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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…

“But what if I can’t make enough money or land enough clients to actually make this work? I don’t want to be stuck crawling back to my day job 6 months to a year from now!”

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?

How Layne earned more in Q1 than her entire previous year as a new web designer

Q: What were you doing before you became a designer? Did you have any coding/developing or website design experience before?

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.

Q: What made you want to become a designer? How did you get your start?

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.

So using the courses I was able to create a lot of portfolio pieces and apply for the job (and I actually got the job!)

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!


Q: How did your Squarespace designs compare before vs. after taking Square Secrets™️?

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.

So by taking Square Secrets™️ I was able to really understand the ins and outs, and also a lot of tricks that really experienced designers were using on Squarespace that I never would have been able to figure out on my own.

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.


Q: How far in advance are you currently booked? And how long did it take you to start consistently landing clients?

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!

My business has grown to a point now where we’re actually building a team!

So I have people coming on now to work, and that in return is going to allow us the space to double our prices and create a better experience for clients and work in a more established niche with businesses that are more established.

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!

Q: What’s the first thing you will start outsourcing now that you are ready to grow a team?

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.

So anything that’s a repetitive task that you think shouldn’t really be taking up a lot of your time, something that maybe would take someone a couple of hours to do where your time is better spent maybe writing a blog post or working on your marketing strategy or onboarding another client…

…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.

The best advice I can probably give is when you feel like it’s too much, like there’s a lot on your shoulders, or you feel like the quality of your work is being sacrificed because you’re trying to maintain the workload, then don’t hesitate to bring someone on!

Just take that as a sign of your growth!

Q: How do you currently find clients and marketing your web design business?

The biggest way has been through word of mouth and referrals!

Don’t be afraid to say “I’m a web designer, this is what I do!” Tell everyone you know! Get the word out, don’t keep it to yourself.

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!

Q: What have you done differently than other new designers that has helped you to grow so quickly?

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.

The month of February, I remember, actually, I set a goal to write a blog post every business day of that month. My SEO and my traffic increased like 5X! And then the next month was my first really big booking month.

So it, it paid off, but it was just a matter of consistency!


Q: Can you talk about your web design packages and pricing? What were you charging before vs. now?

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.

So that’s one of the reasons I’m onboarding someone! When there’s something that’s not in your zone of genius, have someone else do it that it is their zone of genius!

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.

Those were probably the biggest changes, but I would say first and foremost, it was my growth and confidence as a designer. So the packages have changed in a more minor way, compared to the confidence in design.

Q: What have you done to build your confidence as a web designer?

I think mindset work has been the biggest thing!

You do need to develop your hard skills first…like, you need to technically know how to design. But then after that it’s a matter of mindset, and checking in on your limiting beliefs!

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!

Some months I was probably not even making $1K a month. And then my first month going full-time on my own as a web designer, I had a $9K month!

So if I can do it…seriously, you can do it too. You just need to believe that it’s possible for you!

Q: Do you think your web design skills are the #1 most important skill you’ve needed in order to succeed as a web designer?

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.

You could be the best designer in the world, and make the most beautiful websites, but if you aren’t taking care of yourself and your mindset, then you’re gonna keep hitting a wall.

So yeah, I think it’s I think it’s nurturing yourself and your growth first.

Q: What does a typical day in your work life look like?

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.

Some mornings, I love to wake up before the sun and like go get a workout in and then come get to work. Other days, like today, I slept in until 8, took the dog on a walk and then got my day started. It’s very flexible.

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.

You are your business’s biggest asset. So taking care of yourself, making sure that you’re as balanced as possible is really, really important.

Q: How is your life different before vs. after taking the courses and starting your web design business?

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!

You can really make it yours, creating something for yourself in a way that works for you! (As long as you’re willing to take the chance on yourself!)

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).

Now I just work for myself. I make my own schedule, I choose who I want to work with. It’s a complete transformation!

Q: Can you share some encouraging words for others who want to do the same as you?

Yes!

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.

So I would say if you can surround yourself with other people that are dreamers, following their passion and ambition, chasing their dreams, chasing a big money month, and really going for it…[people for whom] embodying their empowerment is normal…

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.

Q: What would you say to someone who’s on the fence about taking Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️?

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.

But that courses honestly changed the trajectory of my life. So if you feel like it’s calling to you, and you feel it in your gut, then just trust it and go for it!


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How Layne earned more in Q1 than her entire previous year as a new web designer