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If you’ve been dreaming of scaling your income as a web designer, without having to somehow magically find 30 extra hours a week in which to be taking on EVEN MORE client projects, then today’s video is one you literally can’t afford to miss!

My team and I recently sat down to catch up with lovely past student, Michelle Pontvert, to see just what she’d been up to since joining us inside my Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business courses for web designers!

I had secretly done a bit of snooping around her site, so I was dying to ask her how things were going with her newly launched offering—a productized service!

Now I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I’ll leave it up to Michelle to be sharing exactly how she went about launching this exciting new freedom-filled, premium priced, (and MUCH more passive) offering that her web design clients LOVE…


HOW MICHELLE PRODUCTIZED HER WEB DESIGN SERVICES FOR MORE PASSIVE INCOME

Q: What were you doing before you became a web designer and how did you start your business?

My original field of expertise is actually in set decoration for film and TV! I have a master’s degree in film production.

So design has always been part of my world and I love design and I love film.

So it was kind of a weird thing that got me out of that, but basically the lifestyle wasn’t going to work with kids.

So a lot of the skills that I’d kind of accumulated from my previous work in film were in the back of my head.

I knew I was taking a career transition and was trying to figure out the puzzle backwards, like, ‘how do I fit these skills into a thing that’s an actual job?’

I worked with a bunch of small businesses in their marketing departments and was really drawn to doing design for their marketing. So it just kind of was a natural filtering of like, “okay, all of these skills add up to being a web designer!”

I actually started my business I was on maternity leave.

I NEEDED TO FIGURE SOMETHING OUT THAT FIT AROUND HAVING A NEWBORN AT HOME AND HAVE A REALLY FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE…

One where I could be in control of the projects I took on.

So it was really lots of little things adding up to the the perfect solution for my life situation, for my background, and for my skillset…it all just kind of lined up!


Q: What inspired you to take Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️?

I was still really early in my exploring about becoming a web designer at the time Paige’s stuff came into my world!

I was actually taking a UX bootcamp and I really liked the user experience stuff, but I felt like I was missing the practicalities of actually running a business as a web designer. I wanted to get to know Squarespace a little better too, so I ended up jumping in both courses at the same time!

It was very reassuring…a peace of mind, like, “okay, here’s structure I can jump in and just take and run with!”


Q: How soon after taking the courses did you land your first client?

I enrolled in the November and got my first paying client in December!

Funnily enough, it wasn’t even a Squarespace project, but a lot of the client flow and onboarding was super, super helpful!

So I was able to use a lot of the templates from the course for my very first client welcome guide, and onboarding stuff which was very good timing!


Q: How do you market your business and land clients today?

I, to be honest, tried everything. I literally took an experimental mindset of “I’m going to try my hand at all of the different marketing techniques and see what sticks”.

But what I ended up liking most, and what rose to the top, was networking!

I feel like I get on really well with people one-on-one so I really like networking calls, and any virtual or in-person networking (I’m in France, so in-person hasn’t really been that possible!)

I found Facebook groups a really nice way to connect!

I originally started in a bunch of free Facebook groups…big ones with tens of thousands of people in them, and those have been really helpful to hear what pain points people are complaining about, but in terms of really getting one-on-one connections with people, I found it very hard to stand out in that kind of massive crowd.

So I’ve joined a couple of memberships and a couple of courses that have my ideal clients in them.

THAT’S BEEN A REALLY GREAT WAY TO ACTUALLY CONNECT MORE DIRECTLY WITH THE CLIENTS I’M NOW BOOKING!

It’s a really nice way to just get in their world and be in a smaller environment that people have opted into being part of by paying, so it’s a different atmosphere.

Often more of the paid groups have ended up leading to clients in terms of conversions, but just having exposure to people and hearing their problems in the free groups has also been really helpful for my package research.

Q: How have you managed to set yourself apart from other designers?

(IS THERE ANYTHING YOU DO DIFFERENTLY THAT YOUR CLIENTS LOVE?)

So I went through a phase about six months ago of really reshaping how I work with clients, and I’ve come up with a really systematized, productized way of offering my service that is super streamlined, very kind of hands-off on the client end as well as on my end.

And that’s been a huge revelation for how I work with my clients and how they engage with me.

I work with a lot of clients overseas in different time zones, so the other piece that’s been really, really lovely is that it’s taken the time problem out of the equation.

It’s a more asynchronous way of working, but it works really well with moms running businesses in the corner of the day, on the other side of the planet!

So I I’ve really, really enjoyed that full out from the productizing of my service.


Q: How have you tailored your business to better support your life?

This is, like, the theme of the last few months of my life!

We basically underwent a family shift when my son started school.

I really hadn’t built a business that was going to fit with this new life that we had with my little guy being in school and having different needs.

So it prompted me to take a step back from how I was previously running things in my business and evaluate how I wanted to show up how I wanted to serve my clients and how I wanted to basically be spending this time I had to work.

So I reshaped everything from the ground up…

My custom work, my productized service—a one-week website service—completely systematized that entire process, and built out my VIP day options (which are now maybe my favorite way to work with clients 1:1! Super intense but gets really fast results and really, really fun on my end)

THAT’S ALSO WHAT PROMPTED ME TO BUILD MY FIRST DIGITAL PRODUCT AND START BUILDING OUT SOME OF THESE SMALLER ITEMS AND MORE PASSIVE INCOME SIDE OF MY BUSINESS, WHICH IS REALLY FUN AND A REALLY NICE WAY TO BALANCE.

I don’t have childcare because my son’s on school holidays, so it’s been kind of reshaping everything from the ground up.

But it’s all based around my new life and how I want to show up serving the clients I’ve found I really love working with.


Q: Can you share more about how you launched this new productized service?

The productizing process was really taking what I already had in terms of one-on-one processes and finding as many ways as humanly possible to take me out of that process!

So creating systems for clients to book without me having to manually create every invoice and every contract, to having my client intake forms and welcome guides pre-prepared and ready to go, automate that delivery.

Then, it was having the pre-work really, really streamlined, so the clients know exactly what they were responsible for, and what I was responsible for with automatic reminders to make sure they actually got me everything on time.

I had my actual workflow bulleted out—what I need to be doing at each stage along the way—and a really streamlined hand-off process, pre-recording all of my trainings and giving them access to basically a pre-recorded course.

MY SUPPORT IS ALSO NOW ALL THROUGH TICKETS, SO I DON’T HAVE PEOPLE JUST EMAILING OR TEXTING ME.

I could put an FAQ at the bottom of my ticket form to be like, “if it’s these common questions, I can answer that before you ever have to get into sending the tickets.”

It’s all very systemized so that they know exactly what to do at each stage, but it’s also through a filter of “this is the process” so I can protect my time and still respect what they’ve signed up for.

So when the client actually purchases the productized service (a one week website) I walk them through the fact that it is so streamlined because they have purchasing a pre-established, very well-tested template of the website that they’re going to eventually have.

So everything is based off a pre-built template that I already created that has the customer flow, the customer journey, all of the sort of design bones in place based off of the specific clients I work with.

[My ideal clients] online service providers, usually have very, very, very similar products and services.

So it’s very easy to pull in that content and populate this template.

I ALSO SHARE WITH THEM A GUIDE FOR WRITING THE COPY SO THAT IT MATCHES TO THE TEMPLATE ITSELF.

If they don’t have branding, I give them access to a brand kit to help them pull everything together in the context of this exact template.

So really it is a digital product I sell (a website template with with a copywriting guide, brand kit, and trainings) but with me editing.

Then they get all of that same access, so that it’s all very built in as an ecosystem to work together, but then I do the implementation of actually building and designing the site for them!


Q: How much do you charge as a web designer? How much should clients have saved up to work with you?

So I have really tried to make offers at different price points because I really believe in being accessible to people, wherever they’re at, so I added to my business a bunch of smaller ticket items—digital products.

I also have a full all-in-one website [the one-week-website productized service], and then my 1:1 services.

So to work with me 1:1, I start in the €1,500 range and then go up from there…my digital products are all around €500 or less (and I really like to be able to meet people at those price points!)

But these days fully custom projects can be anywhere up to €15,000!

*THAT’S ALMOST $16,000 USD!

*Michelle’s one-week-website (A.K.A Her productized service) currently sells for €2497 (approx. $2,760 USD) and to purchase that same product with custom branding included is €3997 (approx. $4,365 USD!)


Q: Do you ever deal with imposter syndrome? How do you overcome that?

Yeah, I think it’s pretty human to feel like an imposter sometimes, just to doubt where we’re at.

Something that’s always been reassuring for me is to talk to other people who are in either the same shoes or like one step further than I am or are where I want to be.

I think it really humanizes the experience of being a business owner!

It’s helpful to keep in mind that we’re all learning! We’re students of life and yes, I may have less years of experience in one thing, but I have a whole wealth of knowledge in another area that is different to my quote unquote “competitors.

So I think it’s really helpful to just check in with what you have to offer and then kind of see what the people who are a step ahead are doing for reassurance that “okay, I’m not that far behind, I’ve got sort of the right things in place,” but also give you something to aspire to like, “these are the things that are working for them that I could maybe borrow so I can overcome that feeling of imposter syndrome and take action to get where I want to go!”


Q: Did you have any fears about creating your new productized web design service?

Yeah. I mean, there’s tons of templates out there so there was a little bit of worry.

I did some market research to try and figure out how to distinguish what this was and make it a little different.

But I think honestly, the fear was around the launching of the the whole thing, like all the marketing whizzbang, and everything that can come with it.

IT WAS A BIT INTIMIDATING AND I DECIDED TO JUST DO THINGS MY OWN WAY, TAKING A LOOK AT THE TIME I HAD AND TAKING OUT OR CHANGING ROUND THE THINGS THAT JUST DIDN’T FIT.

(ie. I didn’t do a live webinar for my launch. I did a prerecorded webinar.)

I have now put together an evergreen sequence that sells that digital product and focus more of my efforts now on list building versus so much on the live launching.

I think with an experimental mindset, it can be really fun! And getting down and dirty and actually creating the product…it’s super fun!

It’s like building the website without the client, but remembering at the back of that, you have to actually sell it, and it’s a very different skillset than a custom one-on-one website client.

So it’s been a learning process!

I think it’s been good to keep in mind that the ‘container’ of this whole business needs to fit with my life and my goals as a mom and as a business owner, so having that filter on everything has been very important!


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

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE YOUR OWN BOSS?

I don’t think I’ve ever had at typical work day and I think that’s kind of the wonderful thing about running my own business!

I can ebb and flow with what the days look like.

We have a lot of school closures still with all of the things going on with COVID in France…just life, you know, little ones get sick alot!

It’s been really helpful to be able to be flexible with myself and my deadlines to say like, “okay, I have to take this time to be in family mode and then I can jump back in.”

But I’ve never had a 9-5. I’ve always been in creative industries.

So I feel very funny when people talk about the contrast between the two.

I’ve always been in charge of my own day, but I think being my own boss has really changed. The excitement I have…

I find myself sneaking work in my free time because I’m so excited about what I’m working on and I can’t wait to get back to it (and that’s something I’ve never had with work I was doing for somebody else!)

That’s the best thing I think about all of this is like, it’s my project and my baby that I can build the way I want and impact people the way I want to.

It’s been life changing on my end to just have that fire of “I want to do this for myself too.”


Q: How many hours do you tend to work in a week?

Average is a hard thing for me, because it fluctuates a lot!

20 hours is a big week for me these days. I often have a 10 to 15 hour work week, but there are times when I can sneak a bit more in that.

My husband works away from home a lot of the year, so I am on like ‘solo parent time,’ half of the time. So when I am solo parenting, I take on less client work because I want to be more present.

When my husband is home and can share the childcare, I front load my client work in those times!

So I think the flexibility of how much I can take on and how much I want to take on is is one of the joys of this whole puzzle piece!

PUTTING SOME CONSTRAINTS AROUND IT HAS BEEN REALLY HELPFUL FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THOSE HOURS.

When I worked for other people, especially in film, I would have 60+ hour weeks…and you don’t get that much more done in a 14 hour day than 5.

I have a really good system for how to plan my week and when I do get what I call “desk time,” when I’m at the computer.

Oh boy, do I get things done! Because I know I only have so much time. And that efficiency also means when I do get up from the desk, I feel like I was productive and I feel like I’ve ‘earned’ the rest.

So I think that balance has been really good for me and my family!



Q: How is your life different from before taking the courses vs. after?

Life has continued to evolve and my shifting schedule has made a big difference, but I think the biggest shift is just some sense of confidence in what I’m doing.

I never thought I wanted to be like a freelancer. I always thought I wanted to work for other people. I was really scared to take the leap of actually being my own boss.

And I think that reassurance of seeing other people doing it—that there are systems to follow that there is kind of a flow to all of this—it really helped me feel more confident taking the leak because it was something I resisted for a long time.

IT’S NOT AS SCARY AS I THOUGHT IT WAS, BUT IT MIGHT’VE BEEN WITHOUT THOSE SYSTEMS IN PLACE!


Q: Any encouragement for new web designers hoping to do what you’ve done?

Oh my gosh! A couple of years ago, I would’ve wanted to hear that I can do this my own way, that it doesn’t have to look like the cookie cutter business that you see other people running!

That just because that’s the way it’s done, isn’t the way it has to be for you!

Taking stock of where you are as a person and what you need, then working backwards from that as to how you want to build the business.

THIS IS ULTIMATELY GOING TO MAKE YOU A BETTER BUSINESS OWNER, BECAUSE YOU’LL BE FITTING AROUND WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER VERSUS TRYING TO SHOVE THE PERSON YOU ARE ASIDE.

I think taking a more holistic approach…like if you don’t have the 60 hour work week that someone without the obligations or the situation you have has, and you start comparing them to you who has maybe 20 hours to work a week, that’s just not fair!

But you CAN have those same outcomes if you really do take stock of what you have to offer and shape the business and offerings around that.

‘People-first businesses’ is the way I like to think of it. Like, you’re human first. Figure out what you need and then shape the business around that.


Q: What would you say to someone who’s on the fence about taking the courses?

If you are on the fence, I think what was really helpful for me was to look at Paige’s approach.

If you resonate with how she talks in her videos and posts—if she kind of speaks to you in the way she approaches her business—then likely you’re going to really like these courses!

If you feel like you’re looking for pretty straightforward approach and guidelines and ways to shape and think about business, the way she approaches is really good.

I really appreciated that there wasn’t such a prescriptive approach in the way she teaches..that it was like, “these are the options…here’s some ways you could do things. Now go and find what works for you!”

If that resonates with you, you’re really going to really love the courses!


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How Michelle productized her web design services for more passive income