I recently sat down to catch up with past Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️ student and incredibly talented web designer Aliyyah Anshan about how she was able to grow a thriving business WHILE being a SAHM (stay at home mum 🤰) and being present with her kids!
She talks about the challenges she faced and how she overcame them to build the ultimate WFM career…one that supports her family better than she and her husband ever dreamed AND allows her the freedom to practice the self care that so many moms are missing in the hustle!
If you are struggling to grow your web design business while also balancing the responsibilities of momhood, tune in for the life changing story and encouragement Aliyyah has to share!
I actually started as a virtual assistant. I had already had my first baby and I didn’t want to commute back to a big city. And so I thought, how can I make this work? What skills do I already have?
While working with a therapist postpartum who needed help with her website I kind of threw it out there; Hey, I’m a virtual assistant so I can do like anything! And she needed help with her website and that’s what kind of got me thinking that I could totally do this! I can work from home and still have time with my baby and not miss out on any important milestones.
I do come from a creative background. I actually studied interior design and I was working at a tech company where I started off as a customer service representative. And then as the company grew, I kept getting pushed into like marketing and business analysis and the development team.
At the time I tried to give running an interior design business a go and build my own website. There was no Squarespace. So I learned code, like I learned code at night and I built myself a website!
Yes. And I had never heard of Squarespace before. I offered to help and she gave me all the information. I logged in and I thought, what is this? I was actually trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing, and that’s how I found you 😍 I found everything I needed from all your blog posts. And I just fell in love with the platform because it was so easy.
It was definitely while working with her. She kept wanting more and more done and because I was finding a lot of information from your blog I also saw that you had offered this course. I put it on hold for a bit. And then I think the Square Secrets Business™️ came out and they were launched together as a bundle. And I thought, if I’m going to make a serious go at this, why not prepare myself, not just the design aspect, but the business aspect, which I had no experience in.
It was really scary to invest in myself. It was the first online course and I was really nervous about it. I remember researching everything.
When I got into the design part of the course, it was like night and day. Learning about all the different parts and that I could really make a template on my own, starting with a blank page, deleting everything and making it my own so that I can really stand out.
And I don’t think, at that time, anyone knew that. They thought they just had to go with what was there. And you opened up those doors and I guess the creativity side too!
I think I finished the design side of the course and then I started the business side because I was really excited. And then I got pregnant a little bit earlier than I had thought. And this pregnancy I was just really tired. And so I kind of just put things on hold and decided not to try looking for anything part-time but just enjoy the pregnancy.
That definitely put a really long pause on the process of what you were teaching and what I was trying to accomplish.
In terms of age, I started a family a little bit later, which is probably the norm now, but I just always felt behind. I got Instagram and I was still looking at things and trying to continue with my learning in some way, shape or form. Even if it was like 10 minutes of the course, a day or a week.
It was hard feeling like I was behind and I just, I wasn’t going to get there as quickly as I wanted to. I think mentally it did a number on me.
It was definitely both mindset and my kids were getting older and I was getting a little bit antsy. I’m someone who likes to be doing things. I’ve had past businesses that just never worked out. And like you said, it was just a feeling and it felt right.
And actually during the pandemic my whole family was home, so I did have some help. My kids were here and my husband and I managed to split time during the days so that I could finish my course.
Spending that much time together, I couldn’t go back to a nine to five. I want to be here. I basically want to have it all.
If I was working for someone else, other than myself, there’s no way I could have taken the time away and felt okay about it.
The nice thing is I’ve structured my time or my business in a way where I only work with one client so that I know my limitations, so I don’t stress myself out. I don’t want to feel stretched. So it’s one client at a time and I work from 10:00 AM till 3:00 PM.
And I can move that. I can shift it so that if I want to, I don’t know, take a break for taking care of myself in the middle of the day, I can. If I want a slower start, I can start my day with yoga. I can do the stretch after dropping the kids off. I can still have time to wind down at the end of the day and then get into like the mom stuff, having the kids ready for bed and all of that stuff. It’s been pretty manageable because I’ve been able to make it like that.
Being a mom and taking care of kids you’re just always mentally overloaded. I realized that and worked with that when creating my schedule. I work, I take care of my mental health, I work with a therapist. So all of these things factor into how I have scheduled my days and how I plan my schedule when it comes to my work and life balance.
I initially intended to use Instagram but what’s working for me is Facebook. I belong to a couple of women based business groups local to me. And then there’s another group that I belong to where members are scattered around Canada. And once you participate and you share your knowledge, for the sake of helping that community, it doesn’t go unnoticed.
I was doing it just to help inside the group. Eventually, I was featured and other women in the group noticed and so they contacted me. One of my clients bookmarked it and then came back to me three months later and she was like I need you.
And so I found that by participating, like genuinely helping and sharing knowledge to help my fellow women entrepreneurs, I was gaining the trust that clients want.
The next four or five months are booked and that’s from one client who shared her experience with her group, and literally in 24 hours I got over 20 inquiries. This was insane. I’m like, okay, July is supposed to be my slow month. I took it off too, you know, to spend time with my kids.
So I found myself doing a lot of consultation calls and that’s literally all it took – building that trust relationship and having someone be so happy that they referred me.
It really depends a lot, I will be honest. I’d say maybe half of them have put it on hold and half of them is good for, so I’m booking into January now.
When I look back, even though it seemed like a really slow progress and I was behind, it’s working for me now. I am very organized and that’s, you know, thanks to you too, for providing such valuable resources in the course. And so during that break and the pandemic I was able to get myself set up so that I can be in the position that I’m in now.
For me, it’s the time I now have and not feeling guilty! Nine to five, especially in north America, it’s very much like, you’re just constantly working. And you feel horrible. You feel bad for taking a sick day and I’m so lucky to have clients that I have because I’ve been able to connect with other moms. There’s a certain amount of empathy. And so if I do have a sick day, I tell them, and even though it doesn’t really affect my timeline, I’m can still be honest about it.
I think the best part is being able to take time as I need to or want to, whether it be for me or my kids, my family, or even taking a little bit more time for my personal life or my business. I have that control and I don’t think I could get that anywhere else.
On average they are about $5,000. That would be for the homepage, about page, services page and contact page – so the main pages. Anything above that, depending on who I’m working with and how expensive you want to get, the price can go up. And I did feel like I was over delivering even on those projects at that price point. That’s why I raised my rates to 10K and above 💪
I’ve actually learned that even going back to nicheing and trying to please everyone with your services only confuses your clients and it actually does no good to you in your business if you want to grow. So I’ve just actually just sent an email saying this is no longer an option after this date. I’ve done it so that you can only access those options if you were a previous client.
I think he loves it. Like, he’s really excited. He knows that I’m a go getter. I can’t just sit still and do nothing. I think he’s just really excited to see where it goes. I think he is really surprised, from where it’s come, even just over the past year.
I still have the self doubt and those moments of like, who do you think you are? And I’ve had two clients who are of a different generation ask me what is my professional training. And I remember thinking, “oh my gosh, I’m such a fake. I’m such a phony.” But I was like, you know, I’m just gonna own it.
I’m just going to tell them where I came from, what I’m doing and who I learn from, and that’s the truth! And it was fun after that, it’s actually surprising.
I work with a lot of people or a lot of clients my age and you’ll get the odd one to trickle in and they don’t really fit your niche. So sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
I treat all of my experiences, whether it be a consultation call or working on a project, as learning opportunities and every single time, I’ve always learned something, no matter how big or small. And I think that one of the most important things to realize is that there’s always an opportunity to learn and grow from it.
Sometimes you just gotta put the blinders on, because things really do work out in your favor. When you put pressure on yourself it’s no longer fun. But if it’s something that you truly feel is meant for you, take it at your own pace. And if you keep up with it, you will see results.
Trust yourself and don’t let fear or self doubt or age be the thing that stops you. It might feel like forever but when you look back, you’re gonna think, okay, it didn’t really take me that long. Like I’m so happy I pushed through it and it’s only really been about two years since I’ve been making a good go at it and over the past year I’ve seen the most growth.
There’s no second guessing it, you have to do it. I can’t think of any other course that could better prepare you as a designer and then on the business side – the ins and outs and the best practices of how to build yourself a successful website design business.
You will learn something at every point, every module, even in bonuses. I don’t even know where to start, but it’s just jam packed with things you wouldn’t think you needed. You’ll just be so happy that you invested in that way in yourself and in your business.
Thanks. And I say to those clients that ask for my credentials “oh, I’ve learned from the original Squarespace expert and she’s Canadian and she’s doing amazing.”
I know they have no idea because that’s just not their business, their world. But they’re just like, okay, you seem really passionate about this, so sounds good.
Since I’ve redone my website they all say I want a website like yours, it’s clean. It’s just so easy to navigate. And I I’ve learned all of that from the course. It just always surprises me how learning to build a website that attracts the perfect clients actually works.
Aliyyah was a past Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️ student and enrollment is not open right now, but I do have something really fantastic for you in the meantime. I have put together my Profitable & Productive Web Designer Bootcamp. It is a three day challenge that I would love to invite you to join me in.
If you’re thinking about being a website designer, even if you’re not sure right now, and you’re like “can I really do that?” I encourage you to come join me inside the FREE bootcamp.
We’re going to talk all about the basics of getting started as a website designer, we’re going to be talking about making sure that your client projects stay on schedule and we’re also going to talk about finding clients in the first place. We just have such an incredible community in there and such a good time.
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!!
There is also a fantastic giveaway happening inside the bootcamp. The Ultimate Web Designer Starter Kit where I’m giving you all the things that you need to get started with the web design business.
That includes a layer drafted web designer client contract between you and your clients, one year of Canva pro, and one year of your choice of a CRM system (either Dubsado or Honeybook). The entire Web designer Starter Kit is worth $995. You can enter to grab that by joining us inside the bootcamp.