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Tips For Starting a Freelance Web Design Business with Josh Hall

On the JoshHall.co web design show we dive into 5 top tips for starting a freelance web design business including the importance of marketing and community.

We talk about how I’ve grown my freelance web design business significantly over the last year and dive into 5 top tips that have helped me grow my business along with getting into a wide ranging conversation involving copywriting, marketing, the power of community, benefits of premium vs free content and so much more.

Here’s a quick summary of my 5 tips:

Community – talk and share with others & give back.
Marketing – learn marketing skills. Permission marketing & develop empathy for your clients.
Gratitude – focus on positive mental attitude and being of service not just making money.
Invest in yourself – free content is like finding a bunch of bread crumbs whereas a full course or premium training is like the full meal.
Learn to say NO! – free yourself up for the “yes” and good, prioritized opportunites.

Introduction

Welcome to the Josh Hall Web Design Show. Helping you build better websites and create a web design business that gives you freedom and the lifestyle you love.

Josh Hall
Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 20. In this one, we’re gonna get into some really, really great tips for starting your freelance web design business, this is going to be applicable for those of you who are thinking about getting started and thinking about launching a freelance web design business. It’s also going to be really beneficial for those of you who are already on your way, if you already have a freelance web design business. And then even for those of you who are more established, or you’re agency owners, there’s a lot of really good things in this talk that you’ll be able to apply to your business to help take it to that next level.

And for this talk, I brought in a very special guest, Adela Mei. She is actually one of my web design students. She is a freelance website designer based in the UK, and our paths crossed over a year ago and up to this point, she’s taken all my courses, and it’s just been such a joy and an honour to see her freelance career really blow up over the last year or so. And we were having a conversation via email. And I just asked her “Adela, what are some of the things that really helped you over the past year, take your business to this next level?” and she listed out these five tips, and she expanded on them. And I was like, Adela, I we have got to share this with the world. We can’t just keep this between us. They were such good tips. And she was kind enough to come on the podcast. And that’s what we talk about in this episode.

Now we also get into copywriting strategies, content, we get into marketing, and all kinds. It was a really wide ranging topic in and around these tips that will really help you and your business. And it’s interesting, because as you’ll find out, Adela is actually an ecologist, turn freelance website designer, and we hear how that experience really translated into to her business right now, which is really cool too. So I’m really fired up about this. So excited for her and for you to hear this talk. And more importantly apply it to you as you guys either start or level up your web design businesses.

Now before we dive into this episode, this one is brought to you by my Divi CSS course. And what you’ll find out in this episode is that Adela found out about me like a lot of others do, and that’s by googling Divi and CSS tricks on YouTube. And for those of you who have followed me for a while, or those of you who don’t know, I have a tonne of free tutorials online. And those you’ll find that were really helpful for her. But as she so eloquently puts it, finding those free resources and those little tutorials and snippets for her were kind of like finding scattered breadcrumbs, it really wasn’t a full meal. So the course, it was basically a way to take her from point A to point B, and really laid a foundation that she needed to successfully and confidently build custom websites with CSS and Divi and as a course creator, it was an honour to hear that and I’m so excited to hear how that’s helped her in her business. And that’s kind of what I want to challenge you with too, as well. Yes, you can find all the free resources available online. The problem and the trade off is it’s going to take a lot of time, and it’s not going to lay that foundation you need particularly with Divi and CSS.

So if you like this episode, and it inspires you make sure to enrol in my Divi CSS course today, and I would love to help you become the next Adela. So without further ado, enjoy my talk with Adela Mei and for my US friends, you’re going to love her accent. My wife heard some of this interview, and she was like, I could just listen to her talk for an hour. Her accent is so cool. We were also just watching The Crown too. So maybe we were just into English accents, but in any case, enjoy my awesome talk with my student Adela Mei.

Adela, welcome to the show. It is great to have you.

Adela Mei
Thanks, Josh. Thanks for having me. Thanks for the invite.

Josh Hall
I’m pumped up about this talk because you’re one of my students, and it’s been really a privilege and an honour to see how you’ve come, even just the past year, since our paths crossed. So it’s been awesome to see your strides in business. And I know you’re really getting out there in the Divi community and you’re doing a lot to really grow your business. And I loved what you said when we were emailing because the purpose of this talk is going to be sharing some tips to help others with building their freelance web design business. So I know we’re gonna get into I think some like five tips that you’ve learned that have been really beneficial. So I’m excited to to get into the weeds of that. Before we do though, I’d love for people to just get to know who you are and what you do.

Adela Mei
Sure, well, I’m Adela Mei. I’m in England, I’m in the southwest. I actually live in the middle of the countryside with a very slow broadband connection!

Josh Hall
I was just gonna ask “how is the internet out there?”

Adela Mei
I’m an ecologist by profession, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years since uni. But it was through that I ended up doing web design. We had this project at the end of a research, master’s research to build this page for a project. We were given FrontPage and just basically left to get on with it. We were like, what is this? But I really got into it. But in those days, I don’t know if you remember FrontPage, you’re like kind of linking every page to everything.

Josh Hall
I never used it. I got in when we were diving into Dreamweaver before I ever got into WordPress.

Adela Mei
Oh, you missed out Josh!

Josh Hall
Yeah, I just missed out. Yeah, thank God.

Adela Mei
So that’s how I really started with the web design. And for probably a good 10 years after that, I actually did a lot of travel with the ecology and conservation. FrontPage was not web based, so we could sit literally on our laptops in the jungle, and we’d be building these websites for our projects, and really all about wildlife conservation. And then we’d go to an internet cafe and crank up the power to get the internet working and upload what we’ve been working on. I got quite addicted to it, there was something about building things like that that I really liked. And then probably 2011 or 2012, I got a bit more settled from being of global jet setter and someone introduced me to WordPress.

That was my first game changer with it really, because it was just so easy to use, and so nice to use after bless FrontPage, it was brilliant. And then it went from there mainly from designing websites for wildlife conservation projects, because that’s kind of my thing. And generally, conservationists and ecologists don’t tend to be designers, so I’ve got this strange mismatch of being a field ecologist and then being, as I’ve realised, really geeky and really into web design and web development. And it’s like, put those together. So yeah, that’s the gist of it.

Josh Hall
That’s awesome. Now do you take on other clients from different industries as well, or are you pretty niche to ecologists?

Adela Mei
Last year I started taking on different kinds of clients. So I have a high end audio cable client, which is a completely different field. That came from just building the confidence because I tend to do most of the copywriting and you know, the content as well for all the sites. So this was a step in confidence that, okay, it’s not quite my niche, but let’s try. Let’s say yes, let’s see how this goes. And that’s actually been really, really amazing. It’s learning a different field, with people who work in different industries. We can get a little bit blinkered as ecologists, and it all becomes about trees and wildlife and oceans. So yes it’s been really good.

Josh Hall
Does it feel good to design different types of sites for different industries now just getting out of, because I can imagine if you stick with one niche, it probably gets a little stale, even if it’s a passion for you, it probably gets, you know, at some point, it’s like, okay, I’d like to do something a little different, right?

Adela Mei
Right. Well my biggest headache with Divi was the images. Trying to get the images to be sitting right, and for the wildlife projects it was always images of wildlife. You had to get, you know, the headshot, and it was it was driving me, you know, pretty potty. So being able to build sites where I don’t have to use images of wildlife, it’s so much easier using graphics and colours, and, playing with gradients and things. So it’s like, oh, this is actually even more fun.

Josh Hall
Now, when did doing freelance web design become full time for you? Because it’s a large part of what you do now right? Is it your full time deal?

Adela Mei
It’s nearly full time moving into this year, the intention is it’s going full time with content marketing and the social media side of things as a package. So up until then it’s been, always freelancing, but freelance ecology, consultancy, and then freelance web design. But yeah, more and more, it’s getting into web design and the content marketing side of things.

Josh Hall
Very cool. So you’re working on it. Sounds like you’ve got some other recurring and some different revenue streams there too, which is really, really crucial. Just a couple episodes back at the time of recording this with you, I haven’t launched it yet, but I just talked with John Wooten of Superfly and we talked about recurring revenue strategies for web designers. And that’s one thing that’s so great about web design is we have these other options to us to add in if we want to with web design, and you can follow whatever you’re good at or whether you’re passionate about so. Do you feel like copywriting and content is a strong suit for you, and where it started?

Adela Mei
Right, and literally in the last few weeks, I’m really into setting intentions of what I want to do and what kind of clients I want to work with, and I’m all about communication. So I could talk to you for five hours, I won’t, but I could. But what’s coming in now is the clients I’m getting are more on the content marketing side of things, because they don’t understand strategy. And they don’t understand how to get what they do across to the public, especially, with a really niche field where it’s such specialist terminology, you have to break that down in a way that people can get it and understand what you’re talking about.

So literally I just got another client today to help them with their social media marketing, and help them with a strategy for their website, or some call to actions. How do you get your website to work for you and not just be a placement that just sits there and looks okay, but you’re not really sure what it’s doing.

Josh Hall
That’s awesome. And that’s a big point you mentioned right there with a niche field is to, to really dive into the copywriting and the content where it’s probably much more than just a brochure style site with some images, it’s you know, you really have to know that field, it’s probably a little bit different than an auto mechanic or something that’s, I don’t want to say basic, but it’s pretty clear. Like there’s some services, here’s what they do. And it doesn’t, you know, I imagine yeah, what that niche type of field, you really have to get into the weeds of what’s involved, and more importantly, figure out how the heck you’re gonna put that on the website. So it’s not just a bunch of text and a bunch of, you know, just a boring, like a textbook online, basically.

Adela Mei
It’s how do you get feeling into the website? How do you get it when people look at it, they can feel ‘Oh, okay, I get it. I don’t really understand it, but I kind of get it’. And then you get their interest and in captivate them.

Josh Hall
That’s good. How do you do that? Are there any tips for that? Particularly with a subject like that? Do you look for results or, like a story aspect to it or something that pulls the heartstrings. What how do you do that?

Adela Mei
It’s a combination. Say with the conservation field, that is about getting that emotional connection and telling a story. So getting better with the copywriting is learning how do you tell a story about something and with wildlife conservation in a very positive way to celebrate successes, because we all know about species extinctions and the doom and gloom and it’s just like, we can present things in a much more positive light and a story that engages people, because we’re kind of tired of, for example, fundraising for conservation, another tree being cut down, another species going extinct.

Turn that around into a really positive, optimistic story that will re-engage people in that conservation mission. So it’s a combination of quite a lot of things. That’s quite a tricky field. Because with your copywriting, you need to be very particular in how you express things in wildlife conservation, and dealing with protected species is quite sensitive.

Josh Hall
I think you’re hitting on some universal topics, though, as far as you could. I think a lot of people talk about even no matter what industry it is, they talk about the what, like what it is or what they do. Whereas if you can focus on the why, and bring that why into the message, that’s where it’s really huge. I know it several years back, I read Simon Sinek ‘Start With Why, I’m not sure if you’ve read that book, it’s highly recommended. It really made me think about the way I message things, whether it’s my business or my clients, and really getting past that what because yeah, like, for conservationists, the what would be fundraising for this, but if you’re leaving out the why, like, why, why are we doing that? Why is what’s the mission here? That’s where it’s really powerful. I think that’s probably like a copywriting 101, you know, focus on the why.

Adela Mei
I mean, we’ve had some great discussions about this, because I know ‘why’ because it’s my background and my profession, but really, it’s like, well, why is that important to people who aren’t trained or aren’t in the field? Actually, why? Why is it important, like people can, they’re not gonna understand, not everyone has five years at uni, you know, studying all this stuff. And even with other other clients in different fields, it’s like, well, why is this important? What will I get from this? Or, why do you think you’re so great?

Josh Hall
Yeah, and, you know, it’s kind of inspiring me to rethink how I phrase some stuff on our business website for even clients who don’t understand really why they need a website. A lot of times they have no idea. I mean, you know, people are busy doing their own business, it’s not going to occur to them why they need a website, and how it’s going to benefit them, or how their current website is hurting their business instead of helping it. So that’s a good thought, it’s a good reminder to ‘focus on the why’ for sure for any sort of web design or copywriting.

Adela Mei
I mean, one of my biggest clients now it took two years to persuade them or explain why a website was important. And then to deliver it, and then to go into the content marketing and social media side of things. Some of these real passion projects for me, because it’s such a slow burn. But then to be able to do that, and for them to understand, and now they see that logo everywhere and the brand colours and they’re getting it and it’s like, yes, yes!! Brilliant, brilliant, we’re doing it, let’s keep going.

Josh Hall
Two years later, that’s funny. Hey, you know what, that’s a it’s a long game strategy, though. And I bet you’ll make a client for life with that kind of thing with you know, when they see the results.

Adela Mei
Right, we mentioned earlier about diversifying. So that client now I’ve got the web management and the maintenance side of things, and updating, and then they have a whole social media strategy, that if they want to take that on board, they can carry on with that. So it basically got me on board with that project for you know, for long term, which is something else I really enjoy, you’re able to become partners, with people, friends with people, and really understand their struggles, what they need, and how how we can be more of service.

Josh Hall
Yeah, that’s awesome. Wow, really good points there. And you’re talking about service there, it brings me to, I’d love to focus on some of these tips, because you laid out five tips that helped you figure out, so what we could do is go one at a time, and then we’ll recap them at the end. But speaking of service, that probably leads to your first tip that really seemed to help your business which is community. So what did that look like for you? How did you, I know you’re involved in the Divi community now, obviously you came from a whole different ecologist community. What did that look like for you in your freelance journey?

 

Tip 1 How To Grow Your Business By Building Community.

Adela Mei
Sure. So I had been probably working really on my own for like two or three years. I had been in a couple of small groups, self-learning online courses, things like that. But there was never that real community and feedback where I could say, hey, why isn’t this working, it should work? Or can someone take a look at this design of .. you know, have I got it right, something looks like it’s missing. And actually, it was finding the Divi Facebook Group that you set up. So I was stalking in there for a while because I didn’t know how to speak to people, and realise that people had the same questions as me, they had the same problems as me, they had the same sometimes insecurities as me, they weren’t sure. And then I started being able to help other people and contribute, and then other people helping me and I was like, Hey, this is really cool. This is generosity and the spirit of reciprocity.

People were just helping other people because they wanted to, because they could, and the main thing that did was hugely boost my confidence, that I wasn’t being like some dimbo because I couldn’t work something out. The amount of times people said ‘Hey have you tried clearing your cache?’ which probably solves 99% of problems, right? I was sitting there thinking it was just me. And it was like, no, just clear your cache, just you know, as an example. So really, for me that that was a real game changer to feel supported, and by people I didn’t even know which was just really wonderful.

Josh Hall
When did when did you join the group because I set that I set the Divi Web Designers Facebook group up in the fall of 2016. Do you remember when you joined? I could look it up?

Adela Mei
Yeah, I don’t know. I went back to check. I think I started using Divi in 2014.

Josh Hall
Okay, oh, wow. You’re pretty early on it.

Adela Mei
Yeah. Well, I discovered Elegant Themes. And then I must have been on their email list. And I was just getting hit with this thing called Divi. And I’m like, is this gonna leave me alone? What is this? And then I was like, I’m just gonna try it because everyone’s talking about it. And I had a real love hate with it for a couple of years because it was driving me potty. And then 2016 I got a developer’s licence, the lifelong licence and then I found your group and it was like, okay… a lot of us have this love hate thing with Divi. So I’m going to make a choice. I’m embracing it. I’m loving it now. Let’s learn how to use it better!

Josh Hall
Oh, that’s awesome. So yeah, was it like, was it like 2017 or so when you join the group?

Adela Mei
Yeah, it must be.

Josh Hall
Yeah, and that’s a big thing, I liked what you said there that it helped give you confidence. So for me, this is so cool because I set up that group for you, for everyone who is in your situation where we’re like, we want to have some support, we want to be able to, you know, get quick support without going through the official support forum or a chat, which those are hit or miss, you just never know, you know, some techs are great, and they can really help you out, and sometimes you’re gonna know more than the tech you’re working with. So that was huge. And then, as you probably know, there’s a bazillion Divi Facebook groups out there. But I found that a lot of those have like rules and regulations that just make it hard to have a good community atmosphere. I feel like I try to keep ours as free as possible without it getting out of control. It’s tougher now because we’re approaching 20,000 members.

So inevitably, I get the, you know, this dude, or this gal laid a nasty comment, and I have to address that, and there’s some times where I’m like, I’m freakin done with managing Facebook. This kind of thing makes it all worth it because it’s a really, you know, it’s costly for me, quite frankly. But this kind of thing really, I actually, in a way, I think your story makes it all worth it because now you’re a student of mine, and we’re colleagues and I’m able to see your growth and help you and your journey so it makes it all worth it. I appreciate you just saying that for me just to kind of keep me going because I never hear those stories from the group. So that’s awesome. So yeah, community. That’s a huge one. I think anyone should start with community, my Divi Facebook group, I’ll make sure I link to that for anyone who’s getting involved with WordPress and Divi.

Do you do any Divi meetups? Or have you ever done any WordPress meetups or WordCamps or anything like that?

Adela Mei
No, I had a look into those, but where I live is not very near anywhere else.

Josh Hall
Okay. That is tricky. I mean, they’re all over the world. But yeah, there are some spots where it would probably be a drive or I don’t know what the closest big city to you is. If there’s like a WordCamp or something, I would definitely recommend it even if it’s a weekend stay somewhere and to go to a WordCamp just because that really takes the community aspect to a whole nother level. I’m still slightly buzz from the Divi or the WordCamp and Divi meetup I went to a couple years ago, when I went to US and I met, we met like Nick from Elegant Themes. And a lot of the Elegant Themes staff met up with my buddy Tim Strifler and David Blackman and John Wooten, and like almost the whole Divi community was there. And it was just so cool to actually meet people. And yeah, it takes all that to the next level. So I would definitely encourage anyone to get involved with any sort of community for sure. Are there any other community aspects that helped you and your journey there?

Adela Mei
I class this as community, I set up a mastermind group, because the biggest thing for me because most of my friends are ecologists like they’re not going to understand what I’m really talking. So it was actually through an online marketing course I was doing a whole group of us kind of got together. So creatives, web designers, web developers, and set up a mastermind that’s finished now. But we basically would meet every week. And it was very much about mutual support, reflection, challenges we were having. Because sometimes we just think we just want to give up or we’ve hit a wall with something and just having someone else’s perspective, who’s been on your journey to say, hang on, hang on, you’ve just been doing this a couple of months, this is another hurdle, you’re going to get through it. And, you know, what do you need? What is blocking you? Is it just the resistance telling you, you can’t do it, you’re not good enough, no one’s gonna want to work with you. Or, just get over it and keep going. And when you have that regularly with a small group of people, and it’s just super supportive, and I can’t recommend that enough. If you want to have you know, it’s personal development as well, but business support to just keep me moving through the steps you need to take so you can get to where you’re trying to get to.

Josh Hall
That is a huge, huge point. Yeah, now, did that. Wow, that was that’s super valuable. I didn’t realise that you started that. What did you do that through? Was that through like a Facebook group?

Adela Mei
Initially, it was through The Marketing Seminar, which is one of Seth Golden’s projects. He’s really into permission marketing. So I discovered an online learning environment, and it’s purely through resonance, certain people start connecting with each other and meeting each other and then we just kind of put it out there, we’re going to set up this group. We did it all through Slack. It started with 12 and then we actually ended up just with 4 of us on a weekly call because 12 is quite a lot people to manage. So it was really through resonance. And then we just started saying, well what do people want to get out of it? What intentions do you want to set? What are we looking for? And we’d meet for, I think, one hour, once a week, and then they’d be emails in between, like an email group to just say, Okay, I got stuck on this, someone, someone gave me a kick. And that was really, again, another confidence boosting thing to take the initiative to set that up and just see, you know, how does this look? How would this work?

Josh Hall
Yeah, well, props to you for doing that. That’s huge. That’s something I learned much later in my career was to really, you know, have some sort of coaching or, mastermind is different than coaching per se, but just the idea of somebody to have like direct support, and really keep you going, and they keep you looking forward is huge, too. I know, you know, with my Divi group, it’s a support group, but 20,000 people is not a place where you, you know, you’re gonna be able to connect with somebody weekly, like there’s a, there’s a lot of power to have a net like mastermind group, which is huge. It’s actually I, I’m really inspired and kind of laying out the framework for some sort of membership mastermind for people like you and other students who are really taking things to the next level to where it’s different than a Divi support group of 20,000. It’s like a small group of where we can really work together. And I can share what I’ve learned and a little more, I mean, you know, me, I’m very transparent, but we could talk a little more numbers and set goals and take things like month at a time.

And that’s kind of really my next phase. And what I’m really excited about, and even just you talking about that really inspires me to, to maybe potentially work on that a little quicker, just because I think it’s a, it’s something that’s so valuable. And for me, too, like I need support as well. I’ve talked with a couple students, and we’ve got very transparent, real about know kind of what I’m doing and what’s next. And I really valued the feedback. And it was cool for me and it kind of brings me to another point with coaching, I’ve invested in a coach for let’s see, almost three years now I’ve had a coach, I went to a six month coaching programme, before my daughter was born. And that really helped me become a true business owner, because we looked at the business and I found out that my business really wasn’t worth much at all because I had like zero profit. I was making a good income, but there was really nothing extra to grow the business. So that helped me scale. And I’ve had a business coach, through Superfast Business coaching, which is the author James Schramko, his book ‘Work Less Make More’ is a book I would highly recommend checking out. But I’ve been with him for almost a couple years now. And that’s been good, too. We just do online threads to where I’ll ask him questions and strategy stuff. And then he just kind of keeps me looking forward. But yeah, super valuable. Coaching. Community. I love hearing how that helped you give you some confidence. The next thing you talked about was marketing. And so we found out that you’re good at copywriting. You’ve got a lot of experience with that. Yeah, what did marketing look like for you? I know, you just mentioned permission marketing for Seth Godin. Highly recommend that book. That’s one of my favourites. I think I mentioned that in my business course as recommended reading. Yeah, that’s huge, you don’t want to shout in somebody’s face and tell them to buy something if they’re not open to it. Yeah. What did that look like for you?

Tip 2 How Marketing Is Key For Any Successful Business.

Adela Mei
The worst thing, especially as a web designer is getting emails saying, ‘Hey, we just saw your website, you know, did you know basically, it’s rubbish, and we can help you’. I want to email them back going, ‘Hey, did you know I just put that site up two minutes ago. You know, like, what are you talking about?’

Josh Hall
I think I get at least four or five of those. We did a SEO audit of your site. And this is how I can help you.

Adela Mei
The marketing piece came from the main conservation project I’ve been working on, Indigo Expeditions, we were really struggling. We’ve got the website looking tight. It’s got social media going, we got images, content. And we’re just like, something’s really not working. And we were awful at selling our services. So we run expeditions to Central America to Guatemala. We run conservation projects. We have volunteer placements, we are basically selling a product. But as conservationists, we were like, ‘no, no, we’re saving the planet. This isn’t about making money’. It’s like no, it is because that’s how we pay for our projects is to people coming, you know, on the trip. And so that really pushed us because we had what Seth Godin calls a dip, we would like we’re going to close the business or we’re going to really push through this, and get to the light at the end of the tunnel. And I completely believe in synchronicity and this email popped up about The Marketing Seminar and permission marketing and there was like a week to go before it started, and I was like, that’s it, that’s what I need to do, just on a gut instinct that was there was a gem in there for me. And I started that in January last year and that runs through a few months. And that really helped to see not only all the places that we were lacking, but all the places where we were succeeding already. The things we’ve got right, the strategies, the tactics, we were so close to having a good marketing strategy, it was just we needed to be more strategic. We needed to give it more thought. We needed to risk more. We needed to be more confident and more out there. We needed to really talk about ourselves and our work a lot more, which is really difficult, because we’re both introverts completely, and we really don’t want to do things like that. But that really helped because there’s hundreds of people in that seminar, and everyone’s chiming in with if you tried this, what about that, your website looks great, but it’s not clear what you’re doing. So it’s all like fine tuning, and coming up with a with a better marketing strategy, which one thing included, doing podcasts to be more visible and get on the internet so people can see you, listen to you, talk to you, connect with you afterwards. And my business partner, he’s actually doing a podcast tomorrow, which is interesting to talk about trials and tribulations of wildlife conservation.

Josh Hall
Awesome. Yeah, and, you know, marketing, I feel like most web designers, we don’t think of ourselves as marketers, but we are, we have to, I mean, pretty much every business person, particularly if you’re gonna own a business, you’ve got to be a marketer, or you at least have to have somebody doing your marketing because it’s the classic, you know, thing of like somebody who’s really good at their craft, you could be a great, great web designer. But if you don’t market yourself, whether it’s personally and like networking groups, or community things, or online, however, you, you know, podcasting as whatever, if you don’t market yourself, no one’s going to work with you, no one’s gonna know you’re there, no one’s gonna see the value. So I kind of feel like marketing is step two of a really important process for any successful business owner, particularly web designer.

But number one is to just be good at your craft, you gotta in the case of web designers, we need to be good at our craft, we need to know how to design nice sites that convert, even if you’re not an expert in copywriting, or anything else, there’s, that’s why I do courses. And that’s why there’s a tonne of resources out there to help you get to a place where you’re really good at your craft. And then yeah, then it’s okay, I gotta market this. Because if you just build a beautiful website, and don’t tell anybody, no one’s gonna go to it. And I’m so glad I learned this before I launched my podcast, because what I’ve realised with this podcast, is what we’re doing right now, the recording and putting the content in place is only half the battle. The other half is like, how do I get this out there to everybody. I’m doing email marketing, every time every week. I’m doing a different set of like social media posts with it. I’m posting the link to my site first. And now I’m actually experimenting with posting the whole interview a few days later, directly on Facebook to give different avenues. And then yeah, trying to work out some other ways to actually market it.

So yeah, marketing is the second piece and then the third piece with that I’ve found is innovation. So you know, your craft and how you market it and and how you’re going to innovate. Because if you’re not innovating at some point, you’re dying. And web designers innovation may look like learning more about SEO, I’m sure we’re going to talk about what you’ve learned with CSS and investing in yourself from a business perspective and personal development. But yeah, I just found those to be huge, you know, and marketing is. It’s that huge piece. I just had a conversation with a colleague videographer a while back aAnd the big thing for him is just to market more. To market his services more. Great videographer, but if he’s not out there, no one’s gonna buy a service. So I think that’s huge.

Adela Mei
And for me, once I it’s like, I think Seth Godin actually says this, like once you see something you can’t unsee it. So once you get this marketing piece and the permission marketing piece, which is basically about you know, I present myself to the world as authentically as I can and that is how through resonance people will find me to work with me. This is not an outward push onto people, an imposition that ‘hey, your website looks awful. Please let me help make it better’. Purely being who you are, because that’s how we attract people to work with us. It’s how we find people we want to work with, because there’s an understanding there. There’s a resonance there. I could understand what you were saying, on your videos. So that’s a resonance. I’ve worked with other web developers where I’m like, I’m really not understanding what you’re saying. And then when I learned that marketing piece, then I can see in other people’s businesses and websites, ah I can see now. I can see where you can improve. I can see where you haven’t gone out. And I can see where you’ve got stuck, and you need to kind of shift your approach or try different tactics.

Josh Hall
Yeah. And marketing itself, the idea of permission marketing is just so crucial, because like, for me, my email list, I have an open rate of I think, 35% or so which is pretty insane. Most open rates are, you’re lucky if you get 10. And the reason that is, is because I only email people who have opted in, I’m not putting random emails in there, and I want people who want to hear from me. And same thing with my Facebook ads. Now I’m learning more about social media advertising, and I only ever do boosted posts and campaigns to people who like my page, I don’t want to talk to their friends who have no idea who I am like, if I if somebody sees an ad by Josh Hall, they have no idea who I am, they’re likely gonna just scroll right past it. I want people to be like, Oh, I think that’s that Divi guy or Yeah, I think I saw a tutorial. You know, I want people who have some awareness, and it’s going to save a lot of money. And it’s going to be there’s going to be better conversion. So that’s just something I’ve really tried to hone in and focus on as well. So yeah, that’s great Adela so market, you know, community number one, marketing permission marketing is huge.

Adela Mei
When GDPR compliance came in that gave most people a headache, I was like, yes! Because this is how it should be. And we actually cleaned up our list again, for Indigo Expeditions, we don’t have a huge list. We’ve got 38% open rate. I think it’s pretty good. Because we only want people to receive it if they’re actually interested otherwise what are we doing.

Josh Hall
Right. Right. And you know, and even sometimes even open rates, particularly when it comes to content and podcasting, I know a lot of people will see the poll, like they’ll see the email come through, and they say, oh, Episode 20 with Adela. They may not open it. But that may remind them like, Hey, I’ll check my podcast app and listen to that later today or tomorrow. I do that all the time. I get emails from some podcasts, folks, I follow and I may not open the email, but it just reminds me that hey, well, there’s a new episode up. So that’s something to consider too with that, as far as open rates, but yeah, that’s that’s super important gold stuff. Now, you mentioned one that I think is a little underrated and a little under talked about. And that was gratitude. So the third tip is gratitude. You talked about focusing on like a positive mental attitude and being a good service as opposed to just being a moneymaker. Yeah. Can you talk about that? Like, what’s that? How’s that helped you in your career?

Tip 3 Ground Your Business In Gratitude To Have Happy Clients.

Adela Mei
Sure. I mean, that’s a way that I choose to live anyway, very much that service piece. I’m here to serve, what can I give to the world. So for example, the Divi Facebook group as an easy one to use as an example. So you go in there to be of service to people, not just to what information can I get? I’m having a crisis, I need someone to help me now. Maybe sometimes we do that, but going in with this attitude of I’m going to be of service. I’m going to be grateful. Also with our clients, of course your clients can give us a headache, if they want another logo revision, I think I’ve had like 30 revisions.. and it’s like no be grateful, because they are paying us we did agree to work with them, we are being of service to them, and try and develop more empathy. Okay, why are they having a stress out? Is this something maybe I didn’t communicate, you know, and always kind of self reflect on Okay, what’s my part in this? How can I make this better? What can I do? And at the end of the day, if you can’t fix that, maybe you’re not meant to be working with them. So there isn’t a resonance. So it’s just what I found being with that approach to things is that I feel better, I’m more grateful, and I’m calmer and I’m happier, and so are my clients, so there must be something in it.

Josh Hall
That’s a really good point, Adela and I think particularly from the client perspective, I did a bunch of quick tips last year on social media and one was ‘don’t dog your clients’. Because I found that just completely negates any sort of gratitude. If you just complain about your clients, I see I’m sure you see it all the time. It’s really, I’m sure it’s popular with all industries, but with web designers, we are in a service industry. And we’re in a position where we’re working with people who generally are not very tech savvy, or they don’t know anything about websites. So, so yeah, it’s very easy to get in a situation where it’s like, the client is not giving me the content I need, they’re sending huge images that aren’t even right, you know, and a lot of that, yeah, it can be frustrating. But to your point, maybe you as a web designer didn’t do a good enough job of explaining what they needed to do, and I’ve really thought about, that’s why I’m so big on client training and a really nice, and I talked about this in my business course, but a really simple and user friendly, understandable onboarding process. So the client knows, okay, this is what they want, this is how I need to send it to them. And you kind of empower your client to not be a pain in the ass. That’s really what it’s all about. And that will help with gratitude. And to your point. Yeah, like when those situations do happen. It is nice, but you know what, yeah, this client is a little tricky right now, whatever the reason, but they’re paying me and they’re a good client and if I can just, you know, help them out with getting what I need, or be a little more organised or clear communication that will breed that gratitude. And I think that’s huge, because it can go south very quickly, if you don’t, if you’re not grounded in gratitude.

Adela Mei
I like to believe there’s always a win-win situation in everything. And I’m laughing at myself because years ago, I worked with an amazing web designer and brand strategist. She did the visual identity and logo branding for Indigo Expeditions, because I didn’t even know what a logo was really back in those days. So I worked with her and she, she was absolutely amazing. And I must have been the biggest pain in the butt client she’d ever had. I didn’t understand what she was saying. And I kept asking more and more questions. And, you know, my scientific background, I was being so particular and I didn’t realise what I was actually asking her was just basically scope creep, and too many revisions being really, really picky. I mean, the whole thing, and she just did it all with grace. She just did it delivered, she over delivered. And now I’m like, God, I gotta send her an extra thank you. Because now on the other side of it, I’m like, wow, you were really patient. And you could have just said, okay, I’ve had enough, this is gonna cost you another 10 hours or something. And so it’s like, yeah, I’m so grateful for that experience on the other side.

Josh Hall
That’s interesting. Yeah. Now you kinda understand? I know, I’m sure all of us web designers wish some clients understood, like, okay, you know, it may sound easy to do this, or make this change, but just making a button pop and moving it over a little bit, maybe three hours of work, or four hours of work, depending on the situation. But yeah, that’s really good. I think that’s so important. Gratitude is just something to where I mean, it can be applied in all areas of life. But particularly in business and work, there are plenty of times where you’re just gonna be frustrated, and things are just not going to go your way. And, you know, again, sticky situations happen with clients to where for whatever reason, there may be fault on both sides of the spectrum. But having gratitude Yeah, it’ll really, I feel like it really pulls you through those times, and keeps you grounded. And at the end of the day, you’re still smiling, even if it’s a bad day, which is, which is a huge one.

So yeah, that’s great Adela. I appreciate you mentioning that I think that’s huge to just, I think it helps with imposter syndrome too. Just being more having a spirit of gratitude as you’re learning and going through the process really helps just your mental state, you know, from from day to day, because web designers, it’s the classic developer thing where, like, a lot of website developers, they’re three years into it, they’re bitter, and they’re, you know, people and not necessarily the Divi community, but a lot of other I’ve met. I mean, when I was in community college, briefly, I met some web developers who were just not nice people and not friendly or pleasant to be around. And gratitude can really be a big thing to help with that.

Adela Mei
The other huge thing I do is when you’re on the computer all the time, it’s not the healthiest thing to be doing so I made sure we get out in nature, a lot going out walking, and it’s almost like you just discharging all that electrical energy from your computer and going out into nature and just letting everything go or we can end up if I’ve done really long stints of working I can see myself tense and my neighbour will just say ‘are you all right?” and I’m like, Oh, this is ‘computer face’.

Josh Hall
Yeah, I call it code mode.

Adela Mei
Code mode. Yeah. Be aware of that and be aware of your body and just like, Okay, if I’m stressed, and I’m about to send an email to the client, maybe I should take five, go and relax, and then come back. Smile. Send the email.

Josh Hall
Yeah, that’s super valuable. And even sleeping on it, if it’s something that’s really important, or there’s a situation where you really need to give it some thought or could have serious outcomes. I found just like saving it, maybe even typing out an email and saving it as a draft, then looking back at it and say, Okay, I was a little, maybe I was, you know, not the best frame of mind. Clearly, when I wrote this, I think that’s huge. Yeah. And to your point, even stepping away for five or 10 minutes, whether it’s a quick walk, I know, just a couple days ago, I was doing a big segment, I was doing a bunch of tutorial videos and some other stuff. And I just felt like, I was gonna keep on going and I was like, you know what, I just feel like I just need to get up for a minute and just kind of reset. Definitely need to listen to your body in that sense because yeah, you don’t want any you’ll find your I don’t know if you found this, but it’ll almost like it’s like you’re less productive. And you get less done in those, you know, when you’re not feeling good. Whereas if you’re feeling good, and the creative juices are flowing, that’s the time to to bust out some work.

Yeah, now, so gratitude is huge. And it kind of leads into your fourth point, which was investing in yourself because now we’re getting into personal development and thinking about things from more of a mental and personal perspective in business. What did that look like for you? I love what you send the email because you said ‘there’s only so much you can learn and so long you can learn things for free by yourself’. So what what was the transition for you from going from like picking things up for free with tutorials to, you know, investing in courses and really doing more pointed trainings and things like that?

Tip 4 Why Investing In Yourself Is So Important As A Business Owner

Adela Mei
I think he came from, there’s only so many little YouTube videos you can watch or I mean, I was a huge fan of the videos you were doing withhow to do the, I don’t know, wizzy logo, and all the little videos you put together, but they’re only like little bite sized pieces. And it’s like, well, I’m learning all over the place. And I’m not learning in a focused way. So firstly, it’s like, investing in yourself is like, is a huge, really, really important investing in yourself in your business. So putting that money into a course or workshop or coach, it’s always it’s always going to pay it returns, because you’re focused on something. You’re doing it properly, not just this piecemeal, oh, follow the crumbs. I know how to do the header. How do I do the footer. And it actually takes a lot more time to do it that way. To keep trying to find these free resources. And you sort of itty bitty putting it together yourself.

A game changer for me was when you launched your CSS course. And I was like, Okay, now is the time. I’m nailing this. I’m doing this. I’m doing the CSS thing. And the way you walk us through from beginning to the end, I could match what you’re teaching on a site I was building, and then change it how I wanted or play around with it. And it was like, okay, that could have taken me years to hodge podge it together. And you just you just laid it out so clearly with the code and in a really clear way, and that was that was a massive, massive game changer for me.

Josh Hall
Oh, that’s awesome, Adela. I really love hearing that, because that’s such a huge point. And it’s actually why I delayed doing my course for a while I wish I would have put it out sooner. But I did all these free tutorials, like you said, with little CSS snippets. And part of me was like, well, I already have like 20, some free tutorials like somebody could probably figure out the majority of CSS with that. But to your point, it is. It’s bread crumbs, it’s little pieces here and here, you’re not getting that foundational structural knowledge that you need to really understand it. And that’s where a lot of people get in trouble with copying and pasting snippets or I had a comment on one of my, one of my tutorials, just a couple days ago, somebody put the CSS code in the PHP file. And I’m like, Oh, that’s, you know, like, there’s just so many little things where Yeah, if you see some code online, you’re like, oh, I’ll just put it in here. There’s, there’s such a lack of that start to finish understanding. And I’m so glad to hear that, even though you did go through several of my tutorials, and it kind of, you know, helped you level up a little bit, the course sounds like it’s what really took you from point A to point B, yes, you made the investment. But hopefully, it was a pretty quick return for you. And more importantly, saving you time and making making you more valuable.

Adela Mei
That was the huge thing. You know, time is really valuable. So it’s like Okay I know I can do this, I’ve got a site to build its like, okay, that will take me through all the steps I need. And you didn’t actually miss anything out. So I’m not an affiliate for Joshhall.co (yet) but it certainly you know, the way you put that together, there was no bit missing, there was no bit where you went, you’ve missed a step, and I can’t do that, because you didn’t make it clear. It was all there. And then I go back to that when I’m doing other sites, because I can remember, I can kind of remember watching you doing it. And I’m like, okay, that’s where I can remember how to do that bit of CSS, or that’s how you did the trick with the overlay thing, or, you make this go whizyy.

Josh Hall
That’s awesome. Yeah. And that’s one reason I actually it’s funny, I refer back to my own course sometimes, because now that I don’t do our actual designs anymore, when I do I still edit some things and I like to stay fresh. And I work on my site a lot. But a lot of times I’m like, how did I I kind of forget how I did that. And I’ll go back through because I learned so much putting my I kind of didn’t realise how much I knew when I built that course. And I’m like, holy crap, yeah, there’s a lot. There’s a lot to CSS. No wonder, you know, people get so confused when they’re piecemealing it together. And to your point, like you can learn a lot from a tutorial but the problem is there are all these other little foundational aspects that are missing. And I’m so glad to hear that the structure that I came up with the course helped you and it didn’t leave any gaps in there for you because I’ve taken two CSS courses in the past one at my community college and another one online. And yes, I felt like there was just some gaps that were missing. Like there were you know, if you watch my one of my tutorials you might understand a little bit but then it’s like, well, what’s the difference between an ID and a class? Or where does where does the CSS go? There’s all these little things that need to be addressed. And why are two classes mixed together?

You know, there’s all these little things that, which is why I wanted to do that course. And I, it’s funny, when I went through the course, in college, that one really helped me. But again, there were all these pieces missing. And it took so long, I’m like, there’s got to be a way to expedite this, just like any higher ed academia it’s gonna take about 10 times longer than it needs to, it’s gonna be way more drawn out. So yeah, that was the big inspiration for me. But like, Okay, let me compact this into like, seven module, you know, several topics in this module course. So that’s awesome. Adela, I really appreciate hearing that and love hearing how it helped you, in your business with saving time and give you a good understanding. And I mean, do you feel like you’re more valuable now? Like, do you feel like you’re literally making more on every project.

Adela Mei
Absolutely, and I think that the other thing for me was finding a way of learning that works for me. And I think think kind of online learning with videos and stuff is still relatively new. To me. It’s like having that and the Facebook group with the community that to me was like that magic kind of three things together going, Okay, here’s the course. And there’s Josh talking to me, like, I’m a very visual learner. So okay, there he is doing it. And there’s the code. And now there’s the Facebook groups. If I’ve got stuck, I can go, did you just miss that? Or did I miss something? Or there’s someone else in the group who would go No, no, it’s here, like scroll up the page or something. So like that combination, it means you are self learning. But there’s support there with that as well. And that for me was like a key combination. I mean, that’s brilliant.

Josh Hall
And I that’s one reason I love having our private course Facebook group, because you’re in there with other people who are going through it too. They’re learning, and there’s different levels, you may be more advanced than some of the people who are just getting started. And so now going back to your community, and gratitude, like you’re able to give back to them, which I’m sure it’s really gratifying to, which is super cool.

Adela Mei
We’re all climbing up the same ladder. And so you’re helping the people who are coming up and those people above helping you and we’re all really in it together.

Josh Hall
Oh, that’s great. I love that analogy. That’s awesome. Yeah. And I found that one reason I make all my courses lifetime access is because, like, you could go to a CSS workshop, and like, spend, you know, eight hours I did that when I got into Photoshop years ago, when I just started doing design. I went to this like all day Photoshop seminar. And it was great. It was awesome. But I can’t refer back to it. I can’t go back and be like, how did they do the one thing with that, like, that’s one reason I love having the lifetime access to the course to your point, like you can go back and review like, oh, how did how did we do this or I need to freshen up on on, you know, the differences between IDs or classes, you know, there’s a lot of things like that, that are that are really valuable. So thank you so much for mentioning that Adela. I love hearing how that’s helped you, you know and your journey. So invest in yourself. Now, have you invested in any other things that have really helped you out too?

Adela Mei
Yeah, so the courses I did way back when, I did have a one to one coaching with a web developer because I really wanted to understand the back end and how to migrate websites, how to use FTP, stuff like that. So that was really good, but she was so super intelligent that I could only go so far because I was like, Okay, now I’m like, I’m done because you’re so clever.

Josh Hall
Too smart for me.

Adela Mei
I’m so pleased. It’s like Okay, I gotta have a break. And the other thing was like The Marketing Seminar. And then the other piece for me is having a life coach which is every week, which again, it’s really difficult sometimes to separate like the personal from the business. So I’m a freelancer, I’m not going to be scaling up to being an entrepreneur or any other kind of prenuer. I’t’s me. So that’s freelancing. So having someone there weekly, you can even go more deeper into Okay, reflections on the successes because it’s so difficult sometimes to realise we’ve just had this massive breakthrough and we’re like, Yeah, but I couldn’t get that header to do that thing. And I messed up on this and I’m behind with my emails, but you’ve just had this massive success that you’ve almost just like, it’s just gone past and you know, and having a coach there or even you know, a really good friend to just reflect – hang on stop a minute. Let’s look at that. Celebrate the successes. Let’s not worry about the challenges. They keep you on a much more or even more positive, positive flow with things.

So one thing we do is.. I’m all into intentions. So Monday I set intentions for the week and I write them down. Wednesday I reflect going okay, how am I getting on with those? Can I finish that? Or have I done that? Have I got a problem with one of these things? Or do I need to change that? And then Friday making sure I do the successes going, right. I did that I met all my targets. Or maybe I didn’t, but this other thing came in that I did and I, okay, taking time and honouring that otherwise, you know, it’s always easier to focus on what we didn’t do isn’t it. What we forgot to do? The list is getting longer and longer.

Josh Hall
Yeah. Oh, that’s cool. I like that though. I kind of like mini, instead of like a big yearly goal was just kind of weekly goals. I like that.

Adela Mei
Yeah, and, it can be really simple. I try and keep it to three things. But each thing might have a lot of elements. But just yeah, generally, you can look at your week and think, well, maybe you’ve got personal stuff going on, or a project finishing or a new project starting and you can be realistic. I’ve never been able to plan for like three months or a year or anything like that. It’s just every week, okay, these things have to be done because there’s a deadline. You know, these are priorities. These are the other couple of things. And then I literally, I’m into handwriting things down. I’ve got physical post-its. But that’s really helpful for me to have a coach like that. And to really just reflect and go, Hey, you’re being a bit hard on yourself. You just forgot about 100 things that you just did. And you’re fixated on this one thing that you forgot.

Josh Hall
That’s cool. Yeah. So it gets a good reminder too just to have somebody to, to keep you you know, do you want somebody to keep you looking forward, but you also want somebody to help you reflect and appreciate what you’ve done?

Adela Mei
I just listened to your podcast with your finance advisor Julie, she just got me so inspired about money.

Josh Hall
Isn’t that awesome? I love that. I never thought I would enjoy doing a talk on saving for retirement. But Julie, I’ve known her for so long, I knew she was gonna kill it and give some really good tips.

Adela Mei
Yes she did. As I’m always like, clients and budgeting, and I can’t look that far into the future. I was like, no, hang on a minute, she’s onto something. Because it wasn’t about the amount of money you were earning. It was about your mental attitude towards your own future, and it flipped the switch in me going like, Oh, my God, my business is really exciting. Let’s see how many maintenance plans I can get. Let’s see how many new content marketing clients I can get. Let’s see how many websites I can build. Let’s see how much money I can save. Let’s see, because I quite like a new car, whatever. And I was like, okay, it was a real buck kick, and I’m in the UK so some of what she said was not quite the same, like legally, like over here with taxes and stuff. But my 2020 intention is to get a business coach or financial coach to come in and look at the business, again, from that outside perspective and go right, yeah, income streams, you’ve got these outgoings, what do you want to aim for? Because freelancing for me has always been almost firefighting, and month by month, and the whole, feast and famine thing, and she just got me to see actually, we can do this another way. And it looked like fun.

Josh Hall
Yeah. And to your point out, so anyone who’s interested at Episode Number 16, about saving for retirement and yeah, even though you’re in the UK, the majority of what we talked about was at least pretty generalised to where just strategies with money and yeah, you’re right, it is a mindset, it’s like, there’s not a certain amount that works for everybody to put in to save it’s just more percentage based as far as what you can do. And I think more importantly, setting those high goals, which not even just for saving, but for business in general like if somebody wants to start their web design business and make 20 grand, why not push for 30 because you can just change a few little things and take a couple courses and learn how to take the next level and you can very quickly up to you know up at 10 grand and then before you know it you’re like six figures that’s what I want to shoot for and then like at my level now I’m like multi six figures that’s what I’m shooting for. So it’s a step in progress but each one of those like setting those goals just a little higher than you think you can handle. That’s where real growth comes in personally and professionally.

I mean, I said it before this idea of diversifying so literally these last two three weeks, and we’re only into the new year, but 2020 feels like it’s gonna be really, really big, and really busy. Yeah, it’s awesome already. I’ve got maintenance clients. I’ve got content marketing clients now. I’d only really set that intention a month or so ago, realising it is actually a skill set on its own. I always had it in with the web design. But what people are asking me for at the moment is literally content marketing, social media promotion, without a website. So that was just being open going, Okay. I don’t have to fix myself as ‘No, I’m only a web designer. This is what I do’. It’s like, okay, these are like building blocks and I do these various things and that’s okay.

I forget, Adela. Did you join my maintenance planning course after the CSS course? Or was there a different one that you went to next, like, I’m trying to remember your path?

Adela Mei
I did I think it was the CSS, and then the maintenance. And then I jumped back into your CSS course. I bought the bundle, you had me sold with all of it! Yeah, the cPanel course. The maintenance course. It’s a mindset again, for me, because I was doing it for free and I didn’t realise. I just went on and on, and I’m like, yeah, I’m like, hang on a minute. Actually, this is costing me money and costing me time. And that gave me the confidence to put together my pricing, send it out, and everyone went, Yeah, fine. Okay. And I’m like, ‘What, really?’

Josh Hall
Isn’t it amazing to what like that first taste of recurring income, because that really is what ends you just talked about the feast and famine project, a project of web design. The maintenance plan is like the easiest way to put an end to that. I hope that worked out for you, too. Or at least, you know, got the ball rolling to really, because now it’s something you can scale. Talk about 2020, you could really take that to the next level.

Adela Mei
I think if anyone’s thinking they can’t do it because the internet connection is not very good, well my connection isn’t good and I can still do it. You just need a bit more patience!

Josh Hall
Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, that’s, that’s super cool. Have you done my cPanel? Course yet? Side note?

Adela Mei
Yes. I dived into that one as well. There wasn’t a lot new because I’ve spent like years myself finding my way around that.

Josh Hall
Yeah. Learning the hard way and all that.

Adela Mei
Yeah. But I wish I’d had that course like five years ago, because I was literally teaching when I opened up the cPanel. I was like, oh my god. I think we managed to go into like email accounts to set up an email, and then maybe the WordPress installer or something back then.

Josh Hall
I know. It’s it’s funny as cPanel is like, actually probably where I would suggest people start, but it’s just not fun. It’s not a sexy topic. But it’s so important. It’s actually one reason I made that course. A very inexpensive and like small course, I think it’s only 12 videos, so you can bust through it. But yeah, I found that to be super important too just from avoiding all the headaches and nightmares. I’m sure you found too.

Adela Mei
Yeah, it takes the fear out of it. Okay, I’m gonna walk you through. This is how it works. And basically, I think you said said about 90% of it you don’t need it. So here’s the bits that you need. Like Google Analytics. It’s like, What? okay, there’s only a few bits you need. Don’t worry about the rest.

Josh Hall
Yeah, you know, well, I talked about this with John Wooten on our recurring revenue episode. But knowing cPanel will also get you clients for life. Like as soon as a client breaks their email or messes up their domain, and they go, Hey, Adela, or whoever their web guy or web gal is, like, I broke this, something about an MX record. What is that? And you’re like, oh, no problem. I’ll go in there and I’ll make sure we get it set up. Like that is a great way to that’s some job security right there. That’s client for life. Just knowing a few things and cPanel. So yeah, I was just curious, I didn’t know kind of where you’re, you know how much you knew about that. But yeah, it seems like you’ve gone a path that we all take, we all kind of learn on the fly and learn on the go. And if you’re like me, I definitely wish I would have thought about recurring revenue earlier. And I wish I would have taken some like pertinent courses sooner, too, because, yeah, to your point. Cuz you can learn a lot for free, you could technically learn anything you want for free, but the trade off is time. And once somebody realises that time is more valuable than anything else, that’s when it really, you know, that’s, that’s when the game changes.

And I recognise, like, with my courses, for example, some of them I know are very expensive for people who are just starting out and I recognise that it’s also why the majority of content I put out is free. So I have tonnes of tutorials just to at least get them going to where they, you know, they start making some money and then it’s like, okay, to your point, then I take the CSS course I get my point A to point B, you know, now I’m trained and I’m, you know, now I’m making, you know, making that back monthly, at least. So yeah, that’s huge.

Adela Mei
So it’s always the kind of counter argument, like when clients say I can’t afford that website, it’s too expensive. If you say, well say over the course of a year or two years, break that down monthly, the return, you’re going to get on that. It’s almost like we need to apply that to ourselves and say, well Okay I’m just beginning, I’m not earning enough, I want to be earning not spending. But if you can invest in that, if you can spread the cost of it, then it’s going to pay for itself. So it’s a mindset again, saying, well, this will pay for itself in time and experience. And as I get older, I take the path of least resistance and least stress. So if somethingis going to cause me anxiety, because I don’t know how I’m going to do it, or I’ll have to figure it out. Well, I can take another another choice to do a course with someone knows what they’re talking about. Explain it, and then I can learn stress free and not break anything. Thjere’s no risk of oh Ijust completely destroyed my website and don’t know how to undo it.

Josh Hall
Yeah, great point. Yeah, just the idea of time, and how that will pay off relatively quickly, you know, if you value for example, a web designer values their time at 50 bucks an hour, a $300. course, once it saves them six hours, they’ve broke even, and then everything on top of that, you know, instead of having to search for a plug in or find a solution online, or go into a forum or break something, and then have to, you know, you take two hours to figure out what you did, you’re gonna even out very quickly, and then from there on, it’s all profit, and then it’s making you more money, which is, which is huge. So yeah, I love hearing your transition, because it’s very similar to mine, to where I realised the importance of the investing in myself, whether it’s coaching or whether it’s trainings and yeah, and I found too, once you put some money down, it makes you value it more.

So, for example, when I did my coaching programme, the first one the six months they are a client of mine, and I suggested that we just trade off, I said, you know, would you just be interested in me designing a new site, and then I do the programme, and they were like, you know, I understand that but if you don’t put your money down on it, you’re not gonna value it. And they were very point blank with me about that. And I was like, You’re right. I understand once I went through that I understood, and it’s the same thing with other people who want to barter with us web designers. They’re like, well I’ll just give you my service if you design my website, well, they’re not going to value that your work is much if it’s for free, or if it’s just traded. So I think that’s a big one, too, that a lot of young web designers are early in their career web designers fall into.

Adela Mei
If you pay for something then it also becomes more valuable to you, but you’re also more invested and that you’re going to do it, you’re gonna finish it. It’s like ‘I paid for this. I’m doing it.’ And you Yeah, you will get more value out of it. But that’s because you put more into it.

Josh Hall
Yeah, it makes it intentional, doesn’t it when it’s on the line? Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. So invest in yourself that’s number four.

Tip 5 How Learning To Say No Will Help You Make Better Choices For Your Business

Josh Hall
So let’s wrap up here with number five, which is what we all learn. We’ve talked about things that we all learn, ready for, you know, whether it takes a year or a few years, but this is probably the biggest one. Which is to learn to say no. So when did that come to be really true and important for you?

Adela Mei
Yeah, I wish that had been like right at the beginning. But I mean I’ve been very lucky with my clients, I have to say, but realising now, as I’m scaling up, I’m taking on slightly different kinds of clients, I’m taking on slightly different kind of work, especially with the marketing side of things. It’s to just be mindful of not just say yes to every opportunity. I know some schools of thought say that, you know, say yes to everything and maybe take on things you don’t know how to do, and then find out why. I’m not in that school of thought at all. It’s, okay, there’s an opportunity being presented. Is this really a good idea for me? Is this a good fit? And as well as vetting people or having like a questionnaire just to make sure you’re a good fit on paper, actually really trusting your gut intuition. Because, for me, I know straight away if something’s kind of right for me or not, and it’s just that I just feel it in my gut.

Josh Hall
Yeah trust your gut. That’s huge.

Adela Mei
Yeah. And then your mind comes in and goes, No, no, no, no, no, give it a chance. It’s a really big project. There’s a lot of money, you could do it and you talk yourself with logic and rational arguments when actually your gut has told you immediately, you know what, if you do this, it’s gonna not end well. Trust yourself and just say no, and refer to somebody else or say, actually, I can’t refer you. And that comes with time and confidence again, just trusting yes, I can do this, or maybe it’s ‘not now’ this isn’t the right time for me. That’s another option. It’s not always black or white, yes, I can do this, no, I can’t do this. Sometimes it’s like, this isn’t the right time for me to do this project, or this isn’t the right time for the client to do this project, maybe they’re not ready. Maybe your guts telling you, you know what, that client hasn’t got their content ready. But they’re going to tell you that they have.

Josh Hall
Yeah, That’s so valuable. I’ve thought about that a lot the past year, which is trusting my gut, whether it is collaborating with somebody, or somebody reaches out saying they, you know, looking to help, or there’s any opportunities I can. And then same thing for my business. When leads come in, I can generally tell within the first couple sentences, whether this is a qualified lead or a person or if it’s somebody, a colleague, or in the community, I’m like, something just feels a little weird about this. I’ve learned that too. Trusting your gut is just huge. And it applies to all areas of life, of course, and business is huge. But personally, relationship wise, whether it’s friends or with, you know, somebody more serious, like, how many times have people dated someone and they were like, Man, I wish I would have trusted my gut. Not even though I was lonely and sad, I went out with this person, I knew I shouldn’t have it. It never goes well, right.

So if you can apply that to business, it’s even more important. Yeah, like, cuz when you apply to business, that’s when money is on the line. And that’s when, you know, trusting your gut is huge. I think really importantly, to for partnerships, I have had numerous people over the past three or four years talk about or wanting to partner with me in my business, like wanting to merge our companies together. And I have not felt right about any opportunity. I’m like, I just, like to your point, it’s like I could, in some ways, I could free myself up even more, we could make a lot more money, revenue wise. But something just nothing felt right. It was like, I know, it’s gonna open up a can of worms. And then there’s, it’s a whole different ballgame when you own a business and you have subcontractors, versus having a partner and sharing what you know about that it sounds like we do stuff there, you really have to trust somebody to do that. So yeah, well said, trusting your gut, my gosh, that’s just huge. And that kind of goes into learning to say no, like you said, you, you realise what opportunities you should say yes to what you said, say no to.

Adela Mei
Yeah, and for me, you know we can develop that it’s kind of a form of Kinesiology actually, where your body responds to something, it’s what they use for like food allergy testing, and stuff like that. It’s actually your body’s nervous system is actually responding. If you learn to read that and it’s not going to come with bells and whistles, it can sometimes be really, really subtle, like you say like, Ah, that looks really good. But I’ve got this really funny feeling. And that is it. It’s just that funny feeling. And I think the last year or so I’ve probably had opportunities to work in partnerships or with agencies or get bigger than I am, and I’ve always really checked in and thought, No, I’m a freelancer. Own it. It’s just gonna be me, which, you know, has its downsides. I don’t have a huge team, or maybe other expertise that I could have. But I offer what I offer. And this is this is me being authentic. And you know, it this is how it is.

With my business Indigo Expeditions I run we’re in partnership, but we’ve known each other for over 20 years. So, you know, the trust is there. When we’ve tried to partner with other people to grow, we’ve just got that kind of gut feeling, No, we can’t do it. We can’t do it. So it’s meant we’ve had to stay small and when we’ve wanted to grow, but we trust our gut instinct that partnering with that person, it looks really great, but actually. No it’s not. It’s very frustrating. You want to partner with people and you know, be all in community. But actually, sometimes, this is how it needs to be for us.

Josh Hall
Yeah, and I think the more successful and the more busy a person gets, you just have to be more selective. That’s the only way you’re gonna be able to move forward. I even have like, I’m much more delicate with taking calls now. I used to be on the phone all the time, and it was okay for a while. But now I’m like, my time is like I can’t do what I did, even just a few years ago, I’ve got too much, too many priorities I need to focus on without working over 30 to 35 hours a week. That’s the big thing for me is I’m am not going to work more than that. I’ve got babies I want to enjoy this time with. And I think going back to saying no, like in the beginning it’s a little more it’s fine to say yes, in the very beginning. I feel like I’m a big proponent of yes, say yes to quite a bit, as long as you know, it’s going to work out, just for the opportunity, for the exposure and for building your network.

But I would not say yes, probably more than six months to a year. And then you’re going to really have to start saying no, because I said yes to everything for way too long. It was good in the very beginning. But I went about two years too long. And saying yes, to where I should have started saying, No, you know, quite a bit. And it’s not because you’re a jerk or anything, it’s just because you need to focus on the priority. And if that colleague or that client doesn’t understand that, then they’re probably not well suited for you at that time, you may have kind of levelled up past that client.

Adela Mei
Yeah, I mean, it’s true. It’s that discernment piece again, but also that I noticed that with my time, I used to be happy to jump on a call for an hour, I would roll on to two hours, and then I’d sort of wonder what I was doing and go and have a cup of coffee, you know, now I’m like, it’s an hour is an hour, half an hour is half an hour, because I’ve got, things to do. And also I want to work less hours than I used to, I think one of the downsides of you’re working from home as a freelancer I could work every day, into the evening, I enjoy working. So it’s another saying ‘No’ to working 12 hour days, to working on the weekends, actually restrict the amount of time I want to work, what I’ve realised is I’m working in a more focused way. More intention. Getting more done. And I’ve got more free time than I’ve ever had. And I’m earning more money than I’ve ever earned. And it’s like, wow, how did I do that?

Josh Hall
Why didn’t I do this five years ago? Yeah, that’s a great point.

Adela Mei
It might have been one of your podcasts, because I’m not a mom, I can imagine what it’s like to be a mom, like you have to every minute, you know, where your children aren’t there you have to be focused and intentioned, because there’s a whole load of time when you can’t work. So like, I’ve heard this from friends who are moms, when you’ve got that time, you’re so focused, and so intentioned, you can actually do what you were doing before in like half the time, quarter of the time.

Josh Hall
It is amazing. Yeah, Julie and I talked about that, because she was the one who told me a few years back, she was like every kid I have, I make more money. And I love that because even if you don’t have kids, you can still you can still apply those same principles to like, whatever it is, if you have a hobby you really enjoy that you’re not doing or if you really love walking and running, and you’re not doing that. Maybe you’re just spending way too much time or things that are just either aren’t a good priority, or you’re just not working smart enough. You’re kind of burning yourself over and over and you’re doing things that aren’t as profitable or not freeing you up or dragging you down. And yeah, like with kids, that’s the big thing I’ve learned is same same as you like I, I am making more now, and I’m working less, but it’s because I have learned to prioritise what’s most profitable. What I enjoy doing, and what frees me up and it will also just gives me the biggest return.

Like that’s why I cut out some of our sub services that were just like, we used to do business card designs and stuff. And it just even it didn’t even know it didn’t take too much time, it was just enough to not be worth it. And same thing with the calls. Yeah, so a client says, Hey, I want to have a quick 10 minute call now and a half an hour and a half later, you’re like, Okay, we just went over like this whole strategy, this content strategy, and then you’re burnout, you got to take a break, and then you’re derailed from everything you had planned. And then you got to catch up the emails that come through, and then you’re like, half of your days blown. So yeah, yeah, those are the kind of things. So two books I want to recommend here, Adela with that Work Less Make More is a really good book, which is by James Schramko, my coach right now. And then another one that really helped me with that is called Deep Work. Those are two for anyone listening, those two books will really help you kind of in those regards. Because my wife and I talk about all the time we’re like, what the heck did we do before we had kids did we just like, it’s amazing how, like, how did I make like half as much money back then as I am now working half as much time it’s just funny, what priorities and being more intentional will do.

Adela Mei
I think, kind of dovetailing into that for me is I mean, this is years ago, I realised I basically had Internet addiction and I couldn’t be parted from a laptop or a computer or my phone and it was a real shock to me. I basically went on holiday and their wifi as down, and I just went into some… I don’t know what happened. I was beside myself, and then I realised ‘hang on a minute, what’s really happening here?’ I’ve really looked into that because I mean, I don’t have a laptop where I live where I am, there’s no phone signal, so I’m not having those kind of distractions or notifications. I really watch my time and think okay, I just got it and then isn’t just a fake like Facebook addiction. This is general internet and being on a website development, anything I get so kind of tuned into what I’m doing, it can be hours and hours and hours, and I haven’t moved and I haven’t, you know, breathed?

Yeah, I started really exploring that and realising Wow, sometimes it’s like, we just get so addicted and plugged into something you think we’re working, but I don’t think we actually are. We’re not being productive. We might be tasked managing or cleaning out our inboxes. But I think literally just got like plugged into our computers. And that’s not a productive way of being.

 Josh Hall
Yeah, you can be working and get nothing done. That’s exactly what you’re talking about. Coming from a blue collar background, I always felt weird if I wasn’t working from nine to five, or like eight to four or so. So there were times before kids where I would just be on my computer even, I mean as web designers we always have something to do, but I just wasn’t being very productive. But I didn’t get up because I just felt like I had to be working. And with kids, I learned that’s not the case, like, I’ll come and I’ll do a two hour segment, I’ll get as much done as I can. And I’m off. And then come back and do another two hour segment. And that’s really changed my life, and I’m glad that you’ve recognised that too. Because as web designers, particularly when it comes to code and learning, it’s like, and that goes back to the whole, like, if you learn things yourself, it’s gonna take way more time. And you need to focus on whatever is going to save you time. I think most people learn that too late in the game.

So yeah, that’s huge. And all goes back to saying no, and to your point yet saying, No, I always think about that with business opportunities. But it’s a great point to say no to yourself, like, No, I’m not going to look at email tonight. That’s the big thing for me. That’s my biggest challenge to myself right now is just like everyone else, like, Oh, I might check in on my email at night when I’m playing with my girls. And then I see something and I may not respond to it, but it’s on my mind for the rest of the night. And then I wake up the next day. And then sometimes I’ll like look at it, and I forgot I opened it and I forget about the email. So I’m really, I’m really working on that like doing good segregation, towards that to where like, when I’m off, I’m off. And when I’m on I’m on. That’s kind of my big thing for this year.

Adela Mei
I’m really working that piece as well, because I have a corporate background. So it’s like trained. Now it’s like, oh, it’s actually okay to just work when I want to, when I feel to, in these blocks of time, in these stints of times. So like in the winter, I want to go out walking when it’s daylight, it’s getting dark at 4 so it’s okay to go for a walk in the day and then work into the evening. And actually, that bigger piece of giving myself permission to run my business how I want to run my business. I don’t have to do the eight to four, nine to five. I haven’t got someone standing over my shoulder anymore. But I think it’s programmed into us Oh, I gotta work. I gotta to check my email. Oh, we go to, you know, it’s like takes time to get that out of your system and go No, this is my my time, my business, my focus, and that’s okay.

Josh Hall
Yeah, that’s a good point. I didn’t think about that. But I’m sure that is a struggle for a lot of people who come from the corporate world. I’ve been, I really, I’ve never had a corporate job. I was a cabinet maker. So we had a very strict work time, which is kind of where that was instilled in me. But I never had the office nine to five job. But still, I again, I just felt weird if I wasn’t working in those hours. And I’ve learned now to really get over that. And it’s really just about more about what you can produce like and clients don’t care clients aren’t checking to see if you’re working from eight to four. As long as you get your projects done on time and on a decent budget or whatever. That’s where it is. So whether you do it yeah. To your point of it’s winter, if you want to take a walk or go do something during the day while it’s light by golly do it and then work you know, four to six. Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s such a great point.

Adela Mei
And all my clients actually are not in the UK. My clients are in the Central American timezone that six hours behind. So it’s always working into the evening to match if we’re having meetings, and things or a lot of clients are in the States so everyone’s behind me, so I quite like it because it means I’m always ahead of them.

Josh Hall
Yeah, I mean, what we’re doing right now we started this call at 11am. My time but it was what 4pm for you? Yeah. Yeah. So I’m sure you’re getting hungry for dinner here pretty soon. Well, Adela, this was great. This is an awesome talk. It’s funny, I think, you know, we laid out these five tips. And at first I was like, Hey, we could probably have at least a good half an hour conversation. I’m not surprised that we could talk about this stuff for hours because these are really huge tips. So just to recap for everyone.

  • Number one was community. You can join my Divi Facebook group, I’ll link to that there’s other other Divi Facebook groups out there. If you’re in the Divi community, Divi meetups are awesome and huge. You can even start one even if there’s not ones in your area, you can start one. WordCamps and other WordPress related are huge too. I’ve even found that just networking and being with people from time to time is huge in the community aspect.
  • So number two was marketing. We talked about permission marketing and the power of that. Again, I kind of feel like you know, knowing your craft is step one, marketing yourself in your craft step two, and then innovating that moving forward is kind of the third piece to all that to make sure nothing gets stale or you don’t drag behind.
  • Number three, I love that you talked about gratitude. Because that’s a huge one that will really keep you grounded and keep you going.
  • Investing in yourself. We talked about, yeah, you can do a lot of stuff with free tutorials and things like that. But as soon as you get to a point where you actually value your time, that’s when you invest in courses. And I really appreciate you sharing how some of my courses have helped you out Adela and it’s been awesome to, to see that and I love that it’s paying off for you and a number of different ways.

Adela Mei
And Josh gives great discounts.

Josh Hall
Yeah, yeah, you join one course if you like that course. And you want more I have student discounts. So yeah, I’m think I’m gonna call that like customer or student loyalty programme or something. I’m kind of reworking that but yeah, I want to give the best deals to my students, I don’t want to be a cable company where somebody random gets a really good deal. And then a year later you get up charged, I want to be the opposite of a cable company. So but yeah, investing in yourself huge, whether it’s my courses, or whether it’s any sort of training or workshop, it’s going to benefit you. And you know, it’s going to help you go from point A to point B. That’s huge.

And of course, learn to say no, like, we just talked about focus on leaving room for the Yes, that’s the big thing. So with all that, do you have like a final thought for anyone who maybe is early in their career or just getting started with a freelance business?

Adela Mei
I think the thing that always keeps me going is these three magic words of patience, persistence, and perseverance. Always just to keep going. And remember, when you’re building a business, it’s step by step, and you can’t always see, where you’re going back that you’re going anywhere, but you just keep going, keep going, keep going. And then one day, well, this was my experience, one day, you realise you’re running a web design business, and you’ve got clients, and there’s money coming in, and you’re enjoying it, and it looks like it just happened, but it didn’t it’s, it’s the culmination of all those little steps that you took. So just taking, and I try this every day, just at least take one step forward with the business, just one new thing or one thing on the list that I’ve had forever, just one thing, always take a step towards where you’re trying to get to, and you will get there.

Josh Hall
That’s a great point. What awesome encouragement. Yeah, it’s like the outside world sees you. And they’re like, Oh, you just sit at home and build a website every once in a while for a client? Like, yeah, no, there was 100 million things that happen from the start in the middle of all that. Yeah.

Adela Mei
It’s along journey and you just have tto remember to enjoy it while we’re on it as well. Otherwise, we can just get too stressed and focused on getting to the end. And it’s like, this is where we are now just enjoy every step.

Josh Hall
Yeah, I talked about that. In my podcast, I forget what episode was that? I think it was 10 or whatever episode I talked about imposter syndrome. And that was one of the ones in there was to just enjoy the process. Because Yeah, like it’s very easy to look at other people and be like, I don’t know as much as them. I’m not making as much, and you just got to enjoy where you’re at and level up one day at a time.

Adela Mei
Yeah, absolutely.

Josh Hall
Awesome, Adela. Well, thanks so much for sharing your experience. This is a great talk. I definitely, you said at the beginning before we went live, we could probably talk for hours. But uh, I guess this is a good time to wrap this one up. And I have a feeling we’ll do maybe another one at some point in the future to see where you’re at maybe a year from now, and definitely looking forward to 2020 for you. Yeah, that’s again, I just want to say it’s been awesome seeing your journey so far. I really appreciate you investing in my courses and it’s been really a privilege to see how they’ve helped you. And then now that you’re gearing up for a strong 2020 and I’ll definitely keep you posted on my membership mastermind stuff I’m working out because I would love to, to really get into the weeds with your business and help you take to the next level. So here cheers to a awesome 2020 and then who knows what the next year will look like.

Adela Mei
Thanks, Josh.

Josh Hall
All right. So yeah, thanks again.

Hey, guys, and gals just wanted to pop in with a couple things before you head out. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider leaving a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to this podcast. I would love to hear your feedback and it will also help other web designers find the show. Be sure to check out the show notes for this episode. Just go to Josh Hall.co click on podcast and search this episode number and you’ll find all the links descriptions and resources we talked about. And if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe and you’ll be notified when the next episode is live. Thanks again for tuning in. And I’ll catch you guys on the next episode.

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