Something that has been on my mind for like forever now is to find a way to individually recognize and celebrate past students of my Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️ courses as they hit certain milestones in their business!
✓ Finding that first paying client
✓ Bringing in their first $50K as a designer
✓ Hitting $100K as a designer
Well, I decided to send out a little survey (you know how much I love a good survey) to see where our most recent batch of students were at!
And we were honestly overwhelmed by just how many amazing responses we received!
Each student had a completely unique story about how they were able to use what they had learned in the courses to hit each milestone in their business!
Among all those heart-warming stories was lovely past student Becs Milnes of True Nature Dreams, who shared how she was able to increase her prices TWICE in her first few months, and then again at the start of the New Year, effectively tripling her rates!
Obvs my team and I wasted no time hopping on a zoom call to get the scoop on how she made that happen!
We asked a basic list of questions we like to ask every student who joins us for a call, as well as a few custom questions specific to her story!
Here’s what Becs had to share…
Way back in the day, I actually did a fashion degree at Uni (university).
Then I moved to Australia where I was actually modeling quite a bit (back in my 20’s).
Then I worked for a brand design agency. So that was my first proper job working with clients. We designed a lot of packaging for big corporate companies like Walmart…so it wasn’t particularly creative!
I didn’t love it to be honest. So I basically burnt out.
Then I re-trained to become a yoga teacher and reiki practitioner. So, full-time hippy really.
It was kind of by accident, really!
I was teaching yoga, and I had a Squarespace website that I had just set up for myself and it was pretty rubbish.
I was proud of [my website] at the time…
So [on my website] I would like sell art prints, crystals…just bits and pieces. Nothing at all that was ever going to make me any money, honestly, but I did it for the love.
I really enjoyed like building my site and playing around with the images, and just getting to grips with [Squarespace].
But I didn’t know how to do the cool stuff.
I hadn’t been on Facebook for about two years (I’d come off of it because I hated it) but I just put up a message on Facebook about what I was intending to do [which was to start a web design business].
I had just started Square Secrets™️ so I didn’t have any clients. I didn’t know if anyone was going to be interested.
People started to respond with supportive comments. I thought they were just being kind.
But there were actually a couple referrals in that comment thread.
Somebody contacted me saying she was a coach who needed a website, and she ended up being my first client.
I hadn’t even finished my own site.
So I worked with my first client and she was amazing. It was just a dream job, and I was like “this is so much fun!”
I just wanted the skill!
I knew what I wanted to create visually, and I would get quite excited about the visual design, but I just didn’t know how to physically put the pieces together to drive the thing! Like, how to work Squarespace.
People were always talking about code, and I literally had no concept of it. I wouldn’t touch code because I didn’t understand it.
So when I saw Paige’s course, it was kind of like “this answers everything.”
As I was looking there were so many marketing courses, and design courses, and business-help courses that it was hard to know where to invest.
It felt like quite a lot of money…because I literally hadn’t had a single client yet.
And I didn’t know if it was going to work.
But I just bit the bullet and went ahead and did it.
And I’m so so glad I did!
Oh my goodness…completely different!
So like I said, I was quite proud of my original website. It was on Squarespace 7.0. It had parallax scrolling and I was quite excited, you know.
But compared to now? Yah. There’s no comparison.
I mean, my site’s not perfect…I’m always wanting to tweak it, but there’s no comparison between the two.
[My original site] was pretty basic.
The ‘languaging’ and all the other really important stuff like how to take your site visitors on a journey, and navigate them around your site using calls-to-action…I just wasn’t getting all that before.
There was just no comparison in terms of the way I was able to communicate with people via my website!
My first client, as I mentioned, came from a recommendation from a Facebook friend [inside that comment thread on the post I made].
Because I work in yoga and holistic therapies, a lot of the referrals are coming through coaches, practitioners, etc.
I know what it’s like to be a yoga teacher and to have to do zoom classes, and what they will need in terms of an online booking system.
I know it can feel quite lonely when they’re doing class plans and they’re not sure if anybody’s even really reading their newsletters…you know, all those types of pain points and struggles they have.
I can relate to them…when we are having our meetings they know that I ‘get’ them.
It’s funny, because before I [landed] my first client, I had a plan B and C.
My friend has a spa in Australia, and I was like:
(As a showpiece, or case study.)
So I was prepared to work for nothing for the first job, to demonstrate what I was capable of doing.
I put a lot of pressure on myself in the early days…you know, analysis paralysis and the comparison trap. I felt I could never be like those people earning $5,000 for a job.
It just felt so far removed.
So the first job I did, was for not very much at all…maybe £500 (which is about $700 USD).
Everyone was always saying “charge your worth” but I did not feel comfortable at that stage. It was psychological…
It worked out though, because she gave me a beautiful testimonial and I had a really lovely case study to add to my portfolio. But the next jobs I did, which were referrals, I was like “I can’t charge £500! That’s too low!”
And so I just sort of increased it incrementally after that.
I started my business in September and so I knew the New Year would be a good time to increase my prices.
It was a great way to get clients booked in, by just saying “I’m putting my prices up in the New Year!”
I felt it was justified because people had seen the quality of my work and had a feeling of urgency like “oh I better book her while she’s still cheap!”
So I booked a few end-of-year clients at my old rate and then increased my prices to £1000 (about $1,400 USD) in January.
So literally a 100% increase!
I know for a lot of people that probably isn’t loads of money, but to me at that time, it absolutely was.
I’ve even done a second price increase since then to £1600 (about $2,200 USD) and it’s been absolutely fine.
And I plan to put my prices up again!
At the very start I didn’t have the confidence to charge.
I had a couple clients in the early days where I didn’t feel aligned, but I just took the work because I wanted the work.
But now, I feel in a position to be pickier! Which is huge for me! I never imagined that would be the case!
If anything it’s the whole cliche of “you get better quality clients the higher your prices…”
(In their photography/images, the way they value their own business, etc.)
I had heard people say this and I would be like “yeah, I hear you, but I still don’t think I can put my prices up because nobody will come to me.”
But now I can vouch for [that saying] that is 100% true!
I just did it on Instagram and Facebook. If people had inquired and were still deciding, or they hadn’t yet booked a discovery call, I just got in touch with them personally.
Not to push them into a sale or anything, just as a courtesy since it was going to be a pretty significant jump.
And most people were really receptive to that!
What I would say to them is that it can feel really scary.
The moment I made the decision to just do it, and I put the message out there, I was panicking thinking:
“What have I done? Why am I breaking something that I know is going okay??”
But if you don’t take that step when it feels scary, then you’ll never do it. You’ll just get stuck in a rut of churning out [cheap] sites and you are worth more than that.
These days, I almost don’t even have a conversation about money with my clients (I mean, of course I do and it’s sounds like I’m being a diva if I say it) but I don’t want to work with people if they’re quibbling about money.
I actually had a potential client say to me “I’m speaking to another designer as well, and just so you know, your prices are way too cheap!”
So it’s really about how you value yourself a lot of the time. And your confidence in what you’re offering.
For me it’s been a slow burn as I’ve gathered momentum and confidence, to where I’m now okay about increasing my prices.
I think design is fundamental, yes. But I do think there’s definitely something in interpersonal skills and relationship building in terms of onboarding clients.
The Square Secrets Business™️ course was amazing for that!
It gives you the words and scripts you need and teaches you how to take clients along as a part of the process.
Efficiency and making sure you’re reliable as well, giving people the trust and reassurance that you’re going to deliver what they’re asking for.
I work with people who are generally very laid back (can’t get more relaxed than a Yogi!) so they need somebody to gently direct and guide them, reminding them:
“This is when I need your content.”
“Have you thought about your photography/images?”
And then making recommendations. They need that kind of hand-holding.
But yes, absolutely design is important!
If people look at your portfolio and are not thinking “I love that style and aesthetic” then it’s going to be a struggle.
I feel like a legit business owner!
Before, I was a yoga teacher, and I wasn’t making any money.
Now I feel so much more in control of my finances, and just completely transformed 100% when I look at how my life was before.
[Before taking the courses] I was kind of freaking out in lockdown (due to Covid), like “what am I going to do?”
But now I just feel excited by all the possibilities!
My work gives me a real sense of passion, and it’s given me that creative outlet which I didn’t have before.
I’m so grateful, honestly!
It sounds cliche, but it’s my dream job! I feel so aligned!
It sounds a bit dark and depressing…but things were dire before. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to afford to live!
But now I just feel so much more optimistic, and that pressure has gone!
It’s still hard work! It’s not like I’m just chilling or retiring…
But I’m in a so much better position, and also creatively fulfilled!
I know it’s really hard to believe someone when they say that…
Even though they are literally sat there saying “Do it! It’s a game changer! Your life will be transformed!”
But I get that there’s still this fear!
So hear it from me! Like, 100% don’t hesitate.
It felt like a big chunk of money for me to pay out, not knowing if it was going to work, but 100% it does.
Paige has lived it. She knows it inside and out, and she understands what you’re feeling.
It’s a bit scary…like “how did you know this is exactly how I’m feeling right now, Paige????”
But it’s just like planting a seed…invest in yourself, and you will see it grow and grow.