I get a lot of emails and Facebook messages from new designers asking for mentoring and advice on best business practices and how to grow their Squarespace studios. A couple of people even coined a new hashtag #WWKMD – What Would Kerstin Martin Do? – which really tickles me because I am still getting used to being seen this way! So when I was talking to a fellow designer the other day I suddenly realized that I wanted to start a new blog series interviewing established Squarespace web designers about their businesses. Because this is the beauty of what we do:
The web design market is huge and there is room for everyone, at all skill levels, personal styles and specialities.
And I thought it would be fun and interesting to showcase some of these talented individuals and learn more about their journeys as successful business owners. Why Studio Talk 5? Because there are always the same five questions!
I am kicking off this new series with the fabulous Paige Brunton of The Paige Studio. She is actually a fairly new designer, in business not even a year which I hadn't realized! Which goes to show that you can build a successful studio quickly with the right skill- and mindset. I met Paige when she asked me to write a guest post for her blog and I love her passion for Squarespace and how she presents herself and her work. So happy she agreed to share her experience and wisdom with my audience, thank you Paige!
The Paige Studio
Paige Brunton is a Squarespace web design expert who helps creative entrepreneurs launch sites that connect and convert, all in just two weeks. Paige’s blog is the go-to destination for Squarespace info, helping thousands of Squarespace users every month. Her Start Your Squarespace Website Workbook is a popular free option for setting up the foundation of your Squarespace site. Paige earned a master's degree in the arts from the University of Mississippi. You'll find Paige traveling Europe and Asia where she lives as a location-independent digital nomad. → Visit The Paige Studio
1) What is your professional background and how did you get into Squarespace web design?
I know most people’s story is ‘I worked in corporate, hated my life, quit and started working for myself.’ My story isn’t like that at all, in fact I have never in my life had a full-time 9-5. I went straight from university to working for myself, I’ve never had a ‘real’ corporate job. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier about that, I skipped the whole ‘work in corporate, hate your life’ part.
My web design studio started when I was a masters student at the University of Mississippi (because of course as a masters student, I had a ton of free time on my hands.) During my masters I started to have an interest in designing websites. I had built and worked on sites in the past for a few jobs and had also built my own blog. I LOVED working on my blog, tweaking it and testing out new templates, designs and layouts. I had toyed with the idea of designing sites for others but didn’t have any ‘real’ job experience with it.
The universe aligned, and in one of my masters classes we visited a non-profit where we were to listen to the challenges the organization faced. One of their major issues was marketing and their website, so I offered to build them a new one. That was my first ‘client’ website.
2) What was your safety net (e.g. a partner, another job, savings etc.) when you first started out and how did that help you?
When I first started I was in my masters, and had a job teaching part-time at the university, so no safety net was needed, my design studio was just something extra I did on the side.
When I went full-time I had some savings so I knew I’d be fine for a few months even if I brought in a grand total of $0, which thankfully wasn’t the case.
The fear of going full-time was real, and I was pretty petrified to do what felt like jumping off the edge of a cliff into the unknown. Turns out taking the leap was one of the most fabulous decisions I’ve made in my life, and the other side of fear is a pretty amazing place, so I’d really like to now go literally jump off a cliff (a.k.a. go bungee jumping).
When I was deciding to go full-time I had to remind myself however that my family wasn’t about to let me become homeless or starving, so most of my fears were unrealistic. Granted, never previously in my life did I have to call up Mom and Dad to ask for money, so I wasn’t planning to start and knew I had to succeed.
I should probably also mention that at the time I was living abroad in Germany where I can speak the language but I’m not fluent, and because of visa restrictions, I couldn’t just go hit up Starbucks for a barista job if I needed extra cash.
As they say ‘burning the boats behind you’ is a pretty effective way of forcing yourself to succeed. I did just that.
3) How many websites did you design during your first year and how did your clients find you? Please share three sites you designed during that time.
January 2018 will mark 1 year full time for me, so the year is not yet over! Granted, I’m booked out to the end of the year, so I know that between the ones I’ve done and the ones I’m booked for I’ll have built 20 in the year. I’m definitely looking to cut down on that number next year though as it is pretty exhausting.
My clients this year have found me through referrals from past clients as well as the ‘site credit’ links in the footers of past clients sites, my blog and Google!
4) Do you have a niche market, or a speciality, or are you more of a generalist?
Yep, I’m quite niche. My clients are mostly female creative entrepreneurs, and I take on just 1 client at a time, building them a site in just 2 weeks.
I have done work in the past for more traditional corporate clients, but my love is really with my fellow creative entrepreneur ladies, so I was very intentional in curating my portfolio down to only the type of work I wanted to continue to take on, and it’s absolutely had an impact.
All the consult calls I’ve had in the last little while have been with truly ideal clients and I’m really grateful for that. Myself and my clients really connect both on a business and personal level and just have a similar vibe which makes working together a lot of fun.
5) What are your five top tips for starting your own business?
Get your mind in a positive place and commit to self-development. How you do this is up to you, but for me that means reading all the books on success and well-being and meditating. If you’re constantly doubting yourself, telling yourself no one will book you and that new thing you’re thinking of launching won’t work, that will come true. If you tell yourself you’ll make $7,000 in the month, and can get yourself to believe it, you will. Getting in a positive place and committing to habits that keep you there daily is key.
Get to know your ideal client. Everything you do in your business should be for them and with them in mind. Once you have your ideal client nailed down, every decision you have to make becomes easier. You’ll truly be going in circles until you get this straight, and while picking one person instead of trying to appeal to everyone feels scary, it’s key to success. They say ’the riches are in the niches’ and ‘if you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one’. It couldn’t be more true.
Blog (on topics that interest your ideal clients, not about what outfit you put your dog in for Halloween, unless you want to be a lifestyle blogger, in which case, go wild). If your website gets a total of 100 page views a month, it’ll be hard to get new people to learn about you and the services you offer. Blogging will increase traffic to your website, which will increase the number of people who know about you and will potentially hire you. Also, blogging will increase your Google rank, which is another effective method of getting clients.
Focus on building an email list. You’ll never have to launch to an empty room if you do so.
Get away from your laptop, get out of your house and go see humans. It’s good for you, and your business by extension.
How to run a heart-centered and profitable business as a Squarespace Web Designer
You can make a great living as a Squarespace Web Designer and in this course I show you how by providing an exclusive look into my own web design business and sharing all the processes and tools that have helped me get started and triple my income within three years.
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