Finding clients as a new Squarespace designer – 7 costly mistakes to avoid (60 min on-demand training)
If there’s one thing I hear that keeps aspiring web designers from finally firing their bosses and taking their web design side-hustles full-time it’s this…
If the fear of being able to fully replace your cozy 9-5 income has kept you from pursuing your dreams of becoming your own boss and going all in your web design business, then today’s interview with past student Layne Steege of Layne Alexandra Designs is for YOU!
Layne was able to completely replace her 9-5 income in just a few short months even though, at that time, her web design business was still just something she did on the side and she had NO PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE!
She’s since taken the leap and gone full-time!
And get this…just 3 months after deciding to go all in on her web design business, it has grown to the point where she’s now bringing on a team! #goals
Oh, and speaking of goals, can we take a minute and peep Laynes amazing designs she’s done for her own site and for her recent clients?
So I had zero experience.
I was a professional figure skater, actually!
I was a competitive figure skater, hired to do shows! Between tours, I was actually in a band, so I was also a musician.
And that’s what kind of led me to web design, funnily enough (I don’t know if funnily is a word, but there you go!)
So that band needed a website, and we were having a hard time finding someone that we could actually afford.
So I was like, “well, what if I just try it?”
So I jumped onto Wix and started playing with Wix and WordPress and Squarespace…all different kinds of platforms, basically.
And I built my first website!
Then I realized “I kind of like this!”
So I just was completely self-taught. I was playing around and experimenting, reaching out to family that I knew had a business saying:
“Hey, can I please design your website for free? I’m really new at this, but I want to build my portfolio!” (Or whatever…)
So it was completely like just an exploration! But no, I didn’t have any previous experience at all.
After I got off the road as a figure skater, I was like, “Okay…what do I want my career to be now?”
I remembered how much I loved designing, and I had a couple of months where I wasn’t working, so I decided I was going to practice making some websites.
That’s when I came across Paige’s blog! I was Googling a bunch about Squarespace and she has the best blog ever for that!
Through her blog, I stumbled on her Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️ courses.
I was randomly starting to have friends and family (and people that just knew that I had dabbled in web design) reach out around this time, so I was like “maybe there’s something here! Maybe there’s something to this that I can pursue!”
Right around that time full-time graphic designer position became available at a health club I was actually teaching yoga at.
I was like “I don’t know if I’m really qualified but I really want to try it!” so I really immersed myself in Paige’s courses.
Paige does a lot with explaining not only web design, but graphic design and best practices for graphic design as well.
I ended up managing their website as well, and I think that was a lot to do with the confidence that I got from Paige’s courses, because their so thorough, you get so much out of them and when you’re done you’re like “okay, I feel like I can do something with this!”
A year ago is when I decided to take it very seriously and actually more consistently apply a lot of the things that I’ve learned. Once I started doing that, things really started to take off!
I became obsessed with my [web design] side hustle, and then three months ago was when I went full-time!
I was consistently replacing my 9-5 income with my side hustle for about 5-6 months, and was like “okay, I think it’s time! I can only grow so much the amount of time I have available to allocate to my side hustle, so the only way to really grow it is to just take the leap!
Before taking the course, I had no Squarespace experience except for playing around with things…but it was really a lot of me just being very frustrated because I didn’t understand how Squarespace really worked.
Like, without the course, my sites would not look like they do today! And I get a lot of really good feedback on my sites that I build for people! People are really excited about the designs, and I’m able to make them really intricate and unique to that client without using any templates, because of the things that I’ve learned.
Because once you know how Squarespace works and the ins and outs of Squarespace you realize truly how unlimited it can be, and how much possibility there is to create.
I’m usually booked out 2-3 months in advance, so that’s been really, really nice! Right now, though I’ve kind of taken a step back!
Because up until this point, it was working with a lot of really amazing solopreneurs and small business owners, but I knew that if I wanted to reach my goals, financially and professionally, that I was going to have to expand the team.
So that’s what we’re doing right now. And it’s really exciting!
It’s still very new, like I’ve been full-time in my business for just three months and probably working with someone else for about a month now.
So if a client has a blog, for example, or if they are a photographer that has galleries, that’s the easiest thing that you can ask someone to do. Because you teach them once, you show them best practice for SEO, making sure the images are optimized (you’ll learn all that in the courses) and then they just complete those tasks for you.
…it’s things like that, that are easy to pass off first!
I actually have had a couple of meetings with other designers too. We’ve talked about partnering up, so that the offerings can be stronger, and also so that we can bring on more at once.
Just take that as a sign of your growth!
The biggest way has been through word of mouth and referrals!
And then consistently posting on Instagram has been a good one, for me.
At first there weren’t a lot of leads coming through Instagram, but then I noticed that friends I had already had before starting my business were starting to see my posts.
They were like, “Oh, well, I’m starting a business!” And they would think of you first!
Eventually, you’ll start to get people that you never knew before coming into your inbox as an inquiry and asking for services, because they found you through Instagram.
So I think just being consistent with your content and creating content that fit the needs of your niche is is the best way that you can do it.
I do have quite a few blogs on my website. That’s helped not just with SEO, but it’s also helped me with positioning myself as an expert in the field…Paige is a perfect example of that—creating useful content will come back to you tenfold!
I think consistency! Showing up every day!
I really had to make my content creation a habit. So before I went to work every day, I either made an Instagram post, or I wrote a blog post.
So it, it paid off, but it was just a matter of consistency!
My first paid client was for $300. And I remember being like, “Wow, that’s so that’s so good!”
And it is good…the fact that you’re getting paid for something that was previously just something that excited you!
That’s when the dots start to connect, and you think “I could make money doing something I really enjoy!”
Now I’m up to the point where I’m charging for just me to work on a project, about $3k, depending on the client’s needs. Then once the team is going, we will be charging around $6k per project.
I’ve found that it kind of doubles as time goes on!
Once you find out how much work things are, and the type of clientele that you’re attracting, it’s all just strategy and figuring it out!
But the packages have grown in the sense that we’re now able to offer branding services…I was doing logo design before but then I discovered I don’t love it.
I was also able to introduce a lot more in terms of SEO, and that was that was covered in Paige’s courses, which is really nice.
You can offer SEO services after you’ve taken Square Secrets™️ because you know exactly what you need to do in Squarespace.
I think mindset work has been the biggest thing!
You need to ask, “is what I believe in alignment with how I actually want my life to be?”
I invested a lot in my personal development, working with mindset coaches, and empowerment coaches and money coaches, reading a lot of different money books, because I knew I had a ton of money blocks, just from past history, as a lot of people do.
Whether it’s how you grew up, or a bad experience that you had with money, or just feeling like you can’t trust yourself with money, whatever it is, seek out resources that can help you with that, and shifting that mindset!
I had big beliefs around how “Making money is really hard”.
That was a that was one that got in my way.
Or, “You have to do something that you don’t enjoy to make good money.”
These were all stopping me from seeing what was possible, and once I started also looking around at different women in the industry and seeing what they were able to accomplish with their web design or with their business, then [I took it as] evidence that it’s possible! It’s evidence that I could do that too.
A lot of them were saying, “If I can do it, you can do it. Why not you?”
I just had to keep practicing shifting the mindset.
If I would have a dialog come up inside of my mind like, “this isn’t gonna work out,” or “this is for someone else, but it’s not your story,” or “how could you charge $5K for a website? You’re not as valuable…”
I would just have to redirect! It became a really big practice and awareness…replacing that thought with something that served the reality that I wanted to create more.
So money mindset and empowerment mindset are extremely important!
So if I can do it…seriously, you can do it too. You just need to believe that it’s possible for you!
I would say knowing the web design best practices is is critical…
But also being able to believe in myself, casting a vision in my mind and doing everything I could to make it happen.
Learning how to sell, and devotion and dedication to your business…all those things made a difference.
So yeah, I think it’s I think it’s nurturing yourself and your growth first.
The nice thing is, it doesn’t have to be the same every day. I really love that!
If I want them to all look the same, it can! It’s really up to me.
But I usually start the day just with checking in on email. I use Asana every single day. That’s my tool that I go to make sure that I’m managing projects in the best way. So I check in with my Asana, I see what’s on the on the plan for today.
And then if there’s anything that I need to pass off to somebody else, I take care of that.
So it’s really just getting myself organized for the day. That’s what I do first, and then I’ll dive into a design project.
I’ll usually start with the project that I’ve been putting off the most. “Eat the frog…” as Mark Twain said. Just starting off with the most difficult task first!
Tuesdays-Thursday, I do meetings for clients. So if they need to meet on their project, or if they’re interested in booking or having a free consultation, then I’ll do that then.
But Mondays and Fridays are for making sure the business is good, and for fine tuning projects.
Occasionally, I will work on a weekend, because the thing with our having our own business is it really ebbs and flows.
So if it’s a really, really busy time, then I just know that it’s going to be kind of longer days, maybe a weekend day.
But I try to protect my energy as much as possible, never working seven days a week.
Getting to know yourself getting to know your body and your energy is really important to avoiding burnout.
I think I always had a little bit of the entrepreneurial bug, but I resisted it hard.
I really wanted to just fit in and do the 9-5 and be comfortable with that. But I couldn’t.
And so I think doing doing Paige’s courses, I was able to really see through her own example what’s possible!
Another thing I loved so much in Square Secrets Business™️ was when she interviews other designers, because you’re able to see that it’s not one size fits all!
But before, I think I was just limited in what I thought was possible, and now I see the growth that’s happening, every single week, every single month…
I try my best to reflect because I think when you’re an entrepreneur, you’re always thinking about what’s next. But it’s really important to look back and reflect and see your growth and see how far you’ve come.
So yeah, I would say now, just the freedom of being able to work for myself, and have one job (I was one of those people that had like 4-5 jobs, running all over town).
It’s possible for you.
If you can see it…if you can feel it, that means that it’s already done.
I’m a little bit spiritual, and I love working with energy, so I believe that if if you have the idea, if you see the vision that it’s possible, that means that it’s already done.
Now, it’s just a matter of you creating it in the physical realm.
I remember doubting myself a lot, there were so many times that I almost went for it, but I stopped myself.
I think the more you can surround yourself with people where that is a consistent normal, then that starts to become your consistent normal too!
So I feel like that’s what bridged the gap for me from thinking it wasn’t possible to then knowing “Okay, I know what to do. I just need to do it!” was getting myself in the right mindset and doing whatever I could to make that happen.
Just do it!
It might sound dramatic, but you could literally change your life if you take these courses. They are so good!
Paige gives you every piece of information that you need to become a successful designer!
It’s been two years now since I’ve gone through them, and I still go back just to be get a refresher here and there.
And as I revamp into this next stage of my business, I’m also going back and thinking about things that I learned from the past because I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t implement that strategy yet. I could do that now!”
The courses are great if you’re brand new, and have no idea or haven’t started yet, or their great if you have started and you just want to refine your skills or feel more confident in your web design business!
So really you can get something out of it, no matter what.