really enjoyed that survey episode as well. Surprising to hear that most people charge very little right.

Josh Hall: 

Oh, I want to talk about that with you Absolutely.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, and so, realistically, if you think about focusing on getting your client a result, a, they’re going to value that more. Right, you obviously need social proof to back that up. But, um, but yeah, if you uh offer a template like a, I don’t know, a Wix or one of those sort of template style as a starting point, and then the client comes to you, like you just said, and we’re going to change it from white to black or whatever, and they want all these changes they always want changes and then all of a sudden you go from having a template to a custom, when you should have started with custom in the first place. If that’s the case, you know.

Josh Hall: 

Yep, Totally agree, and that’s where I think all those strategies work. As far as having a more templated approach or a productized approach or have it really custom, I think there’s a healthy marriage between the two. Often sometimes but I mean really with where you’re at it doesn’t seem like there’s a reason to go productized or templated. You have it working for you. And that’s the cool thing and daunting thing about this industry is there’s just so many freaking ways to do things and they all work. Like your strategy questionnaire that’s like 40 questions. I have one that sounds very comparable, but mine is after they pay. So we have a strategy questionnaire or a quote questionnaire. It’s a questionnaire for a proposal, but then I don’t even talk about design elements or anything like that until they’ve did the first deposit. So it just goes to show you that that works too. It can also be a weed out system for you. So it all works.

Greg Merrilees: 

There’s just so many things that work true, yeah, and we don’t offer a deposit, we just pay. You pay up front, that’s it okay, so you guys do 100 up front yeah for the for the design phase, and then, yeah, 100 for the dev phase up front.

Josh Hall: 

Once we get to that, yeah uh, so partnerships, yeah, obviously a crucial thing for you. It’s funny, the the most common question I get is how do I get clients, and a side question to that is how do I get projects? Because sometimes your own client that may be what you’re looking for, but you also may want to just get projects and work. If you’re a new designer wanting to partner up with other agencies or or have a specialty, like you do. I think partnerships are vastly underrated and undervalued. I don’t think people for the most part, take seriously partnerships, just like you’ve done and I learned this in the networking group having people like videographers, photographers, digital marketing, people who didn’t do websites. They were, like my best referral sources, so you’re again a shining example of how to do that. How did you go practically about building these relationships, though? Did you go? Were you DMing people? Were you in meetups? Were you in WordPress groups? Did you go to networking groups?

Josh Hall: 

Yeah so what did that look like for you?

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, so it’s a bit of all of the above. Like for a start, it might be, you know, let’s say, going to an actual event, like a marketing event, that type of thing, which I’ve done it quite a few times, with James Tramco speaking on stage, things like that. That’s one side of it. But then, yes, I also have like little communities of groups of you know, mainly business owners or marketers, I should say, that are essentially business owners. I haven’t joined any website design groups, I just haven’t sort of found the need for that. But, yeah, so, marketing groups, absolutely, we’re really thinking about where your clients hang out but also potential partners.

Greg Merrilees: 

So, yeah, we do have everything you just mentioned, plus copywriters and photographers and everything in an ecosystem of what a business will need to get a website live, whether it’s downstream of the website or upstream, like after they do the website. They might need SEO or whatever. And so what we’ve done, what I did, was I did a lot of like joint webinars for these experts, for their clients or their communities, and so it’s a private webinar. So I would, you know, just build a relationship with them and, a either get on their podcast where they interview me, or B yeah, just build a relationship and we may have already designed their website or some of their clients’ websites, and then we jump on a private webinar just for their community, where I review their websites, basically, and give them feedback. So that’s kind of how I built those relationships.

Josh Hall: 

I have people in my network who I could do a training for their customers. That’s key I I was in a business coaching program and I did that for them. And that’s when it hit me like why wasn’t I doing this for like years? Cause this is a primed audience. If anyone works with a business coach or somebody who is like central to a bunch of businesses, you almost don’t need to do any other marketing. You could build a healthy multi six figure business with one lead like that. So that’s true. Yeah, yeah.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, but then that’s just one. Like, we do get business from a whole range of different sources, so we don’t just rely on one Avenue. I mean, that’s, that’s one, Okay. And then, uh, we have clients. Our website like we do, you know, have it does rank for various things quite well, even though it’s not for local. But, yeah, we, you know, our white label page ranks really well. So we have a lot of clients that white label us and the beauty of that is you just build a relationship once and then you know it’s not recurring income but it’s recurring projects over time, and some of them with us for years. So that’s really cool. So that gives us a lot of work. But then, on top of that, uh like, yeah, just getting on podcasts as well, that’s what I’m focusing on this year, you know that’s, um, yeah, that’s huge for getting a lot of cold traffic.

Greg Merrilees: 

We obviously have referral partners. We have, like, a referral partner page on our website, but it’s application only and we don’t approve everyone. Um, it’s just people that we think will be a good fit. Then we also, you know, obviously have website footer links just to people check out who designed this website and then that links off to us. We do advertising on social media as well. We do social media content. We have, like a social media content manager on our team. Yeah, I guess that’s kind of it. But also referrals just from past clients even coming back or recommending us to others. That’s obviously a big part of it. But all of those things.

Josh Hall: 

I was just wondering what was your big driver in the beginning, when you started doing websites? What was your main source of getting clients?

Greg Merrilees: 

Well, I had to pivot, basically because, you know, the clothing industry was going down. And now I really found a passion in, you know, online marketing, basically just because of these podcasts that I listen to, and I thought, wow, this is a whole new world. And, yeah, I just spent like two years with my head down, learning as much as possible and applying it to clients’ websites and realizing all this stuff works, and it just felt so good and I just wanted to do more of that and, obviously, with the help of the business coach, just worked out each step to just slowly grow the business over time and, yeah, still passionate about it today.

Josh Hall: 

So it was like Ezra. You mentioned Ezra early on, you sent him a design and obviously he wasn’t the Ezra Firestone of today, but it sounds like you kind of just got in with some really good people at the right time Is that fair to say in some ways.

Greg Merrilees: 

It’s definitely fair to say right place, right time, but then you have to do good work obviously or it just stops.

Greg Merrilees: 

So that’s why I really wanted to focus on results instead of just doing good-looking designs, which I feel like we do and that’s kind of our strength, but it good-looking designs, which I feel like we do and that’s kind of you know our strength, but it’s good-looking designs that get results. And so when you work out what gets results and you just keep learning and applying and learning from how you’ve applied it to websites, getting client feedback and getting you know amazing testimonials and case studies, it just feeds you to want to keep going and learning more, because there’s no two businesses are alike that you’re designing for, so there’s always going to be a different strategy. You don’t know what’s going to work. You just have to base it on your past experience with similar clients to figure out right. This is the best chance of getting this client good results. And so, yeah, just apply. The more client websites that you design, the more you learn, and the more you apply, the more you learn. It’s just like an OODA loop just keeps going up and up. You know it’s there.

Josh Hall: 

Were you ever tempted to niche down into one industry?

Greg Merrilees: 

That’s a great question. I know you’re a big advocate of niching.

Josh Hall: 

I’m not necessarily because I was a generalist. I think it is a double-edged sword. I’m not necessarily because I was a general.

Greg Merrilees: 

I think it is a double-edged sword, but I want to hear from you Was that ever a temptation for you? Yeah, absolutely. Look, I think it’s good if you’re starting out to niche right, I think you can really get a lot more traction faster than if you’re designing websites for everybody. However, we started the other way around, where we just design websites for everyone, but I guess that’s because we kind of focus on building our reputation first among you know business communities that all wanted to market their businesses online, and so it didn’t really matter at that point if we niched or not. However, what we do now is we niche Like we just have landing pages like a you know, very well written, a lot of social proof landing page for e-commerce. Another one for you know page for e-commerce. Another one for you know coaches, personal brands. Another one for sass businesses another one like sub niches yeah, exactly for, yeah, for service businesses and agencies.

Greg Merrilees: 

Like, we design a lot of websites for other website design businesses, believe it or not, right? So, um, and so, yeah, what we just we find is those pages rank quite well, um, you know, for people that are searching for that sub niche. And, yeah, for us that’s really helped and it’s really good when somebody comes in from one of those landing pages, because obviously it’s a whole different form that it comes in and you know we’ve got different, you know, nurture campaigns for each and things like that. So, yeah, it’s just quite powerful for attracting more clients. And we just picked the four niches that we really love working in as well and that you know we can get good results for.

Josh Hall: 

So, yeah, that’s how it reminds me You’re, you’re like the web design agency equivalent of. Oh well, you probably know James Rose, right, content? Yeah, know, james rose, right, content. Yeah, yeah, absolutely, he’s awesome. Yeah, yeah, jimmy. So, jimmy, he did the same thing. I don’t know if you’ve seen his site recently, but, uh, it’s like a page out of that playbook. So, yeah, anyone to go to content snare and it’s you’ll, it’ll, it’ll look really similar to yours. He did the same thing. Like constant snare was, as you probably know, greg built for web designers initially because jimmy did come that world, but then he kept on getting hit up by accountants and law firms and education finance people, so he did the exact same thing. He had like sub niches and that is really like the perfect hybrid.

Josh Hall: 

Again, it goes back to the idea that everything works. You could be a complete generalist. In order to do that, well, you’ve got to have your processes in place and it should really just be about your services and what you do and what you offer. Uh, but you can also go hyper niche into just one industry or one avatar, or what I actually think is my preferred approach is what you’re doing, which is we. We work primarily with these types of projects or these type of of industries. Uh, and it’s yeah, there’s, it’s uh a hybrid approach, I guess is the best way to put it. So I love hearing that it’s worked for you really well.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, definitely. And yeah, like you said before, there’s not one way to do it. I would just go with your passion. You know, like, if you’re a web designer, listening, um, what do you? Who do you love serving the most? And uh, yeah, just focus on that. And if you can get focused on getting them a result, then that’s what you’ll be known for and you’ll attract more people in that niche.

Josh Hall: 

Yeah, and a lot of it, too, can be based off of background. I found I had a student who came from some sector of law enforcement and shocker. Their websites and digital presences were horrible. So he took off really fast because he was like the web designer for this particular end of law enforcement. Yeah, so he’s like if you come from a world you could crush it If you know people and you know what works and what doesn’t work. Speaking into conversion and design, you probably know what type of copy and messaging resonates because you were in the industry. So that’s another way to niche. But you could again, again, you could do it and still be a generalist too that’s a good point.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, exactly yeah. Couldn’t agree more that’s.

Josh Hall: 

That’s so cool, man. Yeah, I love seeing what is working and what excites you, because obviously I think if you got to the point where eCommerce projects were just not worth it, even from a design perspective, I imagine you know when to have you ever had to cut off certain types of projects? Or I guess one question I have for you too, kind of the perfect segue to this I was wondering how far do you go in your suite of services? Because, like you said, you do offer a lot, and I know a lot of that are upsells and add-ons potentially, but how do you know, when I’ve got enough things I could do, what’s the cutoff point for you?

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, look, we just focus on the front end of all of our marketing. We just let people know we offer branding and website design. That’s it right, um, however, obviously we do coding, and you know, but we’ll only code websites if we design them. Some people want us to code other designs. Like not, and we don’t just do revamps of a website, we do a full redesign. It’s like we don’t tweak things, we just start again, because usually, you know, they’re terrible, um, even if they think they’re good, uh, and and so then after that, we offer designer on tapcom, which is really just a recurring service for design. Right, so it might be for all of their marketing graphics. Uh, we’ve already worked on their uh, you know, and, by the way, it could be for marketing agencies that uses for repeat clients, uh, sorry, multiple clients, but generally it’s for our existing clients that we already know their brand. We’ve got all their design elements and assets, and so really, we’re just going to create all of their social media marketing and we’ll upload to their Canva account. They can use that as templates, moving forward and things like that. So, yeah, we just that’s one offer. And then, from a dev perspective, obviously there’s just a maintenance pack, but we have a couple options there. One just has some developer time included and the other one doesn’t.

Greg Merrilees: 

One thing I want to add, though, is we don’t offer hosting like we’ve. We’ve never done that. We just recommend wp engine, right, um, and the reason we don’t and I know you say do to your client, to your students, which is cool, uh, but the reason we don’t is because we just want. It’s one of our selling points. When you know like a lot of clients will say I don’t want to be stuck to my web designer, you know it’s like well, we don’t, you’re not stuck to us. After your website goes live, you have your own hosting. We’ll obviously get it live and make sure everything’s working, give you a free month of support and all that, but and all that, but. From that point, you have the keys. You have full control to change designers or developers at the drop of a hat. We don’t hold you to ransom in any way, and that is a good selling point. That’s why we don’t offer it.

Josh Hall: 

Have you found that to help reduce not churn necessarily, but has that helped with making lifetime clients that approach?

Greg Merrilees: 

It has indeed, absolutely Yep. And so, yeah, then you know they come back for just little ad hoc things here and there and you know, if it’s less than half an hour’s work we won’t even charge them. But yeah, if they want to go on our maintenance plan, then that’s great. It’s just the monthly. They can pause, they can cancel at any time.

Josh Hall: 

Yeah, I mean, and the reason I’m sure you’ve heard me say this for anyone who hasn’t the reason I’m sure you’ve heard me say this for anyone who hasn’t the reason I recommend offering hosting and maintenance together for every client is because I found in my experience I was getting the calls anyway and I was like I need to just charge for this.

Josh Hall: 

They’re calling me when there’s an email issue. I don’t even know where their email is or their domain is is an issue, so but to your point, I never. You probably know like I didn’t come across it as like if you’re going to work with me, you’ve got to host with me, otherwise, no go, got it. I always said this is, I recommend it and I’m going to be in your corner. But if you choose to move hosting, you will always have that option. If you choose to move your site, no problem, but I do recommend hosting with us, just because we know it and we’re going to be your support system. Yeah, fair enough, that’s still my approach on it. And again, but it works, it works True.

Greg Merrilees: 

And we do have like an affiliate link. When we send people to WP Engine, they’ll get three months free and we get a commission from that. There you go.

Josh Hall: 

Yeah, and it may be different too. I mean, I’d love to hear about vision and aspirations for you for the next step of all this, for you for the next step of all this. But I think the model of hosting your own clients is also one of the best ways to build recurring income If you are a solopreneur or just a couple designers. I mean, I had a very, very lean, just few person team and they were all no one was full-time. Well, I had one full-time designer at one point, but everyone was subcontractors. So it suited my business model with a team of what 27, you said right.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, 27 is what we have currently. Yeah, yeah.

Josh Hall: 

Yeah. So that’s you know, that’s. You’re doing a lot of other things proactively that, uh, yeah, may not warrant or need a such a push with hosting and maintenance, but, as you said, it’s, it’s also a selling point to be really cool about it and chill about it. Yeah, totally yeah. What chill about it? Yeah, totally yeah. What are your? What are your dreams or aspirations for the next step here, greg, I’d love to hear about, I mean, are you really? Are you satisfied with where things are? Seems like it’s sustainable? Are you? Are you able to have more time to to kind of dive into your superpowers and what you want to do? What’s?

Josh Hall: 

yeah what’s the road ahead look like for studio one?

Greg Merrilees: 

sure. So, I must admit, during the pandemic we live in Melbourne, which was actually the world’s most locked down city. We had like 250 something days of lockdown. It was just hell right and the government sucks, but anyway, that’s another issue. And so because of that I lost a lot of interest in the business. I want to sell the business big time.

Greg Merrilees: 

So I had a couple of brokers in the US, you know, giving us quotes and all this sort of stuff to what they think the business is worth, and it was very appealing you know multiple seven figures and it’s like, well, I could just throw in the towel. And then I was speaking to my business coach. He said, well, why don’t you hire, like a COO, et cetera? And so just somebody to take away all the mundane things that I didn’t want to do. And so I found somebody and she’s in my city. I advertise on LinkedIn, I send an email to my list and she ends up that she’s in my city. And the way I found this person was just ask people to put in a five-minute video and ask them a bunch of questions to answer in the video, and based on that, I thought just her answers and her personality was fantastic, uh, and so she started working for me and it was initially like, I think, 25 hours a week and she was so good and she loved it so much, and I loved having her so much, that it quickly turned into 40 hours a week. And then, like a year and a half later, we’re at a Christmas party, we’re drunk, and she just gave herself a promotion to general manager, which was hilarious. And so from there, she’s just made such a difference and it turned around my mindset from wanting to sell the business to really doing our best to just enhance the business, to just keep building the value in it, so that, whether I sell or not and I don’t want to sell now, right, because I’m working way less I’m working 20 to 25 hours per week, and that’s proven because I have a rescue time on my computer that tells me I spend a lot of my time. I do things outside of work during business hours these days, and so now we’re just constantly trying to improve our offer, our profitability, client satisfaction, retention, all that sort of good stuff, and it’s just slowly, slowly, working together with Sally, my general manager, to just make sure we’re doing all the right things, even down to investing in our team culture, which has been a huge thing.

Greg Merrilees: 

Invest in in our team culture, which has been a huge thing. Like we actually had a design manager a couple of years ago who, uh, caused some ripples amongst the design team because he was thinking of leaving and it just left a bad taste amongst the designers, right, and we had a couple of new designers join and they left within a month. It’s like, well, what’s going on here? And anyway, sally found out that he was bad mouthing me and and so anyway, we decided like that was probably my fault for not putting enough effort into the culture. So he was gone and we replaced him.

Greg Merrilees: 

But then what I did was really invest in the culture, went to the Philippines to meet all of our team.

Greg Merrilees: 

We had like 20, I think it was only 22 of the Filipinos that went but plus took my Australian team over there as well and we hired a big villa and we had everybody stay there and, you know, we had the head staff and they cooked food for us and we did karaoke with every meal and we did some water sports down the local beach in Boracay and we’re just all these things that just built the you know, the team morale and relationships amongst the designers, the devs, and what an incredible result that’s made and such a difference to our business and everyone’s so happy working there and nobody’s left since, and so all those things are just little things that make me feel like we’re heading in the right direction. We’re improving our business and I just want to keep improving it until a point where it’s so valuable that I get the choice to sell or not. But at this point it’s the definite no. But who knows, if it’s so valuable someone offers me 10 mil, then why not.

Josh Hall: 

Are you going to do the Studio One annual retreat every year, then?

Greg Merrilees: 

Yes, exactly. Yeah, it’s so important yeah.

Josh Hall: 

Yeah, I would say I mean gosh for a team of that size, absolutely you got to have some unity there. I’m sure a lot of people barely even interact with each other at that level of folks. So it’s probably like oh Lisa, I seen your name, but Australian Open is on my bucket list.

Greg Merrilees: 

You love your tennis. Yes yes, yes.

Josh Hall: 

Yes, so I will definitely let you know whenever we get down there, because that sounds, yeah, that sounds amazing man.

Greg Merrilees: 

That’s in Melbourne, my city.

Josh Hall: 

Yes, it looks awesome. I don’t know the government stuff, but by God it looks great as long as we’re open. So, yeah, what you mentioned your company is is potentially valued at multi-seven figures a lot, yeah, as a, as a company that is not solely focused on recurring revenue and subscriptions. What’s most valuable to you, like what? What would be the most valuable thing with your model? Is it the process? Is it the the the list? Is it the proof? Is it your team? Is it all the above?

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah. So what the brokers say is that it’s the customer list, it’s obviously our process and what we deliver. But our income is very consistent. It has literally gone up on average 10% to 15% for the last seven years thereabouts right, which is a good amount of growth. It’s not too fast and they find that really appealing. But because it’s so consistent, there’s a lot of value in that. It doesn’t drop. The revenue doesn’t drop. So, like I said, that’s because of all of those a we do good work but all of those different channels of getting business. If we just relied on one um, like seo or ad paid ads, like you turn that off or your account gets um banned or whatever, then you’re gone.

Greg Merrilees: 

So it’s not recurring income, but it is, uh, you know, really good, solid amount of income and it’s a lot of repeat clients as well as referrals, as well as all those other things. White label and you name it, you know. But yeah, recurring major focus, but if we can build our recurrent, then it’ll be even more valuable.

Josh Hall: 

To your point, though. Even with your model, you got processes proof team. I mean, if you’re not going to have a decent amount of recurring, then that’s what makes a business valuable for exiting eventually. When I sold mine, it was not a sexy sale. I didn’t sell it for much, but what I realized I sold was essentially my maintenance plan and a client list.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, client list, exactly yeah, Because normally the potential buyer for our type of business is a much bigger marketing company that wants your clients, so they can offer all of their other services to your clients as well as, potentially, a website to their existing clients clients. But it’s mainly around the other way yeah, yeah, totally, that makes sense.

Josh Hall: 

I was curious for you what those value, I guess, what value propositions, value assets, what those were for your business, because a lot of people, I think, do get into a place where web designers, it’s really common to basically create a glorified job and if you step out of the business, things probably fall apart For you. Speaking to you, it sounds like you’re at a place with your team where you tell me, if you left for a month, would things still run pretty smoothly? Yeah, absolutely, it seems like you’re at that point now.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, the team would run smooth. There would always be work for them. The work may drop off a little. My role is really to build client relationships because I love doing that. It might be with our white-label partners or past clients or new prospects etc. That’s kind of what I spend my time. I do check in with the team, obviously a lot, but at the same time, sally, the GM, does more of that and we’ve got a design team manager and a dev team manager. So you know, um, I don’t need to spend a lot of time with them, but obviously I do check in, check in with them and and we have training and things like that. But, um, yeah, I look what was the question. I forgot the question.

Josh Hall: 

That was it yeah.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, I thought the question was just yeah, it was just.

Josh Hall: 

I mean, it seems like you’re at the point and being valued at a multi-seven figure range would tell me it’s not relying on you. It’s not the Greg Merrilees show, it’s Studio One.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, and that’s one thing that I’ve really tried to focus on reducing my hours, and so, like I said, I’m at 20 to 25 every week, and if I can reduce that to 15 to 20, that’s pretty appealing for a new buyer. Yeah, if they could just replace me.

Josh Hall: 

One thing you hit on too that I think is really important is the steady growth, the just 10, 15% every year. Yeah, this occurred to me. I had Mike Michalowicz on the show last year, author of Profit First, yes, and he told me too many sales are usually a bad thing for most service providers and I was like, oh my gosh, it’s so true. Especially if you have a team like that. It’s like if you were to have a 50% growth window. That sounds awesome and it might be cool to brag about, but what does that look like for your workload and your team and hiring.

Josh Hall: 

What’s that going to pull you away from? I mean I don’t know if you’ve ever had. It’s a good problem to have, but still that’s a big time challenge. I don’t know if you’ve ever faced any big waves, either high or low, on that, but I guess it sounds like just staying steady has worked for you. I don’t know, have you had any big influxes and big drops that have evened out?

Greg Merrilees: 

know, have you had any big influxes and big drops that have evened out? Yeah, it’s like it’s a bit of a bit of a wave, as in like over january, february we take a little bit of a dip because we kind of shut down for two weeks. I normally go to canada skiing but the team shut down for two weeks and I go away for three weeks but, um, you know, and so that can affect us a little bit, but it’s not the end of the world because we plan for that and and overall, you know the 12 months it’s pretty good.

Greg Merrilees: 

But the biggest lesson I had was when I was being white labeled by Ezra in our initial growth phase. He was a big fish for us, you know, like we had, I think 40 or 50 percent of our workload came through the clients that he sent our way Right, or him, him having, you know, white label our team. And so then my, my business coach said to me well, that’s a problem, you know, if he pulls a pin or goes out of business or changes supplies or whatever, you’re pretty much screwed, you know. So it was a really good eye-opener to really just make sure that you know we reduce our biggest client and that just don’t take as a high percentage of all of our work, basically. So yeah, to me that was a big lesson, but apart from that it’s pretty steady. But we’re just going to be careful that we don’t rely too much on one client or a few clients.

Josh Hall: 

This is funny. This is so timely. We just talked about this today in my community. Do you have a percentage that you try not to exceed with like a partner? Like I always say about 10 to 15%. You wouldn’t want one client being worth more than 10 or 15%. Is that somewhere around there, or even less. What do you think?

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, I think you’re right. Absolutely. We don’t have that issue at the moment and we haven’t had that issue for a while. But yeah, we definitely had that issue back with Ezra because it was such a high percentage and yeah, I would say 10 to 15, would be pretty safe.

Josh Hall: 

And, like you said for the marketing strategies, it’s equally as important there too. Because if you’re reliant on Google, for example, I was just thinking recently, one of my members of my community, Web Designer Pro, one of his clients, I think it was in some sort of like van travel, like influencer type blog site and literally overnight lost 30K a month because of some algorithm changes with AdSense, with what was pushed into their blog. No, they didn’t make any other changes, it was just algorithm change 30K a month, boom like that. So they’re scrambling to figure out another marketing avenue. So, just like it is with clients, it’s the exact same for marketing. You can’t rely on just one channel. I mean, earlier I was saying you could just do partner webinars and that could be it. But that can be a good place to start. But don’t stop there. I agree. Have a few areas of marketing.

Greg Merrilees: 

James Franco calls it own the race course, not the race horse, right, and so what he means is don’t build your asset on somebody else’s land. Meaning social media, basically right, or, yeah, relying on one source of leads, it’s just dangerous. So, yeah, you just want to build a moat around your business, basically, and, yeah, the more ways of getting income that you have through different sources, the better.

Josh Hall: 

Greg, this has been awesome man. I really, really appreciate you being transparent with what’s worked for you and shedding some light on your journey and how you’ve built Studio One. I mean, like I said, it really is an impressive setup. I’m going to recommend everyone go to StudioOneDesigncom. If anyone’s students in my courses, you’ll see it. You’ll see the site as I continually refer back to it for just good design and conversion Copy. All the above to it for just good design and conversion copy. All the above. Um, where would you like to go? Where would you like to to send everyone listening and watching right now? Greg, do you have a resource you want folks to check out? Maybe I know you know this is a fellow web design crew. So, uh, it’s not necessarily. Uh, you know this, I don’t know, maybe there’ll be some good uh leads that come your way from this, but, um, this isn’t it for di or business owners. This is for web designers. So do you have anything that you’d like to send?

Greg Merrilees: 

them to. I do indeed. So success leaves clues, right? So I know a lot of your community are kind of starting out or they might be finding their feet and they’re in this sort of growth phase or whatever. But if they want to just kind of R&D, rip off and duplicate what we’re doing, we’ve created a little lead magnet that we send to our clients that they can do something very similar, right? So if you go to studio1designcom forward, slash Josh, right, and then you’ll see what we’re doing there and there’s a mini funnel off the back of that which has a webinar as a thank you page, has a webinar and has, you know, opportunity to book a call. So somebody that’s listened to this as a web designer can R and D that.

Josh Hall: 

Heck, yeah, dude, I didn’t even know you guys had this set up. Look at that.

Greg Merrilees: 

Look at your team go.

Josh Hall: 

That’s awesome, dude Heck. Yes, Um. By the way, is this similar or comparable to the masterclass that you had been Cause? I signed up for one of your masterclasses probably a couple of years ago. Yeah, we’ve got a different version.

Greg Merrilees: 

Yeah, we’ve updated that, but yes. So, basically, the first thing is like a checklist of 50 things that we sent to our. This is what we sent to our clients, right? So I’m just showing your community exactly what they can copy if they want, right, don’t copy it verbatim, but because it is our USP, these 50 questions that we ask are really a yes or no to our clients.

Greg Merrilees: 

Do you have this on your website, yes or no, right? It’s kind of like a self audit, and so at the end, we give them a score out of 50. Most clients will get it like a 20, right? It’s pretty unusual for them to get a 50 or above 30, to be honest. And so from there, we have a thank you page. They’ve got to opt in for this, but these are all the steps that the designer watching would want to do for their clients, and so they opt in in the results page and then they get the results emailed to them. They go into a nurture campaign, but then they get taken to a thank you page video that invites them to watch this webinar. It’s like a one hour workshop, and then that will be. They can view that on the very next page, and then they can get a quote on the very next page after that. So yeah, so that’s what they could do for their clients. The web designer watching.

Josh Hall: 

Oh, killer man. Well, greg, thank you so much for sharing that and yeah, I mean nobody in Web Designer Pro or my students or anyone listening are ripper offers completely. We look at what works and make it our own.

Greg Merrilees: 

That’s the motto yeah, exactly yeah.

Josh Hall: 

I really appreciate you sharing that man.

Greg Merrilees: 

Pleasure buddy. Yeah, so good to catch up, josh, and yeah, really enjoyed this interview, so thank you so much.

Josh Hall: 

Well, thanks so much for your time, Greg. You’re killing it. I can’t wait to see what the next handful of years look like, man.

Greg Merrilees: 

We’ll continue to keep tabs and see great thing, so keep it up.

Josh Hall: 

Was that freaking awesome or was that freaking awesome? Greg is just great Again. Maybe it’s the Aussie nature of just being kind of chill, but for somebody to have as much success as he’s had to be a seven figure agency owner but to be still really fired up and to be so sustainable with it, I think that is the very definition of success. So big thanks to Greg for taking some time to be still really fired up and to be so sustainable with it. I think that is the very definition of success. So big thanks to Greg for taking some time to be with us today. I hope you enjoyed this one.

Josh Hall: 

Please let us know you can drop a comment for the show notes at this episode of joshhallco slash 330. I will let Greg know when this goes live. Maybe he’ll keep an eye on some comments. If you have any questions, just drop a comment there at joshhallco slash 330. And again, greg and his team put together a free resource for you to take some of the tactics that’s working for him and his agency. To get that, go to studio1.com. That’s the number one studio1designcom slash josh. To pick that up, you’ll learn how to convert more leads into visitors or, excuse me, visitors into leads. There we go. I just started getting the hiccups. Terrible timing and we will have all the show notes links in a full transcription over at the show notes. For this one which is going to be at Josh hall, I go slash three, three, zero. See you over there and check out studio one design for inspiration. This was awesome and I hope you’re as pumped as I am. See you on the next one, friends.

 

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