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I recently sat down to catch up with past Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️ student Lindsay DeLong to learn how she went from having zero web design experience to consistently landing premium design clients, booking herself out MONTHS in advance, charging $11.5K per project…and all while living what still feels to her like a too-good-to-be-true freedom-filled lifestyle! (Plus, the totally unique web design services packages that put her on the map!)

How Lindsay built her freedom-filled, $11.5K per project web design business

Q: Lindsay, tell me all about what you were doing before you became a website designer, and how did it pop into your brain that “maybe I wanna be a website designer now”?

I was the managing editor of a wellness publication here in Southern California. We had a bunch of writers working for us freelance, and we were sold in Urban Outfitters. And, you know, I’ve just been a journalist forever.

But I was the managing editor. So I was the one that was editing all the articles and then uploading them. And so I got interested in web design that was on a WordPress site. But then we ended up launching a second publication and we launched it on Squarespace and that was called Laguna Beach Living because we were like, “we know how to launch a publication, why don’t we do it in Laguna Beach?”

So we launched it and that was on Squarespace. And navigating the back end of Squarespace was interesting. Then I started getting target marketed because Facebook knows what you’re thinking and I came across your course. I got on your email list and I was like, oh my gosh, like I love her 😍 At the time I was like, I want to do Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️.

But I was worried about the investment. I mean, I went to college for four years. It was an expensive college, but like I’ve never spent that kind of money on an online course. So I was hesitant about it, but immediately from the first video, I was like, this is so helpful!!

I loved your teaching style. I loved how classy you are and how, the modules, the videos, the PDFs and the documents that you give are so streamlined and professional. And I became a huge fan. And then that kind of just led me down this road of really getting involved with Squarespace.

Q: Amazing. I guess when you took the course, if you bought the bundle of both, then you were thinking, I want to be a website designer. Did you have ideas of leaving the full-time job and becoming a website designer at that point or was that just like a dream?

I had no plans of leaving the magazine job, but I thought I could design some websites on the side and I’m all about the bundle deal. Like, if there’s any sort of bundle type of discount then it’s a better investment to do the bundle, so I did that.

I think I actually took Square Secrets Business™️ first, because that’s the one I really wanted to learn – like how to scale and make it into something. So I started doing design for people that were in close proximity to me. My first client was a tax accountant in the South Bay. She was a friend of a friend. I’ve never met her, but I had told people that I was doing the course and then after 3 days into me taking the course they were like “oh, my friend needs a website”.

So I was like, oh God, OK! And so I did it and I just really loved it! Especially the sales call template. Like I followed it minute by minute on my first sales calls.

And it just made me really feel a lot more confident and what I had to offer, and I already knew how to design a website. Like I’ve been doing it for a while, but not like to the level where I felt comfortable offering it on my own. But Square Secrets Business™️ just really helped me scale that and get the confidence that I needed for stuff that I wasn’t familiar with.

I wasn’t familiar with getting on a sales call. I was familiar with like telling writers when to get their articles in and why they are late, but I wasn’t familiar with pitching myself. So your course helped lot.

Q: It sounds like you went into paid projects right away. Was there any free clients that you did or you just went straight into paid projects?

Because I had that first paid project right at the beginning, I was able to get paid projects right off the bat. I wasn’t charging a lot, like not as near as what I am charging now, but I had to play with prices and raise them incrementally as I got better and more confident.

Q: Can you talk about what were you charging at the beginning versus what are you charging now?

For the general web design, I think that first one was like $1,500, and then I charged some add-ons because the client also wanted a blog. I’m a journalist, so I can charge a lot for a blog. So I ended up getting probably $3000 on that first one, just because I charged a lot for my blog articles as well. Now it’s a totally different ball game. I have a couple different packages because I’ve created my own brand.

So for my general web design packages I have one that will take me less than a week, and that’s starts at $3,200, but it’s just for the most basic website. But if you want any add-ons like a shop page it will be this much more. So it ends up being around $5,000, depending what you want, if you want blog articles or whatever.

And then I have whole kit and caboodle package and that starts at $6,000. That one comes with a bit more stuff, but then I have all these add-ons. If you want an email signature, if you want a media kit, if you want blog articles, if you want copy, if you want photos, etc. So I have all this extra stuff that can make the price go up.

Q: Amazing. And then you have something super unique and super different that you offer. Can you talk about what that is and how much that costs for someone to work with you on that?

I have created a business called The City Living Network because I am the editor in chief of Laguna Beach Living and Laguna Beach Living is a city specific publication highlighting the best of Laguna.

That’s why I learned Squarespace. When I took that over I wanted to make a beautiful website. I wanted to make a wonderful place that could feature local, small businesses and now it’s just become such a loved and trusted publication in Laguna.

So we were figuring out how to make a media kit, how to get consistent blog articles, how to do all the backend stuff in Squarespace and then I started getting reached out by women in other cities that wanted me to teach them what I do in their city.

And so the first one was Lexington, Kentucky. I have never even been there and she reached out and was like, I love what you’re doing with Laguna Beach Living. Can we recreate that in Lexington? And I was like, well, okay 🙌 

This, you know, it’s way more than just a web design. So I was like, “well, what I’ll do for you is I will build you the website, I’ll make you the first 10 blog articles, because you can’t have the city specific blog website without the content. Then I’ll make you a beautiful media kit. I’ll teach you how to get advertisers. I will set you up a Pinterest page, set you up a TikTok, all in 30 days. A ready-to-go business in 30 days.

Q: That is such a fantastic idea. Like it’s so incredible. You take all of your past experience and you just turn it into a thing. And it was amazing that you had all the skills to offer that together. Can you talk about what you’re charging for that?

That package, is $11,497. It’s a 30 day process. So in 30 days it’s launched and ready to go.

We launched Lexington in January and then Denver and then San Diego. I just finished Prescott, Arizona yesterday and started Salt Lake City today. And then next month I have Wilmington, North Carolina, and then I have Long Beach and then I have Austin.

Q: So you have the next four months booked out with projects already?

Yes. It’s been a blast. I love it because I just like love being able to work with these women, teach them my dream job. It’s my dream job. Like I’ve always wanted to have my own publication, a city specific publication.

I remember I bought the domain name back in like 2003 when it was a huge thing for redheads going extinct. And I remember I bought the name and I was going to create a redhead website and to save the species and I didn’t know how to build a website at that point. I didn’t know how to get advertisers. I didn’t know how to get writers that would write for free or write for exposure or write for cheap. I had no idea how to find a photographer, how to get interns. So I’ve just bundled this into this package for people that want a ready-to-go website.

And they don’t want to like learn how to be a web designer. They want it just handed to them. And then I create a video and teach them how to work the back-end. I don’t teach how to do the major changes of Squarespace. I teach how to upload a blog, maintain the website and, and most importantly, I teach how to monetize the website 💰

Q: This story is just so unbelievable. Can you also talk about how long it took you to go from newbie designer to finding success? When did you start taking Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️ until you got set up as a website designer running $11,500 packages?

I can’t remember the exact time, but I think I probably took Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️ in June of 2020. The magazine job was changing big time because of the pandemic. So I was working from home and that’s when I really started working on Laguna Beach Living. I had actually just taken over Laguna Beach Living as editor in chief.

So I needed to really concentrate on learning Squarespace. So I took Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️. And then I spent the rest of 2020 basically going through the course, figuring out how to make this a successful business on my own, because that magazine job was cutting my pay in a big way.

I was like, this is going to be my new job! I’m going to be a web designer 🖥️ I’m going to take Laguna Beach Living and really make it popular. So I concentrated on that for 2020. My first media kit that I made was so ugly. I can’t even believe that I got an ad from it. But you know, I had to learn how to design stuff and I really learned a lot.

And then in 2021 I started getting a lot of advertisements with Laguna Beach Living. And that’s when I was also doing side projects for my web design. Then I really got comfortable doing web design and the girl from Lexington reached out about September of 2021.

And then that’s when I was like, “OK, I need to now make a course about like everything to do”. And so I spent the last couple months of 2021 actually creating a nine module course that walks you through everything.

So once we do a city living package together, I make the website for you, get the launch articles and then I make this customized course with videos customized to your city and give it to you.

So in that 30 days, two weeks of it are me designing and then two weeks of it are me helping you go through this course.

It was a process that took some time, but once I got the course ready to go it’s very doable for me to do these packages in 30 days. Eventually I would like to do 2 cities a month, and then have a whole team. There are a lot of cities out there in the world!

Q: So all in all, it took you about two years to go from knowing nothing about being a website designer to charging $11,000 per project.

I keep saying that prices are gonna go up incrementally. I was thinking I was going to raise it $500 every city I sold but I don’t want to make it too high of a price point that people aren’t able to do it. It’s definitely an investment, but it’s an investment that will make you a return on an investment pretty quickly, if you actually take it seriously. My Lexington girl sold her first ad and it was a $3,000 ad for a laundry mat in Lexington. Like, who would have thought, but she’s killing it now!

Q: It’s just so incredible what you’ve done. Yes, you’re still a website designer. You build the website and everything, but you’ve kind of like created an entire business that people can buy. You’re delivering much more than just a website for sure.

I make them their branding. I make them their logo. It’s not an elaborate logo but a word mark logo that looks pretty. And people charge for a logo or for a copy for their website. They charge like $6,000 or even $10,000, so I’m like giving them a bundle that still very affordable.

Q: Thinking back to before you became a website designer – did you have any idea that you could be running a business like this? You didn’t have web design experience or a degree in it?

My major in college was journalism. I was going to be a writer for magazines and I didn’t really dream bigger. I wanted to write for travel magazines and I wanted to go on press trips. And that was the ultimate goal. But then I also always wanted to have my own publication, but I didn’t know how.

And so once I realized that with the Laguna Beach Living I can get invited on amazing press trips that the same people are getting invited on that work at Travel + Leisure, and like the LA times. Like I’m going on those same exact press trips, it’s just amazing.

And I don’t have to have a boss. I’m my own boss. If I wanna take Wednesday off I can. I mean, I flew to Tennessee last weekend because the Lexington girl had her first official media press trip. And I was like, well, I wanna go. So I flew out there and we went kayaking. We did all this fun stuff. And I was just like her plus one, but I’m proud.

Q: And you should be! Honestly, I can’t even tell you like, what you created is so unique and so interesting. I’m so proud. And you also joined into the hundred K club of having passed a hundred thousand in your business. So also congratulations for that!

One question which people want to know is what does it look like to be your own boss? You talked about the freedom to go places. That’s amazing. What does every day actually look like for you?

I’m a fan of structure. I don’t always do it, but I like to wake up pretty early because I’m so excited. Yesterday I got invited to a press trip up in Santa Inez valley, which is for three days and I get to go horseback riding. And I got invited on an Alaska cruise. Every day is so different and you never know who’s going to pop in your inbox and be like, I need a website about this. Or I want to highlight my city here in London or wherever, you know? So it’s just exciting to be able to wake up and not know what kind of thing is going to happen.

But on a typical day, I’ll wake up pretty early, check my email. I’ll check my messages and DMS, do reels, because Laguna Beach Living has a following on Instagram.

If I have an interview in Laguna, I’ll go down there. If I’m going to be designing a part of the website that’s gonna take me a week of sitting at my desk for five hours each day. But like I said, it’s probably just two weeks out of the month that I’m actually designing the website for the City Living Network. And then it just depends if I have other clients on the side – I’ll still take clients on the side but usually only the ones that I’m really interested in.

Q: It sounds like a huge part of your day (even as you’re building these huge websites for people), you still have time to go and be doing other things you’re passionate about? Even though you’re making 11 grand a website this isn’t completely taking over your life? You still have a lot of free time?

Yes, I do. That’s a huge part of it that I need. I’ve never had a nine to five job. Like I’m not the type of person that can do it. When I graduated college, I became a flight attendant because I was like, I need something to pay my bills because writing doesn’t because I was writing for every publication in Southern California for free, just to get my name out there. And so I’ve never had a nine to five job. I need to be able to fly somewhere on a whim or, you know, go do something in the middle of the day. I need that kind of freedom.

And so I’ve just really loved that Laguna Beach Living and web design and City Living Network have provided me this opportunity to work as much or as little as I want. And as long as I book one city a month, which I’ve been doing, I can live off of that. And then like all the extra is just extra, you know.

There’s days where I’m like, holy crap, I just got paid like $16,000 in a day.

I mean it’s because they’re prepaying but it’s still like, wow!!

Q: Could you have imagined this, like when you were working at nine to five, versus what you earn now, could you have imagined that $16,000 dropping in your bank account would be possible?

No. Well, I’ve never worked a nine to five. But when I was a flight attendant I think I started at like $17 an hour and that’s a flight hour. Like you only get paid when you’re in the air.

My first year being a flight attendant I probably made $19,000 my first year. And now I send out proposals for this much and 24 year old Lindsay worked for a year for that.

Q: One thing which I would love to talk is about how you are landing clients or how clients are finding you?

So right now it’s basically been either word of mouth or people that already follow me or Laguna Beach Living on Instagram. So I would like to eventually have a huge Pinterest following where I’m getting a million views. I did just hire a Pinterest girl. So I’m working towards that!

The City Living Networks Instagram is super tiny but reels reach a lot of people. I had a reel that I did last month and it got me a phone call with a girl from Istanbul. And she was thinking about doing it. So the reach for Instagram or TikTok is huge. So I am concentrating on that. I need to be a bit better at posting more TikToks and reels. I mean, I had a TikTok last month for Laguna Beach Living that got 1.7 million views. It was like a six second video of the scene of the Laguna beach seniors paddling out!

Laguna Beach Living has a lot of followers on Instagram but those people aren’t really my ideal clients for City Living Network.

Lexington girl found me because she was looking for a website designer to update her wedding photography website. And so our first phone call was actually about rebranding her wedding photography site. And then we became friends and then she started following me and she was like, wait a second. I want to start Lexington Living rather than continuing to do wedding photography because she was kind of burnt out about it.

And then the other clients that I’ve gotten have been, you know, either like writers that used to write for me back when I was at the magazine or you know, just people that have followed me on Instagram, and are like, whoa, I’d want to like go on this press trip or I want to go ride horses on the beach and on a workday.

Showing my life and my lifestyle has a lot to do with who books me for City Living clients because those are the people that want to make a change and want a more exciting fun life than just sitting at a computer all day. So that has been awesome but there’s always ways that I could get better. I want more cities, I want to take over all the cities 🌎

Q: Can you share any encouraging words for someone who wants to do something like you’ve done? Transition out of maybe like writing or journalism and into website design. What would you say to that person who’s kind of wanting to do it, but is nervous to do it?

So I think taking an online course is huge.

I learned so much from yours. I’ve taken some other courses before, but I feel like I’ve learned the most from Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️.

I went to college for four years, but learned everything I needed to know with my career from an online course. It’s just so crazy that you can spend $30,000 a year on a year of college, but yet you can like, buy a course for $1,500 or $11,000 and it will like change your life. You don’t need to go to college for four years anymore. I mean, I don’t know. But to anyone reading, I honestly think if I could do it over, I would’ve probably just started like in the web design industry and getting my feet wet and getting experience rather than going to college. I really feel like I learned more from an online course than I did in four years of college. I mean, I had fun in college 🎉 Don’t get me wrong.

Q: I say the same thing. I finished university with like $45,000 of student debt. And then I started my web design business and paid it off real fast in like a year and a half.

And even though I never used my degrees and ended up just doing something on the internet, I was like, it was worth it for the party.

The money I spent was definitely good for some things but not necessarily my job.

But honestly, someone that’s looking to get into a career where they can be their own boss, where they can easily get to $10,000 a month if they want, and spend the same amount of time that they’re spending at college, they can get there by buying an online course!

Q: What would you say to someone who’s on the fence about taking one of my courses? Are they legit? Are they good? What’s your thoughts?

Oh my God. Of course. Yes. I love them so much. You are so professional. I’ve learned so much from them. They’re clean, beautifully designed. I could go through the courses and just be taking notes because everything that you say is like, oh my God, I haven’t thought of that.

And even simple stuff, like how to have a sales call. I keep mentioning this, but your sales call template is literally like 20 minutes but every minute you’re going through where you should be and what you should be covering.

Q: Lindsey, I just want to say congratulations. I think you have nailed something unbelievable. So unique, so creative, and the fact that it brings you so much joy, I am just absolutely thrilled for you.

And I’m always so pleased when I see students who take the courses and then they come out with the most unbelievable businesses.

I am just so proud that you booked yourself so far in advanced and I am always honored when I see students go out and do as well as you have. So thank you!

I’m so excited to talk with you and to share my story. Thank you for having me on.

If you enjoyed Lindsay’s story I have something for you.

I’m hosting my free, ever popular, Profitable & Productive Web Designer Bootcamp inside of a Facebook group where I’ll teach you all the basics that you need to know about starting your own website business.

Be sure to check the dates so you don’t miss out on this LIVE event as I am only hosting this once or twice a year!!

And I’m going to have some fantastic students just like Lindsay who will share how they’re booking out their businesses, how they’re finding clients, how they’re landing, these huge, huge projects.

So if you want to learn from me and some of my most successful students then definitely register for the bootcamp.

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How Lindsay built her freedom-filled, $11.5K per project web design business