Square Secrets™ and Square Secrets Business™ to help you have a career you want while raising a family.
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A few times a year I host my free Profitable & Productive Web Designer Bootcamp, where for 3 days, I go live with educational trainings and Q&A sessions with other designers who have already built successful, fully booked-out design businesses!
One of the designers I featured in my most recent Bootcamp was none other than talented past student Emily Agan!
Emily recently did the most amazing guest post on my blog where she shares all her best tips for how to run a freelance web design business with a new baby in tow…
Interestingly enough, I learned last year that a lot of the women taking my Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️ courses were actually taking them because they either had just children, or were thinking of having children…
Well, the feedback on Emily’s post was overwhelming!
So I just knew I had to have her back to chat a bit more in depth about her experience about becoming a designer, while also trying to balance being a new mom!
But before I hit play on that interview for you, if you missed my most recent web designer bootcamp and want to make sure you are on the list to be notified the next time I host it, then I invite you to hang with me on my email list, which is where I shout out about upcoming free events!
PAIGE: I’ve just been really interested in hearing how women are running businesses with babies! I loved the guest post you wrote on it, so I just wanted to bring you on to talk a little bit about your experience!
EMILY: He will be three months next week. So still brand spanking new!
PAIGE: That’s great! Okay, so let’s start at the beginning to get everyone watching caught up to where you are now…
EMILY: So before I became a designer, I was living in Oregon.
I was an assistant curator at a museum, and I, honestly had been there for a couple years, but right before I became a website designer was when COVID happened, and I was furloughed.
And right after that happened, I broke my foot. (When it rains, it pours!)
So I had those two things happen back to back, and I found myself with a ton of free time, which is when I started searching for different things to do, and looking for stuff online.
I’d actually been reading your blog posts for several years, and thought I should check to see what you had.
EMILY: No, I pretty much knew that I wanted to do something online but I think web design was very much swayed by you and your course!
My husband and I lived in a motorhome for several years. We were very mobile!
And so I did a little bit of social media management for a bit before I started working at the museum, but I had already been doing graphic design and design for websites for my entrepreneur siblings for years…that’s like how I found out about Squarespace.
So I was actually doing a website for a friend as part of something I was doing before COVID happened. I really enjoyed doing it, but had never thought about it as a career! I didn’t put those pieces together that I was like, “this is what I should do!”
EMILY: Ok, so I was furloughed and broke my foot…then it probably the next week that I found your course and was already taking it!
I was probably like, halfway through it already by that point!
I was just speeding through it, because I had nothing else to do and if worse came to worse with my job, I wanted to be prepared and have something ready!
But then at the same time, my husband and I were talking about starting a family, and I knew [web design] would be great! If I was going to have a baby, I knew I didn’t necessarily want to send them to daycare, I probably wanted to stay home!
So I did that back in June, then by August I quit my job, and by September, we found out we were pregnant!
EMILY: I took the course, then I basically subtly launched my business. Like I had a website up, and I was kind of working with people, but I hadn’t fully launched yet.
I quit my full time job, my husband quit his full time job. We moved to Texas (He left before me). I found out I was pregnant, and I called him and I was like, “Hey, I’m pregnant. We’re gonna have to figure this out!” And that’s when I [fully] launched my business!
PAIGE: Amazing! The reason I love your story is because so many women are realizing they need a job which works with their life and with having children…
EMILY: Yeah! It’s been both amazing and complicated!
So, I did run the business while I was pregnant. Basically, my business was growing as I was! I had a ton of free time to do whatever…it was amazing!
I still get to do that, but now there’s less free time for things I would have done before [having my baby].
So not as much traveling, not as much going out on a date…but it’s amazing because I have basically set up my life how I want to, which is, I’ve created a very efficient home environment!
A place to live where I literally have a co-working space downstairs with it’s own coffee shop in a very quiet neighborhood! A place where I don’t really have to leave home ever and I can still be comfortable.
So I’ve sacrificed a lot of things that I used to do, but I picked a place for me and my family and to raise my baby where I would be comfortable and that I wouldn’t have to go and do those things.
So with that trade off, now I still get to have my own hours and do my own thing. And it’s not as terrible as I thought it was gonna be! Like, I thought I was gonna be so miserable that I never had free time to do the things that I used to do and that I couldn’t be independent and it’s not like that!
It’s really great and flexible! I just work weird hours now and I kind of just go with the flow. Sometimes I’m working really really really late at night(like, I might get up to nurse my baby and then just stay up a couple of hours to work which is not people’s norm)…
I can work from wherever!
And so I can just go get a coffee, run through a drive thru, and have another working session [while he naps]!
It’s super flexible and I wouldn’t have ever been able to do that with a normal job!
PAIGE: Man! That is like, a mom-hack and a half! And even if you don’t have a hotspot, you could park close to Starbucks or McDonalds and use their wifi! Mom’s everywhere need to know this!
EMILY: So, I didn’t have a big plan in place leading up to giving birth…I know a lot of people prepare in advance with their businesses, but I didn’t do that!
So is past three months has literally been just a trial run for me. I’ve kept on as many clients as I had before, and all the projects I had booked-out in advance, and I’ve just basically been seeing how much I can do.
Then moving into the new year is when I’m going to change up everything and make it accommodate my life even more.
So yes, I have been able to keep up with everything, I’m glad to say, with a lot of mom-hacks and a lot of help from people!
EMILY: So I want to switch up my packages and I’m gonna raise my prices!
I thought about doing this before, but then I was like, “I honestly don’t know what I’m going to be like, as an entrepreneur and a mother.” Like, I had no clue!
This is brand new territory. So this was a little bit of a trial run for me to see how it went.
And I’m actually, for the first time, getting my brand photos taken!
I think what I’m leaning towards now is I have been doing a two-week website package, a custom web design and branding package, and then some specialty projects, but I think I’m just going to increase the length of the projects for me.
While I can still get things done in a two week time period, I proved that to myself, I don’t necessarily want to do that with my baby!
So I’m I’m thinking of making projects a little longer so that way, I can have some more free time.
And then also maybe shifting the niche that I’m working with.
I didn’t really have a niche before. I think I was just taking anybody and everybody to figure out what I liked.
So narrowing that down a bit as well!
EMILY: I’m not necessarily niching with an industry, I feel like I’m niching a personality type!
I really enjoy working with intuitive feelers. So, people who are super empathetic, and they tend to be more sensitive, they absorb a lot of energy.
I love working with them, because they can get really stressed out about business, and I feel like I can come in and give them a sense of peace and calm and take over some things that are just driving them absolutely insane!
PAIGE: I love that! Oh, and coming back to some of your tips from your guest post…
Oh, my goodness, yeah…that had to go immediately!
So my husband actually probably got me started on this…he made a commitment that as soon as the baby was born, for the first two weeks of his life, he was going to turn his phone off and just be totally present and be there for everything.
And oh, my goodness, it was amazing! Like, I had never seen my husband so totally invested before!
I noticed myself being on my phone way more than I should have been, I was just picking it up when I was bored, or wanted to relax, or needed some brain space.
Then I realized very quickly that I was super stressed out and completely overwhelmed, so I did a little experiment! I turned my phone off.
I actually deleted not just my social media apps, but every app off of my phone (except for my regular phone and my text messaging – that didn’t last very long because no one could get ahold of me!)
But that did amazing things for my brain.
For whatever reason, when you pick up a phone and you see those little red dots all over it, and notifications, you can’t not click on them!
Like, with Instagram, I would be on there and I would literally click on it, forget what I was doing. and be on there for like an hour and lose all my time!
PAIGE: Yes! 100%. Exact same situation, here!
About a month ago, I decided “I’m gonna make my phone a useless brick!”
I didn’t go as far as you did to delete every single app, but I got super harsh and deleted so many things from it! It was awesome!
And I can even tell a difference because normally I don’t have the Instagram app on my phone, but this week—because it’s a launch week—I installed it on my phone again.
And man is that thing a time suck!!!
Like, it is crazy what you can do when you don’t have that on your phone. So yep, I’m here with you!
EMILY: Yeah! So I literally was like, “I can’t get more time…this is it…this is all the time I have,” so I was like, “What can I cut out of my life?”
I’m a big fan of the KonMari method, so I’m like, “if it doesn’t spark joy, it’s out!”
And so for me, I hate grocery shopping…
I hate going to the grocery store, and cooking. So we’ve set up a system where do grocery pickup at the store, we have dinners delivered to our house, and I also have a set of like snacks and smoothies that get delivered to our house.
So none of our food I have to go and pick up! I have plenty of snacks and meals for the day, that just saved me so much time. Like if I go to the grocery store, I could be gone for hours and hours. And then every single night at dinner, I usually find myself working a lot of the time while my husband cooks and plays with our baby.
Any chance I get, I will get in 15-20 minutes of extra work. So yeah, so dinner had to go.
We live very minimally and don’t have a lot of things. We used to live in a very tiny little motorhome, and so when we moved into an apartment this year, we didn’t have a lot of stuff.
But then I got tons of things for the baby! Stuff just started to accumulate for us because we’re like, “we have more space, we need more stuff!”
I realized that I cannot keep up with the cleaning and just daily maintenance of dishes, so I did a huge purge, like I think maybe the third or fourth week after I had the baby.
And I found that I had a lot more time because I wasn’t constantly doing laundry, didn’t constantly have dishes…our house was picked up more, and I had more of that brain space to sit down and do the creative design work that I really wanted to do!
EMILY: So as soon as the baby was born, we had people coming over to help out just like dropping off meals and things like that that wanted to visit.
And I quickly realized that is a huge chunk out of my day, like someone could come over and then an hour or two is gone.
But I also realized that people were happy to just be with the baby, and maybe even taking over feeding for me, or entertain them for a while.
I’d hack out a few emails and do a few things on a project…and they were more than happy to do it!
There’s such a ‘social faux pas’ like, you feel like you have to entertain when somebody is in your house, but most of the time, people just want to help and they literally don’t care what your house looks like. And they love babies. So it was an easy exchange, win-win situation for everybody!
I would say you can 100% do it!
Having a baby doesn’t stop your life. Things get more complicated, and there’s a learning curve…
I think it’s just important to remember that you’re doing something totally new. so to give yourself a ton of grace with that, because you will eventually figure it out!
But it might look crazy and messy at the beginning, and that’s okay.
So—especially if you are pregnant and thinking about doing this—I would say don’t stress yourself out about getting it perfect and having your business perfect!
I had almost a year to perfect my business before the baby came, and I’ve been working the last three months and I still want to change it! It’s still not on it!
PAIGE: That’s such great advice, pregnant or not pregnant!
I’ve done like coaching calls with students in the past where they list off this list of things…they’re like, “Okay, I need to do these 74 things before I launched my website.”
And I’m like “No, no, no! Give me that list. We’re gonna cut it down to what you actually need to do! You don’t need to have all these things in order to just launch already!”
There’s this expectation of what has to be perfect and finished before you launch the business, have the baby, whatever it is!
EMILY: Yeah! I would do it! It pays itself back!
Honestly, I was the person before hand, I had been reading Paige’s stuff for years, like I was just like trying to gather information, not necessarily on web design, but just on being online and doing something in the online world.
And it sets you up for success! You can just jump right out of the gate and start right away!
So if you’re on the fence about taking Square Secrets Business™️, you will earn that money back and it will like literally save you so much time!
PAIGE: Thank you! I appreciate that!
When I see how fast students can get these businesses up and running and booking themselves months in advance, it is astonishing!
I was the person who didn’t take a course (because there wasn’t one that existed at the time!) so it took me years to it figure out, running around in circles, and doing things that weren’t important or actually moving me forward in the business!
EMILY: Yeah! You literally did the trial and error for us and now we get to benefit from everything you did!
PAIGE: I want to say thank you so much, Emily! This is amazing!
I hope anyone who is thinking about having a child or has a child is really encouraged by what you’ve done and what you shared!